NORTH is the story of a new generation of heroes in Canada who band together to meet a menace and paints a picture of how a hero story in Canada would unfold within the framework of what is largely recognized as an American phenomenon and mythology. As we all know, most heroes are from New York city. But what about up here in the Great White North?
Recently I had a chance to have a chat with Scott Sawyer about this upcoming comic project currently being funded on Kickstarter.
Martin: Scott, thanks for taking the time to chat with me about NORTH.
Scott Sawyer: Marty, thanks for checking out NORTH!
Martin: So fill us in a bit about what North is all about.
Scott: With NORTH I was trying to write the comic book we wish we grew up with as Canadian kids. As a nation, we just weren’t contributors to the comic scene and since I was born in the seventies I have watched the industry change and evolve and reach for great heights…people having great respect for the potential for story in the medium. All the while I had little idea about how I might do it, given the chance. But the challenge was to not fall into cliché. To make it a human story rather than a Canadian story…that’s story-telling poison when you try to define what it is to be a people…especially in a country that hosts one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world.
Martin: Your concept really resonated with me. It also touches on the way that Canadians like to view themselves as “not American”. That stigma we imagine exists in the world due to being such close cousins with our American neighbours.
Scott: The contrast between Canada and the U.S. is alive and well in several aspects of this story but not the essence of the project itself; it is absolutely there for people to find, or feel, and interpret…and it’s no accident. As a boy growing up in Canada, I consumed comic product pretty exclusively from the U.S. To suggest for a moment that on our continent they have anything less than a comics monopoly is to deny a long-established truth. So comic books themselves, for many, are really more an American thing. So why not have characters in that genre, reflect the reputations of their nations, and the comic industry itself, but in a sort of tongue in cheek way.
The Superhero is an American invention and an American industry…they are light years ahead in volume and some might say the quality of content…but thanks to some very talented Canucks, this is changing. So I enjoyed creating characters who were anything but gods among men in a country that is always comparatively quieter, more modest, more humble and safe and on a smaller scale….just like our population. Good or bad, hero or villain, everything is more bold, to the south.
NORTH is also (as mentioned in the video,) a look at the different ways bullying manifests both on a personal level and on the global stage. So it’s not long in volume one of NORTH before representatives from both nations find themselves at odds. Of course politics and human nature are rampant anywhere in the world so its more about setting the story on a familiar stage than it is bashing our cousins to the South. Any intelligent person knows global identity is just that…its an idea that is contradicted constantly by a range of human behaviour.
You mentioned how we tend to see ourselves as ‘not American’ and I thought that was great. ‘Can’t put our finger on what we are but we know what we’re not…’
Martin: We’re you also consciously making a commentary on American gun culture by drawing a superhero\gun parallel?
Scott: Its a parallel a little hard to resist right now isn’t it? So you absolutely did pick up on the opportunity in this story for the national identity comparison between us and Americans…the gun control issue is of course the current hot topic. But again, making your story about what you aren’t is not good story-telling, it’s just insecurity. It’s the small dog barking at the big dog, wanting to be taken seriously but ends up looking silly. Before this project, I have spent years watching and participating in the Canadian film industry and watched as they struggle with their ‘identity insecurity,’ manifesting in blatant flag-waving at the expense of story. If you want a national identity in any medium, just do good work! Tell wonderful stories that just happen to unfold in your respective nation, and don’t explain your self…and that creates audiences…that’s what builds reputations. So I kept those clichés and pitfalls in mind when writing NORTH. I am genuinely curious to see how people react to this story from all of the above angles.
Martin: Well, you have my money as I have already made my pledge. Thanks again Scott and we’ll be looking forward to the release of North #1.
So folks, swing by Kickstarter and support this cool comic book. A 14 issue story arc is planned and while there are not a tonne of pledge levels getting a copy of the comic is very reasonable for this type of project. As of this posting the Kickstarter was well over 75% funded within the first few days with several stretch goals being considered.