A little while ago I profiled a Kickstarter for a new Canadian comic book from William Byrne called The North Shield. While that Kickstarter was unsuccessful William’s passion for the project didn’t diminish one iota. So what’s a comic creator supposed to do? Regroup, rethink and relaunch. And that is exactly what William did. Different goals, some modified rewards, more progress on the comic and the launch of an “All-New” Kickstarter campaign. So please find below parts of my original interview with William discussing his creation and a link at the bottom to the new campaign.
“The North Shield is Canada’s newest superhero, an ex-Newfoundlander who lives in Toronto. For this superhero trouble is a way of life.” I’ve bumped into William Byrne online here and there so I asked if he wanted to have a chat about his Kickstarter project.
Martin Boruta: William, glad you had the time to talk with me about your Kickstarter. Beyond the opening paragraph of your Kickstarter page, who is The North Shield?
William Byrne: Happy to oblige Marty, North Shield is Phillip Mackenzie from Twillingate, Newfoundland. A small fishing town on the east coast of Newfoundland up here in Canada. Phillip grew up as a boy genius with a love of reading comics and wanting to be a comic book hero after a fall he had.
Marty: Has Phillip appeared in anything before?
William: He appeared as Captain Spider back in the 90’s. I had an artist from Hamilton, Ron Gravelle illustrate the comic but he quit working on the project just prior to it being completed. I managed to print a limited 200 copy run of an ash can with about 10-20 pages from the story. Later on I worked with another artist in Montreal and we completed the origin issue with colour and a second issue. We had some creative differences and parted ways and he tried to publish the origin without my permission. I was able stop him from publishing the comic without me through the legal system.
Marty: What are the origins of the concept?
William: I was inspired by Captain Canuck when it first came out in 1975. I had picked up issue 3 and having never seen a Canadian comic before I wanted to create my own. In total I created about four superheroes which I’m currently working on reintroducing. When I first wrote the story of Phillip Mackenzie he was Canadian but had no roots to any province. With Ron Gravelle he was just a scientist who worked in a generic lab in Toronto.
Marty: The North Shield is a Canadian from Newfoundland. Why was that important to have your character’s roots Canadian in general and from Newfoundland specifically?
William: My father is from Newfoundland from a small island called Bell Island located off the Avalon Peninsula. We lived there and in a few different towns when I was young. From the age of seven to ten we stayed in Cambridge (Preston) and then moved back to Newfoundland. In the last 5-10 years I wanted to get back in to writing comics and I still believed my original origin story would stand today. I just needed to tweak it a bit. I was watching a Canadian TV show called the Republic of Doyle and seeing the success of the show inspired me to put my heritage into the main character.
Marty: Does the action in the story happen in Newfoundland or elsewhere?
William: No the story takes place in Toronto, Ontario. I live near Toronto in Cambridge and I thought I could have fun with the Newfoundland dialect and the humorous situations that can arise from that. I also thought the threats in a major metropolitan city would be greater and more dangerous. I am working on a story where he travels home and we meet his parents, friends and a marriage of the hero to his lifelong love Shannon Doyle.
Marty: You sound proud of Canadian comics and seem to be a big supporter of Canadian comics. Anything in particular that you really are passionate about in terms of Canadian comics? Anything you’d like to see out of the future Canadian Indie/Comic publishing scene?
William: Yes I’m proud of Canadian comics and a big supporter of them. I try to buy any new ones when I can find them. I would love to see the industry grow beyond what is now.
Marty: How about you personally? What got you into reading comics? Favourites? Passions?
William: I grew up watching The Adventures of Superman and the Spider-Man cartoons and I have a cousin in Newfoundland who was heavily into Marvel Comics. I’m sure it was his fault that I got into reading comics … lol. I don’t remember my first comic book and every time we moved to a new place to live my Mom would throw them out. I would say my favorite would be Superman and Batman before the New 52 and of course, Captain Canuck #3 (1975).
Marty: What gave you the spark to write the story and create the character?
William: When I saw Captain Canuck issue 3 I saw that it was possible to publish a Canadian comic book in this American comic book dominated market. At the time there was a live action Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk on TV and the town in Cambridge we moved to had a variety store called Lou’s Variety just a few blocks from the house. Lou had a great selection of comics and magazines and I was reading everything comic related that I could get my hands on.
Marty: Can you give me some details and thoughts on the creators you have involved in the project?
William: Marvin Law is working on the art, he’s a fantastic artist. I meet him over a year ago at the Silver Snail in Toronto where he had a table showing his artwork. I had just got back from a disappointing appointment with another artist for drawing the book and I went over and talked to him for about a half hour or more and felt he was the right one for The North Shield.
Marty: Thanks again William for this and I hope all our readers will take a moment to check out your Kickstarter at the following link.