“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 this new Kickstarter.
Martin Boruta: William, glad you had the time to talk with me about your new 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: Have you been involved with Crowdfunding before? How did it go and did that influence you decision to launch this project on Kickstarter?
William: No This is my first time involved with crowdfunding … I’m finding it’s a learning curve if you don’t explain your project well enough you don’t get the funding you need. I have self-published a comic book in the past called Max Burger and struggled selling the comic to distributors so I figured with Kickstarter I could skip the distribution and get my book directly into readers’ hands. I saw so many of my friends getting success with their Kickstarter projects and thought I could do it as well.
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: If successful, when do supporters get the PDF and the physical 80-page TPB?
William: Everything should be sent out by the end of January 2017.
Marty: If you miss the Kickstarter what happens? Contingency plans? Future plans if the Kickstarter does work out?
William: If we miss the Kickstarter, I will rethink my campaign plan and relaunch it again in the very near future. If it does work out I will finish writing the 2nd graphic novel of The North Shield and get that printed as well. I have a few other heroes whirling around in my head that I would also love to see in print.
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.