First Comics News: “Yonge At Heart” is an anthology what is your story about in it?

Shawn: The story I’m drawing is written by the talented Stephanie Cooke, and is inspired by her family’s long journey from a war-torn European country to Toronto, Canada.

1st: You live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada what is it like the city?

Shawn: Time flies by quick in the city, since there’s so much to do on any given day. Events, museums, local community gatherings, parks, restaurants, architecture… there’s never a good reason to say “I’m bored” when you live in Toronto.

1st: Do Canadian writers and artists for comic books get used as much as they should be?

Shawn: I work with a handful of American publishers and freelance writers, and I’m often asked if I know any local Canadian talent who might be right for certain gigs. There is a great amount of Canadian talent working for large publishing companies in America right now too, so I’d say Canadians are indeed working in comics as much as we should be.

1st: Why will people enjoy “Yonge At Heart”?

Shawn: Yonge At Heart is a Canadian anthology, but it’s not just for Canadians or residents of Toronto. It’s geared towards comic fans. It has individual stories for everyone, but the collection as a whole is made for comic readers. And what better way to discover your new favourite writers and artists than an anthology?

1st: How did you come up with the idea for “TerraQuill”?

Shawn: I was getting set to exhibit at a Comic-Con for the first time a few years ago. Originally, I had just planned on trying to sell prints. But Comic Con is about comics. I wanted to have some on my table to give away as free handouts. Short stories seemed like the friendliest format for getting started with comics, and so I gave it a shot. Haven’t looked back.

1st: Can you tell us about a few of the citizens of TerraQuill?

Shawn: TerraQuill was always meant to be a place that told ME who lived there, as opposed to the other way around. In the upcoming TerraQuill: The Bridgebuilder’s Creed book, we follow an old bridge builder named Yodel who’s lost his teammates and other important people in a great war. He’s not sure how to rebuild his life and his land without his friends and family around, but he sets off across TerraQuill determined to rebuild. There are a few other citizens he’ll run into, including a giant caterpillar with a propeller hat and a tiny old lady and her enormous bird companion with a fondness for fuggleberries.

1st: What is the continent of TerraQuill like?

Shawn: TerraQuill is divided into provinces, each with its own history and culture. There’s Anthem, the once bristling capital of TerraQuill now ravaged by war. There’s Strangiato, which appears differently to each person passing through it. Madrigal is a spiritual province in which a legendary war between two beats was fought in the sky, resulting in the creation of the continent. Redsector is home to once-great forests that refuse to grow after one of the native tribes was wiped out. There’s lots to explore in TerraQuill, and not just for the readers.

1st: What kind of stories will we find in TerraQuill?

Shawn: TerraQuill was inspired by old fables and Dr. Seuss books, so each story is hopefully an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. I like leaving the reader asking questions about what a story means to them on a personal level and short stories that are better on the second read. Those are the kinds of stories I’ve tried to tell in TerraQuill.

1st: Do you prefer black and white comics to color?

Shawn: Black and white, personally. Each format excels in setting a certain mood, and I prefer to leave colour as a suggestion for certain stories. Of course, some stories absolutely call for colour to get certain points across, in which case it’s an important addition.

1st: Where did the name TerraQuill come from?

Shawn: I wish there was a better story to this one! My favourite Final Fantasy character is Terra from Final Fantasy VI, and the pen nibs I use are type #102 Crow Quill. So TerraQuill is just a couple of my favourite things in one word.

1st: Have you created any other comics besides “TerraQuill”?

Shawn: I’ve been working full time on freelance gigs for the past three years. I’m working with an excellent storyteller named Easten DeVerna on a project called Samurai Grandpa at the moment. We launched a Kickstarter late in 2016 and have funded the book, so the drawing is underway right now. That’ll be out by summer. I’m working with a great publisher called Legacy Rising on a book called Leash Baby Kung-Fu, written by the very talented Erik McAlister. There’s a crime noir book I’m wrapping up this month as well before moving onto more TerraQuill.

1st: What is a chiptune soundtrack?

Shawn: Arguably the best form of video game music to date. A chiptune is a music composed using old video game hardware. Think of any old Nintendo or Gameboy game music. They’ve become easier to create thanks to digital plugins, and there’s still a huge community of composers who focus on vintage chiptune compositions.

1st: Why do you love to make comics?

Shawn: Comics is one of the few mediums in which you can do it all yourself. You don’t need actors, you don’t need musicians, you don’t need lighting staff of boom operators or expensive equipment… just paper, a pencil, and an idea. And time. And if you want to work socially, you have that option too. And comics require a greater commitment from the consumer, in that they are the ones creating the voices. They’re the ones creating the connection from panel to panel. They’re the ones creating the magic. As comic creators, we’re just the ones giving them the opportunities that allow it to happen.

1st: What comics besides your own would you recommend?

Shawn: Anything by Matt Kindt or Jeff Lemire. That their work is produced tangibly is favourable, but their stories allow for many opportunities for readers to challenge themselves without being removed from the story. That’s hard to do. A few (certainly not all) of my favourite independent creators are Claire Connelly, Tara O’Connor, everyone at Chapterhouse comics and everyone at Source Point Press. Great creators.

1st: What would you like to say to the fans of your work?

Shawn: To anyone who’s come by my table at a con, sent me an email, sent me a Tweet, given me a high five, shared a post: your response has been my motivation for the past few years. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and every little bit makes all of the hard work worth it. Thanks! Comics NewsInterviewsRich Interviews
First Comics News: 'Yonge At Heart' is an anthology what is your story about in it? Shawn: The story I'm drawing is written by the talented Stephanie Cooke, and is inspired by her family's long journey from a war-torn European country to Toronto, Canada. 1st: You live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada...