Captain Canuck returns! An interview with Kalman Andrasofszky
I recently had the privilege to sit down and talk with Kalman Andrasofszky, the newest writer and artist to reinvent Captain Canuck, Canada’s longest-running comic book superhero. Captain Canuck, originally created in Winnipeg, Manitoba by Richard Comely Ron Leishman in 1975, has recently been transformed in the form of an animated webseries starring Kris Holden-Ried of Lost Girl as the titular Captain, which is being spun off into an upcoming comic book title.
Hope: So, how did you get started with the Captain Canuck guys?
Kalman: My studiomate Francis Manapul was working with Dean Henry on animated webshorts for the program Murdoch Mysteries. Dean, along with Paul Gardner, and Fadi Hakim had acquired the rights to develop and reboot Captain Canuck. They immediately hit up Francis but he was exclusive with DC which made any superhero projects a nono. He did the good studiomate thing and passed it on to me, and they liked my work and we all hit it off.
Initially, it was a test-run. They had some money and an option, and they wanted to see how far they could get, so they hired me to revamp all the characters to get things going, starting with Captain Canuck himself, and then we just worked through the roster one by one. It’s hard not to make story connections when you’re designing characters, and I pitched them some ideas which morphed the direction a bit, and everyone was really receptive and collaborative. One unplanned side-effect of our reboot is that a shocking number of the characters have been rule 63ed: at least 3 major characters are now women, much to Richard Comely’s chagrin (laughs).
Hope: That was the webseries?
Kalman: That was pre-webseries. They used those designs, along with a script and storyboards produced by others to approach Smiley Guy Studios, and their head of development, Mike Valiquette upped the ante and proposed a partnership. I think they’d been looking to branch out into action adventure content for a while. They revamped the whole thing but they kept my designs and I stayed involved, and after considering various formats they, settled on the webisodes which are now online.
Hope: So how did that transfer from the webseries to the comic book?
Kalman: There was always blue sky talk about doing comics, and since I was always in the mix and they were comfortable working with me, they’d waggled their eyebrows at me meaningfully whenever it came up. Now that the webisodes are up and running, we’re thinking about it in waves, so the first wave was the webisodes, and the second wave will be the comic book series. There is a third wave planned, something even meatier, but I can’t elaborate yet.
So they were looking at doing a 6 issue arc. They talked about me drawing the comic, I pitched them on me writing it, and they said “How about you do both?” so I pitched them on a 4 arc storyline and they really dug it. Right now we’re committing to one arc, but if all goes well it’ll definitely feed into a bigger story in a bigger universe. The comic market is really crazy right now in a good way, so who knows? If we do get to do the whole multi-arc story I’ll continue writing but we’ll have other artists drawing each arc.
As a way of connecting the legacy classic Canuck to our reboot, each issue has a main story featuring new Captain Canuck, which is the one I’m doing, along with a short back-up featuring a brand new story about classic Canuck drawn by a rotating cast of Canadian artists. Our mandate is to keep all the creative Canadian. There is a lot of Canadian comic book talent that a lot of people don’t even know are Canadian. We want to use this as an opportunity to showcase some of them and to keep it a home-grown product like the original Canuck was.
Hope: You say it’s a fully home-grown affair, so can I ask what publisher will be putting it out?
Kalman: The publisher is TBA, but I’ll give you a hint; they’re not Canadian. Mostly because, unfortunately, there aren’t any Canadian publishers that publish this kind of content. There are some great Canadian publishing companies but they don’t do superheroes. I can tell you we’re doing this in association with George Zotti and (Toronto retailer) The Silver Snail, who have partnered with Canuck Inc. to produce the comic series.
Hope: Can we expect to see the comic in Diamond catalogues any time in the near future?
Kalman: Yep. We are aiming for a July 1 release, Canada Day, like the webisodes (2013 premiere).
Hope: Is this the first project you’ve been a writer on?
Kalman: Other than a few super-short things, yeah. It’s my first full-length comic.
Hope: How did you approach that? Does Captain Canuck come out of the webseries directly or will it be based on any prior creations?
Kalman: Visually, it’s the same. I designed all the characters for the animation, so obviously I like them (laughs.) In terms of canon, it’s a little bit different. The model we’re looking at is like when G.I. Joe was on TV and in comics, some things were similar, some things were different. They freely used material from each other when they needed it, but they weren’t bound by things that each version defined. It’s Captain Canuck, and Bluefox, and Mister Gold and some new characters that we’ve added. But just because something is locked down in continuity in the animation doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s going to go in the comic.
Tonally, it’s a bit different too. There’s a bit more room to explore things in comics, so the storylines are more involved and the tone is more adult, aiming at the people who are buying comics, which are people around my age (30’s), whereas the animation is targeted to appeal to everybody, so it’s bouncier in tone. And in a three minute window you have to keep things simple and get in and out really fast. We’re using the comics to elaborate a bit on the backstory and supporting cast.
Hope: To what degree is the creator Richard Comely involved, or is he separate from the project?
Kalman: Richard is consulted, shown things, and his blessing is sought but he’s not involved in the day-to-day creative.
Hope: Since you have the first arc plotted out, can you tell me a little bit more about what the story is for the first Captain Canuck adventure?
Kalman: It’s a six issue arc that breaks into three 2 issue mini-arcs. It starts out with Captain Canuck and his newly formed organization Equilibrium addressing a crisis in the oil-sands where there’s some crazy things going on and everything’s on fire. That’s a two-part adventure to get us in the groove with the status quo and the cast. That leads to a bigger mystery/crisis that relates to how Tom (Captain Canuck) got his powers. So the next two issues are his origin in flashback, which ties in directly to the conflict at hand. Similar to the original Canuck, aliens are involved. Unlike the original, that is definitely going to be running through the series, whereas in the original it was a bit throwaway. Unlike the shorts (so far, anyway,) another major character in our series is Tom’s brother Michael. He existed in the original comics, but wasn’t particularly important. In this, there’s very much a Thor/Loki dynamic between the two brothers. We’re going to see how both Captain Canuck and his brother were changed by this extraordinary event in their pasts. And the final two issues is the confrontation at the site where it all happened, a place in the far north called Site Aleph. Nefarious powers are already there and exploiting things for their purposes, and the ensuing battle resolves the questions asked in issue 1 and also plants the seeds for the next arc.
Hope: I’ve noticed in some of the artwork you’ve posted that Captain Canuck is flying on a military helicopter. Is there going to be a greater international presence in this round?
Kalman: Yes and no. Equilibrium, the organization our Canuck works for, isn’t strictly a military organization, it’s more a crisis intervention organization, it does have a global scope, and there is definitely a military side to it. The original Canuck was RCMP, we’ve tweaked that so our Captain served in Afghanistan and has a military background.
The first arc takes place entirely in Canada. We start off in the oil sands, and then the rest of the arc is in the far north at Site Aleph on Melville Island, which is shared by Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. There’s also a bit set in Toronto, since most Canadians think Toronto is evil and evil things are happening in those scenes.
Hope: What region is this Captain Canuck primarily based out of?
Kalman: Our Canuck is from Flin Flon, Manitoba, what is pretty close to the geographical centre of Canada. Much like the original Canuck, he’s half native and half white; our Canuck is from the Moose Cree tribe.
Hope: That’s really interesting. I don’t think a lot of people would know that the original Captain Canuck was native.
Kalman: It wasn’t something that was dealt with very much in the originals. If we do get more arcs, the third arc takes Canuck back to his roots and addresses where he comes from and how that informs the hero that he is.
Hope: I think that’s about it, is there anything more you’d like to share about Captain Canuck?
Kalman: In the meantime until the comic comes out, check out the shorts. Episode Four is out, the first season is going to be five episodes long, and the fifth episode is coming in March and hopefully that will tide you over until we launch the comic book in July. You can watch all the webisodes for free at http://www.captaincanuck.com
Kalman Andrasofszky is an artist and illustrator based out of Toronto, Ontario. He is best known for his cover work for Marvel, DC, Image, and Valiant comic books. Captain Canuck is his latest project and first credit as a writer. You can follow his work at http://www.iamkalman.com/