Written by Manuel A. Carmona
Today I'd like to present to you all what can happen when a few creative individuals decide to unify their efforts and leave egos aside. Enter: The Canadian Comic Book Alliance! Now before we delve into this novel idea, I'd like to talk about what I've always tried to do which is basically what these Canadian creators have achieved in a short period of time; stand together under a unified front and face the harsh comic book industry landscape together as a unit rather than every man for himself. I sat down with Canadian comic book creator Jeff Burton to talk about his book and comics in general. One thing led to another and eventually we stumbled upon this great thing some comic book creators got going on in Canada, our conversation went something like this...
Jeff- So tell me about your work!
Me- I'm involved in a few things, I'm working on my creator owned series Project: New Wave. Issue #4 is 80% finished, already have issues #1 - #3 published and you can purchase them on our website. Besides that I'm one of the organizers of Buy Indie Comics Day; which btw you and every other indie creator should be involved with.
Jeff- Oh I know about Buy Indie Comics Day! I came across that and shared it around a ton last year.
Me- That's a good thing! Thank you for that. I also run a non-profit initiative with my wife called Comics For Christmas.
Jeff- Oooo... Comics for Christmas sounds cool too! That’s totally awesome man!
Me- And last but not least, I'm the President of Truthful Comics, an indie publisher through which me and a few great friends work and put out various titles such as: Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord, The Mysterious Exorcist, Stupid The Cat, Cannon Girl, Project: New Wave and a few others. My main thing is trying to establish a fellowship amongst indie creators, through which we can push each others projects, collaborate and be there for each other. Comics can be a very hard and lonely industry for indie creators, but why does it have to be though?
Jeff- Sounds like myself and the Canadian Comic Book Alliance.
Me- Wait, the what now? What's that about?
Jeff- Basically the same idea - a network of Canadian indie creators working together to help promote our work and indie comics in general throughout Canada.
Me- That's the goal! Man that's my dream for us here in Virginia and my birthplace of Puerto Rico!
Jeff- And in our members-only group we share what we are working on, some collaboration happens, we give each other feedback and advice etc. Fellowship. Cuz you’re right, it is a lonely world in comics; so when we can get tables as a group or close to each other at shows man... what a blast!
Me- It is man! It's cutthroat sometimes and it doesn't have to be. That's what I wish to accomplish, but more times than not people focus only on themselves (understandably so) and forget about everyone else; I feel if we'd all push each other we'd be able to reach a much larger audience than if we just stay in our own little bubble. So tell me, how did the Canadian Comic Book Alliance started?
Jeff- Well we started in 2017. A small group of us "prairie" creators talked about something like that, then I talked to a few other creators I had gotten to know and then; I pitched it to them too.
Me- Wow! So it was fairly recent?!
Me- From the way everything looks and how you guys promote each other's work, one would think this has been a thing for many years.
Jeff- The Adventures of Auroraman Annual was a collaboration comic - the characters in the comic come from other CCBA members' books.
Me- I guess great things happen when people put their egos aside and decide to work on a common goal. So, you mentioned attending conventions together or meeting at conventions; do ya'll attend the conventions together as vendors and split the table costs or do ya meet up just as fans?
Jeff- Some of us have split tables, other times we have asked to have our tables close or next to each other; and a couple shows we were guests at and they put our tables in the same area together.
Me- That's awesome man! I'd love to have that same camaraderie here in my neck of the woods. Notice I'm trying to pick your brain to see if we can duplicate your success, because I'm enamored with the idea of helping each other navigate the dangerous waters of creator owned comics. The way I see it, there's enough for everyone to have a piece of the pie; we don't have to kick anyone down for us to get a piece of the action. United we stand; divided we fall. Egos have to be left at the door though, we're all equal partners here; we're not rivals.
Jeff- Bingo! Personalities will be a big part of that.
Me- I totally agree. So, basically the Alliance operates like an umbrella, where many creators benefit from and help each other; but does the Alliance have a monetary structure behind it?
Jeff- No monetary structure. We thought, as soon as we edge close to anything that brings money in; stuff tends to slide sideways a bit. Small things have been ok, but any larger amount of money and things get messy; so we just left that idea alone for now.
Me- That's smart, after all "Money is the root of all Evil" as the say.
Me- Can you tell me who the members of the Alliance are?
Jeff- Sure, the members are (in no particular order): Andrew Thomas, Mark Armstrong Allard, Gary Boyarski, Brayden Martens, Alfonso Espinos, Mart Deschatelets, Elaine M Will, Ryan Howe, Scott W W Sawyer, Kevin Montpellier, Jeff Martin, Gmb Chomichukm, Sharon GauthierJason Sylvestre, Martin Boruta, James Zintel, Nathan Wahl, Davis Dewsbury, Andrew Lorenz, Dan Collins, Donovan Yaciuk, Josh Rose, Jamie Isfeld, Kevin Briones, Justin Shauf and Colin Work.
Me- Wow there's quite a few creators in the Canadian Alliance. So, to round this conversation; what advice would you give someone who's trying to create a group like the Canadian Comic Book Alliance?
Jeff- Egos at the door and make sure that everyone is friends going into it. All on the same playing field and page - no one is better or deserves more. You’ll grow better together.
Me- Better words were never spoken! Thanks for taking the time to talk comics my friend, I'm sure it won't be the last. And to you that's reading this, now that you know who the members of the Canadian Comic Book Alliance are, here is some of the work from many talented Canadian creators and as always... keep it Truthful!