In the past Comic-Cons, or comic-book conventions, have been synonymous with nerdy and marginal types obsessed with comics and movie characters to the point of extremes. But that ain’t exactly the case anymore. The love for all things superhero has without a doubt gone mainstream.

Montreal’s Comic-Con 2011 (September 17-18) brought out 20,000 enthusiasts daily while Place Bonaventure had room for only 15,000 of them to get in. And, despite popular belief, not all of them looked like they were emerging from mom’s basement for the first time in over six months… though there were several questionable types with Spock ears.

At the same time, it was these comic-book devotees who made the event just as much as the visiting celebrities and the purveyors of all things comics. Just looking at the queue to get into the event you could see hundreds dressed up like their heroes. Jedi Knights talking to Sailor Moon girls, countless Batmans, Supermans, Spidermans, a set of wannabe Sookie and Jason Stackhouses from True Blood, a few Power Rangers and then an endless laundry list of characters who we didn’t recognize.

Alone with the Darth Vader and series of Stormtroopers stationed throughout the exposition hall, the patrons were as big of a part of the show as anyone else.

While patrons could get in line to purchase photos of themselves with Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, the original Batman and Robin (Adam West and Burt Ward), Spike and Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a.k.a. James Marsters and Mercedes McNab) and other stars from TV and film who have brought many a favourite character to life, the Nation chose to focus on other happenings at Comic-Con.

Rather than trying to hub-nub it with the A-listers, we decided to spend our time talking to those behind-the-scenes, those inking the pages and filling up speech bubbles and those who have created other worlds online and on the page. Our objective of this special Comic-Con coverage is to spark an interest amongst our readers in comics for youth and adults alike. Whether you read them, create them or draw them, we salute your interest as we were mesmerized by the world within the convention.

The first person we met was Kelly Tindall, a Toronto-based comic-book artist who has worked in various capacities in the industry.

“I make comics. I write then, I draw them, I also letter them and sometimes I colour them. I started working in comics back in 2007 and went in this direction because it is really all I like to do,” said Tindall

There to support his various work, like horror story Green Way and web comic That’s So Craven, Tindall explained that though what he was showcasing was quite dark, his work is multi-faceted.

“This is what you do when you get into the business and where you can       get the work. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t been pigeonholed as a horror guy, so I’ve been able to do a couple of other things. But what I really want to do are kids books because there is room in kids books for a little bit of everything,” said Tindall.

Tindall said that while his love of comics was spurned at a young age, his desire to create them is all about the versatility of the medium. Having worked as an illustrator previously, he felt stifled by having to tell a whole story with just one image. In creating comics he could tell many stories and create many images.

To see Tindall’s work, go to

A few tables down, artist David Germaine was showcasing his latest work, a graphic novel titled “Jesus Needs Help”.

“It is really a spoof on censorship for the most part,” explained Germaine whose story features Jesus Christ being attacked by a series of “censorship monkeys”.

“Jesus gets help from his father of course in this story as he is the only one who can help. It is a very tongue-and-        cheek story and whether you are a believer or not you will find something to enjoy in this book,” Germaine added.

Over at one of Comic-Con’s flashier displays, Anderson Bradshaw, a Montreal stuntman, actor, martial arts and weapons coordinator, was in full costume as Eight Ball, a character from the Canadian superhero live-action web series, Heroes of the North. He and his cast were there to promote the new series/brand that he and Christian Viau have created.

The series, which is presented in six-to-eight-minute segments online, has just been picked up to become a printed graphic novel that will see mass distribution. What makes it so unique, according to Bradshaw, is that while it may draw parallels with familiar elements of the Marvel and DC comic-book worlds, Heroes of the North is actually set in Canada… well, at least an alternate version of Canada.

“Each character has a sector. You have your urban dwellers who are the Punisher/Dead Pool/Batman type of guys and I am one of them for Montreal/NDG. Then we have Nordic. She was a child left for dead in the         Arctic, who was found by an Inuit family and she has some special powers. There is also a series of Russian/North Korean type of characters and it’s Nordic job to protect that sector from them.

“We also have the Canadian who is like Captain America. He is the ‘Fed’ who basically works for Ottawa or ‘Washington’ and pretty much runs all of Canada. He is a blue boy but his character gets very dark,” explained Bradshaw.

With a series of intertwining characters whose stories parallel headlines out of today’s news and beyond, Heroes of the North has a lot to offer avid comics fans. For more info:

Of course, what Comic-Con would be complete without something to whet the appetites of Star Trek fans? To promote the upcoming William Shatner show at Montreal’s Place des Arts on November 4, there was a booth at the convention that featured several attractive young women dressed up as a original Star Trek crew in skimpy 1960s uniforms.

“The show is pretty much Shatner doing everything that he does which is being really charming, dancing, singing, rapping, talking about his experiences and he has lots as he is 80 years old. He is like a male Joan Rivers but with less botox… or maybe about the same amount,” said Lisa, one of the show’s promoters.

For those whose fantasy it was to have themselves drawn into their favourite comic books, illustrator Vince Sunico was on hand inking portraits or pinups of both superheroes and superhero versions of fans on commission.

Sunico, who has done contract work for some of the big studios, said he works the Comic-Con circuit throughout North America for both business and pleasure.

“I have always been a big fan of superheroes, Spiderman was my             favourite as a kid. What got me into this was that compared to animation, you can really identify a lot more with this as an artist. So, if you see my stuff, you will know that it is mine. But if you look at something from Disney, all you can see is Disney,” said Sunico

While he hasn’t made it into the Marvel or DC studios yet, Sunico said he     hopes it will happen one day. To view his work:

Manning her own table to hawk her series of posters and her brand-new comic book, Sonia Anwar is among two minorities in the comic-book industry – female and Muslim.

Anwar’s poster series features women from a variety of ethnic origins in an Art Nouveau framing while her comic book 1001, presents similar visuals but retells portions of the Tales of the Arabian Nights from a more modern and feminist approach.

“Being a woman of Pakistani heritage, being Muslim and coming from that part of the world, I wanted to showcase that in my work. That is why I like to think of myself as a strong and ambitious woman.

“Here I have tried to bring female characters of different ethnicities and different cultures to the table who are also strong and have a lot more going on for them than what is on the surface. This is just what we need in comics – more substance in our women as we are a lot more than just someone’s girlfriend or sister,” said Anwar.

Manning the Archie Comics booth was none other than longtime Archie writer and illustrator Dan Parent who has spent the past 24 years creating Archie strips. Even after all those years, Parent said he and his editors are never at a loss for script ideas as they draw so much from pop culture.

“It’s been in my blood for so long that it’s become an old hat for me,” said Parent as he casually sketched away at some work in front of him.

Behind him were covers for upcoming issues that featured Archie and company as the Wizard of Oz characters and as the members of the rock band Kiss. Parent explained that while some on the covers were favourites, the Kiss cover was for an issue they are currently working on and that his editors had been in talks with Gene Simmons and the gang to get the issue out.

When asked his favourite character, Parent didn’t hesitate before answering Jughead and saying as he could identify with him the most. Parent also said he is a big fan of hamburgers though he doesn’t eat them by the plate load.

While there were lots of independent comic-book and graphic-novel artists at the convention to promote their latest works, we were probably


most impressed with Anthony Del Col, the co-creator and co-writer of Kill Shakespeare.

This action-adventure comic-book series is all about Shakespeare’s greatest heroes and villains coming together in the same world, same story and same adventure to either kill or save a mysterious wizard by the name of William Shakespeare.

When asked if his books were just a ploy to get teens to read Shakespeare plays, Del Col said a lot of teachers and librarians had actually begun to pick up on the series because they see it as a “gateway drug” to get kids into the Bard.

“This is the kind of story that shines a new spotlight on these characters and in a very unique way. You learn a thing or two about Juliet or Romeo or Hamlet or Lady Macbeth and that gets you excited about reading their original story,” said Del Col.

While this series is available from and Chapters/Indigo, for those looking for more, go to

Bringing together the meek with the mighty, the fair with the furious and some of the tiniest fans with some of their biggest heroes, the 2011 edition of Comic-Con is guaranteed to be brining in Batmobiles and Boba Fett helmets to downtown Montreal for years to come based on this year’s success. The only question that remains is what to wear to next year’s event?