Interview with Comic Creator Jason LooApril 11, 2014
Jason Loo, a comic creator, is finally beginning to see a project he’s worked long and hard on finally come together. With the help of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and 233 backers to the project, The Pitiful Human-Lizard will be making his debut on May 30th. We had the chance to speak with him about the comic, using a crowdfunding platform to get it online and what’s next in the world of creating comics.
Creating comics isn’t easy, but Jason has all the drive and determination to not only self-publish his comic, but to make it successful. Using the backdrop of a familiar city [Toronto, the city where he lives], he’s not only brought his character, Lucas Barrett (The Pitiful Human-Lizard) to life, but has managed to create a vibrant, beautiful, and above all else, familiar feeling to every page that features iconic Toronto locales. Make no mistake though, this isn’t just a comic for Torontonians or those familiar with the city. In fact, it’s a surprise we don’t see more comics based in cities around Canada, but that’s what makes comics like this even more important.
When we spoke to Jason, we were able to get a unique insight into how crowdfunding really has changed the way self-publication works and how successful stories like his are driven by those backers who want to see the project to completion. We had the chance to talk not only about the comic but how crowdfunding platforms have made what used to be a dream a definitive reality.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Jason Loo, a cartoonist on the side and creator behind the Pitiful Human-Lizard.
When did the concept of The Pitiful Human-Lizard first come about and how did you develop his storyline into what it is today?
I first came up with the concept back in high school and worked on it through my time in Sheridan College. I wanted to tell a superhero story about a superhero who experiences a series of bad days. When I recently got back into reading old Marvel comics and noticed titles like the Fantastic Four, Luke Cage, and A Man Called Nova take place in actual locations in New York, I wanted to try the same thing for Toronto. So I dug up the first superhero I made for my comic in homage to the bronze age of Marvel.
You feature many iconic Toronto landmarks in the comic; why was choosing Toronto so important and how does the city inspire you as an artist?
I love Toronto and I live in the city. The source material is all around me. Almost every week, I would take walks into the city from my place near High Park and take some photos I could use as reference material for the comic. There’s a lot of character in Toronto’s architecture and people to work from.
You used crowdfunding [Kickstarter] for the ability to self-publish the first run of comics; would the project have been possible without the crowdfunding platform?
Without Kickstarter, there would be a low run on the comic, the print production quality won’t be as up to par with the comic book industry standards of DC, Marvel, and Image, and not many people would know much about the series. Thanks to Kickstarter and social media like Facebook and Twitter, it got a huge reach of people interested in the comic, it got media attention like BlogTO, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Life about Toronto’s new superhero, and the comic production quality will be something I can be very proud of to release. If I didn’t go through Kickstarter, I would compromise a lot with the book’s print production quality. We may have gotten a 100 copies of a black and white comic instead of a run of 1000 copies of a full-colour 52 page book that’ll be out in May.
How do you think Kickstarter has changed things for artists like yourself who are looking to get their work out there to interested readers?
For artists who don’t have a budget for their ambitious ideas, Kickstarter has helped materialize these ideas. There are a lot of great projects on Kickstarter that may have been overlooked by the big companies to help manufacture these projects, but could have a potential market audience out there.
Following the completion of the first issue of the Pitiful Human-Lizard, are there plans for additional issues down the line?
Definitely. I have a 5 issue story arc in mind, and if there is still a demand for it, I’ll continue to write and draw for the series.
What has been the hardest part about your project to date?
The comic-making is the most time-consuming but fun process. I made sure most of that was done before I started the Kickstarter to guarantee the backers that this is a promising project. But the hardest part would be doing recorded interviews with the press as I get too self-conscious about what I’m about to say. It’s nerve-racking. I was beating myself up after the first video interview.
Where can we find you online?
Thanks to Jason for taking the time to speak with us regarding The Pitiful Human-Lizard. According to the comics Facebook, there will be a launch party in Toronto at Silver Snail Comics on Friday, May 30th at 7PM with more details to follow.