2011 Canadian Comics Wrap Survey: Mike Leone and Ian Daffern

Tell us about yourself – a brief bio/intro.
Mike: We’re the hardworking writing team behind Freelance Blues—your new favourite Canadian independent comic.
Ian: Do they even have a favourite Canadian independent comic?
M: Probably, yeah! Us!

What was your involvement in comics in 2011?
M: My involvement in comics in 2011 was self-publishing Freelance Blues.
I: Mine’s the same. I also got a new book off the ground that’s a collection of 3 horror stories called A Nail In The Heart (drawn by Noel Tuazon, Frank Fiorentino and Shari Chankhamma). Both books are bad-ass.
M: Super Bad-ass.
I: And edited a collection of original comics for an online comics festival called Whazamo at Open Book:Toronto, of Canadian cartoonists telling stories about their favourite books. There’s incredible, really personal strips by Michael Cho, David Collier, Kalman Andrasofszky and more!What was the highlight of the year for you re:
(a) comics publishing in general?
M: The success that various comics are having in different media platforms. Like the Captain America Movies and Walking Dead tv shows.
I: What’s that’s make you feel about comics?
M: it just makes me feel positive about comics in general because they’re having success not just in the comic book stores and also getting out to a wider audience
who might not be in a store on any given Wednesday.
I: Yeah I hear that. I just like that everyone knows what a graphic novel is now. Even if they sometimes say it like they’re talking in “air quotes”.

(b) comics by Canadian creators?
M: Most of the Canadian creators I know are ones I meet at shows–great people like Ben Rivers who finished Snow this year, John Lang who did a biography of Billy Bishop for Penguin. Hell I’m happy to see veterans like Ken Lashley back out at shows too.
I: I’m insane for Kate Beaton’s Hark a Vagrant like just about every other former English grad student I know. Seeing the widespread success of that book has been amazing– it was in the Economist! Which is pretty incredible for something that started as a web comic.

Was 2011 a good year for you?
M: Yes. Specifically, we sold out of our first printing of issue one of Freelance Blues, which is a big deal. It’s a milestone. Which gave us an opportunity to work with fantastically talented cover artist Mike Del Mundo.
I: Yeah he really knocked it out of the park. First time having colour for us. And for me it was also great to try something new, getting some horror without the comedy and seeing how people liked that from my work in Nails. How’d you like it?
M: I loved that you did it– more than I liked the stories.
I: Hey!

Was 2011 a good year for comics?
M: I couldn’t say.
I: That’s fair.
M: Right now I can say 2009 was a pretty good year for comics.
I: Mike’s still catching up on several years of reading. Did you know Captain America died?
M: I hear that Captain America came back. Do you think 2011 was a good year for comics?
I: Sure, hell, well, I don’t know! I went to the New York Comic Con, and the whole thing was filled with so much energy, but I can’t tell if it’s because people are freaked out because they think publishing is sinking, or if it’s genuinely coming back to life. Either way it’s exciting.

Part of being on the scene is exhibiting at public events. Which Canadian ones (if any) did you support in 2011 and how do you feel they went for you?
I: All of them.
M: Well let’s see, Starting at Wizard World , then Hobbystar’s Toronto ComiCON Fan Appreciation and Ad Astra
I: That was a double header! Two shows the same weekend.
M: Kazoo out in Guelph
I: Fantastic show run by the guys from the Dragon.
M: Con Bravo in Burlington, Fan Expo, Word on the Street, Canzine, and Expozine in Montreal.
I: And we’re wrapping the season up this Saturday at the Small Press of Toronto Book Fair, where we’re going to do our 3rd annual Freelance Blues Design-Your-Own-Monster contest.
M: And how do we feel it went? Awesome. We rock shows.

What do you have coming up in 2012? (If you can’t say, then maybe hint at when we may find out)
I: With any luck we’re going finish this book. We’ve had our readers on hold for issue 5, and we’re really excited about getting our readers to the end of our story. And the horrible things we’re going to do our hero.
M: I’m just desperately knocking on wood.
I: I’ve also got a fingers-crossed comic short-story coming out at the website Tor.Com. It’s called Charcoal and it’s about a high-school girl who uses freaky magic to get revenge. It’s terrifying. Should have a second volume of Nail in the Heart coming out as well.

Any final comments on 2011?
M: My final comment would be “Suck it Mayan Calendar”, but that doesn’t really apply until next year.
I: You know that misses the point of the whole question.
M:No– I stand by that. Suck it Mayan Calendar.
I: Well there you have it.


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