Interview: Toronto Creators Get YONGE AT HEART

Toronto comics creators, they’re all Yonge at heart. Please pardon the pun, but in my defence I stole it from a Kickstarter Anthology that is running right now. Steven Andrews is the curator of the 4th volume of the Toronto Comics Anthology series, entitled “Yonge at Heart”. The anthology features some A-list comic talent and Andrews was kind enough to chat with us about the project (which you can find HERE).

Aaron Long: This is the fourth volume of the anthology, for those who are unfamiliar with the project can you talk about how it started?

Steven Andrews: In summer 2014, I signed up for Ty Templeton’s writing classes to make better casual games. Ty promised to ruin us for comics, and he was true to his word! A couple of students got together, and decided that to understand comics, we had to go out and make them. We recruited fellow students, and we put together out first 90-page anthology just four months later. And once we had this printed book, suddenly we realized we had no idea how get it to market.

I remember selling only 50 copies in 2014, and wondering if we should just give up. But we got a lot of encouragement from the community, and with the Kickstarter success of Volume 2, we started getting some real momentum. We figured out how to do marketing, how to do shows, and a little about how to make our passion for comics infectious. We’ve come a long way – we’ve since sold over a thousand Vol 1s, and we’ve got some brand new anthology series launching later this year!

AL: Who will be contributing to this volume?

SA: We have 40 local writers and artists in this anthology, including some indie veterans and quite a few unpublished newcomers. We try to select folks who we think will become movers and shakers in the next five years, as well as bringing on more established names to help propel the newcomers into the spotlight. For a full list of creators, check the Kickstarter page!

AL: This volume is “Yonge At Heart”. Can you discuss this year’s theme?

SA: We try to keep our themes loose to let creators go wild in the Toronto setting, but we do have quite a few monster stories this year. We got Minotaurs guarding labyrinthine department stores, heroic subway wizards battling monsters bubbling out of the sewers, and Totally Ordinary Humans trying to use our byzantine streetcar system. We also have some true-history stories, like Toronto’s first gangland murder ( never solved! ), and the weird true tale of the Great Clown Brothel Riot.

From “Signal Problems” by David Namisato

AL: This volume is the first that will be in full colour. What went into that decision?

SA: We feel it’s important to be constantly improving, and colour was the next logical step for us in that journey. It significantly increases printing costs and page rates, but it’s also just way more charming! When you flip through the pages, the vivid colours and wild designs draw you right in. We want every book we do to be significantly better than last years – we never want to repeat ourselves.

AL: Can you talk about the different backer levels and what rewards people can get their hands on?

SA: The book itself, in all it’s 210-page full-colour glory, is just $20 CDN, and you can add a set of exclusive prints from artists like Eric Kim, Katie Shanahan and more for an extra $10.

You can also get an adorable Comfy Monkey shirt (based on the infamous IKEA monkey!) designed by Jenn St-Onge of Jem & The Misfits fame. You can get the book, the prints, and the shirt all for just $40 CDN.

Lastly, although this book stands alone, you can also get all our previous books at a steep discount, or commission one of our talented artists for a custom illustration or sculpture!

AL: Any final words for readers about the Toronto Comics Anthology?

SA: I’d like our book to help highlight how many incredible creators are coming out of our city. I think mainstream readers would be surprised at how many major talents are based here – we got Jeff Lemire, Jim Zub, Ryan North, Cameron Stewart, Chip Zdarsky, Leonard Kirk, Francis Manapul, and literally hundreds of others.

The comics community in Toronto has never been more active or more creative, and I hope that our book serves as an introduction to some of the upcoming names in the indie community!

You can find the Yonge At Heart Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/742428467/toronto-comics-yonge-at-heart

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