In our latest installment of the Apartment613 Fellowship program, we’re pretty dang delighted to have Kristopher Waddell as our newest fellow. A longtime member of Ottawa’s comic book scene, Kristopher has been involved with all aspects of the trade – from creating comics to publishing books.
As president and publisher of Winter Star Comics, an indie comic book publishing company based here in our nation’s capital, Kristopher has been investing in the scene for many years. He’s also been closely connected to the broader culture scene writ-large, which is why his fellowship project is such a great fit. In regular weekly installments, we’re thrilled to present Kristopher’s take on the life and times of Johnny Vegas, who has been performing in this city for decades. Ottawa’s Lounge Lizard: Johnny Vegas is a perfect wrap up for all us who ended up in Maxwell’s over the years and heard the catchy strains of Vegas and his band.
The comic, which will feature cameos from famous locals like Tom Green and Mike Macdonald, will kick off next week with page one published here on apt613.ca. In the meantime, we asked Kristopher a few questions about his work, the comic book scene in Ottawa, and what inspired him to create this latest project.
Apt613: How did you first get involved with comics?
Kristopher Waddell: I had pursued a career in filmmaking/screenwriting, but at one point I ended up taking a break from the film business. Even though i wasn’t working on film sets, I hadn’t lost the desire to continue writing. Considering the screenwriting process, the time invested and the budgetary constraints involved, I turned to writing comic books as a great way to tell “big budget”, incredible stories. My first comic book pitch ever was sent in to Image/Shadowline as part of a contest they were running. My pitch ended up placing second out of thousands of entries. The experience of working with comic book professionals sealed the deal for me. I was hooked. I knew that I’d want to continue creating comic books for the rest of my life.
Tell us about the comic community here in the city! What makes Ottawa a good spot for comics – both creating them and reading them?
I always love spending time with other comic book creators (when we have the opportunity) here in Ottawa. There are far more than I think the average reader knows! We’re all incredibly supportive of each others’ work. I find that every community of creators, no matter if it’s Toronto or Vancouver, shares this quality, but Ottawa is known for being a government town. Ottawa is not the first city in Canada you think of when you think of the arts. The point is that creators in Ottawa understand it’s a little bit of an uphill battle, so we do our best to support each other in our creative journeys.
That being said, it’s difficult to create in a town where there isn’t any fan support. Ottawa’s not one of those towns. I’ve met thousands of folks over the years who love, read and support indie comics. I used to say that Ottawa was in a creative/geek renaissance, but I think that we’ve transitioned into an established fandom (of all sorts of tastes) that will sustain itself for years to come.
What inspired you to create a comic about Johnny Vegas?
I’ve had the pleasure of watching Johnny Vegas perform on countless occasions. My friends and I used to watch him perform every wednesday night at Maxwell’s for a number of years. Johnny’s even performed at a few of our weddings! There’s a special place in my heart, and I know all my friends’ hearts who danced and drank Wednesday into Thursday to the beat of the Johnny Vegas orchestra. This is a comic book that I needed to make. Ottawa’s Lounge Lizard: Johnny Vegas is a fun-filled adventure in the purest sense, but this comic book is a love letter to those wonderful times.
What’s on the horizon for the comic scene in Ottawa? What events and opportunities are you excited about?
I’m excited for the release (finally!) of my graphic novel Challenger. I anticipate its release in February! Challenger was the pitch that I had sent to Image/Shadowline many years ago. It’s a book that I had originally launched, but it felt unnecessarily rushed, I was never satisfied with the results. I made some changes, and ensured that the entire book was drawn, inked, colored and lettered by some incredibly talented professionals. I can’t thank the Challenger pitch crew enough. Veronica Fish, Kelly Tindal, Sephane De Caneva, Craig Norman, Richard Pace, Tom Fowler and the mighty Dominic Chenier.
Check back here on apt613.ca for the first installment of Ottawa’s Lounge Lizard: Johnny Vegas next week!