Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brittle Hill comes to Halifax!

The Maritimes has been known to house a lot of talented people. Art has been created, shared and admired here for generations. You may or may not be aware that we have also birthed some talented comic book creators over the years. Alan and Helen Spinney are releasing issue three of their Moncton grown comic book series Brittle Hill. They will also be attending Hal-con this year. You can find them at the East Coast Comic Expo this Saturday between the hours of 11am - 1pm. After that there will be a special signing at 4pm at the Prince Street location of Strange Adventures in Halifax. They'll be back at Hal-con from 6-7pm. You will be able to grab copies of all three issues of Brittle Hill

I was lucky to get a few words with Alan before they come down to greet the city. I wanted to focus on what it's like to publish in the Maritimes but also on how this unique story came to be. Candy Zombies? Here's our Q&A:
TFQ: What Inspired this story? Candy zombies?
Issue #3!

Alan: I've worked in advertising for many years, coming up with fun ways to promote products and services for clients. I'm used to having creative ideas just pop into my head, by asking 'what if?'. The idea of candy zombies is like that. What if there were zombies made of candy? They would have brittle outside skin, that would break easily. If kids discovered them, the kids would be attracted to the candy, and want to eat the zombies. They would chase the zombies, instead of the other way around. But what if the zombies are fast, because they are made of sugar and full of energy. What if they were hyper, and had a hard time slowing down! But what if eating the zombie candy would infect the person who ate it!

The candy zombie idea was a fun concept, and I wanted to make a little giveaway mini comic on Free Comic Book Day, featuring all these candy zombie characters.
Just a folded black and white comic, photocopied and handed out at local comic stores. A little local Moncton comic book, just for fun.

Helen and I discussed the idea, and she suggested that it had some real potential.
We could make it a 'real' comic, and have teenage kids interacting with the zombies. Three Brittleville teens are in the police station at the beginning of issue 1. They're in trouble. We learn about them and the mysterious candy zombies who are watching them. Who are these zombies, or who WERE they before death? In the next 2 issues, the candy zombies and the residents of Brittleville get closer and closer, bumping into each other by accident. Or is it on purpose?

TFQ: How many issues will Brittle Hill have in total? Do you already have an ending to the story? 

Alan: We are releasing the third issue in November 2014, and have written the basic storyline for issue 4 already. Once issue 4 is released in early 2015, we will look at sales, and see what kind of audience there is for Brittle Hill. That will help us decide how to proceed.

TFQ: What's it like publishing in the Maritimes? Are there significant hurdles?

Alan: We write, draw and print Brittle Hill in Moncton, and sell in comic shops and bookstores throughout the Maritimes. We don't think it is any more difficult to create a comic series here than in a bigger centre, and in a lot of ways, we are better off in the Maritimes.
People here have a story telling past, and are very supportive of local projects.They will listen to what we have to say about Brittle Hill, and pick up an issue to see if they like it. With our closely knit communities, people tell each other about Brittle Hill, so news spreads by word of mouth. And with digital distribution, the hurdle of shipping comic books to buyers in other locations is pretty much gone. Brittle Hill is available on Comixology and through our own website ( as a downloadable pdf file for as little as 99 cents per issue.

TFQ: What sort of advice do you have for first timers who are looking to publish their own comics? 

Issue #1

Alan: When we planned the first issue of Brittle Hill, there was a big learning curve.
Neither one of us had written or drawn a comic book before! Comic books have a very unique style of story telling, combining words and drawings! We searched the internet for blogs and YouTube videos on how to produce a comic. We read books on it, and bought comics to see how other people were telling their stories. We attended a seminar on how to tell stories in comic books!

So, we did our homework, and then made a plan with a realistic deadline for each step of the first issue: writing, pencilling, inking and coloring. Once we made our schedule, we stuck to it, so we could deliver the first issue when we had promised.

We stay curious: we like to see what other comic creators are doing, both locally and those who work for large comic companies. It has to stay fun, even though we are working hard. That's the real key; make a comic story that you really believe in, and make it the best you can in the time you have.Then be happy with it, and keep learning how to tell the next story better and better!

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