Atlanti-Con 4 swept through the city of Corner Brook this past weekend, September 25-27 at the Corner Brook Convention Center and was once again wildly successful. It is to my deep regret that I missed this event in its first two years: it’s a great con run by amazing people, and always a ton of fun that is also — somehow — quite relaxing. There’s something of a very chill vibe that I get from Atlanti-Con that I do not get at other conventions on my standard circuit: Atlanti-Con is the cool surfer-brother of the Atlantic Provinces Convention family.
While many Engen authors, including Steve Lake (author of the Full Moon series of short stories), Darren Hann (author of Time Diamond, Holy Troll, and The Imagination Journals) and Tara Murphy (author of HagRidden) all came out together along with other members of the Sci-Fi on the Rock community, myself and fellow Infinity author Ellen Curtis came out a few days earlier on September 23, carpooling with award-winning author Scott Bartlett (author of Royal Flush, Taking Stock, and Finished with Life) to stay with friend and co-author Sarah Thompson and her wife Erica Green on the west coast of the province for a few days before the convention really geared up.
Sarah and Erica are some of my very best friends. Their wedding last year was an amazing night with laughter and friends and fun that will be remembered for years to come, and they are wonderful hosts. Sarah herself is a person of many talents, not only working as an Employee-of-the-Year-winning announcer on K-Rock and helping at the Engen booth with sales, but also penning an amazing short story for the Engen light|dark anthology, Reamers.
After a few days of fun in the surprising amount of sun, with good food and lots late nights, Atlanti-Con took full affect in its new venue, with guests that included Michael McCluskey (also known by his stage name, Fat Apollo), voice-actor Erin Fitzgerald (most famously of the Monster High series), and comic-artist/author Richard Comely.
Now I don’t fan-gush much at conventions. It is very rare that I meet a celebrity that flusters me: I tend to be of the mind that we’re all people, and that getting excited over meeting a celebrity is a little silly: your life-partner, that’s someone to get excited about meeting. But while I don’t think I was nerding too badly at Atlanti-Con, I will say that meeting Richard Comely was a big moment for me.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the name, Richard Comely was the creator and main creative influence on the Captain Canuck series of comic books that ran from 1975 to 1981 and formed a large part of the cultural and pop-cultural heritage and history of Canadians in that time and to the present day. The first issue of Captain Canuck sold over 200,000 copies in 1975, and was one of the first Canadian super-hero comic success stories.
To put it into perspective: that was the same year that Giant-Sized X-Men #1 came out and relaunched the X-Men with Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and the like. And even then, many mainstream comics were not hitting the numbers that Comely’s comics were.
For me personally, I remember finding back-issues of Captain Canuck in a longbox in St. Johns. I didn’t know it then in those pre-internet days of 1990, but I had found almost the entire 14-issue series in one sitting. I remember reading through each issue, and Comely editorials at the end of each one, feverishly. I’d read superhero comics for some time, but even those set in Canada had been written and produced south of the border. Something about reading Comely’s evocative stories gave me, as a Canadian, permission to write and imagine writing in that genre. The series is available now in an Omnibus (called a Compendium) that collects all 14 issues, an previously unrepresented 15th issue, and several one-shot issues leading up to the recent relaunch. Everyone should check it out.
I picked up the 1975-1981 Compendium immediately, and later Richard was interested in what he was seeing across the hall at the Engen booth and proposed a swap: the first three issues of the new series for the anthology title light/dark, which highlights many of the Engen authors. A very good trade. Artist Kevin Kendall and I ended up getting in a bit of a nerd-off competition for who could get more Captain Canuck merchandise, as we’re both big fans.
Speaking of Kevin Kendall, Atlanti-Con also was host to some of the best artists in the province, including Kevin’s Kendallight Studios and Kyle Callahan from Kyle Callahan Photography. Both do amazingly detailed work in very different ways, and the body of their work is often stunning. Atlanti-Con is always great for building connections and relationships: I met Kevin at a Convention on the West Coast in 2009, and he ended up doing the cover art for the revamped international edition of Black Womb for us. Keep your ears open for more collaborations between Engen and Kendallight Studios in the future, as well as with Kyle Callahan Photography.
Engen Books sold well as always, with the new-to-the-West-Coast Cinders and Infinity being the best sellers. We can’t wait to start getting feedback from the wonderful, creative people we met at Atlanti-Con this year: art isn’t art without input from the viewer!
Here’s to another great year at Atlanti-Con next year! Special shout-out to Scott Bartlett for driving this year and getting the three of us there (and back) safe and sound in an environmentally-friendly way! 🙂
Never Look Back!