Interview with Sandy Carruthers

By Hervé St.Louis
Mar 23, 2004 - 14:16

Sandy is working on Canadiana, a work in progress Web comic book.

Not many people know me for Men in Black. I drew Men in Black at the time, but movie people from Hollywood got interested. Laura MacDonald and Walter Parks from Sony Pictures got involved and the rest was history. Movies are not like books.

Hervé: What have you been working on since Men in Black?

Captain Canuck. It was an ashcan edition. Never was published. We promise it will come out, but we don't have a publisher. My main project is Canadian a Web comic. I plan to publish webisodes for a year for free to encourage readership. Canadiana is the spirit of Canada. She has no real origins. She even ensures the Prime Minister that she's not some alien who crashed. It's a wink to Superman. She's not like Wonder Woman and Superman combined, although, she's strong, she flies, is beautiful and has a cool costume. Her powers come from weaknesses, eventually to evolve into a super hero for every province. Where it goes, nobody knows. I've got good hopes from her. I'd like to collect her story as a graphic novel and publish it.

Hervé: How do you find the comic book market?

There's lots of competition, lots of room for looks. Many people try to copy a style. It's normal. If you work for DC Comics or Marvel. For some it's a limit. If people like my work, they like it. I used to be more anxious. Now I do it because I enjoy doing it. There's always room for improvements. I have to keep focused, not focussed on the big bucks.

Hervé: Where are your from? Prince Edward Island?

I'm minutes away from the beach. It's all tourism there. It's a nice slow life style. The bridge is much like a highway.

Hervé: What are you artistic influences?

Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Alex Toth, the bridge, animation, comics, Alan Moore's writing, Grant Morrisson, John Sargent, Maxfield Parrish - he's a fine artist. There's also Andrew Loomis, Burne Hogarth. I think everything is an influence.

Hervé: Confederation bridge in Prince Edward Island seems to inspire you a lot.

I want to break down Canada. She's really a unifying voice, being from the country's smallest province. The weakness theme. She's getting interesting responses.

Hervé: You're also a writer?

I like to tell a story. That's why I got into that. Comics are so much about story but also artwork. Writing is exhausting but has some merit. You put your best into it. If it didn't exhaust, there's not much interests. I like to write stories where people ask questions.

Hervé: What type of writer are you? Do you like exposition?

I write lots of drama, based on illustrations. There's a double message, body and text. It's more than the script. Maus, from Spiegelman, moved me, made me love the medium much more.

Hervé: Do you write scripts or you just storyboard?

I thumbnail, then illustrate, then write it. I like the process of writing a story in my mind. It's really great. I can change rules. I need to keep threads, keep intimate with readers.

Hervé: How do you find working with others?

With Mark Chainblum we connected. We have the same path. He would think, I would draw. It's a rare connection. I had very few bad scenarios.

Hervé: You're real job is as a graphic designer?

This is my day job. I am a full time instructor. Being an educator is fulfilling. You learn about yourself every year. Seeing people go into their careers, seeing them succeed. They're driven. It enables me to work on my craft.

Hervé: Any plans with big publishers?

If there's an opportunity. It requires work and time. My brain is like a stove. There's a lot of stuff on the back burner.

Hervé: Has the local scenery and landscape inspired you?

Absolutely. The backdrop is what she is. If somebody from another country comes across my work, they will see that. But people also want to see real Canadians. I had to learn that too. So the scenery and Canadians have to look like Canadians. Canadians don't say "eh" very often. I hope to capture that too though. Dialects are fun. I want to be aware of that or people will catch up. You can't fool Canadians. If I write about Newfies from Newfoundland, I have to sound like them. They have crazy names. They're a great people. Their industry was taken away from them. They are survivors. From this end of Montreal, I see huge differences. I need to convey that.

Hervé: Canadians love the government. Will that be part of your series?

She's not a hired hand of the Department of Defence. My brother-in-law is a soldier. He's very proud of that, although Canada is not the most armed country in the world. Canadiana is here to encourage hope, not to stop Canadians from separating or things like that. She wants them to enjoy the pureness only. She's got a positive outlook on the future.

Hervé: Is the series approachable to foreigners?

Yes and no. That's why I put it on the Web. It's not political agenda. It's just good stories, good stories about Canadians. People may connect with her. It would be cool if someday her costume us a Halloween costume.

Hervé: Will visual parts of the work help?

I definitely hope so. I hope people like it. We'll see. I don't want it to look like a European or an American comic book. It has its own qualities and is different. If it's like others, why bother? There's something interesting about being here in Quebec. Maybe it's the hard sell.

Hervé: How different is she from Uncle Sam?

She's a Canadian. I grew up with lots of sisters. Women are fascinating. Writing strong females is very cool. There's already a market for male super heroes. Perhaps female will like Canadiana.

Hervé: What plans do you have for the character?

I'd like to bring her into the broad popular psyche. Animation, merchandising, movies . . . Perhaps lightning will strike twice. I have creator control over where she goes. I'll have to hire good lawyers this time! I didn't benefit from the Men in Black. It generated 856 millions. I learned. I would have loved 1% of it, but I was work for hire. Nobody knew at the time it would get this big. I was young.

You can find out more about Sandy Carruther at Sandy Carruthers.

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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