Drawing superpowered space-age stories of Prince Edward Island
In the first edition of Sandstone Comics, readers see Prince Edward Island populated by super-powered humans, brooding cops, hyper-intelligent apes and extraterrestrial travelers.
Artists and storytellers Greg Webster, Sandy Carruthers and Robert Doan have each created graphics tales of heroism and suspense set in a landscape that is strange but would also be familiar to anyone who has lived in or visited the Island.
“It’s the Island but at the same time, it isn't our Island,” Webster says. “The capital is Charlotte City - Charlottetown - though a few crucial things changed. It’s our city but with a spaceport and eight million people.”
Webster and Carruthers say their work is inspired by a life-long love of comic books and a dream of creating a story set in a fictional Prince Edward Island. Carruthers said the three partners decided to use the Island’s real cities as inspiration for fictional places. He said this approach is used by DC Comics where Batman prowls Gotham City – a stand-in for New York – and Superman flies above Metropolis – the Midwestern equivalent of Chicago.
“In our stories, there are areas of Charlotte City that might not be familiar. There’s a neighbourhood called The Cradle that’s kind of where the trouble spots are. There’s a business district with gleaming towers. There’s a space elevator,” Carruthers says. “But there are familiar sights too. When you look through the book you can see the Anne of Green Gables Store and the Arts Guild. It’s been great to be able to look at our city as a setting for these stories. ”
Doan, Webster and Carruthers released the first edition of Sandstone Comics in March 2019, helped by online fundraising through Kickstarter. This summer, Sandstone received a $5,500 provincial arts grant to support the production of the second edition of their comic book, expected to be out in December 2019.
“Government recognizes how valuable the Arts Grants Program is to the recipients,” said Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay. “The grants help relieve financial stress so the artists can focus on their work and execute their vision. Island artists contribute greatly to our communities and economy, and through these grants we can continue to build this momentum.”
The arts grant has eased some of the pressure to raise funds and court investors for the second edition of Sandstone Comics.
“I think we really have to thanks the arts grants and Innovation PEI for their support. The grant is an important step toward our funding goal. We don’t have to put as much work into crowd funding for our second edition as we did with the first one.”
- Greg Webster
“The second edition is very important. When we go to comic shops and conventions, the second edition shows that we are following up and creating a series,” Carruthers said. “This support lets us think a little less about fundraising and focus more on the things we love – writing and drawing and creating comics like the ones that we have always enjoyed.”
Sandstone Comics are available at Comic Hunter and Lightning Bolt Comics in Charlottetown and at other stores around the Island.