Box Boy is a graphic novel with themes of journey, friendship and the pursuit of purpose – themes author Tayson Martindale is familiar with from his time in the Edmonton comic community.
It’s the first graphic novel the Edmonton artist has published, and he’ll be holding a book signing and meet and greet on Wednesday at West Edmonton Coin & Stamp.
Martindale, who moved to Edmonton from South Africa at age four, spent 15 months working on the graphic novel that was released in March.
He described it as a fairly gruelling creative process – and added that local support is crucial.
“Everyone is really supportive, they’re always building you up,” he explained. “It’s so many hours put into it, so much heart put into it, and you make these things in a bubble and I think everyone knows what that feels like.”
He attributes his success in getting published to several factors – working towards creating a finished product, pushing through the ups and downs of the creative process, and the support and encouragement of other artists and venues.
“A lot of the local comic shops are really supportive of local artists,” Martindale said.
“They have nights where you show your projects, share what you’re working on, get feedback and encouragement. Just create in that environment.”
That camaraderie is what contributes to a strong and successful comic book community in Edmonton, who are active in other communities while promoting the medium. Martindale has worked with Happy Harbour Comics bringing comic book fairs to local schools, with part of the proceeds going back towards the school library.
“Tons of amazing local artists, and what’s really cool is the more you get to know people the more you get to know that everybody knows each other,” Martindale said. “It’s a really cool community. I just love comics as a storytelling medium, there’s so much you can do with it.”
Martindale was inspired to create Box Boy by a doodle in his sketch pad – and in the following year and a half had many moments of insecurity and uncertainty. But he was determined to finish the project, and the encouragement from other local artists was a big factor.
“It’s one of the best communities I’ve been apart of. Really supportive and just so much talent in Edmonton.”