Why would Jay, being an actor, join up with this fledgling Canadian publisher? Well, I’m on the case! I tracked down Chapterhouse publisher Fadi Hakim and Jay himself at this year’s Montreal Comiccon and they were gracious enough to give me a couple of great interviews and told me all about Chapterhouse and their goals!
Enjoy this two-for-the-price-of-one chat with these awesome dudes. First off, while Jay was busy signing autographs for his legions of fans at Chapterhouse’s booth, I got a chance to talk to the main man in charge, Fadi. Here’s what he had to say:
FPB: So, it’s great to see you guys here this year! How did this company get started and how important was it to get Jay Involved?
FH: Chapterhouse has been around for about 2 years. We launched with Captain Canuck #0 on Free Comic Book Day 2014. And of course, there was a studio portion to our company, and that was very important to us. One of the first things we put out was actually a Captain Canuck web series. The idea was to create a multimedia company where we had licences within our shared universe where we could do animated and live-action projects and that sort of thing.
Jay was sort of a natural fit. Before the contract was even signed (usually those sorts of contracts take a long time), he jumped on board right away. Which was fantastic. It kind of shows what that guy is made of. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he wanted to get involved immediately. He’s a great addition to the team. And he’ll help grow the studio side of the company.
FPB: And he’s fully involved creatively in the company?
FH: Absolutely! He’s the Chief Creative Officer and in 2017 we have six titles we put out within our licensed shared universe, which we call the Chapterverse, and of course there’s the creator-owned stuff like Die Kitty Die! and Spirit Leaves. The Chapterverse includes Freelance, Captain Canuck, Northguard, Fantomah and another book we have coming up called Fallen Son. So, basically we’ve involved Jay with what is coming up in 2018, and immediately got him into writing Captain Canuck: Year One. Which is HUGE.
What ended up happening was, we asked him to join in on the universe, which we’re already into mid-stride, but we also gave him a title which takes place before the actual Captain Canuck story. It’s his origin story! So he got to weigh in on the origin which was a big deal for us and obviously for him as well. And there’s going to be spinoffs from that. I would read Year One carefully, because it’s going to result in a lot of our own creations. You’re going to see a lot of that.
FPB: How important is it to get the Canadian content out there for you guys?
FH: For us it’s 100% essential. I’m honestly surprised that a lot of people haven’t tried this before. Canada has great companies like Drawn & Quarterly, but to do a superhero thing? Why not? Why couldn’t we? I don’t want to write stories about France or the United States. I just want to write stories about where everyone grew up. So that’s basically what we’re about.
FPB: Are you going to use exclusively Canadian creators or are you guys planning on branching out and getting as many people involved in the industry as you can?
FH: Yeah! By no means are we strictly Canadian centric. The idea is obviously you use what’s around you first. But for instance, we have the creators of Die Kitty Die!, Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. Fernando is American and Dan was born in Montreal but lives in the States.
Ultimately, it’s our culture and we are champions of that. But there are no boundaries as far as we are concerned.
FPB: What has the response been when you guys do Canadian conventions from the fans?
FH: It’s absolutely growing! It’s very positive. I love it when we get to explain this to somebody and we get to see their jaw drop and hear them say “WOW! THIS EXISTS!” or when you tell people that Canadian comics have been around for 75 years. You get to fill them in on it and that’s another important thing for us, reprinting the history of Canadian comics as well. We’re going to get more aggressive with that.
Any of the legacy characters we are using in our universe like Freelance and Northguard, all of those original stories will be reprinted. Everybody will get the feel that this has happened before, it’s not just something new. And then build on top of it with all of our new creations, to make something significantly ours.
FPB: So, as you said earlier, you’re looking to get into live-action as well?
FH: We’re in development with a broadcaster right now for an animated series. I can’t talk too much about it but all of this is part of the plan. This stuff unfortunately takes a lot of time and what we want to concentrate on right now is getting our licensed properties out there. Because the more people know about Captain Canuck before something comes out, the better.
So, there’s no rush, to be honest with you. These things take A LOT of time. But it’s definitely in the strategy. And we have a 10 year strategy. So, it will absolutely see the light of day. It’s only a matter of time. All I can say from here on in is keep reading!
FPB: Will you guys be looking to reach out to even more Canadian celebrities to get involved?
FH: Well, for our webseries we have the voices of Kris-Holden Reid (Lost Girl), Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as the voice of Red Coat, as well as Paul Amos (Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate) as Mister Gold. As far as music is concerned, we have Platinum Blonde, Rush and The Watchmen doing our soundtrack. So check that out!
We’re here to lionize the things around us. Music included. They all have a place within everything that we do. And the beautiful thing is that it’s all happened so organically. A lot of people have come to us and asked us to be a part of it. It’s a lovely and wonderful thing.
It feels like we’re doing something right, so we’re just going to keep the ball rolling.
FPB: And Chapterhouse books are available everywhere you can find comics?
FH: Yeah! We can be ordered through Diamond Distributors, so we are in Previews. Go to your retailers and ask for Chapterhouse comics. All comic book shops are there to provide you with what you want, so just ask!
We also just signed a Diamond Books distribution deal as well. So this puts us in book stores like Barnes & Noble and Chapters and that sort of thing. We will be relaunching all of our older trades throughout book stores in 2018. That’s another big push we are doing.
And after that I finally got to speak to the man himself, Jay Baruchel, who was super cool and very excited to be a part of Chapterhouse!
FPB: Thanks for taking this time, man. So what made you get involved with Chapterhouse?
JB: I was asked by Fadi if I’d be interested in adapting Canuck into a feature. He showed me the first Canuck trades which is basically the whole “first season” of that book, as well as everything Chapterhouse had put out at that time. And it just hijacked my imagination! Friday morning they asked me if I was interested in doing a movie and Monday I called them and asked to buy a part of the company!! I wanted to be an investor in it. Flash forward, here I am.
FPB: How important was getting involved with a Canadian comic book publisher to you?
JB: VERY. Very important. My most important mission in cinema is to awaken the next generation of Canadian storytellers and let them know that they can create here instead of splitting to the States or England. And seeing that Chapterhouse was waging the same fight on the comic book bookshelves, I knew it was something I had to be a part of. Because the one thing I like more than movies is comics. And the two are quite synonymous with each other and there’s a lot of overlapping.
And I was just like “I wish I had these comics when I was a kid.”
FPB: And was writing comics something you’ve always wanted to do? And what kind of comics were you into growing up?
JB: I read every Punisher War Journal when I was a kid.
FPB: Actually, the retaiIer that I write for? You’ve been in our physical shop buying up Punisher!
JB: Which one?!
JB: Oh yeah, definitely! I have a LOT of love for that store! And yeah, I always buy Castle.
I started acting at 12. At 9, I had been saying to my mother that I’d wanted to be an actor/director when I grew up. So, I was always in acting to be a part of movies, not the other way around. So I have a lifetime of ideas that I’ve wanted to put on paper.
FPB: I have to ask. Favorite Punisher run?
JB: WOW. I mean, it’s kind of hard to beat Garth Ennis. I mean, that’s it. Every single one of those comic books is better than most action movies.
FPB: Have you met (Jon) Bernthal? He’s here this weekend.
JB: I saw him, I haven’t gotten to meet him yet.
I’ll be honest, Dolph is my Punisher.
FPB: REALLY?! That’s an awesome pick, man.
JB: Oh yeah. To me, Dolph Lundgren’s was the closest the movies have gotten to capturing Frank Castle.
FPB: Have you integrated that gritty style of those comics into your writing?
JB: We will start to. Especially when next year comes and I get to introduce my first created superhero. She comes out next year. And, yeah. She’s gonna take heads off!
FPB: That’s really awesome. And you will be involved with Chapterhouse’s live-action stuff too, I imagine?
JB: Listen, if that happens, it’s gravy. But the most important thing is about making dope books. It betrays the medium and disrespects the medium if that is a means to an end. So, when people treat comic books like live action incubation houses, it’s gross.
Don’t get me wrong, every single one of our titles could be an awesome movie, and very well be so. But at the end of day, our goal is to make awesome comics. We have to entertain kids with dope comics! It’s all we have to leave behind. So that’s our big priority.
FPB: What do your buddies in the film industry have to say when you tell them about this?
JB: Everyone is envious of me. Everyone is excited about this!
FPB: Who would you get to play Canuck in live action?
JB: Jared Keeso from Letterkenny. Although Nathan Fillion is not bad either...
FPB: I saw him at the booth here earlier! Talk to him!
FPB: What is the endgame in your eyes with the company?
JB: For us to win the street fight for shelf space in comic book shops across the country. And let my generation be the last generation with Canuck on the periphery. Get Captain Canuck front and center on every comic book shelf in Canada. When we can take shelf space away from the “big two”, then that’s our endgame.
I really appreciated that these guys took the time out of their busy schedules to give me a chat and I really do wish Chapterhouse the best! They seem to definitely be headed in the right direction with some amazing comic titles!