A comic book worth wearing

Tara Bradbury
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Local artist illustrates T-shirts to raise funds for a print run

Everyone’s got that something or someone in their life that inspired them when it comes to their career. It might have been a parent or a teacher or even an experience that opened up a career path or gave them the push they needed to decide what it was they wanted to do with their life.

Myles Reichel had five mentors, who live in the sewers. And are not quite human — anymore.

“I’m a big (Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtles fan,” Reichel said. “I grew up watching the Ninja Turtles and I later expanded into other comics, but it started from there, really.”

A native of Carbonear, Reichel, 27, has also had a passion for drawing, and is self-taught, apart from four classes he took at a young age from a local artist. He learned by poring over how-to-draw and anatomy books, and has been honing his skills ever since. Though he has dabbled in painting and other forms of art, he has always come back to comic book-style.

In high school, Reichel and a friend created a ninja character for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign they were playing, and after it was over, he had the idea to create a comic book around him.

Reichel said “A Ninja Story” follows Japanese ninja Yasashiro Toshimoto as he seeks vengeance against those who’ve wronged him, and recounts the stories of his life.

“It delves into topics of life and death, mind and matter, space and time, philosophes of the world and humanity, among many other things,” Reichel has written on a Facebook page dedicated to the project.

The pages for the book have been completed and are ready to print, although the costs of self-publishing a comic book are high and not quite doable for Reichel at the moment. To raise the funds, he has come up with a unique idea.

“I play in a band called Uneeda, and we had a run of T-shirts done through this small business, Newfound Fitted. I was holding up a shirt, looking at the Uneeda logo, and the past 10 years of this book culminated in a moment, and I realized this would be a wicked marketing campaign,” Reichel said.

The campaign? To have each page of his book printed on individual T-shirts for sale. It’s fitting for a ninja tale, Reichel reckons, since the T-shirts would be popping up randomly around town as people wear them.

The comic book has 27 pages, including the cover, and is drawn in black and white. Though he has the first three pages already printed on shirts — in both black on white and white on black — he has only released the cover shirt as of yet. Selling for $22, the cover has just about sold out.

“There’ll be a couple of different shirts thrown in there, just to mix it up a little bit. Something a little bit different, so it stands out in the run,” Reichel said.

He’s not necessarily hoping that an individual will buy all 27 shirts — he’d rather it be more of a puzzle.

“I’m thinking that random people would run into each other with different pages, and then they’d be able to fill in the gaps by finding people with different shirts,” he explained.

Reichel’s goal is to release all 27 t-shirt designs one-by-one over the next year, raising the money to have “A Ninja Story” published. After that, his goal is to publish a new comic in the series bi-monthly. In the meantime, he will be pitching the comic to independent publishers.

“A lot of people are telling me to get a grant, get it printed and ship it internationally, but I want to keep it local,” Reichel said. “Those are all things that I hope to do with stories down the road, but I’ve had this one with me for so long, I’m kind of not ready to let it go out there. I’m hoping that St. John’s sees something in it.”

Reichel said there’s a burgeoning comic scene here in this province and there are a number of comics by local artists being released online, though currently no printed titles. Local cartoonist Wallace Ryan, who has long been teaching comic books and manga at the Anna Templeton Centre in downtown St. John’s, has been a support to Reichel throughout the development of the project.

“He’s basically trying to bring the comics community together and I’m actually hoping to do something similar with this book,” Reichel said.

“If it picks up any steam whatsoever, I’m hoping to get like-minded artists on board to draw an issue here and there as a springboard for their own careers, to get their work out there.”

Reichel’s ultimate goal is to one day create a universe with his characters, and perhaps a small publishing company.

Reichel is selling his T-shirts at Downtown Comics, and through the “A Ninja Story” Facebook page. The first three shirts will also be available June 29 at The Levee on George Street during a show featuring Uneeda, Dead Peasants Revolt and The Undesirables, with more acts to be announced.



Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Anna Templeton Centre, Downtown Comics, The Levee

Geographic location: Carbonear, George Street

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