Rachel Richey Brings ‘Mr Monster’ to Kickstarter [Back Pages]
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The Original Adventures of Doc Sterne/Mr Monster is the latest project from comics historian Rachel Richey, who is working to bring a number of classic Canadian comics back into print via Kickstarter. Doctor Jim Stearne was an adventure hero created by writer/artist Fred Kelly in the 1940s, who eventually transitioned into the role of monster hunter Mr Monster.
Richey is bringing his stories back to print after decades in the wilderness, with a Kickstarter campaign launched this past weekend to coincide with Fan Expo Canada. To find out more about the project, we spoke to Richey about what drew her to Doc Stearne, and where he belongs in the pantheon of lost Canadian heroes.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the collection?
Rachel Richey: The character is an adventurous doctor who becomes a monster-fighting superhero. I kind of always tell people to compare or categorize with Hellboy or [John] Constantine.
CA: What was the genesis of the project?
RR: I first encountered Mr. Monster through my personal research on Canadian comic book production in the last 70 years. This research lead me to Nelvana of the Northern Lights first, and then Johnny Canuck, which were the most popular and the most Canadian, but it was Mr. Monster that I was enamored with. He fought monsters and had a skull as his emblem. This guy was a strange character, but right up my alley. I would say this was about five years ago now.
The interesting this about this is all of this information was so much harder to find then. There are an insane amount of resources now, which I'm so grateful for!
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter? Why was this the comic you wanted to collect for your latest project?
RR: I love a lot of these characters, but I think he's my favorite in his dark, macabre way. He's many of my favorite interests tied together into one: Horror --- though it's '40s horror, so not scary --- reprint comics, and ... he's an uncouth character.
Another reason is because I'm not alone in this. I have met many Mr. Monster fans all over North America. Very loyal fans. So I know I'm really not the only one who wants to see this book happen. I mean, he fights monsters!
CA: You've worked on a number of similar projects, collecting other Canadian comics from the past --- why is it important to you that these comics be collected, restored, remembered?
RR: On top of the fact that comics are a nostalgic interest anyway, and that most collectors and fans are archivists in their own right, there is also the Canadian pop culture identity that is in these comics that I think should be passed down from generation to generation to remind future creators and fans that we have a solid foundation in comics.
It is possible to see Canadian identity without being reminded that it's Canadian, and it's important for all readers, in some way, to connect, identify and sympathize with the characters in the stories. These comics let Canadians do that.
CA: Do you think that these comics speak to the Canadian mindset as a whole, perhaps? American comics lead with Superman/Batman, British comics lead with Judge Dredd; what do Canadian comics mean for Canada?
RR: I would say Johnny Canuck and Nelvana are Canada's lead. They were some of the most popular when they were first being printed for many reasons, and remain the most solid, interesting and dynamic characters today. Obviously Mr. Monster is awesome too, but cult or horror comics never get the same kind of prestige.
CA: What stage are you at with the collection? How much has already been completed?
RR: The Mr. Monster comics are restored, I have ... I'm just waiting for a few extras like a Fred Kelly interview, foreword, etc. It's really nice going into a campaign with most of the work done.
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
RR: I made the delivery June of next year --- but I believe it will be out long before that!
The Original Adventures of Doc Stearne/Mr Monster will run on Kickstarter until 2 October 2015, seeking a funding target of $25,000. You can find the campaign page here.
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