P.E.I. comic artist signs with major publisher

A Kensington, P.E.I., comic book artist is one step closer to his dream of making it in the comic book world after signing with a major U.S. publisher.

A Kensington, P.E.I.,comic book artist is one step closer to his dream of making it in the comic book world after signing with a major U.S. publisher.

Troy Little's first submission to his publisher got lost in the mail. ((Sofia Harris/CBC))

Online buzz for Troy Little's comic Chiaroscuro caught the attention of California-based IDW Publishing, and Little has signed a deal for a hardcover edition of the book he self-published and sold at a loss through an independent Charlottetown comic book shop.

"It was kind of flukey theway the whole thing happened, but it's amazing," Little told CBC News this week.

"I'm so pleased how it all turned out."

Little had sent a copy of Chiaroscuro to IDW,but itgot lost in the mail. Online reviews for the book were so positive, though —including one from a successful comic book artist —that theyeventually caught the attention of executives at IDW.

Little's hero isn't sure if he should accept the offer of a lifetime. ((Sofia Harris/CBC))

IDW publishes comics for the adult market, including Star Trek and titles based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Chiaroscuro is also aimed at adult audiences. It details the complicated life of Steven Patch, a bitter,unemployed, tortured artist.

"Too much coffee and cigarettes kind of thing. Unmotivated, but talks as if he was owed something, I guess, by the world," Little explained.

Then the world does a strange thing to Steven Patch: It delivers. A benefactor offers to support the artist, to provide him with substantial living expenses and all the materials he needs. Patch is uncertain he is truly capable of dedicating himself to his art.

It's about "the untapped potential that we all have," Little said.

"Given a choice, a real hard choice, would you pursue that dream, or will you just coast along at the job you don't like?"

Not ready to give up day job

Little, for his part, is not yet ready to devote himself completely to his avocation. He pursues both his artand a full-time job as an animator,a job that is not everything he hoped it would be.

"When I got into it, I thought, 'This is my dream job. I'm going to love doing this,' " he said.

"Then I found out most of the creativity is so stifled working in TV. I had to come up with something of my own."

With twins to provide for, Little and his wife, Carol, aren't ready for him to give up his day job. ((Sofia Harris/CBC))

While the deal with IDW has huge potential, Littlewon't quit his day job yet. He knows how hard life could get if the IDWgig doesn't work out. Little and his wife both lost their jobs a few years ago when the company they were working for closed down. Then they had twins.

That difficult time led to the end of his self-publishing of Chiaroscuro.

"Daily subsistence became more important than publishing comics," Little said.

"I was working two jobs most of the time, just to try and get ourselves out of the pit."

But Jeff Smith, owner of Charlottetown's Comic Book Hunter, where Little first peddled his art, believestheillustratorhas what it takes to make it.

"It's really stylish. He's got a really unique arts style and it flows really well. He understands the transition from panel to panel," Smith said.

That kind of talk gets Little excited abouthis prospects: "The sky's the limit."