Never Sleeps Network

The podcast that goes one-on-one with the writers, artists, retailers, publishers, critics and journalists inside the Toronto comic book scene. Aaron Broverman has been collecting comics in earnest since 1995 and has been a fixture of the Toronto comic scene since 2003. He was there when big name artists for Marvel, DC and Image were selling their independent comics in artist alley at local Toronto conventions. Now, he hopes to use his interview skills as a professional journalist for NOW Magazine, BlogTO, Huffington Post, Vice and Yahoo to bring his connections in the local comic scene right to your ear for some in-depth, candid conversations on all things comic book.

With U.S. President Donald Trump writing executive orders outlining his intent to build a wall along the Mexican border and banning all travelers from a number of muslim countries in recent weeks, there seems no better time to talk about migrant detention. It’s under that backdrop that Tings Chak, the writer and artist behind a new graphic novel called Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention, comes to Speech Bubble.

Published by our friends at Ad Astra Comix, Undocumented analyzes how architecture and design are used to reinforce the agenda of the state. Tings explains how she got involved with migrant detention, her own experience with racism as an immigrant herself and why a comic was the best medium to bring attention to this issue. In so doing, she deconstructs the myths of Canadian multiculturalism and puts in fine relief that inhumane policies in regards to immigration are just as prevalent in this country as they are in the U.S., even with Justin Trudeau at the helm.

Ad Astra Comix

Tings Chak


Episode Sponsor: Hairy Tarantula

The co-creators and co-writers behind Songs for the Dead – a new indie comic about a young female necromancer who goes on an adventure to rescue a boy from her village – stop by to relay what it was like making and publishing their first real comic book. From how their romantic relationship plays into their professional one to the real stresses and fears behind business incorporation and copyright protection, these two bare it all. It’s a must listen for anyone who wants to get into the business of making comic books.

Twitter: @songscomic

Episode Sponsor: Hairy Tarantula

Independent comic book artist Shane Heron (Black Hole Hunters Club, Monstrosity) always had a huge talent for drawing, but didn’t actually make his first comic until his mid-twenties. Despite the relatively late start, he made up for it with gusto, collaborating with past Speech Bubble guest Ricky Lima on a 24-hour comic that would eventually become the alien bounty hunters adventure Black Hole Hunters Club. He even created a comic with the host of this very podcast. Now he’s working on a new book of his own called Morris – a post-apocalyptic western featuring a sheriff with more than a passing resemblance to actor Wilford Brimley.

Shane Heron Art



Leon Emmett, the iconoclast owner of Toronto’s Hairy Tarantula Comics & Games, comes to the Never Sleeps Network Studios at a crossroads: his original store at 354 Yonge St. will be closing at the end of the month after 22 years. Don’t worry, its second location at Yonge and Steeles will remain, but the closure of the downtown store also means Leon needs to find a place to live, since he lives in the apartment above it. As our newly-crowned founding sponsor, he looks back to the beginning of the Hairy Tarantula story and explains why hes having more and more Abe Simpson moments as the comic business evolves.

Episode Sponsor: HairyTarantula
Twitter: @HairyTarantula

Those who think comic book geeks and computer nerds are two mutually exclusive groups have never met Ryan North. The Toronto resident and writer behind The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Adventure Time and Dinosaur Comics also holds a masters in computer science with a focus on Computational Linguistics — teaching artificial intelligence how to speak more naturally. His love of computer science also bleeds into the pages of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, aiding in its progressive picture of what makes a female heroine. Even his effort to bring back the choose your own adventure genre – Romeo and/or Juliet – refuses to define society along gender lines. Not bad for a guy who can’t draw, but still left what his parents called, “a respectable profession” to create comics.


Episode Sponsor: Hairy Tarantula

The first guest on our experimental Comics on Comics series, Comedian Ben Miner is the host of Comic Stripped, an interview show with comedy’s biggest names, on Canada Laughs – Sirius XM’s uncensored comedy satellite radio station. In addition to being a stand-up comic since he was 14, he’s also come in the top 16 of Master Chef Canada and absolutely loves comic books. He gives us an inside look at life as road comic, tells us why he hates Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, explains why diversity in comics has its limits and then pitches any listening artists on the best creator-owned comic book idea ever – The 10 Minute Man.


Canada Laughs

Ad Astra Comix is a Canadian comics publisher specializing in comics with social justice themes. It was a mission first ignited in founder Nicole Marie Burton while reading the pulitzer-prize winning holocaust graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman way back in elementary school and hasn’t really stopped since. The latest books in her slate include a republishing of War in the Neighbourhood by Seth Tobocman and the anthology Drawing the Line: Indian Women Fight Back! She comes to us while on a roadtrip across Canada meeting with shop owners about how they can better engage their customers towards comics dealing with social justice issues. To that end, we talk about diversity in comics, the power of comics journalism and how comics fandom is very much a political microcosm of our own society.

Yaron Betan is the director of a new documentary premiering on Oct. 14, 2016 at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto called Heroes Manufactured. It features many former guests of this podcast like Mark Shainblum, Shane Kirshenblatt and Meaghan Carter and follows them as they make a living on Canada’s comic convention circuit. Yaron talks about how reading comics taught him how to tell a story and what it is about the Canadian convention scene that makes it distinctly different from the convention circuit in the U.S. Plus, he reveals how the U.S. film market has many similarities to a comic convention itself.

Brampton, Ontario’s own Ricky Lima went from comic retailer to comic writer after being exposed to many seminal works in the medium. It was quickly evident that writing comics was his true calling after creating graphic novel Deep Sea with D.A. Bishop and ongoing series Black Hole Hunters Club with Shane Heron. But even though his latest effort, Happily Ever Aftr, was funded in only six days on Kickstarter, he suffers from an inferiority complex – struggling with the confidence to take popular projects to larger publishers. He opens up in studio about his successes, his anxieties and the debt he put himself in to get his latest project off the ground.

Kitchener, Ontario native A. Shay Hahn spent his childhood buying comics from the late legendary retailer Harry Kremer – namesake of the Harry Kremer Retailer Award presented to Canada’s best comic retailer by the Joe Shuster Awards. He would eventually grow up to produce his own comic books: Cryptozombic, Battle Rally and the local indie hit, Homeless G-Men. Before that he was a fine artist exhibiting his paintings in galleries and doing background set painting for the period TV productions of Kevin Sullivan (Road to Avonlea, Pit Pony, Anne of Green Gables) and soon discovered that there was no crossover whatsoever when came to the comic book audience. What could make a man with a relatively successful fine art career transition to comics? Is he mad? Tune in to find out.