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.

Meaghan Carter’s love of manga and anime informs all of the webcomics she does. Take Off features fantastical creatures working together with their human partners like Digimon or Pokemon. In a way, Godslave is the same, but the relationship is a master-student dynamic, like the ninja schools of Naruto, with a lot of Egyptian history informing the narrative. It’s no wonder the strips have garnered her enough of a cult following to earn her a gig as the new colourist on The Pitiful Human-Lizard. She breaks down the role of a colourist, why you need an insane work ethic to even make it into comics and why her belief in ghosts and the afterlife will probably be a major component of her next project.

The Strange Romance Anthology is a series of short romance comics with a genre fiction twist. Whether a fantasy, western, science fiction or something else entirely, love is always at the centre of these stories from a wide array of international collaborators. It’s a modern tribute to the Weird Love comics of the 1950s without entirely being a pastiche. Editor Adam Prosser stops by in the midst of the Kickstarter to produce a print version of Vol. 1 (ending Aug. 13, 2016) to explain the book’s genesis and why Strange Romance fits so well with his love of pulp magazines and soap opera strips (Rex Morgan M.D., anyone?)

As one of the founders of the Space Channel and a producer on the homegrown genre fiction culture show Innerspace,  Mark Askwith has more than made his mark in the long history of comic book fandom in Canada. (Although, he” far too humble to agree on that fact.) He has personal ties to the likes of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Frank Miller. He is also a staple in the history of Canadian comic book television with the seminal “Prisoners of Gravity,” and was a pioneering manager of The Silver Snail comic store in the 1980s. Aaron delves into Mark’s personal and professional history, and learns Mark’s simple but effective philosophy of creating, sharing and promoting content based on nothing but his genuine passion for genre fiction


Chris is the owner, founder and curator for The Sidekick, ( a Toronto East End coffee and comic book spot. Chris wanted to have a combined shop since her high school days, long before the two cultures were mutually engaged the way they are in a few comic shops across Toronto. Chris opens up about how comics helped her through her difficult formative years and how growing up in Windsor was particularly difficult for a budding comic fan. Her challenges had far from relented when she entered art school as she -and many of her fellow students- butted heads with the school’s ideas on how to run something as subjective as art education. Aaron also takes some time to discuss their mutual fondness for French-Pressed Coffee.

Comic artist Marcus To (Red Robin, New Warriors, Batwing, Soulfire and Hacktivist) stops by to discuss Joyride, his first creator-owned project, published by Boom Studios. He reveals how the story of a girl who steals a spaceship to escape an oppressive earth was informed by his mother’s escape from China during the Cultural Revolution and his own friendly rivalry with his brother. He also drops knowledge on what it takes to break into mainstream comics, tells us what influences the youthful drawing style he’s known for and why actress Alyssa Milano (Who’s the Boss?) is one of his admired collaborators.

Follow him @marcusto

After opening the show with a tribute to Darwyn Cooke, (1962-2016) local Toronto indie comic talent David “D.A.” Bishop (@Renerd) drops by to talk about his ongoing fantasy title, Of Stone (available digitally from Comixology). The series follows Gan, the ogre king, as he wrestles with a secret that can change the fate of his people. We also talk Alan Moore’s now classic run on Swamp Thing and how that, and The Walking Dead, reawakened a long dormant artistic talent within him. Bishop is a classically trained painter who loved comics as a child and tried to bury his former life as an artist. But after years languishing in various jobs and careers, he finally threw himself into what ended up being the fraught compulsion of making his own comics. Other comics of his include Squirrels, Stranger and “Curly Plays the Rex” in The Toronto Comics Anthology Vol. 3.

Aaron tries mealworms live on air, which fits with the politics of consumption brought up by The Salesman — an original graphic novel from our guests John Little and Jon Sufrin. Little takes us through the long, hard road to publication: the book was released online, he hated it, so he recruited food journalist Jon Sufrin to help him re-write it. The result is a morally absolutist fable that pulls no punches and will leave many uncomfortable. Both men say, ‘That’s the point.’

Aaron was introduced to Jay Clark after claiming that past guest Alice Quinn was the only comics journalist in Toronto – Jay is proof to the contrary. He is the host of An Elegant Weapon, a podcast that interviews voiceover artists, actors and comic book creators from all over the geek media sphere. Jay tells us what goes into many of his interviews, how he lands big name guests like John Ostrander, (Grim Jack, Suicide Squad, Star Wars) Ryan Stegman (Superior Spider-Man) and Jim Cummings (The voice of Winnie the Pooh) and who is on the rise in the Toronto and Michigan indie comic book scenes. We also get into why he’s excited for Batman V. Superman and why he’s a big proponent of Zach Snyder.

Shane Kirshenblatt is the former proprietor of the now shuttered Temple of Toys – a retro toy store which had its retail location inside The Comic Book Lounge and Gallery in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood. As a result, he was once the business partner of our last guest Kevin Boyd. Shane is also a custom action figure and Pop Vinyl maker, art teacher and comic book artist (The Jewish Comic Anthology, Anything Ghost, Dorothy Gale: Journey to Oz). Here, he schools us on the finer points of custom figure-making and toy collecting, tells us how judaism has been a cultural point of pride as he pursued work in the comic industry, how he has met his childhood heroes through his art and how he accidentally landed his own creator-owned series without ever having a drawn a comic book panel. Also, get an advance look of his new western webcomic series Tailbone, which he created with past Speech Bubble guest Aaron Feldman.

Kevin Boyd is an integral builder of Toronto’s comic book community. He’s now the Comics Programming Coordinator for Fan Expo Canada and the Toronto Comicon, as well as the director of The Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Awards. He was also the owner of the now closed Comic Book Lounge and Gallery and was the co-founder of the now defunct Paradise Comicon.

In the final part of our interview, Kevin talks about what brought him back to working for his one-time bitter rival and former employer, Fan Expo Canada and the plans he has for Toronto Comicon 2016. We chat about the issues affecting comic conventions around the world, what he thinks of them and how Fan Expo sees these issues.