From combat crew to ‘Wombat Rue’
April 2, 2010
When Brady Canfield was serving in the Air Force, he always tried to have pen and paper close at hand. That way, whenever an idea popped into his head, he could jot it down and come back to it later.
By the time he retired, he had amassed a collection of loose-leaf pages, bar napkins and random scraps that held the key to his next career ambition masterminding a comic strip saga.
Creating comic books was always in the back of Canfield’s mind. As a kid, he loved everything from the superhero classics to the early Harvey Comics creations such as "Hot Stuff" and "Casper the Friendly Ghost." "Comic books were really the only reason I read anything for awhile," he says.
As a teenager, he put creating a comic book on his personal bucket list. He had a knack for drawing cartoon characters and decided he wanted to study art in college. However, his grandmother who was funding his education had other plans in store for him. "She thought that art was recess, so I became a physicist," he explains.
Canfield entered the Air Force, where he served as an officer and scientist for 20 years. During the Cold War, he was part of a combat crew based in Cheyenne, Wyo., that was regularly assigned to 24-hour alert shifts.
It was during one of those shifts that the idea for his first comic book was born. Canfield was following behind weathered army truck that at one time had the words "Combat Crew" painted on the back. The letters had worn off and it looked more like "Wombat Rue."
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"It dawned on me that, hey, that sounds like a comic book character," he says. He continued to develop the characters and storyline throughout his tenure in the Air Force, but it wasn’t until he retired in 2007 that he was able to pursue his dream.
For the past two-and-a-half years, the Parkite has focused on writing and illustrating "Wombat Rue," a fantasy adventure story for all ages. The first issue was published last month.
The saga centers around a stoic wombat named Rue and his trusty companion, Jack the jack-a-lope. The pair hails from a nation that went bankrupt building vast quantities of defensive weapons in preparation for the arrival of Quinn, a vicious warlord that had conquered half of the world with his army of wolves. However, Quinn suddenly and mysteriously vanished, leaving the country defeated without actually going to war.
Rue and Jack enlist the help of Jade Muse, a sassy ninja cat, to find the lost treasure responsible for Quinn’s victorious conquests and to reunite their broken homeland. The comics tell of their adventures and misadventures along the way.
Although the subject matter reflects Canfield’s experiences in the military as well as modern-day events, it’s not all about weapons and war. "You can see the flavor of it there, but in and of itself it’s not a military story," he says.
Canfield has outlined the first 12 issues, which he says will likely complete volume one of the saga. He plans to release one issue every two months, which is an admirable goal considering that he is taking on every step of the process including drawing, writing, lettering and marketing himself.
Canfield says he originally expected that the comic would appeal to ages 16 to 25, but he’s found that it attracts a much wider range, from small children to older readers who have never been comic book fans. "I would love the target audience to be everybody," he says.
He has a pool of guinea pigs among his family and friends, including his wife ("She’s a great tester because she doesn’t understand how to read comic books at all," he says) and his 14-year-old son.
This weekend, Canfield is attending his first comic convention, WonderCon, in San Francisco. He’ll set up a booth to sell books, posters, and network with the estimated 40,000 attendees, among them die-hard comic fans and industry professionals.
His immediate goals center around building a fan base and getting "Wombat Rue" into the mainstream comic book world. He says he doesn’t really expect to make money off of the first volume. "Of course, I don’t know any comic book guys who are rich, so that’s not why I got into it anyway," he laughs.
His long-term aspirations for "Wombat Rue" include developing a weekly animated series and possibly an animated feature film based on the saga. He also has three separate comics in mind that he has yet to start.
For more information about the comic, including a synopsis, preview pages, and deleted scenes and outtakes, visit http://www.wombat-rue.com or become a fan of Wombat Rue on Facebook. "Wombat Rue" is available locally at The Park City Market, Livin’ Life Park City, and Dolly’s Bookstore.