We continue our video coverage of this years Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame inductions from Toronto's Innis Hall last June 5. With special thanks to my wife Jill for her videography and editing skills. This year's inductees included Dave Darrigo, Serge Gaboury and Captain Canuck writer-artists Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin.
This time we greet the Queen of the Independents. Deni Loubert quite literally helped lay the groundwork for a modern Canadian comic book industry and for independant comics in general.
The publishing, promotion and distribution system she put in place for Aardvark-Vanaheim while publishing Cerebus with her then-husband Dave Sim was adapted and refined by Sim, enabling him to achieve his incredible, uninterrupted 300 issue run.
She then ran Renegade Press for years, featuring an amazing array of talented artists and awesome comics. Watch comics writer-artist-teacher-bon vivant Ty Templeton induct Deni.
More about Ty (including regular Saturday morning comics and original art sales!) at Ty Templeton's Artland.
I wish I had more time to spend with Deni after the awards. She is smart, insightful and has a very unique and broad perspective on the industry. Her thoughts on how artists represent themselves for better and for worse (based on her experience as an artist's rep in Hollywood) alone is worth a round of drinks.
Deni Loubert's Shuster bio is here. The Shuster Halll of Fame main page is here.
For your enjoyment and edification, here is the short speech I wrote for her induction, which presenter Ty Templeton delightfully threw out in favour of his own unique take on Deni.
Originally hailing from Timmons, Ontario, Deni Loubert grew up living a nomadic existence with her family, crisscrossing the continent as her Dad followed work from the local McIntyre Mine to the railroads of Arizona and northern California and back to the Great White North in the nickel mines of Sudbury. Because her parents frowned on comics as proper reading material she caught up on fave comic book by reading them in the grocery store. The family settled in the San Francisco Bay area long enough for Deni to attend high school and rediscover comics in the form of Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Another family move to Kitchener, Ontario led Loubert to discover science fiction fandom. Inspired by local comic artist and fellow Joe Shuster Hall of Famer Gene Day’s self-published work, she began to self-publish a zine of her own, Cerebus. Loubert met artist and future husband Dave Sim at Harry Kremer’s Now And Then Books, the hub for Kitchener’s local fandom and artistic community. Together, the two budding publishers formed Aardvark-Vanaheim to put out a Cerebus comic book based on their aardvark mascot. Loubert’s reputation as publisher eager to help artists create their best work was born here.
Determined to let Sim create, Loubert took the business reins and learned publishing from the ground up, forging alliances with printers, writing text pages, overseeing the printing and arranging for now legendary Cerebus tours. Eventually, her love of artists and desire to forge her own identity inspired her to expand the Aardvark-Vanaheim line, publishing early work by Image Comic’s Jim Valentino, Arn Saba, Bob Burden and Max Allen Collins. When Loubert and Sim’s marriage ended, the infrastructure she had set up for Aarvark-Vanaheim were the foundation of Sim’s extended run on Cerebus - the longest running independent comic in history.
Already partially responsible for helping a new generation of Canadian artists and publishers to step up to the plate, Loubert moved to Los Angeles to start fresh with her own imprint, Renegade Press. In addition to publishing numerous US artists, Loubert helped shepherd new work by Canadian creators like Dan and David Day (Cases of Sherlock Holmes), fellow Shuster inductee Dave Darrigo and R.G. Taylor (Wordsmith) and Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas (Silent Invasion).
Loubert closed Renegade’s doors in 1989 but it’s a testament of the wide respect and popularity she held within the industry that the founders of Image Comics first approached her to be their publisher when they broke away from Marvel Comics. Loubert also worked for Wendy and Richard Pini as the Managing Editor at WaRP Graphics and was VP of Comic Book Development for Full Moon Entertainment, overseeing works by Marv Wolfman, Harlan Ellison and others.
For several years, Loubert worked as an artist representative in Hollywood and Friends of Lulu pamphlet, “How To Get Girls Into Your Store”, remains a must-read for comic shops wishing to avoid alienating half the world’s population. In 2003, her comic savvy and natural entrepreneurship continued with NovelGrafx Inc., an early developer of concepts and technology for delivery of comic books to cell phones and is currently laying the groundwork for a new, as yet unannounced comic project.
While we're celebrating all things Deni, check out this terrific and candid video interview with Margaret Liss and Jeff Tundis during the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.
Next Up: The creators of Captain Canuck share the spotlight.