Ken Lashley, menton3… And Mark Twain

Posted by June 20, 2015 Comment

Mark-Twain-portrait-by-menton3

Mark Twain’s Niagara is a 150 page exciting graphic novel by Alternate History Comics Inc. (AH Comics). A Kickstarter campaign is currently running, closing July 17th. The fully illustrated book follows Mark Twain on the adventure of a lifetime, through his first visit to Niagara Falls in the 1860’s, and features the artwork of Ken Lashley, menton3, Adam Gorham, Nicholas Burns, Claude St. Aubin, Mike Rooth, Jeffrey Veregge and more.

“Yet slowly, surely, steadily, in the course of my fifteen visits, the proportions adjusted themselves to the facts, and I came at last to realize that a waterfall a hundred and sixty-five feet high and a quarter of a mile wide was an impressive thing. It was not a dipperful to my vanished great vision, but it would answer.” – Mark Twain

Andy Stanleigh, President & Chief Visual Engineer, AH Comics writes,

I grew up in St. Catharines, a city adjacent to Niagara Falls in Southern Ontario, where we visited often enough. I had a childhood friend named Zachary Schwartz who was always a passionate, creative and forward-thinking fellow. This was the kid you always wanted to play with, because he had the ability to make every toy, board game or TV show not just entertainment – but also an adventure.

When life took us away from each other to opposite ends of the continent, I wondered if we would have a chance to go on another adventure again. Then, six years ago, but 20 years later, Zachary – after racking up an impressive resume in film and stage production in L.A. and New York in the years since our childhood – came to me with a project he had been putting together. This project is Mark Twain’s Niagara.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), of course, being best known for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wrote passionately about the Niagara Region after his first visit in the 1860’s. In 1893, he published a short story, Niagara in the collection Sketches, Old and New. Zachary first read this story when he was younger and was immediately captivated. As an adult, he could not fathom how Twain fans, as well as international and local Niagara Falls enthusiasts, had never heard of this story before. So he spent years crafting a feature length screenplay based on Twain’s experiences in Niagara. The screenplay is not just an adaptation of the “Niagara” short story, but also follows accounts recorded by Twain later in life – made as fantastical as Twain does. Schwartz’s screenplay has since earned attention from The American Film Company and Lightstorm Entertainment (Terminator, Avatar). In advance of the film production, my publishing company, Alternate History Comics Inc (AH Comics) is now producing a graphic novel adaptation of Mark Twain’s Niagara with a Kickstarter campaign running now until July 17th!

Mark Twain’s Niagara follows Mark Twain as he embarks on his first trip to the Niagara Region, and we become witnesses to his exciting journey through legend and history. Told from the perspective of an old man, the story focuses on a younger version of Twain as he crosses borders for the first time in his lifetime.

Mark-Twain-Precarious-Predicament-by-Haiwei-Hou

The graphic novel will be a 150 page fully illustrated book with some exciting and popular artists attached, including award winning fine artist and illustrator menton3 (MONOCYTE, The Fly: Outbreak, The X-Files), AASC Canadian Publishing Award & People’s Choice Award nominee Andy Stanleigh (Titan: An Alternate History, Hobson’s Gate), Joe Shuster Award winner and Canadian Comic Book Hall of Fame illustrator Claude St. Aubin (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern), award-winning artist and film-maker Nicholas Burns (Arctic Comics, Bride of Chucky, True North), internationally renowned concept artist Haiwei Hou (Two Brothers, Ochek), internationally acclaimed award-winning artist Jeffrey Veregge (G.I. Joe, Transformers, Judge Dredd), the brilliant Katherine Piro (The Chaste Maid), in-demand and superstar artist Adam Gorham (TMNT/Ghostbusters, X-Files, Dead Drop, Teuton) comic book superstar Ken Lashley (Batman, Superman, X-Men, The Avengers) and more!

My adventurous friend Zachary Schwartz was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He has an extremely long resume as an actor in film, television and stage productions, including roles in 28 films before the age of 21. His work in film includes cult favourites such as Bride of Chucky and Boondock Saints. His television appearances include Midsummer Night’s Dream, Clear Water and Kids in the Hall. On stage, Zach has performed in Sweeney Todd, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Crazy For You, Oliver, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease.

The Niagara graphic novel adaptation (based on Zach’s screenplay) is written by Mark Shainblum, an award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy and comic books. He is the co-creator of the Northguard comic book series and character, considered to be one of the finest Canadian comics in history according to Den of Geek.com. Mark also worked on the classic Canadian superhero series Captain Canuck, and the Classics Illustrated adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Haunting of MacGrath. In 1998 he co-edited the Aurora Award winning alternate history anthology Arrowdreams with John Dupuis. Most importantly for this project, Mark wrote the incredible short story The Break Inspector, which was named a finalist in the 2001 Mark Twain Writing Competition.

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Alternate History Comics Inc (AH Comics) is my publishing company. We have several high profile, award-nominated graphic novels, including a comic book collection with a story edited by Stan Lee. We also have the honour of having several large Kickstarter successes, like the recent MOONSHOT The Indigenous Comics Collection. MOONSHOT, edited by Hope Nicholson (Brok Windsor, Nelvana of the Northern Lights), was also featured on Bleeding Cool and became one of Canada’s Top 10 Crowdfunding Successes for Books, raising over $74,000 from over 1500 backers.

AH Comics also regularly donates proceeds of sales of our books to charities, and we have donated hundreds of books to educational institutions and centers across North America.

In the same vain, one of the goals of the Mark Twain’s Niagara graphic novel is to take the world at large on an adventure of a lifetime, and experience the Niagara Region in a never-before-seen way. We have Kickstarter goals that involve donating books to the Education Foundation of Niagara and more, as well as curating an open-to-the-public art exhibit featuring international and local Niagara artists.

But beyond all that, selfishly, I just want this book to be. I want this to be to keep the spirit of adventure alive – for all Mark Twain fans, for the Niagara Region and its history, and for the spirits of two childhood friends who probably have never grown up.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Mark Twain’s Niagara graphic novel project is here:

We have a special for Bleeding Cool readers: if 250 people pledge to the Mark Twain’s Kickstarter campaign by 11:59pm Sunday, June 21st and send a tweet #BCOOLTWAIN tagging @AHComicsInc then we will have Zachary Schwartz film a hilarious short Mark Twain impression video which will be nothing short of magical and embarrassing. This video will be posted immediately following the 250th backer!

(Last Updated June 20, 2015 9:42 am )