Meet Jason Loo: a comic creator from Toronto, Canada. His works includes the Pitiful Human-Lizard, and a short story in the Chapterhouse Summer Special featuring a team up between the Human-Lizard and Captain Canuck.
I had the opportunity to chat with Jason a little about the Human-Lizard and Canadian comics in general.
Where did the idea for the Human-Lizard come from and why did you make him “Pitiful”?
Jason Loo (JL): The Human-Lizard was a character I created back in high school and also worked on through college. I was a big fan of the James Robinson run on Starman and wanted to do my own take on a second-generation superhero. In my current run on the character, Lucas Barrett is a bored office clerk trying to find a greater purpose to his life by dressing up as the Human-Lizard. His dad owned an adhesive company and used his glue on his gloves and boots to climb buildings as the Lizard Man for publicity.
I called the Human-Lizard “Pitiful” because adjectives like “Mighty”, “Amazing, and “Invincible” were already taken. I also wanted to focus on the protagonist’s struggles of going after his dream of being a bonafide superhero without being rich or super athletic.
Canadian comics from the Big Two tend to be stereotypically Canadian and blatantly patriotic. Sasquatch, Guardian, Puck, Equinox just to name a few. What made you decide to not dress your character in a maple leaf?
JL: Because it’s all been done! I wanted my character to stand out from the other Canadian superheroes. You don’t see any lizards in the Canadian wilderness so that motif just adds to the character’s quirkiness.
What do you think makes a CANADIAN superhero?
JL: I think there are many ways our superheroes can be identified as Canadian without the blatant stereotypes in name and costume. We can be defined as Canadian by our behavior, for example: the Human-Lizard can be apologetic and pretty modest.
As an Asian-Canadian writer writing an Asian-Canadian superhero, do you even think about your ethnicity when writing and drawing? How does it affect your stories?
JL: Always! When I decided to use my mom as inspiration for Lucas’s mother in Issue 1, I stepped back and got excited at my own work after realizing I get to write and draw a comic with an Asian lead character. I can’t even name a handful of Asian-Canadian superheroes. There’s not a lot of Asian superheroes out there and most of the them do play on the stereotypes of knowing martial arts. As a comic creator, I get to add another perspective of the Asian experience. The one who works his butt off to gain an inch, if he’s lucky. Lucas is a character who is self-aware he’s not an alpha-archetype like Captain America or Superman. But he’ll push the limits of the human spirit each day.
How much of your own personality goes into the Lizard?
JL: At least 60% of it. I even share some of my own life experiences through the character. Just the parts that don’t involve fighting monsters or super-villains.
I’ve noticed you have a diverse cast of characters in PHL, like Mother Wonder and
Majestic Rat. Was there a thought process going into creating these characters, like “I need someone who isn’t cis, someone not male, a person of colour, etc. ” or was it just something that came about naturally?
JL: I set Mother Wonder as “the bar” for super-powered figure in my comic to contrast from the likes of characters like Superman. I wanted to show that anyone can be a superhero and do the job just as good or even better. Since the series takes place in Toronto, a very diverse city, I do make a conscious effort to try and represent as many people as authentically as possible. It would be lazy of me to make every supporting character, especially background characters default to just a white cis-person with t-shirt and jeans.
Why should people read comics by Canadian creators?
JL: Because we can tell great stories! I think it’s also because of the benefit of having universal healthcare, us Canadian creators are able to hone our skills in story-telling without stressing over the financial burden of medical bills. So we got that as an advantage!
What are some of the comics that inspired you to start creating your own? Any creators in particular?
JL: The classics by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Steranko, and Toth. Also stuff by Adrian Tomine and Daniel Clowes.
You can get Pitiful Human-Lizard from Chapterhouse Comics. Follow Jason on Twitter to get sneak peaks at his upcoming comics and Thor: Ragnarok rants.