Five years ago today, I stumbled across Canada after a mix-up at the cinema. Although initially I tried to resist being pulled in (I was into the US at the time), as days turned into weeks, then into months and inevitably years, Canada’s spell was too strong and it has now grown into my lifetime passion and prime focus of my creative works.
After attempting to personify every place in England (where I’m at) and the United States, the next logical step would be to personify Canadian places. Modelling the new ‘Canadian Boys’ after the previous two entries in the series, Britain Boys and American Boys, I initially created one character, named Vancouver, as I did not expect my ‘fling’ (as it was back then) with Canada to last beyond a few months.
As I became more attached to Canada, however, I gradually began to create more characters for the then-upcoming Canadian Boys. Since Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and following the model of Washington D.C. and London in always making the capital city the main character, I designated him as the protagonist of the series. I then revealed the names of several more new characters through writings and ‘newspaper’ articles.
Once January 2011 had rolled around, I was ready to release Canadian Boys out into the open! Using the names I’d already revealed in the newspaper article, I created the thirteen main characters for Canadian Boys in addition to Ottawa – Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Regina, Saint John, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver (obviously), Victoria, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis.
Of course, I don’t just stop at making only a few characters whenever I begin on a new series. As was the case in Britain Boys and American Boys, I created tens of characters to potentially extract a compelling storyline from and interact with the others. This resulted in many evenings spent typing up character profiles onto my Windows 2000 computer (ten years old and still got it!) and researching every place in Canada on the Internet and in books.
With a big project, inevitably small seeds of side-projects will be sown. Inspired by how I’d personified each state of the US in The States Show, the ‘spin-off’ of American Boys, I decided to give Canadian Boys the same treatment. And thus I created The Provinces & Territories Show, with Ontario – the province with the largest population in Canada, containing both Ottawa and Toronto (Canada’s prime city) – as the protagonist.
Browsing through DeviantArt one day for some Canada-themed artworks, I came across the IAmMatthewian Project – a fan-series based around the (mis)adventures of Canada from Hetalia: Axis Powers and personifications of his provinces and territories. Inspired to expand the Canadian Boys ’empire’, I decided to create fan-works of these characters, and the Canadian Boys label practically swallowed them up.
Constant browsing through DeviantArt led me to discover many more personifications of the Canadian provinces and territories, many of which I drew and wanted to include in the Canadian Boys canon. Entry into the Hetalia fandom eventually inspired me to create my own Hetalia-styled province and territory personifications under the name A Mare Usqua Mare (Latin for ‘from sea to sea’, Canada’s motto), experimenting with the anime and manga art style.
Today, I show absolutely no signs of breaking up with Canada and going off with another country (though I did have a short ‘Highland fling’ with Scotland last year). Never-ending thinking of Canada has caused me to fervently wish every day that I could fly there, as I’ve never been there but wish I did. Although I am increasingly focusing on the IAmMatthewian Project (which is now called Project Canada), Canadian Boys still remains my prime focus, and thrives alongside the side-projects. I recently designed a cover to be used for the 2016 annual.
No other series of mine has lasted this long (the second-longest was The Months, which lasted two years). Something about Canada keeps me going, even in the face of constant criticism and satire from people who think Canada is cold all the time and is full of igloos and moose. As long as I’m not distracted by another country, Canadian Boys should survive the next five years and possibly last for the rest of my life.
Let’s make it ten!