Graphic Niagara

Comic book publisher puts fantastic spin on Mark Twain's visit to Niagara Falls.

Interview by Mark Reid

Posted September 16, 2015

Niagara Falls has had many famous visitors over the years, including one Samuel Clemens, best known by his pen name, Mark Twain.

In 2015, a Toronto comic book publisher hoped to raise enough money to put a fantastic spin on an 1893 short story Twain wrote about his visit to the falls.

Alternate History Comics Inc., the publisher, said that several artists will be working on Mark Twain’s Niagara.

The graphic novel blends history and fantasy as Twain explores the Niagara area. Canada’s History spoke to AHC Inc. president Andy Stanleigh about the project.

What interested you in telling this story?

The compelling part of the Niagara concept is the adventure that the story takes the reader on through so many places and points of history; it's not just a story about Niagara Falls.

There’s the Underground Railroad, the War of 1812, the Legend of the Maid of the Mist, death-defying stunts, mysteries and more that surround the Niagara region, all dynamically illustrated throughout the book.

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What do you think about the old cliché that Canada’s history is dull compared to America’s?

Canada’s history is actually tied closely to other countries; intertwined with U.S. and British conflicts and developments. Canadians have played major parts in some of the U.S. history's major turning points.

The Underground Railroad, for example, greatly helping slaves escape into Canada before and during the Civil War. The War of 1812, fought for two and a half years between the U.S. and the British, was fought partly on Canadian soil, and also involved the U.S. army attempting to invade parts of Canada.

Canada has one of the original wonders of the natural world — a giant, thunderous waterfall spanning two nations’ borders.

And Joe Shuster — the co-creator of Superman, the most powerful and iconic comic book character in history — was Canadian. How’s that for boring?

What’s the case for supporting Mark Twain’s Niagara?

Graphic novels are a billion-dollar market, with a lot of the artists who are working on this project among the ones who have been involved with some of the highest-selling comics and characters in the market today.

The scope and scale of the project has the potential to make Mark Twain's Niagara a best seller, so a return on investment should be quick out of the gate.

Learn more about AH Comics

Update June 2019: Mark Twain’s Niagara won the gold medal for Best Graphic Novel at the Independent Publisher Awards.

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This article originally appeared in the October-November 2015 issue of Canada’s History.

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