Toronto's greatest supervillain
When I was a kid I loved writing stories and drawing terrible comics about super heroes. The idea of one person taking a stand against adversity to help another was so thrilling to me. But every time I put pen (or crayon) to paper I found myself telling more and more about the villains. Spending far more time flushing out their story rather then the hero. The villains just seemed so much more interesting to me. But I couldn't figure out why.
Then one day I was watching an episode of Pinky and the Brain, when someone asked Brain why he was so determined to take over the world. And he answered, simply, "because I want to make it a better place". As a child that hit me HARD. Suddenly every villain in every show I watched had mountains of untold context! I had so many questions now that I had never considered to ask before! What happened in No-Heart's life that lead to him living in that castle, hating the Care Bears? Where was Dr. Claw from and why did he have an obsession with Inspector Gadget? My world opened.
So I started to write stories about villains. Regular people gone bad. Good people losing faith. I loved it! Eventually I settled on the character Dr. Terawatt (originally named Dr. Holocaust but later changed) and the adventures he would endure. But I wasn't sure exactly how to tell the story. Live action film was going to severely hinder my options as I had little money and equipment. And I didn't think that purely written text would do it justice. It was at this time I had become very interested in web-comics. One in particular, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, was notably inspiring. I discovered that if I told my story in the form of a web comic I would be free to tell it as I saw fit, just as he did. I would not need to compromise my narrative due to a lack of resources. All I required now was an illustrator.
I didn't know any comic artists at the time and I didn't have any money to start throwing around on places like Craigslist, so I decided to dress up as the character and go to a local convention to start raising awareness that I was looking for an artist. The convention was FanExpo 2008. The artists ally was full of exactly the people I was looking for. I figured if I was passionate enough I could get other people excited about the project too. And the masquerade costume contest gave me forty seconds on stage in front of thousands of people who were my target audience. In the end my plan worked, but not in the way I had intended. People were certainly interested in the project and the character and the story! But no one wanted to work for half of our possible profits. So, without any money to start the project, I kept going along the path I was on. Maybe if I garnered enough interest in the character across several conventions, eventually someone would come forward and make me an offer?
2009 came up after Fan Expo and I hit about 8-9 conventions in the local Ontario area leading up to the next summer. And I did the same thing. Walk around the convention playing the character, build hype, do the masquerade contest. By the time Fan Expo 2009 rolled around I had upgraded the costume and a lot of people were recognizing me. The plan was working! But I still didn't have any money to pay an illustrator up front. And hitting up conventions was only getting me so far. In the mean time I had started doing short films with some local friends and people seemed to really enjoy them! People were asking me to do more, and to start vlogging as well. But Dr. Horrible had just come out and I didn't want to seem like I was copying him. And yet I had the equipment and resources to do vlogs and other short films by myself. I wouldn't need to rely on another artist beyond my friend Dan doing some occasional special effects work for me. So eventually I started taking my project in the direction of independent film with the hope that I could return to web-comics some day.
As the years passed I continued along my path. I went from visiting conventions as an attendee, to being invited as a guest. From competing in masquerade competitions, to hosting them as their Master of Ceremony. From watching panels, to leading my own events and seminars about how to be a super villain, how take over the world, and what to do once you have. I also continued making vlogs and other short films where I was able on my YouTube channel. But finding the time and energy to make videos while also working full time trying to support myself, building props, and performing at conventions, was difficult.
In 2017 I decided to dedicate all of my time and resources to creating content and building my brand. Financially and personally it has been a struggle. But I am excited and ambitious about what we can create together.
- Conal MacBeth
A.K.A Doctor Terawatt