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Meet Local Writer, Michael McAdam

You may recognize him as that famous Westjet Flight Attendant on YouTube or maybe as the Airport Gate Keeper on Jann, however, Michael McAdam doesn't need an airplane to take you places.

Michael McAdam (he/him) is a prolific comic book writer with multiple titles spanning multiple genres including superheroes, fantasy, horror, and comedy. He is a queer, independent writer publishing right here in Alberta under his own company, Two Gargoyles Comics. His comic titles include Twilight Detective Agency, Thunder, Spectrum, Gloaming, Diaperman, and The Magickal Mister Punch. And now, he's branching out into novels with the release of his young adult fiction novel, Special Proper Magic!

In every world that McAdam takes us to through his creative storytelling, there is always a diverse cast of characters. One of McAdam's goals as a storyteller is to present LGBTQIA+ characters who aren't just campy stereotypes, but who are real and dynamic and possess individual personalities and goals. “One of the reasons I began writing LGBTQ characters is because I didn’t see anyone like me in any of the books I was reading,” he explained during our chat. “At the time, gay comics were either camp or porn, with very little in between. I wanted to write about people like me, who were experiencing the world at their own pace, without falling into stereotypes.” (M. McAdam, personal communication, 2022).

McAdam has long been an advocate for queer rights. He was part of the first Pride Parade in Calgary and even made it onto the news! He loves to attend Pride, but these days his activism is writing and creating stories that showcase the kind of world he would like to see. McAdam also enjoys speaking on panels at comic conventions to further conversations about LGBTQIA+ characters and representation in media. McAdam’s comic Spectrum is an excellent example of such representation as it follows a newly-out gay teen named Richie Sorensen who gets whisked away into the world of superheroes after gaining light-based superpowers.

Comic books today are more than just classic superheroes. They are a beautiful and engaging medium for active, visual storytelling that can capture the attention of both avid and hesitant readers, alike. For that reason, they are an effective method for getting your message out into the world. McAdam knows this well, having grown up as an avid comic book reader and collector. When asked ‘why comics?’, he had much to say, but narrowed it down to “that anticipation of a new issue, seeing something on the rack that you recognize is for you, and being whisked off to a colourful world with characters you know and love. I had that growing up, and now I want to give it to everyone who reads my work.” (M. McAdam, personal communication, 2022).

Already an absolute pro at writing and publishing comics, McAdam is now delving into writing novels. His first novel, Special Proper Magic, is about two teenage cousins, Holly and Adrian, who discover they have magical abilities upon meeting for the first time. Holly can see ghosts and Adrian can move things with his mind.

The switch in mediums was “fascinating” to McAdam and it allowed him “to more fully develop my ideas and paint my own pictures with my words.” (M. McAdam, personal communication, 2022). Being that McAdam doesn’t illustrate his comics, this ultimately gave him more control over the visuals created through his narration. With comic books, his words “influence the artist’s choices, but the pictures are not my own”. Even though he enjoys working collaboratively with the many fantastic comic artists on his Two Gargs team, getting to paint his own pictures with his words was an exciting new experience.

(images courtesy Michael McAdam, Two Gargoyles Comics)

Although many may expect simplicity from modern books aimed at children, McAdam spent a lot of time behind the scenes creating Adrian and Holly’s world. He took special care to think up what kind of world he wanted it to be. As a result, the world that readers of Special Proper Magic are transported to is an accepting, inclusive, and diverse one. This is all behind the scenes and not blatant in the story itself, but heavily implied through metaphor and subtext.

Being a creative mind, McAdam is always thinking up exciting new stories. He is currently working on an upcoming comic called Xanthus: The Light of Joy which is about fighting depression. In this allegorical comic, an alien energy-being known as Xanthus saves a human named Sean Preston from a suicide attempt by fusing its being into his. When explaining this new comic, McAdam said that Xanthus’ energy is “the very frequency of Joy itself” and so, “through the merging process, Sean Preston begins to understand how to live life again.” (M. McAdam, personal communication, 2022). Moving forward, Sean Preston will help others who have fallen victim to the darkness of depression, the dark energy-being named Nubilus who feeds on the emotions of others.

Comic books have long been an oasis for those who feel different, including queer folks. It is wonderful to see an ever-growing diversity of voices and stories in comics in recent years; all the more wonderful when those voices belong to local artists.

Allow Michael McAdam to whisk you away into an LGBTQIA+ friendly world of his making. You can learn more by checking out his Two Gargoyles Comics website; or perhaps look him up at the next local comic convention you attend!

(images courtesy Michael McAdam, Two Gargoyles Comics)

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