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Toronto comic artist Jason Loo at the Silver Snail comic shop on Yonge Street. (Allie Coulman/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto comic artist Jason Loo at the Silver Snail comic shop on Yonge Street. (Allie Coulman/The Globe and Mail)

Meet Toronto’s new, not-so-super hero Add to ...

Toronto finally has its own hero: the Pitiful Human-Lizard.

Comic artist Jason Loo is in the final stages of creating a new series set in Toronto. In the Silver Snail comic book store on Yonge Street last week, he talked about his latest project in front of a life-sized Spider-Man statue. Similar to the popular New York superhero, the Pitiful Human-Lizard, also known as Lucas Barrett, is an underdog. But unlike Spidey, there’s nothing “super” about Mr. Loo’s character.

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“I figured it would be something different for me to offer the audience this kind of underdog story with a title that is unflattering like the ‘Pitiful’ Human-Lizard compared to the popular titles like the ‘Amazing’ Spider-Man, the ‘Mighty’ Thor and the ‘Incredible’ Hulk,” Mr. Loo says.

When he first created the pitiful hero, Mr. Loo didn’t expect the overwhelming support he’s received. During a 30-day crowd-funding campaign in March, Mr. Loo received more than $6,000, surpassing his goal by $1,500. The money will pay for the production of a 52-page first issue. He says Torontonians who pick up the first issue this spring can expect to see familiar places – and even a familiar face in the form of one of Toronto’s villains.

(Meet the characters here.)

Who is the Pitiful Human-Lizard?
The Pitiful Human-Lizard is a comic book series about a superhero who experiences a series of bad days. This was a character I created back in high school and thought I’d revisit it after reading some old Marvel comics and noticing that when you look at titles like Fantastic Four and Spiderman, they’re all set in New York City, and I wanted to create kind of that same experience for Toronto featuring my own superhero. The superhero I’m trying to promote here, he’s not like your conventional heroic superhero like Captain America or Iron Man. He has a lot of flaws and limitations, which makes him relatable to the audience. He’s just this average guy who’s just a thrill-seeker after his 9-to-5 day job.

Why doesn’t the Pitiful Human-Lizard have any superpowers?
I have a huge appreciation for the underdogs … One of my favourite childhood stories is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Reading that story when I was a child opened my eyes about a protagonist who also goes through a series of horrible events in one day. It’s okay to have a bad day.

What will Torontonians recognize?
The Pitiful Human-Lizard lives in Parkdale. He works in the financial district. We see him run around rooftops at John and Richmond to Yonge-Dundas Square. There’s this one page where we see the supervillain Rabb the Malevolent try to take down Honest Ed’s.

How did Rabb the Malevolent come about?
When I first created this comic, I didn’t have any intentions to put a political stance in the comic. But when word got around that I was making this Toronto superhero, there were people that were throwing around ideas like, ‘Hey you should throw in Rob Ford as a villain.’ I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in that direction but down the road I made this compromise by just taking his likeness. So it’s not really Rob Ford, but it could be; we don’t know his secret identity yet. He could look kind of alien, but he still has that trademark blonde hair. The first line when he’s trying to take down Honest Ed’s was, and I think it’s typical of something Rob Ford would say. He says “Honest? Honest they say? I say ripoff!”

Why put so much effort into depicting Toronto realistically?
To stay true to the source material. After all, this comic is also showing my appreciation for the city of Toronto as well, so I want to make sure to get it right.

Does Toronto need a superhero now?
I think definitely because of Rob Ford, our city has been put in spotlight, not in the most positive light, so I figured I’d use the Human-Lizard as the light behind this dark tunnel of Rob Ford.

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