Oshawa vanishes in ‘The Displaced’ comic by acclaimed local writer

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Published February 20, 2024 at 12:31 pm

Covers of "The Displaced" #1, which sees the entire city of Oshawa disappear. via Boom Studios. Art by Luca Casalanguida and Andrea Sorrentino.

While Oshawa vanishes in writer Ed Brisson’s new comic series The Displaced, the locally-raised author is putting the city on the map for readers around the world.

Brisson has led a distinguished career in comics over the last several years. After starting off with creator-owned works such as Murder BookThe Violent, and Cluster, he lept into the industry mainstream. He’s since worked on some of the biggest series and characters in comics like Batman, the X-Men, Ghost Rider, Old Man Logan, and the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight.

Though he now calls Halifax, Nova Scotia, home, Brisson grew up in Oshawa until he was 14. Though he continued to visit Oshawa every few years, he began to grow disconnected from the city he still considers his hometown.

A chance encounter with an old school friend some years ago sparked the idea for The Displaced.

“I could tell you everything about this guy and his family,” Brisson told indurham.com at a launch event at Oshawa’s Worlds Collide comic shop, ‘As I was telling him, he just stared back with this blank look.”

After this encounter, Brisson developed the series, which follows a handful of survivors after a sinkhole swallows up the entirety of the city and almost all of its 170,000 residents. The first kernel of the story came to Brisson 15 years ago and he wanted to make it his first major project.

“The Displaced is a project I’ve been trying to bring to life for more than 15 years now, and I am beyond thrilled to finally tell this story, as much a Twilight Zone-style sci-fi mystery as it is a tale about my own personal connection to the city of Oshawa,” Brisson said.  “It’s a story about the churn of media and the victims who quite literally become forgotten as the world moves to the next big story.”

However, whenever he pitched the concept to publishers, they always insisted they loved the idea but demanded he move the story to an American city. He noted most comics are usually set in New York City, the West Coast or some fictional city.

He said it was important to him for Oshawa to be well-represented in the series. He noted his scripts with directions for the artist are usually around 30 pages long. Thanks to the host of reference material he sent to penciler Luca Casalanguida, his scripts for The Displaced were twice as long as usual.

The effort paid off. While Oshawa is swallowed up about halfway through the first issue, Lakeridge Health is namedropped early, neighbourhoods appear based on real homes, and a drug store appears looking suspiciously like a Shoppers Drug Mart. The town’s “Prepare to be Amazed” sign on the Whitby border even appears.

In addition to the physical locations, Brisson wanted to illustrate the culture of the city as well. Oshawa’s rougher reputation and people’s reaction to the city’s disappearance help inform the story. Neighbouring communities Whitby and Ajax also appear lovingly recreated.

Brisson has gone on tour to support the launch of the series, starting with a signing appearance at Worlds Collide on Feb. 17. The store reported it was one of the busiest events it had ever seen, with hundreds visiting throughout the afternoon.

He was joined by acclaimed Toronto-based artist Richard Pace, who produced a variant cover for the series. A prolific writer and artist, Pace is perhaps best known for Batman: The Doom that Came to Gotham. This Elseworlds tale, co-written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, repositioned the Batman mythos as a Lovecraftian horror set in the 1920s.

Another variant was designed by writer and artist Chip Zdarsky, a creator from Barrie best known for his work with Spider-Man, Daredevil and Batman.

 

The Displaced covers variants by Richard Pace and Chip Zdarsky. The Pace cover (right) was an exclusive to the Worlds Collide launch event.

The series will continue for at least five issues, though Brisson has plotted another pair of five-issue arcs. However, Boom! Studios has only approved the first arc. The series launch has been a huge success for the company, though, with the first issue already receiving a second printing.

Issue #2 drops on March 20.

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