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White Ninja's not your average superhero

Text Bob Florence

So there they were last July in San Diego for Comic-Con, an event that brings together cartoonists and animators and comic book illustrators for a weekend of show and tell.

There was Kent Earle and Scott Bevan.

Friends since their days at Montgomery elemantary school and on through high school at Mount Royal Collegiate where they graduated with the Class of 2001, Kent and Scott are the tag-team duo behind a comic strip character known as White Ninja.

There they were last summer, a couple of college buddies from Saskatoon in a convention booth at the conference centre on the San Diego harbor.

"This older guy comes up and asks if we'll sign one of our books for him," Kent says. "We're talking with him a bit when he says he has to go and do his own signing.

"'Oh?' I said. 'What kind of work do you do?' He introduces himself. We were floored. He's Matt Groening."

He is the creator of the television show The Simpsons.

"'Keep up the good work,' he told us," Kent says.

Adds Scott: "I like to think he keeps our books on his nightstand."

Could happen. The way things are going, there is no telling where White Ninja will pop up next.

Originally White Ninja was just an inside joke. Drawn by Scott one day in grade school at Montgomery elementary - "because it was too cold that day to go out at recess," says Scott; "because he was trying to impress a girl," says Kent - the two of them continued doing the comic for seven years simply to entertain friends.

Their collected drawings ended up in a shoebox in Kent's bedroom.

But hiding in a box under a hari, fending off bedroom dust bunnies, is no place for a superhero.

White Ninja had to get out, be busy.

Soon after Kend and Scott started at the University of Saskatchewan, White Ninja began appearing in the pages of The Sheaf.

One student newspaper led to another. Kent and Scott knew then that White Ninja had a wider following, but they weren't sure what to expect when they launched their webpage - whiteninjacomics.com - three years ago.

"No idea," Kent says. "Getting 250 visitors a day on our site, we were blown away.

"Now we're averaging over 20,000 a day."

They post a new comic on their website every Tuesday and Saturday. The whole library of White Ninja adventures is catalogued on the site.

See White Ninja upgrade his cassette deck. Watch White Ninja humour a baby skunk. White Ninja, you gather, is not a classic superhero.

Kent: "He doesn't do anything ninja-like."

Scott: "Although every once in a while he beats up a turtle."

Kent: "Sometimes he is six years old. Sometimes he is 40. Sometimes he is a father, sometimes he's single. There is no continuity. He is whatever we want him to be."

Scott: "He's White Ninja because it's too much work colouring a black ninja in."

Kent: "Some people thinks he's drawn by a six-year-old."

Scott: "He has sausage arms and legs."

Kent: "But he has fingers when he needs them."

Scott: "He is me, except for his amazing powers, like being able to sue his left hand equal to his right."

Kent: "The whole reason why this started was for Scott and I to make each other laugh. that hasn't changed. If a few other people like it, great."

Scott: "A lot of people don't get it."

Kent: "My dad thinks he's hilarious."

Their website is recommended by National Lampoon. Their comic has appeared in the in-flight magazine for British carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways. Now the White Ninja character is being featured in a line of merchandise. Orders for White Ninja ball caps and White Ninja t-shirts come from as far afield as Hong Kong and Israel, Latvia and Brazil.

The product line includes a White Ninja thong.

"We wanted to offer (regular) underwear, but that gets expensive," Scott says, "This way is cheaper; less material."

Scott and Kent are planning to his another comic trade show in the U.S. this summer, this time in New York. They are thinking about pumping up the volume with White Ninja and drawing three comics a week instead of two.

White Ninja is not just an adventure, it could be a job.

"It paid of my tuition this year," says Scott, 22, who completes an education degree this spring and plans to be an art teacher one day.

Adds Kent, 22, a graduate of the college of kinesiology who is working in retail sales: "We have our degrees to fall back on. Scott and I always got good grades, so it's not like we were always drawing during class."

Not always, just sometimes.

"Mr. (Dave) Fisher, our Grade 11 teacher, confiscated one (of the drawings)," Kent says. "He still has is pinned to his bulletin board."

Kent thinks on that for a moment.

"Hey, that's a White Ninja original," he says, "We should go get it back."

Scott laughs.

(Printed in the StarPhoenix, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan newspaper, March 6, 2006)
Other White Ninja Press:
- What is White Ninja? (April 4, 2002)
- White Ninja is bachelor of the month (December 5, 2002)
- A Journey Through the Minds of White Ninja (March 30, 2003)
- 18 Questions with the Guys of White Ninja (December 27, 2003)
- An Interview for Auckland Student Movement (October 5, 2004)
- Some Questions from Halifax (February 7, 2006)
- White Ninja's not your average superhero (March 6, 2006)
- Randomville Interview with White Ninja’s Kent Earle and Scott Bevan (July 3, 2007)
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