You might have spotted James Belford’s comic book at the local coffee shops of Lacombe and even picked one up for a quick read. Belford is the artist and writer behind ‘Existential Romance Comics’ and he is currently working on his next edition.

“They’re various stories. They're just whatever comes to mind. They are their own self-contained storylines. You only need to ever buy the one issue to get the whole story,” explained Belford.  

His first comic titled ‘The Consolation Prize,’ has a noticeably unique dark noir look to it. Belford says part of that is due to his process. Each image in the comic book he paints by hand. 

“The style that I used for the comic that's currently out. I actually painted that in a reverse method. I use a watercolor and everything you see I actually originally painted in the opposite color spectrum, so anything that is orange is blue, and anything that blue is orange or anything that is green is purple et cetera, et cetera,” he explained.  

Before the comic is printed, he inverts the colours so that they are given the ‘noir’ effect. He says the process has helped him to learn a bit as well.  

“Once you flip it around, you see why that's there now and you're actually replicating something instead of letting your mind see what it wants to see and not making an exact translation of it,” said Belford.  

He is a self-taught artist who had a little bit of guidance from teachers in his High School art classes. Belford began creating the comic book in the midst of the pandemic but it has been a goal of his to put out a comic since he was a kid.  

“I just want everyone to be able to see it.  Why make something if you're not going to share it? I wanted to make something.  I've had a few false starts in my youth getting my comic books started and going and I didn't want to ever say to myself that  I never got one done.  Now, have two done,” Belford explained.

The completion of one comic book can take months at a time.

“It's hard to gauge on time because I work a full-time-job and so I was doing it part-time. It took me nine months to make the comic. You can read it in ten minutes,” he added.

You get his comics in Lacombe at Kavaccino’s Coffee Shop and Eastside Eatery in Lacombe, the Ponoka Jubilee Library, and Amazing Fantasy in Red Deer. You can also check out his work on his social media page here.