Elks draw on Edmonton’s rich football heritage for comic strips

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Jed Roberts is a bit of a stand-up comic, his friend and former teammate Henry “Gizmo” Williams is certainly an animated character.

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Both were Gray Cup winners in 1993, both still living in Edmonton long after their retirement from the Canadian Football League. For these reasons and more, they became logical protagonists in the Elks’ latest graphic approach to reach a new generation of fans.

The dynamic duo will be featured in comics produced by Toronto-based writer Bill Yu and artist Te’Shawn Dwyer, which will appear on the Elks’ Instagram and Facebook pages ahead of each home game this year.

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“We were looking for a fun way to retell our story with topics relevant to today,” said Elks President Victor Cui. “We’re using these comic strips to help achieve those goals and reach a new segment of fans who might otherwise not engage with our team or know our club’s history. It was great fun working with the illustrator and writer to bring Jed and Gizmo to life in new ways, and we’re excited about the potential of compiling these weekly strips into a single comic by the end of the season.”

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Yu, who is also a gym teacher and lifelong football fan, connected with Cui via direct message on Twitter. Yu’s initial proposal for a graphic novel was rejected, but Cui responded with an idea for an educational comic strip for youngsters.

“My hope was to highlight positive aspects of the Edmonton fandom, story, game day experiences, and keys to the game,” Yu said. “I wanted to think of something that wouldn’t appeal to older hardcore fans because they don’t need that, but younger fans, new fans who like animation. I agreed with Victor this might be a different way to attack it. We know that you also want modern methods, hype videos and player interviews. This is just another channel to reach certain demographics.”

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The project called for characters with big personalities, making Roberts and Williams a natural fit. Former defensive end Roberts is active, engaging and occasionally hilarious on social media. The energetic former Kick returnee, Williams has always bonded easily with young fans.

“I needed recognizable people. I wanted champions. I wanted people to keep being active in the community,” Yu said when asked how he chose Roberts and Williams to star in the project. “I also wanted to include someone younger but the concern was what if we included that person, they had an injury at the end of the season, was cut or traded? Gray cup champions, legends would be the better way because we will be using some of that as a teaching tool. We also wanted people who had met adversity and Gray Cup success in Edmonton. And people with a certain look; Jed’s ponytail, gizmo, which is short and mighty.”

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Yes, because of that look.

“The way they drew me, it looks like I’m wearing Lululemon pants and I have Popeye forearms, but I’ll take it,” laughed Roberts. “Who wouldn’t want a comic made out of this? It wasn’t hard to twist my arm. I grew up collecting comics and loved the idea of ​​reaching out to the younger generation and showing them the traditions of this franchise. It’s child’s play for me. My kids think it’s cool, so I’m finally cool with my kids.

“Some people will look at it and say, ‘What is this?’ You won’t really understand, but I get it. Just a really cool way to meet the younger generation on their terms and on their turf. When we started the stay-in-school program in the early ’90s, Gizmo and I had the idea of ​​going into the schools and talking to the kids. This is kind of a modern version of it. Social media is so prominent in everyone’s life now that it’s a great way to build a bridge.”

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Led by Cui, the Elks’ new management team is indeed trying to mend what had become something of a frayed relationship with its fans under the old regime, which had the difficult task of navigating the franchise through a long-overdue name change.

“I think the Elks kind of wanted to build a bridge back to the traditions, and there’s a gold mine there,” Roberts said. “You’re talking about the likes of Jack Parker, Billy Stevenson, Dave Fennell and certainly Willie Pless. It just seems like they’ve kind of moved away from that, especially in the last two or three years, and that’s understandable. They wanted to make their mark with the new brand and stuff. But it seemed like they threw the baby out with the bathwater.”

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DANS WEEK 3 SELECTION

Saskatchewan near Montreal

Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET – Saskatchewan through 5/3

The riders will likely add to the impressive 13 sack total with elusive QB Vernon Adams traveling with COVID and Trevor Harris not as mobile. Key injuries affect both teams so it’s likely to be tight. Saskatchewan to 3.

Hamilton in Winnipeg

Friday 8:30 p.m. ET – Winnipeg through 5/4

The Tiger-Cats are 2-0 and reeling after giving up a 24-point lead over Calgary last week, while Winnipeg has held back-to-back wins against Ottawa and has not dominated on defense. Still. Winnipeg through April 4

Edmonton near Calgary

Saturday 7:00 p.m. ET – Calgary through Aug

Should be the no-brainer of the week. Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell morphed back into himself in the second half in Hamilton last week and the Elks have given up two dismal straight tries on defense. Calgary at 8.

Toronto near BC

Saturday 10pm ET – BC through 5/4

The Argos, who delivered a win when Montreal kicker David Côté missed a 21-yard gimme, would need a much stronger offensive game than was apparent last week to keep up with Lions QB Nathan Rourke and his considerable weapons. v. around 7

recording

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