Comic Brings New Brunswick’s Blueberry to Life

Gene Fowler, founder and creative producer at the animation studio Loogaroo, recently published Those Wild Blueberries, a comic book that brings the story of wild blueberries to life.

“About a year ago, a client came to me with this idea to do a comic about blueberries,” Gene explains. “I’m thinking to myself, well, blueberries haven’t been done before, and not as a character that I know of. So, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll take that job.'”

The comic blends fun and education, offering an adventurous story while highlighting the real-life aspects of blueberry farming.

“You can expect an Indiana Jones meets Goonies meets Stranger Things type vibe,” Gene said. “It’s cryptic, it’s adventurous, there’s action, there’s cool rides, there’s hip lingo.”

An animator for 24 years, the Miramachi-based Fowler has worked on seminal animated series, such as Caillou, Carl2 and Happy Tree Friends. He explained that creating this comic involved diving deep into the blueberry world.

“Absorbing all the content was key,” Gene said. “All the health benefits and entrepreneurial facts about blueberries here in New Brunswick. And then going out to the blueberry fields.”

This hands-on experience allowed him to include real elements of blueberry farming in the comic.

The story centers on a stone beacon in a wild blueberry field that needs to be lit to guide bees to the blossoms.

“In real life, bees are rented and brought into New Brunswick to pollinate wild blueberry crops,” Gene explained. “These bees need to find these blueberries, and the usual way is the beacon gets lit by the elderberry, and he fell asleep at the switch. So, these kids, the wild blueberries, have to navigate the booby traps of the wild blueberry beacon to flip the switch so the bees can find the blossoms.”

Through this project, Gene has learned much about the wild blueberry industry.

“I didn’t know it was such a big thing,” he admitted. “And I didn’t know we were one of the largest exporters worldwide. I thought blueberries were good and they had antioxidants, but there’s so much more.”

The comic has been printed and Gene is excited about its impact.

“We just got them all printed, and they look fantastic,” he said, adding that there are also discussions about expanding the project into interactive formats like games.

Working on this project in his hometown means a lot to Gene.

“I’ve been fighting that all my life. We’re the only studio in the province, and I fought really hard to stay here over the years. It means a lot to be able to do this out of my hometown, and I take a lot of pride in it.”