Welcome to Mina’s Creator Spotlight: Dino Caruso & Haley Boros

Dino Caruso and Haley Boros are two of the creators featured in our latest anthology, Welcome to Mina’s. Dino Caruso lives with his wife, two boys and two rabbits in Hamilton, Ontario. He’s had comics published by Caliber, Markosia and Action Lab. He’s had a bunch of short comics published in anthologies. You can find him on the web at www.dinocaruso.ca. Haley is an award winning graphic designer, illustrator, and published cartoonist. She has contributed to several comic and art anthologies including CORPUS, Everything is Going Wrong, Faerie Fire, Local Haunts, and more. Outside of her career in the label printing industry, she draws comics about her husband and her two chihuahua mixes, Rusty and Ginger. Find more of her work at haleyboros.com. I sat down with them [virtually] to get some insight into comics, diners, and the creative process.

Kathleen: What was the inspiration behind your story for this anthology?

Dino: “Wherever You Hang Your Hat” was inspired by my love of the 1980s-era Toronto Blue Jays. I’ve always been interested in the series of spring training games that they played in Vancouver, and it was a lot of fun to work out a story that included baseball, Mina’s, and a sweet romance. I had a great time going through a bunch of my baseball books, doing research on those games and some of the local geography. And also, I’ve got to say…I LOVED the concept behind this anthology. The idea of a shared universe of stories centred around Mina’s was a great motivator.

Haley: Dino came to me with the idea for this short story after the success of the Local Haunts Anthology we were part of in 2019. The story itself is set in two separate time periods, so I wanted to do as much research as possible about what life was like in 1984 Vancouver. Turns out, a lot has changed over the years! I was particularly inspired by the landscape of the city itself, there was a lot of development starting and the town was really starting to come into its own.

K: How did the two of you come to collaborate?

D: Haley and I collaborated on a short story for the “Local Haunts” anthology that came out in 2019. I enjoyed the process of working with her very much. She is consistently positive and enthusiastic about the comics-making process. She really elevated that story and brought the characters to life, with great facial expressions and body language. She was my first choice for this story and I’ve been thrilled with the pages as they popped up in the inbox.  I’m particularly fond of a sequence that shows our two main characters chatting at Mina’s. Haley injected a lot of personality and fun into it. My fingers are crossed that we get to work together again someday soon.

H: Working previously with Dino on a short comic in Local Haunts anthology! He was excited to share the story of Orillia and Iris, two women that meet in Minas in the 80s, where their friendship grows over time. I was excited to capture their friendship! We work really well together, his writing style is clear and full of emotion, you can tell he really cares about the characters he has created.

K: What is your favourite part of the creative process?

D: Tough question…but I think I’d have to say that I’m fascinated by how collaboration can elevate the script, story and characters. After all these years, I still get really excited and nervous (in a good way!) when new thumbnails and pages show up in my inbox. I’m always eager to see how the artist has interpreted the script. I love looking for little details and nuances in the artwork that can sometimes lead me to revise dialogue or captions and make the story better than it was in the first place.

H: The inking! I truly enjoy getting into the zone and filling out form and composition with just some simple lines. You can really change the perspective with a thicker line to the focal point of the panel.

K: What’s your go-to diner order? 

D: For the meal, it’s definitely a burger, fries and a Canada Dry.

For dessert…? A slice of apple pie (warmed). I LOVE apple pie.

H: Gosh! I’d say a really delicious grilled cheese with avocado and onion jelly. Fries on the side. With a chocolate milkshake!

K: This anthology is set in Vancouver. What’s your connection to the city? How would you describe Vancouver?

D: I’ve only been to Vancouver once, but I loved it. It’s such a beautiful and interesting city, with plenty of character and charm. I’m familiar with the comics community in Vancouver and I know that it’s thriving and energetic. I’d love to get to one of the amazing conventions out there once they start up again.

H: I’ve lived in the Fraser Valley my whole life until moving to the greater Vancouver area in 2014. My main connection to the city is being part of the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival since 2017; getting to take part in shaping an event in the comics community is really rewarding. I’d describe Vancouver as a city ever in motion.

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If you haven’t already, check out the Welcome to Mina’s KICKSTARTER!