On Saturday, September 20th at Back Space Toronto we announced the winners of the 2014 Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creators.
For your consideration, is Superman a Canadian character?
Many thanks to Ron Kasman for sending me this article for the site (back in October no less). It has also appeared elsewhere online, primarily the Collector’s Society Message Boards. I’m running it here as is, unedited, as I asked him if I could re-publish it here as it gives a fairly accurate look at what the comics scene was like forty years ago. Heads up that Ron’s language and perspective on what transpired is a little spicy and may offend some.
A little preface: before Cosmicon, Toronto hadn’t really had much of a convention scene.
In 1968, Captain George Henderson – owner of Canada’s first comics shop, Memory Lane, had brought Stan Lee to the city for the Triple FanFair (no doubt inspired by the convention of the same name that had been taking place in Detroit around the same time – the three fandoms in the name being science fiction, movies and comics). That event took place in tents on Markham Street (where Memory Lane used to be and currently where the Beguiling is). For the most part Canadian comic fans of this era in this region had to pile in a car and drive to Detroit, Chicago or primarily New York to attend a comic book convention. What happened at York University was pretty amazing and was the highlight for many young fans, a lot of whom would go on to work in comics or related things.
I should note that I see some of the folks mentioned here pretty regularly. Ron and I visited the New York Comic Con together this last October, and stayed with our mutual friend Walter Dickinson. Ronn Sutton just had a graphic novel published last week, and you can find him as a guest at many Canadian shows, primarily in Ontario and Quebec. I see Ken Ketter nearly every Saturday night when he comes by for his comics fix, he’s one of my regular customers at the Comic Book Lounge, here in Toronto.
A Tell-All Expose by Ron Kasman
Steranko’s surrealistic, day-glo poster for Cosmicon,
distributed free in 1972,
just went for $212.00 Am. on Ebay!
CANUCK COMIC HISTORY LIVES!
In January of 1972 Cosmicon was potentially a horror show, both literally and figuratively. What saved it, in the immortal words of Howard Chaykin, was “Canadian Bacon”.
Ken Ketter was a horror film fan, a university sophomore who chose York Fine Arts over his old job at a soap factory, and the most courageous man I’ve ever met. He applied to Winter’s College of York University for $600 to put on a comic book/ SF/ horror movie convention… and they gave it to him!
I was a Winter’s student too, at least I was until I dropped out and couldn’t find a job even in a soap factory. I told Ken I’d help out. I brought in fan artist Ronn Sutton and fan publisher Mark Segel. Gloria Agnew was hired to do administrative work. Many, many others contributed to the convention. We invited Jim Steranko (comics), Gray Morrow (SF) and Alain Resnais (film) as our guests. We paid for their plane tickets and expected them to be the only celebrities in attendance.
As the big day approached things were all set to become a terrible mess. Hundreds of fans were coming in, some from as far away as Quebec, Ohio, Michigan and even Germany and we just didn’t have a lot going on to entertain them. As the VW minivan drove off to Toronto International Airport to pick up our guests, Mark Segel looked anguished and annoumced, “I wish this wasn’t going to happen”. But, what do you know, it went very well. Here’s why: European comic art was getting noticed in the U.S. through Jim Warren’s Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella magazines. Outside of that, most European comic art was inaccessible. The New York comic artists’ community (as well as most Americans, it seemed) was so ignorant of what Toronto was like that they naturally assumed that we all spoke French and that they’d find lots of comics by Philippe Druillet, Jean Giraud and others up here. When they arrived, the invited guests and many more that paid their own way — soo-prise!… no European comics! They should have phoned ahead.
Well, you’d think they’d have been disappointed but other factors entered. Cosmicon was probably the first comic convention ever held at a university. Back then, all the little fanboys like me treated the New York Comic Book artists like they were gods. So the girls who lived at the Winter’s College Residence (and would never ever sleep with a pimply creep like me) figured these guys from New York had to be important! The comic artists, not unlike rock stars, had gained a perk not known to us lesser beings — groupies! These comic geeks, by the sheer fact that they could draw better than the rest of us and whose faces had probably only recently cleared up, got laid!
Furthermore, the part of the convention not held in the Winter’s Women’s Dorm Rooms was held at the Absinthe Pub just steps away from our dealers’ room. Aside from the beer there was lots of dope which could be consumed with impunity on the liberal arts campus.
The next year the artists returned bringing friends, displays and slide shows. By year three Cosmicon was the place to be. Among other attendees that year were Jim Warren of Warren Publications; Carmine Infantino, editor-in-chief at D.C., Stan Lee from Marvel; Michele Eury, comic editor at Playboy and P.J.O’Rourke, the editor-in-chief of National Lampoon. There were so many big time pros that if the Absinthe beer had been teeming with salmonella, comics today would look quite different.
But Cosmicon became a political issue. Students at the left leaning university (which like North Korea, Cuba and Albania is still probably babbling about the truth of communism to this very day) thought too much money was being spent by the university for the benefit of Americans. Furthermore, the ever increasing budget shifted the convention to being student administered instead of fan administered. Most of the people who had ran it were about to graduate. Also I still wasn’t getting laid. Why bring Americans up to score with girls who’d have nothing to do with me?
Year Four was Cosmicon’s swan song. The budget was $24,000. This is back when a comic book cost $.20, a chocolate bar was dime and a year of university tuition was $600. We were the front page headline in Friday night’s Toronto Star. Pete and Geets, a popular comedy duo of the day, satirized us on their morning show on CHUM-FM and later came down as convention guests. We were the talk of the town.
Talking to Stan Lee for about an hour at a cocktail party. He was a tall, handsome man, dressed in high boots and suede. I stared and stared but I honestly couldn’t tell that he was wearing a wig.
Hippy comic scribe Steve Skeates being questioned at the border until they phoned the university and were told that he was a respected writer coming to York University to lecture.
T. Casey Brennan, Vampirella scripter, coming to Toronto and not knowing just where Cosmicon was taking place (we neglected to put the exact location in our first ad). He took a chance and asked a random geek on the subway and, of course, he knew!
Jeff Jones and Vaughn Bode together in a photo in the program book — as men!
Alain Resnais sticking the convention with unexpectedly high food and hotel bills.
Buying a $10 EC Portfolio from Ed April’s widow only because she was doing no business and as an organizer I felt responsible. It is worth about $200 today.
Ron Peterson, Winter’s student and perpetual life of the party, getting more attention than Jones, Wrightson and Kaluta put together.
Ken Ketter inviting Alice Cooper and being turned down then getting Ted Nugent and Amboy Dukes. They had had a hit with “Journey to the Center of Your Mind” but had yet to emerge with “Cat Scratch Fever”. I think Ken paid them $1100 for the concert. Admission was free with a Cosmicon pass.
Harry Kremer, comic book dealer, buying a stack of Wrightson coloured drawings at $50 to $100 each. His estate sold them thirty years later for more than 50 times that.
So where are they now? The people involved in Cosmicon became famous, dead, washed-up, struggling, jailbirds, real estate salesmen, comic artists, teachers, musicians, collectors, legends, rumours, and painters of motorcycle gas tanks and the sides of vans. Some of us grew up and some of us never would. Cosmicon was fun but looking back, it was hard to be nineteen. It was even harder to be nineteen and a comic fan. Back then I wished I was Jeff Jones and so did hundreds of other little geeks just like me. We lacked his talent, intelligence and drive. I was pretty sure at the time that he got a lot of action from the females at Cosmicon though now, it seems rather ironic, as he’s clearly crossed the gender boundary in recent years. Nonetheless, I’m absolutely sure he got to see Jody Winthrop’s tits because she posed naked as a model for his National Lampoon IDYL comic strip. She had great tits. I wonder what they look like today. They are probably still pretty good.
Today in Guelph, ON’s Santa Claus parade there will be a superhero themed float, covered with paintings of notable Canadian heroes by Jay Stephens and featuring cosplayers dressed as Canadian superheroes. It will be followed by an event at the Eisner Award-winning shop The Dragon, who are also sponsors of the Dragon Award handed out annually as part of the Joe Shuster Awards.
From the press release:
At 1.45pm the grand parade opener will set off. Canadian Superheroes such as Wolverine, Superman, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Arrowhead, Captain Canuck and Equinox will be showcased on a float built by Turtleshell Studios. Event organizer Sam Jewell says ‘people might know that Wolverine is Canadian, but lesser known is the fact that Superman was co-created by a Canadian and Clark Kent first worked at the Daily Star, based on the Toronto Star. Also his hometown of Metropolis was based on Toronto’.
One of the two female superheroes, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, was Canada’s first ever comic book superhero in 1941 and was based on a real-life Inuit woman. Cecile Lyall, who will play Nelvana at the parade, is from the same community as the original Nelvana and is excited to travel to Guelph for the parade. ‘She was a role model in my community and I’m very proud to be here and show her to the people of Guelph’.
An event at award-winning comics and games store, The Dragon, will give parade-goers the chance to meet with their superheroes. Based in the warmth of Old Quebec Street Shoppes, the store will run the event directly after the parade and will have Captain Canuck costume creator Kalman Andrasofszky signing for fans, as well as Nelvana historian Hope L Nicholson to tell us all about Canada’s first female superhero. Also in attendance, local illustrator and creator of Arrowhead, Jay Stephens.
Full release can be read here http://visitguelphwellington.ca/events/3024
Rob or Bob as he was known to his friends and customers, was a long-time fixture on the Toronto comics scene, having owned Shining Knight comics, later renamed Comics & More. He had been a comics retailer for over 20 years.
In the late summer Rob had been diagnosed with a brain tumour after experiencing a series of excruciatingly painful headaches. The tumour was removed, but while undergoing adjuvant treatment it was discovered that the cancer had spread and could not be treated. In September Bob made the announcement on his store blog.
Rob passed on Friday, October 17th. Viewing and service will be held on Saturday, October 25th.
CHARPENTIER, Robert Joseph – Quietly in his sleep at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre after a short battle with cancer at the age of 54. Brother to Stephen Douglas (Elaine), James Thomas (Lynda) and Edward Anthony. Beloved uncle and granduncle to his numerous nieces and nephews and their children. Predeceased by his parents Douglas Charpentier and Evelyn Dame and his sister Sarah Hacker. He will be dearly missed by his whole family, as well as his family at ‘Comics and More’. Visitation will be held from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at the HERITAGE FUNERAL CENTRE, 50 Overlea Blvd., 416-423-1000, with a memorial service in the Chapel at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to the
or the Canadian Diabetes Association would be greatly appreciated by the family. Online condolences and directions may be found at www.heritagefuneralcentre.ca -
Details on the service can be found here: Book of Memories
Official statement from the staff of Comics & More
Bleeding Cool has also run the story, copying the text of the obituary and the eulogy from the Comics and More Site.
Jeff Lemire lives near the shop and was a regular customer, and has blogged about Rob. IN MEMORY OF ROB CHARPENTIER
I was saddened to learn about Rob’s illness a couple months back. He was unable to work at the store anymore, but continued reading. One of his fears near the end was not getting a chance to see the end of Grant Morrison’s long anticipated Multiversity project. (It should be noted that when I reached out to DC Comics about this they helped connect Grant with Rob. Grant spent nearly an hour talking to Rob on the phone in his hospital room. DC and Grant’s kindness was not lost on Rob or his friends at the store, and was a real bright spot for Rob near the end).
This is such a wonderful example of people helping people. Rob was very excited to see where Multiversity was going and worried about missing it’s conclusion, but after the operation, Rob could no longer read (the removal of the tumour had affected his ability to read), so this is an even more wonderful story, in that Grant Morrison was able to tell him about the project, and about how it ended.
Rob Charpentier is the owner/operator of Toronto’s Danforth Avenue store Comics & More. Comics & More has been around in various incarnations since 1987.
Unfortunately, back in the summer Rob was diagnosed with progressive brain cancer, a situation that he recently shared with his friends and customers on his store blog a few weeks back.
Not sure what you may have heard around the store, but the reason you haven’t seen much of me lately is due to my hospitalization, Just a warning to anyone reading these words, if you suffer from occasional migraines and they suddenly increase in intensity and frequency – get to a damn hospital quick. A brain tumor is not something you can tough out.
It has been strange what has been going through my head lately, well, other other than radiation and scalpels that is. I am worried that I might not see the end of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity series – even if they manage to keep it on schedule – it’s six months away. More of a worry if the store will still be open at that point. I have limited options; I can try and sell, shut it down or just kind of fade away. I will not be able to work in the store again but I will try and do what’s fairest for all the loyal customers who’ve been with me over the years.
i will try to update you more often
Rob is currently undergoing palliative treatment and is under observation. Friends, like his former business partner Peter Fisico (online retailer All New Comics) who have visited him say that he remains positive and upbeat. At this point, the future of the store is uncertain, as it’s unlikely that Rob will be able to return to the store. Thankfully friends and staff have been keeping the business going for him.
I’ve known Rob for a long time, mostly from my days as a show promoter, but I have visited his various stores over the years and I’ve always found him to be a friendly, warm guy always happy to talk comics and discuss the business of comics retailing and shows. I regret I haven’t seen him for while, since he stopped exhibiting at events, but I know many people who call Comics & More their home store, and everyone in the community is distraught over the news and wishing the best for Rob. It can’t be easy.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. The winners were presented September 6, 2014 in Baltimore, MD, in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con.
This was the ninth year for the Harvey Awards in Baltimore, MD.
The 2014 Harvey Award Winners
- Best Artist: Fiona Staples (Saga)
- Best Continuing or Limited Series: Saga by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, Image Comics
- Best Cover Artist: Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics
- Best New Series: Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky, Image Comics
- Most Promising New Talent: Chip Zdarsky, Sex Criminals, Image Comics
- Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers: Adventure Time, KaBOOM!
- Special Award for Humor in Comics: Ryan North, Adventure Time, KaBOOM!
Fiona Staples, Chip Zdarsky and Ryan North are all nominated for 2014 Joe Shuster Awards, which will be presented in Toronto on Saturday, September 20th.
Harry Kremer Award (Retailers) / Prix Harry Kremer (Détaillants)
Throughout the year, the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association (CBCAA) works to maintain an accurate list of active comic book stores and a database of recommendations, referrals and secret shopper reports.
A separate Retailer Award Committee overseen by Scott VanderPloeg and Anthony Falcone reviews the data and selects a short list of stores that have shown merit in a variety of categories. In June we announced the 10 finalists for the Harry Kremer Award and they were:
- Amazing Stories (Saskatoon, SK)
- Another Dimension (Calgary, AB)
- The Comic Hunter (Moncton, NB)
- Imaginaire (Quebec City, QC)
- Comic Readers (Regina, SK)
- The Comic Shop (Vancouver, BC)
- Paradise Comics (Toronto, ON)
- Conspiracy Comics (Burlington, ON)
- Timemasters (St. John’s, NL)
- Stuff 2 Do Toys & Games (Iqaluit, NU)
Since that announcement, all of the retailers were asked to provide details about their business and why they should receive the Kremer Award for Canadian Comic Book Retailer. After reviewing the data received, the five finalists are:
- Amazing Stories (Saskatoon, SK)
- Comic Readers (Regina, SK)
- Another Dimension (Calgary, AB)
- The Comic Shop (Vancouver, BC)
- Timemasters (St. John’s, NL)
Congratulations to all! This year’s list has very strong western Canadian representation with 2 stores from Saskatchewan, 1 from Alberta and 1 from British Columbia.
The winner will be announced in Toronto at a ceremony that will take place on Saturday, September 20th.
The Harry Kremer Retailer Award, is named after the late owner of Kitchener, ON store Now & Then Books. Kremer’s store was one of the first comic book specialty shops in North America and Kremer has a tremendous impact as a retailer, aficionado and patron of the sequential arts.
2005 – Now and Then Books (Kitchener, ON)
2006 – Strange Adventures (Halifax, NB)
2007 – Happy Harbor Comics (Edmonton, AB)
2008 – Big B Comics (Hamilton, ON)
2009 – Legends Comics (Victoria, BC)
2010 – The Beguiling (Toronto, ON)
2011 – Librairie Planète BD (Montreal, QC)
2012 – Silver Snail (Toronto, ON)
2013 – Heroes (London, ON)
On the weekend of August 28-31, we will be presenting the 10th Annual Joe Shuster Awards for Canadian Comic Book Creators and three new inductees will join the ranks of the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, and they are:
CY BELL (1904-197?)
Cyril Vaughn Bell was born in Peterborough on October 5, 1904. By the time he was six the family was in Toronto where his father worked as an Electrician for the local Streets and Railways. In 1929, along with his brother Eugene, he organized Commercial Signs of Canada mainly as a sign painting company. During the last half of 1941 and at the instigation of one of his young artists, Edmund Legault, Cy Bell’s company began putting out Canadian comic books to fill in a void caused by a parliamentary ban of the importing of American comics into the country that was put in place at the end of 1940. His first title was Wow Comics, and in the ensuing months he followed with six more titles, including Dime, Active, Joke, and Triumph Comics featuring such iconic characters as Nelvana of the North, Johnny Canuck, Speed Savage, Thunderfist, and The Penguin. In March of 1942, the company was incorporated as Bell Features and Publishing Company Ltd. and with its famous, trademark bell logo, the company’s output came to form one of the most recognizable set of books in Canadian war time production. During its peak years Bell Features produced about a hundred thousand comic books a week and employed over 60 artists. In 1947, Cy Bell wound up his company and turned the printing side of it over to his brothers leaving us one of the finest legacies in Canadian comics. Bell Features would continue without him until 1953. Bell himself operated a small resort hotel in Crystal Beach, ON until the mid-1960’s, at which time he returned to his roots and opened a small-scale sign business which he ran until his passing in the mid-1970’s.
EDMOND GOOD (1910-1991)
Edmond Elbridge Good was born on July 1 (ironically, now Canada Day then Dominion Day in Canada) 1910 in Saco, Maine to parents originally from the Maritimes. The family returned to Canada when Edmond was 10 and settled in Hamilton, Ontario. Edmond received his art training there and was hired as the first Art Director by Cy Bell for his comic publishing business. Good created his best known strip, Rex Baxter, as the lead feature for the new title Dime Comics in Feb. of 1942. He continued producing this feature and all the covers for Dime Comics until issue 13. After Adrian Dingle, Good did the greatest number of covers for Bell Features (Wow Comics 8-13, Commando Comics 1-6, and others. Good continued to work for Bell Features, even after Cy Bell hired Adrian Dingle as Art Director in the spring of 1942. Good also did a number of Canadian pulp covers during this period. He then left for work opportunities in the U.S. in late 1943. From 1944-46 he took over the “Scorchy Smith” newspaper strip from Frank Robbins and also worked on “Phantom Detective” in Thrilling Comics. Good was the original artist on “Tomahawk” when the character began in Star Spangled Comics in 1947 and worked on Dagar Comics from 1948-9. His longest run, and perhaps favourite work, was on Monte Hale Comics for Fawcett from 1949-53. In the mid-fifties he started his own small publishing company called Good Comics Inc. and created Johnny Law, Sky Ranger for its short run. He continued to do commercial art and wrote radio and television scripts in the fifties. At the end of the fifties he had moved his family to Florida hired as the Art Director for Tupperware at their head offices there, a position which he held until his retirement in 1974. In 1977 he moved from Orlando to Altoona, PA. Edmond Good passed away on Friday, Sept. 13, 1991.
TY TEMPLETON (1962-)
Few comic artists, Canadian or otherwise, have had the consistent and varied career of Ty Templeton. Born on May 9, 1962, Ty blazed on the comic scene in 1984 writing and drawing the Vortex Comics series, Stig’s Inferno, a modern take on Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Ty eventually took on the role of editor of Vortex Comics, overseeing various series including the company’s flagship title, Mister X. A talented storyteller, Ty has worked for almost every major publishing company writing or drawing an array of well known characters including Superman, Spider-Man, Star Trek, The Simpsons, She-Hulk, Howard the Duck, Ren & Stimpy, Scooby Doo and a celebrated run on Batman Adventures. Ty was the Editor in Chief of Canadian publisher, Mr. Comics, hiring almost exclusively Canadian talent to produce the critically respected series, Revolution on the Planet of the Apes, Hoverboy, and Dan Slott’s Big Max. In addition to being a popular, gregarious ambassador of comics at Fan Conventions Ty is helping to train the next generation of Canadian comic artists through his popular series of comic book writing and drawing classes, Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Boot Camp. Presently Ty is the artist of DC Comics’ Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet and has a weekly webcomic ‘Bun Toons’.
Selection committee: Kevin A. Boyd, Walter Durajlija, Joe Kilmartin, Ivan Kocmarek, Robert Pincombe, Rachel Richey.
Biographies compiled by Ivan Kocmarek (Cy Bell, Edmond Good) and Robert Pincombe (Ty Templeton).
Canadian Comic Book Hall of Fame
A lifetime achievement award honouring Canadian comic book creators (including editors and publishers) and associated individuals (historians, retailers) for their contributions to comic books.
Temple de la renommée Bandes Dessinées Canadien
Une récompense de carrière honorant des créateurs canadiens (et autres) de Bandes Dessinées pour l’ensemble de leurs oeuvres au neuvième art.
* 2005 Joe Shuster (1914-1992)
* 2005 Leo Bachle (aka Les Barker) (1926-2003)
* 2005 Adrian Dingle (1911-1974)
* 2005 Hal Foster (1892-1982)
* 2005 Ed Furness (1911-2005)
* 2005 Rand Holmes (1942-2002)
About The Joe Shuster Awards
Established in 2004, The Joe Shuster Awards are Canada’s first national and bilingual award recognizing outstanding achievement in the creation of comic books, graphic novels and webcomics. The awards are named after pioneering Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster who, along with writer Jerry Siegel, created the iconic super-powered hero, Superman. The name is used with the approval of the Estate of Joe Shuster – Michael Catron, Estate Agent.
For more information please contact Awards Director Kevin A. Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Those two Kickstarters we mentioned in July are now live, and both are performing exceptionally well for early into their campaigns. Both end at the end of August.
JON STABLES’ BROK WINDSOR(Brok Windsor Kickstarter art by Scott Chantler)
Announced on Friday night, the annual Will Eisner Comic Book Industry Awards featured a few Canadian creator winners. Congratulations all!
Best Continuing Series
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
Best New Series
Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks (Dark Horse)
Best Adaptation from Another Medium
Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground, by Donald Westlake, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground (IDW)
Volume 9 of the stunning Prince Valiant by Hal Foster hardcover series from Fantagraphics came out on Wednesday this week.
Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed run on Green Arrow will be ending with the 34th issue. The Arrow television show producer and a show writer will be taking over the title in the fall.
DC Comics has changed their contracts, and now colourists will receive cover credits and royalties, the bummer is that the royalties are much harder to get.
Speaking of DC, they continue to provide Justice League Canada variants of Justice League United which are the preferred version to get at many comic shops. It’s also written by Jeff Lemire.
Later this month we’ll have some more details on the Harry Kremer Award finalists (narrowing down the selection from 10 to 5), and on our 2014 Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame Inductees.
Canada Day has come and gone, but the media was awash with stories about Canadian superheroes, Johnny Canuck, Brok Windsor, and in particular, Captain Canuck. The good Captain is getting a new comic book series later this year, hopefully you were able to get your free Captain Canuck Canada Day comic!
Last fall, the Kickstarter for restoring and reprinting Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Adrian Dingle’s Inuit goddess and superheroine from the Golden Age of Canadian Comics, was an astounding financial and cultural success. As one commentator said to me “the Nelvana revival was a zeitgeist moment” that was not only interesting historically and culturally, but also socially, as the project was orchestrated by two young women who met while working on the documentary “Lost Heroes”, namely Associate Producer Hope L. Nicholson and researcher Rachel Richey.
Now that Nelvana is out and the backers have received their copies, the book is now available for order through American publisher IDW and will hopefully reach an even wider audience south of the border. Meanwhile copies are still available for order from http://www.nelvanacomics.com
Nelvana, though, is but one of many characters that appeared in the “Canadian Whites”, black and white comics available to Canadian youngsters in the early 1940’s when the War Exchange Conservation Act prevented Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and the Human Torch from Canadian newsstands. Nelvana was published by Bell Features, one of a handful of Canadian comics publishers from BC, Ontario and Quebec. Other dynamic characters made their debut in the pages of these hard-to-find disposable treasures, many of them were rugged Canadian frontiersman, fighting the good fight in the name of Queen and country.
Two of those characters are about to reemerge from the mists of time as Hope and Rachel move in separate directions, handling the revivals of different characters. Plans are afoot to restore and republish other Golden Age Canadian characters after the first two – Thunderfist and the Penguin among them, but for now, two creators who are members of the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame will have their most memorable characters brought to light. Both of these characters (see below) will hopefully be successfully funded by Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns set to launch later this year.
Johnny Canuck appeared on the 2005 Hall of Fame print, he’s the young fellow on the right of the upper ice platform wearing the jodhpurs and flight cap.
In late 1940, John Ezrin, the manager of Bell Features, found a brash, unimpressed, young boy skimming through the company’s comics. Ezrin challenged the youth to come up with something better and the next day, Leo Bachle walked into the offices with the first sketches of Johnny Canuck! The spitting image of his handsome young creator, Johnny debuted in Bell’s Dime Comics number one, dated February 1941. Johnny’s first adventure brought him face to face with Hitler and instantly made Dime Comics Bell’s top-seller.
Johnny made mincemeat of Hitler’s elite guards, declaring, “The Germans had better make stronger rope if they want to hold Canadians captive!” Leo became one of Bell’s key artists, drawing characters like Wild Bill, the Invisible Commando, Chip Pipher, Southpaw, Super Sub and the Brain. Leo’s success opened the door for Bell to hire a cadre of young artists, including Ross Saakel, Ted Steele and Jerry Lazare. But it was Johnny Canuck who was considered so invaluable to the war effort, the government refused to grant Leo a visa to move to the States until he’d completed a backlog of adventures!
Johnny Canuck remains Leo’s most enduring creation. In 1995, years after Leo had changed his name, given up comic books for a lifetime of touring and performing around the globe with his unique comedy act, “Quick on the Draw”, Canada Post honoured Johnny with his own postage stamp. Leo Bachle passed away in May, 2003.
Biography compiled by Rob Pincombe
BROK WINDSOR created by Jon St. Ables aka Stables – Hope L. Nicholson
Born in Ulverston, England on December 23rd 1912, Jon Stables left school at 13 to follow his father and older brother to Winnipeg and become an artist. With the outbreak of World War II, he ventured west to Victoria and contributed to the war effort as a painter and sign writer for the shipbuilding industry. It was there he met his wife Esther and the pair were married in May, 1942. Shortly after, Stables was hired by Imperial News Ltd. to work for Maple Leaf Comics, one of the first golden age publishers of Canadian Comics.
Stables fit right in with Maple Leaf’s British approach to comics and was by far its most accomplished artist, signing his work with the nom de plume, St. Ables. His facility with bigfoot-style cartooning in the prehistoric Piltdown Pete and equal ease with adventure strips like Brok Windsor and Bill Speed helped make Maple Leaf titles the slickest of all the Canadian Whites. Brok Windsor debuted in Better Comics Vol. 3 Number 3, dated April/May 1944. Already a manly outdoorsman-type, physician Brok was portaging through the Lake of the Woods region and stumbled upon an island upon which he was transformed into a 7 foot tall muscle-bound specimen of the superhuman variety. Teaming with the 12 foot tall son of the chieftain of a unique Native Canadian tribe that lives in this uncharted territory named Torgon. Brok, needing the unique serum that enables Torgon’s people to endure the physical transformations, embarks on a perilous journey to find the special waters. Brok and Torgon would go on to have many Burroughs-inspired adventures.
Stables eventually took over the art editing chores from publisher and fellow creator Vernon Miller and became the line’s top cover artist. In 1946, Maple Leaf made an effort to launch several syndicated comic strips based on their features Callaghan and Bill Speed but were unable to make significant inroads.
With two sons to support, Stables and Esther opened a studio and briefly produced a line of colouring books. In 1950, the family moved to California where Stables attempted to pitch ideas and artwork to Disney. Eventually Stables settled in Seattle, working in the art department at Boeing until retiring in 1975. Jon Stables passed away in 1999. He was 87.
Bio compiled by Robert Pincombe (with the aid of Peter Hansen), with details on Brok Windsor supplied by Ivan Kocmarek.
In celebration of the great nation of Canada, Captain Canuck Incorporated is releasing the 1st Annual Captain Canuck Canada Day Edition.
WHEN & WHERE : From June 28- July 1st, 2014, the Canada Day edition will be distributed free through comic book stores, public libraries, convenience stores and shopping malls across Canada. After July 1st, it will be sold at comic book shops across Canada for $2.99.
WHAT : This beautifully bound, 64 page Canada Day Annual will be packed with features, including:
TWO UNIQUE CAPTAIN CANUCK STORIES FEATURING THE CLASSIC AND NEW CANUCK
The original team of Richard Comely, George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin have collaborated with new Canuck talent- Kalman Andrasofszky, Paul Gardner and Dean Henry to offer two unique Captain Canuck stories.
THE ULTIMATE CANADIAN COMIC BOOK STORE AND CONVENTION DIRECTORY
Listed by province, this directory promises to be the most up to date Comic Book store and Comic Book Convention Directory available anywhere.
SNEAK PEEKS OF WHAT’S COMING UP F OR ALL THINGS CANUCK!
We will have the latest on the upcoming new Captain Canuck comic book series written and illustrated by Kalman Andrasofszky, plus interviews with the talent working on the Animated Series.
THE BEST OF CAPTAIN CANUCK FAN ART
Fans have been sending the Cap fan art for decades. We will feature some of Team Canuck’s favourites in our first annual.
CAPTAIN CANUCK COSMOS BIO-CARDS
Bio-cards on all the characters in Equilibrium, featuring never before seen characters and art by Kalman Andrasofszky, George Freeman and more!
POP CULTURE CANADA
A listing of Music festivals, Fringe festivals, Book and Magazine Expos, Comedy Festivals, and Multi-cultural events across Canada.
Like us at facebook.com/ CaptainCanuck; Follow us on twitter.com/ CaptainCanuck; Add your art on captaincanuckinc.tumblr.com/ and watch us at captaincanuck.com
In 2014, with the arrival of the 10th Annual Joe Shuster Awards, we are introducing a new award into the current line-up, one that will replace the long defunct Outstanding Achievement Award and fill a gap in our existing coverage.
The new T.M. Maple Award will go to one person (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who had a positive impact on the community.
Since this is the inaugural year for the TM Maple Award, two recipients will be recognized:
T.M. Maple was the pseudonym of Jim Burke (1956-1994), a fan who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994. Burke’s letters were quite popular among readers as well as editors, and he wrote prolifically to a diverse number of comic publishing companies and titles. Burke originally signed his letters as “The Mad Maple,” but Marvel Comics editor Tom DeFalco abbreviated it to “T.M. Maple” to make it sound like a real name (thus circumventing a new policy at the company to stop printing letters submitted under pseudonyms). Burke took a liking to the new name and began using it exclusively (including variations like “Theodore Maddox Maplehurst”) until 1988, when in Scott McCloud’s Zot! #21 he revealed his real name. Burke published a fanzine about comics in the late 1980s. With artist/publisher Allen Freeman, Burke co-created the superhero Captain Optimist. Jim Burke had a fatal heart attack in 1994.
Debra Jane Shelly (1974-2014) was a comics fan, supporter, and self-described (and celebrated) nerd. She was known for her years of behind-the-scenes support at Toronto comic cons and other events celebrating comics and pop culture.An active member of many online fan communities such as the Comics Cube and the International Comics Society. In 2013, she was a volunteer at many conventions such as Fan Expo Canada, she contributed biographies and counsel to the Joe Shuster Awards, she co-founded the Comic Book Lounge in Toronto’s Ladies Night, which met bi-monthly and became a gathering point for women comic book fans in a community still largely dominated by and catering to a male audience. It was a first for the Toronto comics community, and came at a time when the critical question of diversity in comics (readers as much as creators and characters) was gaining serious momentum internationally. Debra was known for her positivity, and did less to criticize the comic community’s shortcomings than to nurture the people, spaces, and ideas that were inspiring. In early 2014 she passed away from a epileptic seizure in her sleep.
“To so many people she was the first person we told of our successes and failures & she always knew the best way to respond -how to congratulate and console us. That kind of contribution doesn’t fit on a resume but it was felt throughout the community.”
–Alice Quinn, Ladies’ Night co-founder
JSA Director Kevin Boyd:
I am deeply moved that members of the community would push the Joe Shuster Awards to create an award that honours those people in our community that don’t create or sell comics, that fall through the cracks, and I am proud to be able to announce that we will be debuting this new award in the fall of 2014, our tenth year. In February 2014, after Debra’s passing, there was an overwhelming push on the organization from people in the community to do something with the Joe Shuster Awards to honour Debra and people like her, the fans and members of our Canadian comics communities that make a positive impact on others. In our search for someone to name the award after, one name stood out from among the many possibilities, someone who has come up many times in discussions for the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, and that was Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple. Burke was more than just a letter writer, here was a person that loved comics and wanted better of them and became an important part of the comics community by voicing those opinions and influencing publishers, editors and creators.
UPDATED – AUGUST 22, 2014
The Joe Shuster Awards will be presented on Saturday, September 20th in Toronto, Ontario at BACK SPACE TORONTO, 587A College Street (2nd Floor). Ceremony will commence at 8 pm.
June 4, 2014 – Canada has a rich tradition of supporting our national arts communities with awards that recognize the achievements of our citizens like the Genie Awards for film and television and the Juno Awards for music – the JOE SHUSTER AWARD is Canada’s national award that honours and raises the awareness of Canadians that create, self-publish and sell comics books, graphic novels and webcomics.
They are named after pioneering Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster (1914-1992), whose clear, dynamic style and inventive visual flourishes set the standard for graphic storytelling during the infancy of the North American comic book industry. It was Superman, a co-creation of Shuster and his friend Jerry Siegel, that electrified the industry over 75 years ago in 1938 and, almost overnight, transformed comic books into an enormous pop-cultural phenomenon.
Nominees were selected this spring from lists of creators of original works published and distributed during the year 2013. Qualifying creators must be Canadian citizens – living at home or abroad, or a recognized permanent resident. The award winners will be chosen by a jury vote to ensure every nominee is given adequate consideration.
And the nominees are: Continue reading
Okay, so we’re nearing the end of the extension given for the Retailer, Webcomics, Comics for Kids, and Gene Day Awards and if all goes as planned we’ll be announcing the nominations next week.
I would like to thank the many folks who have contacted me about being involved in the awards this year, I’ll be contacting you all shortly and we can begin planning for the ceremony and fundraising as soon as the nominations list goes public.
As usual, it should be stated that since these are awards with only 7 (sometimes 8) nominees per category, not everyone can be nominated for an award. Our committees have been narrowing down the lists to a smaller set of nominations (in some categories from hundreds of individual artists) and we know that inevitably some people will feel we neglected a creator, a book, or a store…
Congratulations to the winners of the Doug Wright Awards for 2014 (handed out as usual at TCAF in Mid-May) for non-mainstream, non-superhero comics:
Best Book – Paul Joins the Scouts by Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
Spotlight aka “The Nipper” – Steven Gilbert for The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge
Pigskin Peters (non-narrative) – “Out of Skin” by Emily Carroll
We’re looking for motivated individuals to join our planning and fundraising team for 2014, are you interested in being one of those people and be a part of the Joe Shuster Awards team? It will involve some in-person meetings (for people in the Greater Toronto Area) on a semi-regular basis, or email meetings for people who aren’t — and interested parties must be willing to take direction, offer their opinion, help out at events, and to take on tasks outside of meetings. We’re a not-for-profit organization, but this is good experience for people willing to learn about and interact with the Canadian comics community. If you are interested, please contact me (Kevin Boyd) at email@example.com
Hello, I thought I would throw some more details your way, regarding Owen McCarron, Marvel’s “Puzzlemaster”.
Starting as an Advertising Director at the Halifax Herald, Owen transitioned to War and Romance at Charlton Comics. From there, his friend, Marvel Editor Stan Lee, hired him to craft character-oriented puzzles in comics, books and newspapers. These included Marvel Fun Books, Marvel Mazes, Activity books, Ghost Rider, and a host of Spider-Man titles. This working relationship meant that Owen could call the Marvel Bullpen in New York, and ask them to send him much of their unused original art (instead of throwing it in the wastebasket, as they were doing previously!).
Appreciating the rising stock value of Marvel artists and writers, McCarron compiled a broad selection of original art and storytelling information, years before the first comic book convention in 1964.
McCarron drew an alternate cover for an early Amazing Spider-Man issue which wasn’t printed, but featured a cluster of villains centered around a back alley. He later acquired a great alternate cover of Amazing Spider-Man #10 (The Enforcers!), which was also unprinted, drawn by Steve Ditko. These alternate Spider-Man covers remain with the family to this day. As Owen said, “I’ve been offered tens of thousands of dollars for it… but I didn’t need the money.”
He must’ve played his cards right, becoming one of Canada’s more successful self-publishers of comics, producing books which taught kids how to avoid various catastrophes!
In the vintage family photograph below, we see Douglas McCarron (Sidney Crosby’s great-grandfather) with Owen McCarron (although Sidney’s grandmother is not shown). In the other vintage photo, we see Owen at his drafting table. This was included with the biography in the book, “Invaders From The North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Strip” by Author John Bell.
One of Owen’s last projects was an illustrated poem regarding the traumatic events of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, which killed 2,000 people, and injured 9,000 more.
While we have finalized some categories, some of the selection committees have asked for an extension, so we will announce all of the 2014 nominees the week of June 1.
You may have noticed I’ve cut back on the announcements of upcoming conventions — it’s getting to the point where there are so many events going on every week across the country that we aren’t able to give all of them the attention that they deserve. We suggest you consult the list of conventions across Canada that we have posted elsewhere on this website.
This week however is a busy one with a convention in Ottawa and the Beguiling’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival (in Toronto, obviously). The festival is also the host event for the annual Wright Awards for Canadian cartoonists who work on non-mainstream, independent books like the books published by awards sponsors Drawn + Quarterly, Conundrum Press and Koyama Press. The Giants of the North (their hall of fame) appears to be sponsored by CGA Comics, who is debuting the Nelvana of the Northern Lights collection at the event and using it to maintain interest in their future reprinting plans.