Johnny Canuck and Brok Windsor archival collections on their way, following successful Nelvana Kickstarter

nelvanaLast 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 created by Leo Bachle aka Les Barker – Rachel Richeycropped-jam_smallfin-copy1.jpg

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

2006hofBrok Windsor is the manly fellow in red and white on the right side of the 2006 Hall of Fame print

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.

Late May update

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:
paulscoutsBest 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

Is it time to start flag-waving?

71_LRGThere seems to be a lot of media attention this week once again regarding Canadian super-heroes – specifically the comics of the 1940s. This weekend – tonight and tomorrow afternoon – the Royal Theatre in Toronto will be hosting two screenings of the now-completed LOST HEROES Movie, directed by Will Pascoe. Members of the Canadian comics scene – creators, academics, media personalities and so on — were brought in to discuss aspects of the Canadian comic book super-heroes of the past and the present. After this two screening event (note that there will be a director Q&A after the Friday evening screening but not the Saturday one) the film moves to Superchannel where it will run at various times and on various dates.

Here’s the synopsis from imdb:

LOST HEROES is the story of Canada’s forgotten comic book superheroes and their legendary creators. A ninety-minute journey to recover a forgotten part of Canada’s pop culture and a national treasure few have ever heard about. LOST HEROES is the tale of a small country striving to create its own heroes, but finding itself constantly out muscled by better-funded and better-marketed superheroes from the media empire next door.

lhrRAD0598920131210_11334Incidentally, American comics auction house Comiclink recently auctioned off a number of hard to find Canadian whites, including a CGC 6.5 graded copy of the Nelvana of the Northern Lights Colour Special – it sold for a whopping $13,750.

 

Happy New Year! 2014 marks 10 years of the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards

cropped-541599031_dcca9f97ab.jpgIn Spring 2005 the first annual Joe Shuster Awards for Canadian Comic Book Creators was held at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon and a lot of great books and talent have been honoured over the decade since then.

As 2013 draws to a close, please join us as we present an overview of 9 years worth of Joe Shuster Award Winners.

Note that some winners in 2005-2008 were selected by public voting. In 2009 all categories became jury selected.

CARTOONISTS
2005 – Darwyn Cooke for DC: The New Frontier (DC Comics)
2006 – Bryan Lee O’Malley for Scott Pilgrim Vol. 2 (Oni Press)
2007 – Darwyn Cooke for The Spirit (DC)
2008 – Jeff Lemire for Essex County Books 1 and 2 (Top Shelf)
2009 – Dave Sim for Glamourpuss (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
2010 – Michel Rabagliati pour Paul, tome 06: Paul à Québec (La Pastèque)
2011 – Tin Can Forest for Baba Yaga and the Wolf (Koyama Press)
2012 – Ramon Perez for Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
2013 – Jeff Lemire for Sweet Tooth (DC/Vertigo) and The Underwater Welder (Top Shelf)

ARTISTS
2005 – Kaare Andrews for Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One (Marvel)
2006 – Pia Guerra for Y the Last Man (DC/Vertigo)
2007 – Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone for Batman/The Spirit (DC)
2008 – Dale Eaglesham for Justice Society of America (DC)
2009 – David Finch for Ultimatum (Marvel)
2010 – Stuart Immonon for Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers (Marvel)
2011 – Francis Manapul for the Flash, Adventure Comics and Superman/Batman (DC)
2012 – Stuart Immonen for Fear Itself (Marvel)
2013 – Isabelle Arsenault pour Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)

WRITERS
2005 – Samm Barnes for Doctor Spectrum (Marvel MAX)
2005 – Ty Templeton for The Batman Adventures (DC)
2006 – J. Torres for Teen Titans Go! and Legends of the Dark Knight (DC) and Love as a Foreign Language (Oni)
2007 – Darwyn Cooke for Superman Confidential (DC)
2008 – Cecil Castellucci for the PLAIN Janes (DC/Minx)
2009 – Mariko Tamaki for Emiko Superstar (DC/Minx) and Skim (Groundwood Books)
2010 – Maryse Dubuc pour Les nombrils, tome 04: Duels de belles (Dupuis)
2011 – Émilie Villeneuve pour La fille invisible (Glénat Québec)
2012 – Kurtis J. Wiebe for The Green Wake and The Intrepids (Image Comics)
2013 – Fanny Britt pour Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)

ACHIEVEMENT 2005, 2008
2005 – Dave Sim and Gerhard for the completion of Cerebus. Begun in 1977, this 300-issue series is a milestone in comic book publishing and is the longest running creator-owned comic book series
2008 – David Watkins for using comics as a teaching tool.

PUBLISHERS 2005-2011
2005 – Arcana Studio
2006 – Drawn & Quarterly
2007 – Drawn & Quarterly
2008 – Drawn & Quarterly
2009 – Les 400 Coups/Mécanique Générale
2010 – La Pastèque
2011 – Koyama Press

INTERNATIONAL CREATORS 2006-2008
2006 – Brian K. Vaughan
2007 – Brian K. Vaughan
2008 – Ed Brubaker

WEBCOMIC CREATORS
2007 – Dan Kim
2008 – Ryan Sohmer and Lar De Souza
2009 – Cameron Stewart
2010 – Karl Kerschl
2011 – Emily Carroll
2012 – Emily Carroll
2013 – Michael DeForge

Favourite Overall Creator – English Language Publications 2007-8
2007 – Dan Kim
2008 – Faith Erin Hicks

Favourite Overall Creator – French Language Publications 2007-8
2007 – Michel Rabagliati
2008 – Philippe Girard

COVER ARTISTS
2008 – Steve Skroce
2009 – Niko Henrichon
2010 – Darwyn Cooke
2011 – Fiona Staples
2012 – François Lapierre
2013 – Mike Del Mundo

COLOURISTS 2008-2011
2008 – Dave McCaig
2009 – François Lapierre
2010 – Nathan Fairbairn
2011 – Julie Rocheleau

COMICS FOR KIDS – RENAMED THE DRAGON AWARD in 2012
2009 – Kean Soo for Jellaby Vol. 1 (Hyperion)
2010 – Svetlana Chmakova for Nightschool: The Weirn Books (Yen Press)
2011 – Scott Chantler for Three Thieves Book 2 (Kids Can Press)
2012 – Paul Roux pour Ariane et Nicolas Tome 6: Les Toiles Mysterieuses (Les 400 Coups)
2013 – Jo Rioux for Cat’s Cradle Volume 1: The Golden Twine (Kids Can Press)

THE GENE DAY AWARD FOR SELF-PUBLISHING
2009 – Jesse Jacobs for Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow
2010 – Ethan Rilly for Pope Hats #1
2011 – John Martz for Heaven All Day
2012 – Dakota McFadzean for Ghost Rabbit
2013 – Cory McCallum, Matthew Daley for The Pig Sleep: A Mr. Monitor Case

THE HARRY KREMER RETAILER AWARD
2005 – Now & Then Books (Kitchener, ON)
2006 – Strange Adventures (Halifax, NS)
2007 – Happy Harbor (Edmonton, AB)
2008 – Big B Comics (Hamilton, ON)
2009 – Legends Comics and Books (Victoria, BC)
2010 – The Beguiling (Toronto, ON)
2011 – Planete BD (Montreal, QC)
2012 – The Silver Snail (Toronto, ON)
2013 – Heroes Comics (London, ON)

The Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame
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)
2006 Jon St. Ables (1912-1999)
2006 Owen McCarron (1929-2005)
2006 Win Mortimer (1919-1998)
2006 Dave Sim (1956-)
2007 Albert Chartier (1912-2004)
2007 Gerald Lazare (1927-)
2007 Jacques Hurtubise aka ZYX (1950-)
2007 Gene Day (1951-1982)
2008 Ted McCall (1901-1975)
2008 Pierre Fournier (1949-)
2008 Stanley Berneche (1947-)
2008 John Byrne (1950-)
2009 George Menendez Rae (1906-1992)
2009 Real Godbout (1951-)
2009 Ken Steacy (1955-)
2009 Diana Schutz (1955-)
2010 Richard Comely (1950-)
2010 Dave Darrigo (1954-)
2010 George Freeman (1951-)
2010 Serge Gaboury (1954-)
2010 Deni Loubert (1951-)
2010 Jean-Claude St. Aubin (1951-)
2011 Chester Brown (1960-)
2011 Todd McFarlane (1961-)
2012 No Inductees Selected
2013 Murray Karn (1924-)
2013 Vernon Miller (1912-1974)
2013 Arn Saba (Katherine Collins) (1947-)

More Canadian Heroes: Epic Canadiana from Cloudscape Comics

From Vancouver’s Cloudscape Comics Collective comes their latest anthology EPIC CANADIANA

Thrill to the adventures of Canada’s greatest superheroes! The patriotic Johnny Canuck! The mythic Ikniqpalagaq! The enigmatic Loon! The disturbing Ghost-Woman! The activist Jacques de Canada! The mighty Energy Trader! The dynastic Nite-Flyer and Nitro-Girl! The roguish Gin! From Nazi-ravaged Arctic to modern Montreal to post-apocalyptic Vancouver, nine diverse heroes defend the country against a multitude of foes.

Published in 2013, this book features stories from Bevan Thomas, Cody Andreasen, Kamil Ginatulin, Ksenia Kozhevnikova, Shannon LeClerc, Andrew Macklin, Sydney Parent, Alexander Thomas, Colin Upton, Jayleen Weaver, Jeri Weaver, and Morgan Wolf with a cover by Chenoa Gao and character files by such artists as Toren Atkinson, Jeff Ellis, Micah Iwaasa, Nina Matsumoto, Cameron Morris, and Jordan Stasuk.

Available online only as an interactive PDF for $3.

Neil the Horse needs help.

nthhcSaving Neil the Horse

Greetings from Hermes Press! We are a comic book and popular culture art publisher based in New Castle, Pennsylvania. We are a family business that has existed since 2001, and run our company with only 3 full-time employees, along with our unpaid office-dog Moose. Over the years HP has reprinted such titles as The Phantom, Buck Rogers, and Dark Shadows. We have also dabbled in new works such as Scratch9.

Our newest reprint project, Neil the Horse, is a reprint of the much-beloved  1980s Canadian comic book series created by Arn Saba (now Katherine Collins).  Hermes Press wants to print Neil the Horse, but to do that we need your help!  

We are already working on restoring the pages, but don’t have the dedicated funds to print the book. Until we do, it’ll just be sitting on our desktops! By helping us fund this project, you will be saving an iconic series. Neil the Horse  will always be in comics history. But we want more for our horsey hero. How about letting him live again?

Neil and his friends Soapy and Mam’selle Poupée are an always-struggling songand-dance act. To gain success, they will go anywhere, do anything, and put up  with anything — like a trip to Hell, or captivity inside a video game, or a gang of  slap-happy aliens in a stunt-driving saucer. Oh, and a drunken and disorderly  back-up band of cats.

Neil is a happy go-lucky (and not too bright) horse with a mania for bananas.  He’s one heck of a tap-dancer and singer, and he can also get down to breakdancing. He adores his two pals, and will do anything for them. 

Mam’selle Poupée is a romantic and lovelorn living doll from France, whose wooden body is jointed with hinges. With red circles on her cheeks, curly blonde hair, and large bust, Poupée appears to be a cross between Raggedy Ann and Dolly Parton. She is a serious dancer, and practices at the studio every day.

Soapy is a street-wise and cynical (with a heart of gold) orange alley cat, a cigarsmoker and a drinker, who serves as their trumpet player, manager and the brains of the operation. Neil thinks that Soapy is the smartest guy in the world . . . and he just might be right.

The book includes an introduction by Trina Robbins, and brand-new commentary by Neil’s creator, Katherine Collins. There’s also some rare art, and souvenirs of the early career of Neil.

Help us help you get this project started so that we can successfully reprint Neil the Horse!

What We Need & What You Get

So what exactly do we need this money for? All of our work in done in-house, so that’s already paid for by our boss, but we are lacking funding in one very specific area: printing. The cost to print this kind of book is pretty high if we do it correctly (and we want it done correctly!)

We want $15,000 to pay for printing the book, as well as shipping it back to the United States (we print in China). None of this money will go to anything but our printing costs, because we want, more than anything, to preserve this comic series.

If you help us, beyond the satisfaction of knowing that you put your money to a good cause, you can also get a copy of the finished book if we get funding!

We want to keep this simple and keep costs down, so the only real perks are the regular edition of the comic book reprint or the special limited edition version, with extra pages, and signed by Katherine Collins. The regular edition is priced currently at $60.00, and the limited edition at $95.00. You’ll also get your name in the Thanks page if you donate $25 or more!

The Impact

Every project Hermes Press has done has been a success. This time we decided to reach out to the fans, old and new alike, and see if they’d like to be a part of the process from the beginning, instead of just at the bookstore.

By reprinting Neil the Horse you will be helping preserve a unique comic creation. Not to mention Making the World Safe for Musical Comedy, of course!

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can’t donate, please spread the word! Social media can only help us, so please share this on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other media you use!

The ‘SAVE NEIL THE HORSE’ INDIEGOGO Campaign runs until November 7, 2013. Please help if you want to see this book printed.

New Canadian Superhero Age dawning?

Continuing the ongoing discussion — are we prepared for a new age of home grown Canadian superheroes?

Certainly there are many people who feel that yes, we are.

Some examples:cc

1) Captain Canuck the recently launched animated web series is spinning off in the near future back into the medium that inspired it – namely comics.

The new series is by the updated character designer Kalman Andrasofszky and friends.

tp22) True Patriot 2 (aka 2rue Patriot) — the first volume was successful enough to warrant a sequel, and the crowdfunding for it launches next month (November 2013).

J. Torres, Jack Briglio, Tom Fowler, J. Bone and more

The Countdown is On

3) The return of Canadian Whites heroes?

lemire nelvanaIt’s no secret that the publishers of the upcoming Nelvana reprint really, really, really want to do new comics featuring Nelvana of the Northern Lights. Will the Dingle family give them permission to do them or do they have to wait until 2025 when she becomes a public domain character?

Could other characters be far behind or already in the works? Is the race on to secure the licenses of whites characters such as Dizzie Don? The Penguin? Nitro? Major Domo? Iron Man? Johnny Canuck? Time will tell.

How does Mister (or Mr.) Monster fit into all of this?

4) Justice League Canada.

A fan created cover for the internet. Not the real deal.At New York Comic Con I was told by a DC editor not to expect this new title, written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dough Mahnke, until well into 2014… after some of the upcoming events of Forever Evil have played out in the pages of the old Justice League of America title.

6) Untapped revivals?

Maybe James Waley should revive the Northern Light? Or at least collect the old comics for the folks that haven’t seen them…

How about the Northern Guard? Or Northguard?

7) Marvel – Department H (for How Long do we have to wait?)Origin_II_Vol_1_1_Textless

What about Alpha Flight? Is it time for another revival of Marvel’s erstwhile Canadian team?

The upcoming Wolverine Origin II will probably take place in Canada given it has snow, and wolves… and Wolverine.

COMICS_BANNER8) The Heroes of the North

Unfortunately the recent Indiegogo campaign raised about 10% of what they were hoping to get, at least Indiegogo allows them to keep the money they did raise.

I would expect that we’ll see more from this ambitious project going into 2014…

Nelvana campaign meets target in 6 days.

The Kickstarter campaign for the reprinting of Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana of the Northern Lights stories from Triumph-Adventure (later just Triumph) Comics published between 1941 and 1946 by Hillborough Studios/Bell Features has reached it’s aggressive target of 25,000 in 6 days and has resulted in exposure of the character and the Canadian golden age to a number of people not aware of Canada’s short-lived comic book industry of the 1940’s.

The Kickstarter campaign launched on Tuesday, October 1 – and as of this writing it is currently at just over 27,000 with 454 backers and has three weeks left.

Backers were tempted with perks such as new Nelvana drawings by industry pros like Francis Manapul, Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes. A reprinting of the Bell Nelvana colour one-shot, as well as prints and calendars by a number of different artists and a limited edition hardcover.

The editors, friends and supporters celebrated last night with a party at the Harry Kremer Award winning Silver Snail comic shop in downtown Toronto.

Nelvana by Toronto artist Alexander Perkins. Created for the campaign.

Nelvana and her brother by Toronto artist Alexander Perkins. Created for the campaign.

Yes, Canada actually does have a Golden Age of Comics

Canadian Whites have come to mean books produced and published in Canada as a result of the Canadian government’s implementation of the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) which banned the import of American comics into the Canadian wartime economy of World War II. WECA was implemented by the Canadian government in December of 1940. The act was repealed in 1946 allowing US imports to resume, the Canadian industry died out shortly thereafter. ~ Walter Durajlija (Big B Comics)

Here at the Joe Shuster Awards, you can’t discuss English Canadian comic books without some sort of recognition for the 5+ years when English Canada actually had it’s own comic book publishing industry. It’s something that has never quite been repeated in our history, despite a slow boom of self-published books in the mid-to-late 1970’s and early 1980’s and a handful of Canadian publishers over the years like Aardvark-Vanaheim, Renegade Press, Vortex, Drawn & Quarterly, Red 5 Comics, Conundrum Press and Koyama Press.

On the flip side, French Canada (specifically Quebec) has had an active comics publishing industry for the past few decades.

In this article I’ll touch briefly on the short but important war years when we had our own nascent industry that was heavily influenced by the American industry, when Canadian artists didn’t have to go to New York or Chicago to make it as a comic artist or writer. They could do it in Toronto or Vancouver. Continue reading

The Canadian Superhero Renaissance

I had the pleasure to sit on a panel entitled the Canadian Superhero Renaissance at Fan Expo Canada on August 23rd, and had to decline participation in the Golden Age of Canadian Comics panel on Sunday, August 25 (Rachel Richey had an important message to relay and I could not justify both of us being away from the Comic Book Lounge booth). With the completion of this year’s Joe Shuster Awards I’ve had some more time to digest the material that came out of those panels and the discussions I’ve seen online.

Continue reading

Nelvana of the Northern Lights by Adrian Dingle to be reprinted.

Nelvana_oneshotSome news announced at the 2013 Joe Shuster Awards ceremony and reiterated the following day at Fan Expo Canada — Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey (who were both involved in Lost Heroes the Movie, which is said to be released later this year) have received permission from Corus Media and the National Archives to reprint the 31 Nelvana stories. Richey, who has worked for the National Archives in the past, has a blog on Canadian comics entitled Comic Syrup.

The character was published from 1941-1947 in the pages of Hillborough Studios and later Bell Features’ Triumph-Adventure Comics. Nelvana is one of the medium’s earliest female superhero characters.

Nelvana was created by Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame Inductee Adrian Dingle in 1941 for his company Hillborough Studios, after hearing tales of Inuit legends by well-known Canadian painter Franz Johnston. After merging his Toronto studio with publishers Gene and Cy Bell’s Bell Features, Dingle officially signed over the rights and trademark to Bell Features in a 1946 dated document.

However in 1947 Bell Features sold the rights to Nelvana and other characters to F.E. Howard Publications, and Nelvana’s last appearance in comics (still written and drawn by Adrian Dingle) was in F.E. Howard’s Super-Duper Comics #3 (May-June 1947 issue), which won’t be included in this collection.

While Bell Features/Commercial Signs of Canada closed up shop in 1953, the original artwork and the publication rights to the Bell Features Comics (incl. presumably the Hillborough Studios issues) were sold to Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert in 1971 by John Ezrin, Bell’s former Capital Officer. They in turn donated the collection to the National Archives under the provision that the material could not be reprinted without their permission. Their company Nelvana, was named after Dingle’s character, which was bought by Corus Entertainment in 2000, and presumably that includes the company’s assets – including the publication rights to Bell Features comics. So this could be just the first re-presentation of Bell Features comics, providing that this one is successful.

The majority of these comics have not been seen since they were originally published in the 1940’s. Some scans have been reprinted in books such as Hirsh and Loubert’s Great Canadian Comic Books. Nelvana was featured on a postage stamp.

Inspired by tales of the Inuit people told to him by Group of Seven and Ontario College of Art professor Franz (or Frank) Johnston, creator and cartoonist Adrian Dingle loosely adapted many Inuit legends into the superhero mythology of Canada’s first female superhero, predating the arrival of Wonder Woman by less than a handful of months.

When asked about potential new comics featuring Nelvana of the Northern Lights, someone on the facebook group for the character indicated that permission for any NEW comics with the character would require the permission and involvement of Adrian Dingle’s estate, that is until 2024 — our research indicates the date is specifically January 1, 2025 (as Dingle died in 1974 the copyright act indicates that the control of the artist’s work falls to his or her estate for 50 years after the death of the artist/author up until the end of the calendar year in which they passed away). At that time, presumably Nelvana becomes a public domain character. We’re not entirely sure where F.E. Howard Publications fit into this mix – they bought the rights to Nelvana with the intent to create new comics from Bell in 1947, and the 1971 agreement would indicate that Hirsch and Loubert obtained just the reprint rights to those stories published by Hillborough/Bell Features. The creation rights may have had a specific time limit, or conditions that were not met, but at the latest they likely lapsed back to the Dingle Estate in 1997 (50 years after they were licensed). The Dingle Estate has always controlled what Canadian copyright law refers to as the Moral Rights to Nelvana, and can veto depictions of the character they don’t agree with if they so choose.

Nicholson and Richey announced that the project would be crowdfunded (probably by either Kickstarter or Indiegogo) with the campaign to begin on October 1, 2013. The collection we are told will be priced at $30, in softcover trade paperback format. Black and white interiors, with a colour cover. Book design for the project is being handled by Joe Shuster Award winning cartoonist Ramon Perez (Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand).

Perks are to be announced, but many artists such as Jeff Lemire and Steve Manale have been announced as providing something for the project, and others such as David Cutler and Adriana Blake have done art pieces of Nelvana that will presumably be perks or turned into prints or other media for perks.

For updates and interaction with the editors, please check out the facebook page.

Happenings: OMG…. is Fan Expo really next week? August 22-25, 2013

2013cSo in 8 days the big show aka Fan Expo Canada starts at the Metro Convention Centre. This year the show is so massive they had to add a second building and for the first time ever the event will be in both the North and the South Buildings.

phototoddMost of the comics folk are in the South Building though, and that’s where the comics programming will be as well.

Many Joe Shuster Award nominees and winners (past and present) are at the event, and we encourage you to visit the website to look at the floorplans and schedules.

2011 JSA Hall of Fame inductee TODD MCFARLANE is a headlining guest. Full guest list here.

Our retail sponsors The Dragon and The Comic Book Lounge (my store) will be in the dealers section along with Harry Kremer award winning retailers Big B Comics (Hamilton) and the Silver Snail (Toronto).

There are two Canadian comics related panels worth checking out:

FRIDAY AUG 23 – 11:15 AM In room 703

THE CANADIAN SUPERHERO RENAISSANCE

With projects like the True Patriot anthology, the Captain Canuck webseries, the Lost Heroes documentary, The Wolverine movie and more – are we witnessing a Canadian superhero renaissance? Where is this all coming from? Does the industry need this? Will the market support it? Are Canadian superheroes poised to be the next big thing in comics?

Join moderator Fearless Fred and panelists Jay Torres (“True Patriot”), Ramón K Pérez (“True Patriot”), Mike Valiquette (“Captain Canuck”), Hope L Nicholson (“Lost Heroes”), and Kevin A. Boyd (“Joe Shuster Awards”) to discuss The Canadian Superhero Renaissance.

SUNDAY AUG 25 – 2:15 PM in room 703

THE GOLDEN AGE OF CANADIAN COMICS

During WWII the Canadian government initiated the War Exchange Conservation Act and Canadian artists stepped up to fill the void of comics on our newsstands.

Join moderator Ivan Kocmarek and a panel of industry experts as they discuss the first age of Canadian comics and characters like Iron Man, Johnny Canuck, Freelance, The Penguin and many other forgotten heroes and their impact on Canadian-made comics.

ALSO DON’T FORGET THE JOE SHUSTER AWARDS ARE TAKING PLACE ON SATURDAY NIGHT – JACKMAN HALL, ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO! Seating at 8pm – Ceremony to begin around 8:30PM

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2013 Poster #1

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JSA_poster_2013_LG2013 marks the 75th year of Siegel and Shuster’s Superman, so the Metropolis Marvel is joined by some irregular allies in the fight for freedom: Tom Evans, aka Captain Canuck as envisioned by co-creator Richard Comely, Doc Stearne in his fight togs as Mister Monster (by creator Fred Kelly from Super Duper Comics) and the Aardvark warrior Cerebus, by creator Dave Sim.

The three bubbles on the left side spotlight some of the great creations of our Hall of Fame Inductees for 2013 — The Iron Man, the first Canadian superhero as created by Vernon Miller for Better Comics, Neil the Horse by Katherine Collins (formerly known as Arn Saba), and finally Thunderfist, by Murray Karn.

Joe Shuster Awards Ceremony: 8:30 PM – Saturday, August 24, 2013 at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario

jhJuly 5, 2013 – TORONTO, ON

The Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association is pleased to announce the venue of the 2013 Joe Shuster Awards Ceremony. The 8 2013 awards and 3 Hall of Fame presentations will be presented on SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2013 at JACKMAN HALL at the Art Gallery of Ontario, starting at 8:30 PM.

Seating: 200 – priority seating for nominees, their family and friends and other industry professionals, with limited general admission seating.

The Art Gallery of Ontario – 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON

The Art Gallery of Ontario is an art museum in Toronto’s Downtown Grange Park district, on Dundas Street West between McCaul Street and Beverley Street. Its collection includes more than 80,000 works spanning the 1st century to the present day.

Jackman Hall has it’s own entrance on McCaul Street, South of Dundas Street West (pictured above)

.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.

2013 Sponsors include: Guerilla Printing, The Dragon, The Comic Book Lounge & Gallery, Autodesk.

For more information please contact info@joeshusterawards.com

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April 18, 1938 – 75 Years of Siegel and Shuster’s Superman

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Jerry Siegel (left), Superman, Joe Shuster (right). Drawing by Shuster.

75 years ago today on April 18, 1938: Action Comics #1 (cover dated June 1938), featuring Canadian-born Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s Superman debuts on newsstands. They were each paid $130 for the work (about $10 a page each), but National retained the rights to the Superman character as part of the deal.

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JSA update and more on Lost Heroes documentary

So everything is well under way now here at JSA central. We’re once again aiming for a Free Comic Book Day (May 4th) deadline for our nominee announcements.

I must say that it’s been an enthusiastic year for Canadian comics so far, as there’s been a lot going on recently – especially for things related to Canadian comics history. The shooting for the upcoming documentary LOST HEROES has wrapped and the crew is currently in post-production mode, we eagerly await the final product. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to watch some of the interviews filmed at the Comic Book Lounge, and I think people are in for a real treat when the film finally airs on Super Channel later this year. Here’s the official blurb followed by the promotional poster for the film:

Lost Heroes is a feature documentary set to air on Super Channel in 2013. We explore the history of the great Canadian superheroes, from Johnny Canuck to Captain Canuck. Currently in post-production.

Lost Heroes explores the past of the Canadian superhero, from the golden age when millions of children read the tales of Inuit goddess Nelvana of the Northern Lights, to the thrilling days when Canadian superheroes returned to the newstands with Captain Canuck and Cerebus. Lost Heroes celebrates the unique Canadian talent behind these characters and asks why can’t Canada keep their heroes?

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Mister Monster by Fred Kelly, Captain Canuck by George Freeman, Fleur-de-Lys by Ken Steacy, with Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana and other characters in the background.

In what I’ve seen of it, this is a top-notch, professional production and I think it will be a great chance to expose a lot of people to Canada’s comics past, as well as it’s present and future.

With the completion of the eligible English and French list I’ve spent some time perusing the lists to play my guessing game of who I think the nominating committees will be selecting for the 2013 Joe Shuster Awards, and I think that this year’s list is strong, but seems to working from a smaller pool than in previous years. That certainly means that a lot of projects by people absent this year are on the horizon, but I’m eager to see who the nomcoms select.

Currently we have 19 individuals participating in the Nominating Committee for  Artist, Cartoonist, Cover Artist and Writer. They come from across the country, but as per protocol we won’t be publishing their names until after they have finished their selections in case anyone drops out before the end.

Our Hall of Fame selection committee has expanded quite considerably this year, to make up for last year’s year off. Of the seven members, only three have participated in previous HOF nomcoms. Maybe I can convince them finally to rename the HOF “Hinterland’s Who’s Who”.

Ivan Kocmarek on the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) and the 1st Age of Canadian Comics

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Ivan’s latest column at Comic Book Daily digs into just what WECA was and how it led to the first great age of Canadian comic books. Ivan wants us to start referring to the comics published during this time period as “WECA Comics” (or books), instead of the more traditional term “Canadian Whites”.

“WECA” is an acronym for the War Exchange Conservation Act brought into being by the parliament of Canada on Dec. 6, 1940 prohibiting the importation of “non-essential” materials into the country including magazines and comics from the U.S.

Hamilton Spectator discusses Carpet King’s Comics Past

Great article for the Hamilton Spectator about ARAM ALEXANIAN’s contributions to both Canadian and American Golden Age Comics before he went to work for his well known family’s carpet business. Plus a discussion on the Canadian Whites with Big B’s Walter Durajlija and White’s authority Ivan Koczmarek.

Canadian Comic Anthology TRUE PATRIOT needs your help!

Some amazing Canadian comic talent has assembled to create TRUE PATRIOT, an anthology of unmistakably Canadian content. Amongst the fellowship are:

Adrian Alphona (Runaways), Andy B. (Kill Shakespeare), J. Bone (Super Friends), Jack Briglio (Scooby Doo), Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Tom Fowler (Hulk: Season One), Agnes Garbowska (Girl Comics), Faith Erin Hicks (Adventure Time), Tim Levins (Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), Ron Salas (28 Days Later), Jay Stephens (Secret Saturdays), J. Torres (Teen Titans Go), Howard Wong (After the Cape).

They need your help! There’s a campaign running at Indiegogo to get financing, and there’s only four days left to get them to their goal! It looks like it’ll be a fantastic book, so get on board and help this get made.