George Menendez Rae (1906-1992)
Of Scottish and Spanish descent, George Menendez Rae was born in New York City in 1906 (some online sources cite his birth date as 1913; others as 1912), but lived most of his life in Canada. During the 1940s and 1950s, he worked as a freelance illustrator and designer, contributing to comics, magazines (including Canadian pulps), books, and trading cards. One of the most accomplished comics artists active during the Canadian Golden Age, he was associated with the Montreal-based publisher Educational Projects and its flagship publication, Canadian Heroes, where he signed his art variously as Rae (or R–), Dez and Geo.
Although Rae did stellar work on a number of strips, he is probably best remembered for the adventures of his national superhero, Canada Jack, who made his debut in the March 1943 issue of Canadian Heroes. Rae’s hero wore a costume that consisted of tight slacks and a tank top that featured a Canada Jack crest on his chest. A gymnast, ju-jitsu expert, and superb horseman, he protected the Canadian home front from a variety of villains, including saboteurs, kidnappers, black marketeers, and escaped Nazi POW’s. Canada Jack even inspired the creation of a popular children’s club that brought together fans of the strip and encouraged kids to contribute to the Canadian war effort.
Rae’s comic art also appeared in the Canadian Jewish Congress title Jewish War Heroes (perhaps the first Canadian giveaway comic book) and in two Educational compilations, Action Stories of the Mounties and Thrilling Adventures of Canada Jack. Following the demise of Educational Projects in late 1945, Rae left the comics field. Later in his career, he became increasingly active as a fine artist, serving as the president of the Arts Club of Montreal and receiving the Order of Merit for his many contributions to the arts in his home community of St. Bruno, Quebec. Just months before his death, in April 1992, Rae was pleasantly surprised to find his comic-art achievements celebrated in Ottawa at the Museum of Caricature exhibition Guardians of the North.