The Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association’s Hall of Fame selection committee is proud to announce their four selections for induction into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame at the 2009 Joe Shuster Awards ceremony on September 26, 2009 at U. of T.’s Innis Town Hall:
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.
Réal Godbout was born in Montreal in 1951 and is a self-taught artist who began his career in the 1970s eventually becoming the artist and co-writer of the series Michel Risque and Red Ketchup. He soon became one of the main Quebec comic creators of his generation and a leader of the medium’s “rebirth” in the effervescent period often called “Spring of the BDQ” working for magazines like Quartier Latin and BD. He also worked for the humor magazine L’Illustré, where he created his ‘Bill Bélisle’ character. He was present for a while in the daily press with the ‘Les Terriens’ comic strip and he created one of his most famous characters, ‘Michel Risque’, in the collective comic book ‘La Bande Dessinée Kébécoise’ in 1975 and the series continued in the Mainmise magazine. From 1979 to 1995, he worked for the satirical monthly magazine Croc, where he and writer Pierre Fournier continued the ‘Michel Risque’ series. When Jacques Hurtubise (Zyx) launched the Titanic magazine in 1983, Godbout and Fournier started the ‘Red Ketchup’ series, based on a secondary character from ‘Michel Risque’. However, Titanic didn’t last long and ‘Red Ketchup’, a favorite with many readers, moved over to the magazine Croc where his adventures alternated with those of Michel Risque.
Over the years his work has been published in such diverse places as L’Hydrocéphale; The Year of Comics 85-86; Safarir and the journal 100% Paper, amongst others. These days Réal Godbout works primarily in illustration and has also produced a great deal of storyboard material for animation. Réal also created a series of educational comic strips on famous Canadian scientists for “Les Débrouillards” magazine and since 1999 he has taught comic art in the fine arts program at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. To the joy of his many fans his most famous creations, Michel Risque and Red Ketchup, are currently being collected and re-released by Éditions de la Pastèque and the latest BD production he’s busily working on is a graphic novel entitled “L’Amérique ou Le Disparu” based on Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”.
Ken Steacy is a Canadian Air Force brat who decided at age eleven to become a professional comic book artist and has gone on to become one of Canada’s leading comic artists with a career spanning over thirty years. He graduated at the Ontario College of Art in the mid-1970s where he studied Photo/Electric Arts and drove all of his profs crazy by turning in comic strips for assignments instead of the film or video requested. They finally figured out what he was up to and awarded him a pile of scholarships, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal. He pursued his intent to become a comic creator until the magic moment occurred in 1974 with the publication in ORB Magazine of Super Student, a two page strip that he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered. This holistic approach has been a hallmark of his work ever since, true to his belief that specialization is for insects, not artists.
He has since contributed to numerous comic books and magazines, such as Epic Illustrated, Marvel Fanfare, Jonny Quest and Iron Man. Steacy also worked a lot for the Star Wars series, making comics, trading cards and children’s books and collaborated with comic writers such as Harlan Ellison on the graphic novels ‘Night and the Enemy’ and Dean Motter on ‘The Sacred and the Profane’ along with numerous collaborations with author Douglas Coupland. Ken Steacy was the writer/artist of the 1990 comic series ‘Tempus Fugitive’, published by DC comics. In the early 1990s, he worked on an interactive CD-ROM for children, called ‘The Awesome Adventures of Victor Vector and Yondo’, and made a comic series starring the same characters and later created ‘Brightwork’, a book celebrating classic car ornamentation. He also produced all of the display artwork for the Space Place gallery at Edmonton’s TELUS World of Science, designed the sets and promotional material for a production of West Side Story, and painted stacks of World of Warcraft, Marvel Masterpieces, and Indiana Jones gaming cards. He was the recipient of a 1990 Inkpot Award and currently runs Ken Steacy Publishing, an on-demand publishing house for comic creators.
With paintings in the permanent collection of the National War Museum in Ottawa and two recent exhibits at art galleries in BC Ken Steacy has had a distinguished and very prolific career in the graphic arts, creating innumerable illustrations and covers for comics and for many productions outside the comic field, and he continues to this day producing his unique and distinctive brand of artistic magic.
Diana Schutz is widely recognized as one of the most astute and discerning editors in the comic book industry. In this capacity, she has worked closely with a wide variety of comics creators, including Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick, Stan Sakai, Dave Sim and Matt Wagner and is perhaps best known for her work on the mature and provocative titles published by Dark Horse Comics for whom she has worked since 1990.
Ms. Schutz grew up in Montreal, studied Philosophy and Creative Writing at college and, after moving to Vancouver, graduated from buying comics to working behind the counter in a comics shop in the late 1970s and early ’80s. After relocating to California, she began submitting articles to various fan publications and in 1982 made her move from retail towards publishing by means of a bimonthly, 32-page newsletter that she put together for Comics & Comix entitled The Telegraph Wire. In addition to meeting and mingling with publishers, distributors, promotion teams and all manner of creators, Schutz started freelance work for “various other fan publications”, including Comics Buyer’s Guide, The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes and Comics Scene, from which she graduated to a very brief stint at with Marvel Comics as an assistant editor. She found she had entered her job at Marvel with “unrealistic expectations” and ultimately handed in her notice after a mere four days but several months later began work at Comico, which “with its opportunities for creator ownership, and the fact that it was much smaller and more personable, was much more her style”.
By 1990, Schutz began work for Dark Horse Comics, rising (by 2007) to the position of Executive Editor, having variously held the roles of Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Editor-in-Chief. In July 1999, Schutz instigated the Maverick imprint at Dark Horse Comics which was designed as an umbrella title for a number of creator-owned titles — the aim of the Maverick line was to “push the medium a little bit,” although Schutz recognized that such titles are often a hard sell. The eclectic titles had one thing in common, according to Schutz — “it has a lot to do with the particular project being a labor of love for the individual creator”. During its second year Schutz highlighted Maverick’s “trades program”, collecting previously published materials, a move that was somewhat ahead of its time but she maintained that “…the future of comics resides in the kinds of projects that are going to appeal to a more adult reader.”
Known mainly for her editing skills for which she has been the recipient of numerous honours such as Inkpot, Eisner and Harvey awards Schutz has also written comic scripts for Grendel, Solo, Usagi Yojimbo, AutogioGraphix and adapted a Harlan Ellison story for Dream Corridor. Over the years Schutz returned to graduate studies, and in 1994 she received a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Portland and has become an adjunct instructor of comics history and criticism at Portland Community College. Still a force to be reckoned with at Dark Horse her deft and thoughtful editorial expertise move the comics industry forward into the future.
The 2009 Hall of Fame Selection Committee members:
John Adcock is a historical researcher residing in Edmonton, Alberta. Between 1967 and 1975 he was a frequent contributor of comic illustrations to comic and sf fanzines published in Chicago, California and Alberta. He illustrated one children’s book, Ronald and the Dragon, authored by Lawrie Peters, for Tree Frog Press, Edmonton, Alberta, in 1975. Currently he is curator of two blogs, Punch in Canada and Yesterday’s Papers and working on a long article, Spring-Heeled Jack and the Spirit of the Age, due to be published in Britain sometime this year.
John Bell is a senior archivist at Library and Archives Canada and the author of three books on the history of English Canadian comics, Canuck Comics (1986), Guardians of the North (1992), and Invaders from the North (2006). He has also curated two comics websites, Guardians of the North and Beyond the Funnies, and contributed articles about comics history to The Canadian Encylopedia, Le BD Guide 2005, Alter Ego, Maisonneuve, and other publications. As well, he has prepared exhibitions on Canadian comics for the Canadian Museum of Caricature and the National Library of Canada. In 1995 he assisted Canada Post with the creation of its popular Superheroes stamp issue. In addition, Bell has written extensively about other aspects of Canadian cultural history.
Bob MacMillan began far from any thought of comics. MacMillan was an aeronautical technologist that became part of the debris when the Arrow crashed. The debacle was not without its benefits. Without it he probably would never have set out on the long loop that eventually took him into the study of history at University of Toronto and York University, which, after a while took him into cultural history then the subterranean world of Canadian cartooning and illustration, to collecting and finally to here in this group.
For MacMillan collecting has always been the means through which he can explore the creators behind the work. Likewise he has always been more interested in locating Canadian cartooning and illustration within the context of the mosaic of Canadian culture than within the context of the genre. For example, combine Canadian culture nationalist Ken Gass’ play Johnny Canuck based on Bell characters with the fact that Johnny Canuck was never more than a backup character in Bell comics and he begin to suspect that Johnny Canuck was more of an icon for the nationalists of the 1970’s and 1980’s than he was for the kids of the 1940’s.
MacMillan has written some and organized a few exhibits to help people become aware of the rich Canadian comic book traditions around them. Presently, he is organizing the material he has collected to make it more accessible and is at present looking for a home for it in an educational institute where students can use it.
Henry Mietkiewicz, an avid reader of comic books and comic strips for more than 50 years, wrote extensively about comics and pop culture for the Toronto Star, where he was a staff reporter from 1973 to 1999. Among his proudest achievements was conducting an in-depth interview with Joe Shuster in 1992 that yielded new information about the genesis of Superman.
While at the Star, Henry held various positions, including TV critic, deputy film critic, deputy drama critic and features writer. Currently, he is the senior editor/writer in the Department of Public Affairs and Communications at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, one of Quebec’s largest healthcare institutions. Henry’s original drama scripts have been broadcast on CBC Radio, and he is co-author of a non-fiction book about the hippie counterculture in Toronto during the late 1960s and early ’70s called Dream Tower: The Life and Legacy of Rochdale College.
Henry holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa, and a Webmaster Diploma in website content from Seneca College in Toronto.
Michel Viau is the author of the most authoritative guide to Quebec comics, BDQ : Répertoire des publications de bandes dessinées au Québec des origines à nos jours (2000). Since 1998 he has also been a major contributor to the BD Québec website (www.bdquebec.qc.ca). Viau writes a regular column on comics in the fanzine Zine Zag, as well as occasional articles for the French magazine Le Collectionneur de bandes dessinées. Since November 2001, he has been assistant editor-in-chief of the humour and comics magazine Safarir.