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.


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.

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


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.

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.

Late July Update

Things may have slowed down considerably here on the site lately, as running a store as well as the awards, parts of the country’s largest comic-con and a day job have really taken a toll on my time. I had never expected to own a comic shop, but The Comic Book Lounge + Gallery has been growing steadily since we opened it back in February. Huge  props go to manager Joe Kilmartin (formerly of the JSA Executive and former manager of Dragon Lady Comics), for handling the day to day aspects of running the Lounge.

If anyone has any interest in posting news items and articles here on the website, please contact me at and we’ll get you hooked up.

It has been a very busy summer for everyone, with plenty of great news coming out of the San Diego con. A new series from Ed Brisson, Michael Walsh and Jordie Belaire called Comeback for Image. Also at Image, J. Bone will be doing a series called The Saviours with James Robinson, Darwyn Cooke will be doing at least two more Parker novels with The Hustle set for release in late 2013. Dale Keown will be joining Jeph Loeb for something called A Plus X.

Of course, the big news were the Eisner Awards, which have been summarized elsewhere on this site. Congratulations to the class of 2012! Darwyn and Ramon face off again in September in the Cartoonist category here for the Joe Shuster Awards.

The juries for 2012 have been selected and are beginning their review process. Thanks to the publishers who assisted us providing copies of nominated books for the jury to review. In this regard The Comic Book Lounge has become an official sponsor of the Joe Shuster Awards, providing some of the books not obtainable from the publisher directly.

It has been a big summer for books as well. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke was released last week to great acclaim, the colourized Scott Pilgrim Volume 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Nathan Fairbairn is set to arrive next week, as is Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder.

Help “Little Heart” Anthology get published! Featuring Emily Carroll!

Here’s another great project that needs your help! Little Heart is a comics anthology created to show support for marriage equality. It was initially created to raise awareness of a coming referendum in Minnesota, but it’s spread much wider. It also happens to feature JSA winner Emily Carroll and her fiancee Kate Craig, as well as many other great artists, plus a forward written by TCAF co-founder Christopher Butcher. The campaign is doing quite well so far but needs all the support it can get. Head over to Kickstarter to donate!

Hourly Comic Day!

You may not have known it, but February 1 was Hourly Comic Day! This started officially last year, curated by the brilliant John Campbell, creator of Pictures For Sad Children. This year saw over 200 participants, and several Canadians joined in on the fun. The rules are simple: chronicle each hour of your day with a comic. There’s some great insights on the creative process here, and lots of cathartic venting as well. It’s a fascinating exercise, and well worth looking into. The whole forum is available here, but here’s a few of the Canadians who participated!

J. WojtysiakGothbunnies

Brian EvinouPsychic Drama

Ryan PequinThree Word Phrase

Boum  – Boumeries

Jennifer BarrettWerebears and Only Children

Darwyn Cooke news

Earlier in the month, Strange Adventures in Halifax held a special release party for Parker: The Martini Edition, even creating a unique Parker commemorative martini glass. Photos now online!

Darwyn has started his annual 12 Days of Christmas auctions to benefit the Hero Initiative. Some amazing pieces and packages were sold last year, so expect the same this year, and it’s all for a very worthy cause! DAY ONE, DAY TWO.

PS I received Darwyn’s response to the wrap survey today, so I’ll be formatting it and posting it here on Thursday.

Happy Canada Day! Plus… Fan Expo Canada tickets on sale.

No work, no school… backyard barbeques and visits to the cottage… it’s July 1 and it’s time to celebrate being neutral and non-confrontational!

Earlier this morning FAN EXPO CANADA tickets went on sale for the August 25-28 event in Toronto. They were supposed to start selling at 12:01 but technical glitches caused by a sudden influx of people on the site caused the servers to crash for a while, and Rogers Wireless who were also selling tickets also had some initial glitches. By about 12:45 everything was working perfectly and it’s been fine since and the angry, frustrated e-Mob quickly dissipated.

Pictured below: the Amazing Spider-Man 666 Fan Expo Canada variant only available to the 1500 Premium pass holders. Artwork is by US artist and guest Steve Epting.

The 11th Hour: Finalizing 2011 and Organizational Discussions

If it seems quiet around here, it’s because we’re holding our breaths in anticipation of the decisions currently being made by our FOUR (yes 4!) Juries this year:

  • “ART” : Artist, Cover Artist, Webcomics, Colourist
  • “STORY” (bilingual jury required): Writer, Cartoonist
  • “INDUSTRY”:  Publisher, Self-Publisher, Retailer
  • “KIDS”: Comics for Kids

Everyone is supposed to send over their choices on Friday, and then we’ll have the weekend to debate/discuss and finalize by Monday next week: Monday May 30th is zero hour for decisions. Once we have them, we’ll get to work on finalizing the audio/visual part of our ceremony presentation and the award plaques go off to be made.

I hope to have an announcement this week about the June 18 ceremony hosting duties.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having a thoughtful discussion with American cartoonist Dustin Harbin on the inclusion/exclusion of webcomics and award philosophies over on his blog. He makes some great points, and I never balk at a chance to do some naval-gazing to question what we are doing here and why, and sometimes I do understand that our stance may annoy or aggravate certain people, but I hope that they can also understand that the reason why these awards exist is to be fundamentally positive — not negative, about the Canadian comics scene. The JSAs are very much committed and connected to supporting a retail system that sells the print products (specifically comic books and graphic novels) that we award with the awards for those that create comic books and graphic novels.

Administering these awards is a largely bureaucratic business (and an unthankful one at that!), with lots of rules and definitions in place to establish categories for awards (which drives some of us as mad as it may drive some of you), but structured awards ultimately demand rules and a guiding philosophy.  Organizational awards are often the result of  a lot of discussion and defining (and redefining!), and the fact that we are in the position of offering creative awards for a commercial art form means trying to strike some balance between the two. It means establishing eligibility parameters, identifying those creators that fit in the parameters of the award criteria, getting the nomcoms to select the outstanding creative work from within that group and then having a jury select a finalist from within that smaller group.

Anyway, lots of food for though for 2012… but for now we must focus and finish up 2011! Best of luck to all of the nominees in advance!

Whazamo! Ontario Graphic Novel Month at Open Book Toronto

We’re only 19 days into May and there’s already a TON of stuff up for you to check out over at Whazamo! Below are links to everything posted so far:

WHAZAMO! Ontario Graphic Novel Month is an online comics celebration brought to you by Open Book: Toronto. Whazamo! showcases the talented graphic novelists and illustrators published by Ontario publishers and draws attention to the new stars of the Canadian graphic novel and comic book scene.

In its third year, Whazamo! features profiles of comic creators and graphic novel news, as well as a series of original literary comics by some of Canada’s finest cartoonists. The series is curated by Vepo Studios, who have also produced a short documentary for Open Book that follows the creative process of the cartoonists.

The Graphic-Novelist-in-Residence is Ian Daffern. You can find his page here.

Whazamo! is presented in collaboration with the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario and it welcomes you.


COMICS in which the artists profiled below select a literary work and pay homage to it in comics form:







THE NEXT DAY interview series
The Next Day is an innovative comics novella from POP SANDBOX, the folks that brought us 2010’s acclaimed KENK: A GRAPHIC PORTRAIT:
Part One: Alex Jansen
Part Two: Paul Peterson
Part Three: Jason Gilmore
On the release party and display at the NFB Mediatheque

13 Canadian comics creators join international effort for primates

13 Canadian creators have contributed to Panels for Primates, an online charity anthology that ends its run on June 1st.


Panels for Primates is an ongoing, online charity anthology of primate comics that has been updating every Wednesday with new material at ACT-I-VATE ( since October of last year, all to benefit the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, KY.  Like the other content on the ACT-I-VATE webcomics site, the ever-growing Panels for Primates archive can be viewed absolutely free.  The big difference is that Panels for Primates readers are encouraged to swing over to and make a donation.  Panels for Primates will finish its online run on June 1st, but a story by the final Canadian creator got posted this week.


The project features work by creators from Canada, the U.S., Israel, Britain, Mexico, Germany, and Indonesia.


Kari-Lynn Winters (St. Catharines) and Scot Ritchie (Lower Mainland)

Gareth Gaudin (Victoria)

Troy Wilson (Victoria)

Colin Upton (Lower Mainland)

Jonathon Dalton (Lower Mainland)

Clayton Hanmer (Toronto)

Faith Erin Hicks (Halifax)

Simon Roy (Victoria)

Mark Shainblum (Montreal), Toren Atkinson (Lower Mainland), and Jeff LeBlanc (Montreal)

Caleb Hystad (Victoria)