Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005
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