Owen McCarron (1929-2005)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006
You might think you know who Canada’s most successful independent comic book publisher is but if you guessed anyone who draws aardvarks you’d be wrong! Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Owen McCarron wrote, drew, coloured and self-published dozens upon dozens of full-colour Canadian giveaway comics through his own companies, McCarron Advertising and Comic Book World. McCarron was driven by a love of history and a believe that comics could both entertain and educate.
McCarron worked for Charlton and DC and Marvel, including the original Ghost Rider series and Spidey Super Stories. His reputation for speed and reliability made him one of Stan Lee’s go-to men for emergency work. Owen McCarron’s Fun and Games comics were published weekly by the Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Mail Star. McCarron pitched the same concept to Stan Lee, who quickly approved the long-running strip Marvel Fun And Games and gave puzzlemaster McCarron free reign.
Through the 60’s and early 70’s Comic Book World was Canada’s only ongoing comic publisher. The prolific McCarron worked out of his home and, with an occasional assist from Robin Edmiston, produced a vast array of titles like Wayne and Shuster Comics, Col. Sanders Comics, Reveen, Louie the Lightning Bug, The Adventures Of Binkly And Doinkel and Li’l Easy Saver.
Among his numerous honours was a Nova Scotia Environment Award for advancing green concerns through his Sammy Seagull and Captain Enviro characters and signed letters from Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, thanking him for a lifetime of comics! Over his 32 years with the Herald, McCarron produced many historical docu-comics for the Halifax-Herald newspapers, including a yearly page examining aspects of the Halifax Explosion of 1917. In fact, mere days before he passed away, he was spotted at his local library working on his next project. Owen McCarron passed away on June 27, 2005.
Some of Owen’s Halifax Explosions comics can be found at:
Bio compiled by Robert Pincombe (with the aid of Phil Latter)
UPDATE: MAY 9, 2014. We received a letter from Mark and Peter McCarron:
Hello, I thought I would throw some more details your way, regarding Owen McCarron, Marvel’s “Puzzlemaster”.
Starting as an Advertising Director at the Halifax Herald, Owen transitioned to War and Romance at Charlton Comics. From there, his friend, Marvel Editor Stan Lee, hired him to craft character-oriented puzzles in comics, books and newspapers. These included Marvel Fun Books, Marvel Mazes, Activity books, Ghost Rider, and a host of Spider-Man titles. This working relationship meant that Owen could call the Marvel Bullpen in New York, and ask them to send him much of their unused original art (instead of throwing it in the wastebasket, as they were doing previously!).
Appreciating the rising stock value of Marvel artists and writers, McCarron compiled a broad selection of original art and storytelling information, years before the first comic book convention in 1964.
McCarron drew an alternate cover for an early Amazing Spider-Man issue which wasn’t printed, but featured a cluster of villains centered around a back alley. He later acquired a great alternate cover of Amazing Spider-Man #10 (The Enforcers!), which was also unprinted, drawn by Steve Ditko. These alternate Spider-Man covers remain with the family to this day. As Owen said, “I’ve been offered tens of thousands of dollars for it… but I didn’t need the money.”
He must’ve played his cards right, becoming one of Canada’s more successful self-publishers of comics, producing books which taught kids how to avoid various catastrophes!
In the vintage family photograph below, we see Gregory McCarron (Sidney Crosby’s great-grandfather) with Owen McCarron (although Sidney’s grandmother is not shown). In the other vintage photo, we see Owen at his drafting table. This was included with the biography in the book, “Invaders From The North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Strip” by Author John Bell.
One of Owen’s last projects was an illustrated poem regarding the traumatic events of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, which killed 2,000 people, and injured 9,000 more.
5 thoughts on “McCARRON, Owen (1929-2005)”
A few minutes ago I wrote a brief comment re Owen McCarron to my cousins Mark & Peter McCarron re their comment on our connection with Sidney Crosby; not sure where my comment went…?
In this photo Sidney Crosby’s great grandfather, Gregory McCarron, is the youngest child. He was the father of Owen McCarron, the cartoonist. There was no Douglas McCarron.
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My late father, Robert A. Burke (1929-2013) was friends with Gerry Brennan and Owen McCarron when they worked at the Herald. Dad told me I should go see Owen when I started at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the Graphic Design program in 1977 (I was 18).
I called Owen, and he was very gracious. He invited me to his office, and took plenty of time to show this kid from Moncton around his studio. He shared plenty of great stories, and proudly showed me many examples of the work he was doing. I was particularly impressed with some of the work he was inking from Marvel Comics at the time. He showed me some of the “pencil” boards from New York (they were incredible works of art, even at that stage), which he would fearlessly ink with flair, using brushes of various weights, and then ship back to Stan Lee for publication.
He also shared many examples of his hand-lettered (and illustrated) advertisements, which have influenced the way I look at type today as a designer. We kept in touch over the years, and he always impressed me as someone who truly enjoyed his craft, was always willing to share his knowledge and stories, and gave me a window into an era which I hope young designers can still discover.
thanks for the great comments about my father Owen McCarron