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#1229796 - Fri Sep 27 2019 04:05 PM Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories
Wonder Boy
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So close to the United States, and often employed by U.S. publishers, they could frequently be mistaken for American writers and artists. But the glimpse they provide of distinctly Canadian culture and mindset is fun to see and discern. Much of it intelligent and aspiring toward the high end of science fiction, fantasy, and comic art.

We can start the discussion with John Byrne, who is probably the most prominent and influential Canadian artist in comics. Originally born in England and raised in Alberta, Canada, before he made his way across the border to seek his fortune at Charleton and then Marvel on the U.S. side of the border.




Byrne is in some ways the most visibly Canadian, with his taking a special liking to Canadian character Wolverine, and doing much to develop Wolverine to the point that he became one of Marvel's most popular characters.



I also love how Byrne fit in a scene portaying his native city of Calgary in X-MEN 120-121, and developed a set of Canadian characters (agents of the Canadian military), that in each story they appeared in gave a glimpse of the Canadian countryside and cities, and of then-president of Canada Pierre Trudeau, the father of the current Canadian president (in X-MEN 139-140). The Alpha Flight characters popular enough that they quickly gained their own ALPHA FLIGHT series in 1983-1986 with Byrne as writer/artist.

As I explored in a Byrne topic with a then-complete checklist, Byrne has been a prolific and influential creator, although I think most of us have a love/hate relationship with his work after about 1983. But regardless of his shortcomings, Byrne has contributed an enormous body of work to comics, and at his best is enormously talented.



And injected a good amount of Canadian visibility in his work.

So what other artists, writers or Canadian produced comics work have you seen?
What do you see Canadians distinctly contributing to comics?



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#1229797 - Fri Sep 27 2019 04:22 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America



Byrne joked that when he created the costume for Vindicator (who first appeared in X-MEN 109) he swiped the costume design from CAPTAIN CANUCK.

But I'd say Byrne at least at the time he said it (1980), was being very modest, because the Vindicator flag-costume is a great improvement on the original design.


Complete story, X-MEN 109:
http://12comic.com/issue.jsp?id=19022707340588cl&cu=436

X-MEN 120-121:
http://12comic.com/issue.jsp?id=1902270734013e9q&cu=425

X-MEN 139-140:
http://12comic.com/issue.jsp?id=190227073353bdl6&cu=406





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#1229798 - Fri Sep 27 2019 04:35 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
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Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America




And since I mentioned it, CAPTAIN CANUCK 1-14 was the first visibly Canadian comic I was aware of.




It evolved from a truly awful first issue into a really nice sci-fi/spy adventure series, that made Canada almost a character in the storyline. It evolved quickly into a fun and beautifully illustrated series, largely due to the efforts of artist George Freeman, who I followed to many other projects he drew after CAPTAIN CANUCK was cancelled, including SABRE issue 3 (1982), several stories in MARVEL FANFARE, and his JACK OF HEARTS miniseries, to name just a few.


http://www.mikesamazingworld.com/mikes/features/creator.php?creatorid=934

I'd forgotten Freeman did a story with Alan Moore in BATMAN ANNUAL 11.

I also liked artist Jean-Claude St. Aubin, who mostly did backup stories and sometimes worked on the lead story. CAPTAIN CANUCK was also very beautifully by uniquely colored, like no other book I've seen, and like Byrne's Alpha Flight stories, both in X-MEN and in their own ALPHA PLIGHT series, showed a lot of the Canadian countryside.

I'm not really clear why CAPTAIN CANUCK was cancelled in 1981, they promoted a next issue in 14 with no signs of cancellation. My sense is it was a cash flow problem on the business end, and possibly creative differences, or Freeman wanting to move on to other projects.


Complete issues, CAPTAIN CANUCK 1-15:
http://12comic.com/comic.jsp?id=190227072310fatv




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#1229800 - Fri Sep 27 2019 07:40 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Matter-eater Man
Online   argumentative Fair Play!

Registered: Sat Jun 07 2003
Posts: 14221
I remember seeing some of these in the drugstore. I passed on the first issue since it was a guy in a costume who didn't seem to have superpowers. I did buy one of the later issues though because of pretty art. I figured being close to the border was why I saw it but I guess it got further down south if you saw it WB

Fair play!

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#1229802 - Sat Sep 28 2019 02:40 AM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Matter-eater Man]
Lothar of The Hill People
Offline brother from another mother

Registered: Sun Feb 10 2002
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Loc: Way back in the woods.
I never could get into Alpha Flight no matter who's writing it.

I liked Byrne's Superman stuff and a few other titles he wrote. I could never get into the Next Men series he wrote.

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#1229807 - Sun Sep 29 2019 07:36 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Matter-eater Man]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America


 Originally Posted By: Matter-eater Man
I remember seeing some of these in the drugstore. I passed on the first issue since it was a guy in a costume who didn't seem to have superpowers. I did buy one of the later issues though because of pretty art. I figured being close to the border was why I saw it but I guess it got further down south if you saw it WB



I actually can't say for sure how CAPTAIN CANUCK's distribution was in Florida. I think I knew of the character before that, but the first I saw physical copies of the series was as back issues at a comic store in Lantana, FL in 1982, a few months after the series ceased publication, where I picked up issues 13 and 14, and gradually picked up the rest of the back issues.

THE COMICS JOURNAL always had a 2 month list of upcoming releases, where CAPTAIN CANUCK was consistently listed alongside the Marvel, DC and Warren releases. But I don't ever recall seeing them on the stands. I suspect they were not ordered by retailers in large quantities.




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#1229808 - Sun Sep 29 2019 08:01 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Lothar of The Hill People]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America

 Originally Posted By: Lothar of The Hill People
I never could get into Alpha Flight no matter who's writing it.

I liked Byrne's Superman stuff and a few other titles he wrote. I could never get into the Next Men series he wrote.



I actually think John Byrne himself would agree with you!

When John Byrne's website was at its peak, he had a "frequently asked questions" section where he talked about his writing on the ALPHA FLIGHT series, and said himself that it was his worst writing effort, that he couldn't identify well with the characters, and was unsatisfied with his own writing on the series and contrived efforts to develop the characters.

I like Byrne's 1975-1985 work at Marvel the best, on just about everything he did in that period, and even in the 1983-1985 period where his art was declining, for the most part I saw his writing as still quite good.

I think Byrne was at his peak in popularity when he left Marvel to do Superman at DC in 1986. And while I like his efforts on SUPERMAN, ACTION and a few other titles, I think it's not quite as good as his prior Marvel work, and for me almost reads as an Elseworlds version of Superman.
I was indifferent to his NEXT MEN series, and only picked up those issues many years after the fact. Again, it was okay, not terrible, but a pale shadow of his previous work.

I think the last work by Byrne that I really liked was his SHE HULK run, that ran roughly the same time as his NEXT MEN work.


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#1229809 - Sun Sep 29 2019 08:32 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Matter-eater Man
Online   argumentative Fair Play!

Registered: Sat Jun 07 2003
Posts: 14221
His Alpha Flight was frustrating for me at the time. I wanted another more standard superhero team with new characters. After the first couple of issues though it was more about the team's solo adventures. I drifted away after Matlo started but I think I was only buying it because Northstar was gay according to Byrne. I too remember Byrne talking about not loving his Alpha Flight. The funny thing is when it came out in an omnibus I bought it right away drawn to it for all the reasons I didn't care for it originally. I actually have yet to read Byrne's FF run but also have the omnibuses, so someday. His writing has never been a draw for me but I really enjoyed his lost generation maxiseries with Marvel and the Generations ones he did for DC. I tried his Superman and Wonder Woman runs but thought they were boring and hated how the retcon on Supes messed up the Legion. Might have to check out his Namor series and actually read his Ff run since I have that on the shelf.

Fair play!

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#1229810 - Sun Sep 29 2019 09:35 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
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Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America





Another definitively Canadian comics series is Dave Sim's CEREBUS.

http://12comic.com/comic.jsp?id=1902270733348eq5


I've repeatedly described CEREBUS as one of the most intelligent and sophisticated comics ever done, easily on a par with the best work of Alan Moore and Frank Miller of the same 1980-1990 period. As well as being wildly funny.

The writing on CEREBUS is intelligent and well written from the very beginning. Initially single-issue stories, gradually developing into 2-part and 3-part stories. For most of the first 10 issues, CEREBUS was visually similar to Barry Windsor-Smith's CONAN THE BARBARIAN work, and clearly intended to parody Smith's Conan.
But it developed beyond that, and became a parody of many other comics, and characters in popular culture. Such as Marshall Rogers' Batman, Groucho Marx, Foghorn Leghorn (Elrod), Red Sonja and Frank Thorne's Ghita, Captain America and the patriotic "Buy Bonds, support the war" patriotism of World War II comics, Moon Knight, Sargeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, Clint Eastwood's movie "The Beguiling", Swamp Thing, Man Thing, and "Professor Charles X. Claremont" overseeing a special school for gifted young girls.

I think the art caught up with the writing around issues 13-18. And then Sim took on an ambitious 25-issue storyline with "High Society" in issues 26-50, where Cerebus unwittingly enters a new city, and is seen by bureaucrats there as having the prestige of a connected diplomat. And then campaigns and governs as the elected Prime Minister of the city state of Iest.

Volumes 3 (issues 52 to 80)and 4 (issues 81-111) are the "Church and State" storyline. and while there were many great moments in these runs I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the first 50 issues. Cerebus becomes Pope, and with a lot of humor it mixes religious and political issues and manipulation of the masses.

Volume 5, "Jaka's Story" (issues 114 to 136) is the last storyline that I felt was a cohesive and well-told complete story, although much of it is from the memoir point of view of Cerebus' mistress Jaka, in huge blocks of texts, amid an otherwise brisk and fast-moving story that's told more visually.
Cerebus is no longer pope and is in exile being hunted by the religious fanatics who have replaced his regime. He looks for his former love Jaka, and finds she is now married and living with her husband Rick, and Cerebus stays with them, hidden from the aauthorities in the guest room of their house. And despite that he is still in love with Jaka, Cerebus tries to restrain his true feelings for her.

The last two volumes I have, "Melmoth" and "Flight" were less than satisfying, and I stopped reading after that, as did a huge chunk of Sim's audience. Sime retained a small core of readers from that point forward, but lost much of his following, because his ideas about women just got more weird and misogynist. Which coincided with his divorce from his wife Deni Loubert, who branched off and formed Renegade Press with all Aardvark-Vanaheim's titles except CEREBUS. Titles such as MS TREE, NORMALMAN, NEIL THE HORSE, SHERLOCK HOLMES, WORDSMITH and a few others.

Sim has this really weird idea that men are filled with creativity and women are a burden that pulls down and inhibits the creative potential of men. These ideas started coming out in "Church and State", "Jaka's Story" and "Melmoth". At the very same time CEREBUS' readership began to drop.
Unsurprisingly, Sim now identifies as a muslim, with an odd smattering of Christianity and other religions.

But regardless, CEREBUS for much of its run was a remarkable series, beginning in 1977, and finally concluding with its 300th issue in 2003.

In one of her editorials around the time High Society began, Deni Loubert described CEREBUS' character as distinctly Canadian, that as I recall, she saw him as a survivor, who keeps his head down, doesn't get ideologically tied down and weathers through difficult times despite the insanity of those around him.

My own opinion of Canadian culture maybe includes that, but (relative to American culture), I see Canadian culture as much more rooted in British Empire traditions. They have the Queen's image on their coins and currency, divisions of the Canadian government are The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Royal Canadian This and The Royal Canadian That. The are deeply rooted in British tradition and culture. And that brings with it a level of sophistication.

As opposed to the U.S., which I see as a culture that defies tradition and history, and deifies informality, and even vulgarity, in that defiance of tradition. Even traditions we have, such as ceremony for national holidays and honoring the flag, are widely scorned, particularly by the flag-burning Left, and even in some far-Right circles who express a distrust and cynicism regarding federaal authority and abuse of federal power.

But regardless, those are what I see as a recurring themes in CEREBUS and other Canadian publications, a sense of elegance and tradition, more rooted in those British traditions than the U.S. is. The content of their books, and even the design of their books, I think add to the sophistication of comics, whether in Canadian publications, or their work on this side of the border.

And CEREBUS, for whatever flaws, remains a high-water mark for what comics are capable of.
Sim as well in the 1980's and 1990's in particular, was an icon and inspiration for others who followed his example into self-publishing.


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#1229811 - Sun Sep 29 2019 10:05 PM Re: Canadian comic books, writers, artists, and stories [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 20181
Loc: A glorious bold new America




A 2-page sample Sim's freewheeling style from CEREBUS 45, on this and the next page:

http://12comic.com/issue.jsp?p=4&id=190227073442a9cx


Another 4-page sample from issue 13, starting on this page:

http://12comic.com/issue.jsp?p=12&id=1902270735011h1o





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