web stats

CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #113

Ape-ril is over, but the month goes on. This can mean only one thing… It’s the Eight Days of Eh-pril. Eh-pril? Indeed. It’s time to celebrate the best Canadians in comics! And my God, Canada has produced a vast amount of comics talent. Who’s up first? Everyone’s favorite…

4/23/07

113. Captain Canuck

Captain Canuck 1.jpg

If the US gets to have Captain America, why can’t Canada have Captain Canuck? That’s the basic premise behind the character, who was introduced in 1975 by Ron Leishman and Richard Comely of Comely Comics. The series took place in the future of 1993, where Canada was the world’s foremost superpower and Captain Canuck patrolled its lands and occasionally outer space. He fought for truth, justice, and delicious maple syrup.

The idea seems like it cribs from Captain America and Captain Britain (He’s a government agent! He fights in space!), and yeah, he looks like Guardian from Alpha Flight (but he pre-dates that guy). He’s cool, though. He’s surely a major figure in the Canadian comics industry, and made a big splash in the indie scene at the time.

There have actually been three incarnations of Captain Canuck: the original, Tom Evans; Darren Oak, who showed up in a 1993 mini; and the most recent, David Semple, a mountie-turned-motorycle hero, who first appeared in a mini subtitled Unholy War in 2004. From what I hear, there’s a current mini that’s supposed to be running, but I know I haven’t seen it. Of course, I am a dirty American.

Captain Canuck 2.jpgCaptain Canuck 4.jpgCaptain Canuck 3.jpg

The maple-leaf-masted superhero is a relatively obscure bit of fun in the comics realm, nothing more. It’d be lovely for a major Canadian comics creator or two to write and/or draw the hell out of the character and make him the A-Lister he deserves to be. Trust me, there are some terrific Canadian creators out there.

Maybe Captain Canuck won’t ever be popular, but there are plenty who will remember him fondly. Big, crazy, fun, silly; yeah, big deal. Captain Canuck is a hidden comics gem.

A ton of CC information exists on the internet. You’ve got to look at the marvelous, in-depth Ultimate Captain Canuck Tribute Page, for one thing; it’s brilliant. There’s also the Official Captain Canuck Website loaded with relatively up-to-date info about what’s going on in the world of Captain Canuck. Then there’s a website all about the Unholy War mini-series, as well. Immerse yourself in the Canuck universe!

33 Comments

Wait…Captain Canuck is a citizen of *the world’s foremost superpower*? This is supposed to be an actual Canadian, writing this?

OK, I call shenanigans. Any real Canadian’s patriotic futuretopia would’ve automatically featured a brave hero heroically leading the *resistance* against the world’s foremost superpower. (Whose colours would’ve tactfully been…oh, say…crimson, ivory and navy.)

Oh, and he’d’ve had a federally-mandated French sidekick, possibly wacky.

I wanted to like Cpatain Canuck–but I couldn’t…
I tired…

Are we doing just comics about Canada, or comics by Canadians, because I’m all for Thieves and Kings if it’s the latter.

I don’t know if I really see the coolness in this one, Bill. What’s so great about Captain Canuck? I see the facts, but not the FUN.

Bill if you’re really going to do Canadian comic books, and want to do something different than just Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, Joe Shuster and Louis Riel by Chester Brown* then you ought to look up something about Canadian Whites, which is not some Aryan organization but rather the term used for comic books written and published in Canada during World War II (so called, because they were printed in Canada). During World War II, the Canadian government put a ban on the import of ‘non-essential items’ from the US and comic books were one of them– Canadians were able to, from this absence of American product, create their own indigineous mainstream comic industry for the first and only time in Canadian history. Loads of great characters came out of it– Nelvana (created by Adrian Dingle, who would become a popular fine artist), Johnny Canuck, Freelance, The Penguin (not the villain from Batman but a detective who wore a tux and his bird hood over his head and beat up crooks– I kid you not! Amazingly the character was never unmasked).

More info here:
http://www.collectionscanada.ca/comics/027002-8300-e.html
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-68-2352/arts_entertainment/canadian_comics/
e-mail me and I can give you scans from some reprint books I have.

It produced a lot of great comics now mostly forgotten but I think it should be remembered.

* – That said, I’d be happy to also see Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, Joe Shuster and Louis Riel by Chester Brown. Or even Cerebus.

(so called, because they were printed in Canada)

er…(so called, because they were printed in black and white)!

I don’t know if I really see the coolness in this one, Bill. What’s so great about Captain Canuck? I see the facts, but not the FUN.

First of all, in spite of the fact that it has a publication history that in the 1970s was considered … random at best (though now it would actually be considered punctual) and 80% of the time is defunct, Canadians (including myself) have a soft spot for Captain Canuck. Every time the character gets relaunched there’s always a news item about it. It’s our Captain America. The problem with the character is 1) Richard Comely keeps wanting to have ultimate control over the character and he just isn’t very good (it’s a fluke that he got the original thing published in the first place) and 2) all that people really care about is the iconic image from the cover of Number 1. Hell, I bought it as a seven year old and still own it. And I have the article from Macleans (our version of Newsweek), and the postage stamp, and I even had a T-shirt as a kid.

But there’s tons of FUN about this character including:

- The whole idea of it was just gonzo. It’s set in a utopian future where Canada is the dominant superpower. I found that bizarre even when I was a kid reading this in the ’70s. It’s one thing to think of Americans having moonbases and super-fortresses and having shiny jumpsuited futures– they at least had the Space Program. Canadians don’t have any of that. It was utterly mind-blowing.

- It was the first comics work by artist George Freeman, who hasn’t done a lot of stuff lately but had a good little career at Marvel in the ’80s and is a brilliant artist nonetheless and his stuff on Captain Canuck just got better and better. (He also started writing the character toward the end of its run in the early ’80s and was taking it away from the utopian future and CISO and putting it in present day.)

- Captain Canuck is a Mormon! No really, Richard Comely was a follower of the Church of Latter Day Saints and made Captain Canuck one too. Captain Canuck even prays for (and gets) strength on more than one occasion. He’s quite pious, asking on at least one occasion for the opportunity to pray after a victory. It added a whole weird ‘Davey and Goliath’ feel to it.

- It predated the revolution that took place in the US comics industry in terms of printing by having better paper and colouring effects a good 3-5 years before the Americans.

- There’s his fellow agents, Redcoat (an English Canadian) and Kebec (a French Canadian) who teamed up with him. That’s brotherhood for you!

- More to the point, since 1975, there’s Captain Canuck and Northguard and that’s it for Canadian superheroes produced by us for us. (No I do not count Alpha Flight!) So let this Canadian enjoy today’s entry!

Thinking of “Eh-Pril” subjects: how about Dale Eaglesham? I’ve gotten four sketches from him…he’s a very nice guy, and his wife got all giggly when I asked for Ragdoll.

Anyone here think Captain Canuck can will a Vancouver win tonight? Tied at 1 late in the second as I type this.

I probably shouldn’t, but I totally dig that motorcyclist Canuck design.

Dude, you totally should. The motorcycle outfit rocks!

Once you got past the first couple of issues the original Cap Canuck rocked. Good story arc and universe was being built, then….pfffft.

If John Byrne makes it into Eh-Pril I will have to choke a bitch, eh?

You still owe me eight more apes, Reed!

-M

You only get one entry for Alpha Flight members.

The original Captain Canuck letters page also had some fan artwork. A couple of pieces were by a couple of nobodys named Todd (Toddy McTodd-Todd) McFarlane and Tom Grummett.
There may be more, but it’s been so long and I don’t remember…but, those two Canuckleheads stuck in my mind.

The Mad Monkey

April 24, 2007 at 7:05 am

oops…sorry…the above comment was from me…forgot to do the name/e-mail thing…

I’m with Apodaca. Captain Canuck is not a reason to love comics.

Sorry, Bill.

The Kirbydotter

April 24, 2007 at 8:25 am

As a Canadian, I always prefered NORTHGUARD to CAPTAIN CANUCK as our national super-hero, one of the most underated comicbook ever produced. Very good writing by Mark Shainblum and decent art by Gabriel Morissette.

From the same publisher (which I can’t seem to remember right now) there was a brilliant and very fun comic book by Bernie Mireault (his first work?) called MACKENZIE QUEEN.

Canuck week MUST include Joe Matt’s PEEPSHOW.

Don’t make me come up there Paul. Captain Canuck is every reason to love comics!

Richard Comely teaches a cartooning class at a community College in my town. I’ve never understood why.

Richard Comely is a natinal treasure. You guys are just jealous.

People and stuff that should make it into Eh-Pril week:

Alpha Flight
Stuart Immonen
Lethargic Lad/Lethargic Comics/Greg Hyland
Ty Templeton
Scott Pilgrim / Bryan Lee O’Malley
Darwyn Cooke
Joe Shuster (the Daily Star was named after the Toronto Star, you know)
Chris Bachalo
Dave Sim/Gerhard/Cerebus
Tom Grummett
“For Better Or For Worse” (why not?)

“For Better Or For Worse” (why not?)

Because that strip is somehow both obnoxious and boring.

More importantly, that’s specifically why I don’t like this entry. It seems like “Captain Canuck, why not?” and that’s pretty disappointing. There are so many great, true reasons to love comics. We don’t need to have obligatory inclusions.

So let this Canadian enjoy today’s entry!

See, it’s a matter of obligation. Which is silly, to me, since there are enough cool canadian comic-things to fill a whole themed week, without putting in stuff like “their Captain America (which you probably haven’t heard of)”.

Don’t settle, Canadians!

Do I need to point out the name of the blog again?

I agree with chdb…there better be a day for Scott Pilgrim.

Also, I agree that there isn’t much here for a reason that Captain Canuck is something to love comics over. Then again, I’ve felt that way about a lot of the stuff on here, like The Geek. Simply pointing out something weird within the world comics doesn’t mean that its a reason to love them.

Canadians are cool, but ask yourselves, are they really as good as apes?

The Geek was cool because his book was brilliantly surreal. Captain Canuck is cool because he’s fun and silly, but worthwhile to the Canadian comics populace. I don’t always have the time to do a big analysis for each post, but I try to get across why I think such-and-such is awesome. I know I didn’t do a great job of it this time, but I think Graeme said what needed to be said.

I am majorly crunched for time this week, but I’m doing my best to provide everyone with a fun column.

I’m with Apodaca. Captain Canuck is not a reason to love comics.

If Batroc The Leaper and 22 apes are, then Captain Canuck is too.

Good point. We’re going to need at least 24 more reasons, Bill.

The Mad Monkey

April 27, 2007 at 1:23 am

Okay, Captain Canuck isn’t everyone’s favorite…we get it.
I can remember reading those old Comely books when I was a kid and not being able to put them down. I was completely entranced by them. George Freeman’s art progressed with every sporadically-released issue.
Were I to re-read them now, I doubt I’d find them nearly as wonderful.
But, I’ll still have my childhood memories and that’s good enough for me.

Rev. Adam (Church of the SubGenius)

March 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Looks like Apodaca is into more “Canadian” bashing than actual opinion (If it ain’t American it ain’t worthy… or some such). That is cool but don’t expect me to take your opinion seriously.

[quote]From the same publisher (which I can’t seem to remember right now) there was a brilliant and very fun comic book by Bernie Mireault (his first work?) called MACKENZIE QUEEN.[/quote]

Your thinking of Matrix comics and yes I had both series and enjoyed both very much… but I’ll always view Captain Canuck as_the_man.

And… I’ll just throw my 2 cents in. Even though Captain Canuck had a limited audience it did have a profound effect on Canadian kids, that could embrace a superhero that wasn’t American.

I’ll bet the majority of people never heard of “The Prez” or “Brother Power the Geek” either. But, I didn’t hear any bitchin’ that they didn’t belong.

That is just as good of a reason for Captain Canuck to make this list.

I’ve been searching for a long time for the comics of brother power the geek.; I Wonder if someone could help me out with scans.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives