Tag Archives: canada

Canadian Artists Come Together to Help Fundraise and Bring PPE to Ontario’s Northern, Remote, and Indigenous Communities

VIO Voluneteers

VIO Volunteers, the same non-profit organization that located 22.9 million masks for Ontario hospitals, will host an online art auction featuring works from more than 25 prominent Canadian cartoonists, illustrators, and comic book artists. Funds raised will go towards purchasing life-saving PPE for the province’s northern, remote and Indigenous communities.

The pieces up for auction contain characters from the world of Marvel, DC, LEGO, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, the beloved Canadian comic strip For Better or For Worse, and many more. Among the contributing artists are:

Lynn Johnston
The creator and cartoonist behind For Better or For Worse. Lynn was the first woman and first Canadian to win a Reuben Award in 1985 for Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society. Her comic strip has appeared in over 2,000 newspapers in 23 countries. She’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has received the Order of Canada and has her own star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Joe Ollmann
Joe began his career contributing cartoons to The Hamilton Spectator and penning a strip for Exclaim! He began self-publishing short comic stories in a series called Wag! For his third collection of short stories, This Will All End in Tears, Joe was awarded the Doug Wright Award for Best Book in 2007. His first graphic novel, Mid-Life (published by Drawn and Quarterly in 2011), was nominated for the same award.

Dean Motter
Dean is a designer, illustrator, writer, and art director and the creator of the 1980s comic book sensation Mister X, which was recognized by Rolling Stone as one of “The 50 Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels” in 2015. He wrote the award-winning noir Elseworlds graphic novel Batman: Nine Lives for DC Comics and later went to work as creative services art director for Time Warner/DC Comics.

David Ross
An accomplished comic book artist, writer, and illustrator, David has worked with Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Dark Horse Comics on characters and character development for some of the best-known superhero franchises including Captain America, Spider-man, Batgirl, Daredevil, and more.

The bidding will take place on the VIO Volunteers website. All works will be posted on Monday, June 8 with the auction beginning at 9 a.m. EST and running through Sunday, June 14 at 11:59 p.m. Visitors to the site will be able to browse and place offers on items.

Around the Tubes

Aquaman: Deep Dives #3

The comic industry is ramping up and getting ready for its launch in a little over a week! We’re getting lots of behind the scenes stuff and we’re excited to take part! While you wait, we’ve got lots to come. That starts in a bit and while you wait, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

WVLT – Knoxville comic book business seeing nationwide sales during pandemic – How the comic industry is shifting during the pandemic.

Twin Cities Geek – Twin Cities Comic Stores Adapt to Withstand the Pandemic – And another version of the previous story.

Newsarama – $16,000 Raised for Canadian Comic Stores by CLLDF – With An Additional $10k From CLLDF Itself – Great to see the help.

The Beat – Heroes always come home in David Rubín’s free COVID-19 SUPERMAN story (version en español incluída) – Very cool and well worth checking out.

Review

Newsarama – Aquaman: Deep Dives #3

Canadian Retailers and Creators Come Together for “Be Our Heroes, Canada!”

Be Our Hereos Canada

As brick and mortar retailers around the world find creative ways to preserve their businesses during unprecedented circumstances, forward-thinking comic book retailers across Canada will come together with notable comic book artists and writers to benefit their business and preserve the audience they have worked so hard together to serve.

Be Our Heroes, Canada” is a collaboration between Canadian comic shops and creators to leverage each store’s individual audiences to both build and strengthen the national comic book community and generate income for all. 

The Dragon owner Jennifer Haines said in the announcement:

What started as a conversation between four retailers on how we could cross-promote our shops turned into this idea of a national fundraiser to help preserve Canada’s unique comics landscape. Now more than ever, we need to come together to support one another, and provide our respective communities with a way to stay connected, all while protecting retailers that might otherwise fall through the cracks of government funding.

The event has been organized by Guelph, Ontario’s The Dragon family of stores, along with Ontario retailers Gotham Central, Heroes World, and Cyber City Comix, and will take place over two days through Facebook Live, with scheduled slots for creators and stores.

Funds raised through this two-day national celebration of the comic arts will be collected and distributed by the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian-based non-profit organization protecting free speech in the industry, supporting retailers, schools, and libraries, creators and publishers alike.

“Be Our Heroes, Canada” is currently accepting offers of participation among the Canadian creative community, and will announce the full list of participating stores and creators in the coming days. Current participants include: Adam Gorham,  Andy Belanger, Brendan Fletcher, Casey Parsons, Chip Zdarsky, Dylan Burnett, Ed Brisson, J. Torres, Jason Fabok, Jason Loo, Jay Stephens, Karl Kerschl, Ken Lashley, Michael Cho, Ray Fawkes, Richard Pace, Scott Chantler, Seth, Shawn Daly, Svetlana Chmakova, and Yanick Paquette

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Book Industry Charitable Foundation

It’s been an interesting week or so for comics and things are only going to get crazier over the next month. We’re still rolling and will have all of the latest news and reviews for you. Check out some of what you’ve missed.

ICv2 – Binc Has Distributed Over $350K in Covid-19 Relief Since Mid-March – Great to hear this much has been raised and paid out. Sad that this needs to happen.

Newsarama – Emergency Relief Initiative Launched for Canadian Comic Shops – If you can help, please do.

The Mary Sue – Suicide Squad Director Responds Fairly Thoughtfully to Harley Quinn Costume Criticism – Yes he did.

Review

Comic Book – Anti/Hero

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Inferior Five #1

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you enjoy? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

CTV News – Up, up and away: Edmonton comic book store named best in Canada – Congrats!

/Flim – Jupiter’s Legacy Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight Exits – That’s not a good sign.

The Guardian – Russian comics get sales boost after culture minister calls them ‘pathetic’ – Awesome!

Forbes – Why New Raina Telgemeier Graphic Memoir ‘Guts’ Has A One Million Copy Print Run – The sales aren’t in capes and tights.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Midnight Furies is a slam dunk queer sports drama – Free comics!

The Comics Journal – Biographer and Comics Fandom Chronicler Bill Schelly Dies Unexpectedly at 67 – Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Reviews

CBR – Inferior Five #1
But Why Podcast –
The Man Who Came Down the Attic Stairs
Talking Comics –
Powers of X #4
The Beat –
Relics of Youth #1
The Telegraph –
Rusty Brown
Comis Bulletin –
Swing Vol. 2

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Harbinger

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below!

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Adventuring and making friends in A Nice Long Walk – Free comics!

Calgary Herald – High suicide rates for Indigenous youths sparks action from Alberta government – A good use of comics to try to do some good in the world.

The Hollywood Reporter – Paramount Picks Up Comic Book Movie ‘Harbinger’ From Sony – Interesting move.

Reviews

IGN – Batman #78
Blog Critics –
King of King Court
Newsarama –
Powers of X #4
The Beat –
The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story
Comics Bulletin –
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #5

Around the Tubes

Secret Coders Vol. 1 Get With the Program

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Beat – RIP Justin Ponsor – Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

CBC – 15 Canadian comic book creators you should know – This is a great list to check out.

SFGate – Graphic Novelist To Be Given Honorary Doctorate – Congrats to Gene Luen Yang!

Al.com – Alabama Public Television refuses to air Arthur episode with gay wedding – Not sure what to call this other than bigotry.

Kotaku – Popular Streamer Sues FaZe Clan Over ‘Illegal’ Contract, But The Organization Says The Contract Is Fine – This is a lawsuit to watch as it may have an impact on all streamers.

Review

Talking Comics – War of the Realms #4

Up, Up, and Away for Justin Trudeau this Halloween

Canada has their Prime Minister in Geek with Justin Trudeau who has had no issues showing off his nerdy geek cred. The Prime Minister went as Clark Kent/Superman this year and clearly had fun while doing so.

Under The Fleur De Lys: A Closer Look at Quebec Superheroes

The patriotic superhero has been a staple of comics since Simon & Kirby’s Captain America. Canada has had a few of its own, beginning with the wartime adventurer Johnny Canuck, through Captain Canuck in the 1970’s, Northguard in the 1980’s and their recent reboots from Chapterhouse Comics. But what about superheroes from Quebec?

After all, Quebec is an important part of Canada, going back as far as 1763, when France ceded New France to the British. In 1791, the original Province of Quebec was divided at the Ottawa River into Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario). In 1841, the two were re-combined into the United Province of Canada. Finally, in 1867, Quebec became one of the founding provinces of the Dominion of Canada. In fact, the term “canadien” was originally used to mean francophones.

Knowing this, English-speaking Canadian writers generally feel it’s important to include Québécois characters in any Canadian series. But despite the best intentions of the creators, it is very difficult to write Quebec superheroes with authenticity.

First of all, there are not one, but two language barriers at work. Not only is it a challenge for  English-Canadian comics writers to write French fluently, but the French that is spoken and written in Quebec is unique. Joual, as it is known, is a highly-specific dialect, like Yiddish or Creole (some go so far as to call it a language of its own). Because of its historically lower-class status, it was not taught as “correct” French; even my peers who spent years in French immersion schools never learned how people in Quebec actually speak. Writing it is something else entirely: until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960’s, and the work of writers such as Réjean Ducharme and Michel Tremblay, joual rarely, if ever, appeared in print.

Toronto writers such as Kalman Andrasofszky (Captain Canuck, Agents of P.A.C.T.) and Meaghan Carter (La Fantôme) use translators for the dialogue of their Québécois characters. But this practice has its limits: in the case of Carter, her translator and proofreader (Mederic Berton and Xaviere Daumerie) are European and use expressions that, while French, are not Québécois. (“tu nous as fichu une sacrée pagaille,” for instance.) Also, as Andrasofsky pointed out to me (which I can confirm from my own experience), no two translators ever totally agree. To write Kébec’s working-class dialogue, Andrasofsky turns to a number of francophones, including Gabriel Morrissette, co-creator (with Mark Shainblum) of Fleur de Lys. For example, one person may translate “son-of-a-bitch” to Kébec calling an enemy “un câlisse,” but another may have gone another route. In the 1980’s Northguard stories written by Shainblum and drawn by Morrissette, Morrissette provided the Québécois dialogue.

Morrissette acknowledges that American readers simply don’t understand that Quebec French is different from European French. You can see that difference in the first appearance of Northguard, when a security guard calls in for backup when the hero blows past: “J’ai un fou qui se garroche en d’dans!” the guard exclaims in perfect joual. In Northguard, he and Shainblum worked hard to give the book authenticity: “If we were going to show Montreal, we were going to show it as it really was,” he told me.

But to show something as it really is requires research. Morrissette, having grown up with European comics as well as American, was used to artists who were able to do extensive research and use accurate references. But with the tighter production deadlines of American comics, “even three days to do research was a luxury!” Mark Shainblum, in writing Northguard and Fleur de Lys, was able to draw on the fact that he had grown up and lived in Montreal: “I was immersed in all of it. I grew up during the rise of Quebec nationalism and the election of the first PQ government in 1976 [the Parti Québécois’ raison d’être is to make Quebec an independent country] and all the psychological shocks to the system that meant for Quebec, anglophone and francophone alike.”

For La Fantôme, Carter visited Montreal and its Ecomuseum and collected reference photos. But, she adds, “I’ll be perfectly honest and admit I did absolutely zero research for the character’s background!… If the story was about being a Montrealer/Quebecker… then I would have placed a lot more importance on that kind of research – or would have felt completely out of bounds writing such a thing. However, I feel that Fantome’s story is not about her background and more about investigating the Ecomuseum and being a superhero, so that’s where I focused the writing on.” Andrasofszky echoed a similar reluctance, stressing that both Fleur de Lys and Kébec are “supporting characters in other peoples’ books.” He also pointed out that, in action series, no matter how much you want to put in, “you have to cut, and cut, and cut again… It’s hard to find the time. I just want to get to the alien invasion.”

So does the fact that these are stories in the superhero genre limit the writing of these Québécois characters? “Quebec as its own unique entity has little if nothing to do with Fantome’s story,” says Carter. About Kébec, Andrasofszky says that he didn’t want her language to define her character: “I didn’t want to say, ‘Oh, she’s francophone and therefore…’ She’s a number of different things.” He tries to give an impression of their background (using language to highlight  their class differences, for instance), but stresses that they are “living individuals that are more than the product of their culture.” As for Kébec and Fleur de Lys’ costumes, he was more circumspect: “It (Captain Canuck) is a book about a flag-wearing super-hero… It’s not about addressing politics… Maybe it’s a missed opportunity… I don’t know that I’m qualified to deal with that.”

I asked Shainblum if it was possible to have a flag-wearing superhero who was not political. “No,” he said. “And why would you even try? It defeats the purpose of the project… I mean, we struggled with it, Phillip Wise [Northguard] struggled with it himself.” On creating Fleur de Lys: “I wanted a Quebec-themed female character in the series, a yin to Northguard’s yang. And I wanted her to be a Quebec sovereignist to balance the maple leaf effect of Northguard, and give them a chance to actually discuss the issue and let me air some of my feelings about it.” Indeed, in New Triumph #4, Phillip and Manon discuss the Quebec independence movement in a way that’s surprisingly sympathetic, coming from an English Montrealer, and gives us insight into both characters and their motivations. Shainblum’s treatment of Manon Deschamps is by far the most authentic portrayal of a Quebec character in superhero comics, and an excellent example of the possibilities within the genre.

Quebec holds a unique place in Canada and North America. Its distinct language, culture, and history can be obstacles to creators from outside the province working fast to meet deadlines and genre conventions. But those challenges could also provide rich opportunities for those who take the time and make the effort to dig deeper below the surface of the fleur-de-lys flag.

Making “Crime Comics” Legal in Canada Again

Did you know comic books depicting crime are illegal in Canada? Section 163, 1b of the Criminal Code of Canada currently makes it a crime to “possess, print, publish, or sell a crime comic.”

But, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould has proposed in legislative Bill C-51 numerous criminal justice reforms, one of which is to no longer make crime comics illegal. Also repealed is a ban on challenging someone to a duel and fraudulently pretending to practice witchcraft. It’s fitting that this criminal code will be repealed under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who himself is a comic fan and has appeared in comics and whose father has also appeared, most notably in John Byrne’s Alpha Flight run.

What defines a “crime comic?” That’d be any magazine or periodical that depicts the commission of a crime or the events connected with the commission of a crime, before or after. So, pretty much all comics.

The law originated in the 1940s spinning out of the moral panic of the time that comics were corrupting the youth. In the United States we got the Comics Code Authority instead with no real legal implications.

At the time, comics were very popular with kids and in 1948 two boys playing as highway bandits shot and killed a man in British Columbia. It was found out that the two loved comics and from there the movement to legislate the comic book industry took off in Canada. The effort was championed by Davie Fulton, the Member of Parliament for Kamloops, B.C. The eventual legislation banning the sale of crime comics was eventually named “Fulton’s Bill.”

There have been charges levied under the law too. The last time was in 1987 against a Calgary-based comic retailer. Those charges were eventually changed to the “distribution of sexually explicit material.”

Almost 70 years later, the law is finally coming off the books and comic shops and readers can breathe a little easier knowing they aren’t breaking the law.

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