Tag Archives: canada

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.

Justin Trudeau, the Latest Comic Political Celebrity

chapterhouse comics summer specialLast week, Chaptherhouse Comics announced that Prime-Minister Justin Trudeau would be appearing on the cover of Chapterhouse Comics Summer Special for Canada Day. Prime-Minister Trudeau has also written a letter on “behalf of the good Captain [Canuck] that will be featured” in the comic.

Trudeau is also featured on the comic in a portrait style drawing by Captain Canuck creator Richard Comely.

To celebrate the occasion, Captain Canuck will appear live at ‘Canada Day 2016at  Queen’s Park’ at 10am, 111 Wellesley Street West in Toronto (south side of Queen’s Park Circle) with bundles of the Summer Special in tow.

The 64-page Chapterhouse Comics Summer Special will be available at comic book stores nation-wide on Canada Day or on their website.

Not afraid to see a good idea and do their own version (and get the credit), Marvel has announced today that Trudeau will grace the cover of Civil War II: Choosing Sides which will be on shelves August 31.

Civil War II Choosing Sides #5That cover is done by Ramon Perez and features the Prime-Minister in the boxing ring surrounded by members of Canada’s superhero team Alpha Flight. Ironically, in the current Marvel continuity, Alpha Flight’s name (and its members) has been co-opted to be a line of defense from galactic threats.

Trudeau’s father Pierre Trudeau was featured in comics himself, such as Uncanny X-Men in 1979.

The idea to use Justin came from Edmonton-born artist Chip Zdarsky who is writing an Alpha Flight story in the comic. In it, the members of Alpha Flight debate about the use of an Inhuman named Ulysses who can see the future with a high degree of accuracy and can help prevent crime/attacks (a take on Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report). The group sees some ethical issues and seek out Trudeau for advice.

The Marvel cover features the Prime-Minister in a boxing ring which plays off his infamous charity match in which he fought Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in 2012.

Justin Trudeau is an admitted geek and been spotted at comic conventions.

Around the Tubes

all-new-captain-canuck-0-coverIt’s new comic book day! What is everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments!

While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

SKTCHD – Money for Nothing: A Look at the Popularity and Questionable Legality of Free Comic Sites – An excellent article and gets to the heart of the matter. We’ve discussed this topic for years and people will go to illegal venues when the legal venue they want is not available.

Ottawa Magazine – Canada’s Secret Identity — New exhibit features Canadian comic books – This is pretty cool!

CBLDF – Utah Backs Down From Deadpool Censorship Attempt – Good.

Canada’s Library and Archives’ April Fools Fun by Releasing James Howlett’s Journals and Records

The Library and Archives Canada is a government organization whose role is to preserve Canada’s documentary heritage and more importantly making sure Canadians can access, discover, and share it.

Even though they’re a government organization doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun and today in honor of April Fools they announced and released some of their “major acquisition of the declassified journals and military records of Canadian supersoldier James “Logan” Howlett.”

From their release:

April 1, 2016 – Gatineau, Quebec – Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

Logan was born in 1882 in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, to wealthy landowner Elizabeth Howlett and her grounds-keeper Thomas Logan.

Logan’s journals provide valuable insight into his early life in Canada, including work as a miner in a British Columbia stone quarry, a fur trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a homesteader in the Canadian Rockies. His military career spanned multiple conflicts, making his personnel records an unprecedented study in Canadian military history. Logan was gravely wounded in action many times, and gained a reputation as a gritty survivor.

Quick Facts
• WWI: captain in the Canadian Armed Forces (Devil’s Brigade). Fought at Ypres in 1915. Wounded by a sword through the chest.
• WWII: Returned to the Devil’s Brigade in the Second World War, as an allied spy and paratrooper for the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion during the Normandy landings on D-Day.
• Cold War: based in Ottawa and Calgary, worked for both CSIS and the CIA.
• Logan later changed his operative name to ‘Wolverine’, and worked with various NGOs.

Bravo Canada. Bravo.

A People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 2: John Byrne’s Hatred for Pierre Trudeau

Face front, true believers!

Welcome back to People’s History of the Marvel Universe, where I explore how real-world politics (and weird bits of pop culture) was presented in some of my favorite bits of classic Marvel comics.

Today, I’ll be exploring how real-world politics intersected with Chris Claremont’s classic run on X-Men. Now, Claremont X-Men is some of the richest source material imaginable, given the way that the mutant metaphor has been used to address contemporary social issues facing different minority groups.

So what ripped-from-the-headlines issue will be looking at this week? Canadian politics from the 70s!

As many Marvel fans know, long-time X-Men artist John Byrne was a huge Wolverine fan who lobbied to keep him in the X-Men because he wanted to keep a Canadian superhero in the group, and who created Alpha Flight, Canada’s own superhero team.

What you might not know is that John Byrne really did not like Pierre Trudeau, who served as Prime Minister of Canada from 1968-1979 and 1980-1984. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that, judging from his artwork in X-Men #120 from April of 1979, he hates the man:

Start with the visuals – from the orange leisure suit/striped open-collar shirt combination (while Mr. Trudeau was a bit more of a “swinging young bachelor” than your average Canadian prime minister, I’ve yet to find any images of him in that ugly of a suit) to the rapidly-retreating hairline to the fearsome conk, the suggestion of the buck tooth and the Hapsburgian jaw, this is less the somewhat naturalistic Marvel house style (especially when contrasted against the Marvel house styled Guardian to his left) than a political caricature.

But let’s move on to the text, where the Prime Minister of Canada, a country that abolished slavery in 1833, is arguing that (because Wolverine’s adamantium-laced skeleton was funded by the Canadian government, or the US and Canadian governments) Logan should not be allowed to resign a commission in the Canadian military (even though James MacDonald Hudson’s response suggests that he should be able to). Following his orders, Alpha Flight basically kidnaps a commercial aircraft transiting between Alaska and the continental U.S, assaults a number of foreign nationals in the middle of Calgary International Airport and downtown Calgary, all to put Wolverine into a literal cage (X-Men #120-121).

So why is Canada so evil that John Byrne depicts Canadian military backing up Alpha Flight in the same uniforms as the Death Star technicians? If I had to guess, I’d say that John Byrne was among those who objected to Pierre Trudeau’s decision to invoke the War Measures Act during the October Crisis in 1970, where Canadian military were put on the streets of Montreal and almost 500 people were arrested and held without charge.

Canada Gets their own Commander in Geek

The Liberal Party of Canada dominated the Canadian election this Monday. The party won 184 seats, 54% of them, giving them a majority, and making Justin Trudeau the next leader of the country. It also continues geeks taking over in politics. Trudeau is a comic fan, even having attended comic cons in the past.

Here’s a photo of Trudeau at the 2012 Montreal Comic Con. Yes, Canada’s Prime Minister sides with the Rebel Alliance.

trudeau montreal comic con

But, one photo doesn’t make a geek. Here’s Trudeau playing with his kids. While election results were coming in, they were celebrating the new Star Wars trailer.

And finally him being asked who his favorite Avengers is.

Congrats Canada, the Liberal Party, and Justin Trudeau!

 

 

 

 

Full Disclosure: I was involved and did work with the Canadian election, and particularly the Liberal Party and its candidates

Review: Continuum season 4 premiere

It’s here. After months of uncertainty around Continuum‘s faith, in December it was revealed that the show would come back for a final, shortened, fourth season. Now it has returned and what it offers is the great, complicated and sophisticated look at what the future holds.

The show is not really back until September 4th, but there is a pre-release for the first episode for all three of Showcase’s shows coming out in September — Continuum, Lost Girl, and Mr. Robot. Once I found out about this I jumped the ceiling with my heart beating in my chest harder than it does when I work out.

The Simon Barry show picks up where we left off last summer with Kiera and Brad cutting off Vancouver’s electricity and bringing Iron Man reminiscent robocops to this timeline. To add more fuel to the fire of intensity, Kellog has taken over Piron by tricking the other Alec into signing the documents which makes Kellog the CEO of Piron.

Throughout the episode, there is one moment where you might think is a cheap way for the writers to do something, which they are not actually doing. Sounds convoluted, but once you see the episode, you will know what this is all about. It is a smart move in order to speed up Kiera’s personal need — to get back home, to her family, to Sam.

“The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.”

However, do not take it that this episode is mostly drama; it’s not. It is one of the few shows, whose action scenes are indeed nail-bitingly intense. In addition, we learn more about the robocops, who they are and why they are here. The episode is well-paced and filled with a lot of action and drama. The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.

I have always been the person who supported the theory of time travel that you cannot change the past, regardless of what you do, because it is bound to happen. For example, you kill someone who is crossing the street with your car unintentionally; you want to fix this. You find a way to get back in time and you stop yourself from doing this (if the other you believes it) and you turn left. However, then you take left, instead of right, and that same person is there, because he has also decided to take a left turn. You kill him. Or you might kill him some other day, it has to happen. That’s how it works — you can’t change the past… or at least that’s how I thought things worked before I watched this show.

“Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense.”

Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense. Every action in the past creates another timeline in which you don’t kill the person crossing the street (you are a really bad driver). In the other one — you do. This is thoroughly explained in the premiere of the third season.

You can watch the premiere early on one of the many platforms it has been released: Shaw Media digital properties: Action-tv.ca, ETCanada.com, MyLifetimeTV.ca, Slice.ca, Showcase.ca, GlobalTV.com, and the Global Go App; on iTunes, YouTube, set-top box with most major television providers through Global On Demand and Showcase On Demand, the accompanying online portal for Showcase On Demand, and with Canadian streaming service, Shomi (available August 25).

What did you think of the premiere? Is it good? Did you love it as much as me? Also, what’s your take on the time travel concept?

Also, for all of you fans out there, I am giving away this poster of the show:

continuum01

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