It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. We do it early, which proves (by the science of common sense) that we invented it, and gave Thanksgiving to the world as a gift. The United States later introduced our introspective holiday into their calendar, retroactively attaching it to a big dinner that starving English settlers shared with local Indians a few years before the shooting started. But it’s our holiday obviously: It’s based on politeness. Don’t look it up or you’ll insult me. It’s ours.
Besides Canada’s generosity in giving humanity a moment to reflect on their good fortune, I’ve created a list of the other things the people of the world SHOULD be thanking Canada for.
And no, it’s not going to be about Bill Shatner, though obviously it could be. It’s about the world of comic books, and that fact that it simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Canada, and that’s a fact.
So on behalf of the bacon-eating hockey players of this proud nation everywhere… Eskimos and fur trappers, and frozen Frenchmen…
…you’re WELCOME, comic fans.
THE TOP EIGHT REASONS COMIC FANS SHOULD THANK CANADA
8) John Byrne
Normally these are top SEVEN lists, but John Byrne is so insistent that people include him in things, that I let him have his way, even though, technically, he’s a Brit. Canada should be thanked because we educated the Byrne boy. Took him in from that wretched England, and raised him up from the tender age of eight, until we let him go into the world in middle age. Turned out he was the biggest thing in comics for most of the late 70s, and to politely thank us back, he made Canadian comic star, WOLVERINE, into the most popular comic book character for the last thirty years.
7) Hal Foster
His Tarzan comic strips were phenomenal, but Foster’s PRINCE VALIANT Sunday pages throughout the 40s and 50s are often considered the most beautiful illustrations ever done for the comics page. Here, look…
Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Mark Shultz, Joe Kubert, Dave Sim and literally hundreds of other illustrators of the Golden and Silver ages cite Nova Scotia local boy Hal Foster as their primary influence. Gee, you think Kirby might have borrowed the look of his “DEMON” from somewhere in panel three…? Say “Thank you”, Jack.
6) Our Trees.
Every American comic book you’ve ever held in your hand started life as a Canadian tree. You can forget that the printing industry of the North East has ALWAYS used our fine Quebec forests as their principal source of paper, as long as you remember that since the 80s, damn near every comic book published by every publisher, large or small, was printed at QUEBECOR PRINTING in…you guessed it, Quebec. Thank the French-Canadian lumberjacks for this one.
5) Darywn Cooke
Besides being the only man who can collapse civilization by saying “sudden lesbian” in an online video, Darwyn Cooke is comics current “it boy”, with critical gushes and swooning fans following him from project to project. His retro style has earned him every award the biz has to offer, and he’s done all this while being a dead ringer for Slam Bradley – an achievement in itself. Without Darwyn, comics nowadays would be nothing more but hyperbolic close up details of forearm veins. Thank the stars, he stems that tide.
4) Lynn Johnston.
FOR BETTER OF FOR WORSE is easily the best comic art ever given to us by a female creator, and for the whole time it was being published, Lynn drew it from her home a few hours north of Toronto.
This magnificent series (only recently finished up) aged along with its readers, and touched the lives of millions in a way that the comics hadn’t since the early days of the century. Along with Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pogo, Li’l Abner, Krazy Kat, Popeye, Little Nemo, Prince Valiant and Calvin and Hobbes, FBOFW is one of the ten best comic strips ever produced. If you know who Farley is, and the mere mention of his name doesn’t start to choke you up, you’re an inhuman monster.
3) Dave Sim
The creation and the COMPLETION of the astounding run of CEREBUS THE AARDVARK is the No. #1 most inspiring story the world over for both indie cartoonists and people prone to spelling mistakes.
Dave Sim proved that if you have an insanely long, mind-bogglingly intricate story that’s going to take you twenty seven years to tell…then BY GOD, it can be done, even if you have to do it yourself!! CEREBUS is the longest running series ever written and drawn by the same guy – don’t even bring up the part about publishing it and promoting it himself (with the help of his temporary wife and temporary publisher Deni Loubert, of course, and his inker/background assistant GERHARD). 300 issues, 6000 pages, 12,000 loud mouth opinions in the letters pages. When people say Sim wrote the book on self-publishing, he literally did. Image Comics, wouldn’t exist without his ground-breaking influence, and apparently, neither would Babylon 5.
2) Todd McFarlane
Speaking of Image Comics… We must give thanks for our man of the Western Praries: Todd McFarlane. Without him, we wouldn’t have all those extra fidgety lines on all those drawings for the last twenty years. Besides re-inventing Spider-Man’s face mask, Marvel’s sales figures and humanity’s basic anatomy, Todd re-invented the toy industry by adding so many bendy bits to action figures, that they are now too cool to remove from the box.
Because of the twin revolutions of Image Comics and McFarlane Toys, the fanboy universe would not be the same without him, and neither would the million dollar home-run-collectible baseball market, as I think Todd owns them all. I think he part-owns the Edmonton Oilers too, but there’s no American who needs to thank him for that.
1) Joe Shuster
Ah, you knew I was going here. Joe Shuster was the Canadian artist who co-created Superman to help out his American friend Jerry Seigel accomplish SOMETHING in his life.
Canadians know this because we have the stamps, the “Heritage Minute”, the street named after him in Toronto, and the cousin he left behind to create WAYNE AND SHUSTER. (It’s absolutely true, they were blood relatives!)
Superman is practically a Canadian citizen we hear about this so much. Metropolis is based on Toronto. The Daily Planet is based on Toronto’s
“Daily Star” newspaper, and the original editor “George Taylor” was named after a real Daily Star Editor, and former boss of former Star copy boy, Shuster. I don’t have to tell you that comics in America would have died out long ago without the fellows in the capes, and that the fellows in the capes are ALL a variation on the Man of Steel in one way or another.
So you’re welcome, world! Thank Canada!
Stuart Immomen, Ian Boothby, Dave Ross, Kaare Andrews, Win Mortimer, Ken Lashley, Chester Brown, Tom Fowler, Pia Guerra, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seth, Max Douglas, Richard Pace, Dale Keown, Bernie Mireault, Gabriel Morrissette, Yanick Paquette, Travis Charest, Diana Shutz,Tom Grummett, Howard Wong, Steve McNiven, David Finch, Gene Day, Sam Agro, Kate Beaton, Richard Comely, Denis Rodier, Gibson Quarter, David J. Cutler, Clement Sauve, Steve Platt, George Freeman, Dean Motter, Ken Steacy, Adrian Alphona, Pat Davidson, Ramon Perez, Ho Che Anderson, Martin Pasko, Rand Holmes, Cam Stewart, Marcus To, Francis Manapul, Ryan Sohmer, Bob Smith, Mark Shainblum, Kent Burles, Lar Desouza, J. Bone, Kalman Adrasofszky…and K.T. Smith.
Just off the top of my head.
TY THE GUY OUT!
Here now, your comic book moment of zen:
Funny is #2.
Todd McFarlane is the one American on your list that now lives full time down here in anti-Canada, where shooting turkeys on trees while dropping members of the Edmonton Oilers into the Gulf of Mexico is a national pastime.
He even lives here in Arizona, with little old me… And, he likes Phoenix Hot Balls especially for his… collection.
Steven G. Willis
Aren’t Joe Matt and Matt Wagner Canadians also? (I know, it was off the top of your head.) But yeah, there is a sheer ton of talent from Canada that’s done comics work. Excellent list.
Nope. Joe Matt is from Philadelphia but was a roommate of Bernie Mireault’s for a while and of Chester Brown while he lived in Canada, but he’s back in the States. And Matt Wagner is an American, but we look alike and we’re often mistaken for each other which might have added to your confusion.
Thanks for this! So Kirby got his Demon from Foster?! And Lynn Johnston is an absolute gem and should be studied for her minimal lines with max expression. And then there’s the Farley Foundation, which is too cool. I’m only guessing, as it’s uncredited, but I’m pretty sure this illustration from the 1979 book ‘Mary Ellen’s Best of Helpful Hints’ (courtesy of my dear Mom) was done by Lynn early on as a freelancer. Ya think? Nice to see George Freeman mentioned too — his art on ‘Captain Canuck‘ and other titles was amazing… and Captain Canuck for some reason reminds me of the amazing Lance Amazing. Cheers.
Ah, ok. Probably better for Canada’s image that Joe Matt isn’t from there 🙂 And yeah, I forgot about Wagner being American. From PA, I think.
But Diana Schutz, his sister in law (right? All I know I read in Mage.) is Canadian, and SHE’S important in comics. And Canadian. Yeah.
Yep, Diana is Canadian. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creators Awards “Hall of Fame” last year (say that three times fast!). http://joeshusterawards.com/hof/diana-schutz-1955/
Would you honor us with a mention that Ian Boothby will be a guest at the Bellingham Comicon on Saturday Nov. 6th?
Tim Levins and J. Torres, creators of the wonderful Copybook Tales, are from your great nation.
Wow, as a Haligonian I am ashamed that I did not know Hal Foster was a local boy.
I have never heard the term “Haligonian” in my life. Is that someone from Nova Scotia, or someone from Halifax?
What are you talking about?! My sister is a Haligonian!! Your two nieces are Haligonians! Sam is a Haligonian.
Boy, you come from away, eh?
@Eric: Okay…Ian Boothby will be a guest at Bellingham Comicon on Saturday, November 6th….but I think you beat me to it!
@Scott: I KNEW I’d forget someone. Of course, I WORKED with Tim Levins on Batman Adventures for quite a while, and have met him a few times. I forgot Marcio Takara as well as the magnificent Chad Solomon, creator of Rabbit and Bear Paws. As I said, it was off the top of my head, and the brain cells do what they can…
Thanks for this! So Kirby got his Demon from Foster?! And Lynn Johnston is an absolute gem and should be studied for her minimal lines with max expression. I’m only guessing, as it’s uncredited, but I’m pretty sure this illustration from the 1979 book ‘Mary Ellen’s Best of Helpful Hints’ (courtesy of my dear Mom) was done by Lynn early on as a freelancer. Ya think? Nice to see George Freeman mentioned too — his art on ‘Captain Canuck‘ and other titles was amazing… and Captain Canuck for some reason reminds me of the amazing Lance Amazing. Cheers.