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Post by Rick N –

As we enjoy/suffer a return to good old fashioned Canadian winters, it’s time to point out something that might have escaped the notice of the average comic book fan. We really rock comics! And not just that we like them, or buy loads of them (I actually enjoy DCs new twice-a-month schedule but you get the point.)

No, we as Canadians make up some of the most talented comic creators in the industry. Far beyond our per capita, statistical allotment. There are 320 million (it would seem mostly non-voting) Americans versus our 35 million parka-wearing Canadians. That’s just over one-tenth the number of Canadians compared to Americans given those big numbers are just estimates. I mean, California has a larger population than Canada!

And yet, the current roster of Canadians currently or once-employed by Marvel, Image or DC reads like an All-Star Team of comic book creators. Looking back at history this list begins – and this is just a small list so I don’t bore you: John Byrne (British by birth, went to ACAD in Calgary, Canadian comic book Hall of Fame), and the recently deceased Darwyn Cooke (born in Toronto in 1962). Not a bad start…except there are others. And I mean lots. The name of the awards given to the top Canadian comic book talent each year, the Joe Shuster Awards, should give you a clue regarding the history Canadians have in the comic book big leagues.
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But let’s narrow the frame a little, let’s say to be a Canadian comic book creator must have been born in Canada, lived for a good length of time, and worked on a recognizable title for more than small number of issues. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I just work here. Oh wait, I just did make the rules.
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Nevertheless, I will miss lots here but Canadians have been at the comic book biz for along time so cut me some slack. Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Win Mortimer (lots of titles back in the day including Superman 50-52), Gene Day (Thor and Star Wars). Among guys born in the same time frame is Dave Sim who created Cerebus, a series an Aardvark which only ran for 27 or so years. Nicely done, dude.
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Ok, great. What about new talent? This is where it gets a little crazy. David Finch, Francis Manapul (not sure if he was born in Canada but he lives in Toronto), and Marcus To (Batwing–Red Deer! I thought only hockey players came from there…).
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Jeff Lemire (Ontario), Stuart Immonen (Ontario), Calgary’s own Fiona Staples (I could write a column on Calgarian comic book creators alone!) and the biggest name, (born here and went to high school here, in case you missed that).
Wait, I just found another one, Jason Fabok (Ontario). I swear every time I look there is another big name. If Canadians decided to make their own company they’d take the heart out of DC and half that of Image. Oh look, Chris Bachalo (Manitoba) too. And Steve McNiven (Halifax). This is getting re-donk-ulous.
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What’s behind this anomaly? We as Canadians make up some of the most talented comic creators in the industry, now and throughout the history of the industry. It’s beyond any strange statistical aberration. Hell, I’d be super proud Darwyn Cooke was the only one on the list. I read someplace that the reason Seattle has such a strong music history is because it rains all the time. Nothing to do but jam in the garage. Do that enough and pretty soon you’re Eddie Vedder and playing for stadiums full of screaming people. Well, the weather in Toronto is the same as Calgary, which is to say it’s only a little colder than Mars. Nothing to do but stay inside and draw/write comics. Pretty soon you draw people swinging from buildings for a living. That’s at least a plausible explanation.
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Is there more to it though? Looking closely, there are more artists than writers especially when you look at the list of current names. Maybe we, as a socialist country, are a more attractive option than the U.S. (Trump! Seriously guys, keep it up, you make us look good). But then a big number of those talented individuals are born here. Some leave for work like McFarlane or Cooke but a lot are born and bred here. Maybe we Canadians hard-wired to superhero myths or just crazy artistic/creative.
I don’t have an answer but I know I feel like pulling out my sketch pad now.
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