Written by Dena Burnett
We too often forget the impact that Canadian creators have made in comics. It could possibly be our quiet and humble nature as Canadians, but it could also be that these impacts are so subtle and so broad that we never really took time to notice. It just kind of happened.
Canadians were trailblazers in the Golden Age of Superheroes. Ontario-born Joe Shuster defined a genre with his co-creation of the mild-mannered reporter—really an alien from Krypton—who saved the world numerous times by running faster than a speeding bullet and leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Superman truly is super; but we all too often overlook our other early Canadian superheroes.
Pre-dating the more popular Wonder Woman by a few months, Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana of the Northern Lights—the powerful protector of the North, presented Canadians with a superhero to call their own. Soon to follow were Brok Windsor, Johnny Canuck, Fleur de Lys, and Captain Canuck; each uniquely representing our strong, adventurous, generous, and persevering spirit. These characters and their stories continue to influence comics today.
Canadians didn’t just make an impact in creating heroes to call our own, but also through American publishing companies. Notable Canadian creators include John Byrne, Darwyn Cooke, Todd McFarlane, Jeff Lemire, Fiona Staples, Tom Grummett, Ed Brisson and Camilla d’Errico, (just to name a few) many achieving national and international recognition for their creative works.
Although comic books are thought of as ‘super hero stories’ and Canadians definitely put their thumbprints on these tales and characters, there’s so, so much more to comics and sequential art as a story-telling medium. Dave Sim and his long-running Cerebus series defined the genre of alternative comics, leading the way for many independent creators to come. It also re-introduced comics as a medium to illustrate the need for social and political change, as a reflection and interpretation of art imitating life, and life finding its place in art.
In this genre there’s something for everyone. Stories in comics are as diverse and spanning as the stories we see played out for us on the stage and screen: thrillers, romance, crime dramas, horror, history, science fiction, fantasy, family dramas, comedy, and coming-of-age stories. There is a story for everyone, including everyone from your toddler niece who’s just learning to read to the wizened grandparent rediscovering new adventures.
At the Saskatoon Entertainment Expo, we have expert Creator Guests who dig in and help us in critically consuming comics: anthology editors, comic historians, and podcasters. If you don’t know where to start—finding new stories can sometimes be overwhelming—these are the folks who can help you find and digest an adventure that’s just right for you.
It’s been 79 years since the iconic Action Comics #1 cover that introduced the world to a new story-telling medium. We’ve come a long ways from the newsstand or the basement comic store. Comics are more accessible now than ever; chances are pretty good that you could take your newest findings to read on your phone while waiting in line for that Celebrity Guest autograph. The Saskatoon Entertainment Expo is the perfect place to discover some new Canadian stories.