One Horse Leadworks

The three issues of Headcheese.

So, one of the more prominent Canadian artists to date is Stuart Immonen who has worked for both DC and Marvel pencilling just about every prominent series within such as Superman, Hulk, Ultimate Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men. That said, it wasn’t until 1993 that he started working with bigger companies, so what did he do before hand?

Along with his then girlfriend and now wife Kathryn Immonen (née Kuder), they created the publishing house One Horse Leadworks in Toronto. Slightly higher quality than a fanzine, Immonen and Kuder orchestrated the production of alternative comic anthology Headcheese and then Playground, both of which spanned three issues. Headcheese was released in 1988 and the contributors are as follows:

Issue #1

  • The Eternity Bar – Ron Boyd
  • Shooting Gallery – Nick White
  • Mort & Shirley – Kathryn Kuder, Stuart Immonen
  • Pax Magoohan – Wayne Immonen
  • Peer Pleasure – Sheldon Inkol, Stuart Immonen
  • No. 1 – Kathryn Kuder
  • Agro – Nick White
  • Just Thinking – Ron Boyd
  • Passing Time – Stuart Immonen
Issue #2
  • Service With a Smile – Jerry Drozdowsky
  • The Insane Machine – X
  • Mort and Shirley Banks – Stuart Immonen, Kathryn Kuder
  • My Last Girlfriend – Sheldon Inkol, David Scott
  • Peer Pleasure – Sheldon Inkol, Stuart Immonen
  • She-Devil – Kathryn Kuder
  • Blood and Roses – Ron Boyd
  • The Shooting Gallery – Nick White
  • Art Gallery Stuff – Rob Alton
  • Penis Longspot – Stuart Immonen
Issue #3
  • Quantum Leap – Nick White
  • Love in a Calm – Andrew Clark, 1HLW
  • I Saw the Bloody Stump of God – Kathryn Kuder, Stuart Immonen
  • Chicken Gumbo – Stuart Immonen
  • Peer Pleasure – Sheldon Inkol, Stuart Immonen
  • Art Gallery Stuff – Robert Alton
  • The Garden – Jerry Drozdowsky, Ron Boyd
  • Oswald – Sheldon Inkoll, Jai Dixit
Definitely a great piece if you’re interested in his early work, although they might be a bit hard to find considering there were only 250 made of #2 and #3. Likewise, Playground was co-produced by Immonen and Kuder, and the fourth and final issue was published by Caliber Press in October of 1990.
The issues are subtitled as:
  • Prologue: The Vessel
  • Chapter One: The Wheel
  • Chapter Two: The Vessel
  • The Hundred Year’s Wake
Here is an interview with Immonen in which he references the early works, as well as here.

Don’t Touch Me Independent Comics

The flyer for the launch of DTM #15.

Don’t Touch Me Comics is a comic anthology that was released in October of 1994. The comic was based out of Weston, Ontario but was mainly distributed in Toronto, and was founded by alternative artist Dave Howard. The comic was released irregularly as a small press publication in black and white until 2002. Until this time, the anthology regularly featured an interview with an artist or other comics professional like Joe Matt or Chris Oliveros.

In 2002, Dave Lapp, another local artist and comic creator, joined Howard and together they reformatted Don’t Touch Me, taking out the interview and publishing it in better quality. Since that time the anthology has been published regularly four times a year.

The flyer for the launch of issue 17.

Don’t Touch Me has featured such artists as Fiona Smyth, Joe Ollmann, Alan Bunce, Dave Lapp, Zach Worton, Greg McCann, Marc Bell, Matt Daley, James Waley and Ron Kasman among many others and is a great way to stay on top of local developing artists. Current and back issues can be purchased online here.

As further evidence of his determination to keep the alternative comics scene going, two years after creating Don’t Touch Me, Howard began the Toronto Comic Jam, fashioning it after Rupert Bottenburg’s Comix Jam in Montreal. In 2005 Howard retired from the Comics Jam, but it remains very successful, taking place at The Cameron on the last Tuesday of every month.

Lapp himself published his first collection in October of 2008 called Drop In by Conundrum Press. He has also produced several zines including The Hood and a regular strip for the Georgia Straight called Children of the Atom from 1996 to 2001.

You can find out more here on Howard’s art page, as well as more about Howard and his other work. To learn more about what Howard is still up to, check out his other blog which features a mixed bag of comic or music related stuff. Yeah, I said stuff. Things?

CBC’s Comics in Canada: An Illustrated History

Taken from the CBC interview in 1971 around the same time as the release of "The Great Canadian Comic Books".

Here is a great collection of videos and radio broadcasts the CBC put together about the history of Canadian comics in the news. They include just about everything from a discussion about the danger of reading the comics from 1949 to interviews with Cy Bell, Arn Saba and Seth. It’s not necessarily in order, and If you’re on a mac, you may have a bit of trouble, otherwise, they’re really fun to have a listen to and watch.

The Comics in Canada: An Illustrated History

Aircel and Nightwynd

This Logo for Aircel was established some time in 1986 and was used until about 1989.

For those those of you who are already familiar with Canadian comics, you’ll know all about Aircel. For those of you who don’t, it was one of the most successful and well known publishers of the Canada’s eighties alternative comics inside Canada. Hopefully this post will be informative either way.

Officially founded in September of 1985 by Barry Blair and Ken Campbell, the roots of Aircel had long since been established. Campbell, the owner of an insulation installation company (Aircel Insulation) had lost his contract with the government at which his enthused employee wasted no time in trying to persuade him to move in the direction of comics. It worked, and Aircel Insulation then became Aircel comics.

Samurai, officially their first title, had been in print long before Aircel was producing comics, as was Elflord and Dragonring. These were the house titles Blair published under Nightwynd productions which had been publishing since the beginning of the eighties. Interestingly, many of these featured the work of a very young artist by the name of Dave Cooper. Some of the other artists featured in Nightwynd at this time were Mike Burchill, Donald Lanouette, Ron Fortier, Tim McEown, and Guang Yap, the latter two which continued to work with Aircel for a very long time. The majority of these comics were black and white, oversized and were somewhere between a small press comic and a fanzine. The quality improved greatly when they were moved over to Aircel which made the comic in the traditional size with colour covers and newsprint interior.

The comics did very well. After a short first volume of black and white interiors they introduced the second volume in full colour. Blair, having grown up all over Asia, was very familiar with manga and applied this to his own style despite its absence in a predominantly North American style industry. He later became known for popularizing the manga style despite its weak North American market.

Aircel successfully produced comics until late 1988 when the company merged with Malibu comics in exchange for support through their financial difficulties. Because of this and other changes including staff, shortly after the merger Aircel ceased publishing its house titles. It was around this time that it began to publish erotic or sex themed comics, most notably Blair’s Leather and Lace, and change the Aircel logo. In 1990, Men in Black, which later became the hugely successful movie. Finally, in 1991 Aircel broke even, and Blair formally handed the company over to Malibu before moving on to other projects. Aircel continued under Malibu until 1994 when Marvel bought it, after which it ceased publishing.