MAC TIN TAC

MAC TIN TAC is the product of Marc Tessier and Stéphane Olivier. The series was written primarily by the two and is made up of many short stories about the main character Mac Tin Tac or the inhabitants of the strange Kuskus city in which they live. The comic was produced irregularly over five issues from 1990 until 1995, the last of which was published in Mirrors, by Gogo Guy Publications.

This cover won the Pixel D'Or for Best Book Cover

The story is largely existential and sociological and effectively applies satire on the way we perceive substance abuse, life, death, work, tradition and ceremony. This dystopian narrative is largely reflective in the artwork as well. Created in Montreal, Tessier and Olivier hired many burgeoning and underground artists to illustrate their ideas. Some of these artists included Olivier himself, Simon Bossé, Siris, Rupert Bottenberg, Jean-Pierre Chansigaud, Caro Caron, Richard Suicide, G.B. Edwin, Helge Reuman, Hélène Brosseau, Phil Angers, Jean-Claude Amyot and Alexandre Lafleur.

More than ten years after the first comic book was published, MAC TIN TAC was compiled by and reproduced as a graphic novel by Conundrum Press in 2004. Although this made the work more accessible to a new generation of readers, many of the short stories from the singles were lost including the entire contents of the first issue. Some artists that produced chapters in the comics didn’t make the cut for the book including Alain Gosselin, Mario Tremblay, Michel Rabagliati, Gilles Boulerice, Martin Lemm and Matthew Brown.

Conundrum cover by Chansigaud.

I do recommend the graphic novel. The book takes from the singles and makes a more linear story line which is easier to read. That, and the singles are harder to find. They also include side stories and more alternative art and storytelling methods which may be more difficult or more alienating to read. If that is your thing, some of the singles can be ordered online, but are still difficult to find. You can Mile High Comics which usually has a pretty good selection. To see more of Marc Tessier’s work in both his publishing company Gogo Guy Publications, you can go here. You can see a review done by Montreal Review of Books here.

Orb Magazine

Orb #2 featuring Northern Light on the front cover.

In 1974, the honeymoon of the science fiction and comics marriage, James Waley published Orb Magazine from Toronto, Ontario. This is three years before Andromeda was published, and is very much Andromeda’s predecessor. Both lasted only six issues, featured many of the same artists and writers such as Don Marshall, John Allison, George Henderson, Gene Day, Peter Hsu and Jim Beveridge. They both focused on similar content, that is, science fiction genre common in the alternative comics scene of the 1970s with a touch of the adult themed including nudity and other mature content.

The comic has more to give in the way of just science fiction. This is the magazine that is known to produce one of the many Canadian national superheroes, Northern Light. Originally scripted by an American for an American audience, the character was adapted for the Canadian magazine. Later, James Waley resumed writing duties for the character, but, like his many brethren in red and white, the character was very short lived.

Norther Light wasn’t the only regular story line in the magazine. There was also the Electric Warrior, Kadaver and Dark Ninja. This magazine did also feature some coloured pages, mainly those given to Northern Light. Never fewer than 50 pages per issue, some contain more than 10 in colour. The series ran from July 1974 until April 1976.

Orb #1 Cover by John Allison

Orb 1 – 1974

  • The Ride: Stanley Berneche
  • The Astounding Origin of Kadaver: James Waley
  • Devil’s Triangle: John Allison
  • Belial: Paul McCusker
  • Meta-Morphosis: Alexander Emond
  • Whirls of a Numb-a; Matt Rust

Orb 2 – July 1974

  • Plague: Gene Day
  • Galactic Queen: Paul Savard and John Allison (Script) Paul Savard (Pencils) Gene Day (Inks)
  • Musical Roulette: Ronn Sutton
  • The Seeker: Matt Rust
  • The Guardian of Mars (Northern Light): T Casey Brennan (Script) John Allison (Art)
  • No-Man’s Land: Paul McCuscker
  • Salvation: James Waley
  • Reeve Perry: Bruce Bezaire
  • Small Talk:

Orb 3 – December 1974

  • Lepers: Paul McCuscker
  • Half-Life: John Allison
  • Cheezy-Nuggets: Alexander Emond
  • Super-Student: Ken Steacy
  • Northern Light: The Lone Guardian Strikes: T. Casey Brennan (Script) Jim Craig (Art) Matt Rust (Colours) and James Waley (Colours)
  • Escape the Truth: Richard Robertson
  • Karkass: Matt Rust
  • A Shroud of Tattered Grey!: Gene Day
  • The Rescue of Raniff The Fair: Ronn Sutton

Orb 4 – November December 1975

  • Electric Warrior: Ken Steacy (Art) Kerri Ellison (Script)
  • Encore: Matt Rust
  • Gothic Glitter: Peter Hsu (Art) George Henderson (Script)
  • Dark Ninja: Vincent Marchesano
  • The Horror of Harrow House: Gene Day
  • The Astounding Origin of Kadaver Continued: James Waley
  • Child Slayer-World Saver?: Art Cooper (Art) James Waley (Script) Matt Rust (Script)
  • The Origin of the Northern Light Part One: Jim Craig (Art) Jim Craig (Script) James Waley (Script) and George Henderson (Script)
  • Space Scouts: Matt Rust

Orb 5 – January February 1976

  • One Man’s Madness: Gene Day (Art) T. Casey Brennan (Script)
  • Dark Ninja: Harbinger of Doom: Vincent Marchesano (Pencils) Bill Payne (Embellishments) Russell Wallace (Script)
  • Retribution: Gene Day (Script and pencils) Peter Hsu (Inks and tones) Matt Rust (Tones)
  • Man O’ Dreams: Don Marshall (Art) George Henderson (Script)
  • The Origin of the Northern Light Part 2: Dénouement: Jim Craig (Art) James Waley (Script) Matt Rust (Script)
  • Kadaver: My Will Be Done!: Art Cooper (Layouts) Jim Craig (Finishing) Matt Rust (Tones) James Waley (Script) Matt Rust (Script)
  • Back Cover: Don Marshall

Orb 6 – March April 1976

  • Cosmic Dancer: Jim Craig (Art) Augustine Funnell (Script)
  • Woof! Woof!: Matt Rust (Art) George Henderson (Script)
  • Gyk the Barbarian in Escape: John Sech (Script) Paul McCuscker (Pencils) Jim Craig (inks) Gene Day (Colours);
  • Trojan Horse: Gene Day
  • Dark Ninja in Dawn of Darkness: John Sech (Script) Vincent Marchesano (Pencils) Gene Day (Inks);
  • Flame of El-Hamman: Bill Payne (Art and letters) George Henderson (Script)

Orb #6

You can check out more about these comics in either of the John Bell books, but also here and here for some basic information.

Maple Leaf Comics

Cover art by Ley Fortune.

There’s often a lot of focus on Bell Features for their contribution to the Canadian comic book industry, and rightly so. The company published hundreds of comics under several titles during the crucial years of comic book development in Canada. Not necessarily overlooked, but perhaps not looked upon as often as they should be, are the publishings of another founding father of Canadian comics, Maple Leaf Publishers.

Along with Anglo-American, Maple Leaf was one of the first to publish and release comics in Canada. While I try not to express too much favouritism, I do agree with John Bell in that it was the first true Canadian comic, as Anglo American evaded the wartime ban on American periodical publications by purchasing scripts. Maple Leaf’s first issue was Better comics, released March of 1941 in the Canadian tradition of black and white interior with colour covers.

Second issue of Better Comics

Maple Leaf’s line of comics included Better, Bing Bang, Lucky and Rocket comics. Most were released regulary on a bi-monthly basis from 1941 to 1946. They also wasted no time in producing a Canadian hero, and again, the first in Canada, which was Vernon Miller’s Iron Man in Better Comics. Later Maple Leaf produced the more famous Brok Windsor who came out in the April May 1944 issue of Better Comics.

Some of the other more regular comics published in the anthologies’ titles were The Exciting Adventures of Peter and Peggy, Coast Patrol, The Adventures of Lucky, Derry Dreamer, Black Wing, Juke Box Joe, Piltdown Pete, Deuce Granville, Cariboo Trail, Rags the Dog Marvel, Callahan, Cosmo and his White Magic, The Honourable Freddy, Bill Speed, Stuffy Boggs, Circus Girl and Senorita Marquita. One benefit to having several lines as Bell did was that he could cater to different audiences depending on the book. Maple Leaf’s stories spanned several genres but were contained within four books.

That said, one argument certainly true of Maple Leaf Comics is that they had some quality artists on staff. Some of my own favourite Golden Age artists worked for Maple Leaf such as Bert Bushell, Jon Stables (St. Ables) and Vernon Miller. Other artists included Ernie Walker, Shirley “Ley” Fortune, Ray Hazall, Bill Meikle, Bill Benz, Vim Pearson, Spike Brown, Ted Watson, FP Thursby and Herb Brew with writers such as Hall, FP Thursby, Hal Kerr, Bus Griffiths and Ted Ross. A smaller staff than Bell Features, Maple Leaf had the benefit of having a more consistent product. And, although Bell Features owner Cyril Bell created something great with Bell features, many of his own artists were either in, or fresh out of high school and were therefore very young, amateur artists.

But, like many of the publishers that sprang up at the beginning of the forties, Maple Leaf ceased publishing in 1946 when the War Exchange Conservation Act was lifted.