Orion: The Canadian Magazine of Space and Time

I know subject of my last few posts blur the areas I’m trying to cover, but I really want to state the importance of including all related and important material on the subject for future reference.

In 1981, a Science Fiction fanzine was published, a publication hand in hand with the comics industry at the time. Orion Magazine: The Canadian Magazine of Space and Time was first published in the summer of 1981 by Discovery Publications in Montreal, Quebec. This exceptional magazine was published and edited by a young, 18-year-old Mark Shainblum. His intent, very clear not to alienate other nationalities, was to provide a fanzine that fairly examined most English speaking science fiction and comics output, but of course, Canadian based. That said, the magazine was definitely Canadian content heavy. 

Accompanying letter.

The first issue is perhaps most noted for Shainblum’s article on Captain Canuck and an interview with Richard Comely. Sadly, the inaugural issue of this series was already printed and ready to be shipped around the same time CKR Productions ceased publishing. In order to remain topical, Discovery included this letter also provided here by Mike Sterling.

Orion #1 contains several other timely references including a rare article on small time zine publisher Kenny Moran Comics out of Winnipeg, Manitoba and a comic entitled Captain Chinook by Captain Canuck artist Claude St. Aubin. Otherwise, the fanzine is 36 pages, oversized, black and white with colour cover and mostly a compilation of reviews, interviews, poetry, etc. at .

The second issue was almost double the length at 64 pages and slightly larger than the first. As far as luck goes though, it didn’t fair much better. Shortly after giving a long, in depth interview to Shainblum for the magazine, Gene Day passed away at only 36. Fortunately, Orion wasn’t already printed and Shainblum was able to explain that it was one of Day’s last interviews. Like the first issue, the second contains several excellent supporting pieces including a comic by Geof Isherwood called White Thunder and a Captain Canuck parody comic called Captain Canduck.

Orion only saw two printed issues before retiring in 1982. This was not the end though. In 2004, Shainblum resurrected Orion digitally with Comicopia for six more issues, all of which can be read here. Should you want a copy of the earlier Orion issues, you may be able to aquire copies directly from Shainblum himself.

Until then, here is the content of the first and second issue.

Orion #1

  • Quantum (Editorial) – Mark Shainblum
  • The Definitive Batman – James J.J. Wilson
  • Broadening Horizons: First Encounter with The Spirit – Mark Shainblum
  • Captain Canuck: The Triumphant Return of the Canadian Hero – Mark Shainblum
  • World of Elzon: Imaginitive but… – Mark Shainblum
  • Update (News from the World of SF) – Michael Gilson
  • The Wager – Michael Gilson
  • Ode to a Super Hero – Mark Shainblum
  • “Orion Interview” A Conversation with Richard Comely – Mark Shainblum
  • “Viewpoint” Commentary – Michael Gilson
  • Software: Harlan Ellison reviewed – James J.J. Wilson
  • The Ubiquitous Captain Chinook – Jean-Claude St. Aubin
  • “MediaViews” Galactica: What Happened? – Michael Gilson
  • Books: North By 2000 – Review by Mark Shainblum
  • Pharma – Mark Shainblum
  • The Riddle – Rhonda Kert
  • Afterburn: Closing Commentary – Mark Shainblum

Orion #2

  • Quantum (Editorial) – Mark Shainblum
  • Orion Response (Letters)
  • Comicswatch (Reviews)
  • An Interview with Marv Wolfman – Mark Shainblum
  • Another Interview – Gabrielle Morrisette
  • The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer – Lesley Choyce
  • White Thunder – Geof Isherwood
  • The Last Interview: A Conversation with Gene Day Mark Shainblum
  • Fanwatch (Fanzine Reviews)
  • Captain Canduck – John Bell (Words) Owen Oulton (Art)
  • …And the Canadian Way? – Christine Kulyk
  • Books (Reviews)
  • Brass Orchids (Column) – Lisa Cohen
  • Afterburn (Closing Commentary) Mark Shainblum
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