Corbo

“To my parents, for their patience, and to Will Eisner, for the dreamers in all of us.” Patrick R Hamou

This post is an extension of one of my previous posts on Roger Broughton and Charlton Media Group. Although the company produced a lot of reprint work, Corbo stands as some of the only known original material published by the company and was published by one of Roger Broughton’s many imprints Sword in Stone Productions.

The story takes place in 1936 and follows Jonathan Proud, “a freedom fighter, a mercenary or a terrorist, it depends what newspaper you read or what politician you listened to”. Fighting for social causes in other countries, Proud returns home to learn he is not only wanted but that his own country is in need of his attention and expertise. Hence, Corbo the vigilante is born.

Corbo Stats

Corbo stats at the back of the comic.

Corbo was published in February of 1987 out of Genevieve, Quebec at the height of the black and white comics boom. A full 32 pages it was written by Roger Broughton himself, with lettering was done by A. Kroy. The art was done by Patrick Hamou with assists by Errol Burke and Geof Isherwood with cover art by Mike Kaluta. Although the second comic was scheduled for May, it was never released along with a comic entitled Sun Warrior, also credited to Broughton.

Interesting to note, the dedication of the book, while thanking Isherwood and Burke for their work also especially spotlights Bernie Mireault. The comic hails Mireault’s work for its originality and encourages the reader to check out The Jam. It is also one of the many comics to thank Gene Day in memoriam.

An especially interesting comic for it’s position in Canadian comics history. There seems to be a lot of intrigue and mystery around Roger Broughton and the current status of his company. I definitely recommend picking one up if you have the opportunity.

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Penny’s Diary

Holy Cats!! Happy Valentine’s day everyone! In celebration of the occasion I’m posting an excerpt of the talk I’m giving later today on romance comics. Here it is, details of the talk are at the bottom.

Penny’s Diary was introduced around 1945 and is a cornerstone in Canadian comics history. Similar to Archie comics in style and content, the romance and drama In Penny’s Diary is targeted towards mainly teen girls. The story revolves around consistently lovesick Penny and her less than savoury, but levelheaded best friend, Jeanie.

Penny’s diary is a very interesting comic. Cyril Bell must have recognized the need to appeal to little girls when he published the comic but unfortunately not enough so that he created another line of comics targeted only for girls. Penny first appeared in number 19 of Active Comics. Laughably, Active Comics is generally what you’d expect, specializing in action heroes and sports. Also, during this time no stories were much longer than three or four pages of a book, and most books ranged from about 48 to 64 pages. This meant that poor Penny was wedged between Active Jim and Thunderfist and unfortunately the poor little girls who read them probably either paid a dime for one story or were forced to nick the comic from a brother.

Although Penny’s Diary is by no means a forward thinking comic, that it exists in itself is important. Penny’s diary is a comic for girls written by women, some of the first in the industry, Patricia Joudrey who wrote the script and Doris Slater who did the art. The series was short lived concluding with issue 26, and only marginally preceded the end of the Golden Age of comics in Canada.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Canadian romance and erotica comics, I will be giving a talk on this and more at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. The address is 395 Wellington and the talk begins at 7pm. Alternatively, I have given an interview to CBC radio which will be posted online.

Mackenzie Queen

Cover of Issue 4 by Stephen Bissette.

Mackenzie Queen is a five issue limited series written and drawn by Bernie Mireault. Although much of the story was completed in 1983, it wasn’t published until 1985 when Grabriel Morrissette and Mark Shainblum’s Montreal based publishing company Matrix Graphic Series picked it up. The five issues ran irregularly until 1986.

Although the title suggests otherwise, the story is actually science fiction, reminiscent of A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Mackenize Queen is chosen by “the brotherhood” to save the world against the Ice Men who, having destroyed their own planet, would take Earth for themselves. Queen is assisted by an seven-foot tall alien called Ududu, who is a friendly carnivore and who also provides much of the comic relief for the story.

Interestingly, this series has lots of fun bits including a bathroom copy Love and Rockets, published letters from John Bell and Rick Taylor, and some great comic shorts from Jacques Boivin. Also, I loved seeing advertisements for Renegade Press’ Wordsmith and Ms. Tree, the support of which is very characteristic of Canadian comics. In issue three there are pictures of the supporting cast with accompanying comical blurbs for each including Mireault, Morrissette, Shainblum and Boivin, who was apparently 333 years old at the time.

Although the first issue has slightly awkward scripting, Mireault recognizes this citing “It has some rough edges, but keep it anyway”. Stephen Bissette also contributes with some great cover art on books four and five and Jan Harpes also contributing art in book three. Mireault’s art is wonderful and consistent and the final product, all five issues, make an excellent series. Mackenzie Queen is a really great, original story and one of the few that actually got published through to the end, so grab it if you see it, you won’t be disappointed!