The 1980 Comics Annual

One of my greatest regrets is that there are not more easy to access resources regarding Canadian comics. Some of these would not only include historical information but also sample work. This is perhaps one of the reasons why I so love anthologies. They are a testament to the range and variety of comics, artists and writers that were published at the time.

Ian Carr, a Canadian who has done a bit of everything in the comic book industry, is a man after my own heart. In 1979, Carr edited a book called The 1980 Comics Annual published by Potlatch Publications. Carr’s original goal was to put out an anthology like this yearly, featuring many top artists but unfortunately that did not happen. Had it been more successful, I would probably not be needing to write this blog, but I’m so happy he took the initiative anyway. The book, weighing in at 128 pages, half of which are in colour, feature work from great Canadian creators. Here is a list of the contents:

  • Return of the Magician: Arn Saba (Script), Lois Atkinson (Script assistance), Don Inman (Art)
  • Blarg the Swordsman: John MacLeod
  • The Intergalactic Depletion Machine #21
  • Stareway
  • Tales of King Arthur: Bill Slavin
  • Street Noise: Ken Steacy
  • Sir Rolaid and the Black Knight: Bill Slavin
  • The Believer!
  • Haab the Luckless: Steve LeBlanc
  • Totter of the Mounted: JOT
  • Last Chance!: Bob Smith
  • Neil the Horse: Arn Saba, D. Roman
  • The Revenge of Yukon Tom!: Richard Cordoba
  • Malcolm and Eric: Ian Carr
  • The Hunter: Martin Springett
  • Wirely L. Wiremire: Tom Nesbitt
  • Wirely L. Wiremire in Wired Again, Part I: Tom Nesbitt
  • Cave-in: James Simpkins
  • Dust Bowl Sanction: Jim Craig (Art and script), Bill Payne (Inks and Lettering)
  • Wirely L. Wiremire in Wired Again, Part II: Tom Nesbitt
  • The Gauntlet of the Gods: John MacLeod (Art and script), Steve LeBlanc (Assist)
  • Tommy Whitehawk: Don Inman
  • Cave-in: James Simpkins
  • Danger Squad: Ian Carr
  • A Dick Mallet Adventure: Michael D. Cherkas
  • Flying Eight Ball: Tom Nesbitt
  • Neil the Horse Goes to Hell: Arn Saba, D. Roman
  • Spud: William King (Plot), Paul McCuscker (Art and script)
  • Bubblegummers in The Cat’s Night Out: Jeff and Carol Wakefield
  • Little Feller: Ron Van Leeuwen (Script), Franc Reyes (Art)
  • Space Cat and the Flaming Commandos: Tom Nesbitt

The book also has that very distinct feel of the seventies with the science fiction fascination at the time, while there is also a very strong influence of underground comics, especially with MacLeods already satirical style. But most importantly, it shows a broad range of talents from more mainstream styles like Ken Steacy and Jim Craig to cartoonish spoofs by Bill Slavin and Tom Nesbitt. It even has Neil the Horse, a comic that successfully bridges the gap from the seventies to the eighties. As sited above in the Potlach Publications link, this book is still for sale by the publisher, but it’s also available on ebay or Abebooks if you look.

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The True North

Cover By Dave Sim

In September of 1987, the RCMP seized 192 comics from a comic book shop called Comic Legends in Calgary, Alberta. They also charged owners Julie Warren, Darren Ott and Dale Clarke with circulating obscene materials. The comics in question were adult comics and were never intended for children, nor were they sold to children. The reason for the search and confiscation of the comics was that a 14-year-old boy purchased a copy of Warlock 5 by Aircel Comics, and his mother complained. Warlock 5 was not a comic that was seized that day.

When comic artists caught wind of this, as they would, they were outraged. As a result, Paul Stockton (Of Strawberry Jam Comics), Leonard S Wong, Liz Schiller and Derek McCulloch formed the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund (hereafter CLLDF). In order to raise funds for Warren, Ott and Clarke, CLLDF published an anti-censorship comic book anthology called The True North. Despite the unfavourable circumstances with which it was created, the comic book is an excellent testament to the conviction of the comic book industry both in and outside Canada. It also features a fantastic array of Canada’s writers and artists, as well as some Americans, spanning from from style to era and genre.

Unfortunately, all three shopkeepers were convicted with a fine of $5500. Although they did appeal with the help of CLLDF, the result was only a reduced fine.

In 1991, the CLLDF published True North II, a second anthology collection, again anti-censorship, and again, a great collector’s item. What I love most about these comics is the sampling of so many different Canadian writers and artists. Here is the contents of each book and there are some useful links at the bottom of the post.

True North

  • Anti-Censorship Propaganda – Chester Brown
  • Reid Fleming – David Boswell
  • One Romantic Evening – Jeffrey Taylor
  • Ronald and the Ducks – Ron Kasman
  • Starbikers – Ronn Sutton
  • The Life and Times of Tomas De Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor – Kent Burles
  • A Little Thought About Comics – Ty Templeton
  • Dan Panic: Think Allowued Talk – Greg Holfeld
  • It Comes Down to This – Nick Burns
  • A Suburban Nightmare – Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock
  • Real Life – M.A. Bramstrup and Monique Renee
  • Comic Books – William Van Horn
  • Dan Day Pinup – Dan Day
  • A True Story – Bernie Mireault and Joe Matt
  • Counterblast – Nick Burns
  • Warning – George Metzger
  • Wizard Pinup – Ron Kasman
  • Media Violence – Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette
  • Centerspread: Manunkind – Matt Wagner
  • -And So It Goes – George Freeman
  • Beware of…They! – Rodney Dunn
  • Jail for Joe – Dave Darrigo
  • Freedom of Choice Hot Tub – Todd McFarlane and Terry Fitzgerald
  • Edgar the Common Sense Elephant – Seth
  • Defenses of Clay – Rob Walton
  • Malcom and Eric – Ian Carr
  • Vox Populi – Richard Taylor and Mark Askwith
  • Bizarre Taste with Asta Roid – Gordon Derry and Adrian Kleinenberg
  • Rosebud – Derek McCulloch and Simon Tristam
  • Other Artists – Dave Sim, Gerhard
True North II
  • Lethargic Lad – Greg Hyland and John Migliore
  • Bachelor Party or The Road Not Taken or Just Another Male Fantasy – Dennis Eichhorn and Carel Moiseiwitsch
  • R.G. Taylor Pinups – Richard Taylor
  • How These Bastards Operate – Ron Kasman and Gabriel Morrissette
  • On Being Eurasian – Theresa Henry
  • The Weird Canadian Artist – Chester Brown
  • Prescription For Ignorance – Diana Schutz and Monty Sheldon
  • A Public Disservice Message – Roberta Gregory
  • Random Pornography – Darren Raye and Sean Scoffield
  • Saved – Seth
  • The Steel Brood – Kent Burles
  • Surgie Center Tales of the Existentialist Private Eye – Ty Templeton
  • Big Boss Barney – Sylvie Rancourt and Jacques Boivin
  • Reflections – Denis Beauvais
  • Little Zemo in Censorland – Richard Pace
  • Statue of Liberty – Jeffrey Morgan
  • The Censors – Stephen Bissette
  • Revenue Canada – Leonard S. Wong
  • Jungle Rescue – Ronn Sutton
  • The Eye of the Beholder – Deni Loubert
  • Tierra de Pajaro – Gilbert Hernandez
  • May 29th 1988 – Joe Matt and Bernie Mireault
  • Reid Fleming – David Boswell
  • Tales of the Censor – Janet Hetherington
  • Words and Thoughts – Toren Smith and Tomoko Saito
  • Potato Man – Todd McFarlane
  • The Raven – Patrick McEown
  • Three Card Monty – Derek McCulloch and Simon Tristam
  • Benefit – Rick Trembles and Bernie Mireault
  • Stupid Fucken Dumbass Censorship – Rick Trembles
  • Those People! – Reed Waller and Kate Worely
  • Blank – Tom Grummett and Roger Williamson
  • Captain Censored Vs. Dr. Goingtoofar – Al Roy and Max Douglas
  • Corpus Delicti – Jerry Prosser and Matt Wagner
  • Other artists – Dave Sim, Gerhard, Kelley Jones, Moebus

More recently, an American man was charged with possessing child porn when Canada customs agents discovered manga scans on his laptop. Both The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and CLLDF have both decided to support the case. If you want to donate, you can go to their site. Here is a great new and informative promotional flyer as well. Here and here are further resources.