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.

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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.