|Here Mark Innes talks about Canadian Fandom, which sadly has been overlooked. Mark will be updating here alot with stories and memories! |
As you know Doc, I noticed not a single mention of the 60s and 70s zines and creators that came out of Canada! Not a one, yet I could name dozens that were there at the time and just as good as the bet of any in fandom.
Ron Sutton, Ken Steacy, Gene, Day, Vince Marchesano, Jim Waley, Dave Sim, and so many more in zines like Comic and Crypt, Canart, Spectrum, Orb, Out Of The Depths and what about the Canadian underground and ground level creators like George Metzger and Rand Holmes???
Rand Holmes died a couple of years back and no one noticed or cared.Rand did some incredible work for Dope Comics, Snarf, Death Rattle and so much more.
Yep Rand was a great guy, Canadian comix artist George Metzger did stuff for Moondog, Goshwow, Graphic Story Magazine, and does anybody remember the great Canadian 70s anthology Fog City Comics with work by both Metzger, Holmes, Brent Boates, and several other top talents.
I still bump into Ronn Sutton about once a year in Toronto , he lives in Ottawa, and does lots of work for the Elvira Comics from Claypool.
Ya know some other interesting trivia is back in the 70s, a guy in London Ontario used to host these comic conventions in his own home, Bill Paul used to live in a mansion in London Ontario, and invited comic fans from Detroit, up to Toronto to come for the weekend and hang out and talk comics stuff, usually about a 100 folks would show up every year and have a good time hanging around just having a good time, that would be my idea of a good time!
In the late 80s my friend Ron Kasman took over and held about 6 or 8 one day get togethers at his home on the lakeshore in east Toronto, again over 100 people would show up and cram into his house. One day in 1991, Dave Sim showed up, he had a Chauffer drive him in a Limo over 90 miles from Kitchener to Ron's party, when I chatted with him, it was obvious that Dave Sim is very passionate and dedicated to comics as an artform.
How do I learn this trivia, you ask???
In 1995, 2004 and 2005 and again this year, Ron Kasman drives us to Chicago and he and the other car poolers, tell their stories of comics past for 12 hours in each direction!
Too bad I didnt record some of those talks. I've already starting planning my 2006 Chicago trip with Ron Kasman, so we should dig up some more bits of fandom history.
Here is some more info Mark posted recently!
Doc, this might be of historical interest, Philip Clark asked how I knew Bernie Mireault in SP Palaver here's an edited version for the record.
Back In 1983 Bernie Mireault moved to Hamilton and lived here for 2 years.
He showed me the art for a comic he was working on which would be the first issue of Mackenzie Queen, which was a play on our former prime Minister Mackenzie King.
Anyway he finished that issue and started to work on the second but had no publisher or even expected anyone to publish it, it was just an attempt to draw a comic, after he finished the second issue in 1984 he made a deal with Mark Shainblum who was publissher of the up and coming Matrix Graphics, and they just started putting out a comic called New Triumph starring Northguard.
New Triumph was a reference to the short lived Canadian golden age comic called Triumph Comics published during World War 2 during the Cnadian embargo on all USA and any other foriegn made publications.
Bernie also started doing his The Jam hero strip in the Back of Northgurad, and it was the first of about 15 Jam books and strips. He also drew a story for a Batman Annual around 1990, and some strips in Taboo, Drawn and Quarterly and Snarf.
He also co drew John Miglore's first Grad Comic strip back in 1984 as well.
We hung around quite a bit in 1983-85 and kept in touch evr since, he drew comics in many of my publications since the late 80s and covers to my last comic Glass Eye, and this new one now.
For a couple of years in the mid 90s he worked at Digital Chameleon as a colorist, now hes working on a giant 180 page Jam graphic Novel.
He was the first friend I knew who made comics totally in his own way without worrying about conforming to any standard, he just does what he likes.
More updates from Mark!
The book by John Bell called Canuck Comics published in 1987 by Matrix Books lists all kinds of Canadian Comics , undergrounds, and fanzines published between 1940 and 1987, you may still be able to buy it from the publisher Mark Shainblum, he has a website that can be googled up. Besides my zines, there was Potboiler, Spectrum, Orb, New Reality, Casual Casual, Miscelanious Stuff, Saskatoon Jam, Fog City Comics, Lethargic Comics, Orion, Dishman etc.
And there was a cool little publisher just 6 blocks from where I type this message, called Potlatch Publications, Potlatch published dozens of Canadian books from 1970 to 1990. Most memorable was there Canadian Children's Annual, a thick trade paperback of stories, poems, puzzles and comics strips. Some of those comics were By John"Dishman" Macleod, Paul McCusker who just made a mini comic called Spudniks through Comixpress, a terrific book , and Ian Carr who lived here and and did lots of strips fro these books. In 1980 Ian Carr put together what was to be the first of many giant trades of Canadian comics, titled The 1980 Comics Annual, with about 40 strips by all the top talents mostly from Ontario. But only that one book came out.
More trivia, the first truly underground Canadian comic was published by Dave Geary in Saskatoon, called Beer Comix, Dave also published Fleshapoids from Earth in 1974, and around that time James Waley was publishing Orb which ran 6 issues over two years.
The most northerly published comic that I know of was Artic Comics published by the talented Nick Burns, located somewhere cold Im sure, I have to look up the town Nick lives in. And lets not forget the Vancouver and Montreal scenes where tons of material Im not familier with was published. The Georgia Strait wa a paper with underground Comics in it during the 60s and 70s, and the whole West Coast BC crowd, including BRent Boates, Rand Holmes, George Metzger, etc
And there was cool comic from wetern Canada called Dan Pqanic which was in full color, and really cool work, but only one issue came out.
The 1980s brought the end of Captain Canuck but lots of indy comics started up here, with Cerebus -AV line, Strawberry Jam, Aircell, Matrix, Black Eye, Drawn and Quarterly, Vortex, Mad Monkey etc. but only Drawn and Quarterly made the jump to the big time.
Whats funny is how small the Canadian Comics community is despite the 3,000 mile width by 2,000 depth, yet we tend to hear of each other. An example of this is David Collier who had a Fantagrapics comic in the 90s then now with DRawn and Quarterly, lives just down the street. he invited me over for supper and showed me his prised collection of letter from Robert Crumb,. He said he was freinds with Dave Geary and asked if I knew him. I had not, but was amused by how small the community is. Then of course there was Dave Sim who proved he wasnt kidding when he said he was going to publish 300 issues of Cerebus.
More Canadian Fandom History and Gene Day, stemmimg from how I am bidding on his books on eBay!
By the way I see you bid on Orion 1, that zine lasted just 2 issues but was on it's way to becoming a very good newszine for comics , Canada or otherwise.
The first issues featured Comely and Captain Canuck, the next issue of Orion number 2 will be up in a couple of days and has the last interview with Gene day, an Ontario artist who drew Marvel's master of Kung Fu for many isues, as well as Star Wars, lots of other comics.
Gene Day first published his own fanzine around 1972, called Out Of the Depths, a super nice strip zine and art zine, that lasted about 2 or 3 issues. then he went on to Orb, Star Reach. Dead Spawn, and Skywald and I think Warren then Marvel for a few years. He was going to work on Detective Comics in 1982 or 3 and drew one cover that appeared on Detective 527, the cover appeared just a few months after Gene died of a heart attack at the age of 32 I believe.
quotes about Gene day from memory...
Dave Sim said "Marvel called and Gene answered!", Dave was a little bitter about the way Marvel treated him. I think in Orion 2 it says Gene slept on the couch in Marvel's offices.
Gene was the inspiration for Dave Sim to strive to do his best and try to become a full time cartoonist, after visiting Gene in 1976 or so.
One result of Sim and Gene Day getting together was they together wrote and drew Oktoberfest Comics, a 32 page semi-underground comic in 1976 with a very cute story with aethnic flavor set in Kitchener, where Sim lives. Oktoberfest was published by Harry Kreamer of Now and Then Books in Kitchener. harry was a big supporter of small press in the 70s-90s, he passed away in 2002 also at a young age.
Now and then Books is still one of the longest running comic stores anywhere having opened in 1972 and still in business.
James Waily publisher of Orb, said that Gene Day put 100% effort into any art he did whether it be fan or pro zine or pro comics.
Vince Marchesano who lives in hamilton and who published the Spectrum fanzine in the 70s, worked with gene Day on a Charlton Bullseye story that came out in 1981, called Bludd the Barbarian, written by Jim Waley, look for it in the cheap bins.
Marchesano's Spectrum lasted several issues, the last one was magazine sized and I only have a few of the earlier min-sized ones. He has extras of the old ziones he made but he hasnt dug them out in years.
By the way Gene was a regular guest along with Sim at those early Hamilton comicons.
. There is a ad in that Orion 1 for a Montreal comicon sponsored bya hamilton store called Dreamland, at that con in 1982, my friend John Migliore carried Gene day's portfollio to Day's car for him. It was Gene's last comic con appearance.
Gene was survived by his two brother Dan abd David Day who went on to have respectable careers in comics for many years at DC, Eclipse, First, Epic, Renegade etc etc. They kept the studio Gene started and continued to prodcue similer phot based comics art.
Gene also won an award for a film he created for The Steel Company of Canada. and at least 2 books of his work have been published in his liftime, I dont know since, althopugh Renegade published an anthology of work Gene Day had some hand in each story in this 6 issue run called Murder, which also featured work by his friends and peers.
I would like to take credit as being the last person to publish original work by Gene Day posthumously in 1999, in a comic club fanzine, I had bought a page of original and unpublished Gene Day art and printed it there. for 40 people to see.
And there is one comic in my collection that has Gene day, Dave Sim and Earl Geier strips in one comic book called Faerie Star 1 published around 1977 in the US by some small publisher. This contained Earl Geier's first comic strip published.
How's that for some Canadian comics lore?
Here I recently met Ron Kasman through Mark at the Recent WizardWorld-Chicago 2006! Ron was kind enough toi send the following:
Here it is. You can change it anyway you like for grammar or clarity. If you wish to make a change that ads some fact I may have been unaware of let me know in advance. I hope you like it. Also, you may notice a strange punctuation block in the second paragraph. It is not supposed to be there but I can't seem to get rid of it.
My Three Steps to Becoming a Comics Fan
By Ron Kasman
I was in Grade Five, that's 1963, and home with the measles. My aunt Annie, a widow, who brought up three kids working as a newsdealer, took the time from her busy life to bring me a stack of comics that had been remaindered at her newsstand.
My favourite character at the time was Superman. To maximize my enjoyment I read a Superman title followed by what I considered to be a lesser title, then another Superman, then another secondary title, and so on through the stack.
Marvels were easily identifiable by the symbol in the corner of the cover. The ones I had read were strictly second rate. I assumed "The Avengers" to be no different. The cover was strange-- white background, goofy title lettering and Captain America's poorly drawn face .
Inside, Stan's hype was the first thing that hit me, about how we'd remember the story for years to come and how he wrote it and Jack drew it just like in the golden age. I had certainly never heard of the "golden age" but it sounded important.
And, the story was way beyond the Superman formulae. It involved many exciting plot elements: an alien with a rocket ship and a ray gun, a man who had come back to life from suspended animation, gangsters, teenagers on bicycles with cameras helping to solve the crime, and a wicked sea dweller. The dialogue was snappy and the characters were more grounded in reality than the stories at DC. If my memory serves me well, it was a 24-page story. The Superman comics had three eight-pages at the time. The Avengers story was not just longer; it was deeper and broader too.
Jack Kirby had yet to introduce the wild machinery, starscapes, and deep perspective that became the hallmarks of his style three years later. What he had was intense movement and characters drawn in the peak of emotion. Jack Kirby remains my favourite artist today, not just in comics but also through all history.
This comic changed me from a kid with a cursory interest in comics, just like every other kid back in 1963 when it was a mass media, to a Marvel Madman, a Quite 'Nuff Sayer and a Front Facer, buying three Marvel titles a month. I no longer was content to wait for Aunt Annie's irregular shipments.
I began collecting the Avengers with issue #8, the Kang the Conqueror issue and managed to pick up almost all the earlier ones by purchasing them for pennies from neighbourhood kids. Issue #3 was the only one I didn't get for under cover price. I purchased it for $1.75, which seemed like highway robbery, from a kid outside of Captain George's Memory Lane comic shop. He walked in carrying a gym bag filled with comics and left the store with a dozen other kids following him to a nearby street corner where he negotiated business. This was when I was in Grade Ten, some five years after reading Avengers #4.
I became an Avengers expert. I had opinions on the quality of single issues. I knew which characters were well developed and which were poorly developed. I understood how the line-up changes affected the kind of stories that were being told.
I had never seen my name in print. I wondered what type of people wrote into the comic book letters page. So, I composed a letter, which I was sure would get the attention of the people at Marvel, commenting on the variety of characters in the Avengers title. Though I was discouraged not seeing my letter in print over the next few issues, eventually I had a postcard sent to me signed "Stan" telling me that it would soon be published. It came out in Avengers #72. Keith Pollard, future Fantastic Four artist had a letter published in that issue as well.
Well here is what came of it. First, I got junk mail from various people selling fanzines and back issues. Second, I got a phone call one day from a local fan that was calling everybody in Toronto that had had a letter published at about that time. We would meet in his parent's home on a Sunday afternoon.
I bussed to his home carrying a gym bag full of comics that I no longer wanted. I thought that the only thing people could do at such a meeting was exchange comics. I would become a latter day version of the kid at Captain George's comic shop. I remember going to the back door, being greeted and going down the stairs to the basement.
His room was a monument to the industry. He owned a Flash story by Carmine Infantino. The original art was up on his wall. His own amateur renderings, which were excellent for a teenager, were on the wall too. He had a drawing board. He published fanzines and corresponded with other people who published fanzines. Twenty young men and one young woman (who never returned nor did her boyfriend) assembled in that basement. Not one of them wanted to purchase my comics. They weren't collectors but considered themselves to be artists and writers. They wanted to produce comics and fanzines. Some of them already had.
The kid who organized the club called for quarterly meetings. I continued to attend. We became friends.
I was in Grade 12. It was 1970. I had gotten a job as a locker room attendant at a swimming pool only a short walk from the home of my comic fan friend. He would often come by around lunchtime to talk or show me the latest fanzine he had gotten in the mail. One of the fanzines advertised "The Detroit Triple Fan Fare". I am not sure what the Triple stood for but 1/3 of it was comics. Let's assume the other 2/3 were movies and science-fiction novels.
I suggested that we attend. It seemed like a crazy idea coming from a kid like me who had never been more than 20 miles from his home, but all the parts were there. My brother had a car that he would let me borrow. I had a bit of money from the summer job. We had other friends who would fill the car. Why not?
As an adult, going from Toronto to Detroit is nothing—a four-hour drive. Many times I have gone there and back in a day. Back then it was an adventure that included road maps, instructions from family on safety when travelling and phone calls back to Toronto to confirm our safe arrival. The border guard warned us because of our age and obvious naivety that Detroit was not what we were used to and that we should be careful.
Detroit was different. The streets downtown were void of pedestrians, which was the way large American cities were going back then. The convention, though, was jumping with adolescent males who would later become part and parcel of the industry. Terry Austin, Rich Buckler, Al Milgrom, Tony Isabella, Jim Starlin, Greg Theakston, Tom Orzekowski, Arvell Jones, Desmond Jones and Keith Pollard were some of the fans in attendance that would soon work in comics. Joe Wesson and Mike Kurcharski were talented and interesting young men I met, who were also deeply involved in fandom. Dan Adkins, Jim Steranko and Berni Wrightson were attending professionals. I watched them draw and had no idea that a professional could draw so quickly and fluidly. Steranko auctioned off an hour of his time for a charitable organization. I think the hour went for $110. We bid on an hour of Wrightson's time, which was foolish on our part. When there was no money left in the money pool, the kid behind us offered $10, wanting a sketch from Wrightson if we won. Others threw in too. Eventually Wrightson's hour was cut into more pieces than a wedding cake. Thank goodness we lost.
You could get any comic in Detroit that had been published by Marvel or DC in the previous ten years. There were no "dealers" then, only people selling out their collections. The big bargains were on Sunday afternoon. I remember the price of one comic I didn't buy but should of; Journey into Mystery #83 featuring the first appearance of Thor was on sale for $3.50. Who would pay that much for a comic, I thought.
I went home to Toronto changed forever.