Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Captain Canuck -- I can remember finding my first issue of Canadian superhero series Captain Canuck (probably #9) on the stands of a 7/11 in St. Augustine, Florida at the time of its original publication (1978 or '79). It looked like the superhero comics I was used to, but it wasn't published by DC, Marvel or Charlton, the three publishers I was used to buying superhero comics from at that time.
The art, by George Freeman (colours by Claude St. Aubin), was gorgeous and dynamic, if not quite as polished as what I expected from artists like John Byrne, George Perez or Gil Kane. But what it lacked in polish it made up for in enthusiasm.
IDW has published a hardcover collection of issues #4-10 (the first half of the Freeman era, basically -- earlier issues were drawn by creator Richard Comely, who also does some art in this collection, but not much), and it is spectacular. In the introduction, Comely says that he was able to scan the original art for the re-release, and I can believe it -- only the covers look like they were shot from the actual comics and not the art itself. The reproduction throughout is extraordinary, given the age of the material, and the paper stock and presentation are ideal for this sort of project.
The stories are about as I remember them -- energetic, Canada-centric (that's a good thing, mind you) and with very engaging and promising art by Freeman and vivid, way-ahead-of-their-time colouring by St. Aubin (Comely talks a little about the colour process in his introduction).
I was lucky enough to score a copy for less than ten bucks on eBay, but even at full, $24.95 cover price, this book is a no-brainer for anyone interested at all in the history of superhero comics and especially the momentous, oddball era in which Captain Canuck was originally released, the same era in which Elfquest, Cerebus and The First Kingdom were also blazing their own trails. I'm thrilled to have these stories in my possession again, and I'm salivating over how good this Freeman/St. Aubin art looks. Congratulations, and thanks, to IDW and the creators for bringing this material back to light, and I look very much forward to the next volume.
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