In spite of U.S.
dominance of comic book
sales in Canada
and the overwhelming number of U.S. comic strips
printed in Canadian newspapers
there is such a thing as Canadian Comics
. The only area where there is no American dominance is editorial cartoons. This is because of the belief of Canadian newspaper publishers' that the cartoonists who know something about Canadian politics are best to comment on Canadian politics.
Canada is a country with both French and English as national languages, so Quebec is noted as an important foyer of French-language comics. For more information see Quebec comic strips
Canadian comic strip
Even though a majority of comic strips printed in Canadian newspapers are created in the States, there are some homemade Canadian comic strips: Backbench
and For Better or For Worse
, to name two. From time to time a Canadian daily would print an American strip commenting on "out sourcing" of U.S. jobs. This is ironic because over 90% of strips printed in Canadian dailies are American.
Canadian World War II
black and white comic books, known as "Canadian Whites" to collectors, came about due to a ban on the distribution of U.S. comics in Canada during the war: "The first Canadian national superheroes
, Johnny Canuck
, and Canada Jack
– emerged during the Second World War, when a foreign-exchange crisis led to a ban being placed on the importation of U.S. comics, including popular titles such as Superman
(co-created by Canadian born artist Joe Shuster
) and Batman
. In part an outgrowth of a national political-cartooning tradition, the early Canadian comic book superheroes threw themselves into the battle against the Axis Powers, both abroad and on the home front. This period, which witnessed an explosion of English-Canadian comic book publishing (although some of these comics were published in Quebec), is now described by some commentators like John Bell as the Canadian Golden Age of Comics. In Quebec, no similar French-language heroes appeared in the comic book field, which was dominated, instead, by religious comics.
With the end of most original Canadian comic book publishing in 1947, Canada's superheroes disappeared, and the country entered a phase of foreign comic book domination that continues to the present day. In English Canada, children grew up with a mélange of U.S. comics. In French Canada, the era was dominated by religious comics like Hérauts and by European comic art and Quebecois translations of American comics. In the early seventies, however, new alternative and underground comics (or comix) publishers emerged in Canada.
One measure of the U.S. domination of the comics medium during the fifties and sixties is that when several Canadian superheroes comic book characters were published during the 1969-1974 period, the first characters were buffoons. It was as if Canadian comics artists and writers recognized the absence of Canadian heroes, but could not quite – after a twenty-year diet of foreign comics – bring themselves to take such figures seriously, recognising the inherent contradictions and limitations of the genre. Nevertheless, following a spate of outrageous parodies and other intriguing satirical national superheroes, it was evident that there were creators who were bent on depicting national-superhero figures in a more serious fashion. Contributing to this resurgence of interest were the publication of Patrick Loubert and Michael Hirsh's The Great Canadian Comic Books , a book-length study of the Bell Features comics, and the touring of a related exhibition mounted by the National Gallery, "Comic Art Traditions in Canada, 1941-45," which together served to introduce English-Canadian comics creators and fans to their lost heritage. A similar process was also underway in Quebec with the publication in 1973 of the first historical survey of Quebec comics in a special issue of the literary journal La Barre du Jour." - taken from the aforementioned Canadian Comics website, as an excellent summary of the history of the Canadian superhero comic.
Canadian editorial cartoon
The one area that Canadians dominate in Canadian comics published in this country is in the field of editorial or political cartoons. During the nineteenth century, political cartoonists developed symbols, like John Bull (the United Kingdom), Brother Jonathan or Uncle Sam (the United States), and Miss Canada, to personify various nations.With the coming of editorial cartoonists like Duncan Macpherson
in the late 1950s Canadian political cartoons had matured. Len Norris
followed. Up to the 1950s most mainstream newspaper editorial cartoons were bland. Now every Canadian city has at least one very popular and cleaver commentor of the news with a daily drawing.
Canada was also represented by another popular cartoon symbol: Johnny or Jack Canuck. Initially Johnny resembled an earlier national symbol – the habitant figure utilized to personify French Canada. Later, as Canada expanded westward, he became more Western in his appearance, sporting knee-high leather boots and a stetson.
Canadian editorial cartoonists
Canadian Gag cartoon (spot cartoons)
The Canadian gag cartoon market was at one time a viable income source for graphic artists. With the elimination of Canadian humour magazines and fewer and fewer magazines using cartoons to fill space between articles and ads there are very few outlets in this day and age for the once ubiquitous gag cartoons. Luckily some trade publications —for example medical magazines— still print Canadian gag cartoons.
The Joe Shuster Awards
were created in 2005 by the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association
with the intention of honouring Canada's writers, artists, cartoonists, publishers and retailers. The annual awards are named in honour of Canadian-born co-creator of Superman
, Joe Shuster
The National Newspaper Awards of Canada include a category for Editorial cartoons.
The Bédélys Prize have been awarded to French language comics at the Promo 9e Art Foundation since 2000.
The Doug Wright Awards were also inaugurated at the Toronto Comics Art Festival in 2005, with the intention of honouring excellence in alternative or artistic comics and graphic novels.
The Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame also awarded its first certificates in 2005 at the same event.
Some notable Canadian comic creators include: