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Go to the "Beyond the Funnies" website


With the end of most original Canadian comics publishing in 1947, Canada's superheroes disappeared, and the country entered a phase of foreign domination that lasted until the early seventies. In English Canada, kids 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, and some creators began to dream of a second generation of national superheroes. The search for Captain Canada or a similar superhero had begun.


The first serious national superhero of the seventies was the Northern Light, who made his debut in the second issue of the alternative comic Orb. Originally the creation of the writer T. Casey Brennan and the artist John Allison, the character was later revamped by Orb publisher James Waley and the artist James Craig.

Following the demise of Orb in 1976, Craig and Waley's first and only Northern Light adventure was concluded in a U.S. title, Power Comics. In the story, the Northern Light, operating as an agent for the security agency Alert, must confront the alien invaders who have both given him his super-powers and killed his family.

Comic art is a form of graphic narrative that combines art and text. Some creators both write and draw their strips. In other cases, writers and artists work together on the production of comics. This page of script from the Northern Light's Power Comics adventure reveals the role of the writer in the process.

In addition to writing the text for the story, indicating page and panel breaks, the writer provides other information that will help the artist portray the events described in the script. Comics writers will also often supply rough sketches to assist the artist.

These two pages (as well as the preceding page of script and the layout rough) all come from Craig and Waley's final published Northern Light comic book story. In this sequence, the powerful Canadian superhero destroys Conquermind, the alien leader responsible for all the tragedy that has befallen the Northern Light's family.

The Northern Light disappeared from comic books following his 1977 appearance in Power Comics. Since that time, there have been a few unsuccessful attempts to resurrect the character, including plans in 1980 for him to star in his own title from a new imprint, Thunder Comics.


As early as 1971, a Winnipeg artist named Ron Leishman had begun to think about his own national superhero – Captain Canada. Eventually, Leishman and another artist, Richard Comely, began to work on the concept together, renaming the character Captain Canuck.

In 1974 Leishman was obliged to leave Winnipeg, so that Comely was left on his own to develop the Captain Canuck character further. In July 1975, after many difficulties, his own Comely Comix imprint issued Captain Canuck (No. 1), the first full-colour, Canadian national-superhero comic to appear since 1947.

Canuck, whose adventures were set in the future – the 1990s! – when Canada has become a superpower, was an agent for the Canadian International Security Organization (CISO). Among the CISO agents who worked with him was Kébec, the first of several French-Canadian associate heroes (or sidekicks) who have appeared in English-Canadian comics.

Unlike his wartime predecessors (who operated during the era of the Red Ensign), Canuck wrapped himself in the nation's flag. His comic book showed promise, but folded in 1976, only to be resurrected three years later. By that time, Richard Comely had assembled the team that would take the character to new heights.

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