Popdose at Kirkus Reviews: “Captain Canuck: The Complete Edition”

Written by Books, Kirkus Reviews

For more than 75 years, Kirkus Reviews has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose has joined the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network, taking to the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online to dish on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books.

This week, a forgotten neighbor from the North is back. Will he find a warm welcome for his return?

Time was, I had to actually go to Canada to experience the adventures of Captain Canuck. The one and only issue that I’d ever seen of the original run — issue #3, I think — was picked up in a visitor’s centre gift shop during a family trip to Niagara Falls. I was ten or eleven years old, and I had never seen anything like it; it was my first indie comic, my first non-U.S. Comic, and I had no context for it.

Wherever creators Richard Comely and George Freeman were taking their cues, it wasn’t from the Marvel books that I was devouring like potato chips. They were speaking the familiar language of comics, but (as is often the case with Canadian artists crossing to a Stateside audience) with an accent that I couldn’t quite place. It was unfamiliar, but endlessly intriguing; I read the comic to tatters.

Captain Canuck’s self-titled book, put out under the Comely Comix imprint, lasted until 1980, when the venture at last proved financially unsustainable. Since then the Captain’s adventures have been fondly-remembered but little-seen, despite periodic attempts to revive the character. Now, thirty-some years after the original run, IDW has collected stories from those original 15 issues into a slick new trade paperback; and, at this remove, it’s easier to see what Comely and Freeman were trying to do, and to assess how well they were doing it.

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