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Edited by John Bell.

Montreal, Matrix Books. 1986. 154pp, paper, $12-95 Cdn., $9.95 US. ISBN 0-921101-00-7. Distributed by Eden Press. CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Jo Anna Burns Patton

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

Canuck Comics is billed as a guide to comic books published in Canada. It begins with a preface by the publisher Mark Shainblum, Montreal comic book writer and publisher, who emphasizes that Canadian comic books have long been unappreciated as a literary form and that in order for its time to come, comic book creators, publishers, and readers must accept that they have “nothing left to prove.” A foreword, in the form of a brief "Essay of Introduction" is then presented by Harlan Ellison.

This is followed by an in-depth history of the comic book in English Canada. Written by John Bell, the reader is introduced to comic book history in six stages. During the years of the precursors. 1849-1940, appeared the works of Edward Jump. John Wilson Bengough, Henri Julien, Arthur G. Racey, J.B. Fitzmaurice and Hal Foster (the only name I knew). The Golden Age (1941-1946) followed, with the first Canadian comic book being published by Maple Leaf publishing in Vancouver. From 1947 to the present day the comic book industry, according to Bell, buffered its ups and downs, with 1985 considered part of the silver age of comics in Canada. (A separate review of the war years is presented by Robert MacMillan.)

This detailed history of English comics in Canada is followed by an alphabetical list of Canadian contributors to U.S. comics and a bibliography. Then comes the meat of this book, the "Guide", an alphabetical listing of English Canadian comics published from 1941-1985, providing title, publisher, dates, anomalies/ reprints' significance, and price.

To ensure recognition of French Canada's contribution to the Canadian comic book history, a short review of Quebec comics is provided, in both French and English, by Luc Pomerleau, followed by a bibliography and a guide to French Canadian comics.

This is indeed a detailed and absorbing look at comic books in Canadian history and would be useful for any collector.

The book provides not only a historic look at comic books as a literary form, but can be quite handy for those who want to know just what that old copy of Cerebus the Aardvark, No. 1, Dec. 1977 is worth. (According to the guide, about $300).

Jo Anna Burns Patton, E.C.S. School, Montreal, Que.
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