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The return of Captain Canuck!

No, not Michael Ignatieff. We’re talking about the Captain Canuck, the Canadian superhero first dreamed up in 1971 by artists Ron Leishman and Richard Comely. (Their original name for the character “ Captain Canada “ had already been taken by the Hudson’s Bay Company.) The first issue of the Captain Canuck comic appeared in 1975, and now, 34 years later, San Diego-based IDW Publishing is releasing a hardcover omnibus containing issues #4-10 (it’s unclear what happened to issues #1-3). Captain Canuck Vol. 1, written by Comely and with art by George Freeman and Claude St. Aubin, also contains previously unpublished sketches by Freeman. IDW plans to release the second volume, containing issues #11-14, later this year.

According to the IDW press release, Comely doesn’t see any contradiction in publishing the Captain Canuck omnibus with an American publisher: Captain Canuck has a large fan base in the U.S. as well as Canada. It’s been a joy to work with a company and an editor who enjoy the work and the characters we created. Fans will be delighted to see the art so well presented.

The art was always paramount for Comely and his collaborators, according to the official Captain Canuck web site:

A new colouring method was devised by Comely with the help of Dick Thomas who at the time worked for a colour separation/film house in Winnipeg. Dick Thomas became co- owner, along with Lovern Kindzerski of Digital Chameleon, one of comicdom’s foremost computer colouring and colour separation companies. George Freeman who became the primary artist for Captain Canuck would become one of Digital Chameleon’s principal colourists. In 1975 computer based colouring was still years away.

With the “Comely” method, derived by Comely with Thomas’s help, animators’ colours are painted on to an acetate overlay placed over the finished line art. The colour overlay is separated into yellow, cyan, magenta and a line shot negative is made from the black line art. This method was later used by a few other publishers “ particularly Capital when they published Nexus and Badger.

The omnibus is only the latest testament to Captain Canuck’s enduring popularity: in 1995, to celebrate the comic’s 20th anniversary, Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp.