| Maclean’s Magazine, September 19, 1964 article.|
❦ MAJOR PUBLISHERS (1941-46)
A circular blurb blurted:
“If you were young twenty years ago, you got your war news between covers like this one. Turn the page for an action-packed, Axis-smashing adventure starring Cy Bell, the man who turned out a billion Canadian comic books.”
| Wow Comics, No. 3, by E.T. Legault.|
| Three Aces, No. 58|
| Better Comics, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1941, by Vernon Miller.|
❦ MAPLE LEAF PUBLISHING
Vernon Hope Miller was probably, born in Vancouver, B.C., on February 28, 1912, and spent part of his childhood living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His parents resided on Maple Avenue in Vancouver and the memory may have inspired Maple Leaf Publishing. He died August 6, 1974. An interview with Miller’s grandson can be found HERE.
Maple Leaf employed him as an artist (and later editor) on Maple Leaf Publishing’s line of titles in 1944. Stables series ‘Brok Windsor,’ a Burroughs-like fantasy set in the Great White North, made a first appearance in the April-May 1944 issue of Better Comics. Stables also prepared a coloring book — The Animals’ Picnic Coloring Book — for Paint Books Limited in Vancouver in October 1944. Denis Gifford described Stables style in The International Book of Comics as:
St. Ables rejected the usual poster effects of red, yellow and blue for unusual oranges and greens, laid with a variety of tints. His interior pages also used variegated dot tints for added effects, making a virtue of their economic monotone.
| Better Comics, Vol. 1, No. 6, 1941.|
Bert Bushell worked for Maple Leaf Publishing during the war years on ‘Callahan the Detective’, ‘Adam & Eve’, ‘Dr. Evil’ and ‘The Black Wing’. Bushell illustrated Robert E. Swanson’s 1943 book Rhymes of a Lumberjack; a second book of verse concerning the trials and tribulations, lives and ways of the loggers living and working in the Great Northwest of America, Toronto, T. Allen, 1943.
It’s difficult to judge the over-all quality and continuity of Maple Leaf comics since there’s no complete collection that can be accessed. A couple of hundred Bell Features comics, along with original art, printer’s negatives and plates were saved by Bell’s financial backer, Toronto businessman John Ezrin, and sold along with publishing rights to Hirsch and Loubert in the early 70s. Library and Archives Canada holds a mere 380 copies of published comic books and 2,298 pieces of original artwork.
❦ Further Reading. Michael Hirsh & Patrick Loubert, 1971, The Great Canadian Comic Books. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates • John Bell, 1986, Canuck Comics. Montreal: Matrix Books • John Bell, 2006, Invaders from the North. Toronto: Dundurn Press • Alter Ego, No. 71, August 2007, reprint of The Great Canadian Comic Books, Introduction by Alan Walker
❦ Canadian Notes.
Hope Nicholson (Associate Researcher on the Lost Heroes Documentary on Canadian War-time Comics coming out next year) and Rachel Richey announced at Fan Expo that they have obtained the rights to reprint all 31 Nelvana stories that appeared in Triumph comics in the forties and are working on ways to fund this. You can keep up on their progress on the Nelvana Facebook page HERE.
❦ Thanks. To Ivan Kocmarek and Walter Durajlija, for their help on this post.
| Lucky Comics, 1944, by Jon St. Ables.|
| Nelvana of the Northern Lights — News of vital importance…|
| ‘Help keep the Bomb-Bays full!’|