Stanley Berneche, John Byrne, Pierre Fournier and Edwin R. “Ted” McCall have been annoucned as the 2008 inductees into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame.
Canada’s first national award recognizing outstanding achievements by Canadian creators in the creation and publication of comic books and graphic novels returns in 2008 for it’s fourth year: the JOE SHUSTER CANADIAN COMIC BOOK CREATOR AWARDS, named after pioneering Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster who, along with writer Jerry Siegel, created the iconic super-powered hero, Superman.
In 2008 four more creators will be inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame – they will be honoured at the JSA ceremony on Saturday, June 14th in Toronto, Canada at the Lillian Smith Library Auditorium (239 College St., E. of Spadina Ave., Toronto). The ceremony will be co-hosted by our returning master-of- ceremonies dynamic duo, Rick Green (the Frantics; the Red Green Show & History Bites) and Rob Salem (Toronto Star & Drive-In TV) and, as always, it will be an evening to remember.
The Joe Shuster Award presentations will kick off in the evening at 8PM and will be preceded by a day long Sequential Art Symposium which, along with the awards, are free to the public. The Symposium will run from 10AM to 5PM and include participants such as Darwyn Cooke, Tom Grummett, and author John Bell (Invaders from the North). The Symposium will be accompanied by an exhibit of artwork by Canadian comic book artists to salute the historic 70th anniversary of the publication of Joe Shuster’s renowned co-creation, Superman, in June 1938’s Action Comics # 1. The exhibit, entitled Visions of an Icon, will include original images of the Man of Steel by Canadian artists, including Darwyn Cooke, Dave Sim, Todd McFarlane and a vast array of additional creators.
2008 Hall of Fame Inductees:
STANLEY BERNECHE (1947-)
Stanley Berneche was born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1947. Following his studies at Mount Allison University, Berneche became the leading artist associated with the counterculture humour magazine Fuddle Duddle, which was published in Ottawa by Jeffrey R. Darcey (JRD Publishing) from 1971 to 1972. Berneche’s main collaborator at the magazine was the writer Peter Evans, a friend from Berneche’s university days. Their satirical character Captain Canada, the first national superhero to appear following the Canadian Golden Age of Comics, made his debut in Fuddle Duddle #3. The second Captain Canada adventure appeared in issue #4 (a third and final adventure remains unpublished). At the same time that he was contributing outrageous comics to Fuddle Duddle, Berneche was also drawing the strip True Tales of the RCMP for the Canadian Boy Scout magazine Trailblazers. Following the demise of Fuddle Duddle, he continued to pursue his career as a graphic artist and illustrator. He is currently working on a variety of multimedia, web-related products and services, including website design, the design of next-generation, public-access, graphical user-interfaces, and the development of web-delivered, limited-series illustrations. He also claims to be “shooting billiards to a level never seen before.” One of the most talented Canadian comics artists of the 1970s, Berneche made the following statement regarding his current activities — “I am still the guy who comes up with the ideas… for marketing all sorts of companies on any and all media available. I am still the guy who makes observations on life through illustrations and photo manips available on my multiple social web accounts… for anyone to enjoy or comment on” and as to his future plans — “Who really ever knows? Maybe another Jeff Darcy is out there waiting to do something new”.
JOHN BYRNE (1950-)
John Byrne is a British-born, Canadian raised and educated, naturalized American author and artist of comic books. Byrne was born not far from the town of West Bromwich, in England but immigrated with his family to Canada in 1958. His first exposure to the American superheroes that would dominate his professional life was at the age of six when he first watched The Adventures of Superman on the BBC. He attended the Alberta College of Art in Calgary for a few years, where he produced some of his earliest work when he created the superhero Gay Guy for the college newspaper. At college he produced his first full-length comic story, The Death’s Head Knight, as a promotional portfolio of his comic book art. That book was seen by a fellow Canadian comics fan, John Mansfield, who put Byrne in contact with both the then burgeoning fanzine community and eventually, through an introduction to Roy Thomas, Marvel Comics.
Through Mansfield’s connections he made his first professional sale in 1971 to The Monster Times. Byrne left the college in 1973 without graduating and broke into comics illustrating a two-page story by writer Al Hewetson for Skywald Publications’ black-and-white horror magazine Nightmare #20. Byrne has worked continuously in comics since 1975, following this sale to Skywald in the late summer of 1974. Beginning humbly enough, with the likes of Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch and Doomsday+1 Byrne split his time, while still living in Canada, between working for a local advertising agency and illustrating these books for Charlton Comics. Next came Iron Fist and The Champions for Marvel where he eventually graduated to Marvel’s number one cult book, The X-Men (not yet Uncanny) in 1977, and later making his move to the states, to Chicago, when he got married in 1980.
It was his work on X-Men which truly ignited John’s star, and from there he moved to Captain America, The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Alpha Flight (a team of Canadian super-heroes) and a five year run on Marvel’s flagship title, Fantastic Four. Seeking new heights to conquer, in 1986 John accepted the daunting assignment of revamping the oldest and most famous of all superheroes, Superman. The relaunch was a commercial hit and that version of Superman is so strongly identified with the artist that it is sometimes called “John Byrne’s Superman”. Beginning with the hugely successful Man of Steel miniseries, John brought Superman back into the attention of the fans, and that success continues today. In 1990, John decided to venture into the unpredictable waters of creator owned works, launching John Byrne’s Next Men in 1991. Following that success he brought out Danger Unlimited, followed by Babe in 1995. Since then, he has written and drawn such titles as Wonder Woman, X-Men: The Hidden Years, Lab Rats, Doom Patrol, and Blood of the Demon.
In addition to his comic book work, Byrne has published three novels: Fearbook, Whipping Boy and Wonder Woman: Gods and Goddesses. He also has short stories in the Hotter Blood and Shock Rock anthologies. Fearbook was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writers of America as “Best First Novel”.
His post-2000 works have often gone off the beaten tracks of the DC and Marvel universes and filled in characters and events in time periods mostly skipped by other comics (Marvel: The Lost Generation) or alternate timelines (DC’s Superman & Batman: Generations) which featured characters who actually age during the course of the series unlike the usual tradition of most ongoing comics. His 2000s work has been mainly for DC Comics: JLA (the “Tenth Circle” story arc), Doom Patrol, Blood of the Demon, and a brief return stint drawing Superman (with writer Gail Simone) in Action Comics. Afterward, Simone and Byrne reteamed to launch The All-New Atom series in 2006, with Byrne penciling the first three issues. In 2007, publisher IDW brought Byrne on board for the final issue of the miniseries Star Trek: Alien Spotlight in 2008, and FX, written by Wayne Osborne, also published this year. In 2008, a five-issue arc on JLA Classified for DC featured Byrne re-teamed with writer Roger Stern, his collaborator during his renowned stint on Captain America.
At the present moment, Byrne’s current workload includes some monthlies, in the form of several back-to-back Star Trek related mini-series for IDW — the first, Star Trek: Assignment Earth, launched in spring 2008.
PIERRE FOURNIER (1949- )
Published in 1973, Pierre Fournier’s satirical superhero comic, Les Aventures du Capitaine Kébec was a keystone of the “Springtime of Comics” movement that saw a new generation of artists creating comics in Québec. Fournier was involved as a writer/artist, editor, art director, publisher and a passionate promoter. In 1974, he organized Québecomics, the first exhibition of its kind, shown in New York, Eastern Canada and Europe. In 1975-76, Fournier produced and hosted a popular television series, Les Amis du Capitaine Kébec, entirely devoted to comics.
Fournier contributed to every issue of the humor magazine Croc (1979-1995) either illustrating his own strips or writing for a who’s who of Québec artists. With his longtime friend and collaborator, artist Réal Godbout, Fournier co-created and co-scripted the now legendary Michel Risque and Red Ketchup strips serialized over a period of fifteen years in Croc and Titanic.
In 1986, Fournier was the founding president of the ACIBD, an association of comic art professionals. In 1991, he was presented with the prestigious Albert Chartier Award for his outstanding contributions to comics.
In the late 80’s, Fournier worked as an inker for Marvel Comics and he was an editor and art director for the English-language Matrix Comics of Montréal. In 1990-91, he contributed to the Québec edition of Mad magazine and edited Anormal, a humor and comics magazine aimed at young teens. In recent years, Pierre Fournier has written extensively for screen and television. He is also an authority on classic horror films and writes the Rondo-nominated blog, Frankensteinia.
The Michel Risque and Red Ketchup series are currently enjoying a critically acclaimed and best-selling revival, all fourteen graphic novels being published by La Pasteque of Montréal. In February 2008, Fournier’s Capitaine Kébec character was chosen as the most iconic image of Québec comics and featured as the cover of Mira Falardeau’s Histoire de la bande dessinée au Québec, a history of Québec comics spanning the mid 1800’s to today.
Edwin R. “Ted” McCALL (1901-1975)
Although he spent most of his life as a journalist and newspaper editor, Edwin Reid (Ted) McCall is best remembered as the co-creator of Canada’s earliest adventure comic strips and of probably Canada’s most successful wartime comic book hero Freelance.
It was through his work as a journalist that he entered the world of the comic strip. Reporting on the exploits of the RCMP, he decided here was material for a strip and so with Harry Hall a newspaper illustrator who later created his own strip “News ‘n Nonsense”, McCall launched “Men of the Mounted” in The Evening Telegram on February 11, 1933. Although the strip was successful and can still be found in a Big Little Book of the same title, McCall could not break out of the small Canadian market into the large American and so he shelved the project February 16, 1935.
He turned to the Robin Hood story and this time with illustrator Charles Snelgrove created the strip “Robin Hood and Company” which first appeared in the Telegram September 23, 1935. This strip broke into the international market and at one point was in 80 newspapers. This time the Second World War intervened. As paper supplies to newspapers dwindled they cut back on unnecessary features like the comics. McCall suspended the strip February 16, 1939.
He then convinced Sinnott News to organize a comic book company Anglo-American through which he republished his “Robin Hood and Company” strips and then proceeded with new stories. He later resurrected the Men of the Mounted concept under several names: “The Red Sentinel” and “Kip Keene of the Mounted”.
But his greatest contribution was the creation of Freelance. For this one he obtained the services of Ed Furness a commercial artist with an interest in cartooning. “Freelance” was the only character in Canadian wartime comics to have his own comic book. The anecdotal evidence suggests that Freelance was the best selling comic of the time. Maurice Horn (The World Encyclopedia of Comics) said that the comic’s success was “… primarily due to McCall’s deft writing, inventive plots and earthy humour.”
With the end of the war the Canadian comic book industry crashed. McCall and Furness attempted to turn Freelance into a comic strip detective but could not interest Fawcett Publications of the U.S. to distribute it and so the project was dropped.
McCall left the comics field and rose to become Managing Editor at The Evening Telegram. He died of a heart attack in 1975.