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Revisiting Canada’s Golden Age of Superheroes | Rachel Richey Interview

Written by  Published August 2, 2015 04:45
As far as Canadian superheroes go, We all know of Captain Canuck, Marvel’s Alpha Flight and Wolverine and of course, The Heroes of the North (a production which I myself am a part of), but not many people know of the original Canadian comic book superheroes of the Golden Age. Rachel Richey is a Canadian comic book archivist and historian and has made it her mission with her Comic Syrup Press publishing label to bring awareness to Canada’s comic book history and put these great characters back into the spotlight. At Montreal ComicCon I had the chance to sit with Rachel and chat about herself and her projects! Enjoy!

 

FPB: So let’s start off by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got into this wonderful comic book industry of ours!

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RR: My name is Rachel and I got into the industry because basically I just love comic books and wanted to work with them. I worked at a comic book store for awhile, I volunteered to work for the Doug Wright Awards and the Shuster Awards and volunteered to work on the Lost Heroes documentary and worked at Library and Archives Canada, and I just did my research and made sure I knew everything I could possibly know.

So when I finally got together with Hope Nicholson and we tracked down the rights for Nelvana of the Northern Lights, it was time to Kickstart this project to reprint those comics. From there I wanted to keep it going, so I did Johnny Canuck and that’s how we got here!

 

FPB: Awesome. Do you feel crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are now an important ingredient to getting your stuff out there?

RR: I do. I think Kickstarter is the voice of non-mainstream projects. And I think it’s a huge avenue for personal projects that you want to see grow and develop. You want to have people to be able to see your stuff and see it come to life. Crowdfunding is the best thing for that.

Just because something is not marketed to a large audience doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience for it.

 

FPB: Tell us a bit about Johnny Canuck, your latest Canadian hero reprint.

johnny canuck page

RR: Well, Johnny Canuck is kind of a Captain America/Indiana Jones type of character from Canada. He was part of the Golden Age and he battled Nazis and punches Hitler and wrestles alligators and all sorts of fun stuff. There’s a lot of really fun adventures and I ran the Kickstarter, restored the pages and published the book and shipped it and did P.R. and did basically everything. (laughs)

 

FPB: Do you find that Canadians are clamoring for Canadian content and their own brand of heroes in the comic market? Did you find that was missing?

RR: Yeah, I did. I think so judging from the feedback and what people are saying, I hear people saying “Finally, it’s happening” and that they’re excited to read it and I get a lot of people saying that I’m doing such a great thing. That I’m doing what needs to be done and I’m doing such great work and that’s actually the nicest thing anyone could say.

I mean, I’m doing it because I love the books and I want to see them from a fan standpoint. And I realized that if I feel this way there’s got to be others that felt the same way. So I knew that there’s going to be a market out there for this.

 

FPB: Have you noticed any American readers supporting it as well?

Nelvana Fighting

RR: Absolutely! Not so much with Johnny.  Johnny Canuck is obviously a distinctly Canadian character and is highly marketable in Canada and slightly less so in the U.S., except for people that are into Golden Age comics. Some people just love the charm of Canadian books too.

Whatever it is, people that love comics will love Johnny Canuck. But Nelvana was marketable to everyone. She just had a solid foundation in comics in general. She was an Inuit demigoddess who predated Wonder Woman and one of the first of her kind.  There’s just so many really cool things about her. She is so easily marketed for audiences outside of Canada.

I’m thinking Mr. Monster, my next project, will also be more marketable to the general comic book community. This character was readapted last in the 80’s by Michael T. Gilbert, who was an American, and his drawing style appeals to a lot of different audiences.

 

FPB: Are you primarily interested in reprinting stuff or has there been talk of doing any new content coming out?

1636159 mr monster 2

RR: I would love to do new stories. I love Johnny Canuck and Nelvana, but Mr. Monster has been the character I’ve been waiting for. He’s one of my all-time favorites. So I’m doing this now more than ever from a fan’s perspective than an archivist or a historian, or culturally or socially or whatever. I’m really excited for Mr. Monster.

I would love to produce new material, that’d be awesome! And I think a lot of people are clamoring for that as well, but this book, like all books I’ve done so far, will just be reprints. It will have a new written portion by Michael T. Gilbert, though.

 

FPB: How can we get to read Mr. Monster, Johnny Canuck and Nelvana?

RR: Mr. Monster will have a Kickstarter around mid to late August into September, and once it is ready and published it will be on comicsyrup.com. Johnny Canuck and Nelvana are available at Amazon and Johnny is on comicsyrup.com as well.

 

FPB: Thanks a lot! Appreciate it!

RR: No problem! Thank you!

 

It was great to get a chance to chat with a fellow Canadian comic book fan that is also working to give Canadian heroes their rightful due in the comic community! Be sure to check out Rachel’s reprints of Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck and look out for her Mr. Monster Kickstarter coming soon!

That’s all for this time and that concludes my MCC coverage for this year! Hope everyone enjoyed this year’s interviews! 

Dave Michaels

With his unique brand of humour mixed with die-hard passion and knowledge for all things comic books, Dave Michaels puts his weekly spin on the pop culture like only he can. Each “episode” of Full Page Bleed provides fun, wacky commentary, interviews, recommendations of Dave’s favourite comics, and whatever else his “evil genius” can conjure up. What are you reading THIS for?! Read some FPB RIGHT NOW and PREPARE to BLEED COMICS! FPB is Here...

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