Comic Art Friday: We stand on guard for thee

Not long ago on Comic Art Friday, we featured an artwork from my Common Elements commission series entitled “Union Jacks.” This piece showcased an all-British theme: two British heroes (Captain Britain and Marvelman, known here in the U.S. as Miracleman) drawn by a British artist, Mike McKone.

Surely, you didn’t think that was the only such idea your Uncle Swan had up his sleeve? (I know, I know… ideas don’t come from sleeves, and don’t call you Shirley.)

Today, we continue our salute to the English-speaking nations with this all-Canada spectacular.

Comics’ most familiar Canadian superhero, Wolverine, finds himself on a scouting mission with Captain Canuck, the Great White North’s nationalist hero. Bringing this scenario to life is one of Canada’s finest exports, Dave Ross, who burst onto the American comics scene in the 1980s as the artist on Marvel’s Canadian superteam, Alpha Flight, and went on to illustrate such series as Avengers West Coast, Rai and the Future Force, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Birds of Prey, and most recently, Angel.

Befitting the overarching theme, I commissioned this piece from Dave on July 1 — Canada Day.

When Wolverine first popped up as a guest star in a pair of 1974 issues of The Incredible Hulk, no one could have envisioned that the little yellow-clad Canadian with the metal claws would evolve into a franchise superstar. And indeed, he didn’t right away. It wasn’t until the following year, when the character was added to the roster of the “all-new, all-different” X-Men, that his rise to the heroic pantheon began. When Canadian artist John Byrne took over the series, he pushed for Wolverine’s greater prominence. Before long, Wolvie was starring in several series and miniseries of his own, in addition to becoming the pivotal character in the X-Men franchise.

Sometimes, legends are born from the humblest beginnings.

Today, of course, Wolverine is known to millions of people who’ve never cracked open a comic book, thanks to the X-Men films and the recent spin-off, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It seems to me an odd bit of casting that the 6′ 3″ Australian actor Hugh Jackman portrays a superhero who’s supposed to be 5′ 5″ and Canadian, but that’s Hollywood for you.

I’m sure that Captain Canuck would give his maple leaf just to be mentioned in a major motion picture. Or even in a comic book series that sold more than a few thousand copies. Interestingly, the good Captain and his adamantium-clawed countryman exploded on the scene only a few months apart, as the first issue of Captain Canuck appeared in July 1975. In the years since, three different individuals — Tom Evans, Darren Oak, and David Semple — have donned the Captain’s red-and-white fighting togs, in several series mostly published by creator Richard Comely’s flagship label, Comely Comics.

Although both Wolverine and Captain Canuck make their Common Elements debuts in this artwork, it marks Dave Ross’s second entry into my ever-expanding theme series. Dave’s first creation for the Common Elements gallery was “Wagnerian Opera,” this stunning panel featuring one of my favorite heroines, the Valkyrie, alongside Wolverine’s X-Men compatriot Nightcrawler. Legendary inker Joe Rubinstein supplied the finishing touches.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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3 Comments on “Comic Art Friday: We stand on guard for thee”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Firstly, well done on the Common Elements theme of all-British and all-Canada superheroes. I’ve been enjoying the international flavour.

    Secondly, I implore you to NOT write a piece on Australian heroes, as they are at the height of patheticness. Unfortunately, the idea of an Australian superhero doesn’t seem to be taken too seriously, by either international writers or our own here Downunder. And that makes me sad.

    The few that have been created are absolutely terrible, and have either been modelled EXACTLY on already well-known international characters, leaving them devoid of any life of their own; or they are cheesy, stereotypical oddities that I find hard to believe that anyone considered printing. I mean the likes of Killeroo and Captain Koala aren’t exactly X-Men material!!

    So it is with a heavy heart that I ask you not write about them. In fact, forgot I said anything at all.


  2. SwanShadow Says:

    Rachel: I’m sorry…

    Were you speaking?


  3. Rachel Says:

    That’s the spirit!!!!


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