As of this writing, there are only 5 days left in the Captain Canuck Indiegogo campaign. The people behind the project are raising funds to launch a new animated Web series featuring our good Captain. I suggest you pop over there now to join and then read the rest of this article.
You’re back? Great. To whet your appetite on this project, we have a Q&A with Creative Director Dean Henry. Before we jump in, a couple of things:
- To read about the history of the storied character created by Richard Comely in the mid-70s, there is a good primer on Wikipedia
- Between when I spoke with Dean and today, it was announced Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, V) would join the cast as the voice of the new character Blue Fox.
- There are a lot of people involved in this project, scroll to the end for the names.
Okay, here is the main event. Enjoy!
CBJ: So, why Captain Canuck?
Dean: It all started with a sandwich. Our business partner is also part owner of The Lakeview Restaurant at Dundas and Ossington (in Toronto). They were doing a kids menu and wanted to make a sandwich called the Captain Canuck. So they reached out to creator, Richard Comely. He was into the idea and then over the course of time we found out the rights were becoming available.
CBJ: There have been a number of different incarnations over the decades. What’s different this time?
Dean: This captain is distinctively Canadian. He never wanted to be the hero. He’s not a guns blazing, no questions kind of character. He’s a thinking man’s hero. The mantle was thrust upon him and now he has the power to make a difference. He’ll apologize for breaking someone’s arm, if they force him to do it. He has a very Canadian sensibility.
I was a fan of Alpha Flight and Wolverine growing up. Through the years I’ve seen different depictions of Canadian heroes in comics, but the language and the characters were a little off. For instance, Canadians don’t use the word patriot. Little things like that. We wanted to create something that feels authentic.
When you add the amazing pool of talent in Toronto, both comic creators and artists, it’s surprising no one had done anything sooner.
CBJ: So how are you going to keep relevant without falling into kitsch?
Dean: We want him to be funny without this being a comedy. There is definitely a fine line we walk in the writing process. We aren’t lampooning Canadian culture. It’s more about showcasing that sensibility I mentioned – he’s not the boyscout but he’s not the dark, brooding vigilante. He has a strong moral centre, strong ethics but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
CBJ: I have maybe one or two old Canuck comics buried in my long boxes. How are you going to make this character relevant for the audience today?
Dean: I remember picking up the comic as a kid too and was just excited that it was a Canadian character and published here.
At the time the character launched in the 70s, Richard was doing the writing and art and he was running the business until George Freeman came along. [Freeman joined as penciller in 1979.] He was doing all this before indie comics were big.
Storytelling has evolved a lot since then. If you watch The A-Team or Magnum P.I. now you might think ‘Wow, that’s really lazy writing’ by today’s standards. What Richard did in the 70s started something. There’s a lot of unrealized potential with Canuck.
As for how it ties to the original books, we’ve taken the Battlestar Galactica approach to the story by making it relevant now. And you’ll see that as the setting for this series is revealed. I can’t say much except that it’s a modern-day Canada with a slightly altered history where new technology is shaping the world very quickly in unpredictable ways. It’s rooted in current events and science but without getting too political.
Here are the people behind the project:
Fadi Hakim – executive producer for Captain Canuck Inc.
Dean Henry – chief creative director for Captain Canuck Inc
Paul Gardner – creative director for Captain Canuck INC
Mike Valiquette – head of development at Smiley Guy studios
Jeremy Diamond from Smiley Guy Studios is a writing partner on the series
Kalman Andrasofszky (big in the comic doing covers) – lead artist and character designs
On animation are Sam Chou and Al Jerek Torrijas (a recent grad from Sheridan)
The Silver Snail (both in Toronto and Ottawa) has been a big supporter as well as Big B Comics (Hamilton, Barrie, Niagara Falls)
So that’s it. Thanks to Dean for taking the time to chat. Head over to the Indiegogo campaign page and help out if you haven’t already.