Oman may have some creators but I didn’t find any in my basic search. I do a decent search for a time then I move on. That being said, do you know how many countries start with the letter O? You got it, one. I decided to go with a province. Yes, I thought about searching in other languages to see if a different spelling came up for a country, but this is a fun project for me, and I do enough translating as it is.
Normally when doing a history I go in chronological order. I thought I would change it up a bit today. We’re going with two creators only. We’re going back in time. From end to the beginning. We’re going north. We’re going maple leaf country.
We’re going Canada.
To be precise—we’re going Ontario.
A lot of times when you start with the newest you end up talking the least about something in history. That has been especially true for Graphic Literature.
The Midas Touch
At the age of 39 Jeff Lemire is likely to tell you to be included with our later creator in an article would have been an impossibility. But maybe the reason he is, is because no one ever asked him that if it was possible.1After all, there are a lot of accomplishments out there that when asked of the people that did them, they say, no one ever told me I couldn’t.
I don’t know if Midas Touch applies here but when you start your career self-publishing your first comic, win an award, then go immediately into a company where Alan Moore, legend, is putting out a volume of his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and when an award with a series with that company, I think Midas Touch fits.2
“I like to tell stories that make people feel something. It takes too long to make comics to just do frivolous or throwaway work. I’m trying to create real emotion on the page.”~Jeff Lemire3
Reading more and more about Lemire you discover one thing about him, creating comics is the important part of his profession. Even with the recent blow up of his world with Sony optioning a comic project from Image Comics, Descender, he hadn’t even put out the first issue of yet, he made sure during the negotiations his role, his time, and his freedom was in creating the book he wanted. He got that deal.4That’s power. That’s talent.
Lemire is not your typical superhero storyteller. In truth that’s not his go-to element. Can he do it? He’s written, Batman, the Justice League, and Superboy. Yes, he can do it, but he’s likely to take them out of that super environment.
His early work, such as the Eisner and Harvey Award nominated Essex County Trilogy5 and even the graphic novel, Underwater Welder6 set characters in Canadian settings away from urban areas and mega-powered heroes.
With Underwater Welder he did some interesting work with the art. Yes, he likes to do all of the work on a book if time permits. Above water he has sharp, distinct lines, while below he has the looser imagery. And there is a purpose.
But I am here to see where he goes for the hero stuff. Call me selfish, I’ve learned about what he does, listened to a number of interviews, one of them above, to see consistency of his character over the years and of his devotion to the story and not to the sells or the fame. Now I want to talk about bookes he has worked on that I can geek out about. And seeing as today is the one year anniversary of this site, I’m going to enjoy and share what I like.
The big moment.
The graphic novel The Nobody in 2009 brings Lemire to DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. A retelling of the Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Lemire does all the work on the book except for the lettering.7
Now onto something more mainstream as far as what an average comic fan might now, Jonah Hex.8 I know, you are wondering who he is. Think of the Josh Brolin movie that came out. Lamire did the art on the Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti scripted book.9 The huge part here is the Jimmy Palmiotti part, former partner of Joe Quesada who became the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics for over a decade and eventually promoted to Chief Creative Officer.10 In other words he, Lemire had a cool moment there.
His first big accomplishment, I think, can be seen as a very long run on Animal Man from Sept. 2011-Mar. 2014.11 Why do I say this? He took a character that had apparently no real direction for over two decades since it’s revival creator, Scottish born writer Grant Morrison12, left and turned it into not only a relevant to this day and age, but so much so Animal Man became part of Justice League United.
I’ve skipped a lot of material but I want to leave off with this one. Lemire is now writing probably my second favorite comic book character of all time, Hawkeye. Although I will give him credit for being given a big gig on a Marvel Comics book, I have to say I don’t much like the ideas he has for it.15 Sometimes a fan boy wants his favorite characters to at least remain the star of the book. But that’s the fan boy in me. Old school collector guy.
Rant of the Blog Birthday Boy.
But the ideas of Marvel these days doesn’t hold anything sacred. It’s my blog birthday so I’m speaking my piece here. By Marvel killing the sacred cows so to speak, they are doing more harm than good. I see a lot of what they are doing as more knee jerk reactions to placate to hopefully making sales and get publicity over maintaining long time fans, readers. It’s going to bomb at some point. There has always been something comforting in being able to pick up an issue of Spider-Man and have some idea of who the character is. They killed Steve Rogers, Captain America, brought him back, then aged him, forcing him out of the Cap roll. He’s still in the game as a commander of sorts and picked his longtime partner the Falcon as the new Captain America. I’m okay with that last part. It makes sense. But Steve Rogers not being Captain America doesn’t. Quesada has some problems with his thinking. He thinks the costume is the character. He thinks Thor is the hammer, so anyone picking it up is Thor. Marvel is awesome, but sometimes it’s just screwed up.
One of Lemire’s first DC writing jobs was to write Superboy, but not a young Clark Kent. Long story there, convoluted and a pain in the butt to work out. It seems DC Comics can’t decide what version of it’s universe it wants to keep. Every few years or maybe a decade or so they decide it’s time to destroy everything fans knew and start over. Yeah, Superman and Wonder Woman are making out now. Lois Lane?
Whose our other Ontario comic book artist? Who did work on Superboy? Who did draw Superboy?
A legend? Yes. A happy ending? Wait and see.
Drawing on paper bags and the back of rolls of discarded wallpaper, Joe Shuster did what it took to break into the world of comics. Canadian? Yes. But it wasn’t until his parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio that IT happened.16 The meeting. The chemistry explosion. He met Jerry Siegel.17 You can’t say one name without the other.
If you are not a comic book person, Siegel and Shuster might not spark something in your brain cavity. If you are then you instantly think of the Big S.
These two young men created what is considered the first superhero of sorts. Two young Jewish boys doing what geeky comic book wannabe professionals wanted to do.
The boys did something they would regret. They sold the rights to the character when they began to work for the future DC comics. At the end of their contract with DC, Shuster did a little more in comics, then disappeared from the business disgruntled with what should have been a beautiful career.
He ended up as a delivery man living with his mother. Although it is believed he did continue drawing comics under other names at times during the 1950s in less than respectable genres. But it was a buck, a living.
For the man who created not only the Superman characters we know, but also detective Slam Bradley, and Doctor Occult, it is a sad ending. An ending that found him blind an in a home when he passed away.
Apparently Siegel and Shuster were the first to have a vampire in a comic book.18 A lot of firsts for a duo that was messed over for so many decades.
I knew of the legal battles between Siegel and Shuster versus DC Comics over Superman, which gave them their byline back and a yearly pension and healthcare in the 1970s, but I didn’t know about Shuster’s leaving the business.
Will Lemire, with better relations and with creator rights more firmly in place end up doing more work in comics than Shuster? Yes. Will he create Superman? No. But I don’t think anyone ever goes out with the idea of creating the next Superman. Thinking about it, why don’t they?
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