Monday, July 24, 2006

It Happened in Canada!

The Canadian Comic Art Centre is proud to present "It Happened in Canada: The Art of Cartoonist Gordon Johnston" by Jeet Heer.

It Happened in Canada is the best-known strip by Johnston, a skilled cartoonist and illustrator who worked for many years at the Ottawa Citizen. The strip was a daily dose of Canadian history in the single panel style pioneered by the American Robert Ripley (in fact, it is rumoured that the Believe It or Not folks once took a legal interest in Johnston's strip).

Book collections of It Happened in Canada were very popular a few decades ago but are now largely out-of-print. Now, thanks to Jeet Heer, we learn a little something about the strip and its creator.

For those who may not know, Jeet Heer is a respected journalist, academic and comics historian who is based in Toronto. Considered one of our most important comics critics and scholars, he has written on the comics artform (and many other subjects) for the National Post, Boston Globe, Comics Journal, and others. As an editor, he is responsible for two remarkable book projects: Walt and Skeezix, the complete Gasoline Alley by Frank King (Volume 2 just came out), and Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (with Kent Worcester).

Our thanks to Jeet for this article:

It Happened in Canada

Friday, July 07, 2006

Prehistoric Simpkins

Jim Simpkins is mostly remembered as the cartoonist behind Jasper the Bear, which ran for decades as a single panel gag cartoon in Maclean's Magazine. Jasper and Simpkins are always linked together and other aspects of the artist's career are rarely mentioned. What a pleasure then to discover another little-seen Simpkins strip.

For several years, Simpkins also drew an infrequent comic strip about cavemen. In the vein of Johnny Hart's B.C. and Edward Reed's prehistoric cartoons for Punch, these cavemen cartoons show another side of Simpkins. They are sequential where Jasper is a static panel and somewhat racy where Jasper is sweet and childlike. Several of the cavemen strips (like the one featured here) are variations on a battle of the sexes theme and feature dim-witted, club-weilding cavemen pursuing toothsome cavewomen.

The example featured here is from Weekend Magazine, November 26, 1966.

(apologies for the blurry scan)