Monday, December 31, 2012

One "N" or Two? -- A "Comical Wednesday" Post!

A million years or so ago, so long ago that my hair almost had some color left in it, I "promised" my Canadian readers -- all three or four of them -- that I would do a post specifically aimed at them, one where I tell how not one, but two modern-day, American comic book characters have their origins in the Canadian comic books published in the 1940! We'll, after a wait this long, this post is assuredly going to be anti-climactic, but such are the chances you take when you read this blog.

I'm assuming that if you know anything about comic books, you've at least heard of the X-Men. What you may or may not know is that they've been around since the early 1960s, and were one of the few Marvel superhero series that never hit really big, but instead kinda limped along. They were even canceled, and revived as an all-new team in 1975.

It's that (almost) all-new team, and its eight million variations and spin-offs, that eventually took comics fandom by storm. (Ouch! Sorry for the inadvertent pun, which only X-Men insiders will catch*)

(*Okay, since some people get really ticked off when they're not clued in on the private jokes around here, the super-heroine known as "Storm" is a member of the X-men. Get it? You're welcome.)

The first fifteen issues were drawn by the late Dave Cockrum,  and the series was catching on with the comic fans by the time that Canadian-born artist John Byrne took over and made it a solid hit.

("Byrne" is pronounced "bern," by the way. As an employee during the mid to late 1980s of the Worcester, Massachusetts flagship branch of That's Entertainment, the Eisner Award Winning pop culture & entertainment emporium, I spent a great deal of time correcting customers who pronounced it "brine" or "byron.")

By the way, as someone who has pretensions to being a writer  myself, I do not mean to slight the X-Men's writer, Chris Claremont, for his contribution to the title's success. Despite his penchant for having so many sub-plots he would occasionally forget one or two over the course of many months, his continuing storylines and terrific characterizations made the title a lot more than "jest purty pictures."

(Besides, if I did try to get by without giving Mr. Claremont due credit, yet another John -- not Mr. Byrne, but a close friend of mine -- would no doubt take me to task for it!)

Okay, okay, since this is more or less supposed to be a Comical Wednesday feature about Canadian comic characters, here's some background on John Byrne's early comic reading days, as related by Byrne himself, in 1980.* Picture it: The X-Men as a title and the X-Men as a team were becoming "hot" for the first time in almost 20 years, and on the verge of  frequent character crossovers, Wolverine origins, and spinning off eight million other ongoing titles and mini-series. Fan Favorite John Byrne is being interviewed about the origins of the super-team Alpha Flight, who were introduced in the pages of The X-Men itself!

"Snowbird, the shape-changer... her power is from... well, originally in my mind got her power from Nelvana, an Eskimo goddess character from the Canadian Whites, which were the Canadian comics of the 1940s. We'll probably never say that, unless we find out there really was an Eskimo goddess named Nelvana, but that's who I figure she got her powers from."

Ever hear of Alpha Flight's Snowbird? Here she is!

Well, eventually, Byrne introduced Snowbird's mother, Nelvanna -- not Nelvana, note the double "N" -- in the pages of Alpha Flight.

And, predictably for modern-day comic books, she didn't stick around long...

And now, fellow babies, a special treat for those who care enough about this subject to wanna see an original Nelvana story! The special treat is, of course... errr... an original Nelvana story!

Those who don't particularly care can stop reading now... but please join me for part two of this Comical Wednesday series in another week or so!

The following eight-page Golden Age comic story appeared in Super-Duper Comics #3,  in 1947 by F.E. Howard Publications, LTD.

Next: A Mister named Monster! Thanks for your time!

(And for those of you who care about this kinda stuff... Happy New Year!)


  1. panel ever, wolverine looking up from the sewers of the hellfire club...that was a great series...i actually bought it at a yard sale from someone years flight was cool as well...puck...ha...northstar ended up breaking barriers...first openly gay marriage in comics...the xmen of the 80s were my fav....wolverine, nightcrawler and collosus would be my core...kitty pryde, storm....cyclops is a weenie....thought they recently made him the phoenix and a bad guy in the after...mass murderer...pretty crazy...

    1. I read the Hellfire Club stuff when it was originally issued. Great stuff! Claremont and Byrne had focused on Wolverine, in an age where psychotic heroes were not the norm.

  2. Well, of course it would be pronounced "bern." How can people screw up such a simple name?


    P.S. Happy New Year.

  3. About time you gave us canadians some love haha. Beast and Wolverine were always my favorite two, hated stupid cyclops.

  4. I always love Comical Wednesday post and I love Nelvana but is absolutely new for me! and always I read a lot of comics.

    1. Thanks. I know, you've mentioned reading a lot of comics before when you were younger, and not just the "traditional" ones girls tend to read.

    2. you say Im not younger ??:)))) Im kidding,l anyway I feel youger still haha! The most comics I read was when I was little but still (really) if I find a superman comic or batman comic I read LOL

  5. OMG! You wait until I'm absolutely buried under holidaze obligations and leave me to suffer the guilt that comes with missing your posts...sneaky Silver! And please accept the biggest apology EVER! On to the next one...(perhaps there's a method to my madness...two foxy's in a day!) ;)

  6. Guilt? Apologies? Please don't beat yourself up, here. It's only a blog, haha! (But it's nice to have such a faithful reader!)

  7. I think I've heard a few things about that pop-culture emporium comic book and collectible store! Didn't they win some big-time award or something? Maybe a Harvey Award?...Good to read more of your stuff, David!

    1. Gee, Paul, you're probably referring to That's E's 1997 winning of the "Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award," from Comic-Con International: San Diego.

  8. I hardly leave a response, but i did some searching and
    wound up here "One "N" or Two? -- A "Comical Wednesday" Post!".
    And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it's allright.
    Could it be only me or does it seem like some of
    the comments look like they are left by brain dead folks?
    :-P And, if you are posting on other online social sites, I'd like to follow everything new
    you have to post. Would you make a list of all of all
    your community sites like your Facebook page,
    twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


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