While Captain America is perhaps fictional history's best-known Hitler-puncher, he is far from the only hero to sock old Adolf in the jaw -- and now Canada gets its turn courtesy of Francis Manapul's fundraiser sketch for the Johnny Canuck Kickstarter. The Toronto-based Detective Comics co-writer and artist filmed himself as he sketched, and the video offers a fascinating glimpse of his process.

Like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor, Johnny Canuck is one of the lost Canadian comic heroes of the 1940s, a time when American comics weren't allowed into Canada because of restrictions on non-essential trade. Long out of print, a new generation may get to enjoy his adventures thanks to this Kickstarter.


Leo Bachle


The comics version of Johnny Canuck was created by Leo Bachle in 1942, though he's actually based on a pre-existing public domain character, a lumberjack who represented Canada in political cartoons. In the comics, Johnny got to wear many different hats, including soldier, spy, flying ace, and Hitler-puncher, and his adventures took him around the world from Yugoslavia to Russia to Tibet.

The Kickstarter and the reprint are both overseen by Rachel Richey, one half of the team that brought Nelvana of the Northern Lights back into print. Asked how she would describe Johnny, Rachel said he is, in one word, a hero. "He jumps into any job that needs to be done and he does it, no matter how dangerous or impossible!"

"Johnny is an important character to bring back to print because he represents a distinct time in Canadian history. The character [was] an embodiment or personification of the Canadian spirit. When Leo Bachle adapted this character in the 40s he made Johnny a product of the time."

Richey says she thinks Johnny Canuck's versatility is a reflection of creator Leo Bachle's own frustrations at not being able to serve his country. "Leo Bachle was actually just a kid at the time he created Johnny Canuck. He had tried to get into the war but they discovered he was only 15, so I guess when he was asked to create his own character, Johnny Canuck was the next best thing. I think Johnny [represented] Bachle's desires for himself." Johnny is a quintessential example of the comic book hero as a vehicle for wish fulfillment.


Click to enlarge


The Francis Manapul sketch is one of several original artworks produced for the Johnny Canuck Kickstarter. The original piece has already been claimed, but prints are available starting at the $20 donor level, while softcover copies of the new Johnny Canuck collection are available starting at the $25 donor level, plus shipping outside of Canada. Other artists involved in the project include Jason Loo, Ramon Perez, Leonard Kirk, and Darwyn Cooke.

The Johnny Canuck Kickstarter runs until August 31st.