Brok Windsor is one of the main character written and drawn between 1944 and 1946 by Jon Stables, Canadian British-born (1912) cartoon artist. Hope Nicholson is a young and expert Canadian historian of comics, and during the past year she edited, with her colleague Rachel Richey, the complete reprint of Nelvana of the Northern Lights, the first female Canadian superhero, created in 1941 by Adrian Dingle for the Hillborough Studios. Hope decided to give life to a reprint of Brok Windsor stories; print and all the other costs to create a good quality edition are earned with a Kickstarter fundrising that, at the moment we are writing, has already gained the minimum amount to achieve the project.
How did you develop your interest for comic-books, and Canadian comic-books in particular?
I read comic books as soon as I could read, but all I had for a few years were Uncle Scrooge comics from my grandpa, Archie comics from my aunt, and Superman comics from my dad and brother. But one day, my parents found a box of watersoaked comics outside of a comic store that had flooded and brought them home. After a good drying out, and aside from a few wrinkles, they were as good as new, and I got to keep all of them! These comics were mostly Dazzler, the ‘disco x-man’ and I instantly was obsessed. A few years later I read a Captain Canuck that my brother brought home, but it didn’t grab my attention. It wasn’t until university that I discovered the golden age of Canadian comic books and learned all about the history of the 1940s publishers. It really interested me and it never really left my mind.
How did you get in touch, for the first time, with Brok Windsor, and why did you think about a reprint of his adventures?
I first heard about Brok Windsor in 2005, when I read John Bell’s website on Canadian comic books at Library and Archives Canada. But it wasn’t until I was working on the documentary Lost Heroes that he really grabbed my attention. I saw him on the big screen and it was clear that the artwork of this character was miles better than most golden age comic books. Reprinting Nelvana of the Northern Lights with Rachel Richey last year was a great experience, and I definitely wanted to continue doing my own comic books after seeing that it was possible. Brok was my second choice to reprint as I loved the quality of the artwork, and he originated from a different part of Canada than Nelvana.
The Kickstarter page of your project features a quote by Mark Shainblum that says: “In a fair world, Jon Stables would be spoken of in the same breath as Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, and Milton Caniff”. Are there actual similarities among these artists?
These artists all were better than most of their contemporaries and had a lyrical style that isn’t often seen in comics. I do believe that Jon Stables artwork and visual storytelling improved issue by issue and had he lasted in the industry for longer, would have definitely been as good as the artists named by Mark.
Tell us something about Brok. What kind of character is he? And what kind of adventures does he live? Science fiction, fantasy, exotic, thriller…?
Brok Windsor was a medical doctor and outdoorsman. During a canoe trip he crossed over into the Land Beyond the Mists, a world where monsters and humans grew to enormous sizes. Waking up on the island of Chaqua, he discovered he was growing into a giant, and learned from his new friend Torgon, a member of a scientifically advanced aboriginal tribe, that this growth would soon kill him. This sets them off into an adventure to find the antidote to stop this process, and along the way they encounter ghosts, demons, horned lions, and saboteurs. It’s a great sci-fi/fantasy/adventure story.
What will the reprint look like? Size, number of page, cover…
The book will be roughly 200 pages, measuring at 10″ x 6″. The cover right now has been designed by Rachel Deering, creator of the In the Dark anthology, and we will be tinkering with it before we go to print so that it’s perfect!
So far, how did the public react to the Brok Windsor reprint project?
I was worried about the reception. Nelvana was a character that at least was a little bit known in Canada, but Brok Windsor is a complete enigma to even the most seasoned comic book collector. Within the first week of starting the Kickstarter though I was funded and covered in a variety of newspaper, radio, and website interviews! I am so glad that he’s caught the public’s attention as much as he did mine, and am honoured to be able to bring him back this year.