Captain Canuck probably doesn’t even make the Top 100 in terms of the most popular superheroes, even amongst Canadians, but he’s been around for almost 45 years now so he must be doing something right. Actually, there’s a lot about Captain Canuck that’s being done right because he’s currently in the midst of a resurgence. A Toronto company called Smiley Guy Studios, and the support of dozens of people through an IndieGoGo campaign, have launched the next phase of Canuck as both an animated web series and as a comic book, and the creators were in attendance at Fan Expo to discuss season 2 of the show, The Prometheus Protocol.
“Season two will be stylistically different, we learned a lot on the first season,” said lead animator Mike Valiquette. “Every single thing that’s moving is a drawing and we tried to take that and better understand what it is we’re doing,” he added noting that there were times the animation is season one was inconsistent.
As for the writing, the team says that season two will be a bit darker, but they’re looking to The Avengers as a template, having a lot of high action and energy but cutting the tension with humour.
For season two, the team will introducing a pretty big new character from the classic Canuck comics, the Captain’s brother Michael Evans, and it was announced during the panel that Jason Priestly will be the voice of Michael. “He’s a Tony Stark kind of character,” said Valiquette. “We’ll examine his ethics a bit, and he’s a little more grey than his brother.” .
The creators said their would be more cast announcements coming soon, they’re still negotiating with the talent involved, but considering that voices on season one Tatiana Maslany, Laura Vandervoort and Kris Holden-Reid as Captain Canuck himself, it should be interesting to see who they recruit. What was announced, however, is that the new season will involve the Barenaked Ladies in some way.
As for the comic books, the team said that the tone will be darker, political, and a little more complex versus the web series, which has to appeal to everybody and keep things energetic and simple. According to writer Kalman Andrasofvsky, work on the comic book and on the web series is done in a very collaborative way. “There’s a simple essence to these characters, each process is making the other stronger,” he said.
Valiquette noted that the biggest challenge with the web series over the comic is brevity, but they do have a leg up. “The language of superhero is so prevalent, its ingrained in our culture,” he said. “You want to do everything you want to do with this character in three minutes and that you might need to leave a lot of it behind.”
What gets left behind is largely left up to a collective of talent that includes Captain Canuck creator Richard Comely and George Zotti, whose day job is managing the Silver Snail comic book store in Toronto. “We look over the whole picture,” said Zotti, “99.9 per cent of it is we take a step back and say that this thing is a little complex, or we know what that means but the audience doesn’t.”
One thing the audience will get is the reference to a series of PSAs that the Smiley Guy Studios team are making to premiere sometime in the new year. Let’s just say that knowing is half the battle. “The PSAs standalone that can be fit in here and there, similar to G.I. Joe PSAs,” said producer Fadi Hakim. “We’re also entering into a project with Crime Stoppers for January. It’s going to have a message but we’ll keep it tongue and cheek.”
As for the enduring appeal of Captain Canuck. “I have a big thing for asperactional heroes,” said Valiquette. “It’s easy to make a character dark, it’s easy to send them out there on a mission of vengeance. But [Canuck] is pretty solid in my mind in terms of how we should behave.”
“He’s just out there to make our country, our world, a better place,” added Zotti. “He’s just a guy helping people out.”
Also compelling is Canuck’s continuity. “Every comic book coming out its a reboot every 20 minutes,” said Andrasofvsky. “It’s not vivid and specific, and there haven’t been a million versions of Captain Canuck, so having something iconic, but still having a wide open possibility because it hasn’t been strip mined every couple of weeks, is awesome. It’s the best of both worlds.”
There’s also the fact that Captain Canuck is an all Canadian endeavour, and continues to be with Canadian born and based artists like Fiona Staples, Steve McNiven, and Leonard Kirk all involved. “It’s basically a dream come true for me getting to work with an incredible group of people and the fans coming out,” said Hakim. “I’m happy with the all the people that have wanted to be involved in Captain Canuck and share their talents.”
Comely, meanwhile, believes that comics are a part of Canadian heritage that’s been largely missing from the country’s narrative. “Superman was co-created by Canadian, and its important to North American culture,” he explained. “It was something that was missing in Canada’s mosaic of culture, I hope the character matches our ideal vision of what a Canadian character should be like, or what we consider Canadian traits.”
Chapter House will be releasing the trade paperback version of Fool’s Gold on November 25.