John Bell, who was born in Montreal and grew up in Halifax, has written extensively on various aspects of Canadian history and culture. His most recent books are Confederate Seadog: John Taylor Wood in War and Exile, and Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. Recently retired from his position as a senior archivist at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, he now lives in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Invaders from the North
Short-listed for the 2007 CBA Libris Awards for Book Design of the Year
What do Superman, Prince Valiant, Cerebus the Aardvark, and Spawn have in common? Their creators Joe Shuster, Harold Foster, Dave Sim, and Todd McFarlane are Canadians. And while many of the cutting-edge talents of contemporary comix and graphic novels are also from Canada artists such as Chester Brown, Seth, Dave Cooper, and Julie Doucet far too few Canadians realize their country had a remarkable involvement with the "funnies" long before.
Invaders from the North profiles past and present comic geniuses, sheds light on unjustly neglected chapters in Canadas pop history, and demonstrates how this nation has vaulted to the forefront of international comic art, successfully challenging the long-established boundaries between high and low culture. Generously illustrated with black-and-white and colour comic covers and panels, Invaders from the North serves up a cheeky, brash cavalcade of flamboyant and outrageous personalities and characters that graphically attest to Canadas verve and invention in the world of visual storytelling.
"This is a scholarly book, complete with footnotes, a bibliography and website addresses where you can find out more about this subject and even look at some samples of that new phenomenon, online comics. This was an interesting study."
"Canada's distinctive contributions to cartooning get a new history all their own in the cleverly designed Invaders From the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe by John Bell."
"The book's 60-plus images rightly place the spotlight on the art ... Kudos to publisher Dundurn for using colour, fully remastered, for all images that originally used it, as well as for using heavy paper stock - there's an almost tactile thickness to the images that gives them an impressive air of scrapbook solidity."
"Filled with interesting facts and vivid illustrations, the book chronicles the history of comics and comic art."
"Invaders From the North is the best kind of pop culture book: quirky and fascinating, with a fresh look at something most of us take for granted."
"It's a beauty of a book, a must for the growing legion of fans of an art form that stands as a legitimate bridge between high and low culture."
"... an original work that scholars, collectors, fans, and enthusiasts of all ages should plan on adding to their libraries."
"Canada's distinctive contributions to cartooning get a new history all their own in the cleverly designed Invaders From the North."
"... Canada clearly has a comic book heritage worth celebrating, and this is a worthy tribute."
"Bell's book is to be welcomed as part of a larger movement to recover Canada's lost popular culture."
"Bell's book is well researched and illustrated."
"Refreshingly, John Bell takes a more inclusive view in his history of Canadian comics and cartoonists, Invaders from the North ... The research behind Bell's book is impressive, as is its scope."
"Bell sticks to his strengths and offers a solid history ... Invaders from the North ... is still the most thorough examination of Canadian comics to date."