Step aside, Superman. Brok Windsor is back.
At least, the 1940s Canadian comic book hero will be soon, if Toronto historian Hope Nicholson has anything to do with it.
Nicholson has launched a crowdfunding campaign with the hopes of resurrecting Brok Windsor, a comic book icon from the 1940s that was first printed by Vancouver-based publishing house Maple Leaf Publishing but has been lost for nearly 70 years.
Although Brok Windsor had a short run, lasting two years from 1944 to 1946, Nicholson said the comic book is a Canadian classic that she hopes to make available to a new generation of readers.
“You can’t imagine a comic book like Batman or Superman being completely lost like this,” she told Metro. “But it was so easy to lose these Canadian comic books.”
Developed in 1944 by artist Jon Stables, the Brok Windsor comic books are set in the “other-worldly island” of Chaqua in the midst of the Canadian wilderness, said Nicholson. The sci-fi comic follows the character’s adventures as a doctor who goes on a canoe trip and, along the way, becomes infected and grows to the size of a giant. He later meets the island’s residents, a futuristic aboriginal tribe of similar giant proportions.
Nicholson said the series was sparked in response to the Canadian government’s embargo on U.S. imports of non-essential goods, including comic books, during the Second World War. That restriction opened up a new homegrown market for Canadian publishers, she said.
Once the war was over, however, Brok Windsor prints ground to a halt with only some remaining copies kept in archives and private collections.
Now Nicholson hopes to restore the collection to its original glory. For the past few months, she has scoured city and library archives in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto to track down each of the 14 issues that make up the entire collection.
After scanning each copy, Nicholson uses Photoshop to repair and restore the aged and yellowed pages.
“A lot of the comic books have been in storage and not necessarily in good condition, so there’s rips and tears,” she said. “It does require some restoration.”
Although it’s a time-consuming process, it’s all worth it for the longtime comic book fan.
Nicholson said she first heard of Brok Windsor six years ago, but it wasn’t until she saw the comic book hero on the big screen while watching the documentary film Lost Heroes, which she helped produce, that she recognized the incredible detail of the illustrations.
“Brok Windsor just stood apart from all the other comic books,” she said. “It came across as a comic book that had a lot smoother lines and a lot more lyrical qualities that anything else that was produced at the time.”
Nicholson hopes to raise $17,000 to cover the cost of reprinting and distributing the comic books. Already, the campaign appears to be doing well, with more than $12,000 raised as of Saturday morning.
To help spur donations, she teamed up with several artists who each painted prints of their own interpretation of Brok Windsor that are available to those who pledge a certain amount to the campaign.
Those who contribute $30 to the campaign also receive a copy of the restored comic book collection once it is finished.
Nicholson said she hopes to sell the comic books online, in bookstores and at comic book conventions.
Visit our guide to the Great White North’s colourful comic book history to learn more