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Write On Ottawa: True Patriot comics tell distinctly Canadian stories

By Janoah Willsie on July 11, 2015

I remember when I was a little kid I’d always grab one of the comic books off the magazine rack while waiting in line at the grocery store with my parents. I’d devour them, finishing half the book before my parents would be ready to leave. It’s been years since I’ve sat down with a comic book and so it was really a treat to read through True Patriot volumes one and two.

True Patriot is a collection of superhero adventures. Each anthology contains about fifteen stories, of which some are connected to each other, and some are stand-alones. There are over twenty contributors to the collections, including Jack Briglio and Tom Fowler, both of whom live in Ottawa.

Like many Canadians who have grown up on American entertainment media, I didn’t really know what to expect from these “Canadian Comics”. But I quickly fell in love. The stories are so Canadian that it felt like home. These anthologies tell truly Canadian stories, about Sasquatch and Ogopogo. And the stories don’t take place in faraway metropolises like New York and Chicago either, but in comfortingly familiar places, like Mississauga and Brampton. And there is that characteristically Canadian, mild self-deprecation, with lines like “They have gangs in Canada??” (to which the reply is: don’t be such a cowboy, that’s not an igloo you’re standing on).

Nothing Canadian is truly complete without poking fun at our southern neighbours. During one of the stories, the writers reference Kinder Eggs, with the annotation “Kinder Eggs are a deliciously chocolatey treat with a toy inside for every girl and boy to enjoy. Sadly, illegal in the U.S.A., so more for Canada!” It’s hard to resist an opportunity to point out absurd American laws and this time is no different.

The anthologies are all child-friendly, containing stories with good lessons. One of my favourites is “Uh-Oh Ogopogo”. This story follows a typical Canadian family on a camping trip. The teenage son is causing trouble by refusing to help the family prepare the campsite. So to teach him a lesson, while he’s canoeing in the nearby river, Ogopogo turns him into a beaver with the orders to help the beaver family rebuild their lodge. Although he initially doesn’t want to do it, he does end up helping them, which allows him to return to his human form. Having learned of the importance of supporting your family, he apologizes and they enjoy the rest of the camping trip together.

There are lessons a bit more serious too, such as avoiding peer pressure and being proud of your heritage. But the lessons are slipped into the stories so it doesn’t feel like you’re learning. Instead, the reader absorbs it all through the adventures of Dominion Jack and Superhero Girl.

Reading True Patriot is a fun, truly and proudly Canadian experience. Good for kids, but really good for anyone who like to laugh at our hilarious stereotypes and learn from our traditional folk tales. If we’re lucky, this collection of Canadian heroes will continue to grow, inspiring future Canadians to be proud of what makes us who we are.

The True Patriot books were being distributed via Shoplocket, which has shut down, and the editors are currently exploring other distribution options.  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on how you can get your hands on these comics.