Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jonathan A. Gilbert's Mister Chameleon

I am a Canadian comic book writer. However, due to the fact that there is no comic book industry to speak of in the Great White North, I write for publishers south of the border.

While there are advantages to working for American comics companies-most notably the difference between the American and Canadian dollar-I'd gladly give them all up to be able to work for a Canadian publisher for which I could write stories that are distinctly Canadian.
The above are the first two paragraphs to an article written in 2003 for the London Free Press by Jonathan A. Gilbert.  Mr Gilbert copied it onto his blog in 2008.  You can read the full version here.

Instead of being able to work for a Canadian Publisher, Mr Gilbert became one, co-founding Red Lion Publications later that year.  And recently, one of the characters mentioned in the London Press article, Mister Chameleon, found his way into All-Smash Funnies #1, a book released by CE Publishing Group (Lincoln, Nebraska) last summer.

I registered for a graphicly account right around the time I started this blog in order to see whether I could get used to reading digital versions of comics, or get access to books I wouldn't be able to acquire in print form.  All-Smash was (and remains) free, and I dig pulp-era characters, so I gave it a try.

The Mister Chameleon story is largely an origin recap so it makes for a good introduction to the character.  And another paragraph from the article quoted above actually reveals something that is not made immediately obvious in the All-Smash story: Mister Chameleon character, a former silent film actor who uses his mastery of disguise to battle crime in early 1930s Los Angeles, was born in London (Ontario, Canada) and his fiance, Chantal Lemieux, hails from Montreal.

Well isn't that a pleasant coincidence?

The same creative team, minus inker David Owens, contributed a story for a character named The Snowman as well.

No indication as to whether Snowman has a little Canuck in his background as well, but it shouldn't come as a surprise if he does.  A third story in the book, Mercury - Origin, features a Canadian archaeologist who finds Hermes' staff, tiara and sandals with which to battle evil and injustice.  One of Gilbert's contribution to CE's aptly-named Megabook (212 pages!) includes a supernatural story (Solomon Wyrd) in which the titular character is visited by a researcher from the University of Western Ontario.  He (Gilbert) seems to make it a point to include some sort of Canadian reference in most (all?) of his stories.

There are apparently still plans to release a second issue of All-Smash Funnies for $0.99 and, according to this interview with Mr Gilbert, it will include another Mister Chameleon story.

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