As a thrilling, chilling new book about the adventures of Nelvana of the Northern Lights is published here in the Land of Frozen Life, the pure of heart can find Canada’s first superheroine in the hallowed halls of the University of Calgary’s very own Special Collections.
For there, next to the archives of literary giants Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler and W.O. Mitchell, fans of comic book adventures will discover pages and pages of the amazing comic book life of Nelvana, the Inuit Goddess of the North.
“She would have to be Canada’s greatest superheroine, as well as the first,” reports Michael Hoskin, a former comic book scribe and current overlord of collections development with Libraries and Cultural Resources. “She is the daughter of the gods of the Northern Lights.”
Before Wonder Woman arrived, and during the Second World War when Canada banned the import of comic books from the U.S., Adrian Dingle wrote hundreds of comics about Nelvana and her exploits protecting the strange frozen world of Glacia.
“She battles various mad scientists and thieves, and she has the ability to turn invisible,” Hoskin says of Nelvana’s great powers. “She can fly at great speeds and other powers just seem to appear as the stories require.”
Hoskin was busy using his powers to document the vast George Morley collection of comic books and strips donated to the university in 2005, when he stumbled upon an online Kickstarter campaign by Toronto comic book fans raising money to produce a book about Nelvana.
As fast as you can say “In the name of Koliak, destroy the ‘Etheria,’” Hoskin sent some of his own money and a couple of months later, the authors requested the university’s help in unearthing more Nelvana material for the book.
“I don’t know how they thought to ask us but it is fantastic that they did because it wouldn’t have been known publicly that we had these comics,” he says. “But I had already been able to identify the portion of the Morley collection which was related to Nelvana so I brought the request to our special collections cataloguer and he took scans to pass along to the publishers.”
Meanwhile, many other great heroic adventures await those who venture to see the George Morley Cartoon Collection in the Taylor Family Digital Library. The thousands of items go back 100 years and include the First Men of the Moon, Killraven and War of the Worlds.