Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Reading age: 16
Now iconic to Canadian, if not global culture, Cape Breton Island underwent a metamorphosis of sorts during the 1970s and 1980s. Long marginalized by geography, economics and predominant mainland political culture, a countercultural sea change brought the island’s deeply rooted creative side—music, drama, literature and humour—to centre stage. One such stage was Old Trout Funnies, a homegrown satirical series of comic books created by artist Paul MacKinnon. MacKinnon’s Cape Breton comic book heroes, the Cape Breton Liberation Army, led the revolution, lampooning local and provincial politics, labour unions, environmental activism, government infrastructure projects and back-to-the-landers. Through the farcical exploits of the CBLA, Old Trout Funnies parodied and played with the caricature of Cape Bretoners as shiftless, happy-go-lucky rogues whose motivation emanated from the taverns. In The Comic Origins of the Cape Breton Liberation Army, folklorist Ian Brodie explores the themes and the legacy of Old Trout Funnies, providing the cultural and historical context for a project that was intensely esoteric and in-the-moment. Included are the complete runs of the comics, the calendars and some rarely seen ancillary images of the CBLA, and of some unfinished and unpublished works.
About the authors
Ian Brodie was class valedictorian and graduated in 1996 with Honours in Religious Studies. After earning an MA in Religious Studies at Memorial University, he turned his attention to folklore. Since 2005, he has taught Folklore in the Department of Heritage and Culture at Cape Breton University. His doctoral dissertation is a folkloristic study of stand-up comedy.
Paul “Moose” MacKinnon, a native of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, initially created Old Trout Funnies as a student project for a commercial design course. It was a synthesis of the underground comics tradition of the late 1960s and 1970s and an Eastern Canadian self-deprecating sense of humour. It soon morphed into something far greater.
“A unique brand of anarchic Maritime comix, combining counter-culture preoccupations with an unfettered lampooning of mainland and Island follies and foibles. Long live the CBLA!” John Bell, author of Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe
Ian Brodie has done superlative work in tracking down references and explaining the dynamics of the comics. Essential reading for anyone interested in Canadian comics and in East Coast history. Dominick Grace Western University – Brescia University College