Johnny Canuck

Created by James Moffatt (pseudonyms include Richard Allen, Hilary Brand, Ray Court, Johnny Douglas, Francis Duke, Ray Ferrier & Leslie McManus; also house pseudonyms Hilary Brand & Hank Janson; 1922-93)

Over the years, Canadians have been in turn greatly bemused and painfully embarrassed at the American media's distorted and generally cock-eyed view of our country (Hell, comedian Rick Mercer's made a whole career out of it), but this one's so bad it's painful, or at least painfully funny.

The JOHNNY CANUCK series makes those sappy Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald/Renfrew of the Northwest Mounted movies look like hard-hitting CBC documentaries. The only solace we poor misunderstood Canadians have here is that that, despite the finger-pointing monicker, this dick is apparently all-American.

Get this:

"JOHNNY CANUCK's hot blood is one quarter Sioux Indian, going back to his grandfather, who had fought with Sitting Bull at the Big Horn. Because he liked the white Canadians, he changed his name to John Canuck -- the usual name for a Canadian. His son kept the name, and so did Johnny...a tough resourceful private eye who gets results where others have failed... especially with women."

And that's just from the preface. And it only gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view.) In Blue Line Murder (1965), for example, Johnny is hired by the Lakeview Otters, a professional hockey team (granted, the name's no more ridiculous than The Mighty Ducks), to investigate the murder of their star defenseman, Tex "Cowboy" Brandt (Tex is evidently his real name, but "Cowboy" is a nickname). But wouldn't you know it? Soon Johnny's up to his one-quarter Sioux Indian neck in neo-Fascists from the American Freedom Front Party.

Johnny appeared in eight paperback originals for Compact in the mid-sixties, and each one's an alternative classic, 100 per cent American cheese. There's no connection between him and the original Johnny Canuck, a Canadian cartoon hero who first appeared in a 1869 political cartoon and was later re-invented as a Second World War superhero in 1942.

But that still begs the question: who was this guy Moffat? He evidently wrote under a slew of pseudonyms (including Hank Janson), but what planet was he from?

THE EVIDENCE

  • "... she winked at me. Those eyes were bedroomy!"

-- from Blue Line Murder

UNDER OATH

  • "... a perfect example of a novel so bad it takes on a value all its own. Novice writers could use this title as encouragement of the if-this-can-get-published-then-I-can-get-published variety."

-- Paul Bishop on Blue Line Murder

NOVELS

  • Blood Is a Personal Thing (1965)
  • Blue Line Murder (1965) ..Buy this book
  • The Eighth Veil (1965)
  • Time for Sleeping (1965)
  • Course of Villainy (1966)
  • Curtain of Hate (1966)
  • Terror-Go-Round (1966)
  • The Twisted Thread (1966)

Respectfully submitted (snicker, snicker) by Kevin Burton Smith.


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