Note: Every country needs its hero, and comics pro Kalman Andrasofszky is giving Canada’s patriot, Captain Canuck, a much-needed redesign. Andrasofszky did this as the character designer for an official animation development project for the Canadian Captain, and he’s really outdone himself in his spot-on updating of this hero. Take your time and look at this epic rendering and the character turnaround, and read below for Kalman’s thoughts behind the design. – Chris A.
Kalman provided us a look inside his intentions with this extensive write-up:
At least in terms of visual design, it’s almost impossible to talk about Captain Canuck without also considering that other flag-draped Canadian icon, Guardian AKA Vindicator. It’s also impossible to talk about any of this without going back to the impressions of my 10-year old self. He loved the idea of Canadian superheroes, and thought Guardian was awesome, but, if I’m honest, was also a bit put off by the asymmetry. He couldn’t understand why America had a Captain, and Britain had a Captain but we, Canadians, did not. When he discovered a little later that we in fact did, my 10 year-old self couldn’t understand why, unlike Guardian, Canuck’s suit didn’t have a stronger flag motif. The Maple leaf on his mask wasn’t even a maple leaf. It’s obvious to me now why it was simplified, and it was absolutely the right call, but my 10 year-old self thought it was whack. The only reason I know how to draw a perfect maple leaf to this day is because a superhero, (unfortunately, not Canuck.) wore one. To my 10 year old self, it was no different from Wolverine’s mask or Batman’s emblem. (Both of which I can also still draw from memory, ladieeees…)
Which brings us to the flag as an obvious starting point, and luckily, the Canadian flag is simple, tasteful and graphic, with an elegant limited palette. The trick then, is to retain the iconic elements without making the character look like an olympic skier (there’s a bit of this in the Guardian costume, much as I do love it.) My first instinct was to try to center the flag, to correct the perceived design imperfection that dogged my childhood. The result was, predictably, way too busy and cramped, especially with that tiny maple leaf crammed onto his chest. Richard Comely and John Byrne knew exactly what they were doing, back in the day.
My next trick was to keep my symmetrical approach, but zoom way in on the flag, and use an enlarged but cropped maple leaf as the key element, so it’s middle frond becomes the main graphic shape on Cap’s chest. The two fronds on either side are clipped, so only the inner point of each remains visible on his biceps, where the whole design repeats and wraps around his back.
For the additional details, I went abroad and cherry-picked appealing elements from the international community of flag-wearing heroes:
Canuck’s helmet, though it may resemble Guardian’s, is actually based on Captain Britain’s helm. The design of the chin/jaw guard is a straight-up homage, as is the profile. And not just in the gear, I tried to capture a bit of the rigid, upright posture Alan Davis gives all his heroes. For a little splash of color up top, I repeated the chest frond. This is also a nod to Richard’s classic Canuck design: plain white mask with a graphically interpreted leaf emblem.
The small maple leafs on his shoulders were inspired by Ultimate Captain America. Bryan Hitch took Cap’s iconic star emblem and repeated it on his shoulders, almost like rank insignia. I think this gives a touch of military styling to Cap and with all the large shapes dominating the suit, I felt a couple of smaller elements added visual variety.
Finally, the yellow belt buckle –It just needed it, it was the missing element and along with the teal-blue eyes, all the primary colors are represented, a nod to classic hero design aesthetics, even though we knew our Cap wouldn’t be a standard spandex hero.
He’s a super-agent and possibly even a super-soldier, he’s been military and law enforcement (and a scout master!) in past incarnations, and his power set is quite grounded and so he wears armour and carries gear. His night-sticks, or tonfa, new to this incarnation, are his signature weapon. They can electrify at his command, or can merge into a single bo staff. All non-lethal weapons, (but formidable in the right hands,) something that touches on his Canadian-ness, which is at the heart of this revamp, without irony or snark. We’ve seen patriotic super-soldier characters before, but we want to emphasize the things that set a Canadian one apart. Cap doesn’t carry a gun or a sword or blast people to smithereens, he relies on strategy, negotiation, and wits. And he’s also super-polite, it’s a real power that all Canadians posses.