Writer: James Davidge
Artists: Bob Prodor, Nick Johnson
Colourist: Kyle Burles
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Publisher: Renegade Arts Entertainment
In the 1930s, Canada’s very first party dedicated to the needs of workers and farmers formed. 1st Legion of Utopia is a story about the early days of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which would go on to become the New Democratic Party. Holly Burnside and Brian Mah see the social discontent of farmers, the rising unemployment, and the fight for equal rights and opportunity. They became part of a movement that would disrupt the two-party system between the liberal and conservative parties.
James Davidge tells a story focused on the point of view of a woman and her queer, Chinese friend: two people on the fringes of society and fighting for their equal rights and their attraction to the CCF. Davidge mentions that women had just won the right to sit on the Senate, but he shows how far they still had to come with regards to equal rights of other minorities (like people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community). He mentions the residential schools and how the working conditions of the highway construction camps may have been worse than going to prison. These all provide the background of the society that formed the CCF.
Since the story takes place in Calgary, Canada, Nick Johnson’s backgrounds have to look like Calgary. I expected the story to look like a generic city, but once I got into it, as a Calgary local, I found that I recognized many of the locations featured: the National Hotel, the Royal Canadian Legion, Plaza Theater, even the Inglewood Bridge. Bob Prodor’s style is on the cartoonish side, but it’s very fitting for the story. Sometimes his faces seem more like a Picasso than a realistic face. I like the colours done by Kyle Burles, but it’s obvious that he favours the colour orange, which happens to be the party colour of the New Democratic Party.
1st Legion of Utopia is a comic about the early days of a pre-political group but focuses on the people whom the movement would benefit. It doesn’t paint Canada as “those were the good old days” or say it was hell. It was a time of significant struggle but one that was hopeful for the future.
1st Legion of Utopia is expected to release on April 29, 2019.