The premiere of the second episode of “Captain Canuck” almost did not happen. While the Fan Expo 2013 panel featured actors Kris Holden-Reid, Paul Amos, two creative directors and the host of the Space Channel’s Inner Space, none of them had a laptop that could connect to the projector.
Space Channel’s Ajay Fry immediately pushed ahead with the question-and-answer portion of the panel, announcing the date for the release of the third episode and that another “Captain Canuck” comic book is in the works.
First he asked Holden-Reid how he felt voice-acting the titular hero. Holden-Ried grinned.
“Well, first they push me into a little booth and force me to take my clothes off,” he said. The audience erupted into laughter. Holden-Reid is commonly known for playing Dyson on the television show “Lost Girls.
“Seriously, my contribution actually takes the least amount of time, but for me it’s a ton of fun,” he said, pointing to Executive Producer Fadi Hakim to his right and Creative Director Paul Gardner to his left. “I’m just glad to be involved.”
Meanwhile, Fry acquired a laptop from the audience. Stalling for more time as it was hooked up, he turned to Amos (Vex on “Lost Girl”), who plays Mister Gold in the web series.
“I’m British, so naturally I play the villain. I’m still working on that American accent so I can be a hero one day,” Amos said. Mister Gold is Captain Canuck’s arch-enemy, who seeks to destroy the Canadian government. “He’s very Shakespearean in one sense. He’s a bit larger than life and the voice-work is a ton of fun. But-”
Amos paused and looked right at Holden-Reid. “-They don’t make me take my clothes off.”
“He just shows up naked,” Gardner joked.
Fry nodded and then addressed the creator of the “Captain Canuck” comic book, Richard Comely. Comely talked about the distance between when he wrote the series and the world it inhabits now.
He began writing the series in 1975, and it took place in the wondrous future of 1993. He couldn’t take into account cell phones or the internet, and so the comics have an eerie separation from 2013.
“The one thing he got right was CSIS,” Fry said. The federal government founded the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (akin to the CIA) one year after he introduced a similar organization in the comics.
Fry coincidentally grew up around the corner from CSIS headquarters. Comely asked if it was an exciting place to live. Fry deadpanned, “That’s classified.”
Fry then asked the panel about the Captain Canuck’s popularity north of the 49th parallel. Holden-Reid was the first to respond.
“In Canada we’re such a diverse nation, and it’s great that we have a character that the kids can watch,” Holden-Reid said. Holden-Reid grew up with characters like Wolverine, but “rarely had anything to grab on to.” He added, “Meanwhile my five-year-old loves [Captain Canuck].”
“Captain Canuck means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That’s what makes it Canadian,” Comely said. “It’s interesting how a piece of cloth with red and white on it, and a song we sing every now and then, are so important to people.”
Fry told the audience that the third episode will premiere at the Silver Snail’s annual Halloween party. The Silver Snail is one of the most popular comic book stores in Toronto.
George Zotti, its owner, went on to announce that he’s currently pitching a new “Captain Canuck” series to publishers. The series would be drawn by artist Kalman Andrasofszky (“X-Treme X-Men”), who already designed the characters for the web series.
Update: According to Andrasofszky, the comic series will run two concurrent stories. The main story will feature the new Canuck from the animation and is a “ground-up reboot” — the brand new storyline will have no direct ties to the original. The backup story will feature the classic Canuck and will pick up after the last issue of the original series. The comic will launch with a new #1.
When Fry revealed the video was ready to play, the crowd cheered louder than at any other moment in the panel.
The episode is only a few minutes long with simple animation, though the voicing acting included Tatiana Maslany, the star of “Orphan Black,” and Thomas Craig, who plays Inspector Brackenreid on “Murdoch Mysteries,” alongside the two actors on the panel.
The packed panel hooted when Fry appeared at the start of the second episode, interviewing Captain Canuck on his show “Inner Space,” and wearing the exact same outfit he brought to the panel.
Henry explained that while they have about 15 minutes worth of script in total, it takes Smiley Guy Studios roughly two months to produce each three-minute episode. Smiley Guy Studios is a small Toronto-based animation studio.
“It’s pretty cool that we live in a world now that you can vote for something and get it made,” Henry said, in regards to the crowd-funding campaign that made the series possible. “When I was a kid, there were movies that I wanted to get made but couldn’t. Now with crowd funding and social media, you can show the viability of something before you even make it.”
After the episode, the audience asked a couple questions. Hakim answered them in a quick burst. More merchandise is on the way, and the T-shirts are still coming in from Montreal. There will be no action figures for the time being.
Whenever a fan asked about who was responsible for a given element of the show, like casting or directing, Amos said he did it.
Holden-Reid suggested Amos should also take all the responsibly for the flaws of the web series, too, and generally the problems in all of the fans’ lives. Amos stopped interjecting after that.
The panel ended with a small thank you to the volunteers, who provided the laptop and USB key that allowed them to play the video. Fry let out a breath, waved at the two volunteers, and then ran out of the room.