Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publication Date: March 27, 2019 Format: FC, 104 pages; HC; 6 5/8″ x 10 3/16″ Price: $19.99
War Bears is a fond tribute to the comics of yesteryear and is, more importantly, a look at the troubled times which plagued smaller publishing houses. In a time when the war effort hurt the local economy, cutting costs and exports made life tougher. Enter Al Zurakowski, an artist struggling to make ends meet. He’s optimistic about the future and thinks achieving the American dream is possible. But hold on, this is Canada! Life is tougher and colder. The reality is that not every publisher struck gold with their comic book creations.
He has an idea to make a francophone heroine, Oursonette. I looked at the first issue and loved the world Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy crafted. The era came alive with Steacy’s artwork. The attention to detail with the drab and the idealized romance was an easy sell.
With two incredible Canadian talents, Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy, get together to create a comic book, the industry better pay attention. Published by Dark Horse Comics, War Bears offers two well-meaning stories than one; the main narrative sees Alain Zurakowski as a struggling artist in an era where life is a struggle. The early 20th century was tough for many; not only did a world have to deal with and recover from two World Wars, but also the Depression made getting employed tough. In a dog eat dog world of 1943, this young man manages to get a job at a Toronto-based comic book company (not New York, where the action was at) and has to deal with ornery coworkers. One particular individual steals this kid’s ideas, and the conflict may well run deeper in later issues.