What if ... there was a Canadian superhero universe? A pantheon of masked adventurers conjured up by a generations-spanning Canadian comic book publisher? Something Canada has never had. Who would be the heroes? What adventures might have been told? How would the decades have been reflected?
And what if ... we didn't have to ask "what if?"
MASQUES & CAPES: an imaginary history
by D.K. Latta
23 Superhero tales in prose spanning from 1939 to 2016!
E-book available from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, and other Amazon iterations around the world.
Softcover -- available soon
Pull back the curtain on a hitherto unknown universe of Canadian costumed heroes! From World War II to the War on Terror, from Bobby Soxers to bloggers, follow the adventures through the evolving decades...
The 1940s: Witness! the triumphs & tragedies as The Daring Dominions foil Nazi spies and saboteurs!
The 1950s: Enter! the sinister Armageddon House with the intrepid Dr. Id!
The 1960s: Join! the country's greatest heroes as they battle an alliance of their arch foes on board an alien space ship!
The 1970s: Beware! as a costumed heroine tries to prevent a Hollywood North film shoot from becoming a stage for...murder!
And on to today! From The Golden Age to The Modern Age. From hippy communes to society soirees. From the vastness of the Arctic Tundra to the bustle of downtown Toronto. From pandemonium on a prairie field to murder on a movie set.
Put on some slippers, settle in a comfy chair, and prepare to enter a world you always knew existed, if only in your dreams...
If you want to read these stories as just entertaining distractions of mystery and adventure while taking a bus or subway into work -- great! I make no pretensions to being anything more than a "pulp" writer.
Equally, if you want to delve deeper, I've tried to put in extra layers. The stories are meant (sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly) to evoke their various time periods, as well as aspects of the comic book oeuvre. There are winking nods and coy allusions. As well, cryptic lines might foreshadow events in a story a few pages away, or have roots in a preceding tale. If you're so inclined, you can comb through the prose looking for "Easter Eggs." As well, beneath the tales of people in costumes fighting crime there are sometimes reflections on more substantial social and philosophical themes.
Part of the concept was to accept the Canadian setting in a matter-of-fact way, and then seeing what emerges -- rather than ignoring, hiding, or outright erasing that aspect (or, alternately, using it as a joke). That's part of the game, after all: to ask "what if" there had been a decades-spanning Canadian comic book publisher, and so what stories might have been told? With that said -- do you need to be Canadian to understand these tales? No -- no more than you need to be American to listen to Bruce Springsteen, British to watch "Dr. Who," or Swedish to read Henning Mankell. Stories are universal, but setting and milieu is part of storytelling.
So whether it's to be read casually at the beach between swims or perused intently late at night, hopefully these tales will satisfy both circumstances.
Mostly -- they're just meant to entertain.
Masque (Nn; frm. Middle French: masque) ... 2) (a) colloquial or common slang term for a vigilante or para-legal crime fighter of normal or abnormal abilities that emerged in the mid-20th Century and has proliferated in the post-war generations. Often given to wearing a disguise and employing a pseudonym. (b) Generally: any such person with or without super powers. See also: Cape (4).
Cape (Nn; frm. Late Latin: cappa) ... 4) synecdoche for a person of extraordinary powers and abilities, and usually inclined toward vigilante or sanctioned law enforcement activities; frequently employing a costume or disguise. Often used as a sub-category of and/or in conjunction with Masque - see reference Masque (2).
From the CANADIAN DICTIONARY OF COMMON ENGLISH-LANGUAGE TERMS AND USES (1968 ed.)
Pass the word! Tweet about this book! Blog about it! Or, um, what's that thing people used to do...? Oh, right -- talk to your friends! If you like the book -- tell people! Leave a review at Amazon! Heck, if you don't like it, still tell people (so another writer can learn from my mistakes). If you have no interest in the book, but know someone who might -- pass on the news! This is very much a word-of-mouth undertaking (especially as I'm terrible at social media mysef). If people like you -- yes, you! I can see you through your screen! -- if people like you don't spread the word, this webpage will be the equivalent of me standing on a soap box...in a park...in the rain...after dark...after everyone's left town for a long week-end. Cricket. Cricket. (If ya get the drift).
Okay -- so it's at this point I should tell you how brilliant this book is and how you just have to buy it. But I'm not going to, 'cause we all know that'll just be hyperbole. I'm trying to spin a few different plates at once and one or two of the plates will undoubtedly smash on the floor. But hopefully it'll still be an interesting ride. And, besides -- if even half the stories are any good, it'll still be a good buy :D
I've had a few short stories published over the years (Strange Horizons, On Spec, Daily SF and Prairie Fire being some publications and in anthologies such as Land/Space, Masked Mosaic and Tesseracts Nineteen).
I've read superhero comics since I could read and have written about n' reviewed comics and graphic novels extensively on-line for the last couple of decades. I also created a website devoted to the Canadian comic book hero, Captain Canuck. I've watched superhero-themed movies and TV shows from "Misfits of Science" and "Stingray" (the Nick Mancuso series) -- remember those shows? -- to the latest episodes of "The Flash" and "Supergirl." So, y'know, I think I "get" the genre.
As well, I've spent years writing about Canadian pop culture (especially as regards film and TV) with a particular focus on Canadian culture and identity and how it is -- or more often is not -- reflected in popular entertainment. (A story in this collection -- "The Beaver, The Bear, and The Eagle" set against a Canadian film shoot -- in part arises out of my long time observing and writing about Canadian film). I've been a frequent blogger at Huffington Post Canada. So this is me very much putting my money where my mouth is.
(To find links to some of my writing available on-line -- fiction and non-fiction -- click here)
Because Canada has never managed a sustained legacy of such characters. After a successful flurry of comic book publishers in the 1940s, the post-war decades have seen only occasional small publishers arise, struggle briefly, and produce only a handful of issues. (In recent years companies like Decoder Ring Theatre and Chapterhouse Comics have attempted to plant their roots a bit deeper). Comics are a tricky medium even if the infrastructure exists (American comicdom is full of companies that crashed within a few years) and it's an even harder row to hoe if the infrastructure doesn't exist, with each new Canadian publisher basically trying to re-discover fire: figuring out printing, a distribution network, marketing, etc. Plus each project needing to achieve that creative critical mass of a good writer meeting a talented artist hooking up with skilled colourists and letterers who can all sync their schedules to meet a deadline and having access to the aforementioned printing, distribution, etc. So rather than lament outrageous fortune's slings & arrows (& gamma irradiated laser beams) and bemoan what can't be -- I decided to see if those obstacles could be side-stepped with a little creative moxy...and text-only prose stories. It may not be four-colour fun, but at least it opens our minds to the idea of a Canadian superhero universe.
Self-publishing can be good for "niche" books that would be hard to sell to a publisher. This book wasn't rejected by legitimate publishers -- I was having trouble finding one who would even look at it! Most (small) publishers aren't even open to single-author anthologies! Plus I was writing about superheroes! Plus I was setting the stories in Canada! Plus they really were mostly meant to be mystery and adventure tales taking the genre -- more or less -- seriously (albeit with some wry whimsy as befits the milieu -- and at least one story, "The Sinister Affair of the Group of Eight," deliberately tongue-in-cheek).
And for better or ill I wanted to try writing the stories I wanted to write, exploring ideas I wanted to explore.
This collection represents me following a muse, exploring and playing with themes and ideas I've grappled with literally for years. I'll go so far as to say I don't think there's another book quite like this. Oh, certainly individual aspects have been done before -- but I'm not sure anyone's tried to put them all together.
The common publishing wisdom is that one should micro-target your writing to a particular audience -- whereas I'm pulling together various diifferent interests and themes. Which means someone who might like one aspect (superheroes) might not be interested in the other (Canada). Or vice versa. But equally, maybe there's a little something for everyone...
BUY IT NOW!
Pass the word! Tweet about this book! Blog about it! Or, um, what's that thing people used to do...? Oh, right -- talk to your friends! If you like the book -- tell people! Heck, if you don't like it, still tell people (so another writer can learn from my mistakes). If you have no interest in the book, but know someone who might -- pass on the news! This is very much a word-of-mouth undertaking (especially as I'm terrible at social media mysef). If people like you -- yes, you! I can see you through your screen! -- if people like you don't spread the word, this webpage will be the equivalent of me standing on a soap box...in a park...after dark...in the rain...after everyone's left town for a long week-end. Cricket. Cricket. (If ya get the drift).
Webpage posted 2016