NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
“Nelvana” was created by Adrian Dingle. She first appeared in Triumph-Adventure Comics, vol. 1 no 1, August 1941 published by Hillborough Studios. When Hillborough was absorbed by Bell Features in 1942 she moved across with Triumph. “Nelvana” along with other Bell characters was taken over by F.E. Howard Publications. She appeared in colour under a new title Super Duper Comics. There appears to have been only one issue. Strangely enough it was numbered Super Duper Comics no. 3, May – June 1947. After that issue both the comic book and “Nelvana” disappeared..
Nelvana was created from an Inuit legend that Franz Johnson a member of the famous Group of Seven painters brought back from his trip to the Arctic. Franz showed Adrian a picture of her. “She was a horrible looking old hag who was chewing her mukluks, just about ready for the bone yard.” Adrian kept the name but changed her into a caucasian with long hair and a mini skirt. Franz wrote the first script. He supplied what the names were for sleds, boots etc. He did a lot of translating from Eskimo to get things started. After that Adrian was on his own.
The Adrian modified “Nelvana” was a semi-deific heroine, the daughter of “Koliak the King of the Northern Lights” who gave to her powers. These included flying at the speed of light along a ray of the Aurora Borealis, being able to call on other powers of the Northern Lights which could melt metal and disrupt communications, making herself invisible, altering her physical form and using her magic cloak to transform her brother “Tanero” with whom she could communicate telepathically. Above all this she was immortal,. All-in-all she was unique among Canadian heroes. To give this remarkable heroine enemies worthy of her, Dingle created Axis super-weapons and other-world super-villains whom were often allied to the Axis powers.
Initially she fought Nazi attempts to invade Canada’s arctic. This was not conducted by the Nazi themselves but by the “Kablunets”, Nazi allies armed with Thormite rays and led by “Toroff”. She subdued the “Kablunets”.
In Triumph no. 8, began a seven part series in which she entered the subterranean world of “Glacia”, a modernistic city that she finds frozen in a state of suspended animation when she is sent by Koliak to learn the Glacians’ secret of undying life. The light of the North Star shining down a deep crevasse and magnified by a glass dome over “Glacia” brings life back to the inhabitants after five million years of frozen sleep.
“Nelvana” becomes involved in a running battle with “King Rano” and his son “Targa” on one side and “Vultor the Villainous” on the other. “Vultor” attempts to usurp the Glacian throne but is beaten.
Midway through the seventh installment the story abruptly switches from Nelvana to a Japanese plot to destroy the Alaskan highway. They attempt to do this by dropping savage starved Manchurian wolves into the area. Nelvana is absent from the story for the next two installments as Dingle changes his focus to “Spud Jodwin” an engineer on the Alcan Highway Project. who discovers the plot. “Nelvana” eventually returns and saves the day.
In another change of direction Dingle moves “Nelvana from the North to Nortonville in Southern Ontario where she adopts the alter ego of Alana North secret agent. In this five part series called “The Ice Beam” “Nelvana confronts “One-Ear Brunner and his fellow enemy agents who are trying to steal plans for a new Allied secret weapon: the ice-beam.
In her final adventure she returns to the North and a fantasy theme with Earth facing the threat of war with the “Ether People” who claim, as justification for a planned invasion of the world, that man’s radio broadcasting is driving them insane. “Nelvana” journeys to the world of “Etheria” and discovers that “Vultor the Villainous” of “Glacia” fame is masterminding this latest threat to earth. Using the powers given to her by Koliak, Nelvana defeats “Vultor” and the great “Etherian” fleet once and for all. The final installment of this story appeared in colour in the third and only issue of Super Duper May 1947.
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Front: Illus., Adrian Dingle. Amazing Adventures in the Life Of Nelvana. Bell Features & Publishing Co.
Wrap around: Illus., Adrian Dingle. Nelvana of the Northern Lights. CGA Comics, 2014.
Amazing Adventures in the Life Of Nelvana. Car., Adrian Dingle. Bell Features & Publishing Co., no date. The stories include: “Nelvana of the Northern Lights in the Strange Frozen World of Glacia Ch. 1: The land of Frozen Life.” “Nelvana of the Northern Lights . . . in Glacia The Land Of Frozen Life.” “Nelvana … in Glacia World of Ice, Chapter. 3: Vultor the illainous.”“ “Nelvana of the Northern Lights: Chapter 4: Vultor’s Plot.” “Chapter the 5th of Nelvana of the Northern Lights in ‘Glacia’: The Unmasked Claw.” “Nelvana and the Death-Dealing Double.” Apparently this Nelvana episode was included in error instead of the concluding chapter of the “Glacia” story, “Death From Above”.
Nelvana of the Northern Lights. Car., Adrian Dingle. Ed., Hope Nicholson & Rachel Richey. CGA Comics, 2014. The complete “Nelvana” series.”
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Front, Illus., Adrian Dingle. Triumph Comics, no number, no date..: From internal evidence this is no. 7.
Front, Illus., Adrian Dingle. Triumph Comics, l2, no date
|“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” Car., Adrian Dingle. Triumph Adventure Comics, Hillborough Studio|
|“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” l-1, Aug.1941: 18-35.
“The Devil Ship.” 1-2, Sept. 1941: 1-14.
“Cave-in.” l-4, Nov.1941: 40-51.
“The Battle of the Arctic.” , l-5, Jan.1942: 19- 30.
“Icebergs of Death.” l-6, Feb. 1942: 23- 35.
|“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” Car., Adrian Dingle. Triumph Comics, Bell Features & Publishing, no date , Black & white interior.|
|“The Dictator Strikes.”no number,: 1-13. From internal evidence this is no. 7.
“In the Strange Frozen World of Glacia.” Triumph Comics, 8:1-12.
“In Glacia the Land of Frozen Life.” 9: 1- 12.
“In Glacia World of Ice – Chapter 3, Vultor the Villainous.” 10: 1- 12.
“Vultor’s Plot” – Chapter 4. l1: 1-12.
“In Glacia, Chapter 5, The Unmasked Claw.” l2: 1- 12 .
“In Glacia, Chapter 6, Death from Above.” l3: 1- 11
|“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” Car., Adrian Dingle. Triumph Comics, no date. Bell Features|
|l4: 1-9.||l5: 1- 9.||l6: 1- 9.||l9: 1- 7.||20: 1-7.||23:1-7.|
“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” Car., Adrian Dingle. Super Duper Comics, 3, May 1947.
“Nelvana of the Northern Lights.” Writ., Peter Harris. The World Encyclopedia of Comics, Ed., Maurice Horn. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1976: 515.
“Nelvana of the Northern Lights”, Guardians of the North: The National Superhero in Canadian Comic-Book Art, Writ., John Bell. Ottawa, National Archives of Canada, 1992: 5 – 10. A catalogue for the exhibit of the same name.
“A conversation with Adrian and Pat Dingle and Bill Thomas.” Writ., Dave Sim. Now and Then Times, 1-2, Oct.1973: 27+.
“Revisiting the golden age of Canadian Comics.” Writ.,Amy Kenny. Walrus, 11-1, Jan./Feb. 2014: 23- 24.
“Whatever Happened to …?” Writ., Pete Harris. Globe and Mail, 23 Oct.1982: Fanfare: 7.
“The Great Canadian Superhero.” Writ., Henry Mietkiewicz. Toronto Star, 1 Feb.1992: J1+.
Opening page, Triumph Adventure Comics, 1-1, Aug. 1941: 18.
Opening page, Super Duper Comics, 3, May 1947.