CAPTAIN AL COHOL

CAPTAIN AL COHOL

The first issue of this four book series, designed to combat alcoholism in the Northwest Territories, appeared August 1, 1973. It was created by Art Sorensen, a former Journal northern correspondent turned government information officer, who worked a year mostly on his own time to craft the stories.

They revolve around a pale faced, fair haired hero who has a fatal weakness for alcohol. At the end of the series he is attending Alcoholics Anonymous. He fights various villains like Billy Vermin and the Ravenmen in fictional northern communities like Fish Fiord, using exclamations like, my favourite, “Leaping honeybuckets”.

The idea for the series began about 1971 when a priest Father Maurice Metayer noticed that comic books were very popular in the Cambridge Bay community. He passed the information on to Harold Huggins chief of the North West Territory government’s alcohol education program. The government checked other communities and found comic books equally popular in them. As a result the Captain Al Cohol graphic series was launched.

The result proved highly successful in southern Canada and the U.S. University libraries here were ordering copies. In the U.S., New York Times carried an article on it. Congratulations and copy requests were coming from U.S. Senators, distillers and American Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the Northwest Territories, the enthusiasm was more subdued. Reporters found readership was low and comment even harder to find. Then, there was as much criticism as enthusiasm. Some complained that because of a low literacy rate, people were just looking at the pictures. However, anyone who has read graphic stories knows one can pick up the gist of the story just looking at the pictures. Another criticism was that the books were in English only, but it was pointed out the cost of using one Innuit and five Indian languages was prohibitive. Most serious was the accusation of racism, because the “hero” is a white blonde and the villain is dark skinned, but as Sorenson pointed out is anyone going to identify with a white blond haired drunk?

Nevertheless, there were plans rectify these weaknesses if the series continued. Story ideas would be solicited from Innuit and Indian individuals and native languages would be incorporated, after all 75 per cent of the population was indigenous It appears, however, the project did not go beyond the four books.

MEDIUM:

PERIODICAL GRAPHIC;

Series educational:

Captain Al Cohol The Coming of Captain Al Cohol, 1. Writ., Art Sorensen. Illus., Phil Clark & Dale Austin. Ed., Jack Oates. Produced by Arctic Comics/The Northwest Territories Department of Information for Northwest Territories Department of Social Development no date.

Captain Al Cohol: Ordeal of Torture, 2. Writ., Art Sorensen. Illus., Phil Clark & Dale Austin. Ed., Jack Oates. Produced by Arctic Comics/The Northwest Territories Department of Information for Northwest Territories Department of Social Development no date.

Captain Al Cohol: Liquor Doesn’t Make Heroes, 3. Writ., Art Sorensen. Illus., Phil Clark & Dale Austin. Ed., Jack Oates. Produced by Arctic Comics/The Northwest Territories Department of Information for Northwest Territories Department of Social Development, no date.

Captain Al Cohol: Al Foils The Mackenzie Raiders, 4. Writ., Art Sorensen. Illus., Phil Clark & Dale Austin. Ed., Jack Oates. Produced by Arctic Comics/The Northwest Territories Department of Information for Northwest Territories Department of Social Development, no date.

SOURCE:

Newspaper:

“The North’s incredible Captain Al Cohol.” Writ., Gorde Sinclair. Edmonton Journal, 10 Oct. 1973: 5.

GALLERY:

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE COMIC BOOK COVERS\Captain Al Cohol, 1 .jpg

Captain Al Cohol, 1 , Cover.