The True North, Strong and Meek
One of the most disturbing characteristics of Canadians is our desire to play the little brother to the "mighty" Americans. We continually measure our exploits using a yardstick from down south. There are endless examples of Canadian films, books and music that have failed here, but when met with the approval of U.S. folks, are subsequently hailed by Canadians as a brilliant, decidedly Canadian cultural expression. Mazurkewich too seems taken in by this cloying desire to capture the approving eyes of an Americanized audience. Understandably selling a book on Canadian animation to a general audience is a tough task that needs glossy pictures, an easy to read style, a loopy, "cartoony" cover, and proof that weve been accepted by focusing on Canadians who have made it in Hollywood. This is grudgingly acceptable in todays marketplace, but it is thoroughly revolting and insulting to every single Canadian artist, to conclude this unique Canadian journey with a series of American "cartoony" drawings and the big bold voice of Hollywood: "And tha... tha...thaaaaats all follllkkkkssss!!!!!!!"
Like an annoying aunt who talks loud but has nothing to say, Canadian Capers will be, in true Canadian tradition, tolerated out of politeness more than need. Still, it is the first of hopefully what will be many more books published on this rich Canadian culture and for all its misguided views, Canadian Capers at least liberates voices that have largely gone unheard.
Cartoon Capers: The History of Canadian Animators by Karen Mazurkewich. Toronto, Canada: McArthur and Company, 1999. 284 pages. ISBN: 1-55278-093-7 (CA$29.95).
Christopher J. Robinson is Executive Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and the founder and director of SAFO, the Ottawa International Student Animation Festival. In his spare time, he is, much to the chagrin of those involved, a board member of ASIFA-Canada. Robinson has curated many film programs, served on a variety of juries, and has written articles on animation for Animation World Magazine, Fps, Animato, Take One,and Plateau. He is currently working on a book about the history of Estonian animation as well as a biography of the great hockey player, Ted Lindsay. Go figure.