Created by James Moffatt
Pseudonyms include Richard Allen, J. J. More, Etienne Aubin, Trudi Maxwell, Leslie McManus, James Taylor, Ray Ferrier, Johnny Douglas, Ron Cunningham, Ray Court, Johnny Douglas, Francis Duke
Also used house pseudonyms Hilary Brand & Hank Janson
Over the years, Canadians have been in turn greatly bemused and painfully embarrassed at other nation’s often distorted and generally cock-eyed view of our country (Hell, Canadian comedian Rick Mercer’s made a whole career out of lampooning Americans’ almost total lack of understanding of our country), but this one’s so bad it’s painful, or at least painfully funny. It’s hard to be offended when you’re laughing your ass off.
The JOHNNY CANUCK series makes those sappy Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald/Renfrew of the Northwest Mounted movies look like hard-hitting CBC documentaries. The only solace we poor misunderstood Canadians have here is that, despite the finger-pointing monicker, this dick is apparently all-American.
And that’s just from the preface. And it only gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view.)
In Blue Line Murder (1965), for example, Johnny is hired by the Lakeview Otters, a professional hockey team (granted, the name’s no more ridiculous than The Mighty Ducks), to investigate the murder of their star defenseman, Tex “Cowboy” Brandt (Tex is evidently his real name, but “Cowboy” is a nickname).
But wouldn’t you know it? Soon Johnny’s up to his one-quarter Sioux Indian neck in neo-Fascists from the American Freedom Front Party (I’m sure some of them are fine people).
It’s hard to believe, but apparently Johnny appeared in eight of these paperback hack jobs, all published by Compact in the mid-sixties, and each one’s an alternative classic, 100 per cent processed cheese food. By the way, there’s no connection between him and the original Johnny Canuck, a caricature who first appeared in a 1869 Canadian political cartoon and was later re-invented as a Second World War superhero in the forties (and later as a cheesy Canadian comic book superhero in the 1970s).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
But that still begs the question: who was this guy Moffat? Turns out he was born in Canada in 1922 and lived for awhile in California before moving to England where he became a sort of late-period Mushroom Jungle man, cranking out close to 300 novels in several genres under at least forty-five pseudonyms, including several Hank Janson tales, as well as a couple of novels about English spy Silas Manners. According to Paul Bishop, “The only novels Moffatt ever wrote that had any lasting impact were “a series of youthspolitation novels starting with Skinhead in 1970 and ending with Mod Rule in 1980. These fictional chronicles detailed in salacious and often racist terms the British youth cult scene. They sold very well and have since become quite collectable.”
As for Johnny, well, we’re assured the inspiration for the series grew from the author’s own “respect and affection for the Canadian Indian.”
For a long time I wondered if this series even really existed, because the only one I’d ever seen is Blue Line Murder. Ever! But in 2023, faithful reader David Cryer came across a copy of Terror-Go-Round (1966), so I guess their scarcity is simply down to the fact that Compact was a British publisher.
- “… she winked at me. Those eyes were bedroomy!”
— Blue Line Murder
- “… a perfect example of a novel so bad it takes on a value all its own. Novice writers could use this title as encouragement of the if-this-can-get-published-then-I-can-get-published variety.”
— Paul Bishop on Blue Line Murder
- Blood Is a Personal Thing (1965)
- Blue Line Murder (1965) | Buy this book
- The Eighth Veil (1965)
- Time for Sleeping (1965)
- Course of Villainy (1966)
- Curtain of Hate (1966)
- Terror-Go-Round (1966)
- The Twisted Thread (1966)
- Native American Eyes & Faithful Indian Companions
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly