Sean Martin was a Canadian comic artist and graphic designer, best known for his 'Doc and Raider' comic. It is one of the longest-running LGBTQ comic strips in history, and has appeared both in print (1986-2002) and online (2006-2020).

Early life
Sean Stephane Martin's date of birth is estimated at 29 December 1960, considering the date he was adopted from a Catholic orphanage in Montreal. His adoptive mother raised him in Texas, and he later lived in New York and San Francisco, before returning to Canada in 1986. He has Canadian citizenship since 1989.

Doc and Raider
Martin's comic strip 'Doc and Raider' debuted in a Vancouver-based gay publication in 1987. It was ironically the final issue of the paper, but the feature was quickly picked up by other queer-oriented papers throughout Canada, most notably Xtra! in Toronto. Later the strip also appeared in Europe, New Zealand, Japan and the Middle East, while maintaining its Canadian point of view. The two main characters are François "Doc" Ambrose, a writer of romance novels and Broadway shows, and his boyfriend Raymond "Raider" Deere, a construction worker. Their names were inspired by a series of western novels by J.D. Hardin, about a pair of Pinkertons agents in the American West.

'Doc and Raider'.

The mainly single panel cartoons gave a comical look in the everyday life of a Canadian gay couple and their friends. Some of the black-and-white episodes were sequential however, with some strips even following an ongoing storyline. Martin explores not only lightweight topics like leather contests and life with cats, but also serious subject matter like AIDS, safe sex and violence against gays. One of the major storylines of the original run dealt with Doc testing positive for HIV, and the strain it put on his relationship with Raider. But Martin took his social consciousness even further. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Doc and Raider appeared in safer sex education campaigns, while the profits from the strip's syndication went to local causes. The author requested his editors to donate to local charities instead of paying him, turning 'Doc and Raider' into an international fundraiser. As such, Martin's comic has financially supported everything from an AIDS hospice in New Zealand to a queer arts festival in Scotland.

The 1996 "Breakup" series also explored the topic of domestic violence.

Online revival
'Doc and Raider' 's original run ended in 1997. It spawned the book collections 'Doc and Raider: Caught on Tape' (1994) and 'Doc and Raider: Incredibly Lifelike' (1996), and was subject of the documentary film 'Raider in Canada: A Portrait of Sean Martin' (1998) by Randy Riddle. In the following years, Martin featured his characters in standalone stories for two anthologies to support the Vancouver-based Little Sister's Bookstore in its legal battles with the Canada Border Services Agency over so-called "obscene materials". By 2006 Martin revived his strip as a webcomic, redesigning the characters in a more modern computer-generated 3D-style. The stories continue to tackle topical subject matter, like being gay in the military, the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA, sexual activity outside a relationship and growing old. Episodes have been collected in independently published anthologies like 'Canadian: Hope That's Okay' (2013), 'Frankly Canadian' (2013) and 'Tastefully Canadian' (2015).

Further work
With its 5,600 episodes, 'Doc and Raider' serves as one of the longest-running LGBTQ comic strips in history. In Canada it is only surpassed by Lynn Johnston's 'For Better or For Worse' (1979-1997, 2004-present). In addition to his trademark strip, Sean Martin has worked as a scenic and costume designer for theatre plays. He has used his experiences for a manual called 'Big Show Tiny Budget' (2008). He has also written a novella called 'Triptych' as well as adaptations of classic theatre scripts, including 'The Prince of Pilsen', 'The Pink Lady' and 'The Black Crook'. His illustrations of everyday life in Montréal were collected under the title 'Les Citains' (2013). Martin has additionally illustrated editions of Voltaire's 'Candide', 'Gilgamesh', Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 'The Little Prince' and 'Aesop's Fables'. His graphic design work for the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Gay Rodeo Association in 2001.

Suffering from pancreatic cancer, Sean Martin posted the 5,600th and final installment of 'Doc and Raider' on 13 July 2020. The artist died exactly three weeks later, following hospice care, on 3 August 2020.

'Doc and Raider'.

Series and books by Sean Martin you can order today:


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