Three Firsts

In this post I want to discuss three WECA firsts starting with a curiosity I take to be one of the first “horror type” stories in comics. “Grim Tales” was a brief two-story run in Wow Comics No. 12 (Jan.-Feb. 1943) and No. 13 (March-April 1943) by Don McKague (my dates for Bell books are all extrapolated estimates, since they stopped listing them in the indicia after the first early issues of their titles). For me, these two stories foreshadow the first true horror comics of the late forties and the horror boom that started with E. C. comics in 1950.

Jim Aldridge

On one of my research visits to Gerry Lazare and his wife Setsuko, Gerry said that he had recently received a phone call from someone who had written him a fan letter 40 years ago. Gerry said that the man’s name was Jim Aldridge and that he has had a career in art and design and also that...

WECA Worth

My question is, does the scarcity of WECA comics put them in a universe of their own when it comes to determining their fair market value? These books are still somewhat impenetrable for the majority of collectors and maybe an accurate price guide can’t be set down because of the lack of available sales data. I don’t subscribe to GPA so I don’t know if there is any data on sales of some of the slabbed WECA books, but so far this year I have seen about 130 of these books change hands on line, but this unusually high number of WECA books made available in a single year was chiefly due to the 100 or so books offered in the February and March ComicLink (CLINK) auctions. The usual number of books exchanged on line per year is probably below 50. I suspect that most WECA books never reach the online market and are exchanged between collectors, or dealers and collectors hand to hand—or they are discovered when collections come to light from across the country when a collector digs extra hard and uncovers one.

Marvelous Anglo-American

In the summer of that year Anglo-American put out Freelance Comics No. 1 (July/August) and then just after that Grand Slam Comics No. 1 (Sept./Oct.) and then Three Aces Comics No. 1 (Nov./Dec. 1941). This rounded off that first year for Anglo-American with all original Canadian material and characters such as Freelance, The Crusaders, Pat the Air Cadet, and Don Shield. At this point, however, Anglo-American decided to veer off this Canadian path and contract with Fawcett in the States, not to reprint their superhero stories, but to use their scripts for redraws. Of course, government acts prevented them from reprinting American comics outright (reprints weren’t really legalized until the war was over) in Canada, but not from drawing their own versions of the Fawcett scripted stories.

Birthdays

This third week in September is quite a significant week for WECA book fans. This past Saturday night I attended the Shuster Awards for the first time and served as a presenter for the induction of former Hamiltonian Edmond Good into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame. He and publisher of Bell Features books, Cy Bell, were the two WECA era inductees this year. In the past few years it has we have inducted two creators from the Canadian Golden Age and one more recent creator—this year well deserving Ty Templeton. One oversight that I think needs to be corrected is that a female WECA artist has yet to be inducted (top of my list is Doris Slater with Shirley Fortune not too far behind). You can see all the winners at the Shusters web site and read Scott VanderPloeg’s report here.

50 Years Ago…

It was 50 years ago this week that the earliest article I know of on Canadian WECA comics appeared in the Sept. 19, 1964 issue of Maclean’s Magazine. It was written by Alexander (“Sandy”) Cameron Ross as part of a series called “A Maclean’s Flashback” and its title was “A Fond Portrait of those Wild Wartime Comics.” Ross was perhaps best known for founding Canadian Business magazine in 1977 and posthumously has had a national award ‘The Alexander Ross Award for Best New Writer’ given out by the National Magazines Awards Foundation.

John Bell

  John Bell is probably best known to you for his published work on Canadian comics. He was kind enough to take the time to answer a number of questions I sent him with a view to publishing his responses in this column and I include the questions and his responses below. IK: Comic-book...

WECA Price Guide

Now that the latest Overstreet Price Guide has included an article on the Canadian war-time comic books and now that the books themselves are beginning to realize handsome price ranges, is it time to put together a Canadian WECA Price Guide, or Canadian Golden Age Price Guide, or Canadian...

Collecting

As a collector of various things for more than 50 years and, specifically, as a collector of Canadian war-time comics for the last two years or so, I have had pause to step outside myself and take an up high and a little to the side look at myself and this activity, pastime, or, some (specifically wives) would say, a kind of pathology, that has echoed in us down through history. With Fan Expo looming, in this column I want to examine what has put the wind in my collecting sails over this past half century and hope that it makes some sense at one point or another.

Harry Brunt

Harry Joseph Brunt was born on Nov. 22, 1918 in Chicago but his family seems to have settled in the Toronto-Hamilton area a few years after he was born. Brunt started to work for Bell features as one of its artists while he was in his mid-twenties around the Christmas season of 1943. The nature of his contribution to these comics consisted of two or three page featurettes that were cartoony and goofy and invariably had an alliterative name.

Slam-Bang 7

This week I want to talk about a significant comic from the late WECA period, Slam-Bang Comics No. 7, with a cover date of May, 1946. (Jim Finlay informs me that his indicia for this issue has the date July, 1946 pencilled in, maybe with the May date whited out? Anybody else have a copy they could check?) It took the cover banner from Fawcett’s short live run of a same titled series of 7 issues from 1940, but why it began in Canada with an initial number 7 is still a mystery. Perhaps it was some sort of nod or licensing response to the Fawcett run, but who knows?

Saakel’s Satire

The Whites were not only about the cliffhanger dramatics of superheroes, spies, and soldiers taking on the Axis. Satirical strips like Steele’s Private Stuff and Saakel’s Spike and Mike, both in Joke Comics, were just plain tongue-in-cheek fun.

TAS: Masks, Calories, and Beavers

In late 1944, Steele seemed to have come up with the idea of doing cut-out masks of a few of the lead Bell characters on the inside covers of some of the Bell Features books. We modern collectors look back somewhat aghast on this because, just like Bell’s placement of cut-out coupons in similar locations, it must have led to wanton disfigurement of many of these books, but such were the ways of the world back then towards something that was seen as ultimately disposable and easily remaindered. Steele signed these “fathead” portraits with his shortened monogram “TAS.”

Canada’s Own Comics: a WECA database

Today is the launch day of our modest attempt to set up an online database of Canadian comic books from the WECA period (1941-46), better known to collectors as The Canadian Whites, at canadasowncomics.com. We were approached early on in our project to avoid the difficulty of creating an online index of these comics from scratch and simply upload our information to the Grand Comics Database. However, we felt it of utmost importance that the first real indexing of these comics be based in Canada. I’m sure that the information we put up there (and remember that this is the first real setting down of comprehensive data about a unique, rare, and arcane set of comic books) will often have holes and need amendment and tweaking, but this first effort is important. I’m sure that a lot of our information will be mined by sites such as the Grand Comics Database, I just hope that whoever ends up using our findings as published material will link back to our site or, at least, credit their find appropriately.

FECA

For this column I’ve chosen to step outside of my normal mandate and talk a little about that period that came after the WECA Period (Robin Hood Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 and Better Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 in March, 1941 to Robin Hood Comics Vol. 3 No. 34 Dec. 1946-Jan. 1947). After the end of...

Dates and Places

  I’m up at the archives again, flipping original Bell Features art pages and have just had time to put together a patchwork column this week. First of all, I’d like to share with you some dates and geography. My amateur research into the backgrounds of the creators behind the Canadian...

Nelvana

Because it’s Canada Day week I want to do a bit of a more involved special column about the figurehead of the Canadian Whites this time–Nelvana. This mini-skirted, semi-mortal, maid of the Arctic skies has firmly become the totem (the chosen emblem) of the Canadian war-time comics.

Jodhpur Jockeys

The WECA period had its share of capes, masks, and tights, but the most common heroic habit for the super-styled Canadian crime-fighter of the period was far more reserved fashion statement. This was the simple combination of jodhpurs and riding boots with a variety of top halfs.

Name-It Comics

By the time Name-It Comics came out, Maple Leaf’s first title, and Canada’s first comic book, Better Comics had already had eight issues out and its second title, Lucky Comics (at that time known as “Union Jack – Lucky Comics”) had had half that. The other title that came out concurrently with Name-It Comics was Bing Bang Comics with its lead and cover feature being the adolescent, Denis the Menace type of trouble maker, Pinky.

Bus Griffiths

  On the front cover of Canada’s first comic book, Better Comics No. 1 (March, 1941), Vancouver’s Maple Leaf Publications chooses a stylized maple leaf containing the words “Canada’s Own” to be its logo. These words broadcast the mission mandate through which Vernon Miller created his...

Plugin by Social Author Bio

About: ikocmarek

Website
http://www.comicbookdaily.com/category/collecting-community/white-tsunami-weca-splashes/
Profile
Grew up in Hamilton's North End. Comic collector for over 50 yrs. Recent interest in Canadian WECA era comics.

Posts by ikocmarek: