Stephen Lipson

There are a number of elite collectors of Canadian war-time comics. This tiny handful has managed to unearth these rare diamonds in the rough (in garages, barns, attics, trunks, and basements) and, through dogged persistence, ace detective work, and love of these books, amass a significant...

Easson Find

It’s an understatement to point out that most average income collectors, like me, have been priced out of battling for WECA comics through online auctions now that the comic collecting community has more widely become aware of them: of their quality, their distinctiveness, and their...

Your New World

There are very few comic books that are truly scary and cause those fine hairs on the back of my neck to stand to attention but here’s one that’s a Canadian WECA book. In the spring of 1942 a strange comic book came out of Vancouver published at 319 Pender St. West, just around the corner...

Frederick Griffin

Text stories, a whole bunch of words and a couple of pictures; they were probably the most skipped-over part of any WECA comic they appeared in. Though they didn’t appear in every war-time Bell Features comic book, they did appear in them right from the start. In 1945 Bell even felt they were...

WECA Ephemera: Crests, Transfers, and Paint Books!

Along with publishing the comic books themselves, our main four WECA publishers also put out a number of additional materials for kids of the time that is also eminently collectible and in this week’s column I’d like to draw attention to some of this material. These comic related ephemera are...

WECA’s Final Issues

Those last few months of 1946, those last few months of the WECA period, and what happened to each of the titles that were still being put out are still very murky. Not one of the issues that we now see were the last issues of each title announced that it would be the final one. On the...

Citren, Feature and Classics Comics

When we think of Canadian war-time comic publishing companies, we usually think of the “Big Four”: Maple Leaf Publications, Anglo-American Publications, Bell Features, and Educational Projects with Adrian Dingle’s Hillborough Studio run of Triumph-Adventure Comics appended to Cy Bell’s books....

Robin Hood

For me those comics that so many people affectionately call the “Canadian Whites” fall into a specific window whose most convenient frame is a single run of comics: Robin Hood Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 (March, 1941) to Robin Hood Comics Vol. 3 No. 34 (Dec. 1946-Jan. 1947). This is what II’vecome to term the WECA era because it was initiated by the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) passed Dec. 6, 1940 and came to an end as the provisions of this Act were repealed.

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.

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About: ikocmarek

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Grew up in Hamilton's North End. Comic collector for over 50 yrs. Recent interest in Canadian WECA era comics.

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