February ComicLINK Auction WECA Comic Results

By my reckoning (and I hope I haven’t missed any), there were 48 WECA comics on offer in last month’s ComicLINK auction. You can check out results from the October auction here and last year’s summer auction (which will also provide you with links to a couple of earlier auctions) here.

Below is my record of the February Auction winning bids ranked from highest to lowest:

TITLE GRADE RESULT
1 Dime 1 2.5 $3,100
2 Colossal (red cover) 5 $3,000
3 Better V1N4 6.5 $2,100
4 Triumph 25 7 $2,100
5 Wow 16 4.5 $2,100
6 Triumph 21 7.5 $1,900
7 Rocket V1N6 6.5 $1,475
8 Active 20 6.5 $1,350
9 Colossal (sub cover) 3 $1,300
10 Triumph 24 6 $1,250
11 Rocket V1N8 7 $975
12 Triumph 28 8 $950
13 Rocket V2N4 5.5 $938
14 Three Aces V1N4 5 $910
15 Triumph 11 5.5 $900
16 Wow 5 5.5 $853
17 Bing Bang V2N5 3.5 $850
18 Dime 19 6.5 $850
19 Wow 12 5.5 $850
20 Robin Hood V1N4 5 $845
21 Active 19 6.5 $831
22 Commando 2 7 $750
23 Active 10 8 $650
24 Commando 21 8.5 $650
25 Freelance V2N2 6.5 $650
26 Wow 13 6.5 $650
27 Joke 23 2.5 $625
28 Wow 8 4 $625
29 Better V2N9 3.5 $601
30 Commando 3 8 $562
31 Dime 18 6.5 $550
32 Joke 18 3 $525
33 Commando 7 6.5 $500
34 Comic Crimes 11 6 $475
35 Commando 6 5.5 $475
36 Commando 8 6 $475
37 Dime 23 5 $475
38 Super V2N5 4.5 $469
39 Lucky V5N4 6 $400
40 Terrific 2 7.5 $368
41 Lucky V5N5 2.5 $312
42 Phantom Rider nn 5.5 $311
43 Freelance V2N1 7.5 $305
44 Battle Heroes nn 6.5 $300
45 Freelance V1N7 6.5 $265
46 Three Aces V5N52 9 $210
47 Funny Comics 8 5 $135
48 Grand Slam/3Aces V4N46 8 $94

Before looking at some individual results for this auction, let’s take general stock of what’s happened in terms of sales of these books during the last two or three years. Since the start of 2014, ComicLINK has auctioned off just over 300 WECA comics and this has to be looked back on as a comparative market glut of these scarce Canadian war time comic books. I suppose we have to thank ComicLINK for slabbing these books and bolstering CGC Census results from what had previously been just a smattering of examples. I wonder how many American golden age books ComicLINK auctioned off in the same period? Probably 10-20 times that much and when you take into account availability of American golden age books on other auction sites and eBay and how many American golden age books are represented in the census you can’t compare the two universes at all.

Most people don’t buy WECA comics to flip. They want to have one or a couple, or everyone they can get, in their collection. Most collectors, but not all, who want these books are also Canadian because of the weight of the cultural currency they carry and because they are something of our own we can now be proud of.

This auction bears out the usual comic collector’s truisms that keys, characters and covers drive values of comic books. With Canadian WECA comics these core axioms are overlayed with the fact that scarcity of these books can always trump (apologies to everyone) the others and skew demand.

The top value reached in this auction was for a clear “key” Dime Comics 1 which houses the 1st appearance of Leo Bachle’s Johnny Canuck who has become one of the iconic forces of the period. See Walt’s Auction Highlights #98 for Walt’s take on the book and Steeve V.’s additional comments. These keys will always be sought after.

Number 2 on the list is the red cover issue of Bell Features’ Colossal Comics (too thick to be slabbed, ComicLINK graded it at a 5.0). Colossals had no numbers but appeared with three different covers. They may have been mail order only, but I suspect Cy Bell must have had them on the news stands at some point when he started producing them in 1944. Each one of the three covers wrapped around six remaindered Bell Features issues, some with their covers intact and some missing either the front or back cover, or both. Adrian Dingle did all three alternate covers but the kick to these big 330 plus page books is that they also had alternate insides as well with a different random selection of six Bell books each time. This particular red cover, with the Nazis in the foreground running from an Allied air attack is the best of the lot and this particular issue on offer had 4 of the inside comics with their front and back covers intact (Wow 6, 7, and 9 and Joke 4 – 1st appearance of The Wing).

Ad for Colossal Comics taken from the back cover of Dime Comics 17.

Strangely enough I know of more than one person who has an intact Colossal with a number of the inside books having complete covers, who has thought or is thinking of disassembling the comic and selling the contents as stand alone issues. The trouble is that not only do these excised books have glue residue and colour breaks up and down the spine, they also suffer from the fact that once the original individual issues were assembled and glued together to the new cover, the whole Colossal assemblage was trimmed to even out the edges of the stacked comics. We certainly find examples of individual Bell books that show evidence of being pried out of a Colossal issue. Here’s one example in my own collection—an Active 20 (compare it with the slabbed copy in the auction):

You can see the colour loss along the spine from the book being detached from the square-bound volume and you can see the trimming.

In any event, this red cover issue of Colossal Comics was the gem of the WECA books auctioned this time.

The next comic in the top ten was Better V. 1 No. 4 and I think that this went so high because it is an early (June 1941) Maple Leaf book. It’s probably one of the first 10 WECA comics and precedes Triumph No. 1 by a couple of months.

The next five books on the list are all cover books. Triumph 25 and 21 are both Dingle Nelvana covers with the #21 cover having her in her new alter ego of Alana North. Wow 16 is the first Penguin cover and one of the best. Rocket Vol 1 No. 6 is an iconic Bert Bushell Cosmo cover that evokes a whole bunch of Buck Rogers techno-magic and Active No. 20 with it’s sought after Dingle hockey cover (a rare but totally Canadian theme in comics and it looks to be very sought after).

 

Rounding out the top ten are another issue of Colossal Comics, featuring the submarine cover but this time with the content comics only having their back covers and a Triumph 24 which starts the “Nelvana and the Ether People” arc.

A couple of books that went a little higher than I thought were late 1946 reprint books. Comic Crimes 11 with it’s red diamond-shaped one shilling sticker (showing this book was mainly put together for British distribution) and the Rene Kulbach cover graphic taken from Triumph 24. The other was Terrific Comics 2 which has an original cover by an unidentified artist but still contained only colour American reprints. The latter was the better buy of the two in my opinion.

Some books I felt were a little short changed were the Phantom Rider 1945 Compendium which brought in $311. This is one of the six Bell Compendium books which is a very hard set to complete (especially with the current asking price for the Nelvana Compendium). It has a great original Rene Kulbach cover and a new, previously unpublished Jerry Lazare story inside. I think artists like the Kulbach brothers will be more collectible once more is found out about them (when my book on these artists finally comes out, for example).

Also, Manny Easson who came up with Dizzy Don for Bell’s The Funny Comics and The Funny Comics have received precious little love in any of these ComicLINK auctions (the one in this auction, No. 8, coming in second from last on our list). Easson’s Dizzy Don stories are wonderful reads and shouldn’t be so readily dismissed. Dizzy is like a Harry Langdon caricature of Dick Tracy with a whole stable of oddball villains that result in intrigue and crazy adventure.

WECA comics are clearly on collectors’ radar now. The question is whether or not this will keep a relatively steady stream of these books coming to market or are we going are we going to see supply dry up again for a long period of time. The coming March ComicLINK auction has about 16 WECA books up for auction and a half-dozen of these are the more common Anglo colour books from 1945-46. Let’s see…. One thing I do know is that, given the present market for WECA books, I am left grasping at the low hanging fruit but without being bitter about that. I’m happy that these books have received the collecting recognition they have. They do deserve that… and more.


WECA Price Guide Update

We’ll be meeting at Toronto Comic Con this month to discuss the next steps in getting out our WECA Comic Book Price Guide. Which way should we go? Here are some of the things being tossed around:

  • Kickstarter fund the project and print a small run of 200-300 copies
  • Do it print-on-demand
  • Get Overstreet to give us a dozen pages to wedge it into their Price Guide
  • Put it online with or without password access
  • Make it into a broader Gerber style photo-journal guide to all 760 or so covers with information and price points below each picture or pictures with separate pricing/value information at the back of the Gerber style book.

Do any readers have any input on this?

Ivan Kocmarek Written by:

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

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20 Comments

  1. nestor
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    sorry, so was the auction on for the Canadian whites disappointing price wise? ie, they did not not receive prices you thought they should?

  2. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    No, Nestor, I think the prices were solid. It was just the couple of issues (Phantom Rider and The Funny Comics) that I was disappointed in. Bidders didn’t seem to see much value in these.

  3. nestor
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    good. canadian comics deserve some respect.

  4. nestor
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    well, as to your problem of the price guide, i’d go with overstreet .. if you can squeeze in there, you’ll have a much bigger audience than any of your other choices i think. simply because everyone pretty much will buy the overstreet guide, and you get access to those readers. none of your other choices will give you that. i’m not sure what the print run of the overstreet guide is these days, but i will usually buy one every year or two.

  5. mel taylor
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    Hey Ivan
    As you know, I’ve always been partial to a Gerber style photo-journal, but pages in Overstreet would be a nice supplement to that kind of book. Beyond just prices, I think documenting at least all of the covers would be a lasting legacy for future generations of fans. We don’t want these books to slip into obscurity again, although I think you’ve done a grand job of making sure that doesn’t happen. I also happen to think the supply is slowly but surely diminishing, which is likely why people are willing to pay such high prices for some pretty rough-looking copies.

  6. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for your suggestions Nestor and Mel. Nestor we’ve tried unsuccessfully to get Overstreet to buy into our guide but they’ve said that they have to add 15 pages each year just for listing new comics and Jeff Vaughn has offered us a yearly section to write on WECA comics in the vein of their War Report but I can’t see writing an annual report on a bunch of books that aren’t even listed in the guide. At least the comics the War Report talks about have a grounding in the listings.
    Mel, we’ve always seen a Gerber type book about WECA comics somewhere on the back burners. Even your old ‘pal’ Wes Hagen has suggested a Gerber type publication as well. Maybe it is time to think about combining the two. Chapterhouse is warmer to a Gerber type index of WECA comics rather than just a price guide. We’ll have to talk this out at the Toronto Con.

  7. Steve V.
    March 8, 2017
    Reply

    Since Ivan Kocmarek was so kind in mentioning my “make-it-good” blog, I am happy to support and celebrate his insights into Canadian Whites.

    Ivan asks. …….. Which way should we go?
    Here are some of the things being tossed around:

    Kickstarter run of 200-300 copies
    Do it print-on-demand
    Get in Overstreet into their Price Guide
    Put it online with or without password access
    Make it into a broader Gerber style photo-journal guide to all 760 or so covers with information and price points below each picture or pictures with separate pricing/value information at the back of the Gerber style.

    I cannot understand the whole debate of opposing positions. To me…. Collectors of whites are a multi – fractured – group.

    There are 4 main splinter groups …. and one fringe group.

    Firstly, there are the patriotic Canadians, who love all things north of the 49th parallel and feel WECA is part of our history. (from1941 to 1945) and see Canada’s battle to create pride in our nation.

    Second, are the Bell cover enthusiats, who feel the superheros of the north like Nelvanna are as good as superman or wonderwoman and adore the bold blocky Bell logos with Penguin, Nito and foremost Nelvanna.

    A 3rd group focuses predominantly on scarcity, so Maple Leaf comics are their poison-of-choice, that they seek out the most rare of obscure issues, reviving forgotten Brock Windsor and the prehistoric 1941 IronMan as a holy grail.

    Fourthly, there are the cureous Americans who are bored with US comics and are drawn in by the dollar value specultion and investment potential to the Band-wagon of “Whites”, (considered in the US as foreign issues), akin to a tijuanna bible or British superman Beano or Triumph.

    On the fringe are those who buy anything afforable from 1941 to 1946 including Educational Projects and Dizzy Don and AA (Double A) and reprints as long as “it is cheap.” They colect it all, but cannot tell you why, except the stories may be almost as good as 50 billion other books in print.

    In Nelvanna #nn 1945, the four collecting communities converge, with quad-crossovers of Canadian Patriotic cover, superheroine, extreme scarcity, and freshness to the market with huge upside: Action #1 is $300,000 to 3 million per copy where 100 issues are existing, but Nelvanna nn 1945 is the most Iconic Canadian White in every way(even having its own postage stamp) and may be had for $13,000 in 6.5 cgc.

    It is hard to argue any other whites will ever have this crossover appeal which unites the commonality of all collecting factions. After all, Whites are a dead-collectable without any present nostalgia for those born 70 years ago because our grandfathers are deceased, and the next gereation of millenials prefers video games. So that leaves us with Ivans survey.

    A paper price guide is meaningless because auction results on-line are what-counts since the year 2000, and noone cares how overstreet values foreign issues but we only care what prices were fetched at auction. Overstreet is about pricing and attributing key issues and spread between good and mint grades, so not helpful where someone might value first Etheral People Arc storyline highly, while for others, its Brock Windsor Better vol.3#3 .

    Just because something is old and scarce does not make it collectable, and in most instances the most common whites are the best ones because they were worth saving. Triumph # 6 may be a rare scarce Hillsborough issue but Triumph # 7 with Hilter on the cover was saved in relatively higher quantities because it contains Hitler and thus there exist culturally compelling reasons to cherish it, and so Triumph issue #7 survives the test of time.

    The grand comics data base already has all covers indexed online, and full story indexing on that site should not breed a fear of giving away our secret Canadian heritage to The World.

    I end with the point i want to emphasize. It has previously been said by poets and philosophers that : True-Greatness is a matter of repeating what someone else has already said.” In Nelvanna #nn 1945, the four collecting communities converge, with quad-crossovers of Canadian Patriotic cover, superheroine, extreme scarcity, and freshness to the market with huge upside:

    Nelvanna # nn 1945 is the most Iconic Canadian White in every way(even having its own cult following) being the value tested pinnacle in dollar value in auction after auction, and this is what really matters. In the same way as Americans rally to Action #1, we as Canadians should and must agree to disagree on all things about Whites, except that our greatest symbol means just as much to us.

    We must have pride and resolve to trumpet Nelvanna #nn 1945 as the greatest cover, greatest design, greatest theme, greatest stories, and greatest compendium in all of comics. This is not a slight to Dart Daring, Thunderfist, Speed Savage, Freelance, Johnny Canuck, Piltdown Pete or Canada Jack, but an awkowledgment that the market has spoken.

    A price guide reflecting an authors particticlar bias towards favorite cover appearances, and obsure charactor trivia, is of little real importance. Who cares if Joke #1 is not as scarce as Rocket Comics #1 relatively, because you are likely to encounter pristine copies of neither.

    Do we respect the values of our True Canadian Northern soverignty, love for the unspoiled beauty of our northern heritage and geographic beauty? Do we respect females as being the earth mother. The Americans have Ms.Betty Ross and female Statue of Liberty. Do we care to treat our femdom as different but equal ? Are we a chivelous nation, or lumberjack chauvinists?

    What really matters is how we treat out greatest super- heroine, respect for the ideals of Koliak The Mighty, his spirit in the form of the Northern Lights, his most beautiful daughter Nelvanna and her forever cursed brother Tanero, whose face must remain unseen in the form of his canine disguise. Price guides and photo-journals !!!??? Be careful Nelvanna, the menace of cruel eyes still lives!

    Steevie V.

  8. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 9, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks so much for your passionate comments, your taxonomy of WECA collectors and your whole take on WECA comics. There is validity to a lot of what you say because the market supports it, but “the market” has also made the golden arches the most recognized symbol/logo on the planet.
    I, for one, wouldn’t fit into any of the categories of collecting these books you propose. I collect them because I want to read them to find out more about the people who created them and what the Canadian world was like when they were being put out. I do admit I’ve slabbed a number of them once I’ve digitized the contents because eventually (I’ve been receiving my OAS cheques for about a year now), I’ll have to cash them in (I still have a mortgage that needs to be paid down).
    Certainly the market has made the Nelvana compendium one of the most sought after WECA books mainly, I believe, on the strength of Dingle’s great cover graphic. However, I don’t find it particularly patriotic and there are any number of Freelance covers where he’s whacking an Axis soldier that are more patriotic. There are also a number of books I’d rather have in place of that Nelvana compendium such as Triumph-Adventure #1 and #2 and any of the Maple Leaf first issues. I don’t like to treat these books as a commodity and that’s what the market does.
    As for the Grand Comics Database, they do have most, but not all of the covers, and many of their graphics are of low quality and pulled off eBay. Even our own Canada’s Own Comics site does a better job with the almost 300 or so books we’ve managed to put up so far.
    Steve, your comments are valid and I was informed by many of them. I just want to point out respectfully how different my own take on some of this may be. Thanks for chiming in.

  9. March 9, 2017
    Reply

    I enjoyed your comments and your dissection of the collecting groups Steve. I think there are probably a couple more groups we can shoehorn in there as well.

    I think the Nelvana Compilation has become sort of the symbol of Whites and Whites value which is a good thing because its such an iconic cover imortalized by the Stamp issue. I do think CGC 6.5s of Triumph Adventure #1 and Better Comics #1 would most certainly bring more from the market value wise, the issue with them is availability.

  10. March 9, 2017
    Reply

    Ivan,

    To begin, if all you can continue to write for Overstreet’s Market Report, so be it. It’s far better than nothing and with you and others contributing, it will raise awareness. Those reports (about amereican comics sales) are tedious ad naseum, so yours and Walter’s and anyone else’s, addressing WECA books, will be a breath of fresh air. I don’t see any rational to abstain because the books aren’t in the guide. Neither are underground comics, many magazines, early fanzines….yet they are part of the market report for many dealers.

    The greatest enduring legacy anyone can create is the photo-journal style guide. Including a price guide with this is debatable and I advise against it. Price guides date very quickly and will effect long-term sales of any book project. I see this all the time on other projects. Also, there are as many people who DON’T want or care about a price guide. But you are guaranteed to turn off potential buyers once the guide is out of date, in six months or a year.

    Gerber’s Photo-Journal remains the success it is, even after all these years, because he didn’t “date” it with a price guide. He solved the problem by including the scarcity index–which was so good, even though some parts of it may be outdated now, that it is still used all over the hobby. I think that is a contribution you and your cohorts are in the perfect position to make–you know the players, the collections and the books. In the long run, a scarcity guide is a much more important factor than the (ever-changing) price at any one point in time.

    Also–Gerber offers data on creators, origins, 1st appearances. While some of this is in Overstreet, not all of it is. And it is a good secondary source for this information. In your case, NONE of this is in Overstreet. So you have the opportunity to make this THE book for data about WECA books. Yes, it could be updated at some point, but on the other hand, do a good job and it could endure for years. Gerber’s book is the prime example.

    Third, the biggest value is the pictures–all nice and clear, all accessible at a flip of a page instead of a web search, with possible lower resolution as you point out. It is an art book–Gerber was THE factor that starting collectors focusing on favorite covers (i.e. wartime covers, good-girl art covers, villain covers) instead of trying, with increasing lack of success, to collect entire runs. And even today Overstreet does not accurately reflect demand for a great many of those high demand, attractive covers.

    As a retailer myself, the pictures and information, not the price guide, is what makes it appealing to my customers. That is why I sold hundreds and hundreds of Gerber sets over the years. This has the biggest potential for getting the greatest audience interested in WECA books–not a priceguide, but a Photo-Journal style book.

    THIS can be your Kickstarter project. The number of people that care about a priceguide is so, so fewer than those who would be attracted to the art and the information. Very few normal people can now hope to buy WECA books–they are now priced out of the hands of casual fans, not to mention they are so scarce anyway.

    But the Photo-Journal can appeal to ANYONE interested–collectors the world over. It would be an essential reference for libraries both in Canada and elsewhere. The archival reprints will satisfy them if they want to sample the better material. So many collectors now have turned to Archives collections and given up trying to acquire books as prices go up. But everyone can use a Photo-Journal as a cornerstone of their collection.

    That’s where I would put my effort. The priceguide could be as easy as a online guide which could be downloadable. You could update it on a regular basis, and have no printing cost. Use it as a gateway to selling the photo-journal book. A photo-journal just might put more pressure on Overstreet to include it. I agree that this is the best place to have the guide, and keep it updated. But as GP Analysis serves those that really care, such as dealers and high-end collectors, your price guide online could keep up to date on market values.

  11. mel taylor
    March 9, 2017
    Reply

    Holy endorsement Batman! If you’ve got Bud Plant on board I would say you may have something here, and I’m always delighted to hear him chime in as a long-time collector, historian and dealer. Everything he says about the longevity of the Gerber guides is spot on! I still bemoan the fact that the poor man never saw his dream through to finish the DC volumes. About 750 Canadian comics, plus biographical info, and maybe a contextual introduction would not take up a lot of pages, so the reproductions could be even larger than the Gerber images for a reasonable cost.
    Once Overstreet gets a look at that, they might take us all a little more seriously. This is a great undertaking! I have to congratulate the lot of you for your dedication.

    cheers, mel

  12. chris elliott
    March 9, 2017
    Reply

    I have to second Buds’ comments , a photo journal type would probably be the way to go ! as I told you a couple of years back , i’ll buy whatever you decide to publish ! I can’t wait !!

  13. jim b.
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    Third here. I’d say go with what Bud said.

    As to the OSPG, they had their chance ages ago, all of the Sulipa market reports that mentioned Canadian comics were chopped to take out mentions of these comics.

  14. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    Bud, thanks for taking the time to send in your thoughts about us taking the turn off for Gerber City instead of keeping our heading locked on small town Priceguideville. You’ve been a solid supporter of my column and my effort to get information out about these books for a few years now. Your background and knowledge of the comics field caries weight and value and is always appreciated when you offer it. Mel, Chris and Jim B., your votes in this direction mean a lot as well because I know how much you, like I do, care for these old Canadian books. I’ll share these ideas with the gang at Toronto Con if they haven’t already read them and I think I’ll link the Chapterhouse people to this column because they have already expressed some support for a Gerber style WECA book.

  15. March 11, 2017
    Reply

    What a great post Bud! thank you! And all of you working towards that effort. A gerber style WECA book would be incredible.

  16. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    I second your sentiment, Dan. Bud has always been supportive of our old Canadian comics. Let’s see where we can go with this.

  17. jim b.
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    It looks like Bill Thomas was the cover artist to me Ivan. See some of his inside- cover art on the one-page humour strips.

    re: “…Terrific Comics 2 which has an original cover by an unidentified artist”
    ~jim b.

  18. Ivan Kocmarek
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    You know what, Jim B. I had Bill Thomas as a candidate for this cover at one point but he almost invariably signed all his work (take a look at the covers for Terrific Comics 3 and Red Hot Comics 3. The artist who did the Terrific 2 cover looks to me like the same artist who did the Red Hot 2 cover. Thomas’ figures always seem to have oversized hands (look at Ivar of Mars, The Mongoose, and Ricco Vez. Also the horse on the Terrific Comics 2 is nothing like the horses that Thomas draws for Ricco Vez (see Wow Comics 26-7 and 29-30). You may be right though, Jim.

  19. Stephen Lipson
    March 19, 2017
    Reply

    Excellent article Ivan, as always. You can count on my support for the WECA style Gerber book.

  20. mel taylor
    March 20, 2017
    Reply

    And let’s not forget, gang, to get your WECA books scanned for the Canada’s Own Comics website, where the seed of that Gerber-style photo journal has already been planted!

Make It Good.