WE DID IT!?! As of this writing we’re at $25,501, $500 above our Kickstarter goal.

But I can’t say that I didn’t have my moments of doubt and maybe even resignation. Now we can move forward without doubling back and regrouping. Last week at this time, I thought I might have to prepare, like a politician on election night, both a victory and concession speech because things looked like the could have gone either way. That lucky loonie I planted at centre the day before the game must have worked! We won in overtime!

I want to thank all the individuals and businesses who made contributions to the crowdfunding campaign for my Heroes of the Home Front book. I’ll proudly put each and every one of your names onto the Kickstarter thank you pages. It’s unlikely that a quality hard copy of the book would have ever seen the light of day without your valuable funding help.

Comic books and graphic novels seem to have become significant part of our ambient culture. I’d even go so far as to say that they, and the secondary literature about them, now occupy one of the fastest growing shelves in our universal infinite library (apologies to Borges). Courses have sprung up about them in post-secondary cross-disciplinary areas and the academic world has begun to lend a vertigo of attention to the deconstruction of those floppy, panelled phenomena we used to roll up and stuff into the back pockets of our jeans. I’m not sure if it’s all a mirage or real, yet.

As for Heroes of the Home Front, I’d like my book to be seen as a partial account of the beginning of comic books in Canada that is focussed on individuals who worked for the Toronto-based Bell Features Publications company. It presents a world that not many Canadians know belongs to them. Today’s Canadian comic book writers, artists, and graphic novelists (and there are more of them than we’ve ever had before) would certainly do well to tap into it to know what went before them as they put pencil, pen, and brush to pad and artboard.

Now that we have over 20 grand in the coffers after Kickstarter’s cut (8%, which comes to 2 grand), we know we can do a print run of between 500-1000 copies with just over 100 of them deluxe, signed, and slip-cased editions. We just have to determine the sweet spot in terms of the overall budget. I have to spend the rest of the month going over my meticulous editor/proof reader’s (big bow to Art Cooper for taking on this task) and feeding the final copy to talented designer John Farr so that he can finish the final layout of the copy and original art work and, I hope, produce a final-form PDF that can be submitted to the printer by mid-November. This means that my column will probably go dark for the next few weeks but Kickstarter contributors will get updates.

However, before I pull down the shade for a little bit, I want to make a brief report on a wonderful celebration of Gerald Lazare’s 90th birthday that we had a week ago at Gerry’s house. Gerry’s birthday was actually on Monday, September 25 but Gerry and his always elegant wife, Setsuko, allowed a group of us to come over and share in a celebration of his 90th with him two days later. That group comprised me, Art Cooper, Ron Kasman, James Waley, and some guy named Dave Sim.

From the left, Me, Ron Kasman, Art Cooper, Gerry Lazare, James Waley, and Dave Sim.

Now Dave Sim hadn’t seen Gerry Lazare since he conducted an interview with him at his Toronto Prince Arthur Avenue studios just off Avenue Road in 1973 when Dave, self-admittedly, was a “pointy-headed seventeen-year-old.” The interview was published in issue No. 2 of the Kitchener fanzine Now and Then Times.

Dave Sim listening attentively to Gerry Lazare.

It was a gratifying reunion to behold after almost a couple of generations and I brought my copy of that 44-year-old fanzine along and got Gerry and Dave to sign it on the first page of that interview.

First page of the Now and Then Times 1973 interview signed by Gerry and Dave.

This memorable afternoon was filled with wonderful talk about comics and art, great chocolate cake provided by Gerry and Setsuko and a toast to Edgar Degas initiated by Gerry himself because it was the 100th anniversary of the death date of that great artist.

What a treat to share this afternoon with these special people. Four years ago I hadn’t met any of them except for Art, whom I’d come to know in passing through the comic collecting last few years of the ’60s in our home town of Hamilton. Now here I was steeped again in the world of comics and friends with some important players in our Canadian corner of it. There are some cool benefits to coming back to comics again in retirement.

One more point… The next small project (probably tackled right after we send off the PDF for Heroes to the printers) will be The Price Guide for Canadian Wartime Comics. This book has sat in the can for the better part of this year. It’s finished and all we need to do is find a printer and figure out the finances. It’s just around a hundred pages and should present an easier problem as a small softcover. This was put together by me, Tony Andrews, Jim Finlay, and our own Walter Durajlija and all we have to do is tweak the prices a little and find a designer to lay it out. This book will probably have a small run of 200 copies or so and it’s most important feature is not the price points it sets down but that it is the first true checklist for all known copies of Canadian WECA comics and documents things such as first appearances and important artist credits.

I recently commissioned a painting of Speed Savage by artist Ken Steacy and think that it would make a great cover graphic for this price guide. Let me know what you think.

Ken Steacy’s rendition of Speed Savage.

Now let’s get that big book done and out there.