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Ivan Kocmarek

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

Trailblazers, Galleries, and a Symposium

We’ve just gone over the hump of a year that’s so far been slowly improving. I hope that the light will continue to grow as we head into Labour Day, Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holidays. I remind you again that…

Gerald Lazare 1927-2021

Occasionally, in your journey through life, you meet some very magical individuals. They may be sitting on top of toadstools smoking hookahs. They may be swamp-dwelling, knee-high, green, pointy-eared Jedi with curious speech patterns. They may even be a soft-spoken…

The Doris Slater-Titus Exhibit

This past Saturday, March 6th, was the birthday of Doris Slater, Canada’s first female comic book artist. She was born in 1917 on a farm near Chatham, Ontario.  She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and began her comic…

Anglo-American diversifies

Well, here we are, 80 years since the publication of Better Comics No. 1 in March 1941. At that time, the Luftwaffe was peppering London with bombs, Rommel was pushing us around in North Africa, Jews were being transported to…

Holidays ahead

First of all, best holiday wishes to everybody. Here is a Christmas-themed cover from the December 1935 issue of Montreal’s La Revue Moderne by war-time comics artist Oscar Schlienger done half-a-dozen years before he began working in comics. What a…

The kelly connection

Today’s column orbits Bell Features artist Fred Kelly whose best-known creation was probably Mr. Monster. It does so because, last month, I came into possession of 21 pages of original Bell Features art and this was due originally to the…

Masks

Now, more than ever, we have become acutely aware that we all swim in each others’ mists and that proximity can transmit and infect. The western handshake and European cheek peck may soon become obsolete and the palm-press namaste of…

The Enemy

The sense of ‘pulling together for the greater good’, as we in Canada are doing now under the jackboot occupation of this pandemic, would have had a sympathetic resonance with the Canadians of the Second World War homefront eight decades…

Sort of Heroes

As many of you know, this column began seven years ago as part of my attempt to focus a newly minted retirement on something both interesting and challenging, albeit perhaps trivial in comparison to the struggles we all face daily…

Resurrection

Christmas is just a week away and the eye-of-the-storm peacefulness and sentiment of the coming Christmas eve and Christmas day, rather than its stressful bustle and rabid commerce, begin to rope me in. This holiday season, I’ve been wistfully thinking…

Mysteries of Anglo-American Comics

The story of the past derives from documents and memory. These documents can be artifacts and phenomena such as the petrified thigh bone of a brontosaurus or the distinct geological layer of iridium that corresponds to the impact of a…

Ed Shecter and Lightning Comics

I remember Gerry Lazare telling me that it took Fred Kelly over a year of having his art repeatedly critiqued and rejected by Bell Features’ Art Director Adrian Dingle before Dingle allowed one of Kelly’s stories to be published. Well,…

Top Flight Comics

One-shots are outliers in this wonderful hobby of ours and there are many reasons for their existence. Some are compendiums that gather together a number of features around a given character or theme. Some are ash-cans that are most often…

Wow Comics and Edmund Legault

What became Bell Features Publications Limited of Canada started in the summer of 1941 with the first issue of a title called Wow Comics, cover-dated September 1941. This was an ambitious project that turned out to be Canada’s first full-colour…

Who is Freelance?

Collectors and comic aficionados are quick to knock Canadian war-time black-and-white comics to the lower rungs of the comic book quality ladder and, of the four main Canadian comic book publishers, Anglo-American comic books are seen to occupy the lowest…

Better Comics Vol. 1 No. 1

Few can deny that comics and graphic storytelling have become an influential force in 21st-century western culture. Academic departments and programmes that concentrate on its study are growing.  It fills the small screen and the big screen and is the…