Undervalued Spotlight #172

Triumph Adventure Comics #1, Hillsborough Studios, August 1941

I’ve had my sights on this Spotlight for a long time and with all the excitement being generated by some great news about the principal character there could be no better time to feature this book.

Better yet Rachel Richey, who posts the popular blog Comic Syrup and is through and through a true champion of Canadian comic books has passionately added her argument for this book.

Rachel argues that Triumph Comics #1 is beyond important, it is a must have. Triumph Comics #1, a Canadian White, features the 1st appearance of Nelvana of the Northern Lights.

Triumph Comics #1 may be the hardest comic to find of all the comics ever posted on the Undervalued Spotlight but people take heart. You will be able to read these stories because Rachel and her friend Hope Nicholson have retained the rights to reprint all the Nelvana stories of the 1940s. They are currently running a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for the project. Look for their gorgeous volume to hit the stands in April 2014.

Comicbookdaily’s Adrew Ardizzi covered this campaign nicely in his most recent post.

If you are ever lucky enough and get an opportunity to buy one of these comics by all means do so. This is a book that already has pent up demand. I’ve unsuccessfully been looking for one for the last two years – and I know how to hunt down books!! I can’t even begin to imagine the demand once Rachel’s project successfully raises awareness.  

Enough of the set up!

Rachel Richey, the floor is yours…

triumph 1

I first learned about Nelvana of the Northern Lights about three years ago when I began an internship at Library and Archives Canada. Up until that time my experience with Canadian comics was limited. The John Bell Collection opened up a new world for me, and introduced me to the hundreds of Canadian Golden Age comics that have been neglected for so many years. This includes Nelvana.

Nelvana of the Northern Lights is an important comic character for several reasons. The first and foremost is how anchored she is in what we consider Canadian heritage. She is linked to the Group of Seven’s Franz Johnston, she is partially Inuit and she is proudly northern. She fought the Axis in her comics, and one of her comrades is an RCMP officer, Corporal Keene. All are very recognizably Canadian without being over the top. 

Beyond that, she is one of the first super heroines featured in her own full comic series, before even Wonder Woman who is incomparably more famous. Created by professional illustrator Adrian Dingle, Nelvana was one of the only comics during this period to have a consistent creative on her book. Also, at 31 issues, her comic book life began and ended the Canadian Golden Age of comics. 

Our project is an amazing opportunity to discover even deeper roots to comics produced during this time; an opportunity that hasn’t been an option since the comics were originally introduced in the 40s. Our campaign also allows an opportunity to see some of the best Canadian comic book talent of this generation re-imagine this magnificent figure (prints are one of the funding perks). The first time these comics are collected, all 31 issues and the special, will breath new life into a character not read for over 70 years, and Hope and I so thrilled to be able to bring her to  the public’s attention.


Thanks Rachel for this post and thanks for helping get Nelvana comics into the hands of eager readers.

There is no Overstreet value for Triumph Adventure #1 as the  Whites are not a part of the guide – yet. We’re working on fixing that – stay tuned. What would a CGC 9.2 get? Whatever the owner wanted would be my guess. I’d bet a more plausible CGC 5.0 would fetch a few thousand!

Strengths that make this book a good long term investment;

  • 1st appearance of Nelvana of the Northern Lights
  • Created by Adrian Dingle arguably the most talented of all the “Whites” artists
  • Makes books like Action Comics #1 seem like X-Force #2 when it comes to supply
  • Nelvana predates Wonder Woman!
Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1702


  1. You do have a strong case Scott but there has been an established “norm” for “Whites” re prices paid.

    Perhaps this Spotlight resonates more with established “Whites” collectors so the target audience is a bit more narrow than I’d like but hey, lets let it also serve to raise awareness outside the “Whites” community and thus perhaps expand the “Whites” community.

    Up until a year ago these Canadian comics sold consistently for $50 to $200 depending on the issues and to be fair no Triumph #1 ever sold that I was aware of.

    I’m basically saying that this particular comic must be considered undervalued based on the old norms of this collecting strain. So an old time collector who is selling a Triumph #1 for what he or she thinks is a premium based on the model they grew up with is (I argue) perhaps selling it at a discount.

    How many are available? Not sure. Under 10 maybe but lets hope posts like this help flush more out.

  2. Isn’t this data crucial to being added to the Overstreet Price Guide? Wouldn’t they require at the minimum recent sales and number of issues currently in circulation amongst collectors?

  3. Great questions Scott and ones that need to be asked. Not sure, things are so early at this stage.

    I do know that not all books posted in the Overstreet have recent sales data. I also know some books are listed with facts like “6 known to exist”.

    For example an old Spotlight of mine, Funny Pages #6, is super rare. I don’t know when the last one sold but the price guide still offers a price.

    Some Guide entries even have little write ups at the bottom saying stuff like “a VF sold in 2007 for $3211” etc.

    Early days for this can be dicey but the good news is that most triumph #1s that surface will most likely be graded and graded sales are easy to track.

  4. I would like to give my input here. I personally paid $2850.00 CDN for a Fair copy of Triumph Adventure Comics # 1. Remember, the barometer is that something is worth what one is willing to pay for it. That being said, it is VERY important to note that the prices realized for Canadian Whites in the marketplace VERY WIDELY, based on scarcity and demand. Guess what, not only are they scarce, but the demand tremendously outweighs the supply. A price guide is just that, a guide. When it comes down to the fair market value of a Canadian White, the price is what the buyer is willing to pay the seller. I hope this helps.

  5. As far as the scarcity of Triumph Adventure #1 I can now confirm SIX (6) known copies extant:
    1. The Stephen Lipson Collection(one complete & one coverless)
    2. (LAC) Library Archives Canada Copy
    3. The Pat Loubert Collection
    4. The Robert MacMillan Collection
    5. IN the collection of someone who wishes to remain anonymous, but confirmed.
    6. The Victoria, BC Archives

  6. Great information Stephen. Which leads me to ask…
    Why are we going to Overstreet? All the good work that has been done by “Whites” panel and this Nelvana project and we decide to go to an american company to tell us what are books are worth? Overstreet hasn’t given a rats behind about these books for over 40 years.

    Why can’t we keep this Canadian? With all of the expertise built up on the “Whites” panel why wouldn’t we create our own price guide, reflecting the market as we know it? The self serving argument does not count as Bob Overtreet faced the same dilema when he started, and his guide is now the recognized authority in the industry. It could be digital, print, or both depending on demand.

    The Walter Lipson “Canadian Whites” price guide has a ring of authority to it.

  7. Want to keep the price guide Canadian, EH? I do have reservations about putting out a price guide for several reasons:

    1. If the books are priced too low, the guide would DEVALUE current collections
    2. If the books are priced too high, they will become INACCESSABLE to collectors
    3. The guide would not be a true reflection of the market as prices VERY WIDELY. Again, demand far exceeds supply and the prices realized for these books are anybody’s guess
    4. We want to create a market for these book without running the risk of possibly manipulating the prices for or against us.

    Case in point: back in the 1980’s Tomart published the Disneyana Price Guide for Disney related collectibles. The prices were far too low and at the time it irked me because I felt the publishers were attempting to buy low so that they could stockpile and sell high later as the demand increased. At the end of the day the Tomart Disneyana price guides are OBSOLETE and Ebay the current “barometer” for establishing prices accordingly.

    Again, these are just my points and my opinions. Anybody else is free to weigh-in



  8. Another thing to note is that Canadian Whites have increased EXPONENTIALLY in value for just a few years. The market is bullish and volatile to say the least. A price guide could not meet these parameters and WOULD be rendered obsolete almost the moment it was published, not unlike your current computer operating system…LOL

  9. I would also like to refer to John Bell’s tome entitled A Guide to Comic Books Published in Canada. Matrix Books, 1986. Foreword by Harlan Ellison. ISBN 0-921101-00-7

    It is a “price-guide” as well as a historical look at the evolution of Canadian comic books. One just needs to refer to the prices therein for the books. However, in 1988 you could not give away Canadian Whites. George Henderson, the late proprietor of Memory Lane Comics on Markham Street in Toronto (Store has been defunct since the early 90’s) used to sell Canadian Whites for $1.00 apiece in the early 70’s. Those were the days. Sigh!

  10. Hi Stephen,

    Yes I am waving my flag here by my computer.

    Starting a guide certainly has all of the risks you point out above. I guess if I owned a bunch of these books and a guide came out that showed my books were half of what I paid for them I would’n’t be happy either.

    At the end of the day though, a guide is just a guide. If you look at pre-code horror comics many of them go for multiples of guide in any condition, while waiting for Overstreet to catch up to the market. If the “Canadian Whites” market is already as overheated as you describe, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

    I just don’t like the idea of farming out a guide to an american company when all of the expertise is here to do the job ourselves. Spending Saturday in Hamilton had more of an effect on me than I thought.

  11. Thank you for that Mike.

    Truth be told, I got in on the ground level with respect to the purchase of many of my Canadian Whites, hence I am already ahead of the game. Walt, myself, Ivan and Jim (the Canadian Whites Project “Illumanati” plan on getting together in the near future to discuss the viability of a price guide. We will keep you posted.


  12. Hamilton will do that to the most hardy of us Mike. Just be glad you made it out.

    I kid, Hamilton is as hot a commodity as the Whites are, a beautiful town long neglected and slowly being rediscovered.

  13. Nice to quickly meet you and the con Mike. Overstreet has accepted an article on the Canadian Whites that I have written for publication in the coming edition. They are also warm to the suggestion of publishing an initial or tentative guide outline that we (the Canadian Whites Initiative) can come up with as a starting point. The people at Overstreet don’t have any expertise in these books to put out any sort of a guide on these books that would be worth anything. I think that we should put together a starting guide outline that could be made more accurate as the years go by with further market sales of these books. There are about, in our estimate, 750 individual comics that would have to be accounted for and that shouldn’t take up any real space in the guide. The other value of a guide is that it would list things such as first appearances and cover/story art information, etc. I think I’ll bring this issue up a little in my post this week and see if it generates any feedback.

  14. Thanks for the article Walter and for the additional input Stephen. Hope to get to know the rest of you soon. A little disheartening though to see that there are six known copies and two of them are government archive copies. (read: four not six! :/ ).

  15. I’m glad that the issue of the need for a Canadian Comics Price Guide is now in the public domain for debate.
    I’m going to add my comments from previous PMs and meetings on this subject to further the debate.

    A guide is a guide for both buyers AND sellers and a good buyer should be able to debate any book they are trying to buy just as a seller should so denying one side information makes no sense to me.
    I want both buyer and seller have a common starting point in the discussion of the value of a book as a reference and then strike a deal on the merit of their opinion of the individual book in question they are trying to buy/sell.
    Discussion of the merit of any pricing information is part of the negotiation for the book being offered and is something best left to be done between the individual buyer and seller at the time of the sale.

    Collecting sales data is a project I’ve been working on for years and have spent hundreds of hours compiling and will continue doing for a long time going forward as my own collection grows. (380 at present)

    I’m in the process of building an online query-based sales database to take the info and give a G,VG,F,VF,NM average result when requested by title and issue and provide information as to whether a book is trending up or down and an expert opinion based of sales to help buyers and seller make a more informed decision.

    At present I have ~1000 Canadian Golden Age Reprints sales records and ~450 Canadian Whites sales records from both public and private sales and I am always looking for more that has escaped being collected by me so far to help make it better and I’d love to get more input to it from other collectors.

    I’m also willing to help you with valuation information on Canadian books you own or books you are looking to buy via email in the meantime until we get a price guide out and on a website.

    I can be reached at: [email protected]

    Just give me details (Title, Issue, Grade etc) and I’ll get back to you with any info I have as long as I don’t get swamped with too many requests.
    I’m also interested in any sales records you have or can confirm that you wish to share.

    I think it is an exciting time to collect these books and share in the collecting experience.

  16. Great info comment, Jim. I know that this is one of the strengths you bring to our group promoting the Canadian Whites. I was discussing this with Walt this morning and he mentioned that Scott thought you could start a blog on this. I think that this is a great idea if you were willing to do it. Maybe not a weekly blog, but a bi-weekly or monthly post. I’ll hope that you’ll consider it. I know that I would look forward to reading it.

  17. Hello Ladies and gentlemen…and of course my hero , Walter !

    A substitute teacher that comes to my school is married to a man from Ontario (I forgot his name but will inquire) who created many of the Canadian comics mentioned. Apparently he’s very famous across Canada and his wife, a retired teacher around 70 (very nice lady) was telling me that they have an attic that’s filled with Canadian Gems (I recall that the comic mentioned in the article was brought up in the conversation but will double check) and original pieces of work that are extremely rare.Being an artist and writer, he was behind a good number of them. I understood that their collection has been stored away for almost 50 years!

    After reading the article above, you’ve all opened my eyes to the beauty and heritage of our Canadian comic book culture. I have every intention to pursue and inquire about this beautiful couple’s collection.

    Angelo Virone

  18. Hi Angelo:

    Indeed, this is very exciting! It is refreshing to hear that there are more of these treasures to be brought to light. Walter, myself, Ivan and Jim are truly hoping that these blogs will bring more of these collections to the fore, hence preserving the record and history.

  19. This is exciting stuff Angelo!

    I’ve always wanted these types of posts (especially Ivan’s excellent blogs)to flush out more of these Canadian treasures. I really hope this pans out.

    Keep us posted.

  20. Angelo: Please post again when you find out who this mystery artist is because we all want to know (especially Ivan)
    You might have the makings of a bona fide Canadian Comics Pedigree collection

    This is the sort of news that is a sure sign that the second coming of the Golden Age of Canadian Comics is going to be more of a celebration than a war and I look forward to an increasing number of books coming to market as the number of new collectors also grows.

    Keep us apprised of your findings.

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