Comic Book Confidential #1, Sphinx Productions, 1988
This week the Undervalued Spotlight shines on Comic Book Confidential #1. We can thank Spotlight fan Mel Taylor for this one. Mel’s write up is excellent and it has me convinced this is a book worth hunting down and picking up, my copy has to be crisp and tight of course. I think perhaps you need some convincing so I’ll turn things over to Mel…
I just finished watching Ron Mann’s Comic Book Confidential for the gazillianth time (hey, we didn’t have Lost Heroes until recently), and I have to admit, for all the anticipation I remember Canadian comics fans having back in 1988 when the film was coming out, for the most part we were disappointed as fellow Canucks.
Canadian content in the film consisted of a single shot each of the covers of Cerebus #1 and a copy of Canadian Heroes from the Golden Age of Canadian Whites, when we ruled our own newsstands, as well as a couple of short clips of the Silver Snail and This Ain’t the Rosedale Library (if you are among those who recall such venerable institutions in their heyday). Bear in mind that this was in the days of Colin Upton, Julie Doucet, Chester Brown, Dave Sim and the ever-persistent Richard Comely, and long after the publication of The Great Canadian Comic Books. I guess I’m still essentially disappointed.
But, as an aside…you remember asides…at the time the film came out there was a promotional comic book given out at theatres, as far as I know, only in Canada. As you might well imagine many of them may not have survived the hail of popcorn and sticky stuff in that environment.
Freebies are generally treated with less than care in the realm of what some might call collectibles. It’s entirely understandable. Just don’t lend those people any of your books. At any rate, a few years ago I actually persuaded the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide to list the Comic Book Confidential freebie in their promotional section. Yes! You can actually change the guide. In fact, they encourage it. I had never seen the book for sale. They put five bucks on it. Still there. Go look. Anyway, now the latest Fogel’s Underground Price Guide lists it at ten bucks.
The real kicker is that this baby has a cover and a splash by our own Chester Brown, as well as a charming story at the end by later Sandman Mystery Theater artist R.G. Taylor, a Fergus, Ontario native. But, seriously, apart from that, and a Canadian production team on the film, with comic consultant bp Nichol and Mark Askwith, don’t go looking for much Canadian content.
The book is largely filled up with short bios of all the people (mostly American) interviewed in the film, including Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Bill Gaines, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, and many more great luminaries of our favourite medium, so if you just plain love comics, I know you will sit through the whole movie and thoroughly enjoy it. Oh! And, if you see the comic for anything under twenty bucks, pick it up! And, remember, you heard it here first. And no, I won’t sell you mine!
Comic Book Confidential (the comic) Vol. 1 #1 was a one shot promotional comic published in 1988 by Sphinx Publications, Ste. 310, 19 Mercer St. in Toronto.
The 45th Overstreet price breaks for this book is $5 in the 9.2 grade split.
Strengths that make this comic a good long term investment are:
- Cheap, Cheap, Cheap
- Obscure and suffering lack of awareness, but that will change
Mel – Glad to see you finally broke down and submitted an article. I do hope it won’t be your last, especially on Canadian comics. I just knew it would be about a book I had never heard of before.
I wonder where all the unused extra promotional comics go after an event like this? I would guess comic shoppe bins and flea markets would be the best bets in terms of tracking down a copy.
I’ve never written or contacted Overstreet before, and that is a pretty positive result from your efforts. Maybe I should give that a try…….
Great first post Mel!
I actually missed the movie when it came out, but Harry Kremer of Now and Then Books (who had handled the distribution for the movie theatre) was kind enough to hand me about a half dozen copies the next time I was in his store. Many of the leftovers ended up in the bargain bins and I’m sure that was the fate of any number of those books at the time.
Also, Overstreet is great about receiving new info since the guide is, after all, a collaborative effort. Essentially they require scans or photocopies of the covers and indicia details, along with a suggested price range, although that is certainly subject to their approval. I suggested a price of $20 on comic Book Confidential, but I don’t think they like their initial listings to be too high so they settled on five bucks, somewhat to my dismay, so I was pleased when Fogel’s at least bumped it up to $10.
And, as disappointed as I was in the lack on Canadian content in the movie, I would still highly recommend it to any comic book fan.
Say Mel, that artist you mention R.G. Taylor you wouldn’t know by any chance if he was related at all to a golden-age artist for Bell Features named ‘R. H. Taylor’ (Joke Comics) ?
Or if R. H. Taylor was a relative of anyone else we know? As far as I know he wasn’t the same as the Richard Taylor of the Telegram and New Yorker cartoons, the comic book work looks to crude.
Great job on bringing attention to this book, Mel. I’ll look out for a copy for myself. Now we need an article or two on those wonderful mini-comics you know so much about.
No, sorry Jim, wrong artist. I do remember seeing Richard Taylor’s Mystery Men too, but I don’t think either of them are related to the Bell Features artist. In fact I know for sure that R.G. Taylor is not related because he happens to be the son of my Da’s twin brother and my Mum’s sister. Rick and I worked together for Quadrant, Caliber Presents, Negative Burn and Growing Up With Comics, as well as my own zine, Bootleg Comics and Stories.
The piece on the minis is coming along, with interviews completed with Colin Upton. John MacLeod and Chester Brown. I’m still trying to decipher the actual connection between the punk zine scene and the comic zines that came later (I’m pretty sure there is a connection), and tracking down a lot of these books from the 80s can be difficult to say the least. One of the reasons I haven’t been able to really get a handle on Julie Doucet, and I really don’t want the piece to make it look like the scene was just a boys club. Sadly, she is no longer enamoured of the comics scene and has seemingly embraced the fine arts to the exclusion of comics, so I may not be able to include much info about her, and she famously avoids interviews about comics these days.
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