With the wonderful announcement that our Toronto Team of Hope Nicholson and Rachel Riley have acquired the rights to reprint the 31 Nelvana stories from Triumph Comics, I was drawn to think of some of the other reprints of stories from these WECA “Whites” that have gone before.
The first happened during the WECA period itself when, in 1945, Bell Features decided to issue 6 compendiums of stories from earlier issues. These took features already published and brought them together in large (68 pg.) books that sold for 15 cents.
The most famous and sought after of these is the Nelvana one with the iconic red cover by Adrian Dingle. This and the following two used stories from Triumph comics for the original source.
The others are a Speed Savage compilation with a Tedd Steele cover (it had an alternate cover done for UK Distribution that doesn’t appear to be by Tedd Steele and probably is by a UK artist who used his own ideas for the colours of the uniform).
A Tang the Wonder Horse compilation with a cover by Rene Kulbach.
A Spike and Mike compilation with a cover by Ross Saakel and stories taken from Joke Comics.
A Phantom Rider compilation with cover art by Rene Kulbach and stories taken from Wow Comics.
The last was a compilation of text story fillers by such authors as Vic Griffin that appeared in the middle of many Bell Features titles. This title was called Thrilling Stories for Boys with another Adrian Dingle cover.
There is another reprint book by bell which doesn’t figure in any of the ads that show the above six books and may be earlier. This one was a compilation of Bob Young’s “Whittle Craft” filler that again appeared in many of the Bell titles. It was called just that: Young’s Whittle Craft and was the only one of these compilation books that had a number (No. 1) and the only one that sold for 10 cents rather than 15. It is probably earlier than the 1945 compilations and some sources put it as far back as 1942.
In 1972 The National Gallery of Canada put out a reprint in small size of Triumph Comics No. 29 with a 25 cent price tag. This was meant as an accompanying item in a package of material to accompany a travelling exhibition of original Canadian Whites art pages that toured Canada.
The next, and up till now final, reprint of Canadian Whites material was put out by Captain George Henderson in his Captain George Presents No. 42 from 1971 and features a Commander Steel cover and story as well as a Thunderfist story.
But let’s not end this post yet, because these six 1945 compilations, plus the Whittle Craft one, lead me on to consider another thread. If we add these half-dozen or so books plus the unique covers to other 1946 books such as Slam-Bang 7 (Murray Karn) and 8 (Rene Kulbach) and Jet-Man 2 (Fred Kelly)—leaving out the reprint books (such as New Dime, New Active, etc.) for now, we come up with about 190 original (I’ll count the first six Hillborough Triumphs in this batch) Bell issues plus about ten to a dozen 1946 releases with distinct covers—giving us about 200 individual Bell covers produced by the Bell stable of artists.
Of these covers, Adrian Dingle did about 45%, roughly 90 of them so that if you come across a Bell title from the original run, the chances are almost 50-50 that it will be a Dingle cover. The next most prolific Bell cover artists are Edmond Good with 21 (mostly Dime and Commando covers) and Manny Easson who did all the covers for the 20 issue Bell run of The Funny Comics. These two artists account for about 10% each of the original Bell run covers.
The next in line would be Rene Kulbach who did about 14 covers (mostly Triumphs and a couple of Actives, the Tang and Phantom Rider compendiums mentioned above, and Slam Bang 8) representing about 7% of the Bell covers for each. E. T. Legault did 8 covers (about 4%) each and then Murray Karn, Tedd Steele and Fred Kelly with 7 covers (about 3.5%) each. Andre Kulbach did 3 covers (1.5%)—Active 25, Dime 25 and Triumph-Adventure 4 as did Lou Skuce with three early Joke Comics covers (1.5%).
So far this accounts for 97.5% of the original Bell covers.
The remaining 6 covers are interesting because they are the only examples of Bell Features covers by these artists. Each only did one Bell Cover.
These are Bob Young with the Whittle Craft compendium mentioned above.
Al Cooper, who drew all those great war-time aircraft (see previous post Trains and Boats and Planes) did the cover for Active Comics 12.
Strangely enough, Johnny Canuck creator Leo Bachle’s only cover was Active Comics 16.
Ed Alton did the Doodlebugs cover for Joke 25.
Clayton Dexter, one of the finest artists from the later Bell period, did the Nels Grant cover for Triumph 28 (which more properly belonged with the story from Triumph 27).
Finally, the only Bell Features cover done by a woman was Dorothy Slater’s cover for Active 21 (see previous post on Weca Wimmin’.
There you have a ramble on Bell reprints and Bell cover artists.