Canada’s Own Comics: a WECA database

Today is the launch day of our modest attempt to set up an online database of Canadian comic books from the WECA period (1941-46), better known to collectors as The Canadian Whites, at canadasowncomics.com. We were approached early on in our project to avoid the difficulty of creating an online index of these comics from scratch and simply upload our information to the Grand Comics Database. However, we felt it of utmost importance that the first real indexing of these comics be based in Canada. I’m sure that the information we put up there (and remember that this is the first real setting down of comprehensive data about a unique, rare, and arcane set of comic books) will often have holes and need amendment and tweaking, but this first effort is important. I’m sure that a lot of our information will be mined by sites such as the Grand Comics Database, I just hope that whoever ends up using our findings as published material will link back to our site or, at least, credit their find appropriately.

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Today is the launch day of our modest attempt to set up an online database of Canadian comic books from the WECA period (1941-46), better known to collectors as The Canadian Whites, at canadasowncomics.com. We were approached early on in our project to avoid the difficulty of creating an online index of these comics from scratch and simply upload our information to the Grand Comics Database. However, we felt it of utmost importance that the first real indexing of these comics be based in Canada. I’m sure that the information we put up there (and remember that this is the first real setting down of comprehensive data about a unique, rare, and arcane set of comic books) will often have holes and need amendment and tweaking, but this first effort is important. I’m sure that a lot of our information will be mined by sites such as the Grand Comics Database, I just hope that whoever ends up using our findings as published material will link back to our site or, at least, credit their find appropriately.

It’s time to bring the Whites home again. Over the past couple of years I’ve had this column out there raising awareness and today my article on these books is also out in Overstreet. We’ve had the “Lost Heroes” documentary come out and panels on these comics at cons. We’ve had these books realize winning bids in auctions that were quantum leaps over previous prices. Hope and Rachel have published a complete collection of Nelvana reprints from this period to a positive reception and continue to work on other reprint, “revival” projects (Thunderfist, Johnny Canuck, and Brok Windsor). I can’t forget the work, over even a longer period, of the people at the Joe Shuster Awards and the Hall of Fame of inducting so many of the creators from this period in comics and keeping their names alive. This year, for the first time, The Doug Wright Awards inducted four of the Whites creators (Dingle, Lazare, Tremblay, and Crawford) into their “Giants of the North: The Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame” category. So these books are, and have been, riding the crest of a significant wave compared to where they were in the comic book culture just three years ago. We want this high ride to continue because as truly Canada’s own comics, these books deserve it.

We are still loading comics to the inventory of the base and now have just over 190 books indexed, which is just over a quarter of what we estimate to be the known Whites (about 750) though we will probably find that there are more in the end. The site as it exists now is in a still developing frame and we are looking for input from readers as to what is needed and the directions we should take. For example, we have started off with just one general forum but should we initiate any others such as a specific publishers forum for each of the WECA publishers, or a creators forum where we can discuss the output of specific creators (writers, artists, editors, art directors, publishers…), or a forum on the characters (super heroes, villains, sidekicks, etc.) in these comics, or even a forum on book values, slabbing, trading, etc. Should we leave the single forum as it is and let threads develop or should we have separate forums for different topics such as the ones just mentioned?

You’ll also notice some things that need to be sorted out (pun intended) because WordPress seems to see numbers as a series instead of digits so that when we sort comic issues Nos. 10-19 come right after No. 1 and Nos. 20-29 come right after No. 2. Bear with us we are working on this. Everything may not yet be ready to be used in the way that we want but we need to put things out there so that we can see what works and what doesn’t and improve the site.

We could go on working on the site and uploading more books for a long time yet, and we will be, before we come anywhere near to achieving any completeness in the database but it’s time for it to have an audience and for us to go on building with the help of that audience.

Please go to canadasowncomics.com and see what we’ve managed to put together so far.

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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.
Articles: 171

19 Comments

  1. Ivan
    good article in the new overstreet . I thoroughly enjoyed reading it . the only concern I have is that you’ve let the cat out of the bag so to speak , and now more dealers that had these ” funny little Canadian comics ” will charge more for them now ! on the positive , its great for the light to finally be shined on them , and its great that Canadians finally are starting to show some pride over our artists !

  2. Thanks Chris. Funny thing is that the article was written 18 months ago over the 2012 Christmas Holidays and intended for last year’s Overstreet but would have had to have been truncated to fit into that issue and so it had a lay over until the unabridged version could be published in this year’s guide.As you say it’s a give and take for collectors, but it was important to bring these books home by bringing them out again.

  3. Great to see the progress you’re making with the CANADA’S OWN COMICS website and pleased to see you chose Ed Furness’ FREELANCE as the main iconic image for the site … I’m sure he’s looking down on your efforts and is quite pleased!

  4. Those “‘funny little Canadian comics” have garnered phenominal prices during the February and April Comiclink auctions, which suggests the fervor was evident prior to the release of the current Overstreet Price Guide. So, nosebleed prices are not a direct corrolation of the release of Overstreet, but a culmination of several factors: The release of the Lost Heroes Movie, The publication of the Nelvana book, etc

  5. Thanks James. If I were choosing a White’s hero to reprint, it would be Freelance with it’s great writing by Ted McCall and that first rate art by Furness but it would it owuld take at least three volumes with it’s longest run in all the WECA books, and three stories to each issues.

  6. Of course you’re right Stephen, but I’ve never said that the guide article had any affect on those CLINK auctions, but the release of the Lost Heroes documentary and the Nelvana book publication both came well after both CLINK auctions as well didn’t they. It may be a bit of hubris, but this column has been around for a year-and-a-half now promoting the world of the Whites and it had been around doing this for over a year before the CLINK auctions which makes me inclined to think that it had some small role in bringin a focus on these comics when they came up for auction.

  7. Great article Ivan. It was an epic article of “Sulipa-ian” proportion.
    I’m grateful that Overstreet gave so many pages to the important story of Canadian comic history.
    The only thing that I wished it had more of was John Stables who gave Maple Leaf great characters and covers in the later half of the WECA era.
    Will you get a chance to do another article next year, as a continuing report like the annual War Report?

  8. Fantastic work. Looking forward to reading the article. The website is all sorts of good magic. Thank-you.

  9. Stephen
    I hope you didn’t think that my “funny little Canadian comics ” was derogatory ! anytime I went into the States back in the 80’s or 90’s to a Seattle or Portland con I would ask the other dealers if they had any Canadian Whites , and that’s what they said to me ! back then they never thought there’d be a market for such books ! boy , times sure have changed !

  10. Make sure you send us any suggestions for the website if you think of any. We really want to make it user friendly, informative, and Canadian.

  11. I never thought of that, Jim, but I don’t think there’s enough there yet for a regular WECA report in the Guide. We’ll have annual Adviser Reports from Stephen and myself which will probably be enough. What I’d like to get into next year’s Guide is a checklist for the Whites the our group could produce which could eventually lead to a small price guide for the whites in the vein of the Platinum and Promo comics listings but the whites price guide maybe stretching it too much for next year’s Overstreet.

  12. You say there is a general forum on the site, how does one get there and post messages? I thought there might be something on the News page as I didn’t see a link for the forum specifically, but I guess not.

  13. You are right, Jim. A week ago we had a forum each for every single comic title and we decided to collapse it into a single forum for the launch and let visitors tell us what forums they felt were needed. The news area was there as well at that time. While working on the final launch version our developer got tied up with something pressing and had to leave work on the site but we launched in this bare bones way to get it on line just when the Overstreet article came out. We will get everything back to its proper state shortly. Disappointing but out of our control.

  14. Fixing the numbering on your site should be as simple as using 01 for 1, 02 for 2, etc.

  15. Thanks for the suggestion, Richard. This should work as a temporary fix until we can figure out a way in Word Press to get rid of the initial zeros.

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