First Annual Canadian comics auction on I.C.E.

I’m very excited about our upcoming auction of Canadian comics and related material. As far as I know, this is the first auction solely focusing on Canadian comics ever, and it is meant to be part of the events commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the first Canadian comic book, Better Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 (March 1941).

The auction will be hosted on I.C.E. (International Collectibles Exchange) eBay web store and will run from June 18 to June 28 with a mixture of donated and consigned materials from myself, Walter Durajlija, Jim Finlay, and Peter Hansen. Most of the items have been outright donated with the proceedings from their sales supporting our 80th Anniversary commemoration projects which include the following:

Better Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 Reprint

This will be a reprint facsimile of Better Comics Vol. 1 No. 1 (March 1941) of perhaps a 200-300 print run with a centrespread insert of four pages about Vernon Miller. This is progressing at a slower pace than I expected with the bottleneck being slow email responses from the Miller family, but this small nuisance for me is their prerogative and I still hope this to be realized by the fall. They have been very understanding and cooperative up to this point.

Canadian War Time Creators One-Page Comic Tributes Anthology

This will be small anthology of about 20 one-page comic bio-tributes of Canadian war time comic artists to be published as a comic or small trade paperback. Contributors so far on board include Ron Kasman (who has done one on the Toronto streetcar first meeting between teenagers Gerry Lazare and Ross Mendes), David Collier (who has done Harry Brunt), Joe Ollman (who has done Aram Alexanian), Seth (who would like to do one on one of his teachers at OCAD, Ross Mendes, if time and opportunity permit), Michael T. Gilbert (will do Fred Kelly), Ramón Pérez (will do Tedd Steele), Ho Che Anderson (will do Adrian Dingle), Patti Titus (daughter of Doris Slater, is doing one on her mother), Rick Trembles (son of Jack Tremblay is doing one on his dad), and Dave Sim (who is going to do one on Gerry Lazare). Again, this specialized 80th Anniversary commemoration project will have a short run and probably be targeted to niche collectors.

Joe Ollmann’s contribution to the anthology.

Photo-Journal of Canadian War Time Comic Book Covers

This will be a Gerber-style collection of as many of the 780 or so covers from the Canadian war time period (1941-46) as we can find and scan in hi-res. I have been able to scan just over 400 of these covers already and Jim Finlay has contributed scans of another couple of hundred and Stephen Lipson has been kind enough to let books from his magnificent collection of Canadian comics be scanned once this pandemic really clears up. This project is probably the longest away from being realized and might require a Kickstarter. Right now the design is planned to have the book be 12″ X 9″ with four covers on each page with certain select covers being presented full-size on a single page. The layout will be something like the graphic below but with space for a 3 or 4 line description underneath each cover.

This is actually a page from my Heroes of the Home Front book.

Beyond 80 Years: Canadian Comics Symposium 2021

This will be two-day virtual symposium devoted to Canadian comics to be held this October 15-16 built upon a blending of creator and academic presentations and intended to be accessible to the general public. The first day will be devoted to the past of Canadian comics from the war time period up to now and the second day will deal with contemporary Canadian comics and graphic narrative and their possible future directions. The organizing committee comprises me, Meaghan Scanlon (who is in charge of the Bell Features collection at the Library and Archives of Canada), Zach Rondinelli (PhD candidate at Brock U.), Candida Rifkind (U. of Winnipeg), and Dominick Grace (Brescia College, Western U.). Rather than formal keynote addresses at the start of each day we plan to have dialogues and the dialogue that will kick off the first day on the past of Canadian comics will be between John Bell and me. Participants for the dialogue introducing the second day are still being approached. We plan to have two roundtables during each day and also a presentation each day resulting from a call for papers which can be found here. Other good news is that the journal Canadian Literature, has come on board with some sponsorship and the intention to have its own call for papers on the subject of Canadian comics and also publish some of the proceedings from our symposium. Some more details and ways to submit to the Symposium can be found here.

To highlight this first Canadiana Comics Auction, I’ve decided to put up a Fred Kelly Bell Features original art page from Joke Comics 22. This is the splash from his second Steve Storms story. As far as I know, an original Bell Features comic page has never come up for auction before and this would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get one into your collection. From the collectors I know who will be looking at the auction, I expect the bidding to be aggressive on this page of original Fred Kelly art. Items for this auction will start going up at 9pm on Friday June 18. I hope that many of you will check out this auction and think about getting some of these very hard to find books and help Canadian comic love grow.

The Fred Kelly original splash page from Joke Comics 22.

NOTE

The Doris Titus-Slater exhibit slated to run through May at the Glenhyrst Gallery in Brantford is, I believe, open and running now and will run to about July 25. This is a great chance to see the broad variety of work by one of the very few women who worked in Canadian golden age comics. Get more information here.

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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: 170

13 Comments

  1. 9 PM!!! Here I am up at 7Am all ready and roaring to go and throw my “vast” fortune to this First Annual Great Canadian Auction and I gotta wait until 9 PM… man…

    Fingers crossed it’s a great success. Terrific items have been hinted at. Nice splash Ivan, I haven’t made it through the Joke Comics downloads yet, still reading Triumph, so this was a surprise. While not having anything of value to donate to the cause I’ll do what I can from buying side of it. However, I have had an idea or two for something I might be able contribute to the 2nd Annual auction, it’s crackling in my brain as I write and wake up.

    Re: Better Comics reprint. Are you aware of Mixam? Canada & US branches, they can digitally publish short run (minimum 50 copies I think) comics – and books (a certain Ivan photo cover book perhaps?) – and they have a live website calculator whereby you can input all your parameters and get an instant price quote. Very slick. Find them at mixam.ca

    Re: Canadian War Time Creators One-Page Comic Tributes Anthology. Cool and now that I see what you were thinking months ago, last year?, comprehension dawns. I’d love to try my hand at this – what creators do you want to include that aren’t covered yet and with findable biographical information? The team of Ed Furness & Ted McCall? Other?

    Re: Your Cover Photo Book. So looking forward to this now that I picked up the Gerber’s before Christmas. It would be fabulous. Could you post a list of issues you’re looking for? You probably already have what I’ve got in my very modest collection but ya never know. Tony from the golden age board has made an inquiry to me about digitally retouching his rarest comic if he can get a hi-rez scan because he said you wanted to put it in the book. That’s something I could offer to help you with if you need and want it – “fixing” tears, tape or pen marks, splotches or scuffing, bug holes and mouse chewing, etc. Whatever damage could be minimized or eliminated without altering the artwork as I did with my uploads to the DCM recently.

    Cheers!

  2. Thanks for your comments, Tim. I know you are a button guy and I did put up in the auction the last few pin back buttons I have left that I made with a WECA theme.
    Thanks for the suggestion of Mixam, I’ll certainly take a look at it. With this reprint, I have committed to having it done by Studio Comix Press in Kitchener which is close by and I look forward to Alfonso there doing it.
    I would love to see what you could do with a one-page tribute to a WECA artist. I’ve written you separately about this.
    Finally, thanks for your offer to help with cleaning up some of the comic cover images for the photo-journal. It’s on the back burner at the moment, but when I get through juggling some of the other things and get back to it, we can talk further. I certainly could use the help in finishing this project.
    Tim, thanks for loving these old Canadian books. I think they’re worth it!

  3. Hi Ivan, not sure how to get in touch with you, so I’m asking this here: do you know anything about a Bell Features comic called “The Six-Shooter”? The cover states it’s issue #11, C.D.L., 10 cents cover price. It has a modified cover from Quality’s Range Romances #5, but with the interior stories from Range Romances #3. There’s no cover date or date in the indicia. Range Romances #3 and #5 were published in 1950. Can you help identify this comic and when it was published? And again ,sorry to ask this in the wrong place!

  4. Sharon, this is a FECA era (1948-53) hybrid reprint. This can also be called a ‘repack’ because it takes the cover image from one US book and pairs it up with the contents of another while creating a new title for the comic. Bell Features was one Canadian company that did this after publication of its original Canadian material stopped in 1946.

  5. When I try to find these fantastic-looking auctions from ebay.co.uk it always comes up as ‘no items for sale’. Are they not open to UK buyers, or am I missing something!?

  6. Who told?!?! Thanks for putting up the buttons, BID ON! Some other items too. All you need is love, love, love and old Canuck comics. I’ll look into the reference you linked to me this week sometime – second vaccine shot, optometrist and vet all in one week. Bwah!

  7. Alas, I am larger than the t-shirts you put in the auction. Still bidding on the buttons though and a few of the currently lower value Freelance and Grand Slam comics fully expecting them to start cranking this weekend and knock me out of the running. Fell at the same time I had to replace my glasses… so I can read my comics. I may yet bid on your book to have a back up copy. Thanks.

  8. Canadian Auctions taking off like a rocket in the final hours.Great to see.

    I’m happy to lose some that I want to scan and index if someone else does the same.

  9. Alas too, my rockets fizzled out and exploded on the launch pads due to insufficient backing to top up my bids. A few dozens more dollars might have won me a couple of issues that I could have scanned and posted in the Digital Comics Museum. Anyway, starting a savings fund now for next year, hopefully there is another auction. And I’ll have to start looking at Walter’s ICE more closely. Cheers all, great event!

  10. I’ve spent a lot of time doing full scans or all the key pages of about 750 of 2000 for indexing of Canadian Whites and Reprints but it takes a lot of time.
    I have to apply triage rules when it comes to which to scan, how much time and how much of the book I can spend doing it or I’ll never get through them all.
    If there is anyone out there with programming skills that can put functionality into the Canadasowncomics.com website I’d be happy to add more indexed books to the site.
    I haven’t been able to get in and add to it for years. 🙁

  11. I tried with my Freelance 33 some time ago but didn’t receive a response so figured the site was defunct, hence going to the Digital Comics Museum to share.

  12. I scored as astonishing 13 comics in the auction and I was THRILLED. I was surprised at how low some things went, several far below my esnipe bids. I was underbidder one lovely Triumph as it crept over the $650 mark. I had to let it go, but my tab still added up. I decided to lay off more of the Fawcettt redos, but guess I should have thrown in a few more lower bids, some went at bargain prices. Walter said overall he was pleased with how things went, but I feel a bit guilty about some of the bargain prices things went for. Oh, well, if I didn’t get them, they’d have sold for even less. And I did bid a couple items up, happily for the consignors. I can’t tell you how often I’m an underbidder in the Heritage auctions, it’s gotten pretty standard lately. Always someone who’s willing to pay MORE.

    Ebay hit me for sales tax, sadly, which I was unaware of until the mystery charge showed up. But Walter saved me $$ by shipping all the books together.a

    I bought the coverless Canadian Heroes #1, ($90!) and the V4#5 and V3#6 (this is one of my favorite—and affordable—WECA titles), Freelance V2N4, and #2 with no back cover, Active #23 and 25, Action Stories of the Mounties, a compilation of stories from Canadian Heroes. This turned up CFO, but Walter took care of me,

    Also got Grand Slam V2#9, Commando #13, Zor #2, a real oddity with a newsprint self-cover, Triumph #4 coverless, which Walter thought was a bargain, with very early Nelvana, for $310–it’s $1600 in merely GOOD in Ivan’s price guide, bit out of my range so I’ll live with the coverless copy…and Capt. Marvel V3#6.

    Much as I dislike Ebay, I got a “suggestion” of another book for sale, Jet Man #10 with a very cool Fred Kelly cover, which I couldn’t resist picking up as a buy-it-now. Never had seen it before.

    Thanks to Ivan, Walter and crew for making all these great books available.

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