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.
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.
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 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.