The big news this week is that the WECA Price Guide is finally finished and available! I have to thank Tony Andrews, Jim Finlay, and Walter Durajlija for being the main forces behind determining the prices listed in the book and Jim, especially, for an initial proofread and contributing to the completeness of the 780 odd books listed.

I picked up the 300 copies that were printed by Studiocomix Press in Kitchener a week ago and they were first sold at Niagara Con last Saturday. Studiocomix has a small number available at its Frederick Mall location and Big B Comics in Hamilton has copies as well.

This was self-published and, since there is no other distributor than me, the best way to get a copy is to send an email to me at [email protected] detailing how many copies you would like and your mailing address, so I can figure out your shipping costs. I will reply with the costs involved and payment can be sent to me either through Paypal, money order, or cheque. Of the 300 printed, 160 copies have been sold (including 25 copies to Bud Plant and 50 copies to Big B Comics in Hamilton) and five numbered and signed copies are going to Heritage Auctions for listing in an upcoming auction. This leaves me with 135 copies left for general distribution. Let’s see how things go. Maybe there will be a call for a second edition…?

The 6 ft. Dixon of the Mounted from Active Comics No. 1 on one of the walls of the Alter Ego Exhibit.

Of interest is the Library and Archives of Canada “Alter Ego” installation at the TD Gallery at The Toronto Reference Library. I was able to see it on the Sunday of TCAF a couple of weeks ago. It’s on until the end of July and is well worth visiting. This is slightly different from the original “Alter Ego” exhibit at LAC in March, 2016 in the fact that it has a couple of video presentations (e.g., an interview of Chester Brown by Conan Tobias) and a number of original Canadian WECA comics on display, including a copy of Active Comics 1 and an unnumbered Nelvana compendium from 1945. Well worth going to see, if you have a chance.

Display with Dime 2 and Active 6 on each side of a book I don’t remember.
You know what this is…
And this…

On the west coast, The Sydney Museum just outside of Victoria, BC, has a comic book exhibit called “Up, Up, and Away (Comic Book Heroes and our Culture)” with contributions from collector Peter Hansen and artist Ken Steacy. It’s on until July 6, so another chance to see some WECA comics and more on display to the public. Here is a picture of Assistant Director Alyssa Gerwing and Comic Book Exhibit Curator Terri O’Keefe standing in front of a display case containing a half-dozen Rocket Comics and more.

Something I started up last month is a mailing list to discuss Canadian Golden Age comics. This includes the WECA period (1941-46) and the FECA period (1947-1956)—essentially all pre-Silver Age Canadian comics. The focus is on older Canadian comics, but we welcome the occasional foray into the post-Orb, Canuck and Cerebus world. Please join up, if you are interested, and start up a conversation on a topic. You can check it out here.

Last bit of news is that my panel proposal for Montréal Con (July 6-8) on my book, Heroes of the Home Front, has been approved but still waiting for a date, time, and location. It will be great to get out to Montréal and it’s thriving comic community and, especially to have a chance to meet up with Jack Tremblay and Rick Trembles again as well as any other WECA comic lovers and collectors in the area.

With a couple of WECA comic projects under my belt, it’s time to start thinking about the next one. In the forefront is a Gerber-style Photo Journal of all the WECA covers (along with a bunch of the back covers, because many of them are interesting) in a single volume.

The two Gerber Golden Age volumes.

Maybe a complete reprint of a title or a collection of a hero’s stories such as the Nelvana, Johnny Canuck, and Brok Windsor collections that have already appeared? Freelance, one of the best written of the WWII characters, comes to mind first, or, maybe Speed Savage. Even reprinting all wonderful Now You’re Loggin’ stories by Bus Griffiths from Rocket Comics or the adventures of Lucky, the little French WWII refugee, son of a Canadian father and French mother, from Lucky Comics could be collected together into great little graphic novels.

Let’s take a short look at Maple Leaf’s Lucky character.

“Lucky” is the story of Roger, an eight-year-old boy growing up on a farm in Normandy in 1939, just as the war in Europe begins. It’s put together by writer Howard Hagar Hall and artist Ernie Walker–the same pair behind that 1942 government of British Colombia one-shot Your New World comic and general contributors throughout the full run of Vancouver’s Maple Leaf Publishing books.

“Lucky” splash from Lucky Comics Vol. 1 No. 3.

On the splash page from that first story in Lucky Comics Vol. 1 No. 3, bracketed by what could almost be taken as a perforated stamp edge, is the reason for including this story in a comic book: “The purpose of this tale is to show you how much ‘luckier’ you are than the children of Europe… BUY WAR SAVING STAMPS ALL SUMMER!” No costumed heroes, no detectives, no funny animals, just an eight-year-old kid facing a world war and Nazi occupation.

The boy has the nickname “Lucky” throughout the story and it begins with his father, a Captain in the French army and his older brother, Pierre, leaving to fight the Nazis. We slowly learn that Lucky’s father was a Canadian soldier who had fought in WWI and there met Lucky’s mother who had served as a nurse. After that war, Lucky’s father stayed in France and married Lucky’s mother, eventually having Lucky’s older brother, Pierre, and then Lucky, himself. One set of Lucky’s grandparents lived in Canada and Lucky’s parents always promised that one day they would take him to visit them in Manitoba.

In the spring after the war begins, Lucky’s mother receives a telegram saying that both Pierre and Lucky’s father had been killed. With the Germans closing in on their part of the country and their farm, Lucky’s mother packs what she can in a wagon and she and Lucky start out on the road for the presumed safety of Paris. On the way to the capital, the road is strafed by Nazi planes and Lucky’s mother is killed. In the last few panels of this first story, Lucky is stopped and questioned by Nazi soldiers and his response is the image on the cover of Lucky Comics Vol. 1 No. 3.

Through the next few issues, Lucky partners up with a dog called “Toto,” and the old lady “Pol” who is known locally as an old witch, and who shelters him. He also finds out that his father hadn’t been killed but is badly wounded. While Pol and Lucky tend to him, he gives Lucky his own cap and a Nazi list of French collaborators which he has appropriated from a Nazi General’s desk. Lucky’s father informs them that the list must get to the underground in Paris and Lucky immediately volunteers to take it.

Page from Lucky Comics Vol. 1 No. 7.

Reluctantly, the father admits that this might be their only chance. Pol sews the list into the cap and with it firmly on his head, Lucky sets out for Paris, and his uncle’s patisserie, while his father recuperates in Pol’s cabin. Lucky now has his full costume for the series. A French soldier’s cap on his head, shorts, red and white hooped socks, and wooden clogs on his feet. This is his trademark outfit for the rest of the series.

Lucky Comics Vol. 2 No. 4.

Robert MacMillan pointed out to me that Lucky Comics Vol. 2 No. 2 has some exceptionality because it is one of the few covers that shows Nazi soldiers killing a civilian.

Lucky Comics Vol. 2 No. 2.

The old woman being shot on the cover is Pol, who had sheltered Lucky (and, we learn, was a former servant in Lucky’s household before he was born). Bob is probably right. I can’t think of another cover that depicts a civilian being killed by an enemy soldier.

From Lucky Comics Vol. 5 No. 10.

After the war, Lucky discovers that his mother and his brother, Pierre, are still alive and the whole family is reunited. We see this in Lucky Comics Vol. 5 No. 10 which is from April/May of 1946. If Lucky started his adventures in September 1939 when he was eight, he must be 13 or even 14 by this time. There are only four more issues of the title and the last issue is Lucky Comics No. 34 dated Oct./Nov. 1946.

Inside front cover from Lucky Comics No. 34.

During those four issues artist John MacKillop takes over drawing the stories from Ernie Walker and no writer is credited. The only thing that I can find out about John MacKillop is that his family was featured in the June 1963 issue of Canadian Homes Magazine.

June 1963 issue of Canadian Homes.
The MacKillop family inside their home.

During those last few issues, Lucky makes it to Canada and meets his grandparents in Manitoba, but he does so without his own parents. By the last panel of the last story, Lucky has been mugged in an alley and loses his memory—a perfect setup for a whole new series of adventures in a brand-new country.

Splash from Lucky Comics No. 33.
Lucky, the final page.

Too bad the comic gods saw things differently.

That’s all for this post. Get a copy of the WECA Guide if you’re at all interested in these comics. It crunches a whole bunch of info about these comics into a pocket-sized container. You won’t be sorry.

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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: 169

9 Comments

  1. Freelance would be a good choice to reprint a story (or more) I’m thinking. Or The Crusaders from Double A, I love the outer space adventures.

    There’s no Toronto stores, say the Beguiling for instance, that are carrying your price guide Ivan?

  2. I agree with you Jim. I think that Freelance would be the number one contender for a complete trade reprint. Ted McCall did some of the best writing in that era.

    There is no Toronto store that has the price guide right now. I approached Paradise at the Niagara Con and Pete said that he wasn’t interested because so few Canadian Whites came through the store. The book is going to be hard to find in the brick and mortar world.

  3. Really enjoyed talking with you guys at Niagra Con (I was the american interested in Canadian books!). When is the book about the WECA comics going to be published? I’d like to get the book and the price guide together. BTW, Big B had ZERO comics with them at NFCon. And thank you for the baseball cards for my son who is a huge Scott Pilgrim fan. I love all the things you guys do at CBD. Keep it up!

  4. I remember Matt. The WECA comics book has been published and printed. I’m just waiting for it to arrive from China where it was printed. It should get here in the last week of June. I understand Big B had all it’s comics at their Lundy’s Lane store about 10 min. away. Just send me an email towards the end of June with your address and I’ll tell you how much shipping and the books will cost.

  5. I bought a Weca price guide. $20 is ok for 84 pages i guess. Good information of every issue. Lots of details. Key issues and artist and first appearances are well listed.
    Not so good pricing assumptions. Prices should be real at auction results, not authors guess what their rarest Better 1 and Triumph 1 are worth. Until something exceeds Nelvanna nn at auction, the 12 books valued $2,000 or more in good are all based on authors collecting bias. And a Nelvanna nn in 3.5 sold for $10,500 usd so authors bias against this book undermines the entire pricing. Key issues non #1s are greatly undervalued like Triumph 7, Dime 14, Better vol 3-3 . Also undervalued Commando 1 and Active 1. Rare but less collectable early one shots, even if US reprints, are relatively overpriced by mere assumtions of the authors.

  6. Cody, thanks for your input. I accept the fact your criticism of the guide valuations have weight to them, but we did use all the data, including auctions results and the collective collecting experience of the four of us (myself, I have been collecting comics for over 50 years). This wasn’t a price guide of the highest result achieved at auction and on top of that we had to start somewhere and prices will be refined in subsequent editions as more of these books enter the market. 80% of these books have never had an auction result–should we have left them blank? Results achieved at auction once or twice, don’t establish an accurate value of the book. Our prices were based on a consensus of what the four of us would pay for these rare books if they did come up for auction. Of all the comments we’ve received on the guide so far have been positive for our first try product (super Whites collector Stephen Lipson, for example, gave us a positive thumbs up), except for yours and I respect your criticism and your right to that criticism. We welcome you to put your own guide together and we’ll take a look at it.

  7. Thankyou Ivan for your thoughtful and sincere reply. I respect you are a well read Whites enthusiast, who has taken time to study and read the stories, over your lifetime, with passion, to research the artists, and have great familiarity with book contents. I look forward to your WECA Comics book now with the publisher and think it will be full of information, well written, and good analysis.
    However, i think Oversteet had the same problem as you. Overstreet dealt with the allegations of personal preference or appearance of his own bias. It was alledged Overstreet personally owned 50 high grade copies of Showcase 4, at time of his first guide. Overstreet adopted store owner and collector market reports. Overstreet adopted select well known advisors. Overstreet publishes actual auction results in his forward section.
    When a stock broker or financial advisor tells the public to buy a stock, he always discloses whether he personally owns that particular stock himself. We all know that you own many of the books that you highly promote as most valuable? Wally highly promotes his Better 1 to 5 file copies. Lipson highly promotes his Triumph Adventure 1 and 2. I do not think what you, Wally, Tony or Jim would pay for a book in 2018 really matters, to the market because you bought many books for low prices long ago, you already own the books, and you do not drive the market auction sales prices.
    I believe you intend on publishing a volume 2, in which you plan to increase prices. I feel you intentionally depressed many prices now, to allow room to show values increasing later. Will you sell me books in your collection for prices listed? While that price increase plan does not seem nefareous in itself, you guide is a slap in the face to people who recently bid and won books at open auction. A vol.2 price update does give you an opportunity to solicit from knowlegible price advisors, and use actual sales results.

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