Holidays ahead

First of all, best holiday wishes to everybody. Here is a Christmas-themed cover from the December 1935 issue of Montreal’s La Revue Moderne by war-time comics artist Oscar Schlienger done half-a-dozen years before he began working in comics.

What a sobering year this has been!

This is the time I usually organize my Overstreet advisor’s report on WECA comics, but this year I honestly had little interest or energy to put into doing. I hit 70 next spring and seem to have had enough with chasing four colour floppies. Sure, if opportunities to pick something up like the Kelly original art pages I wrote about last month come up, I’ll jump at them. However, meticulous trolling of the internet sales and auction sites and chasing leads across the province have lost their sheen.

However, friend and fellow collector Jim Finlay has kept a pretty meticulous record of online sales for the past year and is willing to share his records, so I probably will put something together. Generally, it looks like most WECA books still bring solid prices but there seem to be more colour Anglo-American books on the market than previously thought and this has driven their demand and price down a bit. Perhaps this could be partially blamed on the fact that some were printed in Cleveland (check your indicia on these books) for distribution in the States and more are around the country than we thought. What is noticeable is that a lot of the reprint era (1947-53 FECA) books have started generating increased interest and correspondingly increased prices especially Superman and Batman, Marvel hero, good girl art covers, and hybrid issues with splash-page unique covers.

One sale from this reprint period does stand out well above the others and that was the previously unknown Manhunt 12.

A Manhunt 12 never appeared in the US. The original Magazine Enterprises run stopped with issue 11 which had a cover date of Aug./Sept. 1948. It skipped a couple of years and started up again and put out two more issues 13 in 1952 and 14 in 1953. A number 12 never appeared. However, a slabbed CGC 1.0 Canadian printed Manhunt 12 showed up on Comic Connect late last year and sold for $7525 USD on Dec. 11, 2019. This was followed in quick succession by a raw VG copy that was snapped up on eBay for $3,351 USD on Jan. 5, 2020, a second eBay VG copy went under-the-radar for $500 USD on March 17, then a CGC 2.5 copy on Heritage that sold for $7,200 USD, and finally a CGC 5.5 copy on Heritage again that sold on Nov. 19 for $10,500.

This Canadian reprint was put out by Reader Publishing Service which also put out another Magazine Enterprises issue in Canada, The Pixies 5.

The contents of this Manhunt 12 were reprinted from Trail Colt Comics 1 and contain art by Frazetta and L. B. Cole, but the cover is a previously unknown Ogden Whitney cover that Magazine Enterprises may have scheduled for their unpublished Manhunt 12 or it may be a reprint of some Ogden Whitney splash page. The value in this comic must come from the fact that it represents an American book that was previously thought not to exist, so from its American context and not the fact that it is printed and published in Canada. In fact, I believe that it is in this spirit that Overstreet did something that it very rarely does—it includes this Canadian printing in its American Manhunter Comics listings filling up a previously blank slot.

Apart from these four copies of Manhunt 12, rounding out the top six sales of Canadian reprint comics for 2020 were a 9.8 Canadian copy of Superman 52 in fourth place that went for $4,080 USD and an 8.5 Canadian copy of Marvel Mystery 92 in fifth place that sold for $3,999 USD.

All this again points to the fact that we need a checklist/price guide for all those Canadian reprint era comics that came out between 1947 and, including the Superior books, ran into 1956.

Moving a little away from the value of comics let’s enter the dreamland tropes of our hobby. I’m sure that every one of us has had at least one dream where we’ve come across an untouched trove of golden age books or have managed to magically appear in front of a golden age newsstand and started picking out armfuls of fantastic comics including a grail or two. All a wonderful dance in the land of imagination with the nightmare beginning only when the bubble bursts and you wake up.

Recently, I came across some images from the City of Vancouver Archives that evoked these types of dream emotions in me. They were in their Jack Lindsay fonds and are pictures he took in Henry’s Coffee Shop on the corner of Richards and West Pender in Vancouver in the summer of 1944. Henry’s was about six blocks away from the offices of Maple Leaf Publications at 849 Homer Street. It’s a series that describes the transition, in the coffee shop, from an old, packed newsstand to a newer, larger version. The great thing about these pictures is that they have a few WECA comics of the day in them.

This image shows the old newsstand before the new one was installed.

You can see a Bell Features Commando 11 almost dead centre. On the same row, from left to right, you can see an issue of Lucky Comics, some Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, a comic whose masthead begins with a large “R,” that Commando 11 and behind it another issue of Lucky, a few more of the Commandos, a Dime 17 with its number clearly in the corner, a couple of Wows, and an issue of Canadian Heroes peeking out from behind that last Wow. What’s strange is that there don’t appear to be any Anglo-American comics on the stand. Does this mean that Anglo didn’t distribute as much out on the west coast, or have all the Anglo books sold out already? Who knows?

Some of the magazines on the stand can help us narrow down the time that the photo was taken. There’s a Liberty Magazine up in the top right corner and this is the July 15, 1944 edition.

Laying flat along the row just above the newspapers are the Dominion Day (July 1) 1944 issue of Maclean’s Magazine, the July 8th, 1944 issues of Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post.

That Dominion Day Maclean’s probably is the strongest evidence for this photo being taken in the first week or so of July.

Here’s the new stand before it is loaded. You can also see some crime-detective pulps on a rack on the right side.

Here’s the new stand locked and loaded:

There seems to be a greater variety of magazines. The Reader’s Digests now have a prominent place with its own mini-stand. There’s a corner full of risqué joke pulps in the bottom left-hand corner and a bunch of crime-detective pulps in the top half of the new add-on on the far right. I can identify the issue of Judge Magazine that is in the middle of the large segment of this new stand as the August 1944 issue.

The comics that were in the old stand now show up on the right, just under the detective pulps. The issue of Wow Comics is missing here, but we can identify the others more easily.

We now see that the issue of Funny Comics is No. 12, that the issue of Canadian Heroes is Vol. 4 No. 2, and that the issue of Lucky Comics is Vol. 2 No. 10. We see the Dime 17 and the Commando 11. The issue of Wow Comics that was in the older stand is not here, but it was probably issue 19. Two new issues that weren’t on the previous stand show up here. They are Triumph 20 and Rocket Comics Vol 2 No. 9.  That issue that had an “R” revealed in the masthead turns out to be a copy of the American comic Real Life No. 19. Remember that, even though American comics were banned in general, historical/educational comics like Real Life were let through.

Here they are more clearly:

What a treat it is to see WECA comics in situ in Vancouver in the summer of 1944. I just wish I could lay my hands on them.

Before closing, let me remind you that 2021 will be the 80th Anniversary of the appearance of the first Canadian comic, Better Comics No. 1. We set up a working group to come up with a few initiatives to celebrate this and you can find out more about them here. I hope we can pull a couple of them off.

Have a good holiday, and let’s look forward to comic shops flourishing, movie theatres opening, and cons coming back sometime in the new year, still… it’s going to be a while before I take my mask off when I leave the house.

Dingle Maclean’s cover from 1945.
Lou Skuce family Christmas card. Lou is playing the clarinet.
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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

14 Comments

  1. Ivan !

    Merry Christmas right back at you . I always enjoy your columns , so , thank you for the time it takes you to do one . this column was a real treat for me as well . I just love seeing vintage newsstand photos . it really is a time capsule into the past . I think we’ve all had dreams where either we find a trove of GA comics or invent a time machine and go back to April 1938 and buy Action Comics 1 right off the stands .

    all the best to you and your family and to everyone else reading this !

  2. Hi, Ivan. Fascinating post from an aging comic fan (like me) who has lost some of his energy for the hobby we both love (as have I). The Dingle painting alone would have made the column had there not been so many other interesting items. And my thanks to Jim Finlay, too, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. All the best…

  3. Great column, Ivan.

    I have an old Canadian copy of Marvel Mystery 92, which I picked up for 5 cents, about 30 years ago, from an old corner store that sold used comics for half cover price. Given its condition, about fair to good, it’s probably not worth too much.

    Isn’t Lucky v2 n10 actually v3 n10? I thought I read in your column a couple of years ago, that Maple Leaf kept oddly changing their issue numbers.

    I love pictures of old newsstands. (:

  4. Great column as usual. Perhaps someday someone might compile all those snapshots of vintage newstands into one collection. I have never seen a shot with WECA comics before. Wow!

    The new racking in the second picture looks great, it reminds me of upgrades we did in my old Comics & Comix stores. The local comics and magazine distributor often would loan or give you old wood racks (as well as spinners, but those were anathema due to damage caused on them). Thus, our first store beginning in 1972-76, had lots of funky recycled wood racks. We carried a full line of magazines in some stores.

    Later we upgraded and bought wall units and new racking that wa far more efficient, if less traditional!

    I agree regarding the color c. 1946 Anglo-American books popping up this year. I’ve tried to send you my observations of these, as I sought to upgrade my copies. I have tried to sell my dupes on MyComicShop…with very, let me repeat, VERY limited success. The market is pretty shallow for these, for the reason you state. Plenty of most issues around, though I have found the iccasional one to be more scarce… Patience will find you the occasional dealer or auction where they can be had relatively cheaply.

    On the other hand, “true” b&w’s, WECA titles, are still very few and far between in the few places I look. Ivan, I sympathize about spending time trolling the web. I simply ignore EBay, Comic Link and Comic Connect, life is too short. I have my favorite couple auction sites, and a couple dealers, and that’s enough to keep me spending plentybof time looking, and literally soending more dollars than I should on (mostly) U.S. Golden Age, and the occasional Silver.

    You know I’d love to see a priceguide of FECA books. Or rather, I should say, simply more information about them. The market could detemine price on these…what I value is information, exactly what you gave us above on Manhunt #12, for instance. I have all the U.S. Manhunts but didn’t know about this #12 until now. As you know, I recently scored two Active Comics with fun Jack Cole Plastic Man covers. These were also completely unknown to me before finding them in an auction. And to be had at bargain price. So very little is documented on this era, it’s catch as catch can.

    I know you’ve done other articles on FECA books, Would you consider listing these for us, so we don’t need to search through your vast historybof articles? Not to mention, any other online information on these?

    I hope it peaks your interest, or someone’s, and we see either a priceguide (simply as a place, like your WECA priceguide, to gather data) or more comprehensive articles about these FECA oddities. I don’t really feel any need to acquire most of them, but I find the history fascinating.

    If its not an affront to Overstreet, you might post or paraphrase your essay for him here. By the time we read it in the Price Guide, it’s pretty dated as you know.

  5. Back in the early 90s, a guy at a local bookstore, made a pseudo comics display, of sorts, when he took a bunch of miscellaneous junk and carefulĺy placed some photocopies of valuable old comics at the front of each stack.

    His resulting black and white photos looked very authentic. I wished I could have bought a copy of the photos from him.

  6. Always love tour history lessons about our favorite medium! Have a happy healthy holiday!

  7. It must have made for tough choices when confronted with this display if you only had a dime allowance. Neat photos of the newsstand, thank you, Ivan! I agree with Bud’s comment for more info/priceguide on the FECA’s, even as an addendum to Ivan’s WECA price guide in an updated printing.

  8. Thanks, all of you, for your time and interest in offering up comments. It shows me that other human beings share in and understand the passion, the magic, and the comfort we’ve carried with us in this hobby since our childhoods. Hope all of you have the best holidays possible given this year’s situation and you and your families come through to the other side healthy and whole.

  9. Thank you Ivan. Im addicted to pictures of old magazine and comic displays. Merry Christmas

  10. Lets all celebrate the holidays as safe as we can and hopefully then all come out next year celebrating Canadian Comics 80th Anniversary of the appearance of the first Canadian comics with lots to share.

  11. I so look forward to a time Post-Covid when we can all get together over breakfast and talk face to naked face about our favourite pastime. I have to admit that one advantage of cocooning is the opportunity to wander through vast ranges of back issues and bury myself in nostalgia. It sure beats the day to day reality of a hugless and paranoid world. I wish all of you the love and the company you so deserve. Comics got me through the worst childhood imaginable and now I have them to thank for a few moments of calm amidst the chaos this past year has thrust upon us. “May you never lay our head down without an hand to hold.”

    love and hugs, mel

  12. Sorry Mr. Martyn. It’s “May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold.” Happy New Year!

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