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.