Last week Canada Post issued a series of stamps commemorating the 75th anniversary of Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics No. 1. It was a handsome issue with great colour graphics and accompanying silver coin set from the Royal Canadian mint.
I picked up a set of the stamps of course, but a series of thoughts soon tumbled over each other in my head. If a comic book concept with a fairly slender thread connecting it to Canada (Joe Shuster the illustrator behind the creation of the character was born in Canada) can merit this ceremony, why can’t a 75th anniversary of the birth of our own genuine and rock solidly Canadian comic books merit at least an equal value. I know we had that issue in 1995 that contained stamps of Johnny Canuck and Nelvana but this is different.
In 2016 we will encounter the 75th anniversary of Better Comics No. 1 (see this earlier post by Walter Durajlija) which is the best contender that we have for Canada’s first comic book and the book that kicked off that special First Age of uniquely Canadian comics that spanned the war-time period from 1941-46. When I went to the Canada Post web site to find out what was involved in making suggestions for future commemorative stamp issues, I found that anyone could submit a suggestion but we had to account for a two-year lead time before the period to be commemorated in a submission.
Luckily we are in 2013 and 2016 is still more than two years away so off went a letter to Canada Post on Monday along with a CD containing graphics of covers to illustrate my case. Here is an extract from that letter:
Chairperson of the Stamp Advisory Committee
CANADA POST CORPORATION
2701 RIVERSIDE DRIVE SUITE N1070
OTTAWA ON K1A 0B1
2016 will be the 75th anniversary of Canada’s first original comic book, Better Comics No. 1 with the cover date of March, 1941. This started off a run of about 750 comics that were created by Canadians, for Canadian readers during the war-time years 1941-46. They were unique and exclusive to Canada (some were distributed in the final year in the UK) because of the ban on the importation of American comics during the Second World War through the War Exchange Conservation Act of December 6, 1940. These comics were produced by four publishing companies: Maple Leaf Publications (in Vancouver which issued the first Better Comics); Anglo-American Publications in Toronto; Bell Features Publications also out of Toronto; and Educational Projects out of Montreal. This industry thrived in our country until the gradual repeal of the War Exchange Conservation Act and the return of American comics after the war. This period is well represented in the collections of the National Archives in Ottawa.
You recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of Superman which, even though it has some Canadian connection through its graphic originator, Joe Shuster, has less Canadian relevance than the purely Canadian product created for Canadians which I am now promoting for a commemorative issue.
I hope that you will give this your best and honest consideration.
I am including a DVD with some of the significant and iconic comic book covers from this period and copies of my two articles as some manner of support for this lobby.
The cover of Better Comics No. 1 has to be one of the issues but using the Create Your Own App. on the Canada Post website I made mock-ups of covers I’d like to see used. Which ones should be the front runners and which others might be considered?