Along with publishing the comic books themselves, our main four WECA publishers also put out a number of additional materials for kids of the time that is also eminently collectible and in this week’s column I’d like to draw attention to some of this material. These comic related ephemera are extremely difficult to find and I want to thank master Whites collector Stephen Lipson for supplying me with pictures of the Anglo-American transfers and glow patches as well as the Bell Features Scotty MacDonald sew-on sweater crest.
Though Anglo-American was giving away photos of Captain Marvel and Spy-Smasher in 1942, I believe that these were from the American movies featuring these characters that were being distributed in Canada at the time and were advertised in early issues of both titles.
Comic related offers in the WECA period probably began with Bell Features idea in 1943 of giving away cloth sweater crests to readers if they cut out 12 coupons on the inside front cover of their comics and sent them in. The problem for us collectors, of course is that the inside front cover has the front cover on the back of it and you had to ruin (reduce to green CGC label status) a dozen 1943 Bell comics to get one of these sweater crests. Jeez!!??!! The good thing is that if you look at my posts one and two on the second ComicLink auction from earlier this year, you can see that even these disfigured issues are still sought after and valuable.
But here is the ad and what you got for wreaking this havoc:
Whatever you may think about the damage done, these sweater crests are extremely rare and almost impossible to find and I’ve never seen them come up on eBay.
Towards the end of 1943, Anglo-American put out photos (probably those same movie photos) and a Comic Story Paint Book featuring Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. as well as an offer to join the Captain Marvel Club and receive a membership button and card. Here is a sample ad:
Once 1944 came around Anglo-American offered a full colour picture of their own homemade Canadian popular hero Freelance and this picture remained on offer, with the caveat: “Hurry! There are only a few prints available,” right up to the end of 1945 and Freelance Comics No. 29.
Once 1945 came around Anglo-American came up with the idea of offering two different sets of colour transfers that you could buy right at the newsstand when you bought your comics or you could clip out a coupon from the comic and send it into their John St. offices with the requisite 15 cents. Here are examples of the comic ads, one of the envelopes that were sold containing the transfers, and a page of transfers themselves.
As a added promotion, Double A Comics also began, at the start of 1945 to offer what I consider to be their best side offer—a collection of “Glo-Crests.” These were thin cloth patches that would glow in the dark. Here is an ad for the Commander Steel one and then examples of some of the patches themselves.
These were on offer on the back of Anglo-American reprints as late as 1950 (e.g., Larry Doby 3).
Just around this time as well, back at Bell Features, we find that Manny Easson had put together a couple of colouring books and a small-sized (11 X 9 cm) Dizzy Don Joke Book. One colouring book featured his most famous creation Dizzy Don and the other a newly developed character Dizzy Don’s cousin Soozie.
The Joke Book was about the size of a big little book and its format was pretty much like that with text on one page and a large panel graphic on the other.
As an aside, I might also add that Bell Features also put out a series of comic sized paint books on a variety of themes from 1949-1950 through its subsidiary Paint Book Features. Here is Wendy and Willie No. 3 which focused on safety.
Over in Montreal by the spring of 1944, Educational Projects was offering about two dozen different paint books, most of which seemed to have been drawn by artists whose work appeared in their Canadian Heroes comic book. Here is the back cover for Canadian Heroes Vol. 3 No. 6 from May 1944 and a couple of examples of the books themselves.
There was a similar, but less ambitious effort out in Vancouver by Maple Leaf Publications which produced a subsidiary called Paint Books Ltd., to put out a colouring book by their Art Director, John Stables called The Young Rembrandt Colouring Book. Here is a small piece that appeared in The Globe and Mail during May of 1945 followed by the cover of the colouring book itself.
A lot of this material which is less familiar to collectors of Canadian war-time comics is probably still out there somewhere at estate auctions and at garage and church penny sales. Keep an eye out for them, they are exceptionally rare and I hope that one day in some publicly accessible archive we will be able to assemble a complete collection to compliment the comic books themselves and that we’ll all be able to enjoy them.