Last Saturday our Canadian Whites Project Team had a meeting at Big B Comics in Hamilton to see where we were at and where we were going. Sure emails and online conferencing can accomplish a lot, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.
It was roughly a year ago that this project got off the ground. We met for the first time and for a few hours in a back room at the Royal York Hotel on Grey Cup Day (Sunday Nov. 25, 2012) during the one-day Fan Expo con held there off a lobby bustling with CBC jackets and Argo and Roughrider team shirts. At the meeting were Walter Durajlija, Stephen Lipson, Jim Finlay, and me. We sat around a small card table in little more than a passage way behind the stage at one end of the display room. After introductions, I was re-entering a world after retirement in the summer, that I had left in the mid-seventies once I entered graduate school, but Walt and Stephen and Jim knew each other. Walt got Kevin Boyd of the Lounge and the Shuster Awards to pop in for a second about half way through.
Well, with that meeting we got the ball really started and now we are here a year later. Within that year we’ve made presentations at three cons (Niagara, Hamilton, and Fan Expo). We have indexed about 75% of the WECA comics and begun to populate a database with that information in the fashion of the Grand Comics Database. We have started this very column you are reading and we have had a large article on these comics accepted by the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide for publication in the next issue (all you Canadian store owners and sellers should consider a solid ad in this edition). I have made great contacts with some of the original creators and their families as well as many collectors and people just interested in these books from across the country.
Here is a pic of the gang from Saturday’s meeting.
On the left is Jim Finlay from Port Perry who is a solid record keeper and statistician concerning the sales of Canadian Golden Age books over the past few years. I’m next and then the long one is Hamilton’s and Big B’s own Walter Durajlija who is a great branding and publicity guru and Overstreet Advisor and knows comics cold. Next to Walt is Tony Andrews from Peterborough (where Oscar Schlienger lived for a number of years) who is an extremely accomplished piercing artist based at his brother’s Mike’s Tatoos on Water Street. Drop in the shop and see the amazing art and comics he’s put up on the walls of his office. At the far right is Stephen Lipson possessive of an impressive collection of Whites that must rival any one’s in Canada, great key EC’s and a superb Dingle original Nelvana splash. This is a great team of Canadian collectors with a wonderful set of skills and resources to tap.
At the meeting this past Saturday we started off with establishing a “mission statement” for our project and our cause. I’ve set it out in a graphic below.
We set ourselves a goal of finishing our website database by July 1 of next year with the launch on that date. The site will also include a group discussion area, gallery, news area and a mailing list for a newsletter. In fact we would like to get a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter pushed out before this and would welcome any readers of this column who would like their email added to the list we are putting together for this newsletter. You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting to be put on the mailing list for our Whites Project newsletter.
Here is a working graphic I put together for the front page of our website and it has representative characters from each of the five early publishing houses.
The next topic of discussion was the fact that we all expected 2014 to be the “breakout year” for the Canadian whites punctuated by the following.
- A main article on the Whites in the coming Overstreet Price Guide
- Two of our group, Stephen Lipson and myself, have just been accepted as Overstreet Advisors and should have our first reports in the coming Guide
- The Lost Heroes Documentary should finally be broadcast in the first half of the year
- Hope Nicholson’s and Rachel Richey’s Nelvana reprint project will come out in the first part of the year and looks to be a big success and a big boost for Whites awareness
- We expect to have a solid presence at the Niagara, Hamilton, and Fan Expo cons again this year
- Walt Durajlija has new digs for the Big B Niagara store and thinks that it would be an ideal place to have a small Canadian Whites display/info centre given the tourist traffic
- ideas and preparations can begin for 2016 which will be the 75th anniversary of the very first Canadian comic book Better Comics No. 1 which has a cover date of March, 1941
I am also continuing work throughout 2014 on my own research and writing of an art sized book on the artists of the Canadian war time comics and would love to have a product out for the holiday season next year.
I have the firm conviction that this is the right group of individuals to bring our project to fruition. All we need are capes and masks and large emblematic red maple leafs on our chests for the full effect. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t need any help, in fact, we will embrace any input, ideas, or helpful suggestions that are offered.
Keep your eyes on the horizon to the north and look for the Canadian Whites that will come raining down on us during this coming year.