Joyful belated New Yr! Thanks to every of you who learn my inaugural column final month. Conversing with so many individuals who posted feedback or who contacted me by way of e mail was a welcome distraction from my Ph.D. defence on December 12, 2018, subsequent revisions and marking undergraduate exams. I’m happy to announce that Comic Book Daily now options two docs writing concerning the historical past of Canadian comics. The holidays provided me a welcome respite and enabled me to “recharge my batteries.” I’m taking a much-needed break from academia to start out the yr, however my comedian work continues. My objective this month is to construct on final month’s try and set the stage. I need to start with speaking about Silver Age amassing strains.
What Are the Silver Age Collecting Strains?
The current publication of Ivan Kocmarek’s WECA Worth Information and Heroes of the Homefront are implausible achievements which are the end result of years of work. Because of Ivan’s weblog and the work of members of the Whites Challenge, Canadian comedian e-book collectors now have an unimaginable quantity of info at their disposal on the subject of these beautiful wartime comics. Nevertheless, the frustration that I felt a number of years in the past once I needed to gather WECA is one thing shared by different collectors and fanatics who I’ve spoken with on-line or met at conventions in Atlantic Canada: these comics are both unavailable or too costly for the typical collector to buy. Individuals who have them usually are not promoting them and individuals who need them can’t discover them.
It was not till I had a chance to take a seat down and skim the WECA information that I lastly had a solution to articulate my emotions about my frustrations as a fledgling/wannabee WECA collector. Walter Durajlija’s essay within the ebook captures my frustrations virtually completely. Within the essay, he talks about totally different amassing strains amongst comedian collectors and he describes WECA amassing as one such pressure. Nevertheless, the outline that he paints of WECA amassing and its future is just not precisely rosy (although I interpret it as cautiously optimistic). One of the issues with the WECA pressure is that there are simply not sufficient WECA books to go round, which prevents new blood from getting into the accumulating group. With few alternatives to buy WECA books, fledgling collectors get annoyed and transfer on to different accumulating strains. Once I learn his essay, I virtually felt as if it was directed in the direction of me particularly. It was virtually too good an evaluation. In fact, it was not likely directed in the direction of me, as Walter and I have been solely launched to one another after the essay’s publication.
With Walter’s conceptualization recent in my thoughts, I began to assume of WECA and FECA as solely distinct accumulating strains. With the WECA information now available on the market, ought to FECA be the logical subsequent step for a collector or researcher? My reply is a robust “no.” Don’t get me improper. I like FECA books and I like accumulating FECA. I’ve nicely over 100 of these predominantly American reprints in my assortment. There are lots of gaps locally’s collective FECA information and I lately had a dialog with one other collector relating to the quantity of FECA books revealed. Nobody is aware of for positive, however he argued that there could also be as many as 7000 totally different FECA books. With out additional analysis, there isn’t a solution to understand how correct that this estimate is. Nevertheless, for me, cataloguing that many books—the bulk of that are reprints of American comics—doesn’t have the identical attraction as taking a look at precise Canadian content material. For this reason I recommend that the Silver Age is the logical answer for collectors who really feel that they’ve missed out on WECA, in addition to the logical subsequent step for individuals keen on researching Canadian comics who hope to construct on the work of each John Bell and Ivan Kocmarek. In fact, I need to tip my hat to Ivan for just lately beginning to dabble in FECA analysis right here on Comic Book Daily!
One of the appeals of accumulating Canadian Silver Age comics is that there are a number of strains to select from. I’m personally involved in amassing all of these strains, however my colleagues usually are not. Neither Dan nor Victor, are actually all that interested by giveaways (and I thank them for humouring me once I uncover “new” details about this pressure). Dan can also be tired of Quebec comics as a result of he doesn’t learn French, which is totally affordable. My level is that inside the Silver Age, collectors might discover issues that curiosity them greater than others. What I name the “Pokémon mentality”; that’s, the will to “catch them all” doesn’t have to use. As such, I recommend that there are at the least six totally different amassing strains inside the Silver Age which are in some ways related, however might not attraction to everybody’s private accumulating aesthetic:
- The Literary Avant-Garde
- Underground Comix
- Unbiased and Various Comics
- Fanzines and Small Press
- Quebec Comics
Inside every of these strains, there are comics which might be extraordinarily widespread and comics which are virtually unattainable to seek out. For instance, most readers with probably be conversant in some of Canada’s bigger unbiased publishers from the 1970s and 1980s that had nationwide distribution. Comics produced by Aardvark-Vanaheim, Aircel, Matrix and Vortex are usually not troublesome to seek out and are typically cheap, however they are often extraordinarily enjoyable to gather as a result of of usually nice artistic tasks that provide a wide selection of genres and varieties. However, a collector of these comics will discover it troublesome to acquire sure keys, with an genuine Cerebus # 1 being probably the most noteworthy as a result of of its value. The e-book is tough to seek out, however isn’t precisely uncommon. However, individuals who gather Aircel comics may have a really troublesome time discovering Barry Blair’s earlier, self-published work (beneath the identify “Nightwynd”) similar to the unique fifteen situation ElfLord collection, the unique points of Samurai and a few of his lesser-known publications. These comics are fairly scarce, with low print runs, and collectors might have to attend a number of years to seek out examples on the market. Certainly, there are a handful of Nightwynd comics that I’ve but to see examples of (however know exist as a result of of our analysis).
This brings me to the second level that additionally stems from concepts articulated by Walter. Ivan has talked about this in his weblog prior to now and Walter reiterates this in his essay within the WECA information: the utility of possession. That is, primarily, the concept collectors can pay larger than anticipated costs to acquire a uncommon guide as a result of stated collector might not know when one other instance will come out there. When Ivan and Walter have mentioned this, it has been squarely directed in the direction of explaining why sure WECA books find yourself going for larger than anticipated costs. Nevertheless, I feel this will apply to any amassing pressure of comedian books (and doubtless different collectibles hobbies extra usually relying on the context). In my interpretation of this concept, the weather of provide and demand play a big position in whether or not or not the utility of possession could also be at work. As such, I might not anticipate this to use to the comics from the 1980s that have been nationally distributed and had giant print runs: they’re virtually all the time obtainable. Quite, this is applicable to the comics that folks similar to Dan, Victor and I’ve spent years making an attempt to ferret out, however have by no means seen examples of. Finally, there are numerous comics from the Canadian Silver Age that this concept might apply to as a result of of low provide and growing demand for Canadian comics extra usually.
Is the Utility of Ownership at Work? Examples of Excessive-Worth Silver Age Comics Bought on eBay in 2018
There are quite a few books from the Canadian Silver Age which are so uncommon that they virtually by no means come up on the market and a few of these books are beginning to achieve traction within the market. The causes are doubtless a number of and I don’t have sufficient info to offer a concrete reply that explains this in every case. Nevertheless, I consider that the utility of possession has one thing to do with this. In 2018 there have been a number of uncommon Canadian Silver Age comics that achieved shocking costs. In January, Comic Canada # 1 and Comicanada # 2 appeared on eBay for the primary (and solely) time since we began cataloguing these books. Dan, Victor and I all anticipated these to fly underneath the radar as a result of we assumed that few individuals knew what they have been. As an alternative, these uncommon Terry Edwards comics/fanzines from 1967 and 1968 respectively bought for round $200 CAD every.
What left us notably stunned by these costs is that we’ve got come throughout different books from this period and area of Ontario—which are arguably simply as uncommon—from eBay and in personal gross sales for a fraction of the worth. For instance, I bought a replica of Derek Carter’s Operation Missile on eBay in 2017 for round $40 CAD shipped and Victor was provided a replica of Canada’s Greatest Comics (which is actually Vincent Marchesano’s successor to Comicanada # 2) in a personal sale for a lot lower than the costs realized right here. Sadly, Victor hesitated and he missed out after the vendor provided it to a different shopper. Going additional, the pocket zine comics that Marchesano and Artwork Cooper produced within the early 1970s (The Spectrum, With Pen and Brush and Id, Ego…Aeon) are additionally fairly scarce and look beautiful, however sit on eBay and languish away for months and even years with out consumers. Even the Operation Missile that I bought on eBay in 2017 had been out there for a while. On the time that the Comic Canada # 1 and Comicanada # 2 bought on eBay, I dismissed this for instance of individuals getting caught up within the fervour of speculating on Canadian comics (that I see as rampant in at the moment’s market, notably relating to Bronze Age worth variants of American comics, however that’s a dialogue for an additional day).
Then, in March of this yr, one other shock worth was achieved; this time for a Comic Web page Options giveaway: Colonel Ernie Comics # 1. I’ve been monitoring the comics produced by Owen McCarron, Robin Edmiston and Bob Chambers beneath the Comic Web page Options and Comic Book World imprints since I first began getting within the Canadian Silver Age and fortunately personal a number of of these comics (together with Colonel Ernie Comics # 2). These are onerous to seek out, even in Atlantic Canada, however in my expertise, there was a basic lack of curiosity in these giveaways (in addition to these produced by Ganes Productions in Ontario). The Colonel Ernie # 1 that bought on eBay in March 2018 went for about $186 CAD, which is the very best worth I’ve ever seen achieved for a Canadian giveaway comedian from this period. Once more, I discovered myself questioning if this was the outcome of what I see as an elevated fervour round Canadian comedian ebook hypothesis. On this case, the vendor correctly included the phrase “Canada” of their merchandise title. In actuality, Ganes and Comic Web page Options/Comic Book World books present up on eBay occasionally and have a tendency to languish for months with no sale. They typically promote for $20 CAD or much less when a purchaser lastly steps as much as the plate. The Kentucky Fried Hen connection additionally makes this a crossover collectible amongst KFC lovers, however I nonetheless see this as an unimaginable worth that will not be matched anytime quickly. The largest shock for me is that these are just some examples of a shift in curiosity in the direction of comics from this period. Individuals appear to be hungry for Canadian comics and that is not the unique area of WECA (and even FECA) amassing.
In October, a number of unique Julie Doucet Soiled Plotte minis got here up on the market on eBay.com. I missed them as a result of they didn’t present up in my searches on eBay.ca, however Dan discovered them and was fairly stunned by the costs they realized. The vendor had the primary seven points of the primary quantity, a number of points of the second quantity and the uncommon Chilly Vomi comedian that Doucet revealed with a number of different Montreal-based creators. All of these comics are exceedingly onerous to seek out with every concern having print runs of solely 150 to 175 copies. The first situation bought for over $200 CAD, whereas points # 2 and three bought for $100 CAD every. The different points bought for considerably much less, with Chilly Vomi promoting for underneath $15 CAD. Dan was stunned by the excessive worth achieved for some of the earliest points, however I used to be extra stunned by the low costs achieved for the opposite ones. I contemplate Soiled Plotte to be one of the seminal Canadian comics of the 1990s, however most of the Drawn & Quarterly stuff reprints the minis. Dan and I each personal challenge # 1. I bought mine from a e-book retailer in London, Ontario in 2016, whereas Dan acquired his as a freebie a few years in the past. Finally, I used to be disillusioned to overlook out on including some of these comics to my assortment and would have paid greater than the sale worth for some of them if I had been paying consideration. However, the worth realized at public sale for challenge # 1 exhibits that there’s a robust marketplace for sure minis from the 1980s.
Maybe the utility of possession is at play right here. Maybe that is uneducated hypothesis. Maybe there are different explanations. In any case, costs for rarer Canadian comedian books from the Silver Age are steadily rising. On eBay, this appears to be most obvious amongst comics which have the phrases “Canada” or “Canadian” within the title. The drawback is that few collectors have a roadmap to decipher what is actually uncommon or vital. I additionally suspect that individuals are beginning to buy these books with out understanding the context by means of which they have been made. Comic Canada # 1 and Comicanada # 2 are vital as a result of the Terry Edwards/Vincent Marchesano/Artwork Cooper connection and are early examples of the robust comedian scene that originated round Hamilton, Ontario within the late-1960s. Colonel Ernie Comics # 1 is relatively insignificant. It isn’t the primary comedian produced by the McCarron group, it isn’t the rarest and it’s definitely not probably the most fascinating comedian that they created (although it’s enjoyable). The reality that a yr in the past I bought situation # 2 for $2 CAD from an area vendor who had had the comedian in his stock for years with no curiosity from consumers is telling. I fear that the worth achieved by Colonel Ernie # 1 could also be an outlier. Till one other one surfaces and sells for the same sum, I’ve my doubts that this worth could be replicated. The Julie Doucet minis, nevertheless, are a big half of the late Silver Age and it shouldn’t be shocking that there’s a robust marketplace for them, particularly contemplating their low print runs and the significance of Soiled Plotte within the historical past of Canadian comics. One factor is for positive: there’s a shift in curiosity in the direction of shopping for Canadian comics amongst collectors and this is a rising development.