Canadian Whites and Type 1A Variant Perspective

By Walter Durajlija, Overstreet Advisor, Shuster Award winner, proprietor of Big B Comics, icomicexchange.com and author of comicbookdaily.com,
October 2018

“I would advise collectors in Canada to zoom out and keep the ‘big picture’ in mind when it comes to Type 1A variant scarcity.”

My interest in joining the Type 1A Canadian price variant guide team stems from my passion for the “Canadian Whites” comics of the World War II era. From 1941 to 1946 imports of US comics into Canada were banned (under the Canadian War Exchange Conservation Act or WECA), being dubbed as ‘non-essential’ imports during war time.

But by the time the ban was enacted there was already an established market for comics in Canada, so a small group of Canadian Publishers filled this demand for comic books and began putting out their own comics, typically with color covers but black and white interiors (hence the term ‘Canadian Whites’). Some of the featured characters included Nelvana of the Northern Lights (this female heroine appeared months before Wonder Woman), Canada Jack, Brok Windsor, and Johnny Canuck just to name a few.

In the case of both the Canadian Whites of the 1940’s and the Canadian Price Variants of the 1980’s, collectors should keep in mind the relative size of the market where these comics were distributed: By population, you can fit about ten Canadas inside the United States! Below is an interesting chart seen on Reddit, where the creator of the chart divided up the United States into “Units of Canadas” — in other words, each of the ten individual colored sections represents the entire population of Canada!

population-of-usa-in-units-

If you had a variant of a key issue where the variant was restricted to just one of those above units but not the others, that would be a very sought after variant indeed. And when you think about it, that is exactly the type of situation we have with the 1st print US-published Type 1A Canadian price variants, only the target market was the actual Canada, and from there was only found on newsstands (direct editions which covered about half of the market at the time, were exactly the same as the direct editions sold in the States, so in effect the variants only made it out to a fraction of the Canadian market for comics).

Within Canada itself, many collectors may not realize how the population is distributed: there are certain geographic areas where Canada’s population is concentrated. These higher population areas would naturally have received the bulk of the Type 1A variants. Here is another interesting chart seen on Reddit, where each of the colored sections represents one quarter of Canada’s population:

canada-population-breakdown

I would advise collectors in Canada to zoom out and keep the “big picture” in mind when it comes to Type 1A variant scarcity. Suppose, hypothetically, you come across a dealer who by chance “won the variant lottery” by being one of the very few who own 10, 20 or maybe even 50 long boxes of C.P.V.’s due to large collections purchased over the last few decades (remember, the large 1980’s price variant window spanned years and our guide covers over 3,800 issues — and that’s Marvel & D.C. alone — which is an order of magnitude larger in “class size” than the Type 1 price variants of the 1970’s). For a dealer with such a quantity of 1980’s price variants on hand, it may feel to that dealer as though the variants can’t possibly be all that scarce: after all, they have so many of them!

But of the over 3,800 issues in our guide, only roughly 450 or so have baseline Overstreet guide values above $10 in 9.2 — so truth be told, how many of the dealer’s books would actually be Key issues? And, as newsstand comics, how many of those keys are in ultra high grades? Chances are the answer would most likely be very few!

And remember that for every dealer in Canada with hundreds or possibly thousands of variants on hand, statistically there are about ten dealers in the USA with zero variants each — so if the hypothetical Canadian dealer’s books were evenly distributed across themselves plus their statistical US dealer counterparts, they would have only a fraction left and the scarcity would feel much different to them.

In summary, collectors in Canada must remember that they are in that lucky concentrated zone where the variants were distributed; but with a wider lens one realizes just how scarce they really are in the grand scheme of things.

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