In the early 1990s, I was a serious collector of comic books. I was reading an issue of Hero Illustrated magazine and one of the reviews was of Uncle Scrooge #285 published by Gladstone in April 1994 and written and drawn by someone named Don Rosa. The reviewer highly praised it, suggesting that adults would enjoy it. I bought a copy of it and became a Don Rosa fan ever since. I plan to blog more about Don Rosa in the future. But before Don Rosa, there was Carl Barks.
According to I.N.D.U.C.K.S., Carl Barks “[c]reated the entire Duckburg universe (including characters such as Uncle Scrooge, the Beagleboys and Gyro Gearloose).” Although the first appearance of Uncle Scrooge is in Four Color #178 (published by Dell in 1947), his first full cover appearance is in Four Color #386 (published by Dell in 1952). (The image below was taken from here.)
Uncle Scrooge appeared in two more Four Color issues and was then given his own title, starting at Uncle Scrooge #4. So Four Color #386 is treated as Uncle Scrooge #1.
It was only a few years ago when I was researching this that I realized that I had seen the cover of Four Color #386 before. When I was a child, I had a November 1980 issue of Dynamite Magazine containing a one-page article about comic book collecting. I am no longer able to access the article, but part of its message was that comic books could be good investments. It showed a comic book dealer holding out a worn-out copy of Four Color #386, presenting it as an example of a highly collectible comic book.
Unfortunately, comic books such as these are way beyond my budget. A CGC NM 9.4 Four Color #178 was sold for $10,157.50 in 2010 by Heritage Auctions. A CGC NM+ 9.6 Four Color #386 was sold for $26,290.00 in 2012 by Heritage Auctions. (Prices here are in U.S. dollars and include buyer’s premium).
Some time ago, I discovered that the story in Four Color #386 (“Only a Poor Old Man”) had been reprinted as Uncle Scrooge #195 (published by Whitman in 1982). This issue is more affordable. A CGC NM+ 9.6 copy of it was sold for $35.00 last May 3, 2020 by Heritage Auctions. (The image below is taken from here.)
The buyer of the lot was pretty lucky considering that previous prices for a CGC NM+ 9.6 Uncle Scrooge #195 were $39 in 2010 and $47 in 2012.
I was surprised to learn that someone had collected every comic book published by DC Comics from when it started in 1934 to the end of 2016. I was further surprised to learn that Sotheby’s is having a private sale offering where the collection is to be sold in a single lot. The offering started last March 30, 2020. Information about the offering can be found in this press release and in this catalogue. Sotheby’s also has two articles related to the offering: “How DC Ignited the Golden Age of Comic Books” and “The Rise of Batman.”
I was quite disappointed to find a few errors in the Sotheby’s documentation. An early version of one of their websites mentioned the “Green Hornet” (which is not a DC Comics character); it now mentions “Green Lantern” and “Green Arrow” (which are). One of their websites still mentions Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942) as “the first appearance of Wonder Woman,” when in fact her first appearance is in All-Star Comics #8 (October 1941). The filename of their catalogue ends with “FINAL_UPDTAED.” Finally, it is not clear what years are covered by the collection. The catalogue states that “The Ian Levine Collection of DC Comics Complete numbers comfortably more than 40,000 individual issues, comprising every single comic book published for sale by DC from New Fun #1 in 1935 through the end of 2016″ and yet that same catalogue also states “EVERY COMIC BOOK PUBLISHED BY DC FROM 1934–2014.”
Shown above is the first page of Action Comics #1 (June 1938) which contains the first appearance of Superman. Shown below is the first page of Batman #1 (Spring 1940). (Batman’s first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).) (I got both images from the catalogue.)
Note that the comic books in the collection are, in general, not “slabbed” (sealed in hard plastic). This allows the comic books to be read, but they are not as protected as I would like.
I was looking at a recent Sunday Internet Comics, Animation, & Art Auction of Heritage Auctions and was surprised to see this lot, which had a comic book in very bad condition and yet had a bid of a few thousand dollars.
The condition of a comic book is usually assigned a grade from 0.5 (the lowest) to 10.0 (the highest). Nobody buys a comic book graded at 0.5 unless it is extremely collectible (like an Action Comics #1). It was only when I read the description of the lot that I understood why it was commanding such a high price.
All Star Comics #8 (DC, 1942) CGC PR 0.5 Off-white pages. This Golden Age key made a big jump on Overstreet’s 2017 version of Top 100 Golden Age Comics list with a whopping 49% increase in value over the prior year, in the process climbing from 15th to 12th place. That marked the highest percentage increase in value of all books on the list! Expect another notch or two climb this year! A CGC-certified copy in FR 1.0 fetched $21,000 in April, 2018! The big deal, of course, is the origin and first appearance of Wonder Woman. Starman and Dr. Mid-Nite join the JSA in this momentous issue. CGC notes, “Cover completely split and detached. Page 1 detached. Page 36 missing, does not affect story. Incomplete.” Overstreet 2017 GD 2.0 value = $15,000. CGC census 6/18: 7 in 0.5, 109 higher.
Right now the current bid is $5,040.00 ($4,200 without the Buyer’s Premium), but I expect it to go higher when the auction ends tomorrow (June 24, 2018).
I looked for previous auction results at Heritage Auctions and found the following lots with the same grade (the prices include the BP):
- Lot 14036 “PR – Incomplete and coverless” (PR 0.5) (“The origin and first appearance of Wonder Woman story is missing from this copy.”) March 18, 2012, $131.45
- Lot 14024 “Incomplete” (PR 0.5) (“Centerfold missing”) May 27, 2012, $2,031.50
- Lot 92040 “CGC Apparent PR 0.5 Moderate to Extensive (C-4) Cream to off-white pages” (“Restoration includes: color touch, pieces added, reinforced, panel cut out of page 1, affects story. Tape on cover, interior cover, & interior. Incomplete.”) May 20, 2017, $13,145.00
The following selected results show that prices have been increasing very sharply in the past decade.
- Lot 41009 “CGC Apparent VF/NM 9.0 Moderate (P) Cream to off-white pages” May 22, 2008, $8,365.00
- Lot 93265 “CGC Apparent VF/NM 9.0 Extensive (P) Cream to off-white pages” Jul 27, 2012, $4,182.50
- Lot 93010 “CGC VF 8.0 Cream to off-white pages” Jul 27, 2012, $56,762.50
- Lot 91041 “CGC FN+ 6.5 Cream to off-white pages” Feb 22, 2018, $92,612.50
(Do note that the first two items have been restored, and so have prices much less than those for unrestored items.)
The recent interest for this comic book seems to be due to the Wonder Woman movie released last 2017.
I understand why amateur restoration (such as putting tape over a tear or trimming an edge) can seriously decrease the value of a comic book, but given a choice of a damaged comic book or the same comic book with the damages repaired using professional restoration (such as leaf casting), I would prefer the latter.
That’s why I’m a little uncomfortable with the recent case of an unrestored Action Comics #1. (Of the around 100 copies of Action Comics #1 that still exist, only 37 have been certified by the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) as unrestored.) The copy was graded 5.5 (from a scale of the lowest 0.5 to the highest 10.0), and was sold by Heritage Auctions last August 4, 2016 for $956,000. (The image below is an edited version of one from here.)
The price that was realized is a little high considering that it was estimated to sell for $750,000 and that an unrestored Action Comics #1 graded 9.0 was sold a few years ago for (only) $3,207,852.
But the thing that disturbs me is that this CGC 5.5 comic book was originally graded an apparent 7.5 when it was bought in the 1990s for $26,000. (The CGC uses the word “apparent” in its grading to indicate a restored copy.) Quoting from Heritage Auctions:
This copy was previously certified Apparent 7.5 by CGC, with tear seals being the only restoration noted. The tears at the top and bottom of the spine had been sealed using an archival quality glue, which bonded to the spine without degrading the integrity of the paper. The book was recently submitted to Classic Collectible Services (CCS), who were able to safely remove the glue, returning the book to its former state.
It thus seems that removing the glue resulted in the value being multiplied by almost 37 times.
This veneration of unrestored copies is also seen in the unrestored coverless 0.3 copy sold in the same auction for $65,725. (The image below is an edited version of one from here.) (CGC does not grade coverless comic books, so this one was certified by Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS).)
But it seems that CGC is making some effort to recognize the value of professional restoration. In 2014, it updated its restoration grading scale to differentiate restoration from conservation.
This Straight Arrow Jumbo Edition #44155 was co-published by South Pacific Publications Limited and Jubilee Publications and printed in the Philippines, most likely in the late 1970s. Excluding the covers, it has 72 pages (all story, no ads). (Click on the images to see higher-resolution versions.) It has 10 stories: Vengeance Trail (6 pages), “The Traps of Terror!” (7 pages), “The Man with the Scar!” (7 pages), “The River from Nowhere!” (8 pages), “The Flaming Trail!” (8 pages), “The Fence Stealers” (7 pages), “Straight Arrow, Bandit” (7 pages), “Doom of the North Wind” (8 pages), “The Menace of the Grey Wolves” (7 pages), “Doom Stalks the Treasure Seeker” (7 pages). The inner front cover is an article (The Plainsman: Trailblazer of the West) and the outer back cover is a comic strip (Ten-Gallon Allen).
This blog post is dedicated to Terry, who just bought all the Philippine reprints I’ve blogged about, including this one.
I’m selling this reprint of Heroes of the West Jumbo Edition #45009 co-published by South Pacific Publications Limited Hong Kong, Philippines and Jubilee Publications, Australia and printed in the Philippines. It has 64 pages (excluding the covers) of stories and no ads. (Click on the images to see higher-resolution versions of them.) It has a 1-peso National Book Store price tag, a ridiculously low price even during the time my father bought it (some time in the 1980s).
This issue has 8 stories: The Apache Kid: “Grey Wolf Strikes!” (7 pages), John Wayne: The Case of the Vain Bandit (10 pages), “Terror of the Range” (6 pages), Jesse James: Six Gun Terror (7 pages), John Wayne: Tall Timber (14 pages), John Wayne: Goddess Gold (6 pages), Inheritance of Death! (7 pages), Jesse James: Helltown Hold-Ups (7 pages). The inner front cover (Gunsights) and the inner back cover (Pride of the Hills) are each 1-page articles in comic strip form. It seems to be missing an 8-page story (Straight Arrow: Death from Nowhere!) that was in the original issue.
I’m selling this Marvel Adventures #1 reprinted by National Book Store most likely in the late 1970s. (This issue, in turn, is a reprint of Daredevil #22.) Note that the cover has the title Marvel Adventure, but the indicia on the first page shows that the actual title is Marvel Adventures. (Click on the images to see higher-resolution versions of them.) This reprint has 20 pages (all story pages), with the inner covers advertisements for NBS like the outer back cover.
Note that the white color of the outer cover is not as yellowed as my other Philippine reprints. This is probably because I had covered this comic in a plastic cover since it was somewhat new. This was one of my first superhero comic books, and one of the very few Marvel comics I have ever read.