Not So Golden

This week Chris and Walt tackle what to do about the Golden Age. So many great titles, so many characters slowly fading into oblivion. Or at least that’s what one of the guys thinks.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments field below.

Is there any hope for the Golden Age in future collections? We’d love to read your thoughts.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1578

18 Comments

  1. Oh… ouch… what a gut punch to us Golden Age collectors… but I do grudgingly agree! Luckily for me I purchased my better books a long time ago! They may not gain the prices that some of these modern books with ultra limited covers get… but at least they are still somewhat collectable for their own sake rather then having a manipulated rarity which is whats happening with the modern books! I thought it was interesting you discussed the exact timeline of ages as well. The last con I went to a dealer had 90% CGC books and he was discussing an Adventure 43… fifth appearance of the Sandman. He described it to a potential customer as a Platinum Age book… probably because it had a Flessel adventure cover rather then a superhero cover! As to when this ‘downgrading’ will happen to Silver Age books… probably already happening! I have gone periodically to other comic blog sites who seem to be populated by mostly younger collectors. They seem to acknowledge the Golden Age as being the beginning of their hobby… but don’t collect them. The Silver Age they seem to hate as being hokey… and don’t believe that comics began coming into their own until the Bronze Age… so there you go! Great discussion… but its not going to change my buying habits! If it pleases me to own the I will continue to buy them… and don’t even get me started on pulps Chris!!

  2. Very clever lads, the link to nostalgia is powerful and without that connection the interest in reading withers, as does the demand for the comic which then triggers price declines.

    Enjoyed Walt’s point about the massive discrepancy between the high-end books and the mass of valueless. $1m sits next to $1.

    I believe all ages of comics will suffer this fate. Silver will be next. The only hope a book has is if it is still connected to what is being read/watched/listened to today. Kevin Feign is every silver collectors best friend (at the moment).

    Bronze age baby, it’s the hot stuff, the people who read it have disposable cash due to their life stage and their peers are the ones powering the media, but even this too shall pass as we enter our later years.

    Walter; you need to sell your Green Llamas and invest in Green Women; she-hulk specifically, that’s where the (near) future sits. Also, may I suggest the Under-valued spotlight section, some amazing picks there and not a Llama in sight 🙂

  3. Wow ! What a dilemma- GA comics are so expensive that no-one can afford them, yet no-body wants ’em at any price either !- I feel that statement needs some clarity: there are lots of fans out there who love these books, but they have been priced out of their hobby & cannot buy them [like me]. Collectors cannot buy them, investors cannot sell them and the market falters. So why don’t the prices come down to reality & allow collectors to start buying ’em again ? It is not collectors who drove those prices way up into the stratosphere, it is the dumb-as-nails investors [ the ‘mindless ones’ from the pages of Dr.Strange ] who mindlessly bid against each other & raised the bar to this level. If it is now proven that 80% of GA comics are a poor investment, the investors should leave & allow the hobby to return to the people that love these books.
    Yet Overstreet refuses to lower the prices on books that have stagnated in the marketplace & armies of thick-skulled dealers refuse to budge on their buy-it-now prices that are set at multiples of guide, in spite of the fact that they been sitting on some of their stock for years ! If GA comics have hit a brick wall, there needs to be a market correction, but who will budge first?- Overstreet or the thick-skulled dealers ?

    It is unfortunate that old comics are respected nowadays only by their current financial worth and not for the entertainment [ art & story ] that they offer. They were never intended to be investments in the first place & sank or swam on the newsstands by the strength of their creator’s product. You guys make a lot of noise about Lev Gleason comics, but these books were out-selling Batman, Superman & Captain America by the end of the war & single handedly brought about the ‘crime-wave’ of the 1950’s & inspired the creation of horror comics. Read a Lev Gleason comic now, any issue, & you will find that it still stands up today. Many of these books are better drawn and better written than ANY of the crap that is being published today. It is not Lev Gleason’s fault that today’s ‘collectors’ do not read their comics any more, but waste time buying CGC graded crap with fancy covers for ‘investment purposes’.

    I have not personally experienced a down-turn in the sales of GA comics. In fact, I left the market around late 2019 due to a surge of interest in the GA books I was collecting, to the point that I could no longer justify the prices being paid for the books I wanted. One of the publishers I collected was Lev Gleason. I was able to buy Lev books for half guide [ from Heritage Auctions, no less ] about 10 years ago, but that is no longer the case,
    The prices got silly a couple years ago & I had to leave. I am forced to dabble on ebay at the very bottom of the collecting ladder, looking for scraps. Every once in a while I get lucky & bag another ‘Boy’ or ‘Crime’ that I need to complete my run, Yep, I am almost complete, almost. I know you have a Boy Comics #3 for sale, Walt & I would like to help you out- but I have two copies of this book already.

    If the GA market is indeed beginning to stagnate, then there needs to be a correction. Who will take the first step & make the necessary adjustments??? I believe that once the investors have left the field, the fans will return to reclaim their hobby & new collectors may be inspired to
    buy a book or two. Comic book Investors are an invasive species that destroys, not creates, a market place. They invaded the pulp market a few years ago & destroyed that too- do you honestly think a ‘Spicy’ pulp is worth a $1000.00 ??? The sooner investors are forced to leave, the better.
    If they are truly investors, they should be forced to declare their profits to the CRA or the IRS and pay their taxes on those profits- maybe that will sober them up a little !

  4. I sold my entire collection of Golden Age books a while ago to put the money into Canadian Golden Age books and have been very happy to find some great Canadiana. There is a small inventory of these books that ever comes to market but prices are still affordable, although that is slowly changing as it becomes apparent how scarce the things are. Most of these books though are available for under $1000 apart from a few of the big guns. It’s a great collecting strain, especially for us Canuckleheads. I have yet to be disappointed with any of my purchases. Check them out gang and you will find a wonderful variety of largely unknown books!

  5. There seems to be an issue in this podcast with terminology. Chris and Walt talk about collectors but their conversation is about resale. “No one wants “x” book because it’s not a first appearance or a great cover”. Those who bought complete runs either wanted to own them all as a collector and completist or wanted to read them all. In the “old days” those two weren’t mutually exclusive! Since excellent reprints have been available for decades, the market for people buying runs to read the material has dried up.

    My son had some West Coast Avengers issues from a yard sale and wanted to hunt for his missing issues. I asked him why and he said so he could read the whole story. I offered him the trade paperback from my shelf and a digital version on my iPad. He didn’t care about collecting, just about reading comics.

    I understand the focus of Walt’s columns and this podcast is collecting comics for investment, but comics were meant to be read. I like Platinum comics and will continue to buy and read them as interest fades and prices drop.

  6. Right on, Scott.

    I’ve always been a reader first, and collector second, simply due to the fact that, as I finish reading the great books, I don’t have the heart to sell them, so they become a part of my permanent library. I have several dozen trade books and reference books, as well, that help fill in stories I don’t have, in originals.

    Also, books reprinting dailies and Sundays strips are a goodmine – printed on better paper, perfect bound, all fully collected in order of publication with colour Sundays placed in the proper order and sequences, complete with intros, frontispieces and liner notes, in beautiful dust covers for a fraction of the cost to search out and collect the originals. Occasionally, they will put in some unpublished material as a bonus. Great stuff!

    I would never buy a slabbed book, until bequeathed some from an estate, but there would be no way I could resist breaking them open to read the books inside. After reading them, I would slip them into a mylar bag so they would be handy to read and look through at any point in the future.

    I’ve never bought or sold on eBay and I don’t have PayPal. I buy from local stores, niche shops and antiques stores around the provjnce, and across the border, when it was open, as well as from dealers who advertise in Overstreet and others who send out lists. I scour all lists I come across, whether online or on paper, until I find something that fits in my budget; criiteria being fair to fine, looks good in a bag, artists, writers, chsracters I like, and a good deal moneywise.

    I have overpaid for some stuff because I really wanted the issue in question, whether to fill in a missing story or to have it in my collection. I’ve never considered investment as a driver for me. I’m thinking of donating my collection to a library upon my death, as my girlfriend has already told me she doesn’t want them.

  7. IMHO, the Golden Age has shrunk to 3 Trinities – Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman; Captain America, Sub-Mariner & Human Torch; and The Spirit, Plastic Man & Captain Marvel. Because these heroes survive today, Collectors, Readers and Investors will continue to search out and buy them. Other Fans collect great artists like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner and Lou Fine in no matter which books that they appear. The more average Golden Age artists like Shuster, Burgos, Everett and others have pretty much fallen to the side.
    This narrower focus helps Collectors separate the quality books from the staggering volume of books published in that era.
    I think that Collectors will continue to fill runs, Readers will continue to use libraries, reprint Trades or ebooks and Investors will continue to concentrate on 1st appearances and great covers but from more modern eras.
    The Golden Age heroes and stories have only limited interest to the gaming, film and television companies who don’t suffer from a lack of content from later periods. Classic pulp heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan will continue to be revived but the Flash Gordons and the Buck Rogers have been superseded by Star Wars and Star Trek.
    I personally collect artists like Ditko, Adams, Miller and Cooke and am very selective about what is key.

  8. Every person above is correct!

    There are comics that are worth multiples of guide, and many are Golden Age. Think Pep Comics 16, 20, 8, 13; Scoop Comics 2; Zip Comics 22, 33. All of these are worth at least 5x Overstreet. And, yes if anyone wants to read great stories try the early MLJs.

    What I find is also growing are the Nazi comics, Lou Fine covers and art, such as his work in Hit Comics , which is resurging. Mystery Men Comics is also rising fast. Want to buy some great covers at great prices, check out the Fawcett’s such as Master Comics, the highest grades are usually mid-grade and go for under $2,000.

    Now this is where we are mostly right and Golden Age is going down. The plodding Dinosaur comics. Flash Comics (early ones to about #30 (not #1)), The nondescript More Fun, New Adventure and Adventures, most All-Americans (except early sci-fi issues and female covers), Star Spangled Comics, about half the Green Lanterns, most Silver Streaks, Archie Comics (yes I said it), the Timely comics outside of the Cap, Sub, Torch, such as Kid Komics, Young Allies, some Daring Mystery, All-Winners. These are the comics going the way of the Duck books. Now that I said all that I somewhat agree with myself.

    What I thought was the biggest Dinosaur was Daring Mystery Comics 1, which has a great pulp style cover by Schomburg, but no heroes of note. I had this comic pegged at 30% of guide. By the numbers it hit $15,000 for a nm- in 2020. Remember the show we had about recent purchases, well, a slabbed 7.0 just sold for $31,200. What? A 6.5 sold for $8,000 in 2017 back when I had a nm- worth $23,000.

    As long as humans buy comics all bets are off. And if you are investing in anything, remember to buy low and sell high. Do not buy high and hope to sell for 50% more, unless you re-sell to yourself or have time on your hands. The better advice is to buy what you like and can afford, not what someone else likes.

  9. Lots of perspective here and many good points. The Golden Age is a huge playground, lots nuances and splintered economies within in. For me it seems the collector/investor portion of it is shrinking though the prices within that portion are rising.

  10. I’ve got nothing against golden age books, vintage clothing or retro music. I still have my old clothes even though they no longer fit, and I still listen to old music from time to time. But where do these things fit in the world of Tesla, iPhones and Nextflix? I keep introducing my kids to B+W TV shows like Gilligans Island, I love Lucy and the original Twilight Zone… but they don’t have the interest or the patience to even watch TV when free video games await online.

    As for reading… as far as I know, the trend hasn’t changed. Stories will always exist, but reading itself is in decline. Proof? Twitter, Instagram, TikTok… YouTube.

    There’s nothing wrong with liking old stuff or antiquated activities like reading. But trying to get the rest of the world to partake is like trying to hold back the tide. If you wanna stay dry… the best way to appreciate the sun setting on the ocean is from afar.

  11. Also… if Warner is merging with Discovery, Netflix should buy DC. Maybe Amazon but they just overpaid for MGM.

  12. I just read a notice from Ivan about an auction for Canadian Whites coming soon, to raise funds for the 80th anniversary of Better Comics. I wish I had the money to bid, but I imagine they will be in a high price bracket.

    The only Whites I’ve read are in the DCM and LAC archives. It would be great to be able to buy a complete run of all WECA Whites, much like the collected works that Scott showcases.

  13. Hey Klaus, there are affordable reprint editions of the complete Nelvana, Johhny Canuck and Brok Windsor thanks to the efforts of Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey. Ask your local comic shop to order them for you. You certainly won’t be disappointed!

  14. That’s a tough call Scott. I know that, after the initial offering of Nelvana, it was picked up by IDW, so they might be worth a try. Brok Windsor may be tough because Bedside Press closed its doors after Hope Nicholson’s admission of improprieties, of which the less said the better. I’m not even sure who publisher CPS (don’t you hate acronyms that are never explained?) is for Johnny Canuck, but that was also picked up and reprinted, But the name of the company escapes me at the moment. Sorry. A bit of digging on Ebay can turn up all three occasionally. They are worth every penny if you can get a hold of them. There has also been a rumour afoot for quite some time about a volume of Fred Kelly’s Mister Monster, the inspiration for Michael Gilbert’s revival, but nothing has ever materialized. Fingers crossed.

    cheers, mel

  15. I just remembered that the company which reprinted Johnny Canuck was Chapterhouse Comics. They actually put our their version while there were still plenty of copies of the CPS edition still available. Because of this CPS copies were pretty much dumped on willing comic shops for free to dispose of as they saw fit. As a result, I got to pick up ten copies at five bucks each to share with friends. I still haven’t figured out what makes Chapterhouse tick!

    cheers, mel

  16. Just FYI. I just checked Ebay Canada and found the following: Two copies of the IDW Nelvana for $78.51 + $20.39 shipping or $120.87 + 16.45 shipping (These prices seem awfully high to me!). Two copies of Brok Windsor for $39.83 + $13.81 shipping or 16.26 + $8.08 shipping (Much more reasonable prices.). Three Johnny Canuck for $60.00 + $19.84 shipping or $133.57 with free shipping or $200.05 + $16.68 shipping (Again, crazy prices!) Looks like I should have kept those ten copies I got for five bucks a piece!!! All of the above prices are in Canadian funds by the way.

    Hey Walt, don’t you have copies of any of these babies at a reasonable price?

    cheers, mel

  17. Mel, CPS is actually CSP for Comic Syrup Press, Rachel Richey’s defunct (in 2014/2015) company and now Bedside Press is no more. Sounds like an unpleasant, unfortunate situation.

    So much for Canadian comic reprint publishers. You might find some copies of the books floating around comic shops, perhaps in the discounted section. I never picked up copies as extras as I had mine from the publishers direct way after the kickstarters. Maybe I’ll have to go looking.

    Chapterhouse has rebranded as Lev Gleason, or been bought out by Lev Gleason and rebranded?, it’s unclear, but they’ll be reprinting the old Daredevil/Silver Streak comics along with the reiteration of Fantomah alongside the Canadian Freelance and two Captain Canuck series. They’ve done a historical book on Daredevil and a Silver Streak action figure. But, yeah, I don’t quite get them either, not seen much of their product in the shops and for a little while it seemed they were only doing digital.

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