Don Winslow of the Navy #1 Fawcett Comics February 1943

This week Overvalued Overstreet takes a look at a very popular and successful character from the Golden Age of comics – Don Winslow of the Navy.

The character Don Winslow has a very interesting history. He was originally created by Frank V. Martinek a commander in the US Navy as a comic strip in newspapers back in 1934. His original purpose was as a recruitment tool for the Navy, hoping to attract young lads to the service from the heartland of the US or middle America (i.e. farms). It is not hard to imagine how foreign a life on the sea would be to people back then, many of whom might not have even seen the ocean. It might also seem pretty darn exciting, especially in the depression of the 30s. The Don Winslow newspaper comic strip sought to capitalize on this by featuring exciting high-spirited adventures.

Two short-lived comic versions of Don Winslow followed in 1937. Mervil Publications and 1939 Dell Publications featuring newspaper strip reprints and some original material. The movies came calling next with a twelve episode movie serial in 1941, with Don Winslow and his sidekicks battling “The Scorpion”. Commercially the timing couldn’t have been better as the breakout of the Second World War with Japan had just occurred. Navy recruits were no longer hard to find either. Time for a regular comic series for the now very popular Don Winslow.

The new Don Winslow of the Navy series was initially published by Fawcett and later by Charlton and ran for seventy-three issues from February 1943 through September 1955. I think by all accounts you would have to say commander Frank W. Martinek’s creation of Don Winslow was an unqualified success.

I have been following sales of this title for some time. Most of the books sales I have seen were low to mid grade books and all seemed to go under guide. That is not unusual for books in this grade anywhere today. There was a recent ComicLink auction that I felt would be a good and fair test of the titles overall popularity as it featured some higher grade books and some pedigree Mile Highs. The results of the auction and some comic shop opinion put Don Winslow in this week’s Overvalued Overstreet.

The 46th Overstreet valuations for Don Winslow of the Navy #1 are 8.0 $768 / 9.0 $1322 / 9.2 $1875.

Here are just a few of the results of the auction.

Issue Grade Auction Guide
1 9.0 $710 $1322
2 8.5 $278 381
5 9.2 $250 $400
7 9.2 $201 $285

These books were in pretty stellar condition. They don’t grow on trees in these grades. I chose #1 for the Overvalued spotlight because if you can’t get close to guide with a beautiful copy like this one, you never will. The Mile-High pedigree copies did average about x 1.25 guide, my favourite one being issue #44 with the classic scorpion web cover. This book was the single highest graded, as well as a Mile High, and in 9.2 it guides for $500. It sold for $655 which is not a huge premium for one of the priciest books in the run.

I know most people look at Golden Age books as pretty solid investments, and a bit undervalued in today’s market. I think this does apply for most books with a connection to present day comic collecting. Books and characters who have disappeared over sixty years ago are bound to fade with time, as their collecting audience also fades. This whole run is in need of a price haircut by Overstreet beginning with our #1 issue. It will be interesting to see how this title is treated by the 47th Overstreet price guide.

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.

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  1. Hey Mike
    Interesting choice. I just wanted to add that, for me, the greatest appeal of the Don Winslow Fawcett comics lies in the art by Carl Pfeufer. Pfeufer was also the artist on many Fawcett westerns, including Tom Mix in which his famous fisticuffs are often represented as several action poses of the hero punching out the bad guy in a single panel. They absolutely exude action like no other artist I have ever seen. Perhaps the Overvalued status is in response to the Pfeufer art. Beautiful stuff!

    cheers, mel

  2. Scott- Thanks fore the info . We haven’t been receiving mail since Saturday, some problem with our server and Outlook.

    Mel – Don Winslow was a very popular character at one time, and Carl Pfeufer art contributed to that popularity… Time seems to have passed this character by in terms of wide appeal. When you are not getting 60% of guide on one of the top three certified copies of the #1 book in title, your ship has probably sailed or sunk.

  3. There are not very many overvalued Overstreet Golden Age books in high grade, but that sell indicates that this issue is definitely overvalued. Good choice here.

  4. The Capt Marvel app on Number 1 perhaps makes it the exception to the rest of the series Mike

  5. Hi Nathan/Dave

    Nathan -Your right about finding high-grade golden age books under guide – you sure don’t do it often. I listed the first four lowest # books in that group because they were all high grade and undervalued. Which I think speaks of a problem with demand for the title or the demand is there but not at guide prices.

    Hey Dave – funny you mention Captain Marvel. I don’t like the character and if I were a collector would have been put off by his appearance on the cover. Number #1 issues usually don’t get punished this badly though. Good hearing from you again.

  6. Good choice Mike. I have been buying/reading/collecting comics since 1977. I subscribed to CBG for years, I have read many Overstreet guides & other articles, and have had numerous discussions around comics with friends and other hobbyists. This is the first time I ever heard mention of Don Winslow. When I saw the title of this posting, I thought it may have been a spoof. Sounds like an old SNL skit starring Dan Ackroyd.

    So… this title is certainly overvalued in my book. I’m pretty confident that Don will never make a comeback.

  7. Thanks Eric – I got a good chuckle out of the SNL reference. It’s funny but I did connect with name Winslow from a favorite old movie of mine from the early 1970’s – Phantom of the Paradise. The Phantom character was named Winslow Leach. I never forgot that name.

  8. There’s a niche for this guy, but it’s not a very big one. Some of the hardcore war collectors (a vanishing breed) think of this as the granddaddy title. Other than those guys, and a few CM collectors, I doubt it’s got much of a market these days.
    There’s a lot of history to the character (created as a recruiting tool) but much of it is no longer common knowledge, and people want what they know.

  9. Hey Readcomix – sorry for the delayed response. I was waiting to find out how Don Winslow made out in the “War report” in the 47th Overstreet guide before commenting. Apparently I’m all wet with my post. Smooth sailing for Don, high demand for high grade copies of the big guy. I think I will stay with your analysis Readcomix and my own. Thanks for commenting.

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