Overvalued Overstreet | Photo Covers and Pat Boone 1-5

Pat Boone 1Today we will take a look at one of my least favorite genres of comic collecting – the photo cover comic. Who am I kidding? I think they are the worst. I would say I hate them but “hate” is an overused word, we’ll settle for intensely dislike and leave it there.

My biggest gripe about them is the complete loss of comic art on the cover. They use a photo on the cover to sell the book, like a ‘People’ magazine. They don’t look like a comic at all to me.

This is all to say I am coming from a very bias view when selecting the whole genre in general as overvalued in Overstreet.

I do understand the genre is almost completely nostalgia driven. Iconic stars, movies, and TV programs that cross over generation to generation like John Wayne, the Beatles, Star Trek, Clint Eastwood, and others I can see the appeal in possibly owning a copy or two. There are others I don’t get.

Today’s pick is Pat Boone. Pat Boone was a very popular singer in the late fifties and early sixties. He even rivaled Elvis Presley in popularity for a time before being swept aside by the Beatles. His music was usually light pop with hits like “April Love” and Moody River” and the girls loved him. Guys thought of him as a bit of a “milk toast” or wimp, but they all wished they had his female appeal. He was a straight arrow – apple pie kind of guy. His image was so wholesome and squeaky clean a whole case of WD-40 wouldn’t remove the squeak.

During his peak popularity he signed a deal with National/DC comics to produce comic books in his name. The title started in 1959 and only ran for a few month’s and five issues. They featured many of the times popular singing stars like Paul Anka, Fabian, Connie Francis, Johnnie Mathis etcetera. All of the books had photo covers and looked a lot like a teen magazine.

The 46th Overstreet Price guide values for these books are listed below.

6.0 8.0 9.0 9.2
Pat Boone #1 $126 $265 $445 $625
Pat Boone #2-5 $102 $199 $325 $450

Do you think a teen magazine from this era would set you back this kind of money? Where does the current demand come to justify prices like these?

A guide like Overstreet is very useful in finding and highlighting obscure books and titles like these ones. I get concerned that these prices are from very old demand and don’t reflect current demand. Prices never seem to come down in the guide.

Pat Boone is eighty-two years old now, still active, and in the entertainment industry. I could be all wet about these books and their popularity. Little old ladies may be scouring the internet looking for them driving demand to all-time highs. I confess to not knowing what makes photo covers so appealing in a comic book today, and would love to hear from collectors pro and con about this genre of comics.


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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.
Articles: 101

24 Comments

  1. I had a nice lot of Dell and Gold Key photo cover comics for sale, including My Favorite Martian, Mister Ed, Daktari, Land of the Giants, etc. Overstreet value was $300. After months of no interest on eBay or Craigslist I sold them for $37. These used to sell to non-comic collectors, but that market has aged and dried up. And if they are interested, they have no interest in paying top dollar for mint condition – a beat up copy is just as good.

  2. Agreed. Most of these comics are junk. Rare is the masterpiece of comic art hidden behind a photo cover. It’s almost as if the cover did all the heavy lifting and the content could be almost anything. Most tv and movie properties from the 50s and 60s feature at best workmanlike art and mostly dreary stories. They are a reminder to us that in the pre-recorded video and pre-internet age, comics and magazines were often the only way to feed the public’s demand for “more” of their current favourite phenomena, but little more.
    There is zero demand for these Pat Boone comics, just as there is zero demand for his music, including all but the rarest pressings of his original records. An example of the utter banality of midcentury pop culture that resulted in a minor footnote in comics history, Pat Boone and his ephemera are best forgotten, Overstreet, as in so many matters, is best ignored here.

  3. Hey Mike
    I’m pretty much with you on this one. The only photo covers I ever owned were a long run of Tom Mix from the ’50s that I bought over time from Harry Kremer. My thinking at the time was that books like these would appeal to Tom Mix fans, cowboy fans, movie fans and, not least of all, Carl Pfeufer art fans (if you’ve never seen one of his lashing fisticuffs scenes you’re missing a treat). Turned out I was sort of right, but in the end they went to a cowboy fan with a huge basement full of memorabilia, where they found the perfect home.
    I suppose if you’re a fan of certain TV shows (Man From U.N.C.L.E and Star Trek. come to mind) it would be great to have a photo of you’re favourite characters. But this kind of fame can be short-lived in retrospect, and some of these books simply become souvenirs, usually with execrable art under that cool photo cover. But, as for me, I’ll take a beautifully rendered Kirby Galactus cover over a picture of Napoleon Solo any day.

  4. Hi Mike…..and everybody…
    If you grew up in the fifties or sixties it wasn’t so easy to get a beautiful image from your favorite movie, movie star or TV /pop character with related stories to boot.
    The photo covered delivered big time on this collectors need. When the internet made it possible to down load thousands of quality images of your favorite stars such as John Wayne, Steve Reeves,Land of the Giants and such, truly ending the need to acquire the memory of that former piece of nostalgic magic. Its now available 24/7.
    What also complicated things in comics, it was difficult to find an artist who could draw your beloved character in a manner that captured what he or she really looked like….the photo cover solved that !! One reason I couldn’t stand the Star Wars comics of the day was that Han Solo didn’t look like Han Solo.
    Of note, Pat Boone’s records and collectibles are not in demand currently, but judging by comments posted on you tube his music and sound are very much beloved. Again an instance where the Internet has met the needs and memories of fans. I emailed Walt an essay months ago discussing this very topic Mike….it is of interest to me. Thanks for Posting !!!

  5. Bryan/Mel/Dave – Thank you all for some well thought out and written comments.

    Bryan you summed up my own feelings on this genre, and more and more the Overstreet Price guide better than I did.

    Mel,- You and I might be the only people here who know who Tom Mix is LOL! Glad they found a good home.

    Dave – I wholeheartedly agree that the internet played a huge role in diminishing the interest in these books.. The access to photos of all types free from the net has really done them in. Why Overstreet refuses to acknowledge this is beyond me.

  6. Doctor Who began his career in comics with a photo cover that was quite good and the current long-running Dr Who magazine began with a photo cover too. Even more recent Dr Who comics often have photo covers. With one or two exceptions they all look horrible! No doubt, they will go the way of Pat Boone comics some day soon. One question though – is there a peculiar GA style of cover that has boomed while the photo cover has gone bust?

  7. Aaaaaaah Simon – I’m caught! Undervalued Spotlight #109 featured that Doctor Who cover from the early Doctor Who movie. It looked really cool (especially the Dalek) and it was a very early submission by yours truly to Walt. The Doctor Who 50th anniversary was coming up and I thought the book might be a good pick-up. I did say books that crossed over from generation to generation might be OK. I should have said re-generated in this case ^-^!

    Your question about about GA cover preference is a good one. It seems to me to be more character related like the Joker or Hitler than style. I for one love picture or framed covers and they have been used effectively by every age of comic since at least 1934 (Famous Funnies #5). Painted covers and grey-wash tone covers have a large audience as well. I hope others would add their opinion to that intriguing question Simon.

  8. There was an unusually huge amount of photo cover comics in the current Comic Link auction. Rin Tin Tin, Annie Oakley and Bonanza to name a few as well as a ton of painted cover Dell and Gold Key in High Grade.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,Magnus ,and several other runs.But like was mentioned earlier, the interior artwork was not very exciting and the likeness was usually only apparent when the characters name was mentioned in the word balloons.
    Still interesting pieces of comic book history none the less.

  9. Hey Mike… what do you think of super hero photo covers? I remember buying these as a kid, just cause I thought it was “neat” to see superheros presented as realistic as possible:


    Of course, these aren’t worth much so may be it’s a moot question. Often, the quality of the photo and printing were not that great. However, I can appreciate the time it took to set up… from costume to the actual photo shoot.

  10. Of course newer books such as Iron Man #1 and #25 leverages the movie hype. I suppose it’s the current day equivalent to Pat Boone but the print and image quality is much better. I quite liked this one in particular:

    http://www.heroesassemble.com/ekmps/shops/markashley/images/iron-man-9-photo-retail-variant-cgc-9.8-signature-series-signed-kieron-gillen-secret-origin-marvel-comic-book-14801-p.jpg

    But again, not worth very much unless signed by the actor and slabbed up as a 9.8.

  11. That Iron Man one looks pretty cool. I remember being put off by Amazing Spider-Man #262. I guess in the end it comes down to personal taste. There was a very good point made by Dave Mackay about photo covers meeting initial customer demand for content of TV and Movie stars. Those days are long gone by.

    The best use of a photo cover( back) I have seen for a while was IDW’s photo of Darwyn Cooke on this week’s first copy of Rom. Very nice tribute -tastefully done.

  12. I’m just glad I didn’t bring up the Hopalong Cassidy photo covers, or I might have looked even older. I guess many of these guys came on board with Roy Rogers (even more photo covers!). In fact, now that I mention it, I think the vanguard of the photo cover wave may have been all those westerns (Tom Mix, Hoppy, Roy and Dale and all the Tex titles, including Tex Morgan, Tex Ritter, and Tex Taylor).

  13. The only guy I’ve got around here who has interest in photo covers is an auctioneer who says he gets more for them from nostalgics at his auction than comic collectors are willing to pay. For his cutomers, grade is largely irrelevant as long as the cover still presents fairly well, and he says he usually gets about $20-$25 each for them.
    I’ve got a box of Dells set aside to trade him for some “collector” comics as he calls them (guy had a shop briefly in the ’90 and still has books). He has no market for the kind of stuff guys like us collect, he says.

  14. Thanks for the report Readcomix. I really appreciate the feedback on these books, it seems to be confirming what I have seen at comic shops up here in Canada as well.

  15. Mike, I also thought about ASM #262 when you posted this. That one is indeed kind of a dud. I listed a lot of very high grade ASM comics on eBay a few years ago, and #262 just would not sell for a decent price. When I see that cover, I still have the same reaction I had as a kid – “Who is that guy?”

    Comic art seems to allow room for your imagination to get involved, but a “picture” of a fictional character removes that element. You find yourself staring at some person who is not quite what you had previously envisioned when reading that comic. It just changes the experience.

    A photo of a real person is different, of course. But as you rightly pointed out, then the book seems like a magazine and not a comic.

    Anyway, what a great great choice here. I can’t think of many comics in Overstreet that are as overvalued as these Pat Boone issues!

  16. Eric – You summed up my experience with the comic ASM# #262 perfectly. The picture of Spider-Man left me feeling “flat” . When I buy a comic I usually either like or dislike the cover art. It evokes an emotional response.. The picture left me with your reaction “Who is that guy”. Thanks for the comment Eric.

  17. Guys,
    Three additional thoughts:
    1) Just viewed an original owner collection from a 65-year-old the other day. A Wonder Woman #104, Batman #129, Action #271 and all the rest photo covers. I passed. He confirmed that in those days it was the only way to consume more of one’s favorite TV characters, hence his gravitation toward those books.
    2) I actually do have one photo cover that is an intentional addition to my collection, come to think of it: Headline Comics #37; the pic includes Jack Kirby as a gangster. I think its the exception to our rule.
    3) What IS the first photo cover in comics history? I could see that as a legit item, maybe even an undervalued spotlight. Maybe we can salvage ONE of these puppies!

  18. Hi Readcomix – What is the first comic book with a photo cover? Good question. The oldest book I have found so far was in Four Color Comics #38 April 1944 featuring Roy Rogers. I am sure there are others that came before this one I’ll just have to dig deeper.

  19. Overstreet states that Four Color #38 is the first western comic with a photo cover, but that may or may not mean its the first photo cover overall. I may be up all night flipping through the Gerber Photo Journals, for lack of a better idea!

  20. Totally disagree about ASM #262. I always liked the cover (I want that shirt/costume!) and to me it’s one of the more memorable ones, even 30 years later. Pretty good one-off story, too, in which Peter Parker is photographed unmasked and spends the rest of the issue trying to track down & frighten the guy who snapped the pic. There are a few other “filler” issues ASM around the same time which are not nearly as good.

  21. I love Pat Boone comics. His music sounds great – if you like 1950s music, he is awesome. And those photo covers are great too. They are great representations of Pat in his hey day, and they carry historical significance. I personally own almost the entire run, in mid-to-high grade.
    This whole notion of what is popular these days and what is not, being the end-all-be-all of what makes a worthy comic is way overstated, as far as I am concerned. It overlooks at least a couple of points that to me carry significance. One is that ALL vintage comics are fascinating and enjoyable in a lot of ways – I couldn’t care less about the subject matter being currently popular. To me, the vintage comic book form and vintage comic art are so cool, fun and interesting, that vintage comics are to be treasured, no matter what genre etc. they are. And the second is that in this particular instance, and in many other similar instances, the subject matter carries historical significance. For example, these comics are evidence of, and a testament to, the music of Pat Boone and his legacy.
    And to me, those points are much more than enough to ascribe outstanding value to these comics.
    (And by the way, I was born way after the hey day of Pat Boone’s music, and that should not matter at all).

  22. A late update and response.

    Readcomix – I still have not found an older photo cover. Nothing older in the Gerber journals I could find. My search will continue.

    Thor Odinson – I had spoken to quite a few people about this cover and most disliked it. I still don’t like it. I do wish I could fit in to a Spider-Man suit like that one without looking ridiculous but I can not. However it is a personal choice and I have always respected your well thought out opinions, so we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Einstein – At Last! (Etta James) I have a true blue Pat Boone fan chime in. Thank you for your comments and opinions. I wish you luck in tracking down the last couple books you need to collect the set of five – in grade no less. I do disagree that these books carry the kind of value as quoted in Overstreet today. However if you can find another collector as passionate about these books as you are about them, I am certain you will be able to sell them if you want or need to in the future. Once again – Good Luck hunting the rest of the run.!

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