A few weeks ago I posted about how slow and neglected the Western genre was and asked what would it take to reignite general interest. This week I want to look at that other slow and neglected genre, Funny Animal Comics.
When I started peddling comics for extra pocket change back in the early 80s Funny Animal Comics were a big deal. In the 1980 Guide, 11 of the 50 most valuable comics were Funny Animal Comics. Fast forward to the 2020 Guide and we have 0 in the top 50, and only 2 in the top 100 (actually 3 since we should could Four Color #16 which only gives a VF 8.0 price).
I don’t even scratch the surface of being smart enough to know why and how this drastic slide in interest and relative value happened but luckily for this post, I’m plenty dumb enough to try and offer up some suggestions.
First off, the early Guide values were misguided based on the fact that these comics represented comic book adaptations of characters created in other media. Think about Conan, Scooby-Doo and Star Wars, here we see hot comics with good value but just not the value of first comic appearances that were also actual first appearances, characters like Ghost Rider, Punisher etc. There is a premium realized when the comic book represents the actual first appearance and none of the big keys of the Funny Animal books can deliver this.
Then there is relevance. Being the cat’s meow or even the bee’s knees back in the day doesn’t guarantee you a following today, just ask Tarzan or The Spectre. Somehow characters like Mickey Mouse never made those crucial generational jumps the way characters like Batman and Spider-Man did. Why not? I have no idea. I think the Chuck Jones Warner Brother cartoons of the 1950s were the greatest cartoons ever created, ever. So why does the next generation of kids gravitate to new cartoon characters? Ask the Flintstones because I don’t know and truth be told I don’t even think Fred or Barney know.
We can’t sustain and grow strong demand, which we need to sustain strong and grow value if the characters have little social and cultural relevance to the people collecting and creating demand. I’ve said this before, Disney, the biggest entertainment company in the world, has a mouse ears logo that is lost on most of the kids today.
Yeah but what about the weight of the pedigree, those beautiful books that have withstood the test of time? I’d say that’s whats still giving the books the value they enjoy today though I do think there is a bit farther to fall relative to the other genres in comics (save Westerns).
Will there be a time when the Funny Animal genre heats up? When all those great Golden Age books start getting scooped up quickly and for stronger prices?
For Westerns, I said it would start with the covers and I think the same for Funny Animal books. There are some great covers in the genre and I can see the demand for them growing, actually is already. I also think scarcity of grade is another area where we can see stronger demand. These books sold like crazy back in the day and most copied are beat up, I can see high-grade copies of even the run issues enjoying some growth in value.
Could movies help, new TV shows? New comics? Marvel tried to resurrect Ziggy Pig about a year or so ago, I don’t think the project went anywhere.
It hardly seems fair, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny not mattering anymore after everything that they’ve given us. This comic business is a tough racket!
Are there any Funny Animal books you think are undervalued? Do you think we’ll ever see stronger demand for these old classics?