Comics and Hockey

It’s a long weekend in Canada, Monday being Family Day. It’s a good day to sleep in and I’m gonna do just that.

We Canucks are proud of our girl’s hockey team who took home Gold at the Olympics, I’m especially proud of Sarah Nurse who was Canada’s leading scorer and the Olympics’ leading scorer. Sarah grew up in the neighbourhood and my son played hockey with one of her brothers; you did us all proud Sarah.

The tea leaves are still a bit hard to read for the coming year but I’d say the hobby is off to a good start. I remember there was a bit of panic around that Comic Link auction that happened in November: prices were reported to be soft and I think it was around the time the stock markets started losing some steam. The doom and gloom of that auction seem to gave gone away as there have been healthy results all over the place’ Spidey’s continue to lead the charge. I think the market is in the process of sifting right now: many of the books that are getting a spanking had no right getting to those inflated prices and the market now is doing a reckoning. Keep focusing on the fundamentals, key characters, key titles, key issues, key covers, real scarcity, real scarcity of grade, real value. Keep staying away from books that are plentiful that have blown up because of some trailer being dropped; situations like that always lead to a temporary lack of supply. Don’t fall into this trap, please.

I went hard yesterday prepping next week’s eBay auctions. There is a low-grade Batman #181 going up next week and I took a quick pic of the infamous centre spread posted. I think over the years I’ve had about 1 out of 4 of these books coming through without. I know a guy who has a nice copy without the poster, he tried to buy this copy off me so he could perform a little marriage ceremony but I was having none of it.

This intriguing run of Rawhide Kid goes up on auction next week and I’ll be watching with interest. These are early issues and they are in better than normal condition. Westerns have been showing some life lately, especially the mainstay Marvel Western titles as well as the Mighty Marvel Westerns. I can’t wait to see what these get.

My ad of the week comes in the middle of an X-Men #129 featuring Kitty Pryde’s first appearance. The book hit stores in December of 1979 so there shouldn’t be any Empire Strikes Back characters as that movie didn’t come out until the summer of 1980. These are the leftover figures from the 1978 wave (the 12 on the right side) and the 1979 wave (the 9 on the left side), unsold lots from the first movie. I’m wondering what this page of toys still in their packaging is worth?

My save of the week was totally unexpected. I had no idea that I’d want to keep a copy of America’s Greatest Comics #8 but after I looked inside to check for completeness I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stories you get and the art was amazing. Look at this splash, I’m pretty sure that’s Mac Raboy. I don’t really collect Captain Marvels and I’m sure I’ll eventually put this up on an auction but I just couldn’t let it go today.

Another internationalcollectiblesexchange weekly auction on eBay finished up last night and the action was fast and furious. Raw comics continue their march forward: have a look at this set of Giant-Size Avengers #1, 2 and 3, the copies were in the 8.0 to 8.5 range and earned $131.50 USD. We’re amassing so many raw lots lately, these weekly auctions are going to keep getting better so stay tuned.

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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: 1644

18 Comments

  1. Love those early 60’s Marvel westerns that tried to incorporate elements of their other mags. My favorite which usually goes up with my monster mags display is Kid Colt 107!

  2. It is nice to see that you think that Westerns have been on the rebound lately. I have never seen westerns as a ‘dead’ medium- there are always collectors looking for them and if these books are allowed to sell at normal market conditions, will always find buyers. Yes, there are few ‘investors’ looking at westerns & I feel only a small percentage of western comics will ever attain ‘investment’ status, the market is driven by collectors and readers and these guys will not pay stupid prices for these books. Books such as the much-maligned Dell Photo-covers will always sell to those who love them at prices that cause super-hero collectors to snicker. Yep, keep on snickering- I will gladly pay $5.00 for a Tom Mix or Roy Rogers comic as it is far more readable than many of the Spidey or Wolverine books being produced today. Marvel & DC westerns are highly collected & regularly sell for over-guide prices. Other publishers are also in the mix and I challenge you to try to complete a collection of Prize Comics Western or Crack Western without paying through your teeth!!!

    There are no ‘dead’ mediums any more. Every field has it’s enthusiasts. Not every field is riddled with manic ‘investment’ buying, and westerns, war, & some general action [ including western ] pulps can still be bought at fair market value. A high price does guarantee any level of quality. Some of the worst books sell for the highest prices & some of the best books can be bought for pocket change. Go figure.

    I have always felt that Fawcett and Dell comics have been unfairly neglected by the collecting masses. They are key publishers, not just in comics, but in magazines, pulps & paperbacks. Both publishers have produced many landmark issues during their existence & need more respect! Your America’s Greatest #8 is just typical Fawcett brilliance- great stories, great art, great package. They are still way cheaper than Marvel or DC golden age books & I suggest you grab some now before they go out of reach.

    Dell and Fawcett are not entirely squeaky-clean & their books can be just as violent as their competitors. Dell published the infamous ‘Dr.Death’ pulps and Fawcett was involved in several pre-code horror and mystery titles. Dell and Fawcett initiated the first full-fledged War themed story magazines in history, with ‘War Stories’ and ‘Battle Stories’ respectively, starting in 1926 and lasting to about 1933. War comics have really shot up in interest lately with some prices for generic Marvel issues reaching stupid heights. It will be interesting to see if this mania affects these war pulps, not that they are cheap right now, but many issues are really scarce & rarely come to market.

    Happy collecting folks!

  3. There are a lot if great western themed comics and pulps! Couple years back I completed my Bobby Benson run plus have several other western titles from M.E. Including Ghost Rider#1. Have you ever looked at the price of an EC western? I love the Timely westerns with the Marvel logo on them also… and in Pulps there are plenty. You need a loan to acquire a copy of a Lone Ranger pulp and likewise Spicy Western ( of which I have a couple one a really stunning example). There are lots of great war pulps as well. One I have is a painted cover that seems like a swipe from Biro’s Air Fighters #2 cover and then there is G-8 and his Battle Aces which roll in the weird with war… long before DC thought of it!

  4. There is no comment box at the bottom of the rock and roll column. Are the comments all filled up? I just wanted to mention re: the AF15 cover. There is someone selling separate pages, graded by CGC, and getting thousands of dollars per page. I was just wondering if that was the same guy who sold the cover. It looks like someone found an old beat up copy of AF15, cut it apart, and is selling it piecemeal. At the prices they’re getting, that old ratty copy is going to bring them in about $100,000. or more. Wow!

  5. There are too many good western comics out there to list here ! M.E. is excellent!-I latched onto that publisher very early on & have been inching towards completing my run of Bobby Benson and Straight Arrow ever since. I particularly like Straight Arrow as the series touches on so many classic tropes, such as dinosaurs, lost treasures & lost civilizations ! There are also a couple Frazetta covers in that run, which are surprisingly affordable! You should also check out ‘White Indian’ which initially appeared in M.E’s Durango Kid & was ultimately reprinted [ by M.E. ] in his own short series. The White Indian stories have now all been reprinted in hardcover & are well worth having ! Ghost Rider is arguably Dick Ayers BEST work & again, there are some classic Frazetta covers in that run.
    All Marvel/Timely pre-code westerns are aces & should be sought out ! Post comic code, they still retain a large stable [ sorry for the pun ! ] of excellent artists, but the stories become routine. Sadly, I consider many 1960’s era Marvel westerns very bland and even Kirby’s work does not save them. There are some interesting concepts that Kirby tries out in the early silver age westerns which he then goes on to use fully in the soon-to-be-unleashed Marvel universe, & these ideas have been covered fully online and in excellent mags such as Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego and Jack Kirby Collector.

    I am not particularly fond of E.C’s early western comics, but the stuff appearing in Two Fisted Tales is superb !
    We haven’t even touched on DC, but with Toth, Infantino & Kubert art [ amongst many others ], how can you go wrong ???

    The Western pulps have been ‘hot’ for many decades & will not lose their audience any time soon. If you think you are going to get a Fawcett Triple-X Western or Clayton Ace High on the cheap, think again ! This is such a vast field with so many knowledgeable collectors and fans that a rare title/issue showing up at auction or ebay will soon be ‘marked’ & snapped up after a titanic struggle during the last few seconds of the bidding process! I have seen generic 1920’s issues of ‘Short Stories’ and ‘Action Stories’ hammer down for over $300.00 each for reasons completely unknown!- none contained a story by any well known authors. I have fought tooth and claw to obtain a single copy of a Triple-X Western out of a nice group of seven that showed up at auction a few years ago; all sold for $200-$300 each, except for my copy which was only fair, thus costing me $75.00 !!

    Collecting pulps is an art form & you learn what is worth collecting by experience, experience gained from going to shows, talking to respected dealers and fans & actually READING what you have bought, It is almost like stamp collecting, where knowledge is gained slowly & methodically over time. A fancy cover does not always signify a good story, but many comic book collectors are jumping into pulps & buying them only for their covers. It is sad that Weird Tales is only being bought for it’s cover art, as that magazine REALLY NEEDS TO BE READ in order to be fully enjoyed. So many comic book fans are collecting TORTURE-PORN, & are picking up horror/terror pulps as if they were manna from heaven. Hard core pulp fans are shaking their heads & continue to buy the pulps they KNOW are worth reading. Many of the horror/terror/spicy books are not rare & the stories are quite routine. The best stuff to buy solely for the reading pleasure alone is a secret known only to true pulp fans and readers. Go and collect your slabbed torture-porn, we will collect our venerated & rare western and action pulps! We know what the good stuff is!

  6. Klaus- the shredding & slabbing of low-grade key books is a crime & needs to stop. I am actually SHOCKED that CGC endorses such activity! This can only stop if collectors do not support this activity and refuse to buy the product. i am not holding my breath, as our hobby is now populated by hordes of mindless donkeys with way too much money and making completely insane purchases !!!
    I expect that many rare, key books in poor, fair & even good condition will be slaughtered by investor-vultures in the near future if these stupid, mindless sales continue. How can this be good for our hobby ??? Why is CGC aiding these vultures to make these sales possible ???

  7. Live Frog

    why are these sales possible by cgc ? you ask . because imho , cgc are money whores who are only into it for the money , obviously . since they started back in 2000 , look how much high graded comics now cost . like most of us who read this site , most of us are older gents who had the fortune to start their collections back in the 70’s , when it was much more affordable . i remember when GSX 1 and Xmen 94 hit $60 in near mint . i almost had a stroke when i read the price in the newest Overstreet that year !

    thanks to cgc , most of the books i’m buying today , ( to fill in holes in my runs , and yes , i’m a run collector , who also reads his books !! ) , raw copies , cost more today because of cgc . i must be getting old , i’m becoming a grumpy curmudgeon !

  8. Chris- you are right ! Money-whores- I was going to write the same thing, but then my wife interrupted me with the immortal words -“Come and get your supper, you fat lump!” & off I went before my kids ate all of our lovely home made pizza!! Yum !

    I have often wondered how CGC claims to be an impartial grading company, offering their grading services as a neutral party, in no way connected to the final sale of your book- yet has a tiered pricing system, charging you accordingly using the fair market value of your comic ,which is based on the grade that they assign to it ??? If they are truly impartial and neutral, should there not be a single price to grade any given comic book ??? An Action #1 should cost the same to grade as a Dazzler #1- yes or no? What business is it of theirs to know what your book is worth ? You are asking them to give you a grade, not assign a retail value to it ! This sounds like a ponzi scheme & has obviously been inhaled by a good number of so-called comic book collectors. CGC has altered the market for some time & may have potentially sown the seeds for it’s destruction. I cannot envisage comic book prices endlessly spiraling upwards. At some time, this bubble has to ‘pop’.

    Take a look at the kids around you. Are they reading comics, or pulps ? What do you think will make one of these kids, twenty years from now, grown up & earning money- suddenly decide to drop $5000.00 on a slabbed Spiderman comic from 1983 ??? I don't see it happening, they have no nostalgia for this stuff. This has been discussed on CBD before. The current slabbing phenomenon & out of control pricing will ensure that the current new generation & those yet unborn will NEVER have an appreciation for this product!

    My four kids do not collect ANYTHING! My 10 year old son does not even play with toys! Everything my kids do, they do online. This is the next generation of collectors ??

    Note that all of the pedigree collections that are out there were put onto the market by the families of the collectors who put those collections together. Lamont Larson, Edgar Church & Davis Crippen did NOT sell their collections- their families did! This is true now, as it was then. When we die, our families will be stuck with our collections. Will there be any takers ??

  9. Live Frog

    all businesses are in business to make money of course . i don’t have a problem with that . what i do have a problem with cgc is , they know what they’re doing to hurt our hobby , but , i don’t believe they care . to them , it’s a business to make as much money as they can , damn if they hurt our hobby , the chase of the almighty green back is all that matters . my kids are exactly like yours . they don’t collect anything , either .

    i have it in my will , my good friend who runs a comic shop , will handle the sale of my collection . he will get 15% for his efforts . my wife doesn’t want anything to do with it . it’s too massive to deal with , she says . i can’t say i blame her , though . i will die before selling anything . unless , i contract some horrible disease which will necesitate the sale of some of my primo books .

    my fellow collector always tells me , we’re only caretakers of our books for a certain time !

  10. Up at the beginning of the comments, Live Frog said it all very well regarding western comics: Atlas, ME, Prize, Quality, Ghost Riders by Frazetta, Infantino and Gil Kane and Alex Toth work on the DC titles…..all wonderful stuff. So I’m trying not to repeat, but his comments are very apt.

    I found it relatively easy to put together runs of them all, incluing those Crack Western and Prize Western runs, but then I’ve been collecting them for a long, long time. I’m still upgrading on occasion since I was happy to settle for low grade copies to fill in my holes.

    John Severin’s long American Eagle run in Prize Western is a gem. We (Budsartbooks.com) just created a gorgeous bookplate using nine of my favorite covers (on the back side) and a Severin self-portrait for the (still) upcoming Severin bio from Twomorrows.

    And don’t miss Jack Davis, Severin, Russ Heath, Maneely, and even Al Williamson did work in the Atlas Westerns. My only difference with Love Frog is that I don’t dismiss the Kirby westerns of the early 1960s…I think they are just fine in my book.

    Yes, high grade slabbed copies are going well over guide at $100-$200 these days, but raw books are cheap. I consign my upgraded replaced copies on MyComicShop and jeez its tough to get much for even books I was so excited to upgrade and pay over guide for…interest is still very low.

    I was just in a comic shop in Sacramento and he had a wonderful half a mag box of late 1950s and early 1960s Atlas titles with killer great Jack Davis and Severin covers, (and of course Kirby) grading in the GVG and VG range, for $15, $20, $30 each. That’s affordable for anyone. I did buy myself an slabbed Al Williamson cover in a Heritage auction last year, one of if not the ONLY Altas western cover Williamson ever did. I paid $160 or so for it, way above guide, because I wanted a super nice copy. Kid Colt #54, it’s a beauty.

    But even the lovely Jack Davis, Severin and Russ Heath covers get no premium over average issues with just Jack Keller inside, who I will admit, it not an exciting artist. Adequate, yes.

    The ME Ghost Riders, of course due to the Marvel tie-in, have gotten very aggressive lately. And he appeared in other titles, such as the Bobby Bensons Live Frog mentioned…BB has wonderful Bob Powell artwork. One or two issues go for big bucks, bondage cover on one, but the others go begging. My buddy Jeff Kepley just bought an entire run of the aforementioned Straight Arrow for like $500 or $600…over 50 issues. That’s a sleeper, as Live Frog said…Bob Powell back up stories and wonderful Fred Meagher art. Fred also drew 12 issues of the Ralston Purina Tom Mix giveaways in the 1940s. These used to be holy grails for western collectors but today are also mostly ignored. I finally upgraded most of mine into the Fine or better range for not much more than $100-$150 each.

  11. ‘Keep staying away from books that are plentiful that have blown up because of some trailer being dropped; situations like that always lead to a temporary lack of supply. Don’t fall into this trap, please.’

    Damn fine advice, it seems the bigger this bubble gets the more desperate people get at finding the hottest thing – Those New Avengers #7 going to $700 for a 9.8 upon the Doctor Strange 2 trailer is a sure fire piece of evidence that we have sections of the market that are ridiculous.

  12. Folks, Walt touched on a moral point in his commentary; it was about the man who wants to marry the batman centerfold into his high grade incomplete issue.

    I hereby request your guidance!

    I was scammed on ebay by an unscrupulous seller (a Canadian no less!!!) – I bought a great looking copy of X-Men#129 only to find that once it had made it’s way down to Australia that it was a married copy. eBay of course gave no support as the shipping took longer than 3 months as we were in the midst of covid chaos.

    I was going to sell the book at a huge loss with clear description, explanation and pictures (extra staple holes at the centrefold). I was thinking $70….BUT….as Walt mentioned – by circulating a married book am I engaging in damaging our hobby?

    On one hand there could be a run collector who really wants a #129 can’t afford $700 and is just rapt (but what happens we he passes it on)

    On the other hand…our hobby feels like it’s been inundated with grifters the past 18 months and this book would make great fodder for them to use to sucker another person.

    Any ideas BrainsTrust????

  13. Spider! I think if you are up front about it, there is no problem with selling a copy of a boom that has been restored in any way. I suppose the BEST way to do it would be to send it to get graded and have it be qualified grade. But that’s now time and money. If it were me, I would just sell it again as a married book. Yes, there is a chance the buyer could turn around and try to sell it again. But we can’t be the comic police.

  14. The Comic Police! Collecting communities, say like the ones our Western Comics fans in the comments above could belong to, do a really good job of policing themselves, these communities naturally develop codes of conduct etc. Obviously things don’t always go smoothly but overall they do a good job. This speculative free for all is not a collecting community, there is no policing and the prevailing MO is not how do I foster and grow this community but rather how do I make a quick but at any cost.

    There is a market for married books, incomplete books, coverless books, pages of books, shards from books etc. as long as there is a market and as long as you are very clear to a potential buyer/bidder as to what is for sale you have done your service to this community. Most of these books will find homes in collections that the owners perhaps couldn’t afford complete copies, unfortunately some may be resold as complete copies… Buyer Beware.

  15. I know I have a couple golden age books which I would love to have centerfolds for that are missing. I see it as restoration and it should be graded accordingly…and it has to be better then no centerfold. But I agree you have to be upfront about it when ready to sell!

  16. Back in the 60s and early 70s, double covers on comics were a big thing and people used to pick up an extra copy of something and just put the cover on another issue and sell it at flea markets for a premium. People used to eat these up. Occasionally, you would see a genuine double cover on an old western or something. Later, as fandom started growing, these fake double covers became worhless as people ralized anyone could make one.

  17. A long time collector here in Northern California is Ray Storch, in his 70s now. He’s actually had a lot of fun SELLING his vast pre-code collection at small local shows for many years. And he occasionally still picks up books. Another way to enjoy your collection, I suppose, is selling it like he has, one book at a a time, to avid collectors like me. Kind of like a reverse mortgage on your house as you grow older. Certainly better you than your kids selling off your goodies after you are gone.

    But the point is, Ray came across a big stash of covers ONLY for a big mass of early to mid-1950s comics; I can only imagine it was a printer’s archive, what we’d call press proofs, since most printers would pull occasional covers out as they are printed, to check color registration and centering and other issues that can crop up through a long print run.

    Or perhaps they saved them to archive a copy of what the jobs they were producing. The cover and comic have not be bound together yet. I’ve purchased some of these “Proofs” for 1940s Quality comics in Heritage auctions. I think some came from an artist’s collectdion, so he might have been at the printers when they were run, or perhaps the printer sent proofs into to the publisher. Who knows.

    Different printing presses are used for covers (glossy stock) and interiors (newsprint), at least back in the old days. Now they probably have the two presses feeding straight into a binder so it’s all one process. But in the old days, covers might be printed up to four at a time, on one sheet. They they were cut apart, and fed into the binder equipment along with the inside pages, which folded and stapled and trimmed them, sometimes in separate processes, sometimes all at once.

    Anyway, Ray married a ton of these covers to coverless comics, and they looked GREAT. Gorgeous. Don’t know how he got all the coverless ones…I bet he also bought low, low grade or 3/4-cover, remaindered copies and tossed the old one. Obviously he was very dollar concious, but that is how he amassed a huge collection with all the wonderful pre-code horror, sci-fi, super-heros, you name ‘em. I’ll have to get the whole story one day.

    But Ray always told you they were married, and I had no problem buying them. A local dealer, A-1 Comics, would buy copies for resale, and he also would carefully declare that they were married. So I’m of the same opinion as you guys above, it’s perfectly okay as long as it is disclosed. Just write it on the back board, that’s what I would do, then it’s there for the next owner.

    I have books missing centerfolds and I’m always on the lookout for coverless copies…thinking I will marry them. But what do I do? I invariably just keep both copies, since I’m reluctant to go taking out staples, possibly having to trim the CF, so what the hey, I keep both and have the equivalent of a complete copy. In the long run, probably a better thing to do than marrying them.

    Double covers don’t show up as often as they used to. There was a time when some collectors looked specially for them. But as Klaus says, maybe the reason there are not so many around now is people pulling them apart. But I’ve always just kept them as is, it’s like having a dust jacket on a book, as worn the jacket might be (and they are, on older books, and were very often thrown away). But that poor abused jacket has protected the binding inside for years, and thus you usually have a very handsome copy of the book underneath. With old books with handsome bindings (say before 1950), sometimes with even a color plate mounted on the cover (say N.C. Wyeth’s 1930s Scribner’s adventure novels, like Treasure Island, or an early illustrated book by Maxfield Parrish or Arthur Rackham, with an ornate gilt embossed binding), this is a big deal.

    So with comices of course, you may get a glossy, beautiful cover untouched by sun or UV rays or coffee stains or…..It’s fun to have some in my collection.

  18. Bud is spot-on with everything he says. I have more than 3,000 Golden Age Westerns, including all DC issues, most Dell issues, all Quality issues, many ME issues and many Atlas issues. Unless you insist on fine or better, Westerns are eminently affordable. Good or VG is usually good enough for me, because I read ’em!! Since 1940s Super Heroes are so expensive, and I have most of what I want, and since I don’t want all the crime, horror and war comics, I have learned how much fun it is to collect westerns, humor, romance and sports comics.
    Walter, congratulations to the splendid Canadian women’s team!! They earned it all. (Oh, please don’t call them girls, since they are all well out of high school, I would imagine). So glad you know one of the stars! All of Canada can be proud indeed!

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