The Mighty Alex Sorensen sent us this great study on the high-end Romance Comics market. I know a big auction of Romance Books just finished up on Heritage; hopefully, Alex can critique it a bit as to how it fits into his list below. I know you didn’t come here for me so let’s pass this over to Alex.
Top 50 Most Valuable Romance Comics
Happy Valentine’s Day!
What is a romance comic? My definition is that the comic must have a Romance cover without other obvious genres appearing. This means Venus 19 (Horror), Showcase 9 (Superhero), Linda Carter Student Nurse 1 (Humour) are out. It Rhymes With Lust is a Crime comic despite its title and cover. Many comics could be considered Romance but are more in line with Teen Humour such as Archie, Millie the Model or Tessie the Typist.
Romance comics are one of the fastest-growing collectible genres in comics.
There are great innuendo comics such as #3 – Teen-Age Romances #9. Aside from the wordplay, there are a number of items found in the artwork. Was she sitting on a bolt? After a while, the boulders start to look like something. That story title may not work well today.
Interesting topics such as alcoholism and insanity are included in #27 – Lovelorn 53, #50 – Romantic Adventures 50 and #16 – Love Journal 10.
If we were to make this list a year ago we would not have the #19 comic “Going Steady #13” which had an April 2022 sale of $5,040 in CGC 5.5 Fine Minus. Instead, we would have had to use a $22 sale in good plus from 2009. This comic would not be in the top few hundred. Secrets of True Love 1 is another rare comic that only recently made the list.
Many comics should be on this list but have little sales data. Forbidden Love 3 and Cinderella Love 28 come to mind.
The median highest grade for these 50 comics is 6.5, fine plus. High grade generally does not exist. Only three of these comics have a high grade at or above near mint minus. The lowest high grade is a CGC 2.5.
Great covers? Matt Baker has 39, Al Feldstein has 2, Ogden Whitney, Ken Bald?, Bernard Baily each have one, unknown cover art amounts to 2 and Photo covers are at 3 including two of Marilyn Monroe. The #10 comic Daring Love 1 includes Steve Ditko’s first published work. The Bernard Baily cover on this book would likely keep it on the list if Ditko was not included.
Where are the L.B. Cole comics? LBC is in the 60th position with Confessions of Love #11. He also has 7 comics in the next 50.
Young Romance 1, the first Romance comic comes in at 99th position. Cinderella Love 25, the #1 romance comic below would be in 104th position for all comics, almost cracking the Top 100.
Comics below are conservatively estimated based on sales for near mint minus. I have also added my estimate for 2013 for comparison.
|1||1954||12||St. John||Cinderella Love||25||72,000||2,300|
|2||1949||nn||St. John||Giant Comics Edition||12||49,000||10,000|
|3||1950||4||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||9||22,000||1,900|
|4||1950||nn||St. John||Giant Comics Edition||15||21,000||2,700|
|5||1955||10||St. John||Cinderella Love||29||19,000||620|
|6||1951||2||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||14||18,000||570|
|8||1953||7||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||32||17,000||1,400|
|11||1955||12||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||45||14,700||330|
|12||1949||10||St. John||Teen-Age Diary Secrets||6||14,100||610|
|13||1953||6||St. John||Teen-Age Temptations||2||12,800||910|
|15||1950||3.5||EC||A Moon A Girl…Romance||12||12,100||3,100|
|17||1953||10||St. John||Diary Secrets||20||11,700||250|
|18||1955||4||St. John||Cinderella Love||27||10,600||1,140|
|19||1955||6||St. John||Going Steady||13||10,300||260|
|20||1954||9||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||39||9,800||1,240|
|21||1953||9||St. John||Wartime Romances||17||9,600||750|
|22||1952||9||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||25||9,500||620|
|23||1955||9||St. John||Diary Secrets||30||9,500||220|
|24||1949||1||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||1||9,400||1,100|
|25||1955||8||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||44||9,300||330|
|26||1954||11||St. John||Diary Secrets||26||9,100||220|
|28||1955||2||St. John||Cinderella Love||26||8,500||1,330|
|29||1949||4||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||2||8,200||870|
|30||1952||10||St. John||All-Picture All-True Love Story||1||8,200||740|
|31||1950||4||Comic Media||Honeymoon Romance||1||8,100||2,200|
|32||1955||3||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||42||8,100||1,170|
|33||1949||nn||St. John||Romance and Confession Stories||1||8,000||1,900|
|34||1951||10||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||18||8,000||550|
|35||1954||6||St. John||Teen-Age Temptations||8||7,900||1,800|
|36||1950||12||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||13||7,900||890|
|37||1955||5||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||43||7,700||1,100|
|38||1958||2||St. John||Secrets of True Love||1||7,700||62|
|39||1954||8||St. John||True Love Pictorial||11||7,500||810|
|40||1953||2||St. John||Diary Secrets||16||7,500||780|
|41||1953||12||St. John||Diary Secrets||21||7,500||220|
|42||1954||12||St. John||Going Steady||10||7,300||410|
|43||1953||1||St. John||Pictorial Romances||17||7,200||1,090|
|45||1953||8||St. John||True Love Pictorial||5||6,900||1,200|
|47||1949||7||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||3||6,500||1,310|
|48||1954||8||St. John||Cinderella Love||15||6,500||420|
|49||1953||11||St. John||Teen-Age Romances||34||6,100||340|
You bunch of softies! Shouldn’t you be reading Two-Fisted Tales or Man Comics ?? Go outside and play some hockey !!
If you’re talking about intrinsic artistic, cultural or historical value instead of monetary value, I would go for that first Young Romance! After all Kirby basically invented the genre, so this list has more to do with price than value and just serves to remind us of the great Oscar Wilde who warned us about people who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Mel and Live Frog, stop running, just as you can’t fight love, you can’t fight the appeal of Romance Comics !!
Oh I’ve got nothing against Romance comics, Walt, but I’ll choose the genuine value of a book over the price point any day. And that goes for all other comics genres as well! But I can also understand that some of the more mercenary “collectors” just obsess over price and forget the real joy of fine art and a decent read. So, while Kirby’s first Romance comic ends up at #99 in this list, to me it should really be the #1 Romance book to own, since it is, after all, the first of a long line of Romance comics, and for that reason alone deserves a premier spot in any Romance collection. But…money talks louder than art, I suppose.
I am half way done reviewing Heritage’s very recent good girl art auction and the stand out sale is the photo that you put up top. I love comic collecting because when I see a comic such as the gorgeous Falling In Love 99, and people actually buy it, there is hope for the future of humanity after all. And DC finally took the go-go checks off the masthead and put it on the outfit where it belongs.
Most of the comics were up at his auction: Cinderella Love fell a bit to $69K, and Giant Comics Edition 12 was up 10% to $54K. Wartime Romances 17 was up 48%.
The reason people buy Romance Comics is mainly the same reason people buy Suspense Comics 3, Punch Comics 12, Mask Comics 1 or Falling In Love 99. They are beautiful.
I agree with the importance of Jack and Young Romance 1, but after seeing comic values for these past five decades I have stopped trying to make sense and instead just watch it and try to understand what is going on. If YR1 is worth more it should be bid on accordingly. I think Jack Cole’s Plastic Man should be worth way more, but what do I know?
I have brought about 1500 comics in to 2023 with pricing and of the top gainers (so far) the top two are romance comics and romance has 7 of the top 20 spots. There are no comics in the top 20 after 1958.
Alex, where you see hope in FIL #99, I see hopelessness. Man I wanted a nice copy of that one.
Keep the good word out for Young Romance #1, I still have kids to put through college.
I think the one issue with the above is Matt Baker. This is like not drawing a distinction between Schomburg war covers and other war covers. Baker Romance is a genre unto itself, and there are too many in that list. I think the top non-Baker cover Romance list would be more informative as to what the market likes.
Chris, I tend to agree with Matt Baker being a genre. Matt tends to dominate romance and the Atomic Age to some extent.
Teen-Age romance #9
‘Did I give my lips too freely?’
‘That little cheat will do anything to hold Dick!’
I stand with Mel – he has put it very well & I can add no more to his comments. I have dabbled in romance comics from the very beginning, but I have bought them for their art- picking out Bill Ward, Gil Fox, Bob Powell, Bernie Krigstein, Alex Toth & many others for their beauty’s sake,. I have never bought these things with investment in mind, but that is true of all my collecting. Strangely enough, I never picked up any Frazetta romances, but then I think I have all of his stories in various reprint editions. I have gone so far as to purchase original pages of art from various romance comics- lots of Powell, LOTS of Iger shop stuff, various pages by artists such as Marc Swayze & John Celardo & even three pages by Matt Baker & Alex Blum [although these pages are from a ghost story featuring a couple of very nice Baker girls!]. Up until a few years ago, you could buy such art for very little & the very first page I ever won from Heritage [in 2010] only cost me $30.00. Study the Heritage archives from the very beginning & prepare to cry when you see how cheaply some of this beautiful stuff was selling for back then !!
It is time for Romance comics to get respect. As comic book prices rise, even neglected areas such as the war and romance genres have gained an audience and are being studied for both their art & investment potential. Ric Estrada must be tickled pink that his cover for Falling in Love #99 is getting so much attention! Good for him- you could not give this stuff away back in the 1980’s ! Many Romance Comics are quite readable [unlike the majority of Pulp romances- I challenge you to get through a single issue of Ranch Romances or Love Story !!] & can be as nasty as pre-code crime or horror in some cases [as Spider has found out !]
True to my announcement at the beginning of this year- I am cutting back on the time & effort [& money] that I expend on purchasing comics. The ‘Price Correction’ in the market has not affected me yet- comics are still selling at levels way beyond my comfort zone ! Lev Gleason & Atlas war comics are outta sight !!! Look at what Eisner’s Spirit sections are fetching !!!!! I have been very active in other fields this year, scoring some wonderful pulps & movie material, but have only purchased one comic- a VG copy of Hollywood Secrets #1 with 9 pages of art by Bill Ward which I managed to get at the Overstreet Guide price of $60.00 through ebay- not bad if I say so myself ! I did weaken though, at the most recent Heritage Auction & managed to win a wonderful page of art from Lev Gleason’s Desperado #4 featuring a hanging sequence & panel. Old habits die hard & I am chuffed that I can still win something for a fair price at such a high-profile auction !
Alex! I’m gonna start using your “DC finally took the go-go checks off the masthead and put it on the outfit where it belongs” and unscupulously claim it as my own, it’s that good.
The whole Heritage framing this as a Good Girl Art auction and the tall shadow of Matt Baker are both problems Romance Comics needs to conquer in order for the genre to really thrive. Think about it, we’d be left with a genre filled with some of the tastiest covers and catchiest dialogue with the upper echelon books still only in the four figures and scores and scores of absolute standouts in the three figures. The genre has to lose its affiliation with GGA and with Humor, Phantom Lady #17 is not Romance, Neither is Archie #50. The Romance genre needs to define itself better within the hobby, this will lead to more interest I believe. Matt Baker is a keeper and is the initial draw but there’s so much more to discover.