The Hat Trick

A big ComicLink big auction ended this past week with record sales in the high end of the market. We keep questioning the validity of these record prices and the next big auction keeps pushing past the record prices set by the last big auction. I sound like a broken record but we are in uncharted territory. While I continue to advise everyone to stay with books that deliver all the good things like first appearances, great covers, iconic artists etc. I’d like to add that we should all be careful when dealing with the variable of time. Time is very important, especially to the younger collectors who benefit from having more of it before them. Time isn’t always kind to a book though, it can be both good and bad to the nostalgia cycle: it’s good for Ninja Turtle collectors but not so good for people harking back to the Three Stooges, time can turn against you after a while if you don’t invest in properties that have the ability to make that generation jump and remain viable to a new audience. Time can work to your disadvantage as well when it comes to supply. As I said before, just watch out for the things that get hot overnight: they are only scarce in high grade for a few months, supply will then ballon with new returns from CGC. An increase in supply doesn’t mean your investment is in trouble though; there was only one Amazing Fantasy #15 at CGC 9.6 when it sold for $1 million, there are now 4 at CGC 9.6 and one of those got $3.6 million, that’s four times the supply and we still got 3.6 times the result. Consider time when picking books to invest in.

Two characters that seem to be transferring their popularity over to new fans are Daredevil and Punisher and this week’s original art wish goes to this nice two-page Frank Miller spread from Daredevil #184, No More Mister Nice Guy! I remember this story arc, it hit the stands when I was a 17 year old and it had quite an impression on me. The 17 issue Elektra arc remains one of my favourite stories ever. This would loo sweet all framed up and hanging in the man cave!

When did Fedoras lose favour? In 1960 those hats were everywhere but by 1970 nobody wore them. The Fedora adds so much “mid 60s spy fun” to this splash from the I Spy story in Showcase #51. Showcase #51 predates Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD’s 1st appearance in Strange Tales #135 abd came a few months after Showcase adapted James Bond’s Dr. No in Showcase #43. These books are verymuch becoming period pieces and exemplify mid 60s cool.

This week’s ad is one of the most famous and fun to look back. The Mile High catalogue ad: I used to pour over this marvelling at some of the prices the books were getting but I never actually ordered from it, perhaps it was the No Canadian Funds instructions. At the top left, they announce that 480,000 more comics had arrived bringing their total to 1.1 million. This ad is from Daredevil #183 from 1982: so we have 1.1 million comics from 1982 and down, I’m wondering what the street value would be today of that warehouse at that moment in time. Spidey #50 for $7.50 and FF #48 for $15, sigh…

Our internationalcollectiblesexchange weekly eBay auction ended last night with some strong results. I was watching the X-Men #94 CGC 9.2 White pager to see if it could buck the recent downward trend; the last three sales ranged from $3,400 to $3,500 but the book was getting just over $4,000 before that. Our copy closed at a strong and corrective $3,950, nice-looking book and so much harder in high grade than the Giant-Size X-Men #1 and the Hulk #181.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Walt !
    i tried to win from clink avengers 93 and 94 , both iconic issues , both cgc-ed at 9.6 with white pages . i need these 2 issues to complete my high grade cgc run . both issues went for 3 times what i bid , and i bid aggressively . someone has more money than brains i guess .

  2. Walter, your comment that this preceeded Nick Fury is a tad misleading. The stories in Showcase #51 are not contemporary, they are all reprinted from Danger Trail, DC’s five issue series that ran 1950 and 1951, so they precede Nick Fury…but by more than a decade.

    from Danger Trail (DC, 1950 series) #1 (July-August 1950)

    It’s a great series and among my favorite 1950s DCs. And still affordable, I might addm, even slabbed.

    Per GCD, the Showcase #51 cover is new and so is the opening splash page, although I do wonder about that. I might have just been unused… All the stories are reprints from Danger Trail #1 and #3. What’s cool is that Infantino is doing both the new cover, possibly the intro page, and the original stories more than a decade apart. When they cancelled the 1950 series DC had leftover stories to run, which turn up in World’s Finest as backup strips in the late #60s.

    DC also tried to revive the title and espionage genre in 1993 with new material, again by Infantino and covers by Paul Gulacy, but it lasted just four issues.

  3. Hmmm… yes thanks for the reminder… the Avenger’s box…my 93 snd 94 are only midgrade tho. The # 4 is low grade but… my goodness…! Now how to price all those 60’s DC’s as well. Yup this is going to be work!

  4. Thanks for reminding me, Bud- now I have to dig out my copy of Showcase #51. Where the heck did I put it ???
    I have Danger Trail #3-#5 and absolutely love them! The art by Alex Toth is breathtaking & Infantino’s cover to #3 is one of my favourites from this time period! This is what comics are all about, action & adventure & I prefer this stuff to superhero, any day! Danger Trail is the comic book equivalent to the pulp mags ADVENTURE, ARGOSY & SHORT STORY and it is a shame that it did not continue.

    Walter- Star Trek #1 is not worth 16k. It is not worth 10k either. Star Trek is a well loved, but dead entity, kinda like western comics. It sold for 16k+???- All I have to say is….advantage SELLER !!!

  5. Live Frog, I agree with your comparison of Danger Trail with the classic adventure pulps. DC was really hitting on all cylinders in 1950, they also were kicking off those great 52 page issues of the early Mystery In Space and Strange Adventures, and House of Mystery started not long after, and Sensation Mystery, though those were both only 36 pages.

    These might, well, they certainly DO show the influence of their staff who came out of the pulp world: DC editors Mort Weisinger and Julius Schwartz and perhaps another editor or two. Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space were filled with pulp writers like Edmond Hamilton and Manley Wade Wellman, who were promoted on the covers and on the stories as authors. Otto Binder was somewhere in the mix here, as a sci-fi pulp writer turned comic writer, though I think he was still working at Fawcett in 1950-51.

    I think you are right, Danger Trail was probably an attempt to modernize the adventure theme with espionage and secret agent stories.

    Ian Fleming was writing the first James Bond around this time—Casino Royale was published in 1953. T-Man Comics from Quality had a long run, 35+ issues, and was doing espionage stories and the cold war was in full swing…. Ditto Quality’s Ken Shannon. That’s two espionage/adventure titles from just one company.

    Big Town was another DC adventure title with a long run, based on a radio drama that ran from 1950-56, 169 episodes. Big Town ran more than 50 issues (but is not very collectible today, though it boasts Gil Kane work).

    Ditto Mr. District Attorney, not a biggie today but it also had a long DC run and began in the late 1940s.

    As super hero comics lost their popularity, more realistic stories were being explored by the companies just before the horror boom. I think comic histories have attributed the change in taste to servicemen back from the war and their kids, too, who wanted stories more down to earth. Mike Hammer and Mike Shayne also began their long, long runs of prose novels around then—and the paperback world was bursting with detectives and mysteries of various flavours in the late 1940s and all through the 1940s into the sixties and beyond.

  6. The 1950’s are an absolute gold-mine of outstanding material ! I remember going to conventions back in the day with the intent to get as many golden age comics as I could, but being constantly diverted by the presence of so many beautiful 1950’s titles. Back in the 1980’s [ my decade of collecting nirvana! ] everybody fixated on silver age comics or golden age comics [ with silver age being on top of the heap ], Dealers could not sell 1950’s material for trying & I was able to scoop up & experience so much fine material for a buck or two each. I recall coming home with shopping bags full of crime, horror, sci-fi & westerns etc that fueled my fire & made me crave for more. When the stuff is available & affordable, the collecting fire burns bright- when the stuff is artificially inflated as it is now, it becomes unavailable to any sane mind and the fire is extinguished. Take heed !
    I was able to sample much fine 1950’s material and was able to pursue the completion or near completion of several runs of books that I loved. Golden age comics are an addictive package, but let’s face it folks- most of that stuff was written for 10 year old boys! Many Timely comics really don’t have much to say, here is Cap America smashing the Nazis & here is Sub-Mariner trashing another Japanese submarine- but the 1950’s stuff was written & drawn for a more adult audience and is more interesting. So many world class artists, from Ditko to Frazetta, from Kirby to Kurtzman, Krigstein, the EC crew ! Good Lord, Choke !!!
    1950’s comics took a long time to be appreciated & are now beginning to gather a new audience. Horror and crime has shot into the stratosphere & certain artists, like Matt Baker are outta sight! I don’t know who is buying all the pre-code horror at these crazy prices, but not all the horror books are that good. Many are generic & have no outstanding stories or art to speak of. You really have to know your stuff when collecting these things & simply buying it for the cover is not always a good plan! As pulps were dying off, the torch seemed to pass on to the publishers of 1950’s comics and many fine action, adventure & science fiction [ plus western ] titles were created. There are still discoveries to be made & some of these books are still available at guide through ebay at auction. I am amused whenever I am able to get a Prize Western or Atlas war comic at guide nowadays, but it can happen! You have to be persistent. Sadly, Heritage auctions has raised their buyer’s fees to such an extent that you cannot buy from them expecting to get a deal. When you add UPS or FEDEX shipping, taxes & brokerage to the total price, it becomes impossible to swallow. Go to Heritage to get your Timely;s, early DC, Centaurs etc & original art, stuff that you cannot get cheap anywhere ! Get your 1950’s comics from ebay [ at auction ] & you will occasionally get lucky! Know your sellers- do not risk buying from the general public, as most of them are donkeys! I speak from experience!

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