The Atomic Age

I received this great write-up from CBD commenter Alex Sorensen and I’m glad he is willing to share his work with us. Take it away Alex.

MOST VALUABLE ATOMIC AGE COMICS – NEAR MINT MINUS (1946-1955) (ROUNDED)

There is little available data on the Atomic Age so I thought I would publish this on comic’s best web site.

For some time I have been putting together pricing for the most valuable comics based on available sales/grade data from the 1960s to date.

Below are the most valuable comics with current (as of late April – June 1, 2021) values of Atomic Age comics 1946-1955 inclusive for 9.2 near mint minus, sometimes mythological, as many of these comics may not have this grade.

Batman (the comic) made ten appearances, and Detective Comics six and three of the top five; Flash Comics and Phantom Lady each had four appearances in the Top 100.  Cap appears four times under different publishers and formats.

I have close to 4,000 comics listed in the Atomic Age and I can safely say that some comics could easily jump into this top list out of nowhere.  Comics most likely to enter the top 100 due to recent sales are Famous Funnies 212, Murder Incorporated 3 (1948), War Fury 1, Startling Comics 53, Lovelorn 53, Black Knight (Toby) 1, Chamber of Chills 23 (1954), Batman 69 & 48, Mister Mystery 12, Who Is Next 5 and Black Knight (Atlas) 1.

Why are these issues at the top? One had an important storyline (Superman 76); two were the beginning of genres, in-house or not; three-plus had origin stories; six were first issues; nine were rare issues; fourteen had first appearances and sixty-five had fantastic covers. More than sixty-five actually but I had other reasons take precedence.

Fantastic covers? Matt Baker had ten appearances, Win Mortimer seven, Bernard Bailey – five, Bill Everett four or five (need art confirmation), LB Cole – four, Dick Sprang – four. Frazetta, Infantino, Harry Anderson, Johnny Craig, Lee Elias all had about three.  Reform School Girl was the only photo cover. Eleven had unknown artists doing the covers. Re-read the first line above, there is little available data.

Is this perfect?  Nope.  I am more interested in numbers than trying to figure Atlas, Marvel, Timely, publishing houses, so some publishers may be somewhat wrong. I have also included Canadian Comics, where I can find pricing data, so there will be two Superior published Captain America Comics.  The 98th comic is the 192-page giant Captain America, which has only one coverless sale that I could find; one sale is the minimum requirement. 

I was tempted to add notations on whether the books are going up or down, or if the book is hot but refrained as I would have to publish monthly to maintain this sort of thing.

This list should be used for entertainment only.  Have fun and I welcome your thoughts. Keep it real as I have tried to.

YearMonthPublisherTitleIssueRank9.2 nm $
194810DCDetective Comics1401122,000
19484FoxPhantom Lady17289,000
1948nnSuperiorManhunt!12374,000
19512DCDetective Comics168464,000
195511DCDetective Comics225556,000
19536Stanley Morse (Gilmor)Weird Mysteries5650,000
19478DCFlash Comics86744,000
19504.5ECVault of Horror12842,000
195210StarBlue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror115936,000
19492DCFlash Comics1041036,000
19483Four Star ComicsBrenda Starr141136,000
1948nnECK.O. Punchnn1234,000
194610.5DCBatman371333,000
1947nnUniversal PhoenixSeven Seas Comics41433,000
19544.5ECCrime SuspenStories221532,000
194712.5DCBatman441632,000
194812.5DCBatman501729,000
19493.5DCSuperboy11828,000
19497TimelySub-Mariner Comics321927,000
194910MarvelCaptain America’s Weird Tales742027,000
19481Better (Nedor)Startling Comics492127,000
19539HarveyLittle Dot12225,000
1951nnECTales of Terror Annualnn (1)2324,000
19483FoxBlue Beetle542424,000
1949nnSt. JohnGiant Comics Edition122524,000
19471AvonEerie Comics12624,000
19524MarvelVenus192723,000
19547StoryFight Against Crime202823,000
19556DCBatman922923,000
19545MarvelStrange Tales283022,000
19494FoxPhantom Lady233122,000
19535AragonWeird Tales of the Future73222,000
194610MarvelMillie the Model23322,000
19549EasternFamous Funnies2133421,000
1951nnRealisticReform School Girl!nn3520,000
19504St. JohnTeen-Age Romances93620,000
195012.5DCBatman623720,000
1953nnUnited FeaturesPeanuts13820,000
19497DCDetective Comics1493919,000
19462.5Maple LeafLucky ComicsV5 94019,000
195210.5DCBatman734119,000
19546HarveyBlack Cat Mystery Comics504219,000
194812DCDetective Comics1424318,000
19482DCFlash Comics924418,000
19539FawcettUnderworld Crime74517,000
1950nnSt. JohnGiant Comics Edition154617,000
195210.5ECMad14716,000
19476All-NegroAll-Negro Comics14816,000
19545HarveyTomb of Terror154916,000
19523.5United FeaturesTip Top Comics1735016,000
19494.5DCBatman525116,000
19534Stanley Morse (Gilmor)Weird Mysteries45216,000
19512St. JohnTeen-Age Romances145316,000
194810.5DCBatman495416,000
19465AviationContact Comics125515,500
1946?Green PublishingRoly-Poly Comic Book145615,500
19525.5DCSuperman765715,200
19518.5DCBatman665815,000
19555CharltonNegro Romances45914,900
1947nnUniversal PhoenixSeven Seas Comics66014,900
19553DCAdventure Comics2106114,700
19529SPMWeird Tales of the Future36214,600
19468DCDetective Comics1146314,400
1953SpringFiction HouseGhost66414,300
19543StarGhostly Weird Stories1226514,100
19539HarveyChamber of Chills Magazine196614,000
19478FoxPhantom Lady136714,000
19472.5Four Star ComicsCaptain Flight Comics116814,000
19543CharltonThis Magazine Is Haunted166913,500
19473MarvelCaptain America Comics617013,400
19526AtlasJourney Into Mystery17113,300
19502.5ECCrime Patrol167213,200
1946FallMarvelAll-Winners Comics197313,200
19523.5United FeaturesUnited Comics217413,000
1950nnSt. JohnIt Rhymes With Lustnn7513,000
19508QualitySpirit227612,700
19546AtlasJourney Into Mystery167712,700
19528.5DCPhantom Stranger17812,600
19546HarveyWitches Tales257912,500
19534MarvelSpellbound148012,400
19499St. JohnCasper the Ghost18112,400
19475MarvelMarvel Mystery Comics828212,400
19486TimelyGay Comics328312,400
19545AtlasMystery Tales198412,300
19549Stanley Morse (Gilmor)Weird Mysteries128512,200
19537AragonWeird Tales of the Future88612,200
19547TrojanBeware108712,100
194912SuperiorCaptain America’s Weird Tales748811,900
19547CharltonStrange Suspense Stories198911,800
1952nnMagazine Ent.Thun’da1 (A-1 #47)9011,800
19482FoxPhantom Lady169111,700
19461Bell FeaturesActive Comics279211,700
19537AtlasMenace59311,700
19506.5DCBatman599411,500
1947nnCatechetical GuildIs This Tomorrow (Canadian)19511,500
19516MarvelStrange Tales19611,500
19533AtlasJourney Into Mystery69711,300
1949nnSuperiorCaptain America Comicsnn9811,200
194811DCFlash Comics1019911,000
19534YouthfulChilling Tales1510011,000
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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: 1589

6 Comments

  1. Bravo, Alex. A fine body of work.

    I have a few of these books but in poor to good range – the only way I could afford them.

  2. Great work Alex, I do think your Spirit #22 is too low on the list! Also I think that Maple Leaf Lucky Comics Volume 5 #9 is interesting, I’m a WECA books collector and don’t remember that high a sale for a book that late in the run.

  3. Spirit #22 was in 25th place in 2011 and in 42nd by 2019 and is now in 76th. Despite being an iconic GGA cover Eisner has fallen away from the pack, but I don’t believe for long.

    Lucky Comics V5 #9 has only two sales that I could find, $787 for a gd+2.5 in 2016 and $1,900 for a gd2.0 in 2017. There is a lot going on with this cover, from Good Girl Art, to Pete’s relaxing pose and satisfied smirk, the cigar smoke becoming a side banner and the “Plethora” Pun below. The feet are also drawn really well. If you have more sales on WECA comics I would be happy to add them in.

  4. This is a fantastic amount of work. Well done. I would love to see what you have in your entire 4000 issue list.

  5. Fantastic work Alex. Detective #140 9.6 is currently bid at $162k, so when that finishes next week you can try to hone the calibration for the 9.2.

    I love the later Atomic Age books because of the Kefauver effect and the Code, but on the other hand I’m not too fond of the 1945-1950 period because books from this period are relatively plentiful and tend to be somewhat dopey on the whole. With this “Promise” collection coming on the market – almost all of which seems to be from this earlier Atomic Age period – I think you are going to see quite a bit of movement in this list. Many “highest graded” books are now just “nice copies”.

    I also think the Atomic Age seems to be more of a Keynesian Beuaty Contest than other ages in the hobby. I think a lot of these books are somewhat lame and jump around, like Alex pointed out, on the basis of speculating on the next sale price rather than recognizing the book as a key. Would somebody really pay $74k for Manhunt! nn 9.2 when they could at least have the Crime Suspenstories #22 9.6 for that price? The latter is an uber-classic while the former is an esoteric novelty. I think sticking with the blue chips in this list is the way to go.

    (I have a ton of CBD to catch up on – this was a great reentry post!)

  6. Thank you all for your kind comments.

    When I saw the prices being realized over the past few months I was thinking of putting this list together. When I saw Junie and Robert’s Comic Collection (The Promise) coming to auction the time to move was now. Talk about a perfect storm in collecting.

    I wanted to add a couple comments.

    Previous #1 Atomic Age comics includes the SCE Donald Duck Kite Fun book (1981), March of Comics 4 (1986) and the George Daynor Biography giveaway (1991, 1996) none of which are in the top 100 today. In 2001 #1 was Mad 1, 2006 was Superboy 1, 2011 was Flash Comics 104. If you use the top of this list to buy let me know how that works, because it will change.

    The other interesting note is all the Batman books on the list. In 2013 the 15th highest Atomic Age comic was Batman 47, the Batman origin cover / story. It is no longer on the list, but will likely return shortly. The move since that time was to buy Batman villain first appearances, origins and covers. Comic collecting interests tend to vary over time and are cyclical.

    Happy collecting!

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