Rainbow Man

There used to be a time when I was such a purist regarding incomplete books, restored books, conserved books, even signed books. But times change and so have I, Blue is not the only colour I’m willing to see on a label anymore, these days I also see potential in Yellow, Purple and Green labels. I am now Rainbow Man. The marketplace has been my teacher. I remember 20 years ago selling coupon cut Hulk #181s for $75 because that was the price most old-timers were selling them for, then someone told me “Walt I’m getting $400 for coupon cut copies”, soon enough so was I.

I really started looking at restored books when I was getting into the Golden Age keys, I’ve tried restored copies of Batman #1 twice and did well each time. I sold a Superman #1 Green Label incomplete for more than I thought I would and I traded a Conserved More Fun #52 for two Blue Labe Golden Age keys.

All the above examples including the Hulk #181 are mega key issues where prices for Blue label complete copies made restored, qualifies and conserved the only real options if I wanted to buy and sell copies.

Fast forward to today and those high prices have filtered down way farther into the general population of comics than I’d have ever expected. Today it doesn’t have to be an Action #7, an All-Star Comics #8 or an X-Men #1 for high prices to be realized. Today there are thousands of books that have priced themselves out of most collectors’ budgets. Now because of these high prices I find myself revisiting the rainbow of colours on the CGC grading label, I’m looking at books that even a few short years ago I would never have considered unless it was a Universal Blue label.

Will we get to a day where we are buying restored copies of Star Wars #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #300 because unrestored copies have priced themselves out. My Spidey sense says no because there are plenty of copies to go around if you are willing to go down into the lower grades. This is rational thinking though and my Spidey sense also tells me that my rational thinking is antiquated at best.

I don’t know how deep down the list of comics we’ll have to go with Purple and Green labels but I do know its way deeper than I thought it would be just a few short years ago and I’m sure it will go down deeper than most of you thought possible as well.

Do we start buying up cheap, restored copies of She-Hulk #1 that are sure to surface now and again? General trends tend to play out over long periods of time, just look at the last 15 years and think what the next 15 will look like.

Last night on our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction we sold a CGC 6.0 Restored copy of Detective Comics #67 featuring the first Penguin cover. The book sold for $2,247 after 41 bids. Looking back to recent sales a CGC 4.0 Blue Label got $3,000 back in November and a CGC 3.5 Restored got $1,950 last August so our copy got good bucks. Advantage buyer, there are only 75 graded copies, 60 of which are Blue label unrestored. This book is an example of the above argument, the last 6.0 Restored sold in 2013 for $420, that’s a nice return.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1702


  1. Many of my golden age books have some restoration or are in less than premium shape. I wouldn’t be able to afford them any other way.

    However, I’ve noticed that others are now getting into restored books too, as it’s getting harder to find them.

  2. Hey Walt
    As most of my friends know, I have always had a hate-hate relationship with slabbed books. I mean, if all you can see is the front and back of an item, you might as well be collecting hockey cards, and I hate sports. So, I have always been partial to books I can open and read and enjoy. Well, a few years ago, a local dealer sent off a number of books to CGC without even bothering to open them up. What he got back was a number of Qualified Grades because the books had pages missing. Anyway, he just gave them to another dealer and told him to sell them for whatever he felt like. I picked up three slabbed books for twenty bucks each, less than the cost of slabbing them! My intention at the time was to use these as an example of just how ridiculous Qualified Grades are when they are obviously missing pages and incomplete. But the grades were 8.5 for Green Hornet #32, 5.0 for Master Comics #52 and 6.5 for Man Comics #1. Now all of these books have very presentable covers, so I guess that’s why CGC thought they should grade as high as they do. The problem is that these books should really just be graded like any other book at way lower numbers than they are. It just doesn’t make sense to say a book is an 8.5 just because the cover is pretty when there are four pages missing from the interior. But, I guess a pretty cover can be quite a draw for some folks, especially if they don’t have the bucks for a complete book. Most people I have shown them to agree that CGC is way out of line on their Qualified Grades, but they are blown away by the quality of the covers. I still think these should grade no higher than a fair or a good at most.

    Other than these examples I only have two other slabbed books, both Canadian Whites. When I acquired my 9.0 Canadian Heroes Vol.2 #3 in trade, my intention was to crack the slab, but Jim Finlay, Tony Andrews and Ivan Kocmarek convinced me that, as the highest graded of these books, it should be preserved like a museum piece, and Ivan promised to send me interior scans so I could at least read it. So, I relented and kept it slabbed.The other one is an Unusual Comics #1 Universal Grade .5, because the 9th wrap is missing. Now this I bought just for the Fred Kelly cover and for no other reason, so I decided to keep it slabbed too. My point is that this is more like the grade that should have been assigned to those other three books, instead of a Qualified Grade.

    I’m not sure how CGC determines whether of not to use the Qualified Grade. It does seem somewhat arbitrary depending on how much the grader admires that particular piece, and that does not bode well for my confidence in their system at all. I can however see how books like these may be desirable as opposed to nothing at all. So, I guess I’m saying that, if you are okay with imperfection, they might be worth it, but most speculators are likely going to pass on them just because they are incomplete.

    Anyroad, that’s just my two cent’s worth (what’s a cent?!).

    cheers, mel

  3. Last night a copy of Jackpot #4 went in the Heritage auction, centerfold out but looking ok, GVG or VG otherwise. It guides for $3900 in Good, since it has the first cover appearance of Archie (in cameo) and an early Archie story. I have all other more affordable Jackpots in various conditions, so I threw in a $450 bid…hoho, it went for $1440 with the buyer’s premium. Not caring about the archie story, I wanted it only for the superhero stuff…so unless I find a coverless copy, I think it’s out of my price range in ANY condition. If I were buying it only to have a slabbed copy to show off, what the heck, no centerfold be damed!

    So, people are certainly out there willing to buy these. I have lovely GD+ More Fun #54, one of the great Spectre covers and the 3rd appearance, that I bought from Bill Thailing back in the eighties for…$45. With TWO missing centerfolds. I scored a coverles copy with the first leaf gone, but have never gotten around to marrying the two together (probably a job for a professional), But do have all the book now and it still is a wonderful copy and the Spectre story is of course complete.

    Also have a More Fun #52, coverless but in GD shape, that I bought some time back for $500 from some fellow that was shopping it around an Emerald City show. I could never afford anything with a cover. I really should get a pro to redo the cover and marry it, but another unfinished project.

    I’m okay with CFO or coverless copies if that’s all I can find, talking of EARLY rarer Golden Age, such as pre-hero DC, Centaurs, Candian Whites…. Then if I can upgrade them, fair enough, meanwhile I can enjoy what I have and know how good or bad the material is inside, which will influence my desire to spend big bucks to upgrade.

    You guys questioning Qualified CGC seems quite valid to me…it’s a poor copy with pages out; It’s almost like there should be two grades: poor and apparent.

    So on the CGC census, I assume all you know is that it is qualified, whether it has half the book missing or someone threw up on the pages….But on the other hand, I am glad to see the “remaining” book at least graded, so I know what shape it is in.

    CGC does NOT do this on coverless books, which totally sucks. It’s important to know what the overall condition is of a coverless book, is it VG or FN or is it beat to hell? For example, my old coverless Captain America #1 was a pretty sharp copy in VG or so, and with premieum sold at Heritage for $10,800. If it had been beat up, it would not have fetched such a price (a GD copy at the time was $25K in the guide). I want to know, just saying Coverless is not enough. If course, if its a slabbed book we can see it or the scans and hopefully make an evaluation if the backcover is pictured also. But I still feel its a cop out not to grade the book, even coverless.

    My biggest gripe is NG, no grade. Whaa? Why slab it at all if CGC isn’t isn’t making ANY evaluation of condition? This makes no sense to me at all.

  4. Klaus, some of those Golden Age books are so scarce, once the restored ones go you’ll see very few surface.

    Hey Mel, I think Jim, Tony and Ivan are good people to listen to, and I kind of agree on it being odd giving a book a high grade if it is incomplete, they are obviously grading only what is there.

    Bud, you are so right about the NG, WTF? I have a Marvel Value Stamp book that came back graded with a big fat NG where the grade should be.

    Also, I think there are a lot of Golden Age books out there that are incomplete and still raw, most people would not think they were worth grading, maybe the time has come. The weird part about that is that we slab them to prove to potential buyers that they are complete and unrestored, are we moving into an era where we brag ” it only has 4 pages missing, CGC verifies this!”

  5. I was a purist when I began collecting comics back in the early 1980’s [& I still am]. I focused on lovely mid-grade copies without pieces missing from the cover or interior, tape or heavy creases & would not consider any book lacking pages or coupons cut. Back in the eighties books were plentiful & cheap and you could afford to be a snob. Nobody seemed to be collecting post war comics back then & I had my pick of horror, crime & war titles in nice, presentable condition for many, many years. Eventually, I got my balls up & dived fully into the Golden Age & was also able to get nice copies of many of the books I wanted in similar condition for only a small increase in price. These were the ‘good old days’ for me, & things only began to grind to a halt in the early 1990’s when the market exploded and prices began to rise exponentially. By 1997 I had left the market & did not return until 2009, during that great recession, when the market tumbled and once again, some comics became affordable.

    There is no place in my collection for an incomplete book, even a high value item like an early More Fun or Captain America. I cannot see the sense in putting such an item into my collection and it would always bug me that the book is a filler, not a full copy, taking up valuable space in my storage. Most of the incomplete books that I have are books that arrived as part of a group lot that I had won at auction, such as- a long box full of Argosy pulps, in which about ten issues had the Burroughs Tarzan chapters cut out: a short box full of 1930’s movie mags that had about one third of it’s contents savaged by a pair of scissors; a group lot of early Sparkler Comics where a couple issues had a feature removed by a previous owner, because he either loved or hated the feature. These things bug me & years later they still bug me- see- I’m writing about it here, because they bug me ! I obsess over these things & they drive me batty ! I don’t know what to do with them….they are just taking up valuable space in the rapidly shrinking storage area that is my basement ! I can’t throw them away because that would be wrong.. yet I can’t sell them either ! Who would buy such train wrecks from me ???

    Having said this- I have been privileged to enjoy several PULPCON conventions back in the 1990’s in Dayton or Bowling Green, Ohio & have never been happier in my life than when I was there. The bliss that I experienced at the seven shows that I attended is beyond words & can never be replicated. No comic book convention that I ever attended sent me into a state of euphoria such as what I experienced at these pulp shows. I simply cannot describe how powerful these shows were to me, more powerful than drugs or alcohol ! Part of the reason was that the pulp market back then was composed of old-time enthusiasts who resisted the idea of investment in the pulps & championed their enjoyment on a purely literary level. Read them & love them. forget about their investment potential ! That was the mantra. These old-timers have all died now [ Rusty Hevelin -RIP ] & the pulp market is now infested with investors who think that buying a VG Spicy pulp is a good deal at $1000.00 [ when it would have cost them $25.00 back in 1991].
    The PULPCONs always had a couple auctions as part of their mix & I sat in on all of them while i was there. One of the key lots that I saw sell was a group of banana-boxes filled with incomplete general fiction pulps [ such as Popular, Munsey’s, Argosy, People’s & other such titles] from the early 1900’s, all missing covers or interior pages. There must have been a couple hundred issues in this lot, all train-wrecks, not one issue complete, yet this lot saw considerable action & ended up selling for over $500.00 US to an older couple in their 70’s who no doubt spent the rest of their lives compiling & reading all these loose pages ! This was a purchase made for purely enjoyment purposes- there was no investment potential here, there was no way that they were going to re-sell this stuff back then for any financial gain, yet they no doubt fully enjoyed their purchase by simply reading what they had bought [ what a concept !]. $500.00 may not mean much to you now, but back then you could buy a box full of 1930’s Weird Tales or a stack of Spicy’s for that price, so that sum of money is significant !

    I cannot spend money on a book that is not complete, it seems to be a wasted effort. Yet my distaste for these incomplete cadavers is not shared by the collecting community. We are seeing individual pages from certain key issues being slabbed & sold on a regular basis and have even seen fragments from an Action #1 [ with a staple included ! ] sell for a king’s ransom at auction last year ! If the market continues to support the butchering & selling of books piece by piece, we risk inspiring soul-less investors to begin to carve up books like Hulk #181 & GS X-Men #1 and selling them off page by page for increased profit, instead of keeping the book complete for future generations of collectors to enjoy, How about it folks- imagine a future where NOT ONE SINGLE COPY of Hulk #181 remains complete- they have all been butchered & sold off page by page to idiot investors who think they will turn a profit on a slabbed copy of page #12 ! This is a phenomenon that has afflicted the vintage magazine market decades ago, where dealers carve up an old magazine and sell it’s advertisements & features separately for more profit, rather than keeping the magazine complete. Thousand of old magazines have been butchered by mindless dealers who have sold individual Coca-Cola ads or other such advertisements for several times more than the entire magazine is worth, because that ad is otherwise hidden by the covers and remains unknown to the collecting community.

    I do not like incomplete books. I think they are a waste of time & money. They bug the crap out of me ! I cannot see the point of owning such a thing.
    There is even less point to own a single slabbed page from a key book like Action #1- does it really make you happy ???

    I recommend that you stop bidding on slabbed pages from Detective #27, particularly if they are not Batman pages ! Stop bidding on ANY individually slabbed pages [ or parts ] from ANY comic or risk the consequences. Do not enable this market, or you will inspire moronic investors to start carving up healthy, complete comics for financial gain ! Hey kid, I have a slabbed page from X-Men #2, only $250.00 ! It’s sure to be a good investment…….

    You have been warned.

  6. Live Frog… this will get your dander up! A couple years ago I saw someone on eBay selling the back cover of Amazing Fantasy 15 for $1000.00. and there is no hint on it from my perspective that it was from that particular book! The real killer is…was slabbed!

  7. I’m getting the sense Live Frog doesn’t like incomplete books.

    Live Frog, great comment. Loved the recollection on those pulp cons! I remember a few years ago us getting a big Playboy collection from the 1960s. I wasn’t up to date on why people bought these but then someone pointed out it was the lifestyle ads that people were most after, great ads for alcohol, cars, cigarettes, fashion etc. with great subliminal photos and art by the likes of Bernard Fuchs. The girls were not even a consideration, which is sacrilege as far as I’m concerned.

  8. Livefrog, great comments. However, regardless of how the incomplete books make YOU feel, there is a value there to other collectors, a very clear value.. I wish that you could feel this yourself for those almost complete books. Take Pulps for instance. I collect pulps almost primarily for the cover art. Maybe once in a while for the interior art. I almost never read them…the best stories (at least scifi, not to mention in replica editions) have often been reprinted anyway. So a pulp with a page out, that makes me perfectly happy (that is a very rare occurance, but the point is the same).

    Regarding comics….there is still plenty to enjoy if you are like those pulp collectors who don’t worry about value. A 64 page Golden Age comic with a centerfold out might be missing 2 story pages and 2 ad pages…you still have more than 90% of the book that you can read and enjoy. If you are into artists, they are all there except two pages. That is why I enjoy them. Ditto coverless comics…you can make a good xerox of the covers and now you haved ALL of the interior of the comic, to read the stories, see the art, even enjoy the ads. All for a fraction of the cost of a complete book. I’m talking Golden Age and pre-code here, books that aren’t readily available in archives and reprints.

    This brings up a somewhat wild story. Dick Wald, a long-time colletor in Portland, just this year sold me about 100 binders and two big boxes of incomplete Golden Age books. The previous owner was an art teacher and in the 1940s, when the books were considered worthless, he cut up pages to put them on a opaque projector and, I don’t know, trace them, study them, whatever. Ok, he destroyed hundreds of comics. But he got HIS value out of them. Dick then got them, many years ago, all mixed up…and he began studying reference books (before Grand Comics Database) and putting the books back together, one story at a time. At one time, he had a couple complete Captain Americas before #10, and sold a run of early ones, even complete, for a pretty penny. And he mounted most of them into the same binders.

    He says he really, really enjoyed going through and studying these…a project that obviously took him countless hours. He loved showing them to me and finally talked me into buying the lot for $1000. Remember, I said 100 binders, many of which contain multiple covers and lots of interior pages, mostly complete stories. So we perhaps a thousand complete stories, and at least a couple hundred comics covers, from S&K Adventures to Jungle and Planet, even some Timelys.

    I dont’ expect any will be turned into a complete issue, and all the pages are loose anyway…I think Dick already worked on that…but jeeze, now I have the motherload if other people have incomplete books. I also have portions of books I don’t own that I can learn from and enjoy.

    I already own a great many of these books complete, so those are no great value to me. But there’s someone out there who would love to flip throug thousands of pages of Golden Age, read the stories. In fact, I have two local buddies that I will make that offer to, borrow ‘em and enjoy them. No cost.

    No worry about condition…most of the pages are in individual acetate binder sleeves. Can’t hurt ‘em. Also, they are all now easily scanned. Todays publishers of Archivve editions sometimes have trouble doing reprints of rarer Golden Age books when no one wants to have their raw copies flattened out on a scanner (I used to loan my copies to Craig Yoe for his books…he finally got a ninety degree scanner to hold the book open but no need to flatten it.) For example, Dave Armstrong had a real time collecting all the Leo O’Mealia stories from More Fun for Nikki Wheeler-Nicholson’s Before Superman book, before a local friend let us scan the last issues Dave needed.

    I know, some of you guys will think this is crazed. But If I was a youngster again in the sixties, and someone showed me this collection, long before I saw and acquired those books…I would have so loved going thru them. So much to learn, so many artists to discover, stories to read, And now that so much is being slabbed, here is the opportunity to look inside and enjoy for the cost of ONE nice condition complete book. $1000 is nothing these days for better Golden Age….

    One more aside…Edgar Church along with the Mile High comics, for decades clipped art from magazines…and pulps. I ended up with nearly all of his clip files, literally a pallet of stuff, and also his pulp COVER collection…roughly 4000 covers he tore or sliced off pulps. Unlike his comics, these he mostly bought used, but many were in very nice shape. Some he mounted with rubber cement into scrapbooks, which since dried up so they would just pop off the backing pages.

    I greatly enjoyed this collection, after sorting it by title, for 20, 25 years. Loved pulling out a file of dozens or in the case of The Shadows, hundreds of covers. Weird Tales, Jungle, Wu Fang, The Spider…the common and the rare…so much was there. I paid Chuck Rozanski .50 each for the pulp covers, around $2000, way, way back, in late 70s or early 80s. His plan to matte each cover and some of the nicer clip file pages fell through.

    Another collector, who had been after me to sell them for many years, made me an offer I could nor refuse. I told him I’d part with them for $25,000, my magic number, and he bought them. So…I enjoyed them for many years, even had many in plastic bags on my office walls for some time…I have a great story, and the collector who bought the might do just fine when he’s done with them. If pulp values keep going up, $6 for a pulp cover will seem a pretty small investment.

    PS: Livefrog, Those incomplete pulps and comics such you mentioned…I think you’d do okay making lot groups either on EBay or with MyComicShop, who will auction off consignments like that. There are many bottom feeders happy to buy incomplete books and even pulps, I would imagine. I’d make up small groups and submit them to MyComicShop if they were mine…

  9. Walt, I attended a mall show a few years back, and the seller, who bought old Life, Time, Saturday Evening Posts etc, would completely cut them up and sell the trimmed ad pages in plastic and backing boards for $20 to $50 each, depending on the subject matter.

    He had quite a few tables with the items in stand-up magazine boxes and had several helpers running the tables. I saw more money changing hands for single ad sheets than what he paid for the full magazines (he had his buying prices listed). It was, evidentally, the nostalgia factor in play here.

  10. Hey Klaus
    I once managed a used bookstore, and, when I took over running the shop, found out that the boss had been giving all of our damaged magazines to a very charming guy who often begged for our dregs. Easier than taking them out to the dumpster. A few years later I dropped in to a local antique market and found him selling single page ads by the likes of Bernie Fuchs and Bob Peak for twenty to thirty bucks a piece. Don’t even get me started on what he pulled in for Coke and Pepsi ads, cigarette, car and booze ads, all classics that, for many people, just slipped under the collectability radar.

    And, by the way, that National Gegraphic mentioned in The Bridges of Madison County doesn’t have an article on wooden covered bridges…but it does have a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on the cover. Some people want the weirdest stuff. That’s just the human condition. Ain’t it grand?!

    so long for now, mel

  11. Bud, thank you for that Edgar Church / Chuck R story….when I was reading the top section of your tale I was thinking of Church and his art collection and his infamous scrapbooks….and you had them!!!! Incredible

  12. Hi Guys- thanks for the replies & comments to my rant. They are much appreciated !

    First of all, I am not really ranting but my writing style comes across that way. Think of me as a Gilbert Gottfried character [ the voice of the parrot in Disney’s Aladdin ], loud, obnoxious but ultimately harmless ! I am just a grizzled middle aged collector venting his spleen about what bugs me about this great hobby of ours. Like many things organized & managed by human beings, comic book collecting has it’s problems but pleasure can still be gleaned from pursuing this interest. However, I am concerned that I and many others are being priced out of this hobby & am thus horrified to see desperate collectors throwing ever increasing sums of money at incomplete books or at fragments of books because that is all that they can afford. I am concerned that we will live to see total morons breaking up & selling key & rare books into their individual parts for profit, as has happened to so many rare and desirable old magazines from decades past. If we are not careful, there may not be complete copies of certain rare books left in the decades to come- they will all be butchered & sold off as parts !

    This trend of 'butchering' a whole unit into several parts for profit has not just affected old magazines & certain comics but has also seeped into the sale of original art. I have noted many complete stories being sold off page by page as opposed as a complete set, as this simply yields more profit for the seller. It is unfortunate, but when many of these stories are broken up, it is unlikely that they will ever be seen together again. I am talking specifically about original art for stories appearing in various anthology comic books published during the fifties, not complete silver age – modern Marvel or DC superhero stories. We are seeing EC stories being broken up & sold off page by page. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep this stuff together ???

    My love of complete objects is deep rooted & probably stems from childhood. I don’t know how it began & will probably require some kind of psychiatric study to be done to discover it’s origins. I was always led to believe that an object had more value being complete, than not being complete. I have read many books and articles on the subject of collecting books, comics and magazines,stamps,movie memorabilia, medals & militaria and all have stressed the necessity of buying items in the best possible condition. An incomplete item is simply not worth having in the eyes of an old time collector ! Look at how strict grading was in the Overstreet Price Guide back in the 1980’s- even a chip or piece missing from the cover or spine would downgrade a book to no better than Good condition back in those days. Today, we are seeing CGC grading books with large pieces out as high as Fine ! Yet a grade issued by CGC is considered to be the word of God & cannot be challenged, but you have to question some of the decisions they make, particularly regarding Qualified Grades. A lovely book missing three centrefolds is an incomplete book no matter how good it looks & giving that book a ‘Qualified 8.5’ grade is meaningless. In my eyes, they are making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear & making the owner of that book feel better about his ‘investment’. It is just propaganda, meaningless hype designed to fool another collector into buying that book.

    It bothers me to own a book that is not complete- somehow I can’t enjoy it if I am missing part of a story. I recently inspected a vintage hardcover book that I won at auction a couple of years ago- a unit history of an American Army Division during WW1- & was bummed out to find that it was missing one of the four photograhic plates that was supposed to be in the book. The book is complete, but it is missing a tipped in photo that does not affect the text. It actually depresses me. Now I am going to have to try to upgrade it to a complete copy or I will never sleep again! The missing photo actually affects my enjoyment of the book !

    Bud, I hear what you are saying about incomplete books- some collectors are happy to get part of a rare book & enjoy it for what it is, others shun it like a plague-ridden cadaver. Some collectors view an incomplete book as a glass half full, other see it as half empty. I cannot pursue incomplete books, I see it as a pointless exercise. In my opinion it is best to save your money for the things you really want & try to get them in the best possible COMPLETE condition that you can afford. Collecting is all about budgeting your money and your storage space ! I only have so much room to store my collection & so much money to spend on collecting. I cannot justify spending money on an incomplete item when I already own thousands of complete items that I have not yet read, & if I am to cram anything else into my shrinking storage space, it simply must be complete.

    For many years, I would not pay good money for any book that had even a chip missing out of it’s cover. 1980’s Overstreet Guides instructed me well that such an investment would be poor & that the book could be no better than Good condition depending how large the missing piece was. If I was to resell a book with a large piece missing, I would be facing an uphill battle to get a good price, thus why buy a book with a serious defect? The grading standards seem to have slipped since then & books are being graded nowadays as high as Fine with large chips out. Since I collect Pulps too, I have become accustomed to chipping & fraying & have relaxed my attitude to comics with pieces out of the covers [ but there is a limit to my tolerance ]. I cannot & will not pursue an incomplete book- that is the kiss of death financially. I have tons of complete books still to enjoy- I cannot collect fragments.

    I will at some point begin to sell off parts of my collection. I am 55 years old & cannot hang onto stuff forever. At the moment, it makes no sense to pack a box full of my incomplete stuff & sell it through MyComicShop as shipping from Canada to the USA is prohibitive. Ebay remains an option, but then I am dealing with ‘bottom feeders’ who may nickle & dime me every step of the way. Some of the ebay community is just nuts & should not be allowed to walk around in society without medication.
    Most of my incomplete stuff came with group lots, some of these lots actually being described accurately as containing some material that is not complete. I got these lots cheap- thus shouldn’t bitch. Some individual books came from great dealers on ebay who made mistakes & compensated me for them. Some of their staff are simply unaware how many pages should be in certain golden age books when they list them on ebay, or simply cannot count to 68 ! With resources such as Grand Comics Datbase, not knowing how many pages are in any given issue is inexcusable !

    Bud, a final note- I do not believe that the best of the pulps has been reprinted. We have seen full runs of Shadow & Doc Savage, & lots of excellent Sci-Fi material has been reprinted here & there, but this is not necessarily the best that the medium could offer. The Shadow & Doc were aimed at teenagers & fans have told me that G-8 is unreadable ! Until you have read reams of ADVENTURE, ARGOSY, BLUE BOOK, SHORT STORIES & selected runs of BLACK MASK & DIME DETECTIVE, you are not seeing the best that pulps could offer. Read these books Bud, don’t just look at the pictures !

    Sorry about my very long ramble Walt- I hope I don’t break your website ! Cheers !

  13. I forgot to mention WEIRD TALES !!! Read Weird Tales- don’t just look at the covers ! The covers are usually the worst part of that series [ & that is REALLY saying something !!! ]

  14. Livefrog….very good point about reading the best of the anthology pulps. I wish I had the time, believe me. I have a wonderful run of Argosy from about 1931 on, and just recently picked up much of 1926, but the covers in 1926 I found really dull. I guess I should open some up and read a few tales, huh? I love the 30s and 40s Argosy covers, Belarski etc. And if you stear clear of crazy people, you can score Argosys for very little cost. I take dupe Argosy to shows and mostly no one even gives them a glance. I bought many of mine for as little as $4 each, nowadays you can still get good ones for $10 or $15.

    I also collect Blue Book, another title very few people collect and cheeaaap, even less in demand than Argosy. I know Mark Schulz is a fan of BB for the great line art inside. I get them primarily for the same, rather than the covers. That was the gold standard of top notch stories and art in the 20s on, guys like Maynard Dixon got their start there. Bedsheet sized issues, too.

    Here’s a small piece on BB from Wiki, that says it better than I can:

    In its 1920s heyday, Blue Book was regarded as one of the “Big Four” pulp magazines (the best-selling, highest-paying and most critically acclaimed pulps), along with Adventure, Argosy and Short Stories. The magazine was nicknamed “King of the Pulps” in the 1930s. Pulp historian Ed Hulse has stated that between the 1910s and the 1950s Blue Book “achieved and sustained a level of excellence reached by few other magazines”.

    Cover artists during the 1930s included Dean Cornwell, and Herbert Morton Stoops, who continued as the cover artist during the 1940s. Interior Illustrators for the magazine included Alex Raymond and Austin Briggs (better known for their comics work), John Clymer, John Richard Flanagan, Joseph Franke, L. R. Gustavson, and Henry Thiede.

    There’s just so much to read, I will never get through it all. So I have to settle for scanning many comic stories and enjoying the artwork. Reading the occasional story or isssue (as in the case of 1950s ACGs, love those).

    But I’ll pick around at some of my pulps more, thanks to you. I’ve picked up many Weird Tales past the Brundage issues, since they are all still affordable, so I have much to examine. Have to admit, not so much into the detective pulps…I’d rather read scifi, and currently am working my way through several decades worth of Gardner Dozois’ wonderful Year’s Best Science Fiction, he did some 35-odd years and the books just got massively bigger and bigger. Gems galore. I’m 69, so I’ve got even less time left to read all this stuff than you do, but I hope I’ve got another two to three decades!! sigh

  15. Bud, I love the pulps – I love that format, the smell of that wood pulp paper is intoxicating !* I have never had so much fun holding a book in my hands that showers me with tiny little flakes of paper yet remains complete !!! I can read most genres appearing in the pulps, except romance. Even the sports & westerns are damn good reading !!!

    Sci-Fi pulp is a must read as many of the classic stories were first published in the pulp format. Astounding Science Fiction is my favourite, starting out in 1930 as a kind of weird fiction magazine, but turning to hard science fiction in 1935 & staying that way for good. No issues are rare, but the early Clayton copies will set you back a bit of coin. Amazing & Planet are too much ‘Space Opera’ oriented for my tastes- if you like Star Wars, you will get off on these titles, but there are some good true science fiction stories mixed into the menu. The Planet pulp is quite cheap, although occasionally some moron will surface with a first issue that he’s trying to get a $1000.00 bucks for, but none of these things are rare & most can be gotten inexpensively, unlike the Planet comic which is outta sight !

    The superhero pulps will appeal to any fan of golden age superhero comics- but there are no pictures kids, so you’ll have to use your imagination !

    Crime pulps are an acquired taste. Black Mask & Dime Detective are the brand leaders, with Hammett & Chandler. Every other title is following in their footsteps. Think of the CRIME DOES NOT PAY comic & the many imitators that it spawned. Black Mask & Dime Detective were not the first Crime pulps, but they were the best, however you should give Detective Fiction Weekly & Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine a look for some hidden gems too.

    Weird Tales in about the only true literary Horror title in the pulp format. I should mention Strange Tales, but it only lasted seven issues. Everything you have heard about Weird Tales is true & you should make the effort to have some of these in your collection !
    The Spicy, Terror, Horror & Dime Mystery type pulps are judged by their covers today & nothing else. They did have some good authors who gave their readers what they wanted, but they do not hold a candle to Weird Tales. They focus on gore & torture, but the results are very tame compared to modern ‘gore’ movies. They are fun, if you do not take them too seriously.

    The general fiction pulps are only just beginning to be recognized & are slowly beginning to gain a new audience. The King of the Hill for me is ADVENTURE, which just kicks ass ! Some of these stories are world class & should be better known than they are .General fiction pulp covers
    range from bland to great, but you should not rate these guys by their cover art. Argosy is a hard sell as it constantly ran serials, which can turn off new collectors. Most late twenties & thirties issues are not rare & can be picked up for reasonable amounts of money. With so many used book stores closing, we are left with ebay & comic book stores as our main sources for pulps & this is not good, as those venues generally charge WAY too much for their material. When I went to the PULPCONS back in the nineties, you could quickly see which dealers in the hall were comic book dealers primarily as their pulps were priced ten times higher than what the old-time enthusiasts were asking for them. I am not happy to pay $25.00 for a $4.00 Argosy- this does not seem fair at all !

    This began as a rant about incomplete comics, but now we have diverted to talking about pulps ! I will stop here before I am ejected. If you like your pulps, check out the PULP FLAKES blog which is awesome & also the writings of WALKER MARTIN on the MYSTERYFILE blog- this guy is a must read about collecting pulps. He is a one-man University course about collecting. Just read his words and learn !!!

    Walt, we need a post about the smell of old, well preserved paper. You know what I mean- you open an old book & that smell of warm vanilla [ or rotting acid ] hits you in the face. Which old books do you think smell the best. Come on kids, write down your thoughts. Spider- how do old books smell in Australia??? Let us know willya???

  16. Well, I beg to differ on interior art of the hero pulps as the Shadow has some terrific interior illustrations! I do have a copy in my pulp collection of the Weird Tales with The Black God’s Kiss cover by Margaret Brundage without a back cover…despite having a Conan chapter in it I got it for that iconic cover alone and got it cheap a number if years ago! I do like reading pulp stories but look for digital or reprint versions because of the fragility of the pulps themselves! Pulps incidentally can have all those imperfections that you don’t want in comics and still be considered very good ir fine! My best pulp, condition wise, is a Shadow from the 1942 with the famous Book of Death cover. It looks near perfect but the interior pages do have brown oxidation in the edges… otherwise quite crisp! I assume it would be called very fine… there is no NM in the pulp world!

  17. Gerald, I stand corrected. I was giving short schrift to interior art in many pulps. Blue Book, Weird Tales and a few others are certainly not the only pulps with good inside art. I’ve always appreciated Virgil Finlay, who was prolific in Famous Fantastic Mysteries to name only one title. His painted covers on those are wonderful, not to mention all the interior b&w art. They are still pretty cheap since the stories were all reprints. I just picked up a wonderful run of these in superb condition from a friend who passed away. Melding them into my own collection made me really appreiciate them all over again.

    Hannes Bok and Lawrence’s pulp interior work, among many others, is also wonderful. I do find it a bit hard to appreciate the fine line work when it’s printed on newsprint pages and then has aged into cream color. So I’m happy that small publishers have reprinted much of the Finlay and Hannes Bok and even the fine line work of Lawrence and Cartier and others on better paper, often from original artwork. Finlay needs high quality reproduction to be appreciated.

  18. I agree about Finley Bud! His work must have been a labor of love because I am sure he put a lot more work into his illustrations then he probably got paid! I also like reading some if the backup stories! In the Spider pulps they and an everyday yiddish hero who solved mysteries with his stereotyped ethnic friends that are a fun read although not politically correct for todays readers!

  19. Bud Plant’s pursuit of that incomplete Jackpot #4 really resonates with me. I acquired a coverless (but otherwise complete) copy of that book maybe 15 to 18 years ago on Ebay, as part of a lot of three or four coverless Golden Age books. I think I paid less than $35.00 for the group. I kept watching on Ebay for an incomplete copy to be offered, just as long as it had an intact cover. Not that long after I picked up the coverless copy (but still at a time when a complete copy in Good had already rather rapidly risen in OPG to about $300.00, as I recall), that pages-missing copy I was hoping to find was actually offered on Ebay. I bid on it aggressively, or so I thought. But I was outbid by more than a hundred bucks (a lot bigger money in funny books then, as opposed to now). And I have not seen another missing-pages copy since. I missed that recent Heritage listing, but I wouldn’t have pulled that trigger at anything close to that closing price for an incomplete copy anyway.

    When it comes to incomplete comics I put coverless books in a different class than books with missing pages. Absent a marrying-purpose I would never intentionally buy a book with missing pages. And I can count my marrying-purpose purchases over the last 53 years in the hobby on the fingers of one hand. But the coverless books were always appealing to me, especially in lots. I liked that I could read them in bed or a comfy chair, and not worry much about banging them up. The stories were fully readable, most of the time, as only a few comics contained story content on the inside covers or back cover (some Dells excepted). And I have found that they have some (modest) resale value, too, mostly for like-minded collectors, I’d guess.

    My fondness for the coverless books probably dates to an early visit to the Salvation Army store in Rockford, Illinois, in 1968, just as I was first finding myself in comics fandom. They had a couple piles of coverless comics from the mid-50’s, and I bought the non-humor titles for 5 cents apiece. Not great stuff, really, but a fair number of suspense titles, and specifically including a Jerry Drummer Charlton comic, a few Charlton crime comics, a Space Adventures #9, and a Captain Flash #1. I remember taking the lot to L & M Books (in Rockford, too) in 1970 to trade for Marvels I wanted. That’s when I first learned that coverless comics had no trade-in value, at least in those days, and so I hauled them back home, disappointed. Larry Simeons (I hope I spelled that right) was the owner of L & M Books, a classic stuff-everywhere used book, smut, and vintage comic shop located in a storefront shop near the seedy part of State Street; in the back was “Angela’s Comic Museum” (named for the owner’s infant daughter), which dazzled me with bins full of Golden Age comics, and its terrific display of early comics around the perimeter, just below the ceiling. There was a complete set of Fawcett’s Nickle Comics among them. I had never seen anything like this stuff in person; I was awed. Anyway, even though Larry didn’t want my coverless books, I found buyers for them eventually, years later, and I still pick them up when the price is right. If you’re lucky you’ll find a few in a coverless lot that merely had the covers wrapped around the book, so that the exposed front and back would only show interior pages, giving the appearance at a cursory glance of being coverless, but actually being complete copies. I’ve acquired a few lots over the years with quite a few of those (the largest quantity being 22 books purchased in a larger lot as (and appearing to be) coverless that actually were fully intact). So, you know, there’s that, too.

    I should add that I don’t view any of my coverless comics as being “in” my collection. I own them. I read them. I like them. But none stands as a satisfactory substitute for a complete has-all-its-pages-and-both-covers copy. They’re cheap (or used to be), you can read them, and most likely someone will want them when you’re done with them, someday. At least I hope so.

  20. “I should add that I don’t view any of my coverless comics as being “in” my collection. I own them. I read them. I like them. But none stands as a satisfactory substitute for a complete has-all-its-pages-and-both-covers copy.”

    Mike Weng- no truer words have ever been spoken ! I feel exactly the same way. These books are not part of my collection- they are just hanging
    around my house. I do not keep them with my good stuff, they are in another box somewhere.

    I miss being able to go to a show & inspect every book that I want to buy. That was part of the process & part of the fun of collecting. Now we are at the mercy of online sellers who are not always careful & send out books that they have not checked thoroughly. Even Heritage Auctions has sent me a few books with undisclosed missing pages or coupons cut & I have had to push for a refund. Every book that I have received from Heritage or favourite sellers on ebay that has arrived incomplete has been refunded. Heritage & the couple good sellers on ebay that I trust have been good about compensating me for their errors, but I do not feel good to go through this process. I hate pushing for a refund. It would not be necessary if they just took the trouble to properly flip through their books. I end up with free books that are not complete & force me to bid for them again the next time they show up for sale. I should say that Heritage does not allow you to keep any defective books- part of their refund process is that you send the defective lot back to them at their expense. Thankfully, I have not experienced this too many times- I guess maybe 10 books over the last decade, including about six from the same ebay seller who’s staff can not count to 52, let alone 68 ! I am talking about single books here, books that were listed by themselves, not group lots which have included some incomplete books.

    I am amazed that I have not yet received a single pulp from ebay that has proven to be incomplete ! I am dealing with some really good dealers when I make my purchases & have not had the misfortune of receiving a lemon. I did get that box of Argosy’s from Heritage a few years back, but they did state that some books may be incomplete. It bums me out that most of the books in that box that were incomplete happened to be issues with Burroughs Tarzan chapters removed ! Such is life ! Financially, the box was well worth what I paid though, as individual prices [ plus shipping ] through ebay or elsewhere for those issues that were complete would have been far higher.

  21. Mike, I agree with you about coverless vs pages out. While I am often very happy to buy a rare coverless book, just to have a copy, I see many listed which also have the first leaf or even two leaves gone, and I draw then line there. That’s two strikes you are out.

    My coverless story…A friend and I (Mal Huntley, who’s collection has been selling via Heritage now for several months) bought a large Timely collection many years ago, and that got me back into going after Timelys…that was good, considering prices today. He happily let me have a VG but otherwise coverless Captain America #1. We valued it around $400 in the deal; he doesn’t collect any coverless books.

    I sold it a few years ago via Heritage, and I got $9000 hammer price out of it, and they got the buyer’s premium of $1800. I always thought I should get a nice repro cover wrapped around it, but never did. It did have a xerox cover on it. Mal likes to tell that story now, with kudos to me. I loved that book, and eventually I got copies as nice as restored VFN of #1-10, but that’s as close as I ever got to affording a #1.

    When Jaime Graham and Terry O’Neill got the Jerome Wenker collection…every DC comic except 22 from the beginning, New Fun #1, to the 1990s…I bought many coverless very early DC books that Wenker had, with xerox covers, Rate stuff like More Funs before #75, with The Spectre and also pre-hero, Adventures before #75 with the first Sandman stories and also pre-Sandman, back to New Adventure with Siegel and Shuster’s pre-Superman strips like Doctor Occult and Federal Men…books that are so hard to find in ANY condition. Even Wenker had to settle for them.

    Sure, I’d like complete copies. But hey, I have all the stories now. They are also perfect to scan and post online for the siites that do that, making some of this rare material available for folks read or study. I occasionally loan my books like that to Craig Yoe or Dave Armstrong to scan for projects, such as the Before Superman book with all the a Leo O’Mealia work.

    Centaur, Comic Magazine Company, Ultem…titles from these publishers are so very tough to find in any condition. I’m happy to score a copy for 25 or even 50 per cent Guide for a copy in Good condition, which these days means a nice copy, it’s priced at 2x or 3x guide…

  22. Perhaps the most verbiage ( in a good way) of a comment section in Comicbookdaily history? What a great read and great fun for me. Thank you guys. I too enjoy the pulps, but I hate seeing the paper quality dissolve before my eyes, as I handle the books.

  23. I was wondering if anyone here has discovered the ‘pulpcovers.com’ website. 1,404+ pages of nice pulp covers. Wow, great stuff.

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