Undervalued Spotlight #106

Pep Comics #36, MLJ Magazines, February 1942

This is the 3rd time I’ve chosen a Pep Comic. Undervalued Spotlights #81 and #5 both featured great Pep issues and Pep #36 belongs right up there with them as far as I’m concerned.

Pep Comics #36 is 68 pages of classic Golden Age comics featuring among other tidbits a 13 page Hangman story, a 12 page Shield story and a 6 page Archie story scripted and penciled by Bob Montana called “The 3-11 Club”.

Most importantly for this issue it features Archie Andrews on the cover, the 1st Archie cover in Pep Comics and I believe the 2nd Archie cover ever.

Correct me if I’m wrong but Archie Comics #1 was a Winter 1942/43 issue while Archie #2 was a Spring 1943 issue making our February 1943 Pep #36 the second cover.

First off I want to stress the importance of Archie Andrews to comic books. Archie became a truly viable competition to the super hero genre (and to the funny animal genre) well before the advent of the crime, horror and romance comics of the late 1940s.

Archie is still a viable force today, 70 years later. Today Archie Comics is pushing social boundaries all the while steadily growing the already deeply entrenched Archie brand. Archie has a bright future.

As of this post comicvine.com charts Archie’s published appearances at 4,579 putting him in 14th place all time, Veronica Lodge at 4,318 appearances is 16th (she’s also 1st all time for female characters) while Betty Cooper at 4,278 appearances is 17th.  Because I know you want to know comicvine lists Superman as the character with the most published appearances at 8,006. Only 7 superheroes and 7 Disney characters have appeared in more comic books than Archie and his gals. Again these are immensely important and obviously immensely popular characters.

Did I mention that Archie is one of the most important comic book characters ever created. Much like Superman he spawned legions of imitators.

Let’s get to the undervalued part.

I did a little number game and compared Pep #36 to Action Comics #7 (Superman’s 2nd cover). Right away I’d argue that Pep #36 has one thing that Action #7 doesn’t have and it’s that Pep #36 s the 1st of the original title to have an Archie cover. Action Comics #7 is the 2nd of the original Action title to have a Superman cover. OK think if Superman #1 was published as the 1st Superman cover and Action #7 was the 2nd. Would Action #7 be worth even more than it is now? I think it might. Now go one step further and ask would a comic like Detective Comics #27 be worth as much if it had a gangster cover with a 6 page Batman 1st appearance story buried somewhere in the back? My point is that comics are a very visual collectible. Covers are very important.

All prices are for the 9.2 grades as listed in the Overstreet guide. Bear with me.

Action #7 lists at $125,000 or 10 times more than the next issue Action #8 ($12,500). By comparison Pep #36 lists at $5800 or only 3.86 times more than Pep #37 ($1,500). I see an appreciation in value for Pep #36.

Pep #36 is a hard book to get! Copies are harder to find than copies of Archie Comics #1. There are only 13 CGC graded Pep #36 issues and the best grade is a CGC 7.0 while the relatively more available Archie #1 has 20 CGC graded with the best copy being a CGC8.5 which sold for $167,300 last February..

The last recorded sale of a Pep Comics #36 was a CGC 7.0 and that only fetched $3,600 back in October 2009. I wish I’d bought it!

Archie is one of those characters that history is looking favorably upon. Everything Archie is hot today and I look for that trend to continue. While comics like Pep #22 and Archie #1 are getting all the press and are also getting out of reach price wise I recommend we hunt out gems like Pep Comics #36. By no means a sleeper this book still has a whole lot of appreciating to do.

The 41st edition of the Overstreet Price Guide shows $2317/$4059/$5800 as the splits at the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grades.

Strengths that make this comic book a good long-term investment are:

  • 1st Archie cover in his original title
  • 2nd Archie cover ever?
  • Extremely rare
  • Archie’s future looks bright
  • Archie as a franchise in on the upswing
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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Stephen B. Keisman
Stephen B. Keisman
12 years ago

Right on the mark Walt! I have a Pep36 missing a CF,
And I’ve been looking for another copy up to about FN
for 30 years!! Real tough book!

Stephen B. Keisman
Stephen B. Keisman
12 years ago

Walt,the missing cf is part of the Captain Commando and the Boy Rangers story by Irving Novick. The whole
issue is packed with great art and action when the MLJ
SH.’s pulled all out against the Axis powers, and of
course that great Archie cover!!