Undervalued Spotlight #138

True Crime Comics, Vol. 1 #2, Magazine Village (May 1947)

There was this great crime comic collection I bought back in the late 1980s. The collection consisted of 300 or so crime comics, much of the stuff I’d never seen before. There were some great titles like Crime on the Run (which the guide did not even know existed back then), Gangsters and Gun Molls, Crimes by Women and more. This was a treasure trove of crime comic books.

I didn’t know much about the genre back then but I started learning fast.

One of the 1st comics that sold out of the collection was a solid copy of True Crime Comics #2. In hindsight I let it go waaaay to cheap. As fate would have it I don’t recall ever owning another copy of True Crime Comics #2.

Check out the Overstreet Price Guide write up for the issue;

“Jack Cole-c/a; used in SOTI, pgs 81, 82 plus illo. “A sample of the injury-to-eye motif” & illo. “Dragging living people to death”; used in POP, pg 105; “Murder, Morphine and Me” classic drug propaganda story used by N.Y. Legis. Comm.

The “Murder, Morphine, and Me” story mentioned above was drawn (and supposedly written) by Golden Age giant Jack Cole, it is one of the most important published crime comic stories of the era; it features a young female drug addict who gets caught up with the wrong crowd. The most famous panel, the one used by psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham as exhibit A in his anti comic report for the US Senate (Seduction of the Innocent) has the girl’s eye being forcibly held open while one of the gangsters threatens to poke a huge hypodermic needle into it.

In the new world of CGC and internet auctions comics that hardly ever reach market are sometimes out of site/out of mind. Very few sales of this book have been recorded, the last sale I know of was a CGC 4.0 that sold earlier this month for $419.The guide value at 4.0 is $374.

That was one smart buyer, only 11 copies have been CGC graded to date and the top grade as of this post is a 7.5.

Comic collecting and investing is splintering into snagging individual comics of merit. Iconic comics should see even greater demand as new collectors seek out “important” pieces of comic book history. True Crime Comics #2 fits this bill, it is an iconic crime comic issue and it is currently and mistakenly being undervalued by the market.

The 42nd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $1,197/$2,049/$2900 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

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

  • Golden Age giant Jack Cole writes and draws this issue
  • Iconic crime story used in SOTI (Seduction of the Innocent)
  • Classic Cover
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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: 1600

6 Comments

  1. Walter – Thanks. I always learn a lot from your “Under Valued Spotlight” posts. You mentioned that “In the new world of CGC and internet auctions comics that hardly ever reach market are sometimes out of site/out of mind.”

    This may be very true of a little known comic from 1939, published just one year after the first appearance of Superman in Action #1, called “Sun Fun Komiks.”  Here is what I find interesting, although I am not certain of all the facts:

    * First parody on comic books
    * First picture of and reference to Hitler
    * First oversized comic
    * First 15 cent cover price
    * “Supersam” is first superman parody including an upended car alluding to Action#1.
    * First sidekick “Beelzebub” the wonder dog.
    * In a one-page gag, war planes drop copies of “Gus the Goon Comics” on a German town, and a running Nazi, as WWII propaganda. “Gus” apparently beat the other Golden Age heroes in going against the “Axis of Evil.”

    I wonder if this comic is way more significant than than than collector’s realize. As of today, CGC shows five graded copies.

  2. Good spotlight, Walt. The ’40-50s crime genre comics might be of interest even to sociologists, psychologists, and historians. They provide an interesting insight into the period’s attitudes to drug use, sex, morality, gender roles, censorship, and a lot of other topics that weren’t to be covered again in mainstream comics for years or even decades after the Wertham fiasco.

    Plus, many of these are probably close to extinction; I bet very few of them outside of the EC line have ever been reprinted, and we know from “Comic Book Confidential” that many crime and horror comics were purposely burned or otherwise destroyed around ’55. If Overstreet at one point didn’t know that a whole title even existed, how many of the individual issues or stories from the genre must be lost forever, or close to it?

  3. Great call on the Sun Fun Peter. The guide lists it as rare so it would be quite a coupe to own one. This is a great candidate for a future spotlight. Thanks.

  4. Thanks Thor. I remember looking up Crime on the Run and the guide had the title down but has the word – exists? I thought it was cool having the proof that it does indeed exist.

    You are right, these books are nasty and they actually helped bring down the industry in the 50s (Wertham), they make excellent historical study.True Crime #2 is near the top of the reference list.

  5. Walter – You might be interested to know that Sun Fun Komiks 1 is up for auction on eBay at a bargain price. I have already acquired a copy elsewhere, however I figured you wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Good luck.

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