Undervalued Spotlight #380

Planet Comics #46, Fiction House, January 1947.

I’ve noted it countless times but I’ll remind everyone again that covers have become a dominant driver of comic book value, trailing only 1st appearance issues in importance.

At the moment some of the hottest comics on the back issue market are the Good Girl Art (GGA) covers of the Golden Age. Attractive females on comic covers seem all the rage and if the female is tied up and about to come into harm the books become twice as hot. I won’t comment on what that says about our social norms but I will say collectors want these books.

The Golden Age of comics is a treasure trove of these covers, there has to be hundreds to choose from. The setting may change from warehouse to asteroid to dungeon to jungle and the peril may change from monsters to aliens to Nazis to gangsters but the motif stays roughly the same, girl tied up and boy coming to the rescue.

Why mess with a successful formula.

This week’s Undervalued Spotlight pick, Planet Comics #46, messes with that formula and turns it on its head.

Planet Comics #46 offers a dramatic cover featuring our hero Auro, Lord of Jupiter, tied up, helpless and being rescued by a beautiful, strong and heroic female. There are a few other examples out there of this cover dynamic but I have not found one that comes even close to portraying the classic “to the rescue” scene as Planet Comics #46.

I think this cover should be noticed and noted more, especially considering where we stand today in gender politics. I worry that the book could be easily overlooked because the gender roles are not “right” on the cover. I think that’s all the more reason to own a copy, it’s such a rare scene in comics and it is, from what I’ve seen, the most striking example.

The Guide has Planet #46 to #60 grouped in as one price. I think we’ll see some separation here over the next few years as collectors show their demand for the “better” covers, I also think #46 will separate itself from this field for it’s uniqueness.

The 47th Overstreet price break for this book is $518/$884/$1250 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • Bondage cover
  • Role reversal cover

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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6 years ago

You can almost put this entire series on undervalued spotlight. Such a great Golden Age series with a lot of amazing covers. I’ve only been able to snag one issue from it so far. Looking forward to getting some more.

Chris Meli
6 years ago

This is a really great book to pick for recognition. Of course this immediately takes me back to the pick of last October, Girls’ Love Stories #176, and how right you were and how wrong I was about what became #MeToo. But regardless of that episode I would have taken this pick more seriously – for all the reasons you cite, this book looks like a prime investment.

Before I respond on “undervalued”, I think you (and whoever else cites this book) are doing a service to the collecting community. It is apparent that the community, at least in terms of funds, is dominated by older white men. From a practical perspective, this is a bad setup for their investments in the hobby if collectors retire/die out without replacement. As you point out, the current dominant collecting group covets cover art that is disturbing or offensive from a modern perspective. Personally I don’t have a problem with this – I think that a valid reason for this attraction is that the art emphasizes the historical context of these books through stark contrast with modern sensibilities – but I can understand that it could be repulsive to many potential collectors. Broadening the coverage to point out books like Planet #46, which appear to have been challenging convention even at the time, is a step towards broadening the appeal of the hobby and increasing its longevity (and profitability!).

As you and others continue to point out, covers mean more and more these days, and this is a great cover. Not only that, but Planets in general have great covers, which I think adds to its attractiveness, as it isn’t like some odd book picked from an otherwise undistinguished run. As you note, it both follows the Planet formula (guy/gal/attackers) but at the same time upends it. (I took a look through early Wonder Woman covers for something similar to this, and surprisingly there isn’t much – the first cover closest to this is #73 – so maybe I like this pick because I have the Nova Scotia copy of that one.)

Further reasons to support this pick are of course that Golden Age is in demand across the board, and Planets are seeing a real upswing (I made notes on what I saw for sale when I went to the Baltimore show this year – not a decent Planet anywhere – people are holding on to these). (I don’t buy the “bondage cover” argument very much – these are prolific and I think that only blatant Code-violating bondage depictions such as on some EC covers provide some increase in value.)

From an investment standpoint I have to step back and think of the negatives as well, and I think that there are a few:

– The 1945-1950 period books tend to be less rare. There are six copies of #46 in 8.5, so there are probably a number of nice ungraded copies out there. This is not necessarily a problem – there are probably a lot more AF #15s than Planet #46s – but I try to pick undervalued rare books, because any future move will be magnified by scarcity.

– Planet is neither fish nor fowl in that it is not a long-running superhero book, nor is it an early book of this type (e.g. Weird Comics), nor is it EC. As something of an acquired taste, these can languish.

– While your premise is forward-looking, the current market is the current market. It will take some time and talking to raise awareness and get a broader group to value this book.

To finally judge whether it is undervalued, I comped it against neighboring “run” Planets. (I think it is fair to say that post-war Planets until the Whitman covers start are the “run” books.) It falls in line with these, being relatively more valuable than #44, #45, #47 (which have weaker covers even disregarding the subject matter), but less valuable than #48 (which has a giant robot cover). These results are good support for the argument that it is a bargain if the cover “message” is recognized.

Verdict: undervalued. However, I am not going to pursue – I have something very similar in my sights…