Undervalued Spotlight #418

Two-Fisted Tales #35, EC Comics, October 1953.

Sometimes the weirdest things lead me to a spotlight pick. I’ll often try to think of a good pick for the moment, be it a Valentine-themed pick or a Christmas-themed one, I’ve even done Canadian books around Canada day and I think I once did a Kirby book around his birthday.

Like many of us, I’ve been enthralled by the lead-up to the American mid-term elections, which are taking place today. Seats are being contested in both the Senate and the House and the results could affect the abilities of the current administration to govern the way it wants to.

I don’t pretend to know a thing about politics, what I do know is that I’m a massive fan of the good ole US of A. I know that America has been the global engine of creativity and innovation for over a century largely due to it being this big melting pot that when working the way it should allow diverse cultures to mix, exchange ideas and come up with stuff that no other place in the world can come up with. Since I don’t live under a rock I’m well aware of the divisiveness that is so prevalent in American society today.

So with all that rushing through my head, I tried to find a comic that in some way captured the political polarization so prevalent south of my border. It didn’t take me long to stumble upon this week’s Undervalued Spotlight, Two-Fisted Tales #35.

Two-Fisted Tales #35 is a comic printed in 1953 and has a well-drawn cover by the great Jack Davis depicting a heroic scene from America’s Civil War, the costliest war in American history in terms of dead and wounded.

What makes Two-Fisted Tales #35 a book that should be noticed is that it depicts a heroic scene from the Confederate side with the Confederate flag dominating the cover.

There are few more divisive symbols in American society than the Confederate flag for obvious historical reasons. Again I’m not going to pretend I know anything about the day-to-day politics of the USA but I do know that what the Confederate flag symbolized and stood for is wrong and that American society has a difficult time ahead reconciling its turbulent past.

Confederate monuments are being taken down or defaced, even in popular culture things like the rebel flag draped car from Dukes of Hazard, the General Lee, has had its Confederate flag taken off. Can a comic book like Two-Fisted Tales #35 also meet some sort of social backlash?

Oftentimes publications and items depicting people or symbols that end up on the wrong end of history become desirable collectibles. Time Magazine covers depicting WWII dictators or symbols associated with malevolent political movements are sought-after items.

I think Two-Fisted Tales #35 is a book that can potentially find itself isolated for the wrong reasons much like past caricatures of ethnic groups in American comics can be looked at with disdain while at the same time be sought after as collectibles thanks to the stigma attached to the book.

Two-Fisted Tales #35 can easily be found on eBay, most are mid to lower-grade raw issues that can be bought for less than $100.

The 48th Overstreet price break for this book is $248/$399/$550 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • Jack Davis Confederate Flag cover
  • Divisive symbolism
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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Chris Meli
5 years ago

Crazy – “Wave that Flag” by The Bottle Rockets randomly showed up on my Spotify playlist this evening – while I might have heard it before, it’s certainly been many years.

I will just go semi stream-of-consciousness on this one because I don’t have much feeling for Two-Fisted Tales.

I think the argument is interesting and the book is a cool conversation piece, but I don’t think the Confederate flag is similar to a swastika in the U.S. public mind. (Whether or not it should be is another discussion, but it does seems that slavery is viewed more benignly than genocide in the general historical moral context.) Even more importantly, I don’t think a swastika in comics is taken to symbolize what it symbolizes in the broader public mind. In comics it means Hitler in company with the Joker and Darth Vader – a really bad baddie who has a lot of really bad henchmen (Red Skull, Captain Nazi, etc.). There is none of this for the Confederate flag. So I think you are instead playing at the level of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (sorry if I stole your thunder for next week). In fact I think you are even below this, because the cover seems fairly historical and doesn’t really seem to glorify the Confederacy in any way.

(As an aside, it seems to me that the Marvel’s SJW storylines actually address currently far more divisive subject matter than the Confederate flag. The part of the U.S. bordering on your country probably doesn’t care much for the Confederacy, but a lot of people in those northern U.S. climes care a lot about immigration and inclusiveness issues.)

So because I am not buying the symbol non grata idea, I have to say no to undervalued in general. Aside from that hook, this falls into one of my most boring categories of comics – realistic historical fiction. Okay, so maybe not too realistic, but this isn’t Sgt. Rock as a near superhero wielding a tank barrel. No superheroes, monsters, aliens, scantily clad women, etc. – snore. I didn’t buy this sort of thing when I was ten years old, and I’m not buying it now.

I’ll throw one bone. It looks like there are three 9.2s, no 9.0s, then 7 8.5s. While I’m betting that there are a lot of decent copies up to those 8.5s that have not been graded, I think those 9.2s are going to be special (at least two are Gaines copies). The last GPA sale for one of these was $825 in 2017, and given EC/Gaines/1953/Confederate flag, that sounds too low to me. Otherwise not interesting, particularly below a 6.0, as like you say, there are many available.

From October 1953 I will take Detective #200 instead, thank you very much.

5 years ago

I found this issue as a reprint in a flea market in Munich and have read it many times. I would say this is a good pick not for the flag but for the comic – compared to the famous EC horror titles, TFT is overlooked, yet this issue is terrific, with the same super-high quality of art and storytelling as the rest of the EC classics. EC are all undervalued because they are truly definitive of the comics genre, and if comics disappear in the future, people will look back and EC will stand out as the best of the lot!