Undervalued Spotlight #465

Tomb Of Dracula #18, Marvel Comics, March 1974.

Man the pants I was sporting to school in 1974, light blue with heavily checkered dark blue overlays. I remember it was the summer of 1975 when I got my first pair of jeans… oh yeah, the Spotlight.

This week’s Undervalued Spotlight shines on one out of Walt’s all-time favourites pile, Tomb of Dracula #18.

I’m a fan of the big three Bronze Age horror titles that Marvel put out, Tomb of Dracula, Frankenstein Monster and Werewolf by Night. Werewolf by Night is probably my favourite of the run but I often bow to how good Gene Colan’s art was in Tomb of Dracula.

Tomb of Dracula #18 gives us a stellar Gil Kane cover that deserves to be near the top of everybody’s Bronze Age cover must-have list. You get a fantastic action scene with the two principals, Dracula and Werewolf about to do battle, you get a beyond beautiful damsel in distress too and the whole scene is set against a menacing full moon. It’s a great cover and one that should flush out and rise to the top as more and more interest comes to all these Marvel horror titles.

The Marvel horror titles are gaining steam in the marketplace and the action now is on the first appearances, Blade appearances etc, we’ll soon see the better covers start to get more action, Tomb of Dracula will be one of these covers.

The market is soft on this book at the moment, I wish there were more CGC 9.8’s to buy up at $370, even better bargains are the CGC 9.6s selling for $145. Sometimes lack of availability can be a sign that prices are poised for a rise. Holders of the book don’t want to let it go for cheap causing pent up demand. I think the next one to auction will have good results. eBay might be a good place for a copy, maybe even at cons. If you are buying raw copies make sure you snag one that is crisp, clean with lots of gloss and a good register.

The 48th Overstreet price breaks for this book are $35/$63/$90 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

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

  • Great Gil Kane cover and great Gene Colan interior art.
  • The first part of a two-part crossover with Werewolf by Night #15
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
3 years ago

No question that this is a great cover but I am not on board with “undervalued”.

I never read this stuff back in the day – to me it was neither fish nor fowl. I either wanted superheroes or gory monster stuff (that you could only get in the b/w non-code magazines then). Also the typical Marvel “conflicted” was brought to the fore in these titles – bad guys who are really well-intentioned but can’t help themselves, etc. Not for me. At this point I’m still nonplussed by the little I know of the stories, but I can appreciate the books for their place in the history of comics. So I think a well-rounded collection should hold a few. Dracula always seemed particularly silly to me, so I went the route of Marvel Spotlight #2, which at this point seems to have been a decent choice.

I think the problem with this book is straightforward: it is a common non-key. This pick made me quickly look at something that I should have looked at years ago (although I had already intuited the result) – the ASM CGC populations from the early 1970s. A key milestone is that ASM #106 from March, 1972, is the last ASM issue to have a single-digit population of 9.8s. This sets a hazy boundary for me on Marvel collecting. Before about this time there presumably were few “serious” collectors of Marvels who would take great care of their books, but around this time the generation of kids who had been smitten by Marvel in the sixties now had the wherewithal to seriously buy and take care of these “collector’s items”. As is painfully obvious now, almost anything recognized at its creation as a “collector’s item” won’t appreciate well.

Adding to the problem is that Tomb of Dracula started the month after that ASM milestone, giving collectors the chance to buy the run from the beginning, and we know that in those days it was all about having the run. Looking at the populations of Tomb they appear to follow my thesis, maybe with a bit of a delay, so by 1973 there were plenty of people taking good care of their copies. As the grade distributions and prices make clear, there are plenty of NM copies out there, as there has been no financial incentive to have these graded. Tomb #10 is now the Hulk #181 of the series, so it gives you a clearer idea of what is out there.

Yes the cover is great but as this year’s exercise makes clear, there are many great covers to choose from. Aside from a long-defined core set of common “must-have” covers (the Adams Batmans are a prime example), very rarely will another book be recognized as such, and I think there are many many better ones (and scarcer ones) to point to.

I can imagine other low probability events helping this book, principally Disney looking to resurrect the fifties horror fad with a modern twist through these characters, but that’s not the argument for the pick.

As with a number of other common “Undervalued” picks, I still think the book is very cool, but it simply isn’t worth paying up for. Add this one to the bin picking list and look for an extra-beautiful copy. With 9.4s to be had for $80, I’d say set a ceiling for yourself at $20. The way people price raw books, good luck with that, but them’s the simple economics.

Verdict: Common by day, common by night.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
3 years ago

I suppose I was with Chris…BACK in the day… and I was into superheroes and thought all this gothic malarkey was a passing fad. As I grew older I came to realize what. Fan I was of Colen and have bern working on a run if Tomb. while I have the Werewolf Spotlight, I only have a few other of the creature in his own title and thought him the weaker of the two characters. Frankenstein barely registers as I was never a fan of Ploog. I have this issue of the crossover, but as I am strictly a raw collector I can only say mine is probably fine. If a cinematic version of Dracula becomes part of the MCU then I can see some movement on this book… otherwise I think its for niche collectors like me.

Chris Ferreira
3 years ago

If we’re just going off the cover, I like Werewolf By Night 15 much better. It’s a classic Ploog cover that pops if you can find one with great color.

3 years ago

While I like the spirit of the pick, Walt, I net out with the others — no real reason here to see upside of any significance, so hard to see it as undervalued. I think a better bet from this era and genre right now is Fear #24, Morbius vs Blade.

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
3 years ago

I agree this is an under valued and under collected area yet remaining in comics. Despite not liking this period of mild horror comics at the time…I now love it as an adult. I see this akin to the early 1950’s horror period and that it will grow in favor in time. The various cross overs of the various monsters hero/ villains alone, is awesome. And the fact that there are also Giant sized titles in the 1970s runs, makes this even more desirable. Great call Walt