Black Obsession

As any long-time collector of comics will tell you, sometimes we can be exhibit some pretty quirky collecting traits, likes and dislikes. I have known collectors who would only collect $0.12 covers, #1’s, by grade-mint comics only regardless of genre (now somewhere on a sandy beach…). There are of course many others that are bit more common like by title, artist, genre, and publishing company.

My first comic obsession came in the form of Amazing Spider-Man #28. It had a very black cover and finding one that didn’t show a myriad of flaws was the object of many comic collectors desire, in particular to hordes of Amazing Spider-Man fans like me. There were others though who wanted it for the tough to find black cover only. I had never met collectors like this before. They had Superman #199 and Famous Funnies #214 and proudly showed these off at the comic store. These didn’t even collect Spider-Man but they wanted Amazing Spider-Man #28 just for the black cover. I won’t go into all the details of how hard it was to find a nice copy of ASM #28 back then but it was tough. No internet, not many comic shops, lots of books stores that had an Amazing Spider-Man #28 but they were pretty beat up. You were lucky to find one in 5.0-6.0 grade. I did finally land a nice one at Now & Then comics in 1982 that graded out at 8.0 thirty years later.

A second comic obsession was also taking place for me in this same time period. Marvel’s bronze age comics featured picture framed covers in the 1971-1973 time frame. I think I can safely say the $0.20 regular size and $0.25 giant-size comics that had those picture frame covers and 20th Century font are my favourite comics to collect, despite being a committed silver-age comic collector. I was especially fond of the black covers that were reasonably plentiful back then and most could be found in high grade. Sometimes however you can get in too deep…

Once on a beautiful sunny summer day I was getting ready for a date with a girl (Sandy) I had only been out with a couple of times. She was going to meet me at my apartment when she was finished studying in the library. I was in full clean up mode. Comics out of their bags scattered all-over. I busy putting a few away when for some reason I noticed I had quite a few black picture-book covers out. Tomb of Dracula #2, Amazing Spider-Man #108, Iron Man #47, Amazing Spider-Man #104, Marvel Feature #3 and so on. I dug a out a few more, and then a few more, until I had made a square of twenty-five books on the floor in the landing of my upstairs apartment. It really looked cool! I was still busy admiring it when the door bell rang. Sandy had arrived about an hour early. I had a moment of frozen panic and then decided it was too late to do much but bring her in. I panicked because a twenty-two-year-old with a big comic collection was not as well accepted back in 1978 as it is today. It turned out I had nothing to worry about as she was a bit of an art student and loved the look too. She even thought I had made it just for her. Whew! We had a great day and a few others before she moved west looking for work and we lost contact, gone but not forgotten.

My obsession with black picture covers grew to all Marvel titles war, westerns, horror, wherever and at one point I had sixty-four covers, and I don’t even think I had them all. Finally, the fever broke and I came to my senses although the chase was fun for awhile. I still love black picture covers though and my wallet still quivers at the comic shop when I see one on the wall😊. Obsessions anyone?

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.

Articles: 101


  1. I’ve sold books to a guy who collected covers with motor bikes on them, and girl who collected wedding covers… both of who weren’t aware or cared about the key status of the books I sold them. Personally, I’ve been toying with the idea of chasing recalled books as they often have interesting back stories, as outlined on this site:

    But some of these recalled books are quite expensive and I’m not sure that I want to drop that kind of money just for “fun” considering it would be difficult to get that money back due to the niche interest.

    It’s interesting how the word of the local comic shop was gospel back in the day. As a kid growing up, what the stores said or believed about a book was pretty much reality. Of course, today the opposite is true. Change has a way of sneaking up on you.

  2. I identify with this obsession as I think it is a manifestation of a basic theme of collecting, which is the ownership of the unusual. Older black-cover (and I would say some other solid colors as well) issues are unusual in high grade.I share some of this obsession – Aquaman #11 was the first example that came to mind. My interest in the unusual goes more basically to scarcity in general. I am drawn to books that seem to be scarce in number regardless of grade – buying one of these I feel a nearly unique connection to the past, and I also feel like I am doing my part to keep the particular issue in good shape for future collectors. (Charlie might respond that there won’t be any.) Where black covers and fundamental scarcity intersect – now I am really interested. How about Wonder Woman #64? Or if you want to really go so hardcore that it will drive you to tears: Action #178.

  3. Conan DH #24 (nude cover, sorry breaking the clean rule there). I have more than a few of those stashed away. Not sure they’ll ever amount to much. Also Conan the Bartbarian #100 Death of Belit, Epic cover I have about 10 of those. I have many copies of Savage Sword of Conan #235 as well. Pure luck on that. It’s the last issue and low run. I also have multiple copies of Batman #251. The plan was to sell those… whoops! The weirdest one is the Dark Knight Movie 3.75″ action figure. I have hundreds. Don’t ask me why, I just really liked them so whenever I saw them I bought them.

  4. double covers…took cover off of double cover Silver age Avengers#59 and have regretted it ever since. I have about 10. My best is a Howard the Duck #8

  5. Charlton Romance from the 1970s – but they have to be painted covers.

    I think there are only 14 (I think) and I own multiples of all of them. One night – years ago I jumped onto a website that listed every Charlton title ever published, separated out all the Romance titles, separated out all the Romance titles that were still being published in the 1970s. Refined target list in hand I then jumped on to, visited each title, picked the “Large” image option and proceeded to hit “Next” for several hours weeding out those beautiful painted covers and producing my list of 14 books. I did all this because one day I was just sorting through and admiring my Charlton Romance books from this era and noticed that I loved the painted covers – something about them. Of course I was missing more than half of them but had lots of fun tracking them down.

  6. I have a couple of customers in the Vancouver area that collect books that have different insides than what is on the covers . my most recent sale of this type of book was Batman 26 ,new 52 era , that had a suicide squad story inside . I think this is even more rare than double covers !

  7. Great topic Mike. Hero for Hire 1 is another nice double whammy of black cover and Marvel frame era.

    Personally, I’m addicted 60s and early 70s abstract/psychedelic covers. Star Trek (gold key) 30, Falling in Love 99 and 121, and SHIELD 4, 5, and 7, come to mind. They are under radar and affordable.

  8. Hey Chris – They must be rare as I have never even seen one! How do you determine a price for book like that (what market will bear)?

    Darren I’m a big abstract/psychedelic cover fan too. The second UV spotlight I did for Walt featured Shield #4 & 5. They have moved up some since then, but they and they are still a bargain in my opinion.

    Hero for Hire #1 was a favourite of mine in the Marvel black framed covers collection. I should make up a checklist for them all . A dead of winter type project.

    Thanks for adding to the post guys.

  9. ArcRun , I’ve only seen 6 comics like that over the years . this Batman I priced it out at $20 CDN , it sold at the first show I showed it at ! all of those 6 books I bought new myself , first off the newsstands starting in the 70’s and later in comic shops !

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