The connection between rock music and comics is something not immediately apparent, but becomes more evident when you make the effort to notice the relationship. Whether it’s the appearance of famous rock bands and singers in comics (from Alice Cooper to the Beatles to Kiss) or the influence of comic books on famous rock stars (Elvis Presley was a comic fan), this blog post seeks to further explore the comic book-pop/rock music nexus.
Why should you seek out comics that feature rock music? Actually there are quite a few reasons. First, you may be a fan of a certain musician or band. Having their first comic book appearance might be a way to expand your collection of memorabilia. Second, since comics tend to have increased value when they are popular, having a famous rock star in an issue can act to increase the value of that particular comic and make it more collectible. Finally, you may simply enjoy a particular title and want the comic to complete your collection. Whatever the reason, there are some interesting comics out there with a connection to rock music. In this blog post, I’ll list some of the more notable rock comics going by era (I will limit my selections here to the 1950s and 60s, since there are actually quite a few ‘comics that rock’ in every era after the 50s, I’ll look at the 1970s and later in my next post).
1950s – The Birth of Rock in the Silver Age of Comics
In the mid-1950s Archie Comics had special issues devoted to both Bobby Darin and Elvis Presley. Archie’s Girls, Betty and Veronica #44 With an Elvis Photo, and issue #46 (Bobby Darin). Not enough sales data to calculate a FMV, but Overstreet prices for 2017-18 have issue #44 at $330.00 in near mint, and issue #46 at $295.00.
I’ll say more about Archie Comics and Music below.
Elvis himself was often seen reading comics, and he didn’t hide his love of Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. Elvis’s copies of Captain Marvel Jr can actually be seen in the attic of his Graceland Mansion.
Some have speculated that both his hairdo and his later stage costumes were inspired by Captain Marvel Jr, but there’s no evidence this is true.
The last sale of a copy of Captain Marvel Jr. #51 (with an Elvis looking hero) was back in 2014 when an 8.5 certified copy sold at Heritage auction for $137.43.
1960s – The Beatles and the British Invasion
After Elvis came the Beatles. When you think of the Beatles, you don’t immediately think of comics, but the Beatles made enough guest appearances in comic books to make Miss Lizzy Dizzy. The very first comic book appearance by the Fab Four was in a cameo in Jimmy Olsen #79 from September of 1964, but they quickly made appearances in books published by almost every major company. They showed up on the cover of Laugh #166 (Archie Comics) in DC’s Metal Men #12, in Jimmy Olsen again (issue #88), in the romance comic Girls’ Romances # 109 (June 1965) and there was a parody of the Beatles in Marvels’ Strange Tales #130 (March of 1965). But the most valuable Beatles comic is probably the Neal Adams drawn ‘Paul is Dead’ issue of Batman.
This comic, featuring Robin holding what appears to be the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album has a FMV in 9.8 certified grade of $4, 000.00 dollars.
Rarer still is probably this 1964 story about Beatle-mania published by Charlton.
This comic gives us an early look at Beatle-mania in comics viewed from an American perspective. This is a hard comic to find, but if you can get a copy, the last sale of a 6.0 on eBay was for $160.00 in January of 2018.
The later 1960s – Pop Rock and Related Trends: Hey Hey it’s the Monkees and the Archies have a hit single
Archie was no stranger to pop music (Sugar, Sugar anyone?), but did you know that Archie’s band had a connection to the Monkees? America’s answer to the Beatles in the 1960s was the pre-Fab-Four known as The Monkees. The Monkees, like the Beatles, appeared in comics. The Monkees comics were published by Dell. A 9.8 certified copy of The Monkees #1 sold for $717.00 all the way back in 2010. Groovy, man.
So what’s the Archie connection?
The Monkees were originally managed by Don Kirshner, until, that is, they rebelled and Kirshner went on to find pop music success with another manufactured band, this time from comics: The Archies (Archie Andrews guitar and vocals, Jughead Jones: drums, Betty Cooper: tambourine & backup vocals, Veronica Lodge on organ, and Reggie Mantle on bass guitar & backing vocals). First appearing on the ‘Archie Cartoon Show’ (Season Two in 1969), the band soon also began to appear in Archie Comics and of course managed to have the number one hit single of the year in the real world (Sugar, Sugar released July, 1969).
The Archies were actually, Ron Dante (lead vocals) Toni Wine (backup vocals), Andy Kim, and Ellie Greenwic. They are part of rock and comic history. Note also that the first appearance of the Archies band (Overstreet value NM = $30.00) is nowhere near as valuable as the first appearance of their biggest rivals, Josie and the Pussycats. They’ve also had their own comic appearances, and their own live action movie. Led by Josie McCoy, whose first appearance can be found in Archie’s Pals and Gals #23, the Pussycats Band first appeared in Josie #45 (December 1969)- First Pussycats, an 8.5 of this comic sold on Heritage in September of 2018 for $900.00. Jingle Jangle.
Next time: Glam Rock, Punk and Heavy Metal in Comics.