The 12 issues of Suspense Comics (1943-1946) are now considered Golden Age classics. Suspense Comics, which was originally published under Frank Z. Temerson’s Continental imprint. It was a series that dealt with themes in the Detective/Mystery genres. Today these pre-code classics are collected mainly for the illustration talent connected to the title’s short run.
The record sale of a single issue is currently a 9.2 Edgar Church Pedigree copy (CBCS certified) that sold on May 5, 2018, for $272,000 which officially makes Suspense Comics #3 (April 1944) the most valuable non-superhero comic book in the world.
Before the record-breaking May 2018 sale, an August 27, 2015 auction of a 9.0 copy of Suspense Comics #3 ended at $173,275. Some might not understand why this comic fetches such high prices. Overstreet 2019 (49th edition), for example, currently lists it as the number 25 of their top 100 Golden Age books. The reason is, basically, its a standout cover.
Suspense Comics #3 features a Nazi/Bondage/Horror/War hybrid cover by the great Alex Schomburg. A 2018 sale of a lowly 1.0 copy for $21,000, indicates the upswing in value is holding.
Nonetheless, when I think of Suspense Comics, I more frequently conjure up the artwork of Leonard Brandt (L.B.) Cole. Cole drew the majority of the covers for Suspense Comics.
Born in New York City in 1918, Cole became a comic illustrator after studying anatomy and physiology in Europe. Cole’s work has been described as ‘kaleidoscopically brilliant’ and, over the course of his career, he illustrated more than 1500 covers. His versatility and the uniqueness of his art are what mark many of his contributions as singular and outstanding.
Many Golden Age aficionados would place Cole’s cover for Suspense Comics #8 (June 1945) in the former category. One of Cole’s influences was classical art (he cited Rembrandt as a strong influence). The use of shadows in Cole’s cover for Suspense Comics #8 may have been an homage to the late great Dutch artist. The Spider-skull motif and the Satan story were both also instant classics augmenting these books appeal among collectors. Currently, there is a 7.0 copy of Suspense Comics #8 up for auction at Heritage. In the past, copies of this comic have sold for just under $2,000, but the last recorded auction sales in these grades were around ten years ago. Expect the values on this comic to have more than doubled since then. Overstreet currently has 6.0 copies listed at $1,410 and in 8.0 that jumps to $3,431. These prices underrepresent its current value considerably. A 4.0 of Suspense Comics #8 sold on eBay on September 1, 2019 for $1,499. This was almost double the current Overstreet values for that grade ($940)
In addition to Suspense Comics #8 that is currently up for auction, Suspense Comics #11 is also up for auction. Three sales are listed for the 8.5 grade on GoCollect. The highest being sold for $9,560 in August of 2007. Keep watch on the auction to see what Suspense Comics #11 will sell for.