Kirby’s Demon Unchained

by Norman Robinson III

123711_e258f8cc2b539ba462c2a2d42892def42762348b-204x300 Kirby's Demon UnchainedThe forgotten comics from the Bronze Age are finally turning a profit. Jack Kirby’s creation The Demon #1 (1972) is such an issue. This book has languished in the $1 bin for decades. Finally, in the last seven years, The Demon #1 has escaped the bargain bin hell. Now it has taken its place among the Bronze Age curiosities that have become both vintage and valuable. Etrigan the Demon is Jason Blood, a knight of King Arthur’s Camelot. He is cursed by Merlin to walk the earth forever inside a demonic body. This book has exorcised its lack of interest and now is clawing up the ranks of Bronze Age popular comics. Kirby’s demon has been unchained from a dismal past that saw it as an irrelevant book in the age of Crisis, and Infinity events. Is The Demon #1 set to soar into heavenly profits or descend back into bargain hell?

The Demon #1

After several more series during the 1980’s and 1990’s Etrigan the Demon has gained a fan following as a “supporting character.” He has appeared in many big series over the years: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing to name two. Now The Demon #1 (1972)  created by Kirby (pencils, and script), is levitating from its previously obscure position as the world’s least sought after book. Our heroic knight, the Demon Etrigan, has been spirited out of price degradation and toward a vintage anti-hero status. The Demon #1 has clawed his way to the #113th ranking of most popular Bronze Age comics. This leap has been an astonishing 260 spots to his current rank. The FMV is $2500 for mint condition (9.8) of this issue (GoCollect).

The evil little secret of this creation of Demon #1 is that Kirby was exasperated when this oddball character caught on. He wanted to focus on the canceled Fourth World series. “Kirby had no interest in horror comics but created Etrigan the Demon in response to a demand from DC for more horror (Source: M. Evanier and Wiki). DC Comics forced him, so why not a demon? The Prince Valiant comic strip inspired Kirby’s creation of The Demon #1. DC forced him to create 16 more issues of this super-hero of horror. After, birth by Kirby; he has been a bit player in many of the favorite storylines over the past thirty years. For quite a while he would team up with Batman, and the two would defend Gotham as a duo.

This immortal Arthurian Knight is doomed to an eternity in sad repose, very similar to the depressing returns on this erstwhile comic in the last century. Kirby may not have wanted us to read and enjoy Etrigan the Demon as much as we have. In fact, removal of this demon from his creator (Kirby) is probably what led to the Demon’s longevity. Writers such as Garth Ennis have more to do with this characters current popularity and a slight uptick in the rankings. He did about twenty issues and created a new character called Hitman from this endeavor in the 1990’s.  All respect to Kirby though who defined comic art for generations of artists and cemented Marvel’s iconic status.

The Demon has been unchained and set loose on the hoard of speculators in May. The current returns have been stable over the last ten years: grade (9.6) up +25%, grade (8.0) up +25.7%, and a very fine minus (7.0) has returned +31.2%. The profit here is good, but I wouldn’t call it supernatural ROI. These returns represent very ordinary vintage comic profits. I couldn’t find any movies or series involving this character online. There was a Justice League Dark animation film in 2017 but no other mention. There is nothing close to a catalyst for this book. With no catalyst, some movement up the ranks of Bronze Age comics, and pretty average vintage returns; there is no need to run out and purchase The Demon #1 in a messianic zeal. Just watch and wait like some medieval gargoyle standing post, when the price drops pick up a copy.


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