Often Imitated: Crime Suspenstories #22

by Sarah Thomas

100322B-1024x536 Often Imitated: Crime Suspenstories #22“This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman’s head up, which has been severed from her body. Do you think that’s in good taste?” Fans of Crime Suspenstories #22 know this story well – and they know that it’s in perfect, snarky taste for a perfectly delicious cover.

Once called the “most notorious cover illustration” of all time, Johnny Craig’s artwork for E.C. Comics Crime Suspenstories #22 was the centerpiece of the Senate Committee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.

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The cover of the book became the focal point of Senator Estes Kefauver’s questioning of  E.C. Comic’s publisher William Gaines. When asked if he thought the cover was in good taste, Gaines replied:

“Yes, sir, I do…for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that blood could be seen dripping from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.”

Have you read the synopsis for this story? EC Comics Wiki reads, “A man dismembers his wife and buries the pieces in his back yard. He and his lover, who has had plastic surgery in order to stand in for his wife, get tickets to a quiz show called ‘Treasure Hunt’. They are chosen as contestants and the host tells him that they’re digging up his backyard in order to hide the prize money.”

It’s safe to say that this happy little tale drew plenty of attention, even without the eye-catching cover. But what a cover it is!

This iconic cover has inspired a slew of homages by plenty of artists. 

Wolverine #55 (Variant Cover)

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Greg Land’s 2007 Wolverine variant is by far the most often purchased on this short list. The CGC 9.8, with 260 copies registered in the census, routinely sells for well over $200 and warrants a healthy FMV of $240. In fact, a Sig Series 9.4 sold for a whopping $400 a year ago.  

Stray Dogs #1 (JJ’s Comics & Art Edition)

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Stray Dogs is certainly no stranger to the homage cover, and the JJ’s Comics & Art Edition does not disappoint. With very few listed on the CGC census (17; 1 Universal, 16 Sig Series), it’s seen a high sale of $215 (SS 9.8, 1/28/22) and a most recent sale of just $75 (SS 9.8, $75, 7/17/22). 

This variant was released exclusively at JJ’s Comics & Art, with ta certain number of copies sold through the store and the rest offered as a convention exclusive at Siouxpercon that year.

Exciting Comics #1 (Golden Age Homage Edition)

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Only 300 copies of Mike Rooth’s Exciting Comics #1 (Golden Age Homage Edition) were printed and distributed, making this one a rare find at auction. This one also heralded the return of Exciting Comics in stores for the first time in 70+ years. 

Only 11 copies have made it to the CGC census, with 10/11 achieving 9.8 status and one falling to 9.6. This one isn’t a moneymaker by any stretch, but it’s a fun addition to a collection of homage covers.

Locke & Key #3

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Even though Locke & Key #3 isn’t a popular buy, with only 3 sales taking place at auction since its release in 2009, Gabriel Rodriguez’s art is too rad not to mention here. Yet to clear $100, if you’re completing a collection of homages to Crime Suspenstories 22, it’s definitely a tough find.

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There is also a sketched Retailer Incentive variant of this comic, which has a whole 20 copies listed on the census. The SS 9.6 sold for as much as $150 in 2020.

Honorable Mentions…

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Which homage cover is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Want more cool cover coverage?

Upgrade2_Footer Often Imitated: Crime Suspenstories #22*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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