Silver Age Gold – ‘Gold Key’ comics from the 1960s

by Blaise Tassone

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About a month ago I blogged about the Gold Key Star Trek comics, many of which are still very valuable to collectors and, as a consequence, generate healthy returns on investment.

Today, I want to look at some other Silver Age titles from the Gold Key catalogue. These are comics that can fetch high prices in good grade but still manage to fly under the radar of the average collector.

To clarify, the following are all comics published by Gold Key publishers from 1962 to 1967 (the Silver Age). Gold Key, along with their subsidiary publishing division ‘Whitman’, was actually active from 1962-1984, and throughout that period was owned by Western Publishing and Lithographing Co., based in Poughkeepsie, New York.

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Western Publishing, in the early days, would outsource their comic book publications to Dell for printing. That changed in 1962 and this fact accounts for all of the reprints of Dell classic and four color comics you’ll find under the Gold Key/Whitman logo.

 
 

Some of Western’s earliest efforts in the comic format are, however, also notable. I would especially cite Golden Picture Story Book #ST-1 (December 1961), a treasury-sized comic containing all-new stories and art, but with Hanna-Barbera characters, as worth looking out for. This comic was designed and produced less than a year before the first Gold Key label comics were released. At the time it was quite innovative too, since it made use of some creative format elements such as border-less panels and balloons without outlines. Furthermore, it had a low distribution which doesn’t hurt its value.

In what follows, however, I’ll be looking only at the official ‘Gold Key’ publications, and I will also purposively avoid titles, such as Turok, Son of Stone or Tarzan, since these were largely reprints of earlier Dell publications.

Space Family Robinson #1 (December 1962) – Low distribution; Dan Spiegle art

I’ll start with an early Gold Key publication. “Danger, Will Robinson!” maybe you grew up watching reruns of the old ‘Lost in Space’ 1965 TV show with Billy Mumy and Jonathan Harris on late night television, like me, or you found out about it from the 1998 movie with Matt LeBlanc, or the recent Netflix remake, then you can’t help but have good feelings about the Space Family Robinson. Well, some people are willing to take their good feelings to the next level and seek out the comic that later became the first Lost in Space TV show. With a script by Del Connell and art by Dan Spiegle, this comic frequently sells for well above Overstreet prices. An 8.5 sold for $597.50 on Heritage action April 23, 2017. Also, like many of the earliest Gold Key publications, this comic had a low distribution.

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Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. #1 (February 1963) – First Magnus

Russ Manning’s seemingly omnipresent figure in comics was first published by Gold Key in 1963. Killer Robots, someone who fights them, what’s not to love! This comic in 9.0 sold for $3,275.00 on a Comiclink auction on August 29 of this year. Yup, Magnus is hot. Best returns are also on 9.0 with a positive + 204.5% return on investment over the last eight years.

Jonny Quest #1 (December 1964) – First Jonny Quest in Comics

Saturday morning cartoons taught me that Jonny Quest was the adventurous son of a brilliant scientist. In Gold Key tradition, this Hanna-Barbera cartoon was turned into a comic in 1964. The comic retells the first episode of the series and was a one-off. But Jonny Quest would continue to be published in comics later by other companies (notably the extended run by Comico). The Gold Key first appearance can fetch over a thousand dollars, as can be seen from the Ebay sale of May 25, 2015 when a 9.4 certified copy sold for $1,187.80. Best returns, however, are on 7.0 copies, with a positive +243.2% roi and with the last sale going for $300.00 in May of 2017.

Space Ghost #1 (March 1967) – First Space Ghost in Comics

Yet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon turned into a one-shot comic book by Gold Key. Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey are all there, and the comic faithfully captures the spirit of the 1960s cartoon. A 9.6 graded copy of the Gold Key Space Ghost comic sold for $1,792.50 on Heritage auction way back in July of 2012. Today that grade would have a fair market value closer to $4,900.00 according to GoCollect.com. Not bad for a comic based on a 1960s cartoon program.

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