Supersnipe: The First Comic about Comics

by Blaise Tassone

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Golden Age comics are starting to receive some serious attention again. Many collectors are realizing that they make very good long term investments. Many have also noted how Golden Age comics regularly sell in auctions for far above Overstreet guide prices.

Unfortunately a lot of stories from the Golden Age are of low quality however, once in a while, you can run into a Golden Age comic that stands out as excellent. Jack Cole’s Plastic Man, is an example, most early Superman stories also. Among the many interesting and forgotten quality titles of the Golden Age, there was a popular satirical book from the 1940s that I think deserves more attention than it currently receives. That book is Supersnipe.

Published by Street & Smith from 1942 to 1949, Supersnipe may very well have been the first comic that thematized comic culture and made it a part of the subject matter of its stories.

You see, long before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were including themselves within the pages of early Fantastic Four, or Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck was pondering life’s vicissitudes in an existential way and Grant Morrison was breaking the fourth wall – there was Supersnipe.

Supersnipe was, in effect, a comic book about comics and how they related to life. In this sense, Supersnipe can be called the first ‘meta-comic’. Its stories therefore can be viewed as interesting historical commentaries on the comic obsessed American society of the 1940s.

Created by writer-artist George Marcoux, who – along with Percy Crosby – was responsible for the newspaper comic strip ‘Skippy’, Supersnipe made his debut in Shadow Comics v2 #3.

The premise was fairly straightforward. Kooppy McFad is the ultimate fan boy. Described as “the boy with the most comic books in the world”, when Koopy dreams he becomes Supersnipe.

The implication, apparently, was that Koopy was going on imaginary snipe hunts in his mind, but with himself as the victim.

Supersnipe would often partner with a colleague known as ‘Ulysses Q. Wacky’, another boy Koopy’s age described as an “inventor and genius unlimited.”

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Shadow Comics v2 #3 (March 1942) – Origin of Supersnipe; First appearance of Supersnipe

If the Shadow can be cited as a precursor to Batman, then Supersnipe might be viewed as an early version of ‘Bat-mite’. Yes, he was that wacky, and he first appears here. Cited as the ‘Man of 1953’, in an obvious pun on Superman’s early nickname of ‘the Man of Tomorrow’, Koppy is said to ‘read, breathe and sleep’ comic books. He is the boy with ‘The Most Comic Books in America’. A 9.4 of this comic sold on February 22, 2018 for $5, 019.00. In lower grades you can find the first appearance of Supersnipe for a lot less (a 7.0 sold on eBay for $225.00 in December of 2016). If you’re interested in adding a Golden Age title to your collection you could do a lot worse than to start with a mid-grade copy of this comic.

 

 

 

 

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Army and Navy Comics vl #5 (July 1942) – Last appearance of Super Snipe before Change in title

This comic solidified Supersnipe’s popularity while also speaking to how superhero obsessed the US was in the 1940s. There is only one recorded sale of this comic on GoCollect.com. In 2011 a mile high collection 9.4 copy was sold on Heritage Auction for $1,314.50. The CGC case appropriately noted that this issue contains a ‘Supersnipe story’. We can deduce that prices on this comic have gone way up since 2011, but Overstreet lists its value in 9.2 (NM- condition) as worth $800.00, to which I say: beware Overstreet’s assessment of these Golden Age books! They tend to under-value them for some reason.

 

 

 

 

 

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Supersnipe Comics #6 (October 1942) – First Standalone issue of Supersnipe

The tagline at the top of the cover says: ‘At last, a comic with a sense of humor’, showing that the irony and paradoxical self-referential style of this comic permeated throughout the entire book. Comics, of course, started out as the ‘funny pages’, and in the early 1940s almost everyone knew this. This book is, technically, the sixth issue of Army and Navy Comics, but Supersnipe became so popular he took over the title. With 10 copies on the census, sales are few but interesting. In 2013 a 4.5 certified copy sold on eBay for $45.00, which is below guide. The most recent sale was a CBCS blue label slab on Comic Connect of a 6.0 on September 2, 2016 which sold on for $230.00. The record sale, however, was of a 9.8 Mile high pedigree copy that sold for $5,175.00 back in July of 2002.

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With the decline in interest in superheroes at the end of the 1940s, so too, declined an interest in comics about those comics. The final issue of Supersnipe Comics (listed as v5 #1 with an Aug-Sept cover date) was published in 1949. On a curious side note, in the early 1970s a fellow called Ed Summer opened a huge comic book shop in Manhattan that everyone from Roy Thomas to George Lucas would visit when they were in New York. The name of Ed’s shop: ‘Supersnipe Comic Book Emporium’.

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