Hello, and welcome back to our new weekly column where we’ll take a look at a few undervalued or overlooked comics from one of each of four comic book eras – Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Copper Age – all in an attempt to find value for you, the comic book investor and collector. Whether you’re a high roller or a bargain shopper, there will be something in here for everyone. This week, it’s the Golden Age. Let’s get started.
About Golden Age Comics
As most GoCollect readers are aware, there’s a drop-off in the availability of individual comics the farther back in time you go. This is especially true of Golden Age comics.
For the most part, I won’t be referencing Golden Age books as being overlooked; I will be referring to them as lesser-known. As some of the folks who’ve gotten into collecting and investing in comics in recent years become more knowledgeable about Golden Age books, expect that to change.
Additionally, while many Golden Age comics are little known to general collectors, ones who tend to focus on super-heroes and pre-code horror, there are many niche collectors of all sorts of Golden Age genres, be they war comics, western comics, Classics Illustrated, Archie… The list is large. Some of the books I reference may be well known to these collectors.
First Frontline Combat
Frontline Combat #1 was published by EC in 1951. Focused exclusively on war stories, this series was a particular favorite of Harvey Kurtzman.
Known for its grittiness and realism, Frontline Combat told war stories like no other. Besides Kurtzman, Frontline Combat #1 also contains artwork by Jack Davis, Russ Heath, Wally Wood, and John Severin, with colors by Marie Severin. However, many collectors are unaware of this series.
With so much of the focus of collectors and investors being on EC’s pre-code horror output, they’re missing out on one of the best series that EC produced. The most recent sales of this issue in high, medium, and low grades are as follows: 9.6 – sold in November 2018 for $5,040, 6.0 – sold in August 2020 for $227, and 2.0 – sold in June 2018 for $120. These are low, low prices for a key book with great art, fantastic stories, and only 39 copies in the CGC census.
Compare this to Tales from the Crypt #20, a book that has 105 copies in the CGC census: 9.8 – sold on April 11 for $12,000, 6.0 – sold in July 2020 for $1,655, and 2.0 – sold for $720 in March 2021. Now I’m not saying that Tales from the Crypt #20 doesn’t deserve the accolades, praise, and sales that it gets. However, Frontline Combat #1 should be selling for much more. This is about as undervalued as a key EC book can get.
Sci-Fi with an Artist’s Who’s Who
Perhaps you’ve already heard of the series Strange Worlds. There are quite a few aficionados of Atlas’ many sci-fi series. But did you know that there was an earlier series of the same name published by Avon Periodicals? If you didn’t, then you have to take a look at Strange Worlds #3.
Published in 1951, this book contains a who’s who of great Golden Age artists, including Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, and Roy Krenkel, with a cover by Everett Kinstler, the man responsible for the official portraits of Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
With only 73 graded copies in the CGC census, this is a comic that is not very well known. It only comes up for sale on a sporadic basis. A 9.0 sold in March of this year for $3,240, a peak price in that grade. It’s been nearly a decade since a higher grade has been on the market. It’s been twice as long since a 6.0 graded copy sold, so we have to look at the most recent 4.0 sale in December 2021 for $432 for an idea of what a mid-grade copy should be worth.
Most interestingly, however, is the sale of a 2.0 in April 2019 for $80. $80! People pay more than that for current graded books! And that’s down considerably from its peak sale in May 2013 for $273. If you’re a bargain-basement shopper and you want a comic that is representative of great sci-fi action in the 1950s as drawn by some Golden Age legends, you have to seek this book out. And if you can get a 2.0 for $80, that’s highway robbery.
Matt Baker Goodness
Loads of collectors have heard of Matt Baker. The first African American artist, he is well known for his work on Phantom Lady, Rulah Jungle Goddess, and even some of his later Atlas work. But have you heard of Vooda?
Published by Ajax-Farrell in 1955, the series consisted of only three issues, and it’s the third issue of the series, Vooda #22, that we’re going to take a look at.
There are a grand total of 12 copies of this book found in the CGC census; the highest grade is an 8.5. This is a comic that is known to few collectors. You would think that a book this rare, sporting artwork by someone as popular as Matt Baker, would command top dollar for even the low grades.
We have no sales to go by in the inflated market of 2021-2022; judging from some past sales, you could find a gem for a song if you look hard enough. A 6.5 graded copy, the second-highest grade for this book, sold in March 2020 for only $1,000; a 4.0 sold in May 2019 for just $370.
I’m reasonably sure that this book would go for more in today’s market. However, this is a fairly unknown book and is undervalued as a result. If you’re a Matt Baker fan or even just a Golden Age collector, this is a comic worth seeking.
Next Week: Bronze Age Undervalued & Overlooked
Well, that’s all we have time for this week. Join us next week as we take a look at some undervalued and overlooked Bronze Age comics.