On Tuesday I posted some covers of women doing violent stuff. Here’s another installment of cover scans, one you can call either “Odd Stuff of the Golden Age” or “Tom: His Many Moods.” The covers here are all from comics that have sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They’re big on the collectors market, and not because they involve famous characters or huge name artists. People want these comics just because the comics look so weird.
Golden Age Gallery: Freakout Thursday
by Tom Crippen
The issues in question sold little when they came out, then spent decades in obscurity while fandom evolved and Carl Barks and the Legion of Superheroes and Little Lulu and so many others received well-deserved attention. Not until the early 1990s did anyone become aware that most of these comics had ever been around. That was when the visionary Ernst “Ernie” Gerber published The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books, a collection of 21,000 (or so) color photographs of comic book covers. By his account, he had spent almost $900,000 on tracking down various comic book collections, photographing their covers, and producing the book. Let me note that his wife of the time, Mary, has a joint byline with him and that Comics: Between the Panels says she “helped sort the slides and cull the 22,000 cover photographs that made Gerber’s final cut.” (The 22,000 figure conflicts with the number given on the Photo-Journal‘s cover, at least as the cover is reproduced in Between the Panels. As you may have guessed, all the information in this post is from Panels’ entry on the Photo-Journal. If you have never read Panels, and if you like U.S. mainstream comics, you should check it out. It’s a great read and full of information.)
Readers of the Photo-Journal saw photos of Action 1 and Haunt of Fear 12 and so on, but they also saw thousands of covers of comic books they had never heard of. A few of these comics were so strange, so extreme, so absurd that collectors everywhere decided to buy them. The collectors did so, then spent a decade and a half selling the comics and buying them again until prices for the books climbed to more or less daffy levels.
Okay, now a few covers; just three this time out, because I want to keep these posts going a long time. No, I don’t know why the right edges are shaved off here; they’re fine when I preview the post, and you can imagine how happy I am about this little snag. (UPDATE: Noah set me straight. You can change the html so that the pictures’ width fits the blog’s column width.)
I made a joke up top about my many moods, so the first cover is called “Me and My Life”:
That’s Criminals on the Run, published by Curtis in 1947. The cover is drawn by L. B. Cole, who churned out countless crime, adventure, sci-fi, and horror covers. Just about everything really. Very often he did beautiful work; very often he was absurd, especially when people got involved in his scenes. A fish in the face.
I was writing about my hangover and attendant frustrations. So here’s Mr. Mystery 11, published by Aragon in 1953, cover by Bernard Baily.
Finally, a tribute to my good humor of recent days:
That’s Atomic War! 1, published by Ace in 1952. Don’t know who drew the cover.