The comics went to the movies and television in the past
decade or so.
The Avengers wrecked New York and Thor caused havoc in London
on the big screen, while on the little screen, there's
the Flash and the Arrow from DC Comics, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
and Agent Carter from Marvel.
But between the 1940s and the 70s, it was pretty much the
other way around with comics as marketing tie-ins to hit films
or serials, or films the studios wanted to be hits. When television
arrived in the 1950s, the hot shows were given comic books.
Movie and television stars, and their films and shows, graced
the comics, including Walt Disneys characters, Lucille
Ball, Tom Mix, Mr. Kotter, John Wayne, Peter Gunn, Star Wars
and Star Trek, the Beatles Yellow Submarine and even the
Many of the stars in films, radio and shows from those eras are
now almost lost in the mists of time for many, but to a narrow
band of comic collectors, they are golden treasures.
While almost all of the comic printers dabbled in the film arts,
Dell and Gold Key were the major imprints in bringing television
and film to comics, from the popular to the obscure.
Dells Four Color series brought many of the films and cartoons
to comics. The series had 1,354 titles in Series 2 and another
25 in Series 1, including The Three Stooges, the Danny Thomas
Show, the Lennon Sisters, Ricky Nelson, Leave It To Beaver and
among the most coveted, Donald Duck drawn by artist Carl Barks.
Prices vary widely among the Four Color books so it's highly
recommended to have a price guide with you if you come across
The market for these
comics is, at best, tough. Only a few titles will move briskly,
among them the first Star Wars series by Marvel. In particular,
there are six issues highly coveted by collectors, Numbers 1
and 107 (the last issue with a small print run) and the alternate
Numbers 1 to 4 with a 35-cent cover price. (We'll go into depth
about these Marvel alternate price covers in an upcoming column.
They had smaller print runs and they are hard to find in higher
A significant portion of the titles has fallen into obscurity
and finding buyers can be difficult, even with the web. Not many,
except for the serious Four Color-Dell collector, will want copies
of Tappans Burro (#449), Double Trouble with Goober (#471),
or A Dog of Flanders (#1088). Collectors are however, seeking
titles with Disney characters, or art by Walt Kelly, who would
create Pogo Possum (the swamp creature who stated, We have
met the enemy and he is us).
Comics that seem to command a good price are those that star
John Wayne. Why? Dunno, but the tough guy actor with a soft touch
seems to be a prize among movie comic collectors, especially
in high grade. DCs Movie Comics from 1939 only published
six issues, but they are hard to find and are, in there own market
bubble, commanding prices that go beyond interest in the content.
Disneys cartoons and animated movies in comics always
command a share of the market, in particular, the Aristocats,
Snow White, Bambi and the early Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
issues. Expect them in lower grades, as higher grades are hard
published Movie Comics and, again, some are highly coveted, such
as the Disney titles, but none more so than The Beatles
Yellow Submarine drawn by artist Paul S. Newman and released
in 1968. For full market value, about $350 to $500 in near mint
to mint, the attached poster should be intact inside the book.
Without it, values drop to a fourth of the mint price. But no
matter the condition, it won't stay idle long if up for sale.
Other hot titles in the Gold Key stable include The Munsters,
Astro Boy, Jonny Quest, The Green Hornet and Dark Shadows. Other
titles of interest include the original Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows
and the original Star Trek series, especially with photo covers,
Scooby Doo and Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. Markets and
interest vary widely on these titles. It seems, for example,
that I am the only one interested in the original series Gold
Key Star Trek issues in the Greater Toronto Area. I had not sold
one copy in any Toronto area show when I was in the circuit.
Comics also graced its covers with movie stars, such as Movie
Love, published by Famous Funnies between 1950 and 1953. Stars,
including Myrna Loy, Dick Powell, Mickey Rooney, Dean Martin
and Jerry Lewis and Ronald Reagan, were highlighted on the covers.
But the hottest issues are Number 8, with art by Frank Frazetta
and Al Williamson, and Number 10, with art by Frazetta.
The demand for particular comic book genres and titles is
cyclical. Movie-related comics are in one of the most fickle
markets so invest with care.
1 - John Wayne on cover of Conqueror, Four Color #690
2 - Two of the three Star Wars #1 covers. The missing one
has 35 cents and a UPC bar code in the white box.
Let's Talk Comics with Rob Lamberti, who started collecting
comics when the going price was 12 cents an issue and Peter Parker
really was a teenager. He dabbled in the comic convention circuit
in the Toronto area for a while, but stopped to concentrate on
his career as a not-so-mild- mannered crime reporter for a great
metropolitan newspaper, where he hoped he managed to record a
little bit of history the past three decades.