Saturday, October 15, 2016

Creepy #1

Warren Publishing - Jan. 1964

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Uncle Creepy

Ok, I'm kind of cheating a little bit here because this isn't exactly a comic book, it's actually a magazine, but Warren Publishing kind of cheated a little bit too to work their way around the Comics Code Authority. Let me explain how, but first a little history.

In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham published a little something called "The Seduction of the Innocent". Maybe you've heard of it? In SOTI, as it's become known, he claimed that horror and crime comics were the direct cause of juvenile delinquency. The Senate used Wertham's words, and the Comics Code Authority was created. The Comics Code's job was to edit and remove content from comics that they deemed inappropriate, and that meant horror comics were no longer published since they were by far the most inappropriate of all.

So, about a decade after the Code was established, Warren Publishing decided they wanted to bring back the very popular horror genre of the 50's, but they couldn't publish them in comic book format, so they published them as a magazine. They could get away with it because the Code only related to comics, not to magazines.

Uncle Creepy
So, now that you know why this is a magazine and not a comic, let's talk a little bit about it's key issue-ness. First and foremost, it's the first issue to the series. That one's a given. The second is that it holds the first appearance of Uncle Creepy.

Uncle Creepy is the host and storyteller of the series. He is what the Crypt Keeper is to Tales from the Crypt or the Vault Keeper was to the Vault of Horror. He introduces all but one of the six stories that are in this magazine with a bit of wit and humor.

It would seem that the powers that be were able to get some of the top artists and writers, like Jack Davis, Joe Orlando and many more,  that made the EC Comics so popular. It seems to me like Warren Publishing was trying to pick up right where EC left off.

Many of the stories in this issue of Creepy have to do with the old horror stories of vampires and werewolves. There is a voodoo story and also a story that features the now extremely popular zombies that are out for revenge. This story reminded me a little of the movie Creepshow.

If you like horror comics and are able to find a copy, It might be worth a read. It didn't find it a captivating as some of the 50's horror titles, but it's not bad. The black and white format kind of took something away from it for me. Don't get me wrong, I still loved the artwork, but having it in color is just my personal preference.

I have no idea what kind of print run Creepy #1 had. If you look at the CGC census, you might think it's low. There are only 267 copies listed there so far. But with a quick search online, there are still a lot of raw copies floating around, so just how low the print run isn't really easy for me to figure out.

I'm surprised at how many super high grade copies are out there for this book. Most of the copies listed on CGC's census are between the 8.0 VF to 9.2 NM- range. There is one 9.8 NM/M copy and three 9.6 NM+ copies listed. I wonder if it's harder to keep magazines in as good of condition as it is comics. Or did people not as careful with the magazines as they were with comics.

Values for this book haven't really changed that much over the last few years. A 9.4 NM copy sold at Heritage for $418.25 back in 2012, and the latest sale for the same grade on eBay dropped for only $415. There was a copy that almost reached the $600 mark via auction on eBay in early 2014, but obviously that value didn't hold up. If you're looking for a nice high grade copy, don't expect to pay more than $400-$420. However, if you're looking for a copy and are on a budget, you should be able to snag a nice 8.0 VF or 8.5 VF+ for less than $100, you may want to check out raw copies too. Most of those I found available are well under the $100 range, but buyer beware.

Now, there's no hype about a Creepy movie being made or Uncle Creepy appearing in his own show and I don't expect there ever will be, so don't expect this comic to blast through the roof value wise anytime soon. But, if you're a fan of horror comics, you may just want to pick up a copy. I may just take my own advice on this one.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tales from the Crypt #33 - CBCS 5.5

E.C  Comics - Dec. 1952 / Jan. 1953

Key Issue Notes
Origin of the Crypt Keeper

I'm a big time horror movie fan. Not so much of the movies that are coming out now, but more of the slasher horror movies of the 80's. Besides being traumatized by the original Nightmare on Elm Street when I was a little kid, there are two main reasons that I love horror. One is seeing Evil Dead 2 for the first time, and the second is the HBO show Tales from the Crypt that was based off the comics of the same name. But anyway, I keep repeating myself here. I'm sure by know you probably all know that I like these kinds of movies and T.V. shows, so I'll move on.

Ok, since I've already talked about the first appearance of the Crypt Keeper, I decided it would be the perfect time for me to dig into my box of goodies and share one of my comics with you, and it's also keeping with my October horror theme as well.

This is my copy of Tales from the Crypt #33, and this comic holds the origin of the Crypt Keeper. See, everyone gets an origin story, even creepy undead storytellers that live in dark, eerie basements.

I'm not going to go into the specifics of this comic, or talk about the origin of this character, but rather tell you the story of how and why I decided to buy it instead. As I stated in the beginning, I liked the HBO show, and when I learned of this comic and it's key issue goodness, I immediately started hunting for a copy.

Now, copies of this comic don't come up too often. They are more plentiful than the first appearance of good ol CK, but not by much. Usually the copies that I found were either too expensive, or in dirt condition that I didn't want it. It had to be a decent looking copy that wasn't way overpriced.

So, as I was cruising through eBay one day, I found a raw copy that I thought looked pretty nice from the pictures that were available. I don't exactly remember what the seller was asking for it. I want to say it was $250, but that could be wrong. I did my normal research, i.e. checking the price guide and GoCollect, and decided that $175 was the highest I was willing to go and made an offer. Buying raw copies online is always a gamble and I didn't want to overpay if the grade was lower than I thought I might have been. So, with no counteroffers from the seller, I ended up snagging this comic for $175. I felt like I got a pretty good deal, and I'm assuming the seller got what he wanted from the sale, so all parties left happy.

Baby Crypt Keeper
Now, CBCS had recently opened their doors for business, and I'd already sent in my sample book to try them out. You can read about that comic here. So, I sent this in with my next batch of books to be graded. I try to send in more than one book for grading because it helps to save money on shipping charges. It does take a while for me to get enough books to send in, so I usually only have one or two shipments for grading each year. It took a while, like it usually does with grading companies, but I finally got it back.

Overall, I'm happy with the 5.5 F- that this book got, and it was a little higher of a grade than I was expecting it to be, but only by a half grade or so. I think I made a good investment decision by buying this book at the price I did. There is no sales information that I could find for this grade, but recently a 5.0 VF/F copy sold on eBay for $370.

Since I like these old horror comics, especially the old EC Comics, this is one of those books that's a part of history and I'm very proud to own a copy. Needless to say, this will be staying in my collection for quite a while.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Crime Patrol #15

E. C. Comics - Dec. 1949 / Jan. 1950

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of the Crypt Keeper
First Crypt of Terror

In keeping with the October horror theme, next on the list of key issue comics is this gem of a comic. This historic comic introduced the first horror story to the E.C. line of comics, which would be what they were to become known for all these years later.

This comics holds the first appearance of the Crypt Keeper, who was made popular by the HBO show Tales from the Crypt that ran from 1989 to 1996. I have to admit, this was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up. The mixture of laughs and gore really caught my attention.

If you've been keeping up with entertainment news, then you've seen that M. Night Shyamalan is going to reboot the series for TNT. I wonder how much of the gore and language that they can get away with on a cable network like TNT. However, I've noticed that it's gotten pretty gruesome on some shows like The Walking Dead.

In earlier interviews with Shyamalan, he had the idea of creating a season long story line for the show, kind of like what American Horror Story does, but recently it seems he's going for more of a direct reboot of the original series, Crypt Keeper and all. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I, personally, am having mixed feelings about it.

Enough about that, let's talk about this comic. As I'm sure you've all noticed, this is not a horror comic, but a true crime comic. In the beginning, EC decided that it would be a good idea to try out the idea of introducing a horror related story in these books to see if they would sell. As it turns out, that was a very good idea.

We are introduced to the Crypt Keeper and his Crypt of Terror in a short seven page story called Return From the Grave. In this short story, two executives are trying to swindle a company from a poor business owner. The business owner is so poor and down on his luck that the two executives convince him that he should commit suicide and make it look like and accident, so his family can collect on his life insurance policy.

A short time later, the two execs get a phone call. Apparently the old man took their advice and jumped in front of a truck. Now that the two executives own the old mans company, they get a call for a large order of perfume. The factory that makes the perfume doesn't have the formula for it so the now the two panicked men try to find it.

They find out that the formulas are in the pocket of the suit that the old man was buried in, so the two start digging, and find the coffin empty, except a small piece of paper with a note scribbled on it. The note said "I have discovered how you have stolen money from me for the last three years driving me to suicide. I have risen from my grave... and will not return until I have taken my revenge!" I don't want to spoil the ending, but in true EC style, the two executives get their just deserts.

I've gotta tell ya, it wasn't easy to find a copy of this story to read. Not only that, It's also a hard comic to find. As on now, there have only been 40 copies graded by CGC. It's kind of a mixed bag of high to low grades, but surprisingly there are five, that's right, I said five 9.8 NM/M copies. I'm assuming that these are going to be the Gaines File Copies. Don't worry, If you don't know about the Gaines File Copy pedigree, I will be writing about it very soon.

High grade copies of this comic are expensive, but they're not Action Comics #1 expensive. It's not going to cost you millions of dollars to add this to your collection. It may not even cost you tens of thousands. There was a CGC 9.8 NM/M Gaines File Copy that sold at Heritage Auctions for only $7468.75. Yeah, that's a lot of money, but for a piece of history like this, I think they got it at a bargain. However, There was a 9.6 NM+ Gaines File Copy that sold at Heritage a few years earlier in 2010 for $13,800. So, does that mean that interest in this comic is going down? Not likely. With comics like this, they hit the market so rarely that it can drive the price up or down, depending on how many people are interested at that particular time. The more people that know about the auction, the higher the price will go, and the less, the lower it will probably go.

The information of the two other sales that I was able to get from GoCollect don't really tell me where this comic is headed in terms of value. There was one sale for a CGC 7.5 VF- that sold for a penny shy of $1,850 in April 2015, and a low grade 2.0 G that ended up selling for $412.05 in June of the same year.

Like I said, it's hard to say where the values of this comic are going. I can tell you that there has been no change in value in Overstreet over the last two years. Horror comics are a genre that aren't collected by the masses like superhero comics are. Values will slowly rise within this small community of collectors. Since I'm a fan of horror comics, I have this one on my want list, but being able to afford a copy is a whole different story.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Eerie Comics #1

Avon - Jan 1947

Key Issue Notes
First horror comic book

It's finally October, and it's time of the year when everybody dresses up in scary costumes, decorates the yards with the latest items they got at Spirit Halloween store, and binge watches horror movies (or maybe that's just me.)

In honor of the scariest month of the year, I decided that all month long, I'll be talking about nothing but horror comics, and to start it all off, I'll go all the way to the beginning with Eerie Comics #1.

To be completely honest, this isn't the first horror comic ever made, but it is the first comic that has original stories written for it. Before this comic came out, horror comics were adaptations of stories that were already popular, like Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

This issue of Eerie Comics was a one shot deal. It wouldn't be visited again until years later in 1951. Why did it take so long for? Perhaps it wasn't very popular at the time. This was the beginning of horror comics, so maybe it wasn't a big seller. Horror comics really seemed to take off in the early 50's, so it could have been a wait and see mentality from the folks over at Avon Comics. Perhaps they got a lot of complaints from the parents of the kids that read it and they decided to stop producing this title. These are just a couple of theories of mine. I have no idea what the real reason is behind there only being one issue.

One of my favorite about writing this blog is being able to read all of the wonderful historic comics. It wasn't easy to find a copy of this comic, but I did. The stories in them aren't as graphic or horrific as the horror comics that would be put out by EC Comics in the 50's. In fact, it's rather tame in its depiction.

Eerie Comic #1 is a 52 page anthology comic, meaning that it is comprised of many short stories, and not one long one. It's interesting to me that the picture on the cover has nothing to do with any of the stories within it. I was hoping to learn the story behind it, but alas, there was no story to be had. Instead there are stories about a vengeful ghost of a tiger, a haunted mansion, and a short story about an attorney that learns a valuable lesson in perception. In all there are six stories, including a fun two pager staring Goofy Ghost. My favorite part about this story, is that it was supposed to be continued in the next issue of Eerie Comics, but that issue never came saw the light of day.

Again, because of the age of this comic, don't expect there the be a lot of graded copies available on the market. As of now, there have been 71 copies graded by CGC. I don't expect that number to change very much in the near future. I expect that a lot of copies of Eerie Comics #1 made it's way to a landfill or into a fireplace at some point. Of the copies that are listed in the census, none are graded higher than a 9.2 MN-. Most of the graded copies are in the 4.0 VG to 6.0 F range. Don't expect to find many high grade copies out there.

If you're lucky enough to find a copy on the market, you might want to call your bank and get a loan. These comics are not cheap, even in lower grades. There isn't a lot of sales data out there for this book, but the numbers that are available, are quite high. I'll start off with an 8.5 VF+ copy since there are some good data points for it. In 2009 a copy at that grade sold for $3,107 at Heritage Auctions. That last sale at the same site and at the same grade sold for over $9,500. That really is quite amazing. However, lower grades aren't seeing this kind of growth. A 5.0 F- copy sold for $1,191 in 2012 and went up to only $1,250 in Feb of 2016. As we go down to a 4.0 VG copy, there was a sale in 2011 that dropped for $711 and then rose up to $775.25 about a year later. If you're looking for the best investment potential, the higher grade the better.

Rarity will play a huge factor in the value of this comic. It's almost impossible to find any copies online, graded or raw. I can usually find one or two copies of hard to find comics at one of the big online auction sites like eBay, but as of this writing, I couldn't find any. I'll leave the links at the bottom of the page like normal because you never know when a copy will be listed. My advice for you is to check back often, and if you find a copy for sale, buy it.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - ComicConnect - Heritage Auctions