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Autumn 2005 Market Report


OOR WULLIE BOOK 1 FETCHES 4000!

Oor Wulli Annual

That wee lad has done it again with a new record in our September auction of 4,015 including 10% buyer's premium. The early Oor Wullie books, issued every other year, are genuinely rare, only being distributed in Scotland, and there are only five copies of Book 1 known to exist. A piece of his original artwork from 1941 fetched a winning bid of 770. The adventure has Wullie spending nearly the whole episode in his new suit so the lads couldn'e get at him but finally taking the fecht to the three o' them in the last panel and ending up wi' a thick ear an' a jeely nose! One of our customers has told us how Oor Wullie came into being in 1935 and his true story is at the end of this report.

Scotland's Happy Family, The Broons, are still going strong and their artwork, as always by Dudley Watkins, continues to attract top prices. The wonderfully evocative cinema piece from 1954, illustrated above, was from the frontispiece of the The Broons Book for that year and realised an above estimate 825. A beautifully crafted story around the colour of Paw's cardigan, later updated to Pa's pullover for a 70s reprint which also saw the skirts of all the lasses raised to knee height, raised a knee jerking 990, well above estimate. A further lot was the artwork for one of only two Broons jigsaw puzzles ever produced and the box illustration, showing a twinkle-eyed Pa and the family in silhouette, made 385.

Broons jig-saw
Desparate Dan

The cinema theme continued into a piece of Desperate Dan artwork from1939 when Dan breaks in (and breaks) the kids' nursery rocking horse then pulls the roof off the local cinema and a horsy statue from the town square to make a new bigger rocker for them. His rock-a-bye rhyme and a successful 550 bid completes the picture.

GemRoverWizard

We had never offered a copy of the first Gem (1907) before and a clean issue retrieved from a bound volume made 145. The Rover No 1 with its free gift Footballer Real Photos still intact was a real bargain for a canny successful bidder and even in its low grade of Good it was well worth the 95 winning bid. The No 3 Rover illustrated above also garnered 44 with its free photos included. All this was put well into perspective by The Wizard No 1 which, including its original flyer, conjured up a massive 385 with issues 2 and 3 making 55 each. In later years The Wizard was always favoured over D C Thomson's other story papers largely due to that world beating sportsman, Wilson, whose exploits and adventures had every boy swapping comics and their own marathon stories in the playground during dinner-break.

Boys Cinema

Our bound volume collection, being offered over several catalogues, continues to gather pace. Boy's Cinema 1-29 from 1919 included all free gift "art plates" and these file copies were in unusually high Fine/Very Fine grades. 297 was the above estimate winning bid but still a very reasonable buy for Charlie and his friendly mutt.

Kinema Comic

These first ten issues of Kinema Comic (1920) were taken to 320 with the bonus that anything that features The Master Of Mystery, Houdini, is always going to attract cross-over bidding from Magic memorabilia collectors who are consistently searching for early prints, posters and photographs of the early prestidigitators.

This volume of The Ranger comprised the last 26 issues of the old series and the first 21 of the new. The combination of true life feats and adventure stories like the illustrated "Big Gorilla Thriller" were extremely popular in their day as were non pc strips like "Jim, Buck & Rastus". 209 found them a new and appreciative audience. The Thriller featured weekly detective and adventure yarns where writers like Leslie Charteris cut their teeth before moving on to more saintly pursuits. 26 early issues, again in high grades, were contested to 220. Case solved.

Girl's Crystal

The Crystal, soon to be renamed Girl's Crystal, is rare in its early issues and 1-62 in three bound volumes and high grades was chased to 300, the jolly hockey sticks of Film-Struck Kay and the machinations of Mazda, The Girl Who Knew No Pity extracting a full price for their adventures. School Friend is just as well regarded and issues 1-33 found a supplicant 193 for The Girls Of St. Kitts. Talking of girls, Big Eggo was certainly one as her eggs were often the centre-piece of her front cover Beano adventures. The fact is she was often referred to as "he" but nobody seemed to mind that much.

Beano 1

Our latest offer of a Beano No 1 featured Big Eggo's first front cover adventure and had a part torn away back page which met with some head-in-the-sand resistance as the 3,700 lower estimate was not pecked at. After the auction's close a 2,700 bid was accepted by the vendor, who realistically adjusted his reserve price to get his cherished, though tarnished No 1 sold and away. Other early Beanos between issues 41 and 49 were all offered separately averaging between 112 and 154 each with a beautifully bound volume of 1949 issues contested to 720.

Comet

The Fifties and Sixties are still finding ever expanding ownership and our bound volume collection featured The Comet for 1953. This was an era when full colour printing really brought the genre alive and Kit Carson, Buffalo bill and Dick Barton leapt luridly off the page. 290 was the multi-coloured winning bid.

Young Marvelman comics by publisher L Miller normally sell for a few pounds each but issue 25 was actually No 1. Originally entitled Captain Marvel Jr., US owners Fawcett went out of business after losing their lawsuit with Superman rights holders, D C Comics. Consequently Miller had no more strips to reprint and Captain Marvel became Marvelman and Junior went too. Thus 115 was the high-flying winner for Young Marvelman's first issue.

Knockout and Lion

This Knockout volume featured the last issue prior to absorption by Valiant and these 30 issues from 1962-63 made a valiant 331. Lion was in its heyday in 1964 and the adventures of Paddy Payne, Robot Archie and Don Lawrence's magnificently drawn Karl The Viking soared to 605 from a 120 high estimate.

Hornet

The Hornet 1-50 was offered in one lot and the one thing you can say about publisher DC Thomson is that their consistent high quality publishing carries right through to the free gifts. No 1 had its magnificent Balsa Wood Glider, No 2 its Catapult Skimmer and Nos 3 and 4 their Football and Great Goals Photo Albums. With the comics themselves in grades ranging from Very Fine to Mint it was no wonder that an equally very fine bid of 418 saw this pristine collection settle at its new hornet's nest.

Charley's War

Based on an anthology of soldiers' letters written in the trenches during World War 1, Charley's War was conceived by Pat Mills and based on fact. "Battle" editor Dave Hunt persuaded artist Joe Colquhoun to come off his immensely popular air story "Johnny Red", where his natural gifts for characterisation and realism had amassed an army of fans. Mills then gave Charley's character some perspective by introducing the adventures of his friend, Blue, a French soldier at Verdun whose daring exploits are illustrated above. To our knowledge, this was the first piece of Charley's War original artwork to come up for auction and 330 for this 1980 page perfectly reflected Colquhoun's work. We will be offering the second of our three-piece consignment in our next catalogue in November.

Human TorchSpider-ManAvengers

Our US section was well represented with a neatly restored Human Torch # 7 at 220 and a complete run of cents copies Amazing Spider-Man # 1-129. In Fair grade the first issue was well taped to its edges but still complete and it raised 242 underlining the popularity of The Silver Age's most enduring super-hero. A Good+ cents copy of The Avengers # 1 also did well with 182 winning this example with no major faults. Please see our Prices Realised section for all the other winning bid details.

In 1935 there was a management meeting at D C Thomson in Dundee with the sole purpose of thinking up a new character to try and capture the essence of Scottishness that had so brilliantly been achieved with The Broons family that same year. The meeting went on for a long time with no wee light bulb illuminating the proceedings until there was a knock on the door from the manager's son who came in wanting to inquire if pa was ever comin' hame for his tea. Framed in the doorway was 8-year-old Ron Low, dressed in dungarees and carrying a bucket with which he had been potato picking at the family small-holding. Oor Wullie was born in that same frame.

Dudley Watkins was given the job of illustration and the cheeky lad on his upturned bucket started and finished each comic strip in the Sunday Post Fun Section from 1936 onwards with his books coming out every other year up until the present day.

As time went by Oor Wullie's origin wasn't referred to again, after all Ron was soon a young man and it would never do for comic characters to be seen to grow up.

Ron Low graduated from St. Andrew's University to medical school, finally swapping his blue dungarees for green scrubs as a fully qualified surgeon. He then trained as a pilot at RCAF Gimli in Manitoba, Canada and flew jet aircraft after WWII. Returning to Scotland some years later, Ron lived in Inverness next to former WWII Lancaster bomber pilot Tommy Ross who took him along to the Air Crews Association Highland Branch where "Oor Wullie" was promptly enrolled by branch secretary, Don Owens. Don is a WWII veteran Halifax bomber flight engineer/co-pilot and we are indebted to him for this story. Ronald Waterson Low, MB CHB DPH died at home in Helensburgh, Scotland on 10 February 1992.

God bless Ron Low and long live Oor Wullie.

Malcolm Phillips
Director
Comic Book Postal Auctions, Ltd.

 

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