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December 2002 Market Report

As most of you will know by now, our December 2002 catalogue provided us with a new world record for a British comic sold at auction: The Beano Comic No. 1 from 1938 which was knocked down for 7,565.00 including 10% buyer's premium.

The old record, which we set in our live auction in February 1999 was also for a first issue Beano Comic which was accompanied by its free gift Whoopee Mask, the only one known to have survived to the present day. Our new record holder has a thumb-size piece missing from its front page margin and its free gift was used and discarded years ago having disguised the face of its original owner during many furious games of Cowboys and Indians and Cops and Robbers. A man of modest means, he lives life a little more quietly now and this record sale will give his later years some added security.

Beano Number 1Rupert

The first Rupert annual published by the Daily Express in 1936 does pop up from time to time, estimated in the low hundreds, but when one comes along with its original dust jacket it is a rare find indeed. We auctioned just such an annual in December, realising a strong 2,420.00. Rupert annuals do come up regularly for sale reflecting the generational trend that books and children's annuals were handed down through families and are far less likely to be discarded than comics or other ephemera.

There are exceptions to the rule, specifically those goods that were produced during the war years, when everything was in short supply. In those days the paper we used was produced from the forests of Norway, the merchant ships that carried the timber and pulp constantly harried by U-Boat bombardment in the North Sea. During that time I remember my grand-mother telling me that she had to put out our papers every week for one of our local air raid wardens to collect for "The War Effort". Any silver paper, mostly from chocolate bars, sweets and cigarette packets was to be kept in a seperate pile.

RupertRupert

So, getting back to the Ruperts, war years items are generally harder to find, but many of our customers collect the later years as well and will offer high bids for for top grade pieces which are only rare in that condition. Five 1950s Rupert annuals between Very Fine and Near Mint grades, all lotted seperately in the catalogue, made 230 each, more than double their upper estimates.

Topper

D C Thomson's popular Beezer and Topper titles from the late Fifties are also keenly collected. These stalwarts with cover characters Mickey The Monkey and Ginger are more difficult to find in high grades, in most part due to their unwealdy broadsheet size. Complete years in unfolded and fresh condition now command over 12 a copy, with bound volumes in our previous two catalogues realising close to 700 each and an outstanding Beezer bound volume from 1960 fetching a stunning 1026.00. It is worth noting that the bulk of these issues in the lower grades of Good and Very Good will only fetch 2-4 each generally.

Dennis the Menace

One of the strongest characters to emerge during this decade was parent/teacher terror, Dennis The Menace. Drawn by D C Thomson staff artist, David Law, the school-boy scoundrel was never short of a wheeze to add greyer hair to any unlucky adult who happened to cross his path. The slipper that featured at the end of each edisope was inevitable. A rare piece of Dennis artwork from his early days featured Dennis reading his favourite Beano from cover to cover whilst leading a pet tortoise to school, all as an excuse for being late and avoiding detention! Estimated at 850-950 the page realised over 1500. Not surprising considering his ever growing fan club and the lack of original Dennis material.

Thirty years earlier a wee terror from Scotland caused just as much comic mayhem as his striped southern cousin. Oor Wullie started life in the pull-out Fun Section of The Sunday Post graduating to his own title which was published every other year from 1936. These early eight page pull-outs hardly survive today so a run of seven tanned examples from 1937-8 were bid to a firm 275. From the same era two early Desperate Dan artworks, drawn by legendary artist Dudley Watkins, realised 610 each.

Hank Janson Scarred Faces

Hank Janson was the premier author of many sleaze paperbacks after World War II. Titles like Lady Mind That Corpse and Hotsy You'll Be Chilled with lurid bondage and good-girl art covers helped spawn that magic publishers' phrase, "Over One Million Copies Sold!". The second Janson title, Scarred Faces, is a real rarity with only two other copies known to exist and the eventual buyer triumphed at just over 300. This price is very strong when compared to the slightly later one and sixpenny titles which generally find 35 a copy in fresh condition.

Notable Number Ones that also received strong bidding in December were The Eagle Magazine [vfn] 634; TV Century 21 with Special Agent Decoder [vg] 242; and 2000 AD, the first two issues in Near Mint grade, both with their free gifts, reaching an astonishing 501 each, the highest price ever recorded to date, by more than double! It should be noted that the rough paper stock used in the printing of 2000 AD tended to discolour at the edges quite quickly and issues up to prog 50 in mid grades can be found at 5 a copy decreasing in value to pounds, then pence in the 1980s.

Mickey Mouse Movie Stories

We don't always sell everything we offer and sometimes genuinely rare items fail to find buyers at the estimated price. Such an example was lot 12 in the December catalogue, Mickey Mouse Movie Stories Book 2. Printed in 1935 by Dean & Son this 200 page book with 100 illustrations was not bid at its 300-350 estimate. As the only copy to be offered in the last 11 years it will be sold at No Reserve in our February / March auction. Bargain hunters please note.

Spider-manSpider-manFantastic Four
Tales To Astonish X-Men

Our US comics section, especially the Silver Age, continues to be strongly supported by its recent Hollywood makeover. Batman, Spider-Man, and the upcoming Daredevil, Hulk and X-Men 2 movies will all keep their characters in the face of an ever expanding generational market. In particular, high grade "pence" copies can still be found at up to half the price of their "cents" counterparts.

When I was a kid my favourite US comic was The Fantastic Four. I could not believe that super-heroes Mr Fantastic and Invisible Girl were actually Mr and Mrs Reed Richards, a married couple! To me this was really cool. But then, as now, I should have got out more.

Malcolm Phillips
Director
Comic Book Postal Auctions, Ltd.

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