PBA Galleries

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

Sale #3028

Director’s Note:
Hi gang, and welcome to our latest PBA Comics catalogue. After back-to-back superhero sales (including last December’s smash-hit Spidey Sale featuring the Steve Ditko Collection), we’re back with another fan fave pre-Code horror auction, our sixth horror outing since 2020. As usual, we’ve blended editorial content, deep research dives, and the most extensive condition notes in the auction biz in order to both entertain and edify. We hope you’ll enjoy our efforts.

Tomb of Terror #15, our cover lot, features one of the most extreme images of the pre-Code era, with a guy’s head erupting into gory fragments. Perhaps sensing that he was pushing his luck in the censorious 1950s, artist Lee Elias covered his ass by adding a few flywheels and whirligigs to his cover scenario, thus making the victim a mere robot. It’s an artful dodge that delivers ultra-violence to horror-hungry readers while shielding the publisher from criticism — after all, who really cares if a robot goes kablooey? But anti-comics critic Dr. Fredric Wertham cared very much about this sort of thing, claiming that horror and crime comics sanitized violence by dehumanizing the victims, a ploy, Wertham believed, borrowed straight from Hitler’s handbook. The spectre of Dr. Wertham hangs heavy over these pages. The good doctor died decades ago, but his fears of sinister media influence on impressionable minds are very much a part of our current landscape. We hope that by looking at the wonderfully disreputable horror comics of the 1950s with fresh eyes, we can not only better understand the past, but perhaps also gain insights into the present.
Our horror sale abounds in other lowlife highlights, including Web of Evil #5 (lot 195), with a fantastic electric chair cover by Plastic Man’s progenitor Jack Cole (the must-read cover story is a crazy blur of cuckoldry and carnage); The Perfect Crime #23 (lot 114), with a brilliant cover by an unheralded hack with classical sensibilities, who incorporated a Jan van Eyke swipe into his composition (ours is the 3rd-highest graded copy on the CGC Census); Shock SuspenStories #8 (lot 129), signed by EC all-stars Al Feldstein, George Evans and Al Williamson; and an incredibly rare copy of one of the greatest pre-Code grails of them all, Weird SuspenStories #3 (lot 209), consigned by EC historian and Fan-Addict supreme, Thommy Burns. It’s a lovely 4.5 copy that’s earned a purple label due to a small glue touch and tear seal, which we’re 99% certain can be safely removed by a skilled conservator. At this writing, I’m three weeks away from visiting CGC’s president and chief conservator, Matt Nelson, to discuss restoration removal options. If the buyer of this lot is interested, PBA will gladly deliver the book to Matt at CGC for his professional ministrations. If the book does not earn a blue “Universal” label, PBA will accept the book back if the buyer wishes to return it. Interested parties should drop me a line to discuss options.
Superman co-creator Joe Shuster’s seldom-seen smut series, Nights of Horror (lot 110) and the sexually anarchic Tijuana Bibles of the 1930s-1950s (lots 295-304) will warm you up for our selection of Underground comix, including a Charles Plymell 1st printing of R. Crumb’s seminal ZAP #1 (lot 259). Underground fans will find original artwork by S. Clay Wilson (lots 287-288), Vaughn Bodé (lots 292-294), and Rick Griffin (lot 291), as well as a plethora of signed prints, posters and portfolios by the likes of R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Charles Burns, Mark Beyer, Richard Corben, Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, etc., and a full run of Art Spiegelman’s RAW mag (lot 258). On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got a few charming Disney pieces, including a Cinderella production cel (lot 327) and an original drawing of Mickey Mouse signed by Walt Disney (lot 329).
The sale ends with three wonderful original pre-Code cover recreations by Flamin’ Groovies guitarist and lifelong horror-hound Cyril Jordan (lots 333-335), painted with fluorescent pigments that Cyril mixed himself. We’re really happy to offer these masterworks, and advise readers to queue up some Groovies tunes in their playlists while perusing this catalogue (we’ve got the brilliant “Shake Some Action” playing in the background). As always, we’re grateful for your support, and wish you luck with your bids. We’ll be back soon with more pre-Code horror, another Ditko Collection sale, a senses-shattering all-Atlas extravaganza, and other surprises, so stay tuned!

Ivan Briggs
Director of Comics
PBA Galleries


PBA Galleries
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PBA Galleries