Action Comics #19 and a Level-Up for Superman and DC, at Auction
Collecting early Action Comics can be tough going for mere mortal Superman collectors. Action Comics #1 is so far out of reach for all but the wealthiest of collectors, even in very low grade, that just the "No. 1" from the cover of that first issue has gone for $7,101. What's an ordinary collector to do when brittle flakes from the interior pages of this historic first issue have gone for hundreds of dollars? The traditional route to addressing this situation is to go for the so-called "poor man's Action Comics #1", which can mean the second Superman cover on Action Comics #7, the third Superman cover on Action Comics #10, or even the fourth Superman cover on Action Comics #13. And even these have gotten out of reach for many collectors.
But I've always felt that Action Comics #19 was a very logical starting point for collecting the title. It's the beginning of the continuous, monthly Superman covers and is really symbolic of a turning point for DC Comics across the board. A noteworthy moment in DC Comics history, there's an Action Comics #19 CGC 6.5 Off-White Pages up for auction in today's session of ComicConnect Event Auction #52.
In the wake of Victor Fox's early 1939 jump into the superhero comic book market with Wonderman in Wonder Comics #1, resulting in a lawsuit with DC Comics over the character's similarity to Superman, DC's line expansion through the rest of that year seems carefully orchestrated and downright cautious. Throughout much of the rest of 1939, DC Comics began alternating Superman and Batman covers on Action Comics and Detective Comics; the month that Superman was on the cover of Action Comics, Batman would not be on the cover of Detective Comics, and vice versa. But by mid-year, with Superman getting his own title and competitors beginning to rush in, it seemed clear that Superman and what he represented was not an anomaly.
Cover-dated December 1939, Action Comics #19 marks the beginning of DC deciding to go all in on superheroes, as it would be the start of the monthly Superman cover run on the title that would last for decades. The interior of this issue also gave readers an indication of DC's expansion of its superhero line, with an ad in the comic announcing Flash Comics and showing Flash and Hawkman in print for the first time. The next month, with January 1940 cover-dated issues, Batman covers went monthly with Detective Comics #35 and Flash Comics #1 debuted as advertised, followed by the debut of the Spectre in More Fun Comics #52 cover-dated February 1940, followed by the debut of Hourman in the March 1940 cover-dated Adventure Comics #48, and… you get the idea. This is a simplification of the history, but Action Comics #19 can certainly be viewed as a noteworthy moment for DC.
GCD credits artist Paul Cassidy with inks or finishes for this cover over Joe Shuster pencils or layouts, and Jerry Siegel and Cassidy on the interior Superman story. With only 14 unrestored copies listed higher than CGC 6.5, this is a solid opportunity to get an important early issue of Action Comics that can serve as a reasonable starting point for collecting the title or Golden Age DC Comics overall.