Are Pulps Ready to Parallel Vintage Comics and Explode in Value?

A guest post from Rick Akers, a Heritage Auctions Consignment Director and Comics Buyer. He also heads up the Heritage Auctions Comic Market direct sales dealer program and is an expert in pulps and other vintage material.

The golden age comics market has been exploding with new interested collectors over the last several years and prices have been skyrocketing. Comics that were considered second-tier 10 years ago, like St John romance, Harvey horror comics, and many of the good girl art titles have had exponential growth. The demand has outpaced the finite supply and has produced eye-popping results with horror comics like Black Cat #50, Chamber of Chills #19 and Mask Comics #1 and #2 achieving record prices. Romance and good girl art comics like Matt Baker's Phantom Lady #17, Cinderella Love #25 and Giant Comics Edition #12 are in sky-high demand and when a copy comes to market the results speak for themselves. All of these books have one thing in common; beautifully drawn covers with loads of horror and sex appeal. Enter pulps.

The growth in interest for horror, crime, and good girl art comics have made collectors look back a few years at the even more salacious cover art of pulp magazines. Pulps like the Spicy titles from Culture Publications and Saucy Movie Tales and Saucy Romantic Adventures have the heat turned up a couple of notches because these were geared towards adults in the 1930's and early 40's. Horror magazines like Terror Tales and Horror Stories were as gruesome as any comic cover. These pulps have all the desirable qualities of the fastest-growing segment of golden age comics, are quite rare and extremely difficult to find in nice shape. Sounds like a perfect storm.

Here are a few standout pulps in the Heritage Auctions Amazing Pulps auction for December 2nd at 5:00 PM Central Time. Online bidding is happening now.

Detective Story Magazine June 23, 1933.
Detective Story Magazine June 23, 1933 pulp.

The Spicy pulps from Culture Publications hit the newsstands with a more risqué and often violent take on pulp fiction and this first issue of Spicy Adventure Stories from November 1934 with a woman in peril/beheading H.J. Ward cover set the tone right from the start that this was top-shelf material. These early Spicy issues are extremely difficult above VG and we have many fine and historically-important examples including this Spicy Adventure Stories November 1934.

Are Pulps Ready to Explode in Value?
Spicy Adventure Stories March and May 1935.

The Shadow began as the mysterious narrator of the Detective Story Hour radio program in 1930. Listeners of the program sought out more stories featuring the Shadow Detective from the radio at their local newsstands and Street & Smith responded with the iconic debut of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931. Walter B. Gibson was hired to create the character and write the stories and Jerome Rozen and later his more acclaimed twin brother, George Rozen, took over the illustration duties. A legend was born that created the shadow of heroes to come. Up for auction are the bound volume of the first six issues and the bound volume of issues of the second year of The Shadow from the library of Walter B. Gibson creating a rare opportunity to own a piece of pulp and literary history.

Cover examples from William B. Gibson's bound volumes of the first two years of The Shadow.
Cover examples from William B. Gibson's bound volumes of the first two years of The Shadow.

Fantomas Volumes 1 through 32 by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre were published Feb 1911 through Sept 1913. Fantomas is the Genius of Evil early anti-hero that is quite dark even by today's standards. He's a master of disguise, brutally ruthless, and doesn't mind taking a life to achieve his objectives. We are not aware of any other recent opportunity to purchase a complete collection of these extremely early French anti-hero novels that inspired many others.

Fantomas Vols. 1-32 Complete Vintage Paperback Series (Arthème Fayard, 1911-13)
Fantomas Vols. 1-32 Complete Vintage Paperback Series (Arthème Fayard, 1911-13)

Virgil Finlay has been called "one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative artwork for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time" and this signed original cover art painting for the October 1942 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries is certainly one of the standout pieces in his illustrious career. Finlay offers a science fiction take on Adam and Eve complete with nude images in test tubes in this gorgeous piece which would be welcomed in any illustration art collection.

Are Pulps Ready to Explode in Value?
Virgil Finlay Famous Fantastic Mysteries 10/1942 Cover Original Art (Frank A. Munsey, 1942)

We are pleased to offer a solid mid-grade copy of the very first issue of Amazing Stories from 1926, the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Published initially by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing and continued on through several incarnations through to 2005 and has had online and printed publications continue after 2012.  Check out Bleeding Cool's deep dive into Amazing Stories volume 3 number 5 from earlier today.  All of the items listed here and much more are up for auction in this week's Amazing Pulps and Collectibles Auction featuring the Joe Rainone Collection at Heritage Auctions.


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Rick AkersAbout Rick Akers

A native Ohioan, Rick began in the comics industry in 1990 and left to work in ministry with inner city youth. Later he managed and eventually owned his family's sign business, which he ran for 25 years. In 2014, while running the business, he returned to comics with a focus on golden age comics and developed a stellar reputation in the collecting community as a premier seller of vintage comics and pulp magazines. Rick joined the Heritage Auctions team in 2019 as a Consignment Director and Comics Buyer. He also heads up the Heritage Auctions Comic Market direct sales dealer program.
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