L.B. Cole's Wild Science Fiction Blue Bolt Covers, Up for Auction

With the heat turning up on the comic book industry in 1948, Curtis Publishing, who published comics via their Novelty Press imprint, had found themselves getting caught up in the controversy over the industry during that period.  Best known as the publisher of the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal, Curtis decided to throw in the towel on comic books by 1949, selling their titles and inventory to Star Publications, a company formed by L.B. Cole and lawyer Gerhard Kramer.  Star Publications continued Curtis titles including 4Most, Dick Cole, Frisky Fables, and most famously Blue Bolt.  Cole brought his unique cover design sense to the science fiction themes of Blue Bolt to spectacular effect, and the Star Publications portion of the Blue Bolt run is highly sought after — and often expensive.  But there's a chance to get some affordable low-grade copies of a few issues of this spectacular Blue Bolt run up for auction at the 2022 July 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122228 at Heritage Auctions.

Blue Bolt #110 featuring L.B. Cole cover (Star Publications, 1951)
Blue Bolt #110 featuring L.B. Cole cover (Star Publications, 1951)

L.B. Cole's development as an artist provided him with the sort of work experience that balanced artistic, commercial, and technical concerns. Born in 1918 in the Bronx, New York City, Cole went to work in his grandfather's cigar factory in the early 1930s, soon becoming interested in the label design aspect of the business. By the mid-1930s, Cole joined the art/design staff of Consolidated Lithographing Corporation, by that time the largest printer of cigar bands and boxes in the world.

That background would serve Cole well for what would come next. By 1943, Cole was working for Louis Goodman Ferstadt, whose studio provided art for a variety of publishers including DC Comics, Quality, and Ace.  The Ferstadt studio also employed Harvey Kurtzman.  Ferstadt was also a noted painter and muralist, and his comic book style is a clear influence on Cole's style.  Of his approach to cover color and design, Cole would say: "I was always oriented toward newsstand sales, and these stylized covers drew readers. There was a riot of color out there on the stands and I figured something had to be done to catch the buyer's eye. Take a look at most of the other books: they're all done in a linear technique. All of the super-heroes… were a mass of figures kicking and punching and they all looked the same."

But L.B. Cole's covers did not look the same.  They stood out among the riot of color on the newsstands, and through the course of American comic book history, and there's a chance to get some affordable low-grade copies of a few issues of his spectacular Blue Bolt run up for auction at the 2022 July 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122228 at Heritage Auctions.

Blue Bolt #110 featuring L.B. Cole cover (Star Publications, 1951)
Blue Bolt #110 featuring L.B. Cole cover (Star Publications, 1951)

Blue Bolt #107 (Star Publications, 1950) Condition: GD/VG. L. B. Cole dinosaur/sci-fi cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $77; VG 4.0 value = $154.

Blue Bolt #110 (Star Publications, 1951) Condition: GD. L. B. Cole "classic" cover. Target appearance. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $81.

Blue Bolt #112 (Star Publications, 1952) Condition: FR. Subtitled Weird Tales of Terror. Last Torpedo Man appearance. Skull cover by L. B. Cole. Jay Disbrow art. Slicing on cover runs through pages. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $110.

 

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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