The Complete Run of Fiction House's Ghost Comics, Up for Auction

In June 1953, an organization calling itself The Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books, which claimed to have 84 "trained reviewers", evaluated 418 comic book titles which were then available on the newsstands of America.  These reviewers placed the output of American comic book publishers into one of four categories:  no objection, some objection, objectionable, and very objectionable.  This evaluation subsequently became a part of the 1954 Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency during the mid-1950s moral panic against comic books.  The 65 comic book titles which were placed in the "very objectionable" category are for the most part fairly familiar to modern readers. EC Comics titles like Haunt of Fear, Shock SuspenStories, and Tales from the Crypt; Fawcett title This Magazine is Haunted; and even enduring Marvel Comics titles like Strange Tales have all transcended the politically-motivated witch hunt stigma of the 1950s to be considered well-crafted classics in the modern day.  But a few of those 65 comic book titles continue to be overlooked, and the short-lived eleven-issue Fiction House title Ghost Comics is chief among those nearly-forgotten mid-1950s gems.  There's a complete run of this rare pre-Code horror series available in the 2022 July 3-4 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122227 at Heritage Auctions.

Ghost #2 (Fiction House, 1952)
Ghost Comics (Fiction House, 1952)

The "Very Objectionable" category as designated by The Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books was very expansive.  The category could include:

  • Grotesque, fantastic, unnatural creatures.
  • Persons dressed indecently or unduly exposed.
  • Any situation having a sexy implication.
  • Stories and pictures that tend to anything having a sadistic implication or suggesting use of black magic
  • Portrayal of mayhem, acts of assault, or murder.

"Implications" would seem to have been an operative principle for the Committee in the case of Ghost Comics, as the title is a fair bit less horrifically graphic than rivals such as Haunt of Fear or Tales from the Crypt.  One suspects that the Committee drew its conclusions from the spectacular Maurice Whitman covers, which do indeed have "sexy implications".  That said, Ghost Comics featured sophisticated suspense that sometimes surpassed the comics stories of EC Comics and other rivals.  The title manages to convey horror, suspense and sexual situations in a sophisticated way that is underappreciated to this day.

In addition to Maurice Whitman, a premiere Fiction House cover-artist who is deserving of much more credit than he has received, the title features work from notables such as Matt Baker, Jack Abel, Jack Kamen, and Lily Renée,  and perhaps even Will Eisner. There's a complete run of this rare pre-Code horror series available in the 2022 July 3-4 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122227 at Heritage Auctions.

Ghost Comics #2 (Fiction House, 1952)
Ghost Comics #2 (Fiction House, 1952)

Ghost #1 (Fiction House, 1951) Condition: VG-. Maurice Whitman cover and art. Piece missing from bottom of front cover, scratches on cover. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $464.

Ghost #2 (Fiction House, 1952) Condition: VG. Classic "good girl" lingerie cover by Maurice Whitman. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $322.

Ghost #3 (Fiction House, 1952) Condition: VG-. Maurice Whitman cover. Lily Renee art. Piece missing from bottom of front cover, spine splitting at the top. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $258.

Ghost #4 (Fiction House, 1952) Condition: GD/VG. Maurice Whitman cover. Jack Kamen and Jack Abel art. Tear to front cover, repaired with tape on the interior, tape repairs to cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $129; VG 4.0 value = $258.

Ghost #5 (Fiction House, 1952) Condition: VG. Maurice Whitman cover. Jack Abel art. Some creasing, including a subscription crease. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $258.

Ghost #6 (Fiction House, 1953) Condition: FR. Bondage cover by Maurice Whitman. Story art by Jack Kamen and Jack Abel. Cover split and detached, tape repair to spine (taped to pages). Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $129.

Ghost #7 (Fiction House, 1953) Condition: GD. Bondage, hanging cover by Maurice Whitman. Jack Abel art. Piece missing from back cover, subscription crease. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $129.

Ghost #8 (Fiction House, 1953) Condition: VG-. Voodoo doll cover by Maurice Whitman. Spine frayed. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $258.

Ghost #9 (Fiction House, 1953) Condition: FR. Bondage cover by Maurice Whitman. Jack Abel art. Spine split, repaired with glue from cover to pages. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $129.

Ghost #10 (Fiction House, 1954) Condition: FR/GD. Maurice Whitman skull cover. Jerry Grandenetti art. Cover three-quarters split and detached. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $97.

Ghost #11 (Fiction House, 1954) Condition: FR. Last issue of the title. Maurice Whitman cover. Johnny Bell, Jerry Grandenetti, Jack Abel, and George Evans art. Spine split, cover detached at bottom staple. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $97.

 

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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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