The Jack Kamen Comics that Got Blue Beetle Banned, Up for Auction

Best remembered for his work at EC Comics across a range of genres including science fiction, horror, and crime, Jack Kamen also made noteworthy late-1940s contributions to publishers like Fiction House and Fox Feature Syndicate, where his good girl artwork on titles like Phantom Lady among others is also highly sought after by collectors. We've mentioned his Fox work on Dagar, Desert Hawk, and Rulah, Jungle Goddess recently, and his Blue Beetle work is also highly sought after by collectors.  This era of the Blue Beetle series is well known to have garnered a couple of mentions in Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, but that's only part of the story.  In 1948, shortly after the harder-edged true crime story and good girl art era had begun for this series, a number of major metros around the country put Blue Beetle on their banned comics lists.  An important part of comic book history that has long been sought after by collectors, there are a number of the legendary Blue Beetle comics with Kamen covers and content up for auction in the 2022 June 19-20 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122225 at Heritage Auctions.

Blue Beetle (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947/1948)
Blue Beetle (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947/1948)

1948 is an under-discussed flashpoint for the comic book industry and its battle with would-be censors.  Even as the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers announced its code guidelines and the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of a New York State statute prohibiting the sale of publications with "pictures and stories of deeds of bloodshed, lust or crime" in WINTERS v. PEOPLE OF STATE OF NEW YORK, dozens of cities across the country were preparing local comic book ordinances designed to circumvent that decision.  Blue Beetle and much of the rest of the Fox line were on most of those lists. While much of the Fox line survived the 1948 era, Blue Beetle effectively ended that year with issue #57.  With the beautiful women of Kamen and others increasingly pushing the title character off the covers almost entirely, and true crime-style content crowding him out of the interior stories, perhaps Fox felt there was no longer a point in keeping up the pretense. But undaunted by the times, Fox would launch five new titles within three months of cutting Blue Beetle.

The title would briefly return in 1950 near the end of the Fox Feature Syndicate lifespan, with a more traditional style of superhero story. But these 1947/1948 issues of the title are an important part of the history of the period, and there are a number of the legendary Blue Beetle comics with Kamen covers and content up for auction in the 2022 June 19-20 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122225 at Heritage Auctions.

Blue Beetle #46 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) Condition: GD. Detached cover and tape on interior spine. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $42.

Blue Beetle #48 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) Condition: GD/VG. Jack Kamen art. Headlight cover. Tape seal on interior cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $135; VG 4.0 value = $270.

Blue Beetle #50 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) Condition: GD/VG. Jack Kamen cover and art. Tape on spine. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $135; VG 4.0 value = $270.

Blue Beetle #51 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) Condition: GD-. Jack Kamen cover and art. Lingerie panels. Spine is 75% split. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $119.

Blue Beetle #55 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1948) Condition: VG+. Contains a nudity panel. Jack Kamen art. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $232.

Blue Beetle #56 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1948) Condition: VG+. Jack Kamen art. Used in Seduction of the Innocent. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $232.

Heritage Sponsored

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

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.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.