The Promise Collection 1947: True Crime, True Love, Synthetic Gems

"One point which I can't stress too strongly is: Don't write down to your readers," noted a young Stan Lee in his November 1947 Writer's Digest call for professional writers to consider the comic book market.  About 25 years old at the time, Lee had already written a number of comic books read by the young man who assembled the Promise Collection, who was likely around 16 years old by this time.  "It is common knowledge that a large portion of comic magazine readers are adults, and the rest of the readers who may be kids are generally pretty sharp characters. They are used to seeing movies and listening to radio shows and have a pretty good idea of the stories they want to read. If you figure that "anything goes" in a comic magazine, a study of any recent copy of Daredevil Comics or Bat Man will show you that a great deal of thought goes into every story; and there are plenty of gimmicks, sub-plots, human interest angles, and the other elements that go into the making of any type of good story, whether it be a comic strip or a novel."

"Another consideration of prime importance is: Decide which comic magazine you want to write for before you do any writing," Lee continued noting the growing diversity of his field. "The various magazines in the field have editorial differences which are almost always amazing. A story which Timely Comics would consider exciting might be deemed too fantastic by True Comics, Inc., and Classic Comics, Inc., would have very little use for the type of story preferred at Fiction House! Each comic publishing company has its own distinctive formula, and the only way to really grasp this formula is to read the magazines."

True Crime #2, Young Romance #1, the Promise Collection 1947.
True Crime #2, Young Romance #1, the Promise Collection 1947.

Welcome to Part 15 of the Promise Collection series, which is meant to serve as liner notes of sorts for the comic books in the collection. The Promise Collection is a set of nearly 5,000 comic books, 95% of which are blisteringly high grade, that were published from 1939 to 1952 and purchased by one young comic book fan.  The name of the Promise Collection was inspired by the reason that it was saved and kept in such amazing condition since that time. An avid comic book fan named Junie and his older brother Robert went to war in Korea.  Robert Promised Junie that he would take care of his brother's beloved comic book collection should anything happen to him. Junie was killed during the Korean War, and Robert kept his promise.  There are more details about that background in a previous post regarding this incredible collection of comic books.  And over the course of a few dozen articles in this new series of posts, we will also be revealing the complete listing of the collection.  You can always catch up with posts about this collection at this link, which will become a hub of sorts regarding these comic books over time.

Phantom Lady #15, Fox Features Publications, 1947.
Phantom Lady #15, Fox Features Publications, 1947.

September Through December 1947 in the Promise Collection

Stan Lee's now-familiar enthusiasm for the business of comic books was well-earned as 1947 began to draw to a close.  Publisher's Weekly had just reported that the industry had published 540 million comic books over the prior year, and even the consternation of various state-level police organizations as discussed in our last post was getting some pushback in the media, with a few organizations offering a more nuanced view of the matter.  A widely-published AP newswire article reported that "Dr. Lawrence G Thomas of the Stanford University school of education reported at worst comic books are not nearly harmful enough to merit banishment from the home." While a largely-positive article in December 1947 McCall's reported on the findings of Frank Cohen, the director for a then well-regarded NYC facility for juvenile defenders called Youth House, who noted, "Overindulgence in the comics is not the cause of the disturbance, but only a symptom of it. You can't change things by denying these children comics; you have got to understand why they crave them."

But despite such expert opinions, another figure who would have nearly the impact on the course of comics history that Stan Lee would have would also step onto the public stage during late 1947. In March 1947, the U.S. Post Office seized copies of the nudist magazine Sunshine & Health on the basis that it was obscene.  As hearings on the matter were held in December 1947, Fredric Wertham took the stand.  While approving of the publication of nudist magazines as being good for children by showing "people without clothes in the natural surroundings of sun, air, and water, engaged in wholesome outdoor activities," Wertham would use this platform to criticize comic books in no uncertain terms.

"The reader gets the impression that all women are young and pretty…" Wertham claimed, with what would become his showman's penchant for exaggeration and generalization of the field. "At all times in all locales they run around barefoot in brassieres and panties, the classic costume of the pinup, and much more provocative than complete nudity. In almost every comic magazine, the girl is bound, gagged, about to be tortured, sold as a slave, chained, whipped, choked, or thrown to wild animals. At the last moment, the heroine is rescued but only after the reader has seen the suggestive and shapely love object abused in some way."

While Wertham's bombastic rhetoric seemed more design to whip up public sentiment against comic books rather than to describe the business accurately, Good Girl comic books continued to be a notable presence in the Promise Collection of late 1947.  The classic cover of Phantom Lady #14 CGC 9.6 from this period of the collection went for a record $90,000.00 in June 2021.  Phantom Lady #15 CGC 9.6 likewise went for a record price at $33,600.00.  A number of classic Alex Schomburg airbrush covers for Ned Pines' Standard/Nedor Better Publications titles like Exciting Comics, Startling Comics and Wonder Comics are also present in the collection of this time frame.

But of course, even in 1947, Good Girl comics represent a relatively small portion of the overall composition of the collection during this period.  New series debuts from the last four months of the year include The classic True Crime Comics #2 which includes the legendary "Murder, Morphine and Me" storyline is among the crime comics in the collection within this four-month time span. At the other end of the spectrum, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby bring the "true story" romance genre — already wildly popular in the magazine field — to comics with the debut of Young Romance.  And for all of the diversity of content present in the collection by the late 1940s, superheroes still made a strong showing. Batman continued to be one of Junie's popular favorites and the unbroken, high-grade runs of Batman and Detective Comics have produced several gems such as the Detective Comics #124 CGC 9.8 which sold for an incredible $120,000.00 this year.  Flash Comics #89 CGC 9.6 featuring the first appearance of the Thorn sold for $26,400.00.

All-Flash #32, DC Comics 1947.
All-Flash #32, DC Comics 1947.

The Awesome Power of Star Sapphires

Figuring out the real-world inspirations for characters, stories, and plot elements is one of my favorite things about vintage comic books.  It's the old cliche made real: I've learned an astonishing amount of history from unraveling the inspirations behind the comics.  The reasons can range from important to trivial, from complex to completely obvious.  Every so often it's as plain as the nose on your face — or the ring on your finger.  But that doesn't make such inspirations any less interesting.  In the case of the debut of Star Saphire in All-Flash #32 in late 1947, that inspiration also explains a lot about where the character went from there.

A company called Linde Air Products applied to patent a process for developing synthetic star sapphires (and synthetic star rubies) in mid-1947. Linde Air Products was a division of chemical megacorporation Union Carbide.  Linde had been making synthetic sapphires since World War 2 for military applications.  In the words of Linde Air Products magazine marketing from 1943: "Sapphire is necessary for the security of this country. Out of this jewel stone are made hard, long-wearing bearings for precision instruments. The various precision devices of a modern battleship require more than 4,000 jewels; about 100 more are needed in fire-control mechanisms. Modern pursuit planes and bombers require up to 100 sapphire bearings in their instruments. In other words, sapphires were a key to unlocking weapons of tremendous power.  Synthetic sapphires continue to have military applications to this day.

But with the WW2 over, Linde found a consumer market for the products of its synthetic processes. A coordinated media blitz accompanied the announcement of the technical breakthrough in the development of synthetic star sapphires, with rings and other jewelry featuring the unique gems available in stores at nearly the same time. What is a star sapphire gemstone?  If you're familiar with the iconography of the DC Comics character of the same name, then you already know — though you may not know that you know, so to speak.  A star sapphire is "a rare variety of sapphire that exhibits a rare asterism under specific lighting. When viewing star sapphire, a six-rayed star will appear to float across the surface of the stone. … Star sapphires contain unusual tiny needle-like inclusions of rutile. Aligned needles that intersect each other at varying angles produce the rare phenomenon known as asterism."  In other words, a star sapphire is a gemstone that displays a distinctive star pattern across its face.  Not unlike the iconic form used in the various versions of the DC Comics character.

Shortly after Linde Air Products' star sapphire announcement and marketing push, the December 1947 / January 1948 cover-dated All-Flash #32 featured the Golden Age version of the character, Star Saphire came to earth in a craft with a symbol that resembles an iconic star sapphire set into its surface, and seemingly wore a large star sapphire gemstone in a tiara. Appropriately enough, later versions of the character would wield a star sapphire ring — like its apparent 1947 inspirations, a gemstone which can be used to unlock great destructive power, reimagined into something beautiful.

Title Issue # Auction LInk / Grade GCDBpublication_date Price Realized
4Most v6 #4 September-October 1947
Action Comics 112 September 1947
Action Comics 113 Action Comics #113 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages October 1947 $7,200.00
Action Comics 114 November 1947
Action Comics 115 December 1947
Adventure Comics 120 September 1947
Adventure Comics 121 October 1947
Adventure Comics 122 November 1947
Adventure Comics 123 December 1947
All-Flash 31 All-Flash #31 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages October-November 1947 $1,800.00
All-Flash 32 32 December 1947-January 1948
All-Star Comics 37 October-November 1947
All-Star Comics 38 December 1947-January 1948
All Top Comics 8 All Top Comics #8 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages November 1947
All-American Comics 90 October 1947
All-American Comics 91 November 1947
All Great Comics 13 December 1947
All Great Comics 14 October 1947
America's Best Comics 23 September 1947
America's Best Comics 24 December 1947
Archie Comics 28 September-October 1947
Archie Comics 29 November-December 1947
Batman (1940) 43 October-November 1947
Batman (1940) 44 Batman #44 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages December 1947-January 1948
Big Shot 81 September 1947
Big Shot 82 October 1947
Big Shot 83 November 1947
Big Shot 84 December 1947
Black Cat 8 October-November 1947
Black Terror 20 October 1947
Blackhawk 16 Autumn 1947
Blackhawk 17 Winter 1947
Blonde Phantom 15 Fall 1947
Blonde Phantom 16 Winter 1947-1948
Blondie Comics 3 Autumn 1947
Blondie Comics 4 Winter 1947-1948
Blue Beetle 49 Blue Beetle #49 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages October 1947 $3,840.00
Blue Beetle 50 Blue Beetle #50 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white to white pages November 1947
Blue Beetle 51 Blue Beetle #51 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages December 1947
Boy Comics 36 October 1947
Boy Comics 37 December 1947
Boy Commandos 23 Boy Commandos #23 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white to white pages September-October 1947 $456.00
Boy Commandos 24 Boy Commandos #24 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white pages November-December 1947 $900.00
Captain America Comics 64 October 1947
Captain Easy 10 October 1947
Captain Marvel Jr. 53 September 1947
Captain Marvel Jr. 54 October 1947
Captain Marvel Jr. 55 November 1947
Captain Marvel Jr. 56 December 1947
Captain Marvel Adventures 76 September 1947
Captain Marvel Adventures 77 October 1947
Captain Marvel Adventures 78 November 1947
Captain Marvel Adventures 79 December 1947
Comic Cavalcade 23 October-November 1947
Comic Cavalcade 24 December 1947-January 1948
Comics on Parade 58 September 1947
Cow Puncher Comics 2 September 1947
Cow Puncher Comics 3 1947
Crime Does Not Pay 55 September 1947
Crime Does Not Pay 56 October 1947
Crime Does Not Pay 57 November 1947
Crime Does Not Pay 58 December 1947
Daredevil Comics (1941) 44 September 1947
Daredevil Comics (1941) 45 November 1947
Detective Comics 127 Detective Comics #127 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages September 1947 $12,000.00
Detective Comics 128 Detective Comics #128 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages October 1947 $5,880.00
Detective Comics 129 November 1947
Detective Comics 130 December 1947
Doll Man 14 Autumn 1947
Dynamic Comics 23 November 1947
Exciting Comics 57 Exciting Comics #57 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Nedor, 1947) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white pages September 1947 $9,000.00
Exciting Comics 58 Exciting Comics #58 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Nedor, 1947) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white pages November 1947 $9,000.00
Famous Funnies 158 September 1947
Famous Funnies 159 October 1947
Famous Funnies 160 November 1947
Famous Funnies 161 December 1947
Feature Comics 114 September 1947
Feature Comics 115 October 1947
Feature Comics 116 November 1947
Feature Comics 117 December 1947
Fight Comics 52 Fight Comics #53 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fiction House, 1947) CGC NM- 9.2 White pages October 1947 $1,680.00
Fight Comics 53 December 1947
Flash Comics 87 Flash Comics #87 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages September 1947 $18,000.00
Flash Comics 88 Flash Comics #88 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages October 1947 $31,200.00
Flash Comics 89 Flash Comics #89 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white pages November 1947 $26,400.00
Flash Comics 90 Flash Comics #90 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 Off-white to white pages December 1947 $4,200.00
Frankenstein 9 Frankenstein Comics #9 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Prize, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages September-October 1947 $2,640.00
Frankenstein 10 Frankenstein Comics #9 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Prize, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages November-December 1947 $2,640.00
Green Hornet Comics 35 August-September 1947
Green Hornet Comics 36 October-November 1947
Headline Comics 26 September-October 1947
Headline Comics 27 November-December 1947
Hit Comics 48 September 1947
Hit Comics 49 November 1947
Human Torch 28 Fall 1947
Human Torch 29 Winter 1947
International Comics 5 International Comics #5 The Promise Collection Pedigree (EC, 1947) CGC NM- 9.2 White pages November-December 1947 $3,600.00
Jack Armstrong 1 November 1947
Jack Armstrong 2 December 1947
Joe Palooka 13 October 1947
Joe Palooka 14 November 1947
Joe Palooka 15 December 1947
Jumbo Comics 103 September 1947
Jumbo Comics 104 October 1947
Jumbo Comics 105 November 1947
Jumbo Comics 106 December 1947
Jungle Comics 93 September 1947
Jungle Comics 94 October 1947
Jungle Comics 95 November 1947
Jungle Comics 96 December 1947
Justice 7 Justice Comics 7 (#1) The Promise Collection Pedigree (Atlas, 1947) CGC VF+ 8.5 White pages Fall 1947 $960.00
Justice Traps the Guilty 1 October-November 1947
Laugh Comics 24 December 1947
Li'l Abner 61 Li'l Abner #61 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Harvey, 1947) CGC NM 9.4 White pages December 1947 $660.00
Manhunt 1 Manhunt #1 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Magazine Enterprises, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages October 1947
Manhunt 2 Manhunt #2 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Magazine Enterprises, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages November 1947
Manhunt 3 December 1947
Marvel Family 15 September 1947
Marvel Family 16 October 1947
Marvel Family 17 November 1947
Marvel Family 18 December 1947
Marvel Mystery Comics 84 Marvel Mystery Comics #84 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Timely, 1947) CGC NM- 9.2 White pages October 1947
Mary Marvel 16 September 1947
Mary Marvel 17 October 1947
Mary Marvel 18 November 1947
Mary Marvel 19 December 1947
Master Comics 83 September 1947
Master Comics 84 October 1947
Master Comics 85 November 1947
Master Comics 86 December 1947
Modern Comics 65 Modern Comics #65 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Quality, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages September 1947 $3,600.00
Modern Comics 66 Modern Comics #66 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Quality, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 Off-white pages October 1947 $660.00
Modern Comics 67 Modern Comics #67 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Quality, 1947) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages November 1947 $780.00
Modern Comics 68 Modern Comics #68 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Quality, 1947) CGC NM- 9.2 Off-white to white pages December 1947 $660.00
Moon Girl 2 Moon Girl #2 The Promise Collection Pedigree (EC, 1947) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white pages Winter 1947-1948 $15,600.00
Moon Girl and the Prince 1 Moon Girl and the Prince #1 The Promise Collection Pedigree (EC, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 Cream to off-white pages Fall 1947 $10,200.00
Mutt & Jeff 30 October-November 1947
Mutt & Jeff 31 December 1947-January 1948
National Comics 62 National Comics #63 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Quality, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages October 1947 $690.00
National Comics 63 December 1947
Nyoka the Jungle Girl 11 September 1947
Nyoka the Jungle Girl 12 October 1947
Nyoka the Jungle Girl 13 November 1947
Nyoka the Jungle Girl 14 December 1947
Official True Crime Cases 24 Fall 1947
Official True Crime Cases 25 Official True Crime Cases Comics #25 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Timely, 1947) CGC VF+ 8.5 White pages Winter 1947 $1,020.00
Pep Comics 63 September 1947
Pep Comics 64 November 1947
Phantom Lady 14 Phantom Lady #14 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages October 1947 $90,000.00
Phantom Lady 15 Phantom Lady #15 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages December 1947 $33,600.00
Planet Comics 50 Planet Comics #50 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fiction House, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages September 1947
Planet Comics 51 Planet Comics #51 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fiction House, 1947) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages November 1947
Plastic Man 9 Autumn 1947
Plastic Man 10 Winter 1947-1948
Police Comics 70 September 1947
Police Comics 71 October 1947
Police Comics 72 November 1947
Police Comics 73 December 1947
Prize Comics 65 August – September 1947
Prize Comics 66 October-November 1947
Prize Comics 67 December 1947-January 1948
Rangers Comics 37 October 1947
Rangers Comics 38 December 1947
Real Clue Crime Stories v2 #7 September 1947
Real Clue Crime Stories v2 #8 October 1947
Real Clue Crime Stories 9 November 1947
Real Clue Crime Stories 10 December 1947
Real Fact Comics 10 Real Fact Comics #10 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages September-October 1947 $1,170.00
Red Seal Comics 21 Red Seal Comics #21 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Chesler, 1947) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages October 1947 $1,920.00
Red Seal Comics 22 December 1947
Saint 2 1947
Sensation Comics 69 September 1947
Sensation Comics 70 October 1947
Sensation Comics 71 November 1947
Sensation Comics 72 December 1947
Smash Comics 73 October 1947
Smash Comics 74 December 1947
Sparkling Stars 27 September 1947
Sparkling Stars 28 October 1947
Sparkling Stars 29 November 1947
Sparkling Stars 30 December 1947
Spirit 10 Fall 1947
Star Spangled Comics 72 9.4 September 1947
Star Spangled Comics 73 October 1947
Star Spangled Comics 74 8.5 November 1947
Star Spangled Comics 75 9 December 1947
Startling Comics 47 9.6 September 1947
Startling Comics 48 9.6 November 1947
Sub-Mariner Comics 24 6 Winter 1947-1948
Super-Mystery Comics v7 #1 9.6 September 1947
Super-Mystery Comics v7 #2 November 1947
Superman (1939) 48 Superman #48 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM 9.4 White pages September-October 1947
Superman (1939) 49 November-December 1947
Suzie Comics 59 October 1947
Suzie Comics 60 December 1947
Target Comics v8 #7 September 1947
Target Comics v8 #8 October 1947
Target Comics 9 November 1947
Target Comics v8 #10 December 1947
Terry and the Pirates Comics 6 October 1947
Terry and the Pirates Comics 7 December 1947
The Barker 5 Autumn 1947
The Barker 6 Winter 1947
Thrilling Comics 63 December 1947
Wanted Comics 9 September-October 1947
Wanted Comics 10 November-December 1947
Whiz Comics 89 September 1947
Whiz Comics 90 October 1947
Whiz Comics 91 November 1947
Whiz Comics 92 December 1947
Wilbur 15 October 1947
Wilbur 16 December 1947
Wings Comics 85 September 1947
Wings Comics 86 October 1947
Wings Comics 87 November 1947
Wings Comics 88 December 1947
Wonder Comics 14 October 1947
Wonder Comics 15 December 1947
Wonder Woman (1942) 25 September-October 1947
Wonder Woman (1942) 26 Wonder Woman #26 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages November-December 1947
World's Finest Comics 30 September-October 1947
World's Finest Comics 31 November-December 1947
Wow Comics 58 September 1947
Wow Comics 59 October 1947
Wow Comics 60 November 1947
Wow Comics 61 December 1947
X-Venture 2 X-Venture #2 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Victory Magazines, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages November 1947
Young King Cole v3 #2 September 1947
Young King Cole v3 #3 October 1947
Young King Cole v3 #4 November 1947
Young King Cole v3 #5 December 1947
Young Romance 1 September-October 1947
Young Romance 2 November-December 1947
Zoot 9 October 1947
Zoot 10 Zoot Comics #10 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Fox Features Syndicate, 1947) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages November 1947
Zoot 11 December 1947
Is This Tomorrow 1 Is This Tomorrow #1 The Promise Collection Pedigree (Catechetical Guild, 1947) CGC VF- 7.5 Cream to off-white pages [November 1] 1947

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Mark SeifertAbout 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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