Published: February 15, 2022
BERKELEY, CALIF. – PBA Galleries’ comic books sale conducted on February 3 had an unprecedented percentage of 99 percent sale rate. The auction witnessed a large number of new bidders that were particularly active and competitive throughout the whole sale. Top prices were fetched for several “unslabbed” books, which is rare in the market. Last but not least, 188 lots exceeded the high estimate by more than a third.
The auction consisted of 525 lots featuring pre-Code and international horror, Golden, Silver and Bronze Age and underground. The sale offered hundreds of CGC-certified books, including some seldom-seen rarities. Pre-Code horror and Atomic Age comics dominated, with top-of-the-market prices achieved for key books, including books with Matt Baker covers and books featuring notoriously graphic violence, such as Weird Mysteries #5 and Shock SuspenStories #6. Major individual lots included Seven Seas Comics #4 as well as Teen-Age Romances #11. Highlights also included several Mister Mystery comic books and various Strange Tales ones.
One of the lots that attracted the most interest was the Seven Seas Comics #4 with a CGC of 6.5. It has a classic cover, featuring Matt Baker’s tropical beauty, Alani the “South Sea Girl,” fighting a great white shark. This mag has gone white-hot with fans and investors in recent years. Speculator site Comicbookinvest.com picked Seven Seas #4 to share the number one slot in a 2019 list of the five hottest Matt Baker covers. The copy fetched $18,750 at PBA Galleries.
Among horror comics, a lucky bidder won a Crime Patrol #15 with a CGC of 4 for $9,375. This edition represents the birth of the New Trend; it is a comic book of inestimable significance in the annals of EC and pre-Code horror. In the same field, a Horrific #3, CGC 6.0, brought a large amount of bids. Cover by Don Heck, whose run of covers for Comic Media’s “Horrific” has made the series one of the most avidly collected horror titles, and his over-the-top “bullet-hole-in-head” cover for #3 is his indisputable masterpiece of the macabre. This lot sold for $5,313.
Other horror comics highlights included Weird Mysteries #5 with a CGC of 2.5, which is considered for some as the goriest pre-Code cover and went for $6,875. Bernard Baily’s brain-removal cover to Weird Mysteries #5 raised the stakes sky-high in what’s been called the “upward spiral of gruesomeness” of four-color fear. A lot that also needs to be quoted is the Mister Mystery #11, CGC 6.0, one of the most stunning covers ever to appear on horror comics. A bidder got it for $5,938.
Bidding was also brisk for lots of a completely different kind: Teen-Age Romances #11, CGC 7.0, aroused a deep interest. Perhaps because this cover is particularly intriguing: How did black artist Matt Baker feel about drawing sexy scenes at country clubs and beaches where he didn’t dare show himself in the Jim Crow era? Baker died of a heart attack in 1959 without ever giving an interview, leaving his curious fans to fill in the blanks as best they could. Teen-Age Romances #11 went for $5,313.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.pbagalleries.com or 415-989-2665.
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