This is far off the beaten gadget path, but when ComicConnect's Ben Smith (who sold me my treasured "Wally Wood's 22 Panels that Always Work" paste-up) contacted me about a noteworthy upcoming auction, I figured there's a healthy enough overlap between gadget nerddom and comic fandom that you guys would find this interesting.
"First editions" are somewhat unknown in the world of comic books. Why reprint when there's a new issue out in a month? But one of the most notable books, the very first "Marvel Comics," was printed twice—a limited October, 1939 run of 80,000 copies, and a November run of 800,000 copies.
Steve Fishler, owner of the comics broker ComicConnect, got his hands on an October print in surprisingly good condition. And he wants you to buy it.
Fishler learned the story of the two printings after meeting Art Goodman back in '82 in the Marvel Comics offices. Art's brother Martin had been publisher of Timely, a small pulp novel imprint. After seeing the success of DC's Superman and Batman books, Timely took a stab at comics despite no prior history in the medium, hiring pulp cover artist Frank R. Paul to paint his first and only Marvel Comics cover.
"They expected the first issues to sit on the newsstands for weeks," said Fishler of the comic, which included the first appearances of Marvel stalwarts "The Human Torch," "Submariner," and "The Angel." "Two weeks later they went back to press."
"Pedigree" copies of "Marvel Comics"—technically not "#1," although "Marvel Mystery Comics #2" came soon after—have mostly been November issues, valued by the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide between $21,250 for an issue in "Good" condition, up to $420,000 for an issue in "Near Mint." Overstreet notes the two separate printings but hasn't ever made a distinction in price, beyond noting that "some copies do not have the November imprint and could have a higher value." Fishler has estimated his copy as a "7.0" on the scale, putting it in the "Fine to Very Fine" range—somewhere in the $100,000 range in value, although Fishler is hesitant to guess what his copy will go for in his upcoming auction.
"November Marvel #1s have been going for below the listed price," he noted. It's possible that the appearance of a good-quality October issue will actually drive the price of November issues down.
We'll know in a couple of weeks. ComicConnect's auction starts on February 24th.
Auction Page [ComicConnect.com]