Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgotten Books: The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books (1989)

When this two-volume set was published back in '89, you couldn't just jump on the Internet and hunt up a photo of dang near every Golden Age comic ever published. So The Photo-Journal Guide was a beautiful thing. A collection of more than 21,000 comic book covers, in full color, along with pertinent info of various sorts.

Each big honkin' volume, running 400 pages and measuring 10 x 13 1/2 inches, begins with informative text articles. Volume 1 discusses the hobby of collecting, the science of grading, calculating relative values, pedigrees, preservation and storage, and the basic plan of the books. Volume 2 goes deeper into the phases and trends of collecting, buying, selling, investing, restoration, and social and historical impact. Volume 2 also has a handy artist index. All of that, I'm sure, was important reading for folks who could afford to collect Golden Age comics.

But for the rest of us, who are really just looky-lous, these books are all about the photos. And they're pure eye candy. All are interesting, and some are flat out amazing. Mixed in with the familiar titles are hundreds of titles I've never heard of, and would otherwise never see. The Adventures of Alan Ladd. Al Capp's Wolf Gal. Atom-Age Combat. Baseball Thrills. Billy Buckskin. The Bouncer. Catholic Comics. Claire Voyant. Criminals on the Run. Captain Kidd. And on and on and on. And on some more.

Each issue (or sequence of issues) has an entry showing the RVI (Relative Value Index - higher numbers are better) and the SI (Scarcity Index - 10 being the rarest). This page tells us that Doc Savage 2, with an RVI of 380, is worth roughly three times as much as Doc Savage 19. 

Seems to me I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty bucks for these books back in '89, and I'd expect them to be worth a lot more now. Unfortunately for me (but luckily for you), they're not. The same outfit later published several volumes devoted to Marvel Comics. This original set does include some early Marvels, but the cut-off date appears to be 1963.


George said...

Wow! These are great books! Love all those classic covers!

Rick Robinson said...

I had 'em. I wished at the time that the images were larger, which is why I traded them for credit at the local comics shop.

Charles Gramlich said...

Seems like in the 80s the 'collector's market' started to get out of hand and things were sold on the basis that they would appreciate in worth. I saw the same with baseball cards.

Richard Prosch said...

Still got mine up on the shelf with the Monster Society of Evil and other oversized tomes. Your post makes me wanna pull 'em down and slobber all over them. And yes, I think I paid the same. Also seems like I saw an offer once for them on microfiche! No joke --there was a company who also was putting out classic comics on microfiche back in the '80s.

Evan Lewis said...

Some of the photos are smaller than I'd like. Pages range from four to six columns, with the early issues of the most important titles getting the four-column treatment. But it's a great resource to see what exists. Once I spot something interesting I can usually (though not always) find a larger photo on the 'net.