The Comic Speculator Back Issue Roundup – Superman and JFK Comic Controversy

Publication of a DC comic featuring President Kennedy and Superman was suspended after the assassination, but President Johnson later gave the comic the go ahead as a tribute to JFK.

The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previews World and Comics List. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.

The Back Issue Roundup

There never seems to be a dull moment in the back issue world, and this week’s round-up features mystery, possible malfeasance, cryptic messages from Hollywood super-stars and viral vampires. This ain’t no boring, stamp-collecting blog (no offense to the WorthPoint-stamp-nerds), this is the Comic Speculator Back-Issue Round Up!

Gold and Silver Oldies:

Once again, the seedier side of comic collecting rolls over and exposes it’s pasty, white underbelly… sort of… maybe. Got your attention, didn’t I?

Heritage Auctions consistently has one of the most incredible selections of back issue comics and original comic art, dating back to the Victorian age, in its auctions. But suddenly, it finds itself the subject of an investigation.

Back in 1963, DC commissioned artist Al Plastino to work on a comic starring Superman and then President John F. Kennedy. The comic was to help spread JFK’s physical fitness initiative to kids and featured Superman sent on a mission from the president to do just that. While the comic was being produced Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The publication was suspended, but President Johnson later gave the comic the go ahead as a tribute to JFK. The issue was dedicated to the memory of JFK and even featured a reworked page showing Kennedy’s face in the clouds looking over the kids of the U.S.

Artist Al Plastino with page one of a comic starring Superman and then President John F. Kennedy.

A page from the JFK-Superman comic. Some of the original artwork is part of an ownership controversy.

Later, Plastino would donate the original art pages to the JFK Library in Boston, Mass., where he thought they had been stored for the last 50 years. So, imagine his shock when he heard that his pages would be up for auction at Heritage. It was during last month’s New York Comic-Con Plastino learned from the Heritage booth that not only did the library not have the pages but they were expected to fetch up to $50,000 at auction online.

According to his attorney, Plastino was not aware that artwork has been sold before, in 1993, by Sotheby’s as part of a consignment from Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame. To date, there seems to be no clear information regarding how Nash came into possession of the pages.

Currently, Plastino is suing Heritage for the owner’s name to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. Plastino, 92, is reportedly critically ill and in intensive care. Heritage has suspended the sale during the investigation and the hope is the pages will be returned to Plastino or actually donated to the JFK library before the artist’s death. If this doesn’t sound like a job for Superman, I don’t know what does.

Bronze Age and Beyond:

The Hollywood news hit hard this past week, with all kinds of comic-related TV and movie announcements.

This coming July, the FX network will bring 13 episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain to the small screen. The Strain was am 11-issue mini-series from Dark Horse that featured the CDC battling a viral vampire outbreak. The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, 2011) wasn’t a huge hit, but having del Toro’s name attached to the project certainly helped it get FX’s attention. News of the series immediately sent collectors and shop owners to their back issue boxes and bins in search of the title and sales went wild. A month ago, you could pick up the Strain #1 for less than $5. Currently, first-printings are selling for $25-$35 and look to be going up from there.

In other TV news, AMC is at it again, this time ordering a pilot episode for Preacher, based on the DC/Vertigo series by writer Garth Ennis and artist Glen Fabry. Shortly after the announcement, actor Seth Rogan dropped two cryptic tweets that seem to suggest he has something to do with the pilot.

The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, 2011)

Preacher #1 (DC, 1995)

Preacher has been in development as both a TV series and a movie since 1998, when there was rumor of Ben Affleck playing the main role of Jessie.

Fans of the series went nuts with this new news and, suddenly, un-slabbed first printings of Preacher #1 (DC, 1995) are selling anywhere from $90-$125 and a copy in CGC 9.8 condition recently sold for $475 on eBay.

But the real Preacher find is the eight-page preview that retailers handed out for free shortly before the series hit shelves. There’s no hard numbers on the preview’s print-run, but it’s safe to assume they were very low, making it nearly impossible to find in Near-Mint condition. Recently, a copy of the preview in CGC 9.8 condition sold on eBay with a “Buy it Now” price of $399.

Had the seller hung onto it, I’m willing to bet they could have made twice that when the show airs. Watch for more Preacher back-issue news soon.

Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply” box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!

Want to know what your comics are worth? Join WorthPoint to search its database or use its “Ask A Worthologist” feature. Remember to post the title, issue number and cover price.

WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth

(Visited 29 times, 1 visits today)