Friday, November 19, 2010

"Detective" Clues

More and more rare vintage comic books seem to be turning up lately, and getting high prices on auction sites. A San Francisco man recently discovered a copy of Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman, that he bought for a dime in 1939. He sold it to a collector in Dallas for $492,000.

In August, I wrote a post on how to tell a genuine copy of Action Comics #1, the 1938 debut of Superman, from the near-identical Famous First Edition reprint from 1974. Since Detective #27 was also reprinted in that series, I'll now tell you how to pick it out of a line-up.

Again, the most obvious difference is size. The original 1939 comic book measured about 10 by 7.5 inches, slightly smaller than a sheet of letter-sized paper; the 1974 reprint was 13.5 by 10 inches, a little bigger than a modern tabloid newspaper.

But if you don't have a ruler or a newspaper handy, there were a couple of minor changes made to the cover to make it stand out. The original issue had creator Bob Kane's signature in the lower right corner. It also showed the corner of a neighboring building along the right side. And Batman's rope extended all the way to the upper right corner of the cover. All of these details were removed from the reprinted version. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

The Famous First Edition series was a great gift to young collectors who never knew what comics were like in the early days. But they can also be a gift to thieves and con men. Don't get taken in by a defective Detective.


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