"Pre-Code Horror: an unregulated era from the late 40s to the early 50s before the industry was forced to self-censor with the Comics Code Authority." The comics from this era featured some gritty, shocking, and morbid covers by even today's standards, but they sure are fun to look at when they come to auction. Here's a look at the Black Cat Collection & Pre-Code Horror comics at auction at Heritage

Heritage's latest offering features plenty of Pre-Code Horror books as well as much from the Black Cat collection. It may not be Halloween, but there's nothing wrong with a little spooky in March, right? Would you want any of these on your wall?

Punch Comics #12 (Chesler, 1945) CGC GD+ 2.5

This classic Gus Ricca skull cover features off-white to white pages.  Ricca created a series of strange and often morbid covers for titles such as 'Scoop', 'Punch', and 'Dynamic'.

There are only 30 blue label copies of this comic listed in the CGC census, so seeing it come up at auction is exciting no matter the grade. The CGC 2.5 last sold all the way back on Aug 9, 2014 for 4,481.25 and is already sitting on a high bid of $10,500, so where it will land is anyone's guess at this point.

From Heritage, "This skull cover by Gus Ricca is a true classic. The book Comics: Between The Panels cited this as one of the best skull covers of all time. Ricca is a little known Golden Age artist who delivered several Punch Comics covers that are among the most memorable covers of the Golden Age"

Mask Comics #1 (Rural Home, 1945) CGC VG 4.0

This is a classic cover by L. B. Cole with Cole, Rudy Palais, and Maurice Gutwirth art. This copy has cream to off-white pages.

Cole's bold and bright comic art style is instantly identifiable and some of the most iconic of this era. One might even call it ahead of its time - an almost psychedelic piece found in the Golden Age.

There are only 60 CGC blue labels registered, with 3 of those landing at this book's 4.0. This grade is in the top 38% of all CGC graded copies.

A 4.0 has never appeared at auction, but we can look at grades above and below. A CGC 4.5 sold on May 23, 2020 for $16,866 through ComicConnect and a CGC 3.5 sold alllll the way back on Mar 4, 2007 for $597.50 through Heritage. This copy has a current high bid of $4,800.

Crime Does Not Pay #24 (Lev Gleason, 1942) CGC GD/VG 3.0

From Heritage, "This is the classic and infamous "head on fire" cover by Charles Biro.  This third issue of the title contains the first appearance of Mr. Crime, hanging panels, and stories about "Legs" Diamond and Billy the Kid."

We have covers like this to thank for the creation of the Comics Code Authority. This brutal art featuring a woman with her head in flames would catch anyone's eye.

Charles Biro helped create the crime comic genre with titles like this one, and his gritty style of art matched perfectly. Moving on from his success with Daredevil Comics, he captured plenty of attention with this brutal cover.

Only 42 blue labels are registered in the CGC census. The 3.0 sits on the lower end of that list, with only a handful graded lower. Even in that grade, however, a copy sold for $10,500 on Dec 16, 2021. This copy has a current high bid of just $3,100. 

Mister Mystery #13 (Aragon, 1953) CGC FN/VF 7.0

This entry has off-white pages.  CGC notes, "From the Collection of Nicolas Cage."

There are 6 stories behind this classic Bernard Baily cover, including three fiendish old ladies who spread hateful rumors about other people, driving them to suicide, a vampire lady feeding on a group of hobos, a man who wants to get rid of his unfaithful wife by seeking the services of a contract killer, and others that make this book a perfect example of the Horror genre.

There are only 43 copies listed in the CGC census, with the 7.0 landing in the top 10 percent of all graded copies. This is the highest-graded copy to appear at auction since 2019, when a CGC 6.5 sold for $3,050 through ComicConnect. Do you think the fact that this is a Nic Cage book will increase its sale price?

This book has a current high bid of $2,200.

Crime SuspenStories #22 (EC, 1954) CGC VG 4.0

From Heritage, "The classic decapitation cover by Johnny Craig is one of the most infamous pre-Code horror covers ever produced. It was even used in a US Senate investigation on juvenile delinquency. Reed Crandall, George Evans, and Jack Kamen art."

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration:

Senator KEFAUVER. Here is your May 22 issue. . . . Do you think that is in good taste?

Mr. GAINES (publisher). Yes, sir; I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it

There are only 17 books registered in the CGC census, and this is the first time anything below a 9.2 has appeared at auction. Where do you think it will land? This entry has a current high bid of $2,500.

This auction ends at 6:00 PM CT, Thursday, March 31. Check out all the entries HERE.

Do you think there will be any surprising Pre-Code Horror comics sales?
Let us know in the comments!

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the blogger and does not reflect investment advice on behalf of GoCollect.