He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.  No, I’m not talking about the latest stalker comic.  I’m talking about Santa!  He reads comics too, you know.  And he just shared with me a short list of his naughty and nice Golden Age Christmas comic covers.  He said I could share it with you GoCollect readers.

The Nice Covers

Four Color #367

Aw, look at this.  Does it get any nicer than a Disney comic?  Four Color #367 from 1951 features a Donald Duck cover by none other than the duck master himself – Carl Barks.  It’s a fun cover with Donald dressed up as Santa, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie toting an enormous sack of gifts, complete with Christmas tree poking out of the top.

What really sets this cover apart is the jaw-dropping vibrancy of the hues.  The blues, yellows, reds, and greens speak to the animated wonder from which the characters were born.  It’s a well-structured cover as well, with Donald and the train leading the reader to open the cover and enjoy what’s inside.

As with many Golden Age books (and I promise I’ll only say this once this article) there are very few high grade copies out there.  Want the only 9.6 copy in the CGC census?  That sold in August 2017 for $5,258 and then sold again a year later for $7,800.  With that kind of trajectory, this is now likely a five figure comic.

Green Lama #7

Green Lama #7 from 1945 is a beauty!  Who could resist a cover wrapped up like a gift with luscious artwork from the incomparable Mac Raboy?  While the Spark Publications/Prize Comics series was short-lived, lasting only eight issues, it has lived on with collectors who can’t get enough of Raboy’s work.

The only cover of the series to outdo this one is the legendary one for Green Lama #6 – the classic swastika cover.  But we’re talking about nice covers here.

A 9.2 graded copy of #7 sold in May of this year for $408, the same price as in September 2020.  Little sales data to go by but this is a slight uptick from the $200 to $300 range for many years for this book.

Overall, a very affordable price for a classic cover by one of the Golden Age masters.

Sensation Comics #38

Our final nice cover – and one of Santa's favorite Golden Age Christmas covers – is Sensation Comics #38 from 1945.  Harry G. Peter crafted this incredible Wonder Woman cover with the Amazonian princess preparing to deliver gifts to all of the good little children.  However, lying in wait is a thug, ready to mow her down with his machine gun.  Of course, this is Wonder Woman we’re talking about here, so we know it’s really the thug who will be in jeopardy.

While not the most popular issue in the series for collectors, nevertheless this issue fetches top dollar for high grade copies when they go on sale.  The last sale of one of the only three 9.4 copies was in a Heritage Auction in May 2018 for $3,585.

The Naughty Covers

Panic #1

Tell me this kid isn’t getting coal in his stocking!  This hilarious 1953 cover by Al Feldstein for Panic #1 speaks to the inner prankster in all of us.

Panic, a short-lived sister series to EC’s Mad, was in many ways a more biting parody comic than even Mad itself.  This very issue, for example, was banned in Massachusetts because of the Santa parody contained within.  Sadly, the series was cancelled, along with all other EC series other than Mad, as a result of 1950s era censorship and the start of the Comics Code Authority.

For collectors, Panic definitely holds second candle to Mad.  However, this first issue does have its fans.  Most of the sales data is older but we do have an 8.5 graded copy selling for $630 in September 2020.  You can expect sales for much more if any of the higher graded copies come up for sale.

Vault of Horror #35

And now we come to the naughtiest of the naughty Golden Age Christmas covers.  Vault of Horror #35 from 1954, with absolutely remarkable artwork from Johnny Craig, is about as antithetical to the Christmas spirit as a comic cover can get.  And that’s why it works so well.  You just can’t top a guy who leaves a coffin for his wife as a Christmas gift.  The looks on both their faces – hers as she discovers the coffin, his as he prepares to swing the axe – speak volumes about American commercialism and the fiction of blissful home life during the 1950s.  And only EC could have two such disparate and fun Christmas covers featured on Santa’s naughty list.

While Santa’s a fan, even he would be hard pressed to cough up the dough for a copy to leave under your tree.  A 9.0 graded copy sold a year ago in December 2020 for $4,000.  The few higher graded copies that exist will likely fetch much higher dollars in future sales.

Hope you enjoyed reading Santa’s short list of naughty and nice Golden Age Christmas covers.  Have a favorite that’s not on his list?  Let us know below.

*Any perceived investment advice contained within this blog is that of the freelance author and does not represent opinions or advice from GoCollect.