There is no question this Frank Frazetta cover on Eastern Color’s Famous Funnies #209 (December 1953) is my all time, number one favorite. I remember staring at this image in my Overstreet Comic Price Guide in the mid-70’s, and then looking at the graded value thinking how out of reach the price was – several months of paper route money at least! I wound up investing in a Honda Express moped to handle larger sized routes instead and never come back to this comic until now. And yes, I even eagerly accepted a copy with the infamous notebook binder holes punched right into the spine. Can you imagine a time when it was OK to treat your comics like that?
Famous Funnies actually is frequently credited with birthing the comic book, reprinting newspaper strips into comics way back in 1934. So it is fitting they would produce this iconic cover near the end of the Golden Age and Famous Funnies’ run. The cover is packed with: an unusual comic code seal almost hidden by its star shape, a former pulp character from the late 20’s Buck Rogers, and art by one of fantasy’s greatest artists of all time! Frank Frazetta’s work did grace the covers of my Conan novels and Molly Hatchet album after all.
Not getting enough of my Famous Funnies/Frazetta fix, I also snagged a copy of #214 (November 1954). This unusual cover expands the boundaries between comicbook cover and pure science fiction artwork. The way the planet swallows up the space travels conveys a feeling of loneliness and helplessness within the vastness of the universe. Toss in the unlucky happenstance of picking up a gun toting alien hitchhiker and one gets a real sense for Buck Rogers and Wilma’s plight – all without a single word.
I also own #136* on the left, with cover art signed by Stephen Douglas from October 1945. The war era is prominently displayed on the cover with a war bonds ad and on the inside with an ad for paper to scrap for the war effort (comic books themselves were certainly included as scrap)! The cover leaves us to wonder if the “turkey” Chief Wahoo is grinding an axe for is the one hiding on his hat, or the blonde gentleman looking at his daughter Princess Minnie-Ha-Cha.
* Sold copy