Without a doubt, the Frank Frazetta cover gracing Eastern Color’s Famous Funnies #209 (December 1953) holds the title of my all-time favorite. I can vividly recall being captivated by this image in my Overstreet Comic Price Guide during the mid-70s, only to be brought back to reality by the daunting price tag – a sum that seemed as distant as the moon, requiring several months’ worth of earnings from my paper route at the very least! Instead, I opted to invest in a Honda Express moped to tackle larger routes, leaving my comic aspirations behind.
Many years have passed since those paper route days, yet the affordability of the comic hasn’t changed much. To save a few dollars, I acquired a copy with the infamous notebook binder holes punched right into the spine – a practice that seems unimaginable in today’s collector culture.
Famous Funnies holds a significant place in comic book history, often credited with pioneering the genre by reprinting newspaper strips as comics as early as 1934. Thus, it’s fitting that they produced such an iconic cover near the end of the Golden Age and their own run. The cover itself is a treasure trove, featuring an unusual comic code seal subtly tucked within its star shape, the inclusion of the former pulp character from the late 20s, Buck Rogers, and art by one of the greatest fantasy artists of all time – Frank Frazetta, whose work adorned not only Conan novels but also Molly Hatchet albums.
Not content with just one dose of Famous Funnies/Frazetta brilliance, I also managed to acquire a copy of #214* (November 1954). This particular cover transcends the boundaries between comic book cover and pure science fiction artwork. The depiction of a planet ominously swallowing up space travelers evokes a profound sense of loneliness and helplessness within the vastness of the universe. Add to that the unfortunate encounter with a gun-toting alien hitchhiker, and one can truly empathize with Buck Rogers and Wilma’s perilous situation – all conveyed without uttering a single word.
Issue #136* with cover art signed by Stephen Douglas, dating back to October 1945, offers a glimpse into the war era. The cover prominently features a war bonds ad, while inside, an advertisement encourages readers to recycle paper for the war effort (a category that certainly included comic books themselves). The cover leaves us pondering whether the “turkey” Chief Wahoo is holding a grudge against is the one concealed on his hat or the blonde gentleman who seems to be eyeing his daughter, Princess Minnie-Ha-Cha, with concern.
* Sold copy