DC Comics, 1939. none. Original hand corrected typescript. The complete story from Detective Comics #30, here titled “The Batman and the Diamonds of Death” (the title was changed when it was published to “The Return of Dr. Death”). 6 pages on 5 leaves (8” X 13”), 1,500 typed words plus 196 words of handwritten ink and pencil changes, additions, deletions, and corrections, including a rewrite of the final scene on the last page, with a pencil drawing of a gliding Batman. Very good, with no mending, tape, or repair. This is Dark Knight incunabulum, and as rare as a one ended stick. No other Batman manuscripts from this vintage, or even from near this vintage, is known. In fact, any and all DC superhero manuscripts before 1945 are impossible. Ex–Bob Kane. Ex–Mario Sacripante, part of a dispersal of Kane’s abandoned papers that included some page proofs but only this one manuscript. And by the way, the printed Detective Comics no. 30, with our story in it, sold for $19,120 at auction in 2012. And the world record at auction for any Batman comic (Detective Comics no. 27, graded 7) is $1,500,000 (HA, Nov. 19, 2020), 3 times the price of the most expensive imaginable hardbound 20th century book, so something big (and real) is going on here. And both those prices are for a single comic, of which dozens are known, making our unique manuscript seem not to be very expensive, and the chances of seeing something even vaguely like it, are the same as the chances of sitting in a chair with your mouth open and having a nicely roasted duck fly into it. Very good. Item #2
Batman is the model for all modern superheroes without superpowers. Fueled by his superior intellect, and powered by his fabulous toys, he first showed up in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics, in a story written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane. Finger also wrote the second story. When DC saw how popular it was, they called in Gardner Fox, who took over and wrote the next 4 (including this one in August). Finger and Fox collaborated on the 7th story (Detective Comics Nov. 1939), then Fox wrote the 8th one alone before moving on to a long and influential career at DC, co–creating The Sandman, Flash, Hawkman, the first superhero team–up with The Justice Society of America (forerunner of The Justice League), and it was Fox who conceived the Multiverse and introduced it to DC in 1961.
First of all, comic books are books. And this is the only early manuscript from the 2nd most valuable run of 20th century books (Superman is the most valuable with his first appearance in Action comics no. 1 selling on eBay for $3,200,000 in 2014). Our manuscript is an item that will be looked back on in 10 years with regret, captured in the thought “Why didn’t I buy that?” The answer is, because there were no comps, and only the most experienced and self–reliant collectors can calculate an item without comps. Now, collector taste changes. Collector insight changes. The clues that point direction are only obvious in reflection. Cunning booksellers try to direct taste and insight towards obscurities they can buy for cheap so as to extract large profit margins, but the best collectors are immune to such manipulation, because the savviest among them know that the market isn’t static, and watch carefully as the deck is shuffled, and then focus on the center of the new radar, but all except the nimblest booksellers get ambushed, and then, with their dogged commitment to being resentful, and depressed by their memory of having once been happy, they see the results of their own folly and call it the collapse of collector interest, then loudly prophesize the imminent demise of book collecting, but hang around, prepared to play any role in its burial except that of a mute (Book Code).