DC Comics, 1939. none. Original hand corrected typescript. The complete story from Detective Comics no. 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, accompanied by a pencil drawing of a gliding Batman. Very good condition (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, except this one, are impossible. Ex–Bob Kane. Ex–Mario Sacripante, part of a dispersal of Kane’s abandoned papers that included some page proofs and sketches 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 issue of Detective Comics (May 1939, graded 7) is $1,500,000 (HA, 2020), and for any Batman comic (Spring 1940, graded 9.4) is $2,220,000 (HA, 2021), 4 times the price of the most expensive imaginable hardbound 20th century 1st edition, 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 finding 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 a titanic, international mythos, his fame crossing borders and language, and he is the model for all modern superheroes without superpowers. Fueled by his matchless intellect, and supported by his fabulous toys, he first showed up in Detective Comics no. 27, created and illustrated by Bob Kane in a story written with Bill Finger. Finger then wrote the second story. When DC noticed its popularity, they called in Gardner Fox who took over and wrote the next 6 (including this one), adding an idea, a run of theatrical villains to rival Batman. Kane loved it. Sales soared. In Jan. 1940, with the exposition settled, DC gave it back to Finger for Detective Comics 35, and then for Batman’s own comic in March, while Fox moved on to a long and influential career at DC, co–creating Flash, The Sandman, Hawkman, and the first superhero team–up (The Justice Society of America, precursor of The Justice League), and it was Fox who devised the Multiverse and introduced it to DC in 1961.
First of all, don’t doubt it for a minute, comic books are books. And this is the only early manuscript from the 2nd most valuable run in all of 20th century books (Superman is the most valuable, his debut in Action comics no. 1 selling for $3,200,000, eBay 2014, the world record for any 20th century book). Our manuscript 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 (comparables or price points), and only the most experienced, enlightened, and self–reliant collectors can calculate value without comps. From a more general perspective, collector insight changes. Collector taste changes. The clues that point direction are only obvious in reflection. Some, more stubborn, booksellers continue holding to their view of what is in demand from a generation ago, while other, more cunning, booksellers strategize to direct the insight and taste, that drives demand, towards obscurities that they can buy for cheap so as to extract large profit margins, but the best collectors are immune to both the illusion of market rigidity and the deceit of bookseller 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. Whichever is the cause, all but the nimblest booksellers get ambushed, and in the confusion and isolation ensuing from their own folly, they blame their disorientation on the collapse of enthusiasm for book collecting (Book Code).