Original Manuscript for the 4th Batman Story
DC Comics, 1939. none. Original hand corrected typescript of the 4th Batman story ever. The complete text from Detective Comics number 30, here titled “The Batman and the Diamonds of Death” (the title changed to “The Return of Dr. Death” when it was published). 6 pages (8” X 13”) on 5 leaves (one leaf cut in half to accommodate a change with no loss), 1,500 typed words plus 196 words of handwritten ink and pencil changes, additions, deletions, and corrections, that include a last page rewrite of the final scene accompanied by a 1/2–page pencil drawing of a gliding Batman. Very good (untouched, no repair). Fine full morocco case. Ex–Bob Kane. Ex–Mario Sacripante, who identified it when it was in a 1975 dispersal of Kane’s abandoned papers that included some page proofs and sketches but only this one manuscript. Very good. Item #2
Here 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, are known. In fact, no other DC superhero manuscripts prior to 1945, are known to us, so there are no direct comparables, but try these. The published Detective Comics no. 30, with our story in it, sold at auction for $19,120 in 2012, graded 9. The auction record for any issue of Detective Comics (May 1939, graded 7) is $1,500,000 in 2020. And for any Batmancomic (Spring 1940, graded 9.4) it is $2,220,000 in 2021, 4 times the price of the most expensive 20th century 1st edition novel, so something big (and real) is going on here. And all those prices are for a single, printed comic book, of which dozens of each are known, making our peerless manuscript seem not so expensive. Need more? In 2022, the painting for a 1986 Batman cover set the record for any original, published, comic art at $2,400,000. Our manuscript gives you a chance to play in the comic book game from a unique perspective, in a market that has otherwise passed you by, and the chances of finding anything else, even vaguely like it, match the chances of sitting in a chair with your mouth open and having a nicely roasted duck fly into it. 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 a superior 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 he wrote 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 a dazzling 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 no. 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. –––––> What follows are 2 realities not to be ignored. The first sets up the second. First: Don’t doubt it for a minute, comic books are books. 10 different titles now rank as the 10 most expensive 20th century books of any kind. Our manuscript is the only early DC one known, and it is from one of their 2 most valuable series (Superman is the other). The 2 saddest words in life are “if only” and this will be looked back on in a few 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–assured collectors can calculate value without comps. Second: Beyond comic books, what about the broader, traditional, rare book market, the one we usually occupy? Collector taste changes. Collector insight changes. The signs that point direction are only apparent in reflection (you can only connect the dots looking backwards). Some, more stubborn, booksellers continue holding to their view of what is in demand from a generation ago (tailors and booksellers must mind the fashion), while others, who think themselves cunning, strategize to direct the collector taste and insight that powers demand towards obscure books they can buy cheaply so as to extract large profit margins by outlandishly overstating the significance of those obscurities. But the best collectors are immune to the illusion of market rigidity and the deceit of seller manipulation, since the savviest among them know that the market is not static, and they 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 ascribe their disorientation to the collapse of enthusiasm for book collecting, when the only real disinterest is for the poorly chosen books they are trying to sell (Book Code).