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Monday, October 13, 2014

Horror Key Issue Comics to Invest In Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 to this horror key issue comics to invest in list. We definitely got some more key issues of supernatural gore to cover from the Golden Age, but this part will be dedicated to the rise of EC Comics who became a huge player in the horror genre during the era of the New Trend as it was called.

EC would be respected for their quality or artwork and storytelling, but more importantly, for pushing the boundaries. They were the kings of the New Trend for a reason, and although they were ultimately punished for it, they would be revered much later for their contributions to the comic industry and the horror genre.

If you missed Part 2 to this key issues list, just click this Part 2 link to go back. If not, enjoy Part 3! 

First appearance of Crypt Keeper

Already listed as one of the best key issue comics to invest in considering Golden Age horror in the Tales from the Crypt key issues list done a few months back, the Crypt Keeper is still a well-known and popular icon within the over-all horror genre in various media.

Crime Patrol #15 has the first appearance of the Crypt Keeper that folks in my generation probably recognize from the TV series and the movie that were based off the Tales of the Crypt comic stories. Crypt Keeper is the first of the well-known EC Comics horror hosts to have been introduced in their comics. December, 1949 was when this important key issue comic was published.

First appearance of the Vault Keeper

While the horror genre was nearing it's peak in Golden Age of comics, EC Comics was also beginning to make it's move in the industry. Like Crime Patrol, War Against Crime dipped into the horror genre before what would be known historically as the New Trend.

War Against Crime #10 not only features the first Vault of Horror story, this key issue comic also has the first appearance of its host the Vault Keeper. Like the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper would become a popular narrator for EC's horror titles. He is the only one of three whom would not receive an origin story as well. This Golden Age key was published January, 1950.

1st New Trend
First EC Comics all horror title

The New Trend in comics is most known as being pioneered by EC Comics. Before it, William Gaines changed their name from Educational Comics to Entertaining Comics, and actually rid of their educational type comic books and emphasized their line of Western, Crime, and Science Fiction titles.

Then, eventually, these pre-New Trend comics gave way to darker themes, until they were disposed of to accommodate full-on horror titles. This was the New Trend, and many of the titles like Crypt of Terror were once crime titles. In this case Crime Patrol became Crypt of Terror.

Now, it's true that other publishers had already done this. Marvel changed it's once popular superhero title Submariner Comics to Amazing Mysteries in issue #32. However, the difference is that EC Comics was successful in doing this. Marvel and other publishers who did so during this time were not as successful. Amazing Mysteries only had two full-on horror issues before it switched to two full-on crime issues before the title was ultimately cancelled.

Crypt of Terror #17 was published April/May, 1950.

ComicConnect - One CGC 9.0 VF/NM copy goes up for auction 11/10/2014!

Ties with Crypt of Terror as first EC horror title
First issue to series

This is another landmark EC Comics horror issue and this book ties with Crypt of Terror #17 as the publishing company's first all horror title.

This is the 2nd popular title that EC Comics would produce during the so called New Trend, in which crime and suspense titles would be switched out to the horror genre to accommodate the demand for the genre during the time.

The Vault of Horror titled series would continue from the War Against Crime titled series, which the series was changed and renamed to The Vault of Horror with issue #12. 

Of course, the Vault Keeper would be the host for the Vault of Horror, and many of the stories in this comic title would be reproduced in the Tales of the Crypt TV show and movie. April/May, 1950 is when this comic was published.

eBay - Only two raw 1st printings here at the moment. Low grade copies only.

ComicConnect - Only one raw copy here and it's a VG+.

ComicLink - One CGC 6.0 FN copy available here for now.

HAUNT OF FEAR #15 (#1)
1st issue to EC's third popular all horror title

The third EC horror title to take part in the New Trend was Haunt of Fear. It was changed from EC's Western title Gunfighter to Haunt of Fear starting with issue #15.

During the 1950s, it was standard practice for comic book publishers to save money on second-class postage permits by frequently changing the titles of their comics, rather than start new ones at "#1. 

This comic would produce another famous horror host that would became part of EC's GhouLunatics, but the first appearance of that character would be in the next issue. May, 1950 was when this comic was published.

eBay - Four copies with three of them being raw copies. There is a super high grade CGC 9.8, and it's a Gaines file copy! Extremely rare.

HAUNT OF FEAR #16 (#2)
First appearance of Old Witch

Finally a host of the comic who actually makes their first appearance in the titled comic they host. Haunt of Fear #16 has the first appearance of the Old Witch, and she is part of the trio known as the GhouLunatics.

Although each were the hosts of their specific comic, it was common for the three to often show up in one of the other host's titled series. The GhouLunatics were extremely popular during the New Trend.

The first appearance of the Old Witch in Haunt of Fear was published July, 1950.

ComicLink - One high grade CGC 9.8 copy available at ComicLink.

HAUNT OF FEAR #17 (#3)
Origin of Crypt of Terror
Origin of Haunt of Fear
Origin of Vault of Horror

The GhouLunatics was just one of the factors that made EC Comics so popular with their horror titles. These three often narrated the stories and each of them were quite ghastly in appearance.

Dark humor and puns were often tools the three used, and Al Feldstein wrote all the GhouLunatics' dialogue. It would be the same devices Feldstein would later use to help Mad Magazine become so successful. Moreover, the three had a sense of morals that matched with the reader, and much of their dialogue was directed toward the reader.

Although EC Comics horror titles had some of the talented artists working on them and were pushing the boundaries of graphic material, they did incorporate some goofy elements. For instance, Haunt of Fear #17 tells the origin of how the Crypt Keeper, Vault Keeper  and the Old Witch got their EC publishing contracts.

This is actually considered issue #3 to the series and it gets a bit confusing because there are actually two issue #17s in this titled series. While 15, 16, and 17 did not change the numbering on their respective covers, the U.S. Post Office requested that the fourth issue actually be numbered #4.

So, what was suppose to be Haunt of Fear #18 became Haunt of Fear #4 and the numbering continued onward, even though #15, #16, & #17 started off the series. Two-Fisted Tales #18 took over the old Haunt numbering. September/October, 1950 is the cover date for this issue.

eBay -  Only one copy concerning first printing and it's a high CGC 9.6 NM+ copy. Quite expensive already.

Tales from the Crypt #20
First Tales from the Crypt title

Last and certainly not least for Part 3 to this horror key issue comics list is Tales from the Crypt #20. This is issue where we first see the extremely popular title that was changed over from the Crypt of Terror series. From here on out the series would be known as Tales from the Crypt and is probably EC Comics most successful and remembered title.

The series would run all the way to issue #56 before ceasing publication due to the Senate Hearings on Juvenile Delinquency that would dethrone EC Comics during the time period. October/November, 1950 was when this key issue horror comic was published.

eBay - Only two raw copies for this horror key issue on the mighty eBay at the moment. No CGC.

While there were many other comic publishers producing horror comics other than EC Comics, none of them were pushing the envelope like them. Marvel and DC Comics both produced more kid-friendly, watered down horror comics, but EC was definitely more gory and graphic. Artwork with be-headings and mutilations were common in EC's crime and horror titles.

Since they were not bound to the fear of offending anyone like Atlas and DC Comics were at the time, this created a sense of creative freedom for their creative team of writers and artists. They were bound only by the visions and imaginations of their creators, which pushed the boundaries of what was considered good or bad taste.

The artwork was probably some of the topnotch created during the time and the stories were some of the best written. Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, and Frank Frazetta were just some of the new comers that became top artists during the era and later legends in the industry.

There were other publishers who followed EC Comics' lead when it came to pushing the boundaries of graphic gore. We'll discover more of those key issue in Part 4. 

If you missed Part 2 to this series, just click the PREVIOUS link to go back. PART 4 is ready to this horror key issue comics to invest in list so just click the link to the right below to continue on with the frightful goodness.


  1. I have some graded original Tales from the Crypt comics. Mostly in the 3 -5 range with no real keys. A few months back a local comic store offered me $30 - $40 a book. He claimed to use and online price guide and told me they are not worth much more. Does this sound right?

    Love this website!!

    1. Heya Eli, you'll have to be a bit more specific. Are they unslabbed, raw copies this dealer is offering you? Is it the same title, Tales from the Crypt? Also what are the grade averages low GD to VG and what part of the run? Meaning, is it early Tales from the Crypt or later in the series?

      If they are in the GD or lower area and raw copies then $40 bucks is about right if they are later in the comic series' run.

    2. Thanks for the reply. Sorry for being unclear on the details. They are all slabbed and graded by cgc. Most of them have a 4.0 grade and are late in the series. He was trying to purchase them from me in a whole sale type deal. He offered me $400 for nine issues. Was wondering if the non key issues are good investments... Thanks.

    3. Oh, so he is offering to buy them and they are slabbed! DO NOT SELL to this dealer. Slabbed copies, even for the later issues are going on eBay for much more than $30 to $40 dollars. He/she is trying to rip you off. They are at least in the $200 range for 4.0 CGC copies and those that are lower 3.0 are at lease in the $100 range!

    4. Never, ever, sell to a comic dealer. It's rule #1 of comic investing...period! No exceptions!

  2. I wasn't watching as closely as I should have and I missed out on a Haunt of Fear 8.5 that went for $438. Should I be depressed? I wouldn't have gone above %400, but I felt that was a great deal for a comic in in such good condition that there truly appear to be so few of from the pre-code era. I love having pieces of history from this time.

  3. Strangely, this Haunt of Fear #15 has a red cover.

    1. Haunt of Fear is a strange title and this happened with quite a few comics back then, but sometimes the title would switch to a different format say romance to horror but would continue the same Haunt of Fear has two number 15s but they rebooted the numbering after issue #17 to what it should've been numbered. So if #15 should be #1 or 1st issue to Haunt of Fear, the 18th issue is #4. Then the numbering is normal - #5, #6, #7 all the way to whatever number. If it hits #15 again, there's two #15s.

      Actually, Haunt of Fear has two #15s, #16s, and #17s. But the first #15, #16, and #17 are suppose to be issue #1, #2, and #3. They just didn't reboot the numbering and continued it from the previous title.

    2. Should note that the title of the comic series would be changed also.

  4. That makes sense. But I was bidding on a #15 that is red and has different art, but is the same title and number. Is the blue or the red #15 consider Haunt of Fear #1? In other words, is the copy you are showing the true #1? And did I dodge a bullet by not going above my limit with the red #15 I was bidding on? (Though in that condition, it was worth it to me>)

  5. That makes sense. But I was bidding on a #15 that is red and has different art, but is the same title and number. Is the blue or the red #15 consider Haunt of Fear #1? In other words, is the copy you are showing the true #1? And did I dodge a bullet by not going above my limit with the red #15 I was bidding on? (Though in that condition, it was worth it to me>)

  6. And how does any level of restoration affect the value? Thanks

    1. I'm not sure as any kind of restoration for me pretty much counts me out for most comics. Not a huge expert on resto copies.

  7. I think I figured it out. Blue 15 is the #1 and red 15 is the series actual 15. Yes?

  8. Haunt of Fear 12 - 8.0 What would you pay? Slabbed. Only 5 out there.

  9. I'm stuck at $650 with the guy. I want to walk away.

    1. The most I would do is probably $500 but $400 is what a CGC 8.0 copy sold for back in January. $250 increase in last 7 months? What would be the spark for Haunt of Fear #12 to have that sort of increase to happen? Most Goldie EC Horror comics increase in value slowly through time.

    2. I trust you - I want the darn thing - the only sales I saw were on Heritage Auction at $400 six years ago. But I will be dead by the time that hits the value to break even - if anyone is still alive into those books.

  10. Realized what a bad deal it is and declined.