Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1960s
Some of the most valuable comic books in the world were created in the 1960s during the Silver Age of comic books, which ran between 1956 to 1970. Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers were created during this era. These comics gained a foothold in the public consciousness thanks in part to censorship.
The superhero comics industry almost faded away at the end of the Golden Age of comics, which was roughly between 1938 to 1956. During this period, the Comics Code Authority, a censorship guideline for comic books, was created in 1954 and existed until 2011.
There were many types of superhero comics during the Golden Age, but Superman was the most famous. Meanwhile, genres comics featuring horror, romance, westerns, science fiction and war were just as popular. These comics depicted violence, sexuality, and evil that may seem tame now, but was considered sensational then.
The comics code banned the depiction of sex, violence, and the moral depiction of evildoers winning without consequence. That meant that superheroes could come back with a vengeance, which they did in the Silver Age.
Comics during this time might have featured goofy, non-serious stories of superheroes fighting in moralistically pleasing ways. However, during the 1960s, Silver Age comics also ushered in characters who exploits mirrored the real world a little more realistically.
This is the era that saw the creation of comic book heroes that now bank billions of dollars on the silver screen. A lot of these comics are collectible now because the world loves comics books in a way never before seen.
Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) Marvel Comics
There have been live-action incarnations of the wildly popular Spider-Man character since the 1970s. Nicholas Hammond portrayed the character in a short-lived, budget friendly, and forgettable TV series in 1977. Tobey Maguire portrayed Spider-Man from 2002 to 2007 in three Sam Raimi films.
Andrew Garfield took on the role for two films from 2012 to 2014. This generation’s cinematic Spider-Man, Tom Holland, is wildly popular. Unlike Superman, a literal God-like being, Spider-Man in an everyman struggling with life, living in a 1960’s inspired urban environment, and trying to do the right thing. Comic fans related to that.
These are character traits that appear often in Silver Age comic book characters. Created by Geek Gods Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during the peak of the Silver Age, Spider-Man made his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August 1962.
Amazing Fantasy, an anthology comic at the time, was soon heading for cancellation. So, the editors gave the creators free creative reign and the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man was created. A CGC copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 graded 9.6 sold for $1.1 million in March 2011.
X-Men #1 (September 1963) Marvel Comics
The X-Men were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963. Instead of a character being affected by radiation or being bitten by a spider, Lee and Kirby created superheroes who were born with super abilities.
The X-Men were also created an allegory to philosophically reflect the volatile world of 1963. Where people feared atomic war and the Civil Rights movement was at its peak. The X-Men were characters who strove to save a world that feared and hated them. Still, they tried to show that they came from the same race, even if a different species.
X-Men #1, published in August 1963, features the first appearances of the characters Professor Charles Xavier, Magneto, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, and Iceman. This comic is the first appearance of the X-Men. Wolverine makes his first comic book appearance in 1974 in the Incredible Hulk #181.
This comic has a CGC grade of 9.8 and sold for $493,000 in July 2012. It was basically a Near Mint comic, or, one in perfect aesthetic condition and appearance. There are probably only two X-Men #1 comics with a 9.8 grade in existence.
Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961) Marvel Comics
Which comic book featured the first Marvel Comics superteam? No, it wasn’t the X-Men or the Avengers, it was the Fantastic Four. Although the Fantastic Four have yet to meet critical acclaim in film, the superteam has been a favorite of the general public for decades.
Fantastic Four #1 was published at a time when America was still dreaming of going to the moon. The team gained their powers after being bombarded by cosmic rays during a rocket launch. This issue features the first appearance of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Mole Man.
This copy sold for $450,000 in May 2011 at auction. The issue had a CGC grade of 9.4 and believed to be only one of four 9.4 grade comics in existence.
Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962) Marvel Comics
The Incredible Hulk character was created during the height of the Cold War, fears of atomic war and atomic annihilation, and fears of WWIII. Also, the creation of the Hulk was inspired by the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as the Golem, as Jewish mythical character.
The Hulk is colored grey in this issue. However, in later issues, coloring errors made the Hulk look green and the editors decided to keep the greener hue. This comic features the first appearance of Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, General Ross, and Rick Jones.
A copy of this comic CGC graded 9.2 sold at auction for $375,000 in September 2016. There are probably only a handful of Incredible Hulk #1 copies with CGC grades over 9 in existence.
Avengers #1 (September 1963) Marvel Comics
The Justice League made their first appearance in comic books in 1960. Meanwhile, the Avengers first appeared in comic books in 1963. However, the Avengers are the undisputed champions of the big screen, the lynchpin of the Marvel cinematic universe, and are household names. Everyone knows of the Justice League too, but everyone also knows that Endgame grossed $2.8 billion.
This comic features the first appearance of the Avengers team which consisted of Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Thor, and the Hulk. A copy of Avengers #1 with a CGC grade of 9.6 sold for $275,000 in July 2012. There are probably only three copies of this comic with a CGC grade of 9.6 or higher in existence.
It Pays to Know
It’s important to know the context in which a comic book was created if you are a collector. Especially if you want to drop hundreds of thousands of dollars for one. They are more than just collector’s items. Some comic books are witnesses to particular epochs in pop culture history, which adds to their value.