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Action Comics #1 (June 1938) - CGC Restored Grade Apparent VF- 7.5 with Off-White to White pages and moderate professional restoration, including: color touch, pieces added, spine and pages reinforced, and cleaned. Origin and first appearance of Superman. Siegel and Schuster art. At the time of this writing, the CGC Census reports that this book qualifies for the third most attractive grade that CGC has ever awarded for this book (tied with three others at this 7.5 level, with two copies at 8.5 and one at 9.0). Although this copy has received moderate restoration, it stands in the top seven of the 27 copies reviewed (restored and unrestored combined), with excellent page quality.
By 1938, Siegel and Schuster had been trying to get an idea of theirs published as a newspaper strip for almost four years. They considered it to be their "big idea," the kind you're lucky to have once in a lifetime, and they didn't want to squander it on the low-paying comic book industry. But after four years of rejections, the idea of doing so seemed much more acceptable. Several people in the industry (most notably Shelly Mayer, an editor for the company eventually named "DC"), recommended the strip to the new owner of the company that had been purchasing a lot of Siegel and Schuster's material. That new owner, Harry Donenfeld, hated Siegel and Schuster's "Superman" strip, but had the insight to realize that there might be something there that he just couldn't see himself. So he approved it as the lead feature in his new publication called Action Comics that was scheduled for release with a June 1938 cover date. For $130.00 and a promise of continued employment for ten years, the two kids from Cleveland signed away millions of dollars of income. In fairness to the boys (not Donenfeld), all this was still during the Depression, albeit towards the end, and continued employment was a huge carrot. But their "big idea" turned out to be the BIGGEST IDEA that their industry would ever experience.
Action Comics #1 is so important to our hobby that even non-collectors are aware of its renown. The majority of the general public can easily relate to the explanation that it is the first appearance of Superman. Likewise, they can also relate to the first appearance of Batman. It largely ends there, though. Few would understand the importance of the debut of the Human Torch or the Sub-Mariner, and far fewer would ever care to. Of all the Golden Age books, the comic books of the first heroic age that proved to be the foundation for the industry that we all know so intimately today, only one can be considered the keystone. It is, obviously, Action Comics #1.
It is a dream of all comic book collectors to someday attain a copy. Some collectors imagine finding it at a yard sale for a pittance, others even fantasize a time machine that would return them to a 1938 newsstand, with a pocketful of vintage dimes. These days the former imagining is only slightly more possible than the latter. Time travel is not yet possible. Decades of yard sale searching have proven to be largely fruitless. No, to possess your own copy of this book, you will have to bite the bullet and ante up. There is no easier path. Yet, so far, the financial aspect has proven to be a non-issue in the long run, if the buyer is looking towards long-term investment. Roughly 30 years ago, hobbyists ridiculed a fellow collector for paying $5,000 for his copy. It was a princely sum for the time, and the highest price ever paid for the book, by a very wide margin. Nobody's laughing today. That collector's faith has been vindicated, as has the faith of every other member of our collecting community to follow in his steps. Action Comics #1's lack of availability, historical importance, and towering desirability, will never change.