John Ruge (b. 1915-) is an American cartoonist that is well-known for his contributions during the vintage years of PLAYBOY magazine. This monster-related illustration includes a caption that, although time-worn today, was a novel tag-line back then. The 8.5 x 11" work is in pen and watercolor. This is an image of the original. It appeared in an issue of PLAYBOY (date unknown to me).
It may come as a surprise, but our ex-President of These Here United States that sometimes goes by the name of George Dubya, is something of an accomplished painter. So much of a secret that, when asked at the inauguration of his George W. Bush Library a few weeks ago why so many many people didn't know he was a painter, he replied in true Texas humor: "Well, a lot of people didn't think I could read, either". It is actually another Bush I speak of -- George A. Bush, to be exact, and judging from the work shown here, he is himself quite a painter. His depiction of Bela Lugosi as Dracula in shades of midnight blue is no paint-by-number, pardner. Up for a minimum bid of $974 on a 2003 MastroNet auction, it failed to sell. By all accounts it flew back into the night on bat's wings. Here is the description: This is the second George A. Bush portrait painting of a classic
Universal horror film star that we have been able to offer through our
Americana auctions. The first was of Boris Karloff in his Ardath Bay
makeup, worn in production of The Mummy. Our second is offered
in this auction. It is a haunting portrait of Lugosi in his most famous
role of stage and film, Count Dracula. Bush has executed the
entire work in an incredibly subtle spectrum of different shades of
blue, perfectly capturing the Count in his nighttime environment. Rising
almost invisibly in the background is an outlined castle against a
suggested light source of a fully cloud covered, almost invisible moon.
The portrait is riveting, with pinpoints of light reflecting in the
Count's eyes, and the slightest speck of blood appearing at the corner
of his bottom lip. Obviously, Dracula has feasted already! The 14-3/4" x
19-3/4" original gouache painting on hard board is flawlessly
preserved. Date and publication are unknown, and it is signed "Bush" in
the lower right.
You have seen the term, "iconic" used frequently here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. With no disrespect for its religious beginnings, I use it when I want to describe the impact of certain images found in horror films, magazines, and other visual media that represent an analogy that is fixed in traditional or conventional thought.
Norman Mingo's cover art for MAD magazine's September 1964 (#89) issue can easily be described as "iconic". It is ubiquitous not only in the realms of humorous illustration, but in the world of Monsterology as well. The image, depicting the Frankenstein monster putting together a model of Mad's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, is the epitome of ironic reversals in a long line of works that the publication was famous for (I do not include the magazine's current incarnation -- while still somewhat humorous, it has for the most part, degraded into obtuseness). I even use it for a button on the sidebar here.
The MastroNet Spring 2003 auction included Mingo's orginal artwork for the Frankenstein MAD cover. To remind people just how famous this work is, the minium bid amount was for $10,000 with a buyer's premium of $17,119. It did not sell.
Norman Mingo original art.
Here is a description of the item as it appeared in the auction catalog: "Offered is one of the greatest, most easily recognized, and most significant of all Mad
cover artworks, Norman Mingo's September, 1964 cover, featuring
Frankenstein assembling an Aurora model of Alfred E. Neuman. Many
collectors consider this to be the ultimate Mad cover. It is universally recognized as a classic, and is unquestionably one of the most desirable of all of Mad's many memorable covers. This cover's original painting was first sold decades ago, when Russ Cochran auctioned Bill Gaines' Mad archive material. Of all the Mad cover paintings auctioned by Cochran, this is the Mad cover
painting which sold for more than any other. The $8,000 it realized in
1990 may seem like quite a bargain today, but at the time, it was a
shocking and record shattering sum. The original cover's image dates
from the peak period of the Monster Craze of the early 1960's, a period
of enormous popularity for the Aurora Monster Models that were the most
successful byproduct of that craze. It is a testimonial, both to the
endurance of the craze and to the fact that Aurora was about to produce a
model of the magazine's own little monster named Alfred. Because it so
perfectly captures the most memorable elements of its period, it has
become the quintessential Mad cover, and many now consider it to be Norman Mingo's greatest masterpiece. When Mad
originally sold this artwork, it had not yet been decided to withhold a
selection of their choicest pieces, the grouping which would come to be
known as "The Soul of Mad." Yet despite the fact that this cover
painting was not retained in Mad's permanent collection, it clearly is deserving of being included in that select group, perhaps, more so than any other Mad cover art that is currently in private hands.
More than any other artist, Norman Mingo is most closely aligned with
the Alfred E. Neuman image. He was the first to capture him in a
painted portrait (Mad #30, 1956), and he produced many of the
most classic covers the magazine experienced during its 2.4 million copy
sales per issue era. There is only one Mingo, and he is universally
recognized as the master, the most desirable of the very talented Mad cover artists. Of course, even with an artist of his caliber, there are only so many Mad covers by Mingo, or any other Mad artist, that can fall into that exclusive and very elusive club of all-time Mad greats. This is obviously one, if not the one.
The colorful mixed media (we believe gouache and dyes) on board
original measures 16-3/4" x 22" in size, with a flawless image area that
measures 14-1/4" x 19-3/4". It is strongly signed towards the lower
left corner. Accompanied by a copy of the September, 1964 edition of Mad magazine on which this artwork originally appeared."
I'll wager it never occurred to most every Monster Kid during the vintage years of the Monster Craze to include in their monster trading card trove one of the boxes that the cards were sold out of. I know that even when I saved enough money for a box of Leaf's Spook Stories cards (1961), after tearing open all 24 packs I summarily crunched up the box and tossed it. Now, these very same boxes are collector's items (go figure). Currently for sale for $100 on eBay is one of the Leaf Spook Stories boxes, albeit in a rather rescued looking condition. Still, there can't be too many of them left around.
A later series of cards (1974) featured the fantastic sci-fi fantasy film PLANET OF THE APES. Here is an example of a box from that series in better condition. It is currently up for auction and the bidding has reached $87.50.
To "box things up" as it were, this last example is for collectors with serious green only. Offered is a collection of 24 unopened and "unpopped" packs of Spook Stories cards (apparently the QC on this line wasn't so good so many pack seals "popped"), all slabbed and in EX condition, together with the box that they came in. This declared uber-rarity was originally sold at $48,000 (!). But, lucky for us, it's now half-off at 24 grand.
A high-grade slabbed unopened pack of Spook Stories cards.
Last weekend I posted a short article from CONTINENTAL FILM REVIEW called This Family Frankenstein. It very briefly covered the cycle of Frankenstein films, and included some production stills from LA FIGLIA DI FRANKENSTEIN (released as LADY FRANKENSTEIN in the US), starring Joseph Cotten as Baron Frankenstein and Rosalba Neri as Tania Frankenstein
The "Lounge" department of the July 2013 TOTAL FILM magazine shortens it up to one page (albeit A5 size) for an entry in their "Home Film Entertainment Bible". This version covers the legacy of the Frankenstein film considerably more thoroughly, turning it into one of the better capsule summaries of this most famous of monster movie series.
Grosset & Dunlap and A.L. Burt's Photoplay Edition hardbound movie tie-in novels from the 1920s and 1930s were very popular in the day. Of particular interest to Monsterologists are the many novelizations of monster movies. Some were merely reprints of the original novels (Shelley's Frankenstein and Stoker's Dracula, for example) accompanied by production and publicity stills. Others were wholly original adaptations. Reported by WIKI as first being serialized in MYSTERY (Street & Smith's?) magazine in 1932, Delos Lovelace's novel of KING KONG was published the next year by Grosset & Dunlap to coincide with the release of the movie starring the "8th Wonder of the World". It has since become one of the rarest, sought after, and expensive of the Photoplay Edition books to have ever been printed. For example, the copy shown below is currently selling for $677.00. The second example is selling for a lot more. I guess I should be content to have a copy of the Bantam Books mass market paperback edition from 1965.
"KING KONG 1932 PHOTOPLAY EDITION EDGAR WALLACE
AND MERIAN COOPER NOVELIZATION BY DELOS LOVELACE This listing is for the
1932 Photoplay edition of KING KONG, conceived by Edgar Wallace and
Merian Cooper. Published by Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1932 . This
was the novelization of the screen play and is the rarest of the
photoplay editions. The book was published slightly before the film was
released. This is a beautiful crisp copy of this book with bright cloth
with only a touch of toning. The book has sharp corners and no edgewear.
The binding is tight and square. Unfaded brown top stain applied by
publisher. The end papers are clean and bright depicting the scenes from
the photoplay. Small scripted owner name to front end paper. Otherwise
the end papers are clean with no book store stamps and no book plates.
Very delicate, faint inscription to half title page. The interior of the
book is remarkably clean inside with no stains, no handling marks, no
writing, no bent pages, and no foxing. A beautiful crisp, clean example
of this title appearing as unread. The book comes with a brand new
facsimlie dust jacket, enclosed in a clear archival cover. The dust
jacket both protects the book in addition to enhancing its shelf appeal.
A very handsome example of this title." The copy listed here is from another vendor. The selling price is $7,899.95 and is described as rare and in "near fine" condition.
"First photoplay edition of KING KONG, with its
scarce Near Fine ORIGINAL dust jacket. Published by Grosset and Dunlap,
1932. Conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian Cooper. This was the
novelization of the screenplay and is considered to be the rarest of the
photoplay editions. The book was published slightly before the film was
released. The book without the original jacket can be found in prices
ranging from $400 to $800 (depending on condition), yet examples of this
book in a similiar condition original dust jacket sells for $9000 and
up. It is the rarity and collectibility of the jacket which disguishes
the pricing, with the jacket having as much as 15x the value of the
actual book. The jacket rarity is the result of the jacket being both
fragile, in addition to that dust jackets at the time were considered to
be disposible advertisements and usually were quickly tossed after
purchasing the book. The original lavishly painted King Kong jacket art
is collectible in it's own right, with the backround mixing the New York
setting with the dinosaurs of Skull Island. This book comes with the
scarce near fine original dust jacket. The book is in beautiful
condition with crisp lime green cloth boards, with strong unfaded deep
chocolate brown titles to front and spine. The boards have some very
slight toning. The corners are sharp, one is very slightly pushed in.
The end papers depict scenes from the photoplay and are clean with no
bookplates, no tears, and no stains. Small delicate hard to see penned
inscription to front and small pencil mark to rear end paper. The
internal pages are clean, bright and fresh with no age toning, no marks,
no stains, no foxing, and appear as unread. The boards have some slight
rubbing to bottom. The deep chocolate top stain applied by the
publisher to the top of the page block is strong and unfaded. A
beautiful, clean book. The value of this book is in the near fine
original dust jacket. The jacket has strong vibrant, vivid colors with
but some typical fading to the spine only. This in itself is most
unusual as this jacket was very prone to fading, and of the few
remaining original jackets having survived, many are found with faded
front and rear panels as well as faded spines. The dust jacket has
benefited from some restoration to the spine ends by an expert paper
conservator and presents as a near fine example. The jacket has no rips,
no chips, no tears, no rubbing, no stains (even the flaps are clean and
bright), and no foxing. The reverse side of the jacket has the
requisite text ads listing the Grosset and Dunlap publications.
Stunning, handsome jacket presenting the book beautifully on the shelf.
The dust jacket is protected in a new clear removeable archival cover.
Images of the dust jacket were taken both with the clear cover on and
off to fully show the jacket details. Extremely Scarce title in
collectible condition. Classic rare book."
Yesterday, I posted "The Top 100 Most Valuable Magazines" list from the NOSTOMANIA collector's website. Sitting alone at the top is Pete Miller's DRAG CARTOONS #27 from May 1966. With a cover depicting Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin with the George Barris Batmobile, and a newsstand price of just 35 cents, the magazine is now apparently worth more. A lot more. Like almost 130K more. At $129,000, DRAG CARTOONS #27 is currently the "most valuable" magazine on the planet. It's value has increase over 38% in the last year. Granted, this price is for high grade copies in the "slabbed" condition so coveted by high-end collector's, but still . . .
Another consistent top-scorer is FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #4 with the regional "ghoul's eye" sticker. However, it has recently dropped from the #2 spot to #6 with a reduction in value of almost 50% over the last year. At a price of $13,800, I think I'll wait a little while longer.
HOWL STREET - With over 60,000 current registered users, NOSTOMANIA is an influential force in the still-strong collector's market. The website is open to both buyers and sellers and is helpful as a research tool, as well. The HOWL STREET JOURNAL reports that their "100 Most Valuable Magazines" reveal an interesting trend in monster magazines -- over 50% of the list are horror film magazines and about half of the hundred are Warren publications.
Pricing seems to be on the high end, but many premium items are being "slabbed" by companies like CGC, who some years ago started their own industry in grading and preserving comic books, magazines, and other paper ephemera.
Here is NOSTOMANIA'S Top 100 list, with a description of the grading structure:
"With each pricing update we compute and show here the 100
most valuable magazines. We chose NM 9.4 as a "baseline" grade for
comparison. Clearly, some of these items may not, and probably do not exist in
that grade. Also, the magazines database is still in its relative infancy, so
there are certainly many items not yet in the database which will join this list
when they are entered."