Sheena and the Elusive Jumbo Comics #31, Up for Auction

Posted in: Comics, Heritage Sponsored, Vintage Paper | Tagged: fiction house, sheena

Exactly how rare is the elusive Jumbo Comics #31 featuring a great Sheena cover by Dan Zolnerowich? We dive into the data to find out.

In 1989, comic book dealer, collector, and inventor of the Mylar Snug Ernie Gerber published his original two-volume The Photo-Journal Guide To Comic Books, which showed photographs of 21,000 comic books from the Golden Age era, along with his informed opinion as to their relative rarity as a longtime participant in the business of comic book collecting. The eleven-point Gerber Scarcity Index rated comics from common to nonexistent, with Gerber 11 meaning known to be published but with no copies known to exist, Gerber 10 designated as less than 5 known copies, and a Gerber 9 meant to indicate 6-10 known copies.  As a result, Gerber 9s and Gerber 10s have been particularly coveted by serious collectors for decades.  Jumbo Comics #31 is one fairly famous example of a Gerber 9, and there’s a Jumbo Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1941) CGC VG- 3.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2023 October 19 The Fiction House Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40235 at Heritage Auctions.

Jumbo Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1941)
Jumbo Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1941)

There’s been a lot of discussion in the 33 years since the Photo-Journal Guides were published as to how well the Gerber scarcity numbers have held up, particularly in the CGC Census era.  Results vary, but we’ve generally found that there are somewhat more copies out there than the Gerber numbers indicate across the top end of the scale.  Take the case of the following (non-exhaustive) list of Gerber 9’s, a designation which was meant to indicate 6-10 known copies, along with their current number of entries on the CGC Census:

Gerber 9 examples in the current CGC Census
Comic Census Total
All-American Comics #4 3
Captain Aero Comics #9 12
Catman Comics #13 23
Detective Comics #2 24
Detective Comics #3 14
Jumbo Comics #31 16
Suspense Comics #3 40
Whirlwind Comics #3 16

We’re 22 years into the CGC era, and it seems reasonable to assume that a significant percentage of known copies of most of the broadly-collected Gerber 9s (loosely defined: Suspense Comics #3 and Catman Comics #13 are broadly collected, while Flying Models V61#3 is not) have been slabbed.  That said, it must be noted that CGC Census numbers are not an entirely accurate accounting of how many copies of those comic books have been slabbed.  Comics can be cracked out of the slab and resubmitted to CGC for grading again for a variety of reasons, resulting in inflated census numbers.  Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that there are far more than 6-10 copies of Suspense Comics #3 known to exist.  Of course, Suspense Comics #3 is infamous for having been featured prominently in the Photo-Journal Guide, resulting in it coming to the wider attention of collectors, a frenzy to unearth copies, and prices rising into the stratosphere based on the comic’s cover art.

As for the rest of this unscientific sampling, surprisingly enough it appears that All-American Comics #4 might indeed be a true Gerber 9 at the least, while all of the others here aside from Suspense Comics #3 are perhaps more in the 10-25 copy range.  Still crazy rare, considering these comics have been firmly on the radar of serious collectors for decades.  And it appears that Jumbo Comics #16 has faired better as a Gerber 9 in terms of low census numbers than many others with that designation.  A rare Fiction House comic book with a fantastic Sheena cover by Dan Zolnerowich there’s a Jumbo Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1941) CGC VG- 3.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2023 October 19 The Fiction House Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40235 at Heritage Auctions. New to collecting Fiction House or want to learn more?  Bleeding Cool is doing an ongoing deep dive into the history behind Fiction House in the run-up to this auction. If you’ve never bid at Heritage Auctions before, you can get further information, you can check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.

Jumbo Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1941)


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