Collecting Robert E. Howard Pulps - Part 1
Collecting Robert E. Howard Pulps - Part 2
|December 1932 - First Appearance of Conan|
|June 1933 issue. First Conan cover story|
The highest amount paid for this issue in a public auction was $5377 for a Very Good to Fine copy in 2006. It should be noted that this particular auction was a high profile affair, in which the collection of long-time comic, pulp and book collector John McLaughlin was being sold off. There were a number of rare, once-in-a-lifetime items in this auction, including a copy of the Tarzan of the Apes All-Story pulp, and that brought out a number of buyers that were not normally active in the market. Because of this, there were a number of bidding wars and record prices set, including for this Conan issue. This price therefore should best be seen as an aberration and in fact, the same copy sold again in 2008 for $2390 and then in 2012 for $1792, the last amount being probably more reflective of its true market value.
|September 1933 issue|
These prices may seem outrageous to the average collector, but really they are actually fairly low when one considers that Conan is one of the most prominent fictional characters to debut in the pulps, alongside such icons as Tarzan, Zorro, The Shadow, and Buck Rogers and of those he is arguable the most relevant today. It is really only its lack of scarcity that keeps its value as low as it is. Another factor is that Conan does not appear on the cover. As with the November issue, the John Allen St. John cover illustrates Otis Adelbert Kline’s serialized novel, The Buccaneers of Venus. Imagine if this issue had instead had a Conan cover by the legendary St. John! The great irony, of course, is that within a few years Kline would, for the most part, give up his writing to be become the literary agent for Howard.
|May 1934. First cover depicting Conan himself|
The third published Conan story, “The Tower of the Elephant,” appeared in the March 1933 issue and usually sells for $125-200 in Very Good. This issue featured only the second cover by a female artist whose name would become synonymous with Weird Tales in the 1930’s – Margaret Brundage.
Many have criticized Brundage’s later depictions of Conan, but she has developed quite a following among modern day collectors, mainly due to her images of women. Her covers, rendered in pastels rather than painted, give her female subjects a soft, innocent, almost child-like appearance which is often in stark contrast to the macabre, menacing situations in which they are usually depicted. Brundage would go on to illustrate nine of Howard’s Conan stories on the cover of Weird Tales. These are some of the most desirable and valuable issues of Weird Tales from the 1930’s.
From early 1933 until his death three years later, Howard would see print in Weird Tales on almost a monthly basis. For a complete list of these stories and poems see the HowardWorks site. Most of these issues, all with Brundage covers sell for around $100-150 in Very Good. The exceptions to this are the nine Howard cover story issues and a couple of the more popular non-Howard Brundage covers, all of which sell for several hundred dollars.
The first of the Howard covers is the June 1933 issue, containing the Conan story “Black Colossus.” The cover depicts a nude Yasmela prostrating herself before the statue of Mitra. This issue usually sells for $200-300 in Very Good condition.
The May 1934 issue is the first publication to depict Conan on its cover in a scene from “Queen of the Black Coast” in which he and Belit fend off the attack of the winged ape. Conan appears again on the cover of the August 1934, fighting the giant python from “The Devil in Iron.”
The cover of the September issue features Yasmina being threatened by one of the Black Seers of Yimsha in a scene from “People of the Black Circle.” All of these issues run about $200-300 in Very Good.
The cover of the December 1934 issue features another flagellation scene, this time from “A Witch Shall Be Born.” This is another popular cover with collectors and as such, it tends to sell for a bit more, around $300-400.
The final Conan cover is the July 1936 issue, containing the first part of “Red Nails.” The cover is one Brundage’s most provactive, with a nude Valeria held down by two scantily-clad female slaves, about to be sacrificed by Tascela. This issue, which would have probably been on the newsstands by late May, was also the last of Howard’s stories to be published before his death. It usually sells for $300-400 in Very Good.
Weird Tales would continue to publish Howard’s work posthumously for the next several years. For a complete listing of these, again see the HowardWorks site. Most of these issues are fairly inexpensive, usually selling for around $50-75 in Very Good. One notable exception is the December 1936 issue featuring “The Fire of Asshurbanipal” which can sell for $100-200. This is the last issue of Weird Tales to feature a Howard yarn on the cover – the artwork incidentally is by John Allen St. John, the only time he illustrated an REH story.
|July 1936. Last Conan cover story.|
In the next installment I will focus on collecting Howard pulps other than Weird Tales – Fight Stories, Thrilling Mystery, Action Stories, Top-Notch, Spicy Adventure and many others.