Did Somebody Say Madam Satan? Pep Comics #16 Heats Up At Auction

Posted by June 16, 2017 Comment

While we have written about Madam Satan a few times here on Bleeding Cool over the years, we’ve never done so twice in one day — until now.  Just a few hours before we informed you that Archie Comics had trademarked Madam Satan And Hangman, someone grabbed this Pep Comics #16 CGC 8.5 copy of Madam Satan’s first appearance for $11,200.00 at Comic Connect’s Jon Berk Collection auction Session 4. Like many of the pre-Archie Pep Comics (the character first appeared in Pep Comics #22), Pep Comics #16 has relatively low census numbers and is tough to get in high grade (that’s a phrase that gets used a lot, so let me qualify it by noting four copies in CGC 7.5 or above as of this writing).  The census-topping CGC 9.6 copy sold for $40,630.00 at Heritage in November 2016.

The character Madam Satan was created by artist Harry Lucey and writer Abner Sundell. Lucey is well known for going on to become one of the definitive Archie artists. Sundell was a uniquely creative force of nature that someone ought to write a book about some day. He got his start writing and editing for the pulps, where he eventually crossed paths with Louis Silberkleit — the man who put the “L” in MLJ. In addition to Madam Satan, he also co-created Steel Sterling (with artist Charles Biro) for MLJ. Sudnell also worked for Victor Fox, as writer and editor for Fox’s comic book and magazine lines.

Pep Comics #16 CGC 8.5 first appearance of Madam Satan


From Madam Satan to Political Hell

In the 1942, Sundell wrote what must be one of the earliest articles about breaking into comics to have ever appeared, called How to Crash the Comics for The Writer’s Year Book.

Sundell continued working largely as a magazine writer and editor throughout the subsequent two decades. By the 1960s, he was an editor for Pageant Magazine, which was launched by comic book publisher (and later magazine and book publisher) Alex Hillman. Notably, a job offer from Pageant to Harvey Kurtzman is part of what prompted William Gaines to turn Mad into a magazine to entice him to stay, Gaines said in later years. At Pageant, Sundell took part in developing a feature article consisting of a list of the five most-effective and five least-effective members of Congress as chosen by (as he would later respond to Congressional inquiries) the responses to a questionnaire sent to 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, and 220 members of the Washington press corps. The poll was published by Pageant Magazine 10 days before the November 3 elections that year, and set off a firestorm of controversy as to the veracity of the poll, followed promptly by a Senate Subcommittee hearing on December 17, 1964.

We have a catch-phrase in the current era for this genre of circumstances that applies pretty well here: Life comes at you fast.  One week you’re working on a magazine which is basically a combination of glamour models and tabloid headlines — as seen through a Beatnik filter — then a couple weeks later you’ve got an angry United States Senate breathing down your neck in the wake of Lyndon B. Johnson‘s re-election.  The controversy took its toll on Sundell, and he had resigned from Pageant Magazine by the next summer. He then announced to great fanfare in the press that he intended to become a painter.  As described by his family in recent times, Sundell “often drew images from Mexico’s past, because he wanted to show that Mexico’s history can still be felt in the scenes and life of today.”

I’ll save further study of the 1964 election controversy for another day, but from Madam Satan to election coverage to paintings of Mexico’s past, in total it appears that Sundell was an imaginative creator of wide-ranging abilities and interests.

Mystery Men Mania

Continuing with the general theme of the Jon Berk Collection auction this week, “vintage indies” are stealing the show.  An exceptional group of Edgar Church Mystery Men Comics was on offer, setting a number of records, including Mystery Men Comics #1 9.0 (first appearance of Blue Beetle) at $41,000.00, and Mystery Men Comics #3 CGC 9.6 with that classic cover by Lou Fine for $57,000.00.

And there was much more than Mystery Men and Madam Satan. Here’s a rundown of the rest of the night’s highlights:

Jon Berk Collection Auction Highlights Session 4

MYSTERY MEN COMICS 3 CGC 9.6 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 57,000.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 1 CGC 9 white pgs; second highest graded 1 of 2! Church/Mile High copy 41,000.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 2 CGC 9.6 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 38,500.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 8 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 31,487.00
SUB-MARINER COMICS 1941-55 11 CGC 9.4 white pgs; vry sm amount of dried glue on spine; Chicago copy 30,100.00
MOTION PICTURE FUNNIES WEEKLY 1 CGC 3.5 brttl pgs; pgs 1-4 dtch 27,500.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 4 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 23,554.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 6 CGC 7 crm/ow pgs; File copy 22,501.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 10 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 22,500.00
MYSTIC COMICS (1ST SERIES) 1940-42 8 CGC 9.2 crm/ow pgs; second highest! 1 of 2! 21,076.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 16 CGC 8.5 off white pgs 21,000.00
NEW FUN COMICS 6 -- 7 sl tp removal int cvr 20,000.00
SCIENCE COMICS (1ST SERIES) 3 CGC 9.4 ow/white pgs; 1 of 2! Larson copy 17,977.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 5 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 17,400.00
RED RAVEN 1 CGC 6 ow/white pgs; Larson copy 15,200.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 1 CGC 8.5 crm/ow pgs; vry minor amount of ct on cvr, vry minor amount of glue on cvr 15,200.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 30 CGC 9.4 white page; Church/Mile High copy 15,000.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 6 CGC 9.6 ow/white pgs; Church/Mile high copy 14,521.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 7 CGC 8 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 13,533.00
STAR COMICS 3 CGC 8.5 ow/white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 13,255.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 12 CGC 9.6 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 13,000.00
MYSTIC COMICS (1ST SERIES) 1940-42 9 CGC 7 crm/ow pgs 12,977.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 9 CGC 9 white pgs; (looks much nicer than a 9.0) Church/Mile High copy 12,925.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 31 CGC 9.6 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 11,700.00
PEP COMICS 16 CGC 8.5 white pgs; Larson copy; second highest graded 1 of 2! 11,200.00
SCIENCE COMICS (1ST SERIES) 4 CGC 6.5 off white pgs 10,900.00
SCIENCE COMICS (1ST SERIES) 2 CGC 8 white pgs; Sl(C-1) sm amt ct, tr sls; Larson copy 9,300.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 2 CGC 9.4 off white pgs; 1 of 1! File Copy 9,250.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 3 CGC 8.5 white pgs; second highest graded! Larson copy 8,800.00
NEW FUN COMICS 5 -- 6.5 sl tape removal, int 8,533.00
PLANET COMICS 1940-54 2 CGC 8 off white pgs; second highest graded! minor amt ct, sm amount of dried glue on cvr 8,500.00
PEP COMICS 29 CGC 8.5 white pgs 8,400.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 8 CGC 8 ow/white pgs 8,400.00
PRIZE COMICS 1940-48 20 CGC 8 ow/white pgs; second highest graded! 8,275.00
SMASH COMICS 1 CGC 9 off white pgs; tied for highest 8,200.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 29 CGC 9.2 white pgs; 1 of 1! Church/Mile High Copy 7,900.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 27 CGC 8 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 7,606.00
SAMSON 1940-41 1 CGC 9.2 ow/white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 7,410.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 17 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 7,200.00
SHOWCASE 22 CGC 6 crm/ow pgs 7,200.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 28 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 7,143.00
NEW FUN COMICS 2 -- 5.5 color touch, rice paper support, chip replacement 6,866.00
NEW FUN COMICS 3 -- 6.5 rice paper support and color touch at spine. minor tape on several interior pages. a very solid copy 6,755.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 26 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 6,700.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 14 CGC 9.6 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 6,543.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 16 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church /Mile High copy 6,450.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 4 CGC 9.6 crm/ow pgs; second highest graded! File Copy 6,200.00
SCIENCE COMICS (1ST SERIES) 1 CGC 5 crm/ow pgs; Denver Copy 5,957.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 13 CGC 9.4 white pgs; second highest graded! Church/Mile High copy 5,878.00
PEP COMICS 20 CGC 4.5 ow/white pgs 5,800.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 7 CGC 8 white pgs; very sm amt of dried glue on cvr; second highest graded! 5,800.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 11 -- 7 Church/Mile High copy; killer copy with a 3/4" split at top of spine and a 1/2 " split at bottom 5,700.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 24 CGC 9.4 white pages; Church/Mile High copy 5,600.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 18 CGC 9.4 white pgs; Church/Mile High copy 5,550.00
PRIZE COMICS 1940-48 7 CGC 6.5 crm/ow pgs; Sl/Mod(B-2) pcs added, tr sls 5,400.00
SUN GIRL 1 CGC 9 white pgs 5,400.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 25 CGC 9.2 white pages; Church/Mile High copy 5,322.00
SILVER STREAK COMICS 15 CGC 8 crm/ow pgs; tied for highest! Rockford copy 5,300.00
MORE FUN COMICS 54 CGC 4 ow/white pgs; (C) tr sls, spine splits sealed to cvr, cvr & cf reinf 5,200.00
MORE FUN COMICS 55 CGC 7.5 ow/white pgs, Mod(A-3) ct, pcs added, tr sls, cleaned, reinf 5,200.00
MYSTERY MEN COMICS 19 CGC 9.6 white pages; Church/Mile High copy 5,200.00
POLICE COMICS 1 CGC 7 white pgs; Mod(B-3) ct, pcs added, reinf 5,200.00

(Last Updated June 17, 2017 6:28 am )