Introduction to All-American Comics #16
The July 1940 issue of All-American Comics #16 was published by All American in the early days of The Golden Age of Comics. It featured the origin and first appearance of one of the most enduring and popular super-heroes of all-time – Green Lantern, created by Martin Nodell (under the pen name of Mart Dellon) with Bill Finger providing the script. After surviving a train crash and finding the Green Flame of Life Alan Scott tracks down the culprit responsible for the wreck. The incident does inspire Scott to use his powers the fight crime and to become The Green Lantern. Like Superman before him, All-American spun off the super-hero into his own title, even while continuing to feature him in All-American Comics for nearly a decade. All-American Comics #16 is considered rarer than many other “key” issues from the same era, which has played a part in a steady increase in collector demand and value. The influential Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books rates the issue a “7” or “Scarce”, meaning at the time of its publication, an estimated 21 to 50 still in existence. In 2018 a Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) 6.5 (FN+) copy was sold at Heritage Auctions for $215,100 eclipsing the 2013 Heritage Auctions higher graded Billy Wright Pedigree copy in 8.0 (VF) grade for $203,150.
Brief History of All-American Comics
All-American Comics was the flag-ship title of Max Gaines’ All-American line of comic books. In order to save money on administrative cost, All-American struck a deal with National (DC) to share office and distributive cost. Hence the DC bullet on early issues. Begun in 1939, All-American Comics #1 debuted in the spring of 1939 featuring the first appearance of Hop Harrigan and Red White & Blue. Scribbly made his first appearance outside of a Dell comic. The book was filled out with newspaper favorites such as Mutt & Jeff, Skippy, Reg’lar Fellers and others. The first attempt at a super-hero was Gary Concord, Ultra-Man in All-American Comics #8, November 1939.
The game-changer came with the July 1940 issue of All-American Comics #16. It featured the first appearance of Green Lantern (Alan Scott). It also set the stage for super-heroes to quickly populate the pages of All-American. All-American Comics #19 featured the first appearance of The Atom (Al Pratt) and the last appearance of Ultra-Man. Even Ma Hunkle from the Scribbly strip gets into the new super-hero craze by becoming Red Tornado in All-American Comics #20. All-American Comics #24 features text origins for two upcoming super-heroes Dr. Mid-Nite (debuting in All-American Comics #25) and Sargon the Sorcerer (All-American Comics #26).
With a stable line-up now set, change came slowly. The biggest change was Max Gaines selling his All-American line to National. The 1946 titles saw the return of the DC bullet on the cover. Highlights for the rest of the run include All-American Comics #61 (origin and 1st appearance of Solomon Grundy), All-American Comics #89 (origin and 1st appearance of Harlequin) and All-American #100 (1st appearance of Johnny Thunder by Alex Toth). All-American Comics’ last issue is #102, but only because of a title and content change. Johnny Thunder remained as the lead feature in the new All-American Western which continued until issue #126.
How much is All-American Comics #16 worth?
According to the 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide a 9.2 copy is valued at $800,000.
All-American Comics prices - what is the most expensive All- American Comics sold at auction?
In 2018, a copy certified by CGC at just 6.5 (FN+) of All-American Comics #16 sold for $215,100. Only two (8.0 & 9.4) unrestored copies have been certified but neither has been up for public auction.
What Other All-American Comics are valuable?
Other expensive issues include Green Lantern’s second appearance in All-American #17 Billy Wright pedigree CGC 9.0 copy selling for $20,315 in 2013, Atom’s first appearance in All-American #19 Billy Wright pedigree CGC 8.5 copy selling for $16,730 and a super high-grade copy of All-American Comics #21 in CGC 9.6 selling for $13,145 in 2012.
The top ten in 9.2 by value according to the 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide are:
- All-American #16 – origin and 1st appearance of Green Lantern at $825,000,
- All-American #19 – origin and 1st appearance of Atom at $65,000,
- All-American #61 – origin and 1st appearance of Solomon Grundy at $38,000 and rounding out the top ten to a lowest value of $8,400 are
- All-American #17 – 2nd Green Lantern,
- All-American #18 – World’s Fair cover,
- All-American #25 – origin and 1st appearance of Dr. Mid-Nite,
- All-American #20 – 1st Red Tornado, 1st DC super-heroine,
- All-American #1,
- All-American #21,
- All-American #8 – 1st appearance of Ultra-Man at $8,400.
Be aware that no matter the comic, the condition of the comic has an overwhelming effect on its value -- with mint condition comics being exponentially more valuable than anything else.
All-American Comics #16 original cover art
The cover art for All-American Comics #16 was created by Sheldon Moldoff. Here’s a little trivia. Mr. Moldoff drew several covers with Green Lantern but never did a story.
Characters from All-American Comics
Notable characters from All-American Comics includes among others, Scribbly, created by Sheldon Mayer, who brought the character with him when he left Dell Comics and later graduated to his own book for 15 issues. The licensed newspaper strip Mutt & Jeff appear in more All-American Comics than any other feature. They too achieved a much longer run at DC in a comic book of their own, lasting over two decades. But today, Green Lantern is the most memorable character to emerge from the title. Green Lantern’s solo title lasted for 38 issues.
Lest we forget, Hop Harrigan didn’t get his own book, but he did appear in other comics as well as getting his own radio show and movie serial. Justice Society of America members, Atom, Red Tornado, Dr. Mid-Nite and Sargon the Sorcerer make their debut here. And Johnny Thunder lead the title into the 1950s with a content and title change to All-American Western.
Popular Green Lantern villains to debut in the pages of All-American include Solomon Grundy (All-American Comics #61), Crusher Crock, later changed to the Sportsman (All-American Comics #85), Harlequin (All-American Comics #89) and the Icicle (All-American Comics #91).
Plot Summary of All-American Comics #16
In brief, Engineer Alan Scott and his associate, Jimmy are traveling across America by train. Scott is on an assignment to inspect the new Trestle Bridge. The engineer is worried that his nemesis, engineer Albert Dekker will sabotage his inspection. Unfortunately, Alan is right. A bomb explodes underneath the bridge and the train derails and crashes. Everyone aboard the train is dead, except for Scott. The lone survivor awakens and finds a mysterious green lantern near the wreckage. This lantern is known as the Green Flame of Life. The Green Flame of Life tells Scott its incredible history, teaches him how to make a ring from the lamp, and grants him its powers. The lantern also warns Scott that he needs to recharge the ring every 24 hours. Scott uses his powers to fly and travels to confront Dekker, the man who is responsible for the train derailment, even as his nemesis celebrates the success of the train derailment with his henchmen. His short-lived celebration ends with Scott swooping in, nabbing Dekker, getting a confession, then releasing the villain who falls to the ground sustaining fatal injuries! Pretty harsh stuff in the Pre-Comics Code Authority days!
How rare is All-American Comics #16?
All-American Comics #16 is one of the rarer Golden Age key issues. Besides Ernie Gerber giving it a scarcity rating 7 in his historic Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books, as of April 1st 2020, CGC had certified only 58 copies compared to 270 for Batman #1, which came out a few months earlier.
Original art to All-American Comics #16
No original art to All-American Comics #16 has surfaced.
Original art to All-American Comics
Dr. Mid-Nite takes the prize for the most expense piece of art sold through Heritage Auctions. An unpublish page to a story created in 1947 by Stan Aschmeier sold at auction in 2018 for $13,200. The splash page to the Green Lantern story by Paul Reinman in All-American Comics #55 fetched $6,572.50 in 2013. Irwin Hasen, who drew Doiby Dickles first appearance, provides the splash page to All-American Comics #85, which sold in 2013 for $4,182.50
Why sell your vintage comics and original comic art with Heritage Auctions?
Our marketing reach and a huge base of members mean more bidders and higher realized prices for your collectible comics.
Reputation can make or break your sale. Heritage Auctions has a 60% market share in comics and comic art — three times the volume of any other comic auctioneer, and our record-breaking comics and comic art auctions speak for themselves:
- 2019 was a record year with $79 million-plus sold, topping $58 million in Comics and Comic Art sold in 2018; triple all other comic auctioneers combined!
- World’s Most Valuable Auction of Comic Books, Comic Art and Related Memorabilia: $15.121 million (May, 2019)
- World record for comic artist Robert Crumb - Fritz the Cat Cover, $717,000.
- The world record for comic artist Frank Frazetta - Egyptian Queen, $5.4M
- World record for comic artist Neal Adams – Batman #251 Cover, $600,000
Free Comics appraisal
Get a Free Auction Evaluation for Comic Books, Comic Art & Animation Art - Generous Cash Advances Available!
We are always accepting individual comic books and collections for future auctions or even for outright purchase. Request free action evaluation for comics and comic art.
Sold Collectibles & Art
Comic Grading Service
How do you know what's valuable?
Our Comic Book Value Guide provides free information about how to value your All-American Comics Comics.