DescriptionAction Funnies Ashcan Edition (DC, 1937/38) Condition: VF+. It's purported that early DC executive Harry Donenfeld had four ashcans created to protect the most important title in comic book history: Action Comics, Action Funnies, Double Action Comics, and Triple Action Comics. No copies of Triple Action have ever surfaced but there are three copies of the Action Comics ashcan known to exist. Various copies of Double Action are in collector hands, and three copies of the Action Funnies ashcan are known to exist. According to our consignor, this is the second-finest copy of the three. Comic Book Marketplace named this ashcan the fifth-rarest Golden Age comic back in 1992.
Unlike some ashcans, the cover art was not taken from a previously published comic but is art that was later used as the cover to Action Comics #3. Interior is Detective Comics #10. A tip of the lower left corner of the back cover has broken off, otherwise we would have assigned this a higher grade! Overstreet does not list a value but notes, "The Mallette/Brown copy in VG+ condition sold for $15,000 in 2005."
The significance of Action #1 is well-documented elsewhere in this catalog. In view of that, and the prices that book commands, we recommend taking a strong look at this related -- and much scarcer -- item.
In the early days of comics publishing, the most common procedure to secure a trademark for a potentially valuable title was to create an ashcan edition of the proposed comic book (not to be confused with the modern-day term which commonly refers to mass-produced promotional booklets).
Companies would simply create the title's logo, affix it to a piece of existing cover art, and then shoot a Velox of it. (A Velox is a positive photographic print typically used by newspapers as a pre-press proof, which accounts for ashcan covers being black and white rather than color.) After the cover was created, it was trimmed to comic-book size and then stapled to the interior of a previously published book, or sometimes just some loose story pages. The ashcan was now complete. For all practical purposes it had the appearance of a legitimate comic book - and since the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) apparently accepted them as authentic comic books for trademark registration, no higher authority in the country existed to dispute this claim. Nor, apparently, did anyone ever seek to try.
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