A scarce first edition of The Shadow, published in April 1931 sold for $156,000 Thursday, May 20, at Heritage Auctions, setting a world record as the most expensive pulp magazine ever sold. The rare book, graded in “Fine-minus” condition, claimed top lot honors in a 586-lot special sale of rare pulp magazines and related collectibles.
“The price realized for The Shadow No. 1 is the highest recorded for a pulp of any kind,” said Rick Akers, Consignment Director of Comics at Heritage Auctions. “I expected it might pass $50,000, but things got pretty exciting when it surpassed $100,000, with heated live bidding.”
This first issue of The Shadow was an instant hit (the series would ran for 325 issues over 18 years) and it is widely considered one of the most influential magazines ever published. It is the very first “hero pulp,” and is credited as influencing the development of superhero comic books, which introduced characters such as Batman and Superman which appeared several years later.
Collecting pulp magazines has been an established hobby for more than a century. The publications hit their stride during the 1920s and 1930s. The “pulps magazine” moniker is derived from the cheap paper made from wood pulp, on which the inexpensive fiction magazines were printed.