Where Have All the Cartoon Books Gone?

By Salvatore Miceli (eBay: nostalgia_sal), November 2020

“The demand for Gladstone, Archie and Harveys are still in its infancy. The growth potential in CPV values for these 3 publishers is massive in my personal opinion especially given that most 30-40 year olds are familiar enough with most of the properties to feel comfortable and nostalgic enough to begin investing in them. ”

Hello to everyone. I would like to start off by thanking Ben and the rest of the CPV Price Guide team for this wonderful opportunity to contribute to this site. A little about myself, I’ve been collecting comics since I was a child but stopped around the mid nineties and started up again about 5 years ago and have exclusively focused on Canadian newsstand price variants.

This website and the blogs that others have contributed have been an amazing learning resource. Ben and the team were gracious enough to give me the opportunity to create the Gladstone, Archie and Harvey CPV lists that are now posted on this site. To say these opportunities have been a labour of love is an understatement. I truly understand the dedication and time Ben and crew have put into their Marvel and DC research and the resulting price guide. I myself spent hundreds of manhours compiling, cross referencing, finding correct dates and cover prices and even confirming the existence of certain books during my research phases.

That may sound exhaustively boring to all of you but to be honest It was very enlightening. During that research I discovered a vast number of titles that I not only never knew existed to begin with, but that had CPVs to boot. One of the best surprises to come out of all this is that my love for many of the cartoon characters I had grown up with as a child had been reinvigorated.

Given my unique perspective on these books, having totally immersed myself in them for months on end, I came to notice that the availability of many of these titles just wasn’t there. At first I couldn’t wrap my head around why I couldn’t even find a basic CPV photo of many of these titles. Eventually I had an epiphany, I was dealing with children’s books.

Not titles and characters that adults, teenagers and children alike would love (Spiderman, Batman, etc), but titles that ONLY children would be interested in. What adult or teenager in the late 80s and more specifically the early to mid 90s was buying copies of Saved By The Bell, Cowboys Of Moo Mesa or Monster In My Pocket? Many of you right now are reading this and saying to yourself monster in my what?

Characters like Archie or Richie Rich are timeless and had massive followings so it wasn’t too difficult to locate many of these books right from the late 50s all the way through to the 80s. They have a massive built-in fanbase that collected and saved these books (although tracking down any Giant Size Harvey from the 50s-70s in high grade is a virtual impossibility). The lions share of most of my research came from scouring Ebay as well as a few select comic book websites which involved spending countless hours of staring at the same photos over and over again.

Something that I noticed while doing this is that I was seeing many of the same covers reprinted. Many of the Harvey CPVs from the early 90s (both comics and digests) were identical reprints from decades earlier. So lets break that down… these were reprints of children’s comics whose popularity at this point in time was greatly diminished and very likely had miniscule print runs (under 10k total?). Now try finding a CPV of that book. Impossible right?

One group of books I had difficulty in finding were the Archie Hanna Barbera titles from the mid 90s. Now these books are a bit different than the previously mentioned 90s Harveys. These were characters who were still quite popular in the mid 90s (Scooby Doo, Flintstones, Yogi Bear) yet according to Comichron had print runs of between 5k-10k per issue. The quality of the coverstock was actually quite high with all the Hanna Barbera titles (as with most other Archie titles from the mid 90s, specifically the books with a $1.65 or $2.50 Canadian cover price) which meant these particular books had a higher likelihood of remaining in higher grade over the years. Yet they are incredibly difficult to find. Go online right now and try with all your might to locate a $1.65 copy of Hanna Barbera Presents #5 A Pup Named Scooby Doo. You’ll be pulling your hair out in 10 minutes.

Lets jump for a second to a much ignored part of our hobby, the digest. While Archie digests are the most common out there, they are certainly not the rarest. The CPV Harvey digests, especially the later issues, are impossible to find in anything in say higher than a 8.5-9.0 grade due to a well known over gluing issue on the spines (originally mentioned by Doug Sulipa I believe). I myself own about 80 of these little guys and virtually every one has the same telltale wavy cover. Every one of their digest titles are tough to find regardless if they’re Direct, US newsstand or CPV, which makes competition on Ebay for these little suckers quite fierce, especially the later issues. Prices for any of these CPV digests regularly fetch between $15-$45 Canadian dollars a piece.

While we are on the subject of Harvey, let me touch on the aforementioned kids titles from the early 90’s. It’s appropriate that one of their best known characters is a ghost, given that almost all of these books are themselves “ghosts.” From Felix the Cat to Tom and Jerry, from Beetlejuice to New Kids on the Block, the titles consist of a mishmash of characters and pop culture icons that most of us will recognize but never gave a second thought to collecting. I’ve been pursuing these heavily over the past 3 years and have little more than half a shortbox to show for it. I have no idea what the print runs were for any of these titles, but I can safely guess it’s a pittance.

I personally attend roughly 15-20 comic shows a year (pre-Covid) and have noticed that very few (if any) dealers carry more than half a box of “kids” books at best. In this age of Marvel and DC movies and TV shows it seems as if the cartoon characters of yesteryear have been completely forgotten. While it appears that the Marvel/DC CPV craze is well underway, its also evident that the demand for Gladstone, Archie and Harveys are still in its infancy. The growth potential in CPV values for these 3 publishers is massive in my personal opinion especially given that most 30-40 year olds are familiar enough with most of the properties to feel comfortable and nostalgic enough to begin investing in them. I’ve heard of a few people trying to put together full collections of all the Marvel and DC CPVs. A massive undertaking for sure but if they really want a challenge try doing the same for all the Gladstone, Archie and Harvey CPVs. Now that would be a feat to behold.

My 3 main CPV takeaways from compiling these guides… early Dan Rosa issues from Gladstone are very tough to find in high grade, all TV/cartoon character Archie titles from the mid 90s have insanely low print runs and lastly keep an eye out for those 1991-1992 Harvey titles as many hidden gems are lurking (Beetlejuice, Back to the Future). As for the toughest CPV book from all 3 publishers that I’ve noticed so far… Uncle Scrooge #219 (Gladstone), Saved by the Bell Special #1 (Harvey), Cartoon Network Presents Space Ghost #1 (Archie) and pretty much any of the New Kids on the Block digests (Harvey).

I wish everyone luck in all of their comic collecting pursuits and I hope to see more of these 3 publishers on everyone’s radars in the near future. Cheers!

Salvatore Miceli