A comic book collector and dealer, Gary Colabuono, displayed a number of very rare ashcan comic books last weekend at Chicago’s Comic Con. An ashcan comic is a hand drawn, unfinished version of a comic book that was produced for either legal purposes, such as securing trademarks, or to demonstrate publications for potential advertisers. These comics were then intended to be thrown out, which is how they got their name, and makes them extremely rare. (These ashcan copies would have been produced during the “Golden Age of Comics”, which lasted from the 1930s-1950s). For many comic books, there are only one or two copies known to have survived.
Among the ashcan copies that Gary displayed were Spierman, Superwoman, Superboy and Supergirl comics from the 1930s and 1940s. Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard World, the company that puts on Comic Con, noted that “what Gary has is a piece of history that people haven’t seen before…that’s what gets the juices flowing for collectors out there.” Gary agrees that they are “pop-culture relics or artifacts”, but would not comment on the estimated value of his collection.