The Gothic Origins of Adventures into the Unknown #1, Up for Auction

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Adventures into the Unknown from publisher ACG (American Comics Group) is a vastly underrated comic book series. Regarded as the first ongoing American comic book horror series, the title lasted 174 issues from Fall 1948 to August 1967 — several months before other publishers began to ease into horror-focused titles, and about a year and a half before EC Comics’ horror titles began in earnest.  Adventures into the Unknown is underrated from a creative standpoint as well. The series maintained a high standard for stories and art throughout, under the editorship of industry pioneer Richard E. Hughes. And most of the debut issue’s stories were written by horror and science fiction legend Frank Belknap Long. There’s a copy of Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages available in this week’s 2021 June 27-28 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122126 session at Heritage Auctions.

Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948)
Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948)

Frank Belknap Long began writing for pulps in 1924 with Weird Tales.  He became a close friend of H.P. Lovecraft and made early contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos.  Long had expanded his range to science fiction by the 1930s, in pulp titles such as Astounding Science Fiction and others.  By the late 1940s, Long was also writing comic books and contributed the scripts for most of the stories of the first two issues of Adventures into the Unknown, as well as stories for several other early issues.

Long’s stories for Adventures into the Unknown #1 include a fascinating mix of horror tales from historical to modern.  One interesting choice for this issue is his brief but effective adaptation of Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto:

The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, is generally viewed as the first Gothic novel. Its first edition, published in 1764, claimed to be a translation of a work printed in Naples in 1529 and newly discovered in the library of ‘an ancient Catholic family in the north of England’. It tells the story of Manfred, the prince of Otranto, who is keen to secure the castle for his descendants in the face of a mysterious curse.

Artists collaborating with Long on this issue include Fred Guardineer, Edvard Moritz, Max Elkan, King Ward, and Al Ulmer. There are only 48 entries for Adventures into the Unknown #1 on the CGC Census. An important and incredibly underrated moment in the history of American comics, there’s a copy of Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages available in this week’s 2021 June 27-28 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122126 session at Heritage Auctions.

Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948)
Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948)

Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages. One of the most valuable ACG comic books, this issue launched the first successful all-horror comic series, which ran for nearly 20 years. Overstreet 2020 VG 4.0 value = $542. CGC census 6/21: 5 in 4.0, 29 higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 932305006 and purchase grader’s notes if available.

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