Which group of 47-year-old teenagers still looks as spry as the first day they got their own comic book? Why, that’s Scooby-Doo and Mystery Inc., of course! Read about the rich history of Scooby-Doo comics and if the new Scooby Apocalypse is worth your time.
There has been a Scooby-Doo comic on American newsstands since 1970, soon after the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Saturday morning cartoon debuted. It’s fascinating to look back on the history of such an iconic character. Everyone reading this, most likely, pretty much grew up with some form of Scooby-Doo comic book.
Gold Key Comics was the first company to publish Scooby-Doo starting in 1970. It was the Scooby Doo… Where Are You! series and ran until 1973. Notice there’s no hyphen in Scooby’s name! The first issue cost a very affordable 15¢ and adapted stories from the TV show. Finding a high-quality copy of the first issue can set you back over $1,000. Starting with issue #17, the series changed names to Scooby Doo… Mystery Comics. It was published from 1973 to 1975 this way. Its price jumped up a whole 5 cents, to 20¢ per issue—most likely necessitated by the expense in changing names! Gold Key was quite famous in its day for publishing many licensed works.
In 1975, Charlton Comics began publishing (All New) Scooby Doo… Where Are You! This series sold for 25¢ and featured all-new stories from the beginning. Charlton had been publishing comics for 30 years by the time they acquired the Scooby rights. But as the ’80s loomed the company fell on hard times and has was not long for this world. A CGC-rated issue from this era can cost you in the triple digits. The series ran for only 11 issues before Charlton lost publishing rights to Marvel. By 1985, Charlton was out of business.
The ’70s ended with a Scooby-Doo series from Marvel Comics Group. It ran from 1977 to 1979 and cost 30¢ (with a hard-to-find 35¢ variant for issue #1 floating around some territories). Marvel differentiated itself from previous publishers when they titled their series Scooby-Doo. They used a hyphen, too! As of this writing, a high-grade copy of issue #1 is worth more than $400. If you’re ever out at thrift stores, garage sales, swap meets, or estate sales, look out for the much more valuable 35¢ version; that’ll go for a pretty penny.
Federal Comics and the ’80s
The 1980s were a dry time for Scooby-Doo comics. There were no American imprints publishing anything featuring Those Meddling Kids at the time. You’d have to go halfway around the world and to another hemisphere to get your ‘Doo fix. Murray Comics brought us Scooby Doo… Mystery Comics #1 in 1983 for 0.99 Australian Dollars. This series is notable in that it was published in black and white. Eventually, Murray stopped publishing the series and Federal Comics took over from issues 2 to 6. They raised the price to 1.25 AUD and simply titled the series Scooby-Doo. With a hyphen! Scouring eBay gives no results, as if these issues never existed. Besides these oddities, we didn’t get much in the ’80s. Except for Scrappy-Doo.
After laying fallow during the ’80s, Scooby and The Gang returned to American comics in 1992 and was published by Harvey Comics. These half-dozen issues were a mixture of reprints (Hanna-Barbera Presents Scooby-Doo – $1.25) and original stories (Scooby-Doo Big Book with 52 pages for $1.95 and the 68-page Scooby-Doo Giant Size sold for $2.25 [that’s a giant-sized price!]). These hard-to-find books can be seen on The ‘Bay for about $10 to $30.
The series found a more stable publishing schedule in 1995 when Archie Comics got the rights to print Scooby-Doo. This series lasted for 21 issues and sold for $1.50 throughout its run. If you didn’t know, the company published books besides those featuring well-meaning teenagers (one with a big appetite); they also published this book featuring well-meaning teenagers (one, a dog, with a big appetite). Nowadays Archie also publishes books with not-so-well-meaning teenagers, but that’s a story for another blog post. If you’re a collector, you should be able to find a good-quality copy from this series for under $20.
Starting in 1997, and showing no signs of letting up, DC Comics (through their Warner Bros. parent company) now publishes Scooby comics for a a new generation. A couple, actually: It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago, DC began selling Scooby-Doo for $2.50 and did so for 159 issues (ending in 2010 at $2.99). Interestingly, after the first 31 issues, #32 was renamed to Scooby-Doo! The exclamation point must have worked, because the series went on for 128 more issues. eBay lists several copies of that series’ first issue, all under $20. None appear to be graded, so that’s your chance to make a few bucks.
In 2010, the series was re-branded, becoming Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and sold for $2.99. The strategy of adding an exclamation point to the book’s title must have helped sales before, because this series did the same thing starting with issue 29 in 2013. This series, as of this writing, is on-going and has the distinction of being, perhaps, the only series currently being published with three punctuation marks in its title (Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?) from DC. It seems that early copies of this series are somewhat hard to find and range from $10 – $25 on eBay. Except for the rare, recalled issue #7 featuring an ad for not-kid-friendly-at-all V for Vendetta. That one’s easily $50.
Mystery Inc. has really found a welcoming home at DC because they currently have three on-going series there. The second of the lot is Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, first published in 2014 for $2.99. This is a very fun series where The Gang meets a wide range of DC Comics heroes and villains, as well as classic Hanna-Barbera characters. Scooby-Doo and company has met up Batman and Robin (their classic Super Friends incarnation), Wonder Woman (on a couple of occasions), Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (the comic book speculators loved that issue and #12 sells for $50 to $80!), Jonny Quest, Secret Squirrel, and the Jetsons.
And, finally, the most recent, the most weird, the most WTF Scooby-Doo comic book ever published: Scooby Apocalypse. This series began in 2016 and sells for $3.99 (with a ton of expensive variant covers) and was masterminded by Jim Lee (yes, Jim Lee). It’s, clearly, influenced by the re-imagining of recent Archie books (Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, for example) with a more grown-up flair. This book features the familiar characters in unfamiliar circumstances: Freddy and Daphne are lovers; she’s an ambitious (but failed) reporter of the supernatural while he’s her cameraman as they travel to a mysterious location. Shaggy is a low-level employee at that top-secret desert facility where the higher-ups conduct experiments on animals and people; he’s also got an amazing hipster beard and sick ink. Velma is a tormented scientist at the same facility who may, or may not, have had a hand in causing a great disaster; she’s cold, collected and quite detached from humanity. As for Scooby-Doo, he’s an incomplete experiment in canine-cybernetic fusion; he can communicate in basic English words (with his classic speech impediment) and with holographic emoji 😍. The series is quite violent and explores the group’s unexpected formation after a plague strikes the Earth and they have only each other to survive this hellish apocalypse. Daphne doesn’t trust Velma. Every manner of monster is after them. Supplies are running low. And Scrappy-Doo is out for vengeance. Zoinks!
The Road Ahead
Scooby Apocalypse is certainly a fascinating entry into the long history of Scooby-Doo comics. Will a new generation of comic readers embrace this radical change to the beloved characters? Or will they stick with the wholesome stories they, and their parents, have grown up with?
The good news, is that you can choose both.