World's Oldest Graded 10.0!
Guaranty, LLC, announced that they recently graded the
oldest 10.0 in comics. Published in 1949, the copy of
Kolynos Presents The White Guard #1 predates the next
oldest 10.0 by 19 years. Unlike many of the other CGC
graded 10.0s that exist, this comic is 54 years old. The
book is noted as having white pages. What makes this book
even more astonishing is that the comic is a promotional
comic. Promotional comics are typically made of cheap
pulp paper and lack any real protection from abuse unlike
their standard comic counterparts. Promotional comics
are typically very scarce in high grade for this reason.
"Steve Borock (CGC's former Primary Grader) and I were in shock
when this comic book came across our desks," said Mark
Haspel, a CGC finalizer and CGC's pedigree expert. "This
may be the oldest 10.0 we will ever grade!"
The White Guard giveaway comic was a book that promoted
Kolynos toothpaste. The comic was discovered along with
numerous other paper items from an old dentist office
on the east coast.
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Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones
In my early comic book collecting years, there were
other reasons why I mainly stuck with obscure titles
versus the more mainstream. As discussed last month
in my article on Richard Corben's Rip in Time,
I favored the non-superhero independent titles more
because of the variety and originality of the artists
and stories. The stories weren't always about good
versus evil, where some caped vigilante would come to
the rescue and save the day. They offered variety of
a new kind, with fresh new talent on board with fresh
new ideas. And one of these talents in particular was
also someone who I mentioned last month, Bruce Jones.
Presently, he's the writing talent behind the new
Incredible Hulk storyline for Marvel, but in the mid-80s,
his creative output fell right into my category of favored
In February of 1986, Eclipse Comics published The Twisted
Tales of Bruce Jones, a four-issue collaboration of
short stories written and drawn from cover to cover
by Bruce Jones himself. I managed to pull issue one
out of the frequently mentioned 50-cent box at my local
comic store and that's when the cover caught my
eye. It depicted a man with a huge sword about to attack
a giant spider. Well, that was all it took for me. It
was funny because just a few nights before, I had watched
Tarantula on television for the first time and that
left such an impression on my youthful imagination that
I never even bothered to open the book, I just bought
it for the cover. Anyways, it was only 50 cents, so
why not? But when I got home and actually read the stories,
it had me on a quest to find the remaining three.
The stories inside ranged from science fiction to horror
and even had some humorous tales. One story which caught
my eye in issue one was titled, "Outside-In,"
where three people on a helicopter expedition crash
land in a prehistoric jungle only to find themselves
part of an alien experiment contained in a controlled
environment. Now when I look back on it, I can point
out a few similarities with some Wally Wood EC science
fiction stories I've read. There's even a
hint of Graham Ingels and Frank Frazetta art styles
in some of his panels. Nonetheless, his story telling
and art are quite original. One of the things about
his art that caught my interest was how he would use
the whole page to tell a story. For instance, in issue
four, in a story titled "Alone" in which a
woman is taunted by a man who has hypnotized her to
take her own life, he tells the story using the space
outside the panels. There are even times where there
are no panels at all, just a montage of images that
prove to be even more effective in grabbing the readers'
attention and striking realism into their minds.
Another story, probably my personal favorite is called,
"A Rottin' Deal," where a man and his
nephew go on a search for hidden treasure. Only this
journey is five days long, and across a dry desolate
desert. At the end of each night, they reach an oasis,
and fill their canteens with fresh water in preparation
for the next day's journey. But the nephew grows
tired and greedy for his uncle's canteen and decides
to kill him. He then proceeds back towards camp, and
at the next oasis, he finds he is beaten there by his
own uncle's rotting corpse. Now, I don't want
to give away how this ends, but let's just say
that the uncle isn't the only corpse in the end.
This story, like the rest of them, reminds me of a mix
between Tales from the Crypt and an episode of the Twilight
Zone, and considering all things in that genre made
such an impression on my delicate young mind, these
stories did nothing but appeal to me.
The whole series is only four issues and contains roughly
four or five stories in each issue. They're all
a great read and the art is very impressive. Another
great thing about The Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones is
the back covers. Three of the four of them have beautiful
pin-ups that really give any new fan of Bruce Jones
a feeling of his in-depth line work. His three dimensional
backdrops seem to pull the viewer into the page. His
art, along with his writing, are a perfect combination
for a perfect classic series. Well, at least for my
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Anthologies: Speed Comics & Champ Comics
Harvey Publications, one of the biggest names in comics
in the 1950s and 60s, was never huge in the superhero
field, but did get its start with the combination of
three digest-sized superhero comics in the second half
of 1941. Harvey then took over two other superhero titles
in 1942 that had failed under other companies.
That's why the discriminating collector needs to
be careful when it comes to seeking out the prime issues
Speed and Champ Comics (we covered Green Hornet Comics,
which also was really an anthology title, earlier in
this series for the CGC newsletter).
Harvey didn't really get going until 1942, even
though the company debuted with Pocket Comics #1 (which
introduced Black Cat) and Spitfire Comics #1, both dated
August 1941. Pocket ran four issues and Spitfire only
two. In addition, Harvey took over Speed Comics with
#14 (September 1941) and turned it into a third pocket-sized
title for three issues, through #16 (January 1942, the
same date as Pocket #4).
The Harvey superhero empire didn't really begin until
the full-size, 68-page issues of Speed #17 (April 1942,
featuring a Black Cat origin story reprint from Pocket
#1), Champ #18 (May 1942) and Green Hornet #7 (June
1942). Simon and Kirby worked on all three of those
books, making them prime collectors' items.
There were only 10 prime 68-page issues of Speed
through #26 (April 1943). These were the only issues
of Speed with four of Harvey's classic superhero strips
Shock Gibson, Captain Freedom and the Young Defenders,
Black Cat, and Pat Parker War Nurse and the Girl Commandos.
All four of these strips burst with typical Golden Age
energy, although these issues of Speed were so jam-packed
with other features that none of the superhero stories
is more than eight pages long. Even so, these are wonderful
examples of Golden Age anthologies. Narrowing it down
even further, #17-20 all had dynamic Simon and Kirby
covers featuring Captain Freedom, so they are the best
of the best.
Speed dropped to 60 pages with #27 (July 1943) and to
52 pages with #32 (May 1944) and the Pat Parker/Girl
Commandos strip continued, but only as a non-costumed
feature. Captain Freedom and Shock Gibson ran through
the last issue of the run with #44 (January-February
1947), which appeared a full seven months after #43
(May-June 1946). Black Cat, however, did not appear
in #39-43 (even though she appeared on the covers of
#39-40). In one of the oddities in Golden Age history,
two 10-page Captain Freedom stories appeared in #44,
making that one of the few times an anthology character
bowed out with twice as many appearances as usual.
The early issues of Speed were published by Brookwood
(#1-11) and Speed Publishing (#12-13), which may have
been an extension of Brookwood. I'm not sure if there
was a connection with Alfred Harvey's company, but the
first 11 issues are distinguished primarily by primitive
22-page Shock Gibson stories (26 pages in the first
issue, October 1939), which were unusually long for
superhero stories of the period.
Champ lasted only through #25 (April 1943), which appeared
four months after #24 (December 1942). Harvey really
didn't have a lot of luck with superhero anthology
comics. There was a wide variety of forgettable strips
in most issues of Champ, which began late in 1939 under
Worth Publishing as Champion Comics #2-10 (there was
no #1) and continued as Champ #11-17 under the Champ
The first true Harvey issue of Champ was #18 (May 1942),
which contained The Champ (a good sports strip and one
of the first of its kind), Liberty lads (one of the
better World War II kid groups) and the superhero strip
Human Meteor (originally known as Duke O'Dowd).
All three strips run through #25, except for The Champ,
which finished in #24. Three obscure costume heroes
made single appearances in Champ Comics the Wasp
in #19, The Green Ghost in #20 and The White Mask #22.
It should also be noted that issues #8-17 featured some
classically energetic Human Meteor covers.
There is no one issue of Champ that contains everything,
but issues #18-22 were the best of the run at
least from the standpoint of interior contents
and are well worth adding to any Golden Age collector's
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I have reminisced several times about the early 60s,
when comic books first captured my attention and enthusiasm,
but I also have some wonderful memories about later
years, when I rediscovered comics and allowed them to
become a passion that persists to this day.
In the fall of 1968, I had just begun my sophomore year
at Loyola College in Baltimore, and one day I drove
to a nearby drugstore to pick up something I needed.
There a spinning rack of comic books caught my eye.
I hadn't paid any attention to them for about five years
(too uncool for a high-schooler, I'm afraid), but it
surprised me to see Marvels on display, since this chain
did not carry them before. The number of new Marvel
titles astounded me even further. Iron Man, Sub-Mariner,
Captain America, Hulk and Doctor Strange all had their
own titles, and who the heck was Nick Fury, Agent of
S.H.I.E.L.D.? I decided on the spot to pick up every
Marvel title (cost me about a buck-twenty-five, as I
recall), since these wonderful characters had been strictly
my brother's domain in the early days. I was surely
a Marvel-zombie in the making!
I continued to buy the new Marvels every month, except
for the western and romance titles which, though they
must have been available, I never even noticed. Late
in the summer of 1970, I picked up two copies of the
eagerly-anticipated Conan the Barbarian #1. Before that,
several books, such as Neal Adams' X-Men run, had made
a strong impression on me, but Conan really sent me
over the edge. By the time I left for graduate school
in August 1972 I had a pretty large box of books (unbagged,
I must confess) in tow.
Not until my brother Tom turned me on to Swamp-Thing
about a year later (I thought he was talking about Man-Thing,
which I loved) did I once again acknowledge the existence,
let alone the quality, of DC comics. Soon my monthly
purchases included other DC books, such as House of
Mystery and House of Secrets, especially when they contained
stories by Adams, Wrightson, or any other artists that
appealed to me. I snatched up all the new Marvel titles,
too, so my comic budget was swelling to what seemed
an alarming size, as much as five dollars a month, with
some books as high as a quarter!
Before long I would discover the Overstreet Price Guide
and the Buyer's Guide to Comic Fandom, and then the
genie was truly out of the bottle. Next time I'll talk
about how deeply devoted I became to buying comic books
by the mid-70s.
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Graded Books from Dynamic Forces!
Good grades used to mean As, Bs and Cs, but now good
grades mean 10.0s, 9.9s and 9.8s thanks to DF and CGC!
From now until March 21, 2003, DF is giving away three
high-grade CGC books to one lucky winner!
Check 'em out...
- Wolverine: The Origin #3, CGC Graded 10.0 -- a
- Battle of the Planets #1 DF Exclusive Cover, CGC
- Batman #608, CGC Graded 9.8
Good luck, and remember that you only have two weeks
Go to www.dynamicforces.com
to MAKE THE GRADE!
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