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May 2003  
 
 
   
1. Exciting, Startling and Thrilling Comics
   
2. Overstreet's Comic Price Review Subscriptions Available
   
3. Xenozoic Tales
   
4. Love Me Like a Rock
   
5. Latest Heritage Amazing Comics Auction™
   

 


UPCOMING EVENTS

May 30 - June 1, 2003
Wizard World Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Convention Center
Philadelphia, PA


July 17-20, 2003
Comic-con International

San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA


August 8-10, 2003
Wizard World Chicago

Donald E. Stevens
Convention Center
Rosemont, IL


Nolan's Niche Exciting, Startling and Thrilling Comics
Michelle Nolan

The vast pulp, paperback and comic book publishing empire of the Ned Pines Company – usually known as the Thrilling Group in the pulps, Popular Library in the paperbacks and Better or Nedor in the comics – produced three long-running Golden Age anthology titles.

All three titles – Thrilling Comics, Exciting Comics and Startling Comics – were anchored by super heroes and for a decade were among the leaders in their field, in sales if not always the quality of the stories and art. Pines began the title of many of his pulps with these rousing words along with “Popular,” but Dell took the Popular title three years before Pines got into the comic book business in 1939.

Most of the Better/Nedor anthology comics and many others were primarily distinguished by dozens of wonderful Alex Schomburg covers up to 1949, especially those with World War II scenes. Other than one missing issue (Exciting Issue #28), the Gerber Photo-Journal includes them all and they were among the comics that enjoyed a huge leap in popularity beginning in the late 1980’s after the Photo-Journal first appeared.

Here, though, we are going to be primarily concerned with the interiors. There were a bonanza of entertaining, energetic super heroes, albeit involved in stories with sometimes less-than-exemplary illustrations. These Better/Nedor comics may come closer than any others of the Golden Age to being the ultimate in generic Golden Age heroic titles, especially considering their names. Can you imagine an elderly church lady getting on a bus during the height of World War II and clucking over a 10-year-old holding up a garish copy of Exciting Comics, complete with a huge logo and a gory image of The Black Terror attacking Nazi or Japanese soldiers? The mind boggles!

Doc Strange (known as Dr. Strange in the first 10 issues) never had much of a costume – a red t-shirt with khaki pants – but he was the headliner in Thrilling for many years. The most collectible World War II era issues of Thrilling are the 68-page gems from Issue #19 (August 1941) through Issue #35 (May 1943) because all of these also include The American Crusader, a good patriotic hero, and The Ghost, based on the costumed pulp character. Most of them also include two minor heroes – Women in Red and Lone Eagle. I especially like Thrilling Issues #19-24 – the only ones with American Crusaders covers.

Doc Strange ran all the way to Thrilling Issue #64 (February 1948) and The Phantom Detective (another pulp-based character, introduced in Issue #53) made it all the way to Issue #70 (February 1949). What distinguishes the later issues, though, is Frank Frazetta’s Louie Lazybones in Issues #67-73, along with Schomburg’s Princess Pantha covers on Issues #58-71.

Exciting Comics was the second Nedor anthology, but Issue #1 (April 1940) through Issue #8 (March 1941) had no noteworthy costumed heroes. The Black Terror came along in Issue #9 (May 1941), joined by The Liberator in Issue #15 (December 1941) and The American Eagle in issue #22 (October 1942). For my money – once again, not counting interest in later Schomburg covers – the issues of Exciting with the best combination of interiors and covers are Issues #22-27, which contain all three super heroes and are also the last six, 68-page issues of the run. All three super heroes also appeared in Issues #29, 31, 34, and 35. The only American Eagle cover is Issue #22.

Among the late issues of Exciting, Issue #51 (September 1946) through Issue #54 (March 1947) are collectible because of the four-issue run of Miss Masque, plus the 11-page Black Terror stories. Like the Princess Pantha covers of Thrilling, Schomburg’s Judy of the Jungle covers on Issue #56-66 are noteworthy and popular.

Startling Comics debuted June 1940, which featured the Superman knockoff Captain Future in the first nine issues (no relation to the pulp Captain Future). The Fighting Yank began in Issue #10 (September 1941) and Pyroman debuted in Issue #18 (December 1942). All three characters appeared in 68-page Issues #18-#21 (May 1943), so those four are the best of the best, with regard to interiors. However, all three heroes ran through Issue #40 (July 1946) – except that Pyroman, in an amazing oddity, did not appear in Issue #27 even though he was the only cover feature of that issue!

Of the later issues, Schomburg’s exotic Lance Space Detective covers on Issue #47 (September 1947) through Issue #53 (September 1948) have always attracted much interest, along with the Graham Ingles 1947 covers for the same science fiction character on Issues #44-46. They are among the earliest science fiction covers in comics’ history outside the realm of Fiction House’s Planet Comics.

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Overstreet's Comic Price Review Subscriptions Available

Gemstone Publishing has announced that subscriptions are now available for their new monthly newsletter, Overstreet’s Comic Price Review. The first issue is scheduled to go on sale June 18.

If you’ve heard all the news about the record-breaking auctions and private sales, but you’re wondering how to put it into perspective, then Overstreet’s Comic Price Review is just what you’re looking for! This all-new monthly newsletter from the most trusted name in comic book pricing will report on the latest prices realized in auctions and other transactions. It will put the spotlight on the back issues gaining the most attention, specifically those grading 9.0 to 10.0, and put them in a whole new light.

“We’ve been very impressed by the reactions to our announcement of the newsletter,” said Robert M. Overstreet, Gemstone’s publisher. “A lot of collectors and dealers have called or e-mailed expressing their interest and support. This is definitely something that the market has been looking for.”

Subscriptions for one year (12 issues) are $75 U.S. and $112 Canada. International subscription inquiries are welcome. To subscribe, call toll free (888) 375-9800 and speak with either Sara (ext. 410) or Jamie (ext. 249). Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

You can also subscribe by mailing your payment to OCPR, Gemstone Publishing, Inc.,1966 Greenspring Drive, Timonium, MD 21093. Checks, money orders, Visa and MasterCard are accepted by mail.

To receive an e-mail update about Overstreet’s Comic Price Review, visit www.gemstonepub.com/newsletter/ and sign-up.

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Xenozoic Tales
Shawn Caffrey

I spent most of my early growing experiences in the 1980’s going through fads like a cheap pair of sneakers. From Transformers to Bon Jovi, nothing ever stayed as a peak interest for a long period of time. But there was one thing, besides Neal Diamond’s Jazz Singer, that always held a continuous interest no matter what bandwagon I jumped on—Dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs were my hidden passion. And this all took place before Jurassic Park became a pop culture push with everyone wanting to be a paleontologist. Everything about them was cool, but what made them even cooler was seeing pictures of how they actually looked with their long sharp teeth and their huge claws. No matter how many times I saw them on paper or television, none compared to the one place I’d never thought to look. About the age 15, while going through my comic collection, I came across an issue of Death Rattle and was sucked into the “Xenozoic” era.

Xenozoic Tales was published by Kitchen Sink Press and first appeared in Death Rattle Issue 8. From there it became its own 14-issue series, written and drawn by the amazing Mark Schultz. Each issue contained futuristic stories of Jack “Cadillac” Tenrec and the beautiful Hannah Dundee. Jack was an unconventional “guide” who knew his way around the dinosaur-inhabited, post-apocalyptic North American cityscape, and Hannah was an ambassador of a tribe who joined the ranks of the city dwellers. They teamed on journeys together, and she began to quickly take on tough characteristics of her newfound friend Jack. Together they battled dinosaurs, other humans, and even each other. Mark Schultz brings the characters and story to life with a Frazetta-like approach to the human figure and jungle atmosphere. He takes his art one step further with his clean pencil work and his panel placement, not to mention his amazing writing ability.

Even though Jack and Hannah are the main characters, the dinosaurs play an extremely important role. There seemed to be dinosaurs of some kind in each issue terrorizing Jack and his crew but never undermining the outcome of each issue. Mark Schultz’s craftsmanship with the dinosaurs was extraordinary. His attention to anatomical and scientific detail was astounding, with his accurate portrayal of the prehistoric beasts. What made the art even more impressive was the fact that Kitchen Sink published the series in black and white, giving the details chances to shine in the purest form.

Xenozoic Tales was, and in my opinion still is, a defining example of Schultz’s talent both writing and artistic expertise. The series was later reprinted in a series titled Cadillacs and Dinosaurs in color, but seemed to lose the appeal the series first had in black and white. Its overwhelming popularity led to an animated series on Saturday mornings and even a toy line. Mark Schultz seemed to hit an interest with everyone, no matter the age group. I loved Xenozoic Tales for the dinosaurs at first, then grew to respect it for the series’ mature story telling and Schultz’s insatiable attention to detail. I’ve always retained my love for dinosaurs, but as I grew older my admiration for the art of Mark Schultz has intensified.

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Collectors' Society Boards

 



Phil's Corner Love Me Like a Rock
Phil Kaltenbach

Readers of this column have heard many times of my boundless enthusiasm for the work of Bill Everett, one of the primary forces that drew me to Atlas horror comics some 30 years ago. This month I dug up one of my absolute favorites to share a few thoughts about.

 uncanny

Uncanny Tales Issue #2 (August 1952) stands as a very respectable sophomore effort in one of Atlas’ longest running horror titles. It boasts a nifty cover by Joe Maneely that illustrates, if somewhat tangentially, the last story, “The Man Who Melted,” an ironic tale about the perils of forgetfulness. The other stories are pretty standard fare, except for the second, “The Monster Maker.”

The story opens with a typically brilliant Everett splash, showing two men and a lovely young woman in an artist’s studio, surrounded by grotesque statues. The sculptor, a man with unruly hair, beard and a wild look in his eyes, basks in the praise of the art critic by his side, though the critic’s daughter insists that the sculptures are ugly and repulsive. As the two leave, the daughter comments that a man like Boris Zorrel is probably incapable of creating anything beautiful. This enrages the artist, who vows to create the most stunningly beautiful statue anyone has ever seen.

After days of obsessive labor Zorrel finally finishes his masterpiece, a classic Everett goddess cast in stone. The creator is so taken with its beauty that he sells all his other works, deeming them unsuitable even to share the same room with this dazzling piece. In time he finds that he has actually fallen in love with this lifeless vision of beauty, so he begins to search for a book of ancient spells that will allow him to bring his beloved to life. Finally he finds what he has been looking for, though he must kill to obtain it. Back in his studio he casts the spell that will make him and his statue the same, resulting, of course, in his turning to stone.

This wonderful story skillfully reworks the story of Narcissus, since it is his own idea of beauty and desire that the artist falls in love with. Narcissus drowned when he tried to kiss his reflection in a pool; Zorrel forfeits his life when he tries to consummate his love for the statue. The story also deals with the process of dehumanization in a manner that would make Thomas Pynchon proud: the sculptor gradually surrenders his own humanity (he stops eating and ultimately commits murder) as he strives to endow his creation with that very quality, until lifelessness becomes the only possible fate for him. This is a beautifully constructed story, one that I suspect Everett wrote himself.

As for the artwork, it ranks right up with Everett’s finest. The stone woman is exquisite (“really hot” in today’s parlance), one of his most gorgeous creations. In a wonderful panel on the third page, as Zorrel surveys the gargoyles he now plans to dispose of, they seem to leer at him, as if they know what fate has in store for him. As he searches for the book of spells, he encounters two really marvelous book dealers, one obsequious and the other haughty, each of whom conveys a world of attitude and meaning in a single panel. And on the fifth page we find a brilliantly lighted street scene, showing the shadowy artist observed by a policeman, that ironically foreshadows the darkness to which poor Zorrel will soon succumb.

Any fan of horror comics or Bill Everett art will get a tremendous kick out of “The Monster Maker”; I guarantee it.

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Latest Heritage Amazing Comics Auction™

Heritage’s Amazing Comics AuctionTM (ACA) sale #13051 ended
Sunday, May 4, with 802 lots offered. Four hundred and thirty-three people placed bids, and 208 of them were successful, for a total sell-through of $96,621.30 for 704 lots (91.39% of lots offered).

A few highlights from the 05/04/03 ACA sale

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