Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
July 2003  
 
Version 2, Issue 7  
   
1. The CGC Registry is Here!
   
2. Comic Book News
   
3. Detective Comics
   
4. Jim Steranko and The Tower of Shadows
   
5. When Phil Met Alanna

 


UPCOMING EVENTS

August 8–10, 2003
Wizard World Chicago

Donald E. Stevens
Convention Center
Rosemont, IL


Oct. 31Nov. 2, 2003
Las Vegas Comic Convention

Mandalay Bay
Las Vegas, NV

 

 


The CGC Registry is Here!

CGC's Registry is a tool for the collecting community where your collections can be displayed and ranked against other great collections. The site is accurate, interactive, impartial, easy to use, and discreet. The goal of the Comics Registry is to encourage collecting, acknowledge collectors who assemble truly remarkable collections, and inspire beginner hobbyists as you embark on this fun and rewarding hobby.

Why should you register your collection with CGC’s Comics Registry?

  • Your set will be ranked accurately, thanks to our sophisticated ranking system.
  • There is no cost to enter comics in CGC’s Comics Registry.
  • Sets of all sizes are eligible. Collections do not have to be complete to be listed. All sets are ranked.
  • The Comics Registry is brought to you by CGC, the first independent, impartial, expert third-party grading service in comics.

The Registry opens with the following collections but will quickly expand to include many more categories.

All Select Comics 1-11
Amazing Spider-Man 1-25
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1-4
Conan the Barbarian
Crisis On Infinite Earths 1-12
Daredevil 158-191
Doctor Strange 169-183
Green Lantern 76-89
Incredible Hulk 1-6
Incredible Hulk 180-182
Iron Fist 1-15
Mad 1-23
Silver Surfer 1-18
Wolverine Limited Series 1-4
Wolverine: The Origin 1-6H

How do I find out more about the CGC Comic Registry?
Go to www.Collectors-Society.com or call 1.877.NM.COMIC.

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Comic Book News

So many great things have been happening in our hobby lately that my head is spinning just thinking about them all! Here’s a quick run-down of what has been going on:

  • Josh Nathanson, President of ComicLink, one of the premier buyers and sellers of CGC-certified comic books, has just revamped his site and we love it! ComicLink is a full-service, automated exchange for investment-quality Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and CGC-certified comic books, original comic book art and related items. The new ComicLink, located at www.comiclinkexpress.com, features hundreds of vintage CGC-certified Comic Books for sale or up for auction by many different sellers. CGC-certified auctions ending Sunday, July 20th include some of the highest-graded copies of key books, including Amazing Spider-Man 9, 11 and 14 in CGC 9.6 and Batman 12 in CGC 9.2. Unlike Ebay, which charges listing fees based on price, reserve, and format, Comiclink offers NO FEE AUCTIONS. This means if your piece does not sell, you owe nothing. The new site also offers a FREE want-list service where collectors can enter the comics and comic art (or artist) they are looking for. An automatic email notification is sent when a matching item becomes available. This means that if a buyer is looking for Amazing Spider-man #14 in CGC 9.4, and specifies this on their want-list, as soon as a 9.4 is listed on the exchange he or she will be notified.

  • Our friend Chuck Rozanski, owner of Mile High Comics Stores and www.Milehighcomics.com, has picked up the largest collection of comics that they have had for sale since Chuck picked up the Mile High II collection in 1985. The collection belonged to a long-time collector named Dallas Stephens and consists of over 50,000 comics from the Golden Age, Silver Age and Bronze Age, and beyond. Many high- grade copies have already been sent to CGC for certification, with many more arriving here every day. All the comic books CGC certifies from this collection will have the notation “FROM THE DALLAS STEPHENS/MILEHIGHCOMICS.COM COLLECTION” underneath the grade on the CGC label, just as we did for the Nicolas Cage collection. For more information on this amazing collection and how to purchase some of the high-grade CGC gems, just visit www.milehighcomics.com.

  • Another fantastic collection was uncovered by our friends, David and Tyler Alexander of David T. Alexander Collectibles. This collection consists of a majority of Golden Age comic books from before 1945 and has many key issues, such as Action #1, Flash #1, Red Raven #1, Looney Tunes #1, Batman #1, Walt Disney Comics and Stories #1 and many, many others. To give an idea of how impressive this collection is, David had this to say about it: “I’ve been chasing comics since the 1950’s and this is the most impressive bunch I’ve ever laid my eyes on”. To find out more about these Golden Age gems, go to: www.cultureandthrills.com.

  • CGC is proud to announce that we are recognizing two new pedigrees! The first, the “Lost Valley” collection, was found by Al Stoltz of Basement Comics and Jeff Weaver of Mad Cow Comics. When Al and Jeff first called us, I could hear the excitement in their voices as they explained which books were in this collection and how nice the condition was, especially for comics from this time period (pre-1940). Al and Jeff will be offering this amazing collection of comic books for the first time this week at the Comic-Con International in San Diego. To find out more call Al at 443-831-2761 or Jeff at 703-969-0436.

    Pedigree
    Steve Borock, Al Stoltz, and Jeff Weaver at the CGC booth in Philadelphia, showing off some of the “Lost Valley” Pedigree.

    The second pedigree, the “Vancouver” collection, was found by Chris Bell, President of Affordable Second Thoughts. When Mark Haspel (CGC Senior Grader and Pedigree expert) and I saw the first portion of this collection, we remarked that if we did not know better, we might even be fooled into thinking these were from the Edgar Church/Mile High collection! These comic books have white and off-white to white pages, square corners, and great color! A sampling of these comics is: Namora #1 (CGC 9.8), Boy Commandos #1 (CGC 9.4), Mighty Mouse Comics #1 (CGC 9.6), Tally-Ho Comics NN (#1) (CGC 9.6), and The Witness #1 (CGC 9.4). To find out more about this high-grade collection, email Chris at ast11@shaw.ca for a timely response.

  • And finally, the biggest announcement of all: CGC will be grading on site this August at WizardWorld Chicago! Bring your comics to the CGC booth early in the day and have them back, professionally checked for restoration, professionally and impartially graded and securely encapsulated in our state-of-the-art holder by the end of the day! Stop by the CGC booth for prices and cut-off times.


This is a very exciting time in our hobby and the entire CGC staff and I are proud to be a part of it. See you at the conventions this summer!

Steve Borock
Vice President/Primary Grader, CGC

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Nolan's Niche Detective Comics
Michelle Nolan

Collectors often have wondered why 1940’s and 50’s issues of Detective Comics long have been valued in the same ballpark as issues of Batman, which contained at least three stories of the Dynamic Duo, compared to only one story in Detective.

A partial answer: Detective not only featured numerous bang-up Batman covers, but also several of the most intriguing and original backup features in the DC comics of the era.

Detective ComicsWell-heeled collectors long have sought the early solo appearances of Batman in Detective #27-37, followed by the debut of Robin in #38 (April 1940). As the first successful “single-theme” comic, Detective #1-26 also have been highly collectible going back to the early days of fandom in the 1960’s. Many collectors consider the “Holy Grail” of pre-Batman issues to be #22, featuring the first of only two cover appearances of The Crimson Avenger, who debuted in #20 (Oct. 1938).

Early Detectives are prohibitively expensive for many collectors. But be wary of high prices on #59 (Jan. 1942) – many years ago a warehouse find resulted in many multiples of fine condition copies. Many copies, of course, may be locked into collections.

Detective ComicsYet for my money, you can get even more enjoyment out of the issues produced during World War II. Detective #64-89 (June 1942-July 1944) all featured Batman and Robin, Crimson Avenger and Wing (who becomes his young costumed aide in #59), the long-running backup strip Air Wave (introduced in #60) and Simon & Kirby’s wonderfully energetic early Boy Commandos (introduced in #64). If you can find #76 (June 1943), you get a nice bonus – a crossover in Boy Commandos starring Sandman and Sandy from Adventure Comics and Newsboy Legion and The Guardian from Star Spangled Comics, plus a Joker cover!

All 26 of these issues of Detective from #64-89 are exceptionally prime; truly pretty Golden Age gems – the page count dropped from 68 (including covers) to 60 pages with #76, but to no ill effects. But with Detective #90 (Aug. 1944), the page count dropped to 52 including covers, so the Crimson Avenger was dropped while the long-running non-costumed Slam Bradley was retained. That knock-em, rock-em, sock-em detective strip ran in all of the first 152 issues.

Detective ComicsThere’s nothing wrong with Detective #90 through #137, which marked the last appearance of the little known and seldom remembered Air Wave. A much stronger backup character, Robotman moved over from Star Spangled Comics with Detective #138 (Aug. 1948). Nor is there anything wrong with Detective #138 through #150 (Aug. 1949), in which Boy Commandos ended, shortly before their own title vanished, in favor of the new strip Pow-Wow Smith, Indian Lawman, which began with #151 (Sept. 1949).

If you want to get beautiful examples of Atom Age issues, Detective #153 through #202 (Nov. 1949-Dec. 1953) offer a nifty four-year run that includes Batman, Robotman, Pow-Wow Smith and Impossible But True! (starring the television detective Roy Raymond). That’s a heck of a lineup, especially considering that Carmine Infantino drew many Pow-Wow Smith stories and the vastly underrated Ruben Moreira illustrated the clever Roy Raymond tales. Robotman did not appear in #155.

For reasons I will never understand, Detective took a huge drop in quality when both Robotman and Pow-Wow Smith were dropped and replaced in #203 (Jan. 1954) by the eminently forgettable Captain Compass and Mysto the Magician Detective. When the page count fell from 44 (including covers) to 36 with #212 (Oct. 1954), Mysto disappeared with #213 after only 10 appearances. It was one of the shortest-lived DC backup features in history.

In 1954, Pow-Wow Smith moved over to Western Comics, where Infantino did some of the best work of his early career until that title ended in 1961. Thankfully, Captain Compass was replaced for good in #225 (Nov. 1955) by a much better strip – John Jones, Manhunter from Mars.

That means if you want all the key characters to appear in pre-Code Detective, grab one issue from #64-89 and another from #153-202 (except #155), and you’ll have all eight characters!

Many collectors consider Catwoman, Joker and Penguin cover/story appearances in the Batman stories to make those issues of Detective much more desirable. Everyone seems to love #140 (the origin of the Riddler), #142 (second Riddler story) and #168 (the origin of the Joker), but I especially recommend the Catwoman issues – #122 (the first), #203 and #211. She didn’t reappear for a long, long time. I’ve always felt she should have appeared more often in the pre-Code period!

In the Comics Code era of 1955-1959, other than the historic debut issue for Manhunter from Mars in #225, the quality of the Batman covers/stories varied wildly. I heartily recommend the following: #233 (Batwoman’s debut), #235 (Batman’s origin retold, with a truly nifty cover): and #249 (Batwoman).

My favorite Detective covers of the 1949-54 period are #152 (Vicki Vale photographing the Dynamic Duo in action), #156 (Batmobile of 1950), #187 (Two-Face), #191 (a great “hooded villain” cover that would not have passed the Comics Code) and #195 (“The Original Batman”).

Long runs of Detective are prohibitively expensive, but with a little study and searching, you can get a great feel for the series by buying only a dozen of the best issues or so.

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cgc registry


Phil's Corner When Phil Met Alanna
Phil Kaltenbach

Readers of this column know well my tremendous enthusiasm for Atlas horror comics. Before I ever set eyes on one of those, however, I developed an appetite for one of DC’s outstanding science-fiction titles: Mystery in Space. The lovely Judy, whom I have mentioned before, lent me the first issue of this title I can remember reading – number 62 (September 1960). Here began my life-long infatuation with Adam Strange’s other-worldly girlfriend, Alanna, though another story made a more profound impression on my still developing imagination.

The Infantino cover depicts a scene from the Adam Strange story, “The Beast with the Sizzling Blue Eyes,” showing Alanna in the clutches of a two-headed dinosaur-like creature while Adam desperately attempts to rescue her. Like many young boys at the time, I was fascinated by dinosaurs, so I suspect the monster drew me to this comic in the first place. The story is a rather conventional affair, with Adam teleporting to Rann, only to find Alanna and himself threatened by prehistoric beasts and mysterious force-fields. The evil assistant to a genius scientist has created these menacing objects and he intends to destroy Ranagar, the capital of Rann, if the city does not surrender. Shrewdly Adam realizes that certain things (light and radio waves) can penetrate the force field that imprisons the city, and he uses this information to locate the would-be tyrant and put an end to his evil designs. The story even uses and explains the concept of triangulation, an example of the kind of scientific detail that the editors at DC loved to pepper throughout their stories.

The second story, “The Magic Lamp from Space,” really arrested my attention and has stuck with me to this day. Beautifully illustrated by Murphy Anderson, it opens in a meeting room where a group of space explorers prepare to welcome home one of their own. Instead of Jon Harper, though, a blue-skinned alien greets them, claiming to be the returning spaceman. He relates how he had to make an emergency landing on an uninhabited and previously unexplored planet, where he happens upon a great but abandoned city. He finds a recording device which explains how the city’s inhabitants, the Arnnva, were destroyed by a malignant green cloud that drained all of them of their life energy (sort of a cumulus Galactus!). The horrified explorer unsuccessfully searches the city for food and finds what appears to be a magic lamp. Like Aladdin’s, it turns out, this lamp can indeed grant his wishes, but only in alien forms: food that he cannot eat and tools whose functions he cannot understand. Suddenly, he spots the green cloud above, which announces that it has read Harper’s mind and will now journey to earth to feast upon its inhabitants. The frustrated explorer, having tried in vain to get a weapon to use against the cloud from the lamp, realizes that his only chance lies in having the lamp turn him into one of the aliens. Once this happens, he can eat the previously unpalatable food and use the once-mystifying tools, not just to repair his ship, but to enhance its performance capabilities, thus gaining the ability to reach Earth before the cloud. On the way he speculates that the lamp itself is a weapon against the cloud, focusing mental energy that can, in sufficient quantity, destroy the menace. Sounds like a great theory, but it can work only if every human on earth is transformed into one of the Arnnva, whose mental energies the lamp was designed to channel. The cloud is destroyed, and everyone on Earth is even returned to his or her former selves, because the resourceful Jon Harper had the foresight to order the lamp to reverse the transformation once the cloud ceased to exist.

This story appealed to me on many levels 43 years ago: the alien civilization obliterated by an unspeakable menace, the ingenuity and selflessness of the central character and the idea of every person on Earth willing to sacrifice his or her very humanity for the common good. During those days of the Cold War’s greatest intensity, such an idea seemed so obviously virtuous and sensible. This story made me a permanent fan of Murphy Anderson’s art and made an indelible impression on me. In fact, I still own the original comic, now coverless, that I read with awe and wonder so long ago.

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Jim Steranko and The Tower of Shadows
Shawn Caffrey

Just recently, my co-worker and friend, John Slater, and I were discussing artists and their storytelling abilities. To his disbelief, and now to mine also, there was one artist whom I never even mentioned. His art helped shaped Marvel Comics’ “House of Ideas.” His ability to arrange panels in order to tell a story using cinematic elements led to a new revolution in storytelling, and his “psychedelic” illustrations combining elements of pop art and surrealism led to a new trend in comic artistry. As important to comics as he is, there I was, only partly familiar with his work. Jim Steranko has worked on various Marvel titles ranging from Nick Fury to Captain America. I recently acquired an issue of one title in particular that I believe best demonstrates his abilities – Marvel’s Tower of Shadows #1.

This issue contains a great story by Jim Steranko titled, “At the Stroke of Midnight”. It is a tale of a couple named Lou and Marie Fowler, whose uncle “passed away” and left his mansion to Lou. With avarice leading their intentions, they both believe their uncle had left a fortune hidden somewhere deep in the interior of the enormous gothic-style home. In the end, Lou and Marie find the uncle’s fortune, along with a doorway leading back in time to 18th century France. It is there where they discover the true significance of their names. The story reads like a 50’s horror film starring Vincent Price, Steranko’s combination of color panels with black and white panels effectively creates this eerie atmosphere.

One panel, in particular, illustrates a scene with Lou pointing down the hallway to the library door. In this center panel, surrounded by smaller color panels, Steranko created a view down the hallway using black and white lines in almost a mesmerizing fashion. His placements of panels perfectly demonstrate action sequences and give it a cinematic quality. On the opening page, for example, there is a scene that shows Lou and Marie traveling up the foreboding twisted staircase. As each panel falls into sequence, their figures have moved farther up towards the house. Not only is action a big part of Steranko’s art, but human emotion is demonstrated perfectly in this tale of murder and greed. There are panels that are drawn with close-up views of the characters’ faces, expressing such vivid emotion, that there almost isn’t any need for word balloons.

Jim Steranko has a unique ability to illustrate action and emotion. This story, in particular, was a great example because the tone of the story that he set is what makes it effective. The mood is dark and the outcome of the story is foreshadowed throughout, a technique often used in Hollywood in motion pictures. Tower of Shadows #1 was the first Steranko book I acquired, but more will be following. I found this story to be amazing and now know why the caption on the cover reads, “Tales to Blow Your Mind”, because that’s exactly what it did.

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