Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
January 2004  
 
Version 2, Issue 7  
   
1. Collecting MLJ'S "Big Four"
   
2. CGC's 4th Anniversary
   
3. February Vault Auctions Feature's CGC Certified Comics
   
4. Will Eisner's "The Dreamer"
   
5. Comicspriceguide.com has chosen Comic Guaranty, LLC (CGC) as its exclusive certification and grading company.
   
6. How Cool is This?
   
7. Heritage to Offer CGC Certified Mile High Run of
National Comics
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

January 24-25
Big Apple Show

Penn Plaza Pavilion
New York, NY


March 5-7
Mega Con

Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL


March 19-21
Wizard World Los Angeles

Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Long Beach, CA


Nolan's Niche Collecting MLJ's
"Big Four"
Michelle Nolan

MLJ apparently didn't really become prosperous until the Archie Gang began to dominate the small comic book producer's titles in the mid-1940's, or the company would not have been one of the first to dump superheroes. During 1940-44, though, MLJ produced a goodly number of the most highly sought-after and collectible comics of the Golden Age.

Those 1940-44 MLJ comics are among the priciest and most difficult to obtain of the Golden Age; they are almost always hot sellers on eBay and almost always sell for at least $100 even in "good." Yet the nifty aspect of collecting MLJ is that you can obtain a highly representative collection with only about a dozen comics or so.

The company also produced several short-run superhero titles. In this installment, we're concerned with the "Big Four" – Blue Ribbon, Top Notch, Pep and Zip. Beginning in November 1939, MLJ produced one new monthly title for four consecutive months during a period of feverish expansion by numerous publishers.

Blue Ribbon is the least known of the four titles, since it ran only 22 issues (Nov. 1939-March 1942). The title featured four superheroes – The Fox in #4-22, Mr. Justice in #9-22, Inferno in #13-22 and Captain Flag in #16-22. The Fox was something of a Batman knockoff; Mr. Justice was a supernatural hero who first appeared one year after DC's The Spectre; and Captain Flag was one of the earliest patriotic heroes, first appearing in the Sept. 1941 issue. Captain Flag followed Captain America by only six months.

That makes Blue Ribbon an easy title to pinpoint – #16-22 are the issues to aim the hardest for unless you have unlimited funds. You get the gamut of Blue Ribbon.

Top Notch was MLJ's second title. Issues #1-27 ran from Dec. 1939-May 1942, followed by its meaningful title change to Top Notch Laugh, which carried only one superhero through #44 – Black Hood. The collectible heroes in Top Notch are The Wizard in #1-27; Bob Phantom in #3-25; The Firefly in #8-27; and Black Hood #9-27.

Once again, it's not hard to pinpoint the issues to get: #9-27. The difference is that these are much more plentiful than Blue Ribbon #16-22, simply because the best part of the run ran 19 issues compared to 7.

Pep was the longest-running title with a superhero. The Shield, the original patriotic hero, appeared from #1 (Jan. 1940) through #65 (Jan. 1948). But you've got to look a lot harder at Pep than you do at Blue Ribbon or Top Notch.

The Comet – an original concept with blazing eyes – ran in #1-16, followed by his death in #17. It was in that issue that MLJ's best period piece, The Hangman, took over in a unique story. The Comet became the first comic book superhero to die in that tale; The Hangman, his brother, succeeded him. Nifty concept.

Minor characters abound in Pep: The Press Guardian #1-11, Fireball #12-20 (a Human Torch knockoff), and Madam Satan #16-21. Captain Commando started in #30 and ran in most issues through #56. None of these are worth getting too excited over.

So your best bet is to get one issue of Pep #1-11, followed by another issue of Pep #16-20. If you can get #17, though, that's a true prize. The most sought-after issue of Pep, of course, is #22 (Dec. 1941) with the first Archie story, but that is a spendy, spendy book, especially considering that the story has been reprinted several times. Veronica first appeared in #26, making all the difference in the world in the success of the series; Betty and Jughead were there from the start.

Just about any issue of Pep with Shield and Hangman stories (#17-47) is well worth acquiring. It's one of the most underrated of all Golden Age comics, since you get early Archie and Co., along with Captain Commando.

Zip Comics, with one of the best names to come out of the Golden Age, was the last monthly to debut, with #1 dated Feb. 1940. Steel Sterling ran throughout the series in #1-47, but the other early characters – Mr. Satan in #1-9 and Scarlet Avenger in #1-17 – are of interest only to completists. Still, one issue of #1-9 represents an energetic title.

Black Jack, which ran in #20-35, and the Web, which appeared in #27-38, were violent crimefighters in crime-oriented stories. So that makes Zip #27-35 the best of the bunch. As for the ridiculous Red Rube in #39-47 – forget it. Those nine issues are among the most overvalued comics in the Golden Age.

Many collectors don't know that Archie's second-string teen hero, Wilbur, beat Archie into print. Wilbur debuted in Zip #18 (Sept. 1941), three month ahead of Archie! The difference, though, is that Wilbur never offered colorful co-stars, while the Archie Gang became pop culture icons.

The MLJ heroes received a revival boost in The Mighty Crusaders and other Archie Series titles during the 1960's, which contributed mightily to the scarcity of the Golden Age versions when fans became aware of them.

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CGC's 4th Anniversary

On January 4th, 2000, after years of planning and research, CGC finally opened its doors for business to mixed reviews from the collecting community. Four years later, almost all of the people who were against the idea of CGC are now some of our biggest clients!

With only four years under our belt, CGC has become the industry standard for buying and selling comics at conventions, at auction and on the internet. This has happened not only because of the record setting prices that CGC certified comics often bring, but also because of the knowledge, professionalism, and hard work of the people behind the scenes. People like:

Mark Haspel (Finalizer and Pedigree Expert), and Paul Litch (Finalizer and Modern Age Expert), who gave up their social life for the first two years working sometimes seven days a week and twelve hours a day! CGC might not have become as successful if not for the dedication and hard work of these two.

Chris Friesen, who after months of my begging him to become our Restoration Detection Expert when the volume of our business became too great for me to do both the finalizing and restoration check, gave up his very successful restoration business to take a chance on a future with CGC.

Pre-Graders Dave Couillou, Shawn Caffery, Jerry Stephan and John Slater, who are the back bone of the grading room, filling in writer, artist and key comments for every label and counting the pages of every comic that comes through the door!

Harshen Patel (V.P. of Operations), who came on board three years ago and became an indispensable part of our team by forming great relationships with our clients and vendors.

Scott Talmadge, originally a CGC client, after seeing how busy we were, applied for a job and now is manager of our receiving and customer service departments.

Gemma Adel and Kory Hall (Customer Service Representatives) who, when not carefully opening packages full of comics, spend the day on the phones making sure that all our customers' needs are met.

Kim Henley, who packs and ships all the packages that leave CGC.

Mike Martinez, Jesus Ortiz, Miguel Figueroa, Maria Castro, Donnell Hagan, and Cesar Sanchez, who work in encapsulation, carefully handling every comic that goes into CGC's state-of-the-art tamper evident holder.

While it is true that all these people are a part of the reason that we have become so successful, the real reason is that you, the collecting community, have made CGC the industry's stamp of approval. Your comments and suggestions have helped shape CGC into the company we are today.

So, we at CGC just want to say "Thank you" to all of our customers for making our first four years so great!

Steve Borock
Vice President / Primary Grader CGC

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February Vault Auctions Features
CGC Certified Comics

Following a relocation move at the end of last year, Vault Auctions will be having their largest auction to date on Sunday, February 22nd, 2004. They have established a strong USA customer base and are considered as Europe's largest comicbook auction company, bridging the gap between collectors from the US and collectors around the world.

The auction will be going live in early February with over 900 Lots from the early 1900's to the 1980's and will be heavily orientated towards high grade Bronze Age. Having said this, the Golden Age selection happens to be their largest offering to date and also not forgetting our prime high grade Silver Age issues which also include a nice selection of Pre-hero Marvels.

A sample selection of highlights include:

Golden Age:
DETECTIVE COMICS #33 : CGC App. 9.0
DETECTIVE COMICS #36 : CGC App. 8.0
HUMAN TORCH #2 (#1) : App. CGC 5.5
L'IL ABNER #61 (#1) : CGC 9.2
TALES FROM THE CRYPT #38 : GAINES CGC 9.0 (Double cover)
TWO FISTED TALES #23 : GAINES CGC 9.4

Silver Age:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #12 : CGC 9.0
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #2 : CGC 9.4
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #28 : 9.0
FANTASTIC FOUR #48 : CGC 9.4
FANTASTIC FOUR #73 : CGC 9.6
IRON MAN #1 : CGC 9.4
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #92 : CGC 9.2
TALES TO ASTONISH #44 : CGC 9.2
ADVENTURE COMICS #247 : CGC 5.0
G.I. COMBAT #102 : CGC 9.6

Bronze Age:
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 : CGC 9.4
DEFENDERS #1 : CGC 9.6
THE CAT #1 : CGC 9.6
GHOST RIDER #1 : CGC 9.4
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 : CGC 9.4
INCREDIBLE HULK #181 : CGC 9.4
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #1 : CGC 9.6 (Double cover)
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #7 : CGC 9.6
TOMB OF DRACULA #1 : CGC 9.6
BATMAN #260 : CGC 9.6
HOT WHEELS #6 (Neal Adams) : CGC 9.6
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #174 : CGC 9.4
HOUSE OF SECRETS #92 : CGC 9.0
SUGAR AND SPIKE #90 : CGC 9.4

For more information go to www.vaultauctions.com or call +44 (0) 1342 300 900.

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Heritage to Offer CGC Certified Mile High Run
of National Comics

Heritage Comics Auctions (HCA) is proud to announce that it will offer the Mile High Run of National Comics in its upcoming Signature auction, to be held February 6-7, 2004, in their new offices in Dallas, Texas.

"We've been very fortunate to offer many important collections, and individual items over the past two years," said Ed Jaster, Director of Acquisitions for HCA. "None of those offerings, however, is more extraordinary than this run of National Comics from the Edgar Church (Mile High) Collection. This event is an exceedingly rare opportunity to purchase 'the best of the best', an important title from the finest collection of comic books ever assembled." More...

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cgc registry

Will Eisner's
"The Dreamer"
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

So after my "Y: The Last Man" article last month, I have had a few interesting conversations about comics. Most of them were about modern titles and the level of intelligence and in-depth dialogue that many publishers have in the pages of their best selling comics. There was one conversation, however, with my younger brother that spawned this article. He called me the other night and we got on the topic of how comics originated. I know a fair amount about the Golden Age of comics, just wasn't really sure about the beginning stages. Having told him I'd get back to him, I waited until the following day, where I asked around at work. Jerry, a fellow co-worker, passed me a trade paperback that he thought would be the ticket in helping me out. The trade was "The Dreamer" by Will Eisner. He immediately asked, "You have read The Spirit, right?" Answering only with an insecure "yes," I brought it home, only to be educated and entertained beyond my own level of expectations.

"The Dreamer" was originally published in 1986 by Kitchen Sink and was written and drawn by Will Eisner. A graphic novel set during the beginning of the comic age, it was an extraordinary read. The story stars a man named Billy, an aspiring comic artist who, unbeknownst to the reader, reads a lot like Will Eisner's actual biography. Billy is experiencing difficulties with breaking into the business of illustration art during rough economic times. Set against the backdrop of the early 30's depression era, work in general is hard to find. Billy finds a publisher, and together they decide to go into their own business with comics, due to the dying market of pulp magazines. What spawns from their own idea is a series of adventure comics written and drawn by Billy. Their success leads to the formation of an actual work studio, where multiple artists set on a salary work together, passing the pages amongst each other, until every panel is inked and lettered, then sent to the press for publication.

"The Dreamer" is a great way to see how the comic industry came into the market during a time period when it was difficult to keep anything on the stands. Pulps were selling poorly and the only comics on the stands were all reprinted comic strip art. Besides being a historically accurate portrayal of the 1930's and the beginning of the comic book industry, the story is immensely enjoyable with its sharp illustrations and beautifully written script. For me, being unfamiliar with Will Eisner's most well known work "The Spirit," and after enjoying "The Dreamer" so much, I look forward to reading Eisner's other works in the time to come.

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Comicspriceguide.com has chosen Comic Guaranty, LLC (CGC) as its exclusive certification and grading company.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 19, 2004) – Comicspriceguide.com, the Internet's largest online pricing guide, announced today that it has chosen Comic Guaranty, LLC (CGC) as its exclusive comic book certification company.

"CGC has proven itself to be the only reliable, consistent and professional certification company in the industry. CGC'd comics usually command much greater prices than comics that have not been certified, so it is only natural that we allow our customers to follow the CGC certified market. We felt adding CGC graded pricing to our site was needed to continue to add value for our members," states Bryan Neely, Founder and President of Comicspriceguide.com. "Our community members have grown to expect comicpriceguide.com to be the most thorough, comprehensive and diverse pricing guide on the net; by providing CGC grading and pricing as features, we hope to exceed our member expectations."

Comicspriceguide.com will continue to add features and information about CGC grading and pricing throughout 2004. These features will include the ability to manage, store and view a members' CGC graded collection, CGC specific search capabilities, CGC online auctions, heavily discounted pricing for members to get their books CGC graded, and CGC graded price trends.

"We are very pleased to be able to give our members the opportunity to view, sell and grade books exclusively using CGC's incredible service," Bryan adds, "2004 will be a great year for comicspriceguide.com, our members and CGC."

About comicspriceguide.com (CPG)
Comicspriceguide.com is the internet's largest comic pricing guide. CPG has over 80,000 active members who use ComicsPriceGuide.com as a guide to browse for prices from over 1200 publishers, 18,000 comics and 185,000 books. CPG also offers auction services, message boards for collectors, an online store, classifieds, monthly newsletters and discount CGC grading.

For more information visit www.comicspriceguide.com

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How Cool is This?

On November 11th, 2003 in Toronto, Canada, Paul Gulacy, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Joe Rubinstein, Howard Chaykin, Steve Rude and Jim Starlin were all at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon. Besides being there, what else do these creators have in common? They all had done work in "Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men" from Marvel Comics.

After looking over the convention's guest list, comic book fan Alex Hunter figured out what book he could get the most creators to sign in one shot. With "Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men" he found his answer. With a CGC representative on hand, he was able to get the comic signed and witnessed for the Signature Series.

"Luckily I was able to get signatures from all six of these creators -- Gulacy, Kaluta, Rubinstein, Chaykin, Rude & Starlin -- in one show, and to meet them as well. It doesn't get any better than that," Alex said. "To me, this is what makes the CGC Signature Series books so special. This will always be a truly unique, one-of-a-kind item. When else will these six creators be in the same place at the same time, except maybe at the next Paradise Comics Comicon?"

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