Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
February 2004  
 
Version 2, Issue 7  
   
1. The Little Known Gems of Novelty Press
   
2. CGC and Investment Collectibles Certifies World's Highest Grade Run of Golden Age Flash Comics
   
3. Comiclink.Com Sets Record Price For CGC Certified 9.4 Amazing Fantasy #15
   
4. Ra's Al Who?
   
5. Major Single-Owner Golden Age Comics Collection in Heritage NYC Auction!
   
6. CGC, Dave Sim & Toronto Store Paradise Comics Announce the "Own a Piece of Issue 300" Promotion
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

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 The Little Known Gems of Novelty Press
Michelle Nolan

Novelty Press titles are among the lesser known gems of the Golden Age. They were generally more subdued and less flamboyant than much of their newsstand competition, but they didn't have to worry about circulation problems. After all, Novelty Press, later known as the Premium Group of Comics, was owned and circulated by the prestigious Curtis Publishing Company, which produced those longtime icons of mid-American literary dignity, the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies Home Journal.

Novelty joined the comic book explosion of 1940 with two hero-laden titles, Target Comics and Blue Bolt Comics. The material was prepared by the Funnies Incorporated shop. Most of the issues from the 1940-42 period are particularly collectible, especially for early work by the Simon & Kirby team and Basil Wolverton, along with Jack Cole and Bill Everett.

Novelty was one of the first companies to de-emphasize superheroes well before World War II ended. Most collectors are interested primarily in the 1940-42 period.

Target, the company's first title, was a routine anthology with only one superhero — the White Streak, an android by Carl Burgos — until Wolverton's unique Spacehawk strip arrived in Vol. 1 #5 (June 1940). Spacehawk's earliest adventures occurred in Wolverton's uniquely weird version of outer space (replete with crazy creatures) until Spacehawk, one of the first science fiction heroes in comics, finished up fighting wartime menaces on earth.

Spacehawk, always featured in truly bizarre Wolverton tales of at least eight pages, ran in 30 consecutive issues of Target — through #34 (Vol. 3 #10), dated December 1942. All these issues are collectible, though Target Vol. 1 #10 (November 1940) through #22 (Vol. 2 #10), dated December 1941, are perhaps the most appealing. That's because the title's third superhero, the Target—who wore a colorful Target costume, natch, to defy criminals—was introduced in Vol. 1 #10, followed by his two costumed buddies, the Targeteers, in Vol. 1 #11.

Thus, the 13-issue run of #10-22 are the issues of Target that many collectors aim for. Those are the only issues of Target to feature White Streak, Spacehawk and Target in the same comics, all 68-page gems.

It gets even more complicated, though, since a cool costumed hero named the Red Seal joined the White Streak in Vol. 2 #6 and the two teamed up for five issues through Vol. 2 #10. Making it even more complex, the White Streak abandoned his costume in Vol. 1 #10, yet retained his super powers, then resumed wearing his costume in Vol. 2 #8.

That means there are only three issues of Target — Vol. 2 #8, #9 and #10 — in which the White Streak, the Red Seal, the three Targeteers and Spacehawk are all in costume! If you buy those three issues, you get 25 total pages of energetic 1941-style superheroics.

The Targeteers hung on for a surprisingly long time, especially considering their stories were cut to only six or seven pages beginning with Vol. 4 #6 (whole #42), which was dated September-October 1943. They were rarely cover-featured after 1942. The Targeteers ran in every issue, though, all the way through Vol. 9 #5 (July 1948), which was whole #95 (for some reason, Target ran 12 issues per volume except for 8 issues in Vol. 5 and 10 issues in Vol. 6). After two more appearances in Vol. 9 #8 and Vol. 10 #1 (April-May 1949), the Targeteers joined the multitude of superheroes who vanished with the end of the Golden Age. The last issue of Target was Vol. 10 #3 (August-September 1949), which was whole #105. The title became Target Western Romances for #106 and #107, its final two issues, which epitomized the wholesale shift to other genres during the era.

Novelty's other title was Blue Bolt, which for a few issues featured three superheroes—Blue Bolt, Sub-Zero Man and The Twister—plus a colorful military academy athletic hero named Dick Cole, who was a nifty knockoff of the dime novel hero Frank Merriwell.

Blue Bolt and Sub-Zero were introduced in Vol. 1 #1 (June 1940), followed by an underrated third superhero, Paul Gustafson's nicely drawn The Twister, in Vol. 2 #1 (whole #13). Blue Bolt was a typical superhero of the era, boasting the powers of lightning, among others. Sub-Zero Man was a Venusian with the power to freeze criminals, while the Twister had cyclonic abilities. The Twister, however, appeared in only seven issues, with the last being Vol. 2 #7.

Blue Bolt, subtitled The American, ran in costume only through Vol. 3 #3 (whole #27), the July 1942 issue. For the remainder of his long career, Blue Bolt was a non-costumed adventure hero. In Vol. 2 #7 (December 1941), aide Lois Blake briefly joined him as a costumed partner, making for a little known Bulletman-Bulletgirl type team.

Sub-Zero, one of the more intriguing minor heroes, ran in 37 consecutive issues, through Vol. 4 #1 (June 1943). He had only two more appearances, in Vol. 4 #3 and in Vol. 4 #8 (March 1944). Like many heroes, he was a casualty of the page count cut to 52 pages.

Simon and Kirby's work on Blue Bolt makes Vol. 1 #2-10 highly collectible, especially since #2 is their first superhero teamup work in comics. However, if you just want good examples of Golden Age action, Blue Bolt Vol. 2 #1-7 with all three characters is your best bet. In addition, you get uniformly well-told Dick Cole stories as well.

Blue Bolt ran through Vol. 10 #2 (whole #101) under its original ownership. L. B. Cole's Star Comics bought out Novelty late in 1949. (Curtis may have been sensitive to the growing criticism of comics.) Star published Blue Bolt #102-110 with numerous early Novelty superhero reprints and L. B. Cole covers before turning the comic book into a horror title.

For 36 issues from 1942-49, Novelty produced a third regular title, 4 Most Comics, primarily as a featured venue for Dick Cole. Target and the Targeteers appeared in #1 (Winter 1941-42) and #2 (Spring 1942). 4 Most #1 is noteworthy for a 30-page Dick Cole story and the 19-page Target story. Star's #37-40 finished off the title following Vol. 8 #5 (#36).

Dick Cole also appeared in 10 issues of his own in 1949-50, with two Dick Cole stories in each. These appear to be reprints, though it's difficult to know for sure.

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Comiclink.Com Sets Record Price For CGC Certified 9.4 Amazing Fantasy #15

The record was shattered for the highest price received for an Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC certified 9.4 (which features the 1st appearance and Origin of Spider-Man), when it sold for $122,000 only 5 days after being listed on ComicLink.Com.

The sold copy is from the Diamond run collection and has off-white pages. According to high-end collectors with the inside "scoop," it is the third best copy known to exist. The two finer copies are currently "locked up" in private collections.

Prior to the ComicLink sale, the most recently sold copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 in CGC 9.4 brought $86,250 at the March 2003 Heritage Signature auction.

"When it comes to the best available CGC certified copy of a Silver Age Marvel key like Amazing Fantasy 15," says ComicLink.Com CEO Josh Nathanson, "we always have a top-notch buyer willing to pay the highest price. Our buyers realize the enormous investment potential of scarce, high-end comic books. The buyer of this CGC certified copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 realized that he was paying a premium over the last sale price, but was still comfortable stepping up to the plate because he knew that he was getting the best. He is very happy to have obtained this book for his collection."

ComicLink.Com currently has nearly 2000 Vintage CGC Graded comic books listed on the Web site (Golden, Silver, Bronze and Investment-quality Modern). Nearly 400 of these are from pedigree collections. Many of ComicLink's listings are high-end comic books and vintage comic art not commonly found in other venues. New listings are posted throughout the day, every day, so buyers that want to have first shot at the best listings and deals need to check the site often or use ComicLink's Wantlist Service. Most recently, a featured listing included nearly 100 CGC Graded comic books from the Pacific Coast pedigree collection. "The happiest buyers were the first buyers to see the listings because they were able to snap up the best deals," says Nathanson. The Pacific Coast collection is widely recognized by Silver Age collectors to be the "Mile High" of the Silver Age pedigrees.

For more information go to www.comiclink.com or call 718-423-6079.

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Major Single-Owner Golden Age Comics Collection in Heritage NYC Auction!
Many CGC Graded

Heritage Comics Auctions (HCA) is proud to announce that it will offer the Golden Age comic book collection of the late Donald Lambert in its upcoming Signature sale, to be held April 1-3, 2004 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

"As soon as you think all the truly great original owner collections have come to market, something like this turns up," said Ed Jaster, HCA's Director of Acquisitions. More...

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cgc registry

Ra's Al Who?
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

Comics are a big part of my life. I'm an avid reader and a nit-picky collector. What current titles I don't buy, I stay updated on by either reading Wizard magazine or by friends that fill me in on anything I miss. But, along with comics comes my interest in all the hype around their transitions to the big screen. What fan-boy doesn't utilize the Internet for the latest rumors surrounding their favorite comics making their way to Hollywood? That is where I first heard rumors that Ra's Al Ghul may be the main villain in the newest Batman installment. My first reaction to the rumor was, "Ra's Al Who?" I knew of the character, but obviously not enough to even consider there would be a chance he would be in the next Batman movie. With that in mind, I took it upon myself to find out more about Ra's Al Ghul's character and why he has been dubbed, "One of Batman's most dangerous foes."

I ended my quest at its start. Searching eBay, I managed to find a lot of four issues of Batman with a reasonable Buy-It-Now price. Contained in that lot was Batman #232 and #242-244, all written by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Neal Adams except for #242, which is drawn by Irv Novick. Issue # 232, which came onto the stands in the spring of 1971, kick starts a four part storyline with the introduction of Ra's Al Ghul, who in the first panel, reveals himself to be Batman's most intelligent foe with his knowledge of Batman being Bruce Wayne. Not coming off as a direct threat, Ra's Al Ghul acquires the help of Batman to find his daughter Talia, who like Robin, is being held captive by an unknown party. The two travel to India on their quest, with Batman proving to be the dark detective he once was instead of the campy vigilante he turned into during the 60s. In the end of issue #232, it is revealed that Ra's Al Ghul was behind the kidnapping, this being a test for the dark knight—one that he passed with flying colors, for Batman already knew that Ra's was behind Robin's kidnapping well into their journey due to miscellaneous clues he put together through the issue. Ra's tells Batman he was searching for a successor, one whose wits and power matched that of his own, and he found that man in Batman.

Issue #232 begins the tale of Ra's Al Ghul, leaving the story open for another 10 issues, where Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, with the help of Irv Novick, pick up right where they left off. Issues #242-244 continue Batman's quest to take down Ra's Al Ghul. Without revealing much, out of respect for an audience reading this newsletter who are unfamiliar with the Ra's Al Ghul storyline, the character of Ra's Al Ghul is explored in-depth and readers soon find why he is such a powerful villain. Filled with twists and turns, swordfights, and adventure that one would only see in an Indiana Jones movie, the series will forever remain at the top of my list for one of Batman's greatest adventures. Denny O'Neil scripts keep it an action-packed detective story and Neal Adams & Irv Novick bring Batman the dark image his costume was once made to portray.

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CGC and Investment Collectibles Certifies World's Highest Grade Run of Golden Age Flash Comics

Last month, Steven Lauterbach, owner of Investment Collectibles, purchased a near complete high grade run of Flash Comics from a New York collector who had spent almost 10 years putting it together. "I knew of this collection and had previously seen many of the pieces over the years," said Lauterbach. "But to see them all together at once, it was mind boggling! I knew that I had to get these for my clients!"

Steve Borock CGC's Vice President and Primary Grader with Steve Lauterbach owner of Investment Collectibles show off some of the highlights of the Flash Comics run.

After purchasing the collection, Lauterbach flew the books down to CGC for certification. "99% of my clients want these certified by the experts at CGC before they will pay multiples of guide. CGC gives buyers the confidence to purchase books sight unseen, and to me, that is worth every dollar I spent getting this collection CGC'd." Lauterbach said.

Highlights from this collection include: Flash Comics #'s: 2 CGC 9.2, 3 CGC 9.2, 7 CGC 9.0, 21 CGC 9.4, 26 CGC 9.4, 30 (Church/Mile High copy) CGC 9.6, 33 (San Francisco copy) CGC 9.6, 86 (Church/Mile High copy) CGC 9.6, 92 CGC 9.4, 103 (Ohio copy) CGC 8.5 and many others.

For more information about these books or to purchase some of them, go to www.investmentcollectibles.com or call 516-767-6100.

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CGC, Dave Sim & Toronto Store Paradise Comics Announce the "Own a Piece of Issue 300" Promotion
Cerebus No. 300 To Get CGC Signature Series Treatment

Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc. and Paradise Comics of Toronto have announced plans to produce a limited edition run of 100 CGC-graded Signature Series copies of Cerebus No. 300—signed and numbered by Dave Sim and Gerhard, as part of Aardvark-Vanaheim's "Own a Piece of 300" promotion to coincide with the publication of Cerebus No. 300, the last issue of the 26+ year comic-book series.

Comics Guaranty Corporation, LLC (CGC) is the first independent, impartial and expert third-party grading service in comics, and the CGC Signature Series offers the only authenticated signature service in comics. All comics are signed in the presence of an authorized CGC representative, then graded by their experts and encapsulated in CGC's state-of-the-art tamper evident holder. Previous CGC Signature Series books have included DC Comics' Catwoman No. 1 signed by Darwyn Cooke; Marvel Comics' Captain America No. 1 signed by artist John Cassaday, and Spider-Man: Blue No. 1 signed by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale.

"I know a lot of comic-book people who aren't part of the ‘collectibles' side look askance at slabbing (grading and encapsulation) of comic books in the first place and particularly at the slabbing of new comic books" said Aardvark-Vanaheim president and Cerebus creator, Dave Sim. "But, I've always been a big supporter of the CGC phenomenon. To me it represents a vote of confidence in the future collectible value of today's comic books. Starting in 1938, no one tended to take comic books seriously and the watchword was always ‘comic books won't even be here in five years.' The fact that sensible people invest real money in the highest grade of comic books tells us that we've moved past that point. We now believe that comic books will be here, and will have value, 50 years from now, 100 years from now. I considered it a great vote of confidence that CGC thought Cerebus No. 300 was worthy of being part of their Signature Series."

"We knew that our Signature Series was really taking off," said CGC's Vice President and Primary Grader, Steve Borock "but we didn't think we would get the endorsement of someone of Dave Sims stature this early in the game. I mean, not only is Dave Sim a pioneer in our industry, but he is someone whose work has entertained me for many years. I am very flattered that he even considered CGC for this!"

Peter Dixon, owner of Toronto's Paradise Comics store, will hand-pick the best 100 copies from an initial quantity of 500 which will be supplied by the long-time printer of Cerebus, Preney Print & Litho of Windsor, Canada.

"With Dave's cooperation, I've spoken with Kim Preney to specify what I will be looking for when selecting the top 100 copies such as: tightness, flatness, sharp trim at the top and bottom of the spine with no curl, roll or fraying. These are the distinctions that separate the top-graded CGC books from the second-tier grades" said Peter Dixon, who has submitted thousands of books to CGC for grading over the last three years and ranks as one of CGC's top submitters and supporters.

The "Own a Piece of Issue 300" signed-and-numbered limited edition will be previewed on the Paradise Comics Web site (www.paradisecomics.com in April) along with photos of the actual signing which will take place at the Aardvark-Vanaheim offices in the second week of March 2004. After that time the higher numbers (starting with No. 91 through No. 100) will be offered individually on eBay, each bid starting at $21.45 (the cost of the grading service plus the cover price of the comic book).

"As we work our way down to the No. 1 graded signed and numbered copy of Cerebus No. 300 over the next few months, we'll be discussing charities we can discuss the first five books to. Gerhard and I will pick three charities and Peter Dixon of Paradise Comics will pick two charities to benefit from the auction of the first five numbered copies."

"Sim File Copy" Pedigree Collection To Be Encapsulated

The Signature Series limited edition signing will take place as part of a larger program attached to the Cerebus Archive – which will see the "Dave Sim File Copy" Pedigree collection of issues No. 1 to No. 149 signed on their covers in the presence of a CGC grader Paul Litch. After the signing, they will be sent to CGC's Sarasota offices for grading and encapsulation over the next few years.

CGC designates as a Pedigree collection any comic book collection that can be authenticated as having had a single owner prior to coming onto the back issue market. Examples of other Pedigree collections include: The Mile High (also known as the Edgar Church) Collection from the 1970's, The William Gaines File Copies of E.C. Comics, and the Stan Lee File copies of early Marvel Comics.

"One of the few pictures I have on my desk, right next to my wife's photo, is a Cerebus print that I picked up from Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, signed by Dave Sim & Gerhard," said Paul Litch, CGC's Modern Age Specialist. "At the 2003 MegaCon ACTOR auction I won the 1987 Cerebus Tour Jacket. To me, Cerebus is a triumph of will and perseverance not only shown through the lives of a beloved cast of characters, but also through the dedication of Dave Sim to his work. Needless to say, it is a true honor for me and for CGC to be a part of this historic event."

"By the time I started Cerebus, the story of Bill Gaines putting away twelve copies of each E.C. comic fresh from the printer, was pretty widespread in the collectibles market" says Sim. "I had no idea if it was an urban legend or not. I had heard that he put 20 of each away, so that's what I did." Sim laughs, "I'm glad I got that part wrong."

Part of the property settlement when Sim and his wife, Deni, divorced in the early eighties, involved each taking half of the Cerebus No. 1's. Over the next few years, Sim bought copies of Cerebus No. 1 when they were selling for between $100 and $150. Because they aren't "single owner" copies, they will be certified separately by CGC and will not be included in the "Dave Sim File Copy" Pedigree collection.

"Fortunately", says Sim, "they're easy to tell apart. The copies I was able to buy on my own were usually in Very Good to Fine condition, at best.

"Highest-graded "Dave Sim File Copy" Pedigree Collection Cerebus No. 1 to be Auctioned at the Toronto Comicon on June 19 to Benefit A.C.T.O.R.

The biggest news on the charitable front is that Dave Sim will be donating the proceeds from the auction on eBay this summer of the highest graded Cerebus No. 1 in the "Dave Sim File Copy" Pedigree collection to A.C.T.O.R.—A Commitment to Our Roots (an organization formed to benefit veteran comic-book creators in need of financial assistance). The conclusion of the auction will be timed to coincide with the June 18-20, 2004 Paradise Conventions' Toronto Comicon (www.torontocomicon.com) being held at the Queen Elizabeth Building on the Canadian National Exhibition's fairgrounds in Toronto, Canada.

All of the encapsulated "Dave Sim File Copy" Pedigree collection copies and all twenty pages of original artwork from Cerebus No. 300 will be on display at the Toronto Comicon.

"This is where I'll be saying goodbye to the highest graded Cerebus No. 1, which has been with me ever since it was sitting with 1,999 other copies in our living room on the second floor of—the long since demolished—48 Weber Street East" (in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada) says Sim "I hope it goes for $1,000,000. Ger and I have been so lucky in the comic-book field, it's time to share some of that luck with the guys who came before us who weren't so lucky. We stand on the shoulders of giants."

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