||The Little Known Gems of Novelty Press
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.
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
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
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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
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
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Major Single-Owner Golden Age Comics Collection in Heritage NYC Auction!
Many CGC Graded
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
"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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|Ra's Al Who?
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
For more information about these books or to purchase some of them, go to www.investmentcollectibles.com or
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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
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
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 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"
"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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