Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
March 2004  
 
Version 2, Issue 7  
   
1. World's Finest Comics
   
2. Cerebus & CGC
   
3. How Would You Like Your Stake?
   
4. Recently Discovered Collection Includes CGC Certified Books
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

March 27-28
Planet Comic Con Kansas City

Overland Park International Trade Center
Overland Park, KS


April 3-4
Big Apple Show

Penn Plaza Pavilion
New York, NY


April 30-May 2
Wondercon

Moscone Center
San Francisco, CA


Nolan's Niche World's Finest Comics
Michelle Nolan

World's Finest Comics is one of the most challenging titles for collectors of DC Comics, from the standpoints of both cost and scarcity.

Even if you are wealthy, you won't have an easy time completing a set or even a long run of World's Finest, which ran 106 issues through 1959. Many 1950's issues are scarce, especially in high grade. Most of the 1940's issues don't seem scarce but they are pricey.

Since "Nolan's Niche" is dedicated to helping collectors learn how to get the most for their money, we'll continue to follow that theme with World's Finest. You'll need only about a dozen issues for a representative collection.

Worlds Finest Comics no. 6Unlike DC's "Big Eight" monthly anthology series of the Golden Age, no significant characters appeared only in World's Finest, which was a second or third home for its major cast. It's a wonderful title, loaded with many of DC's best characters. Since the first 70 issues are 15-cent giants, you get a lot more for your money, just as readers did in the Golden Age.

The title began as World's Best Comics #1, an undated 1941 issue. The title switched to World's Finest with #2 (Summer 1941) and was published quarterly through #20 (Winter 1945-46) before becoming bimonthly.

Superman and Batman were the headliners, with separate full-length stories for the first 70 issues. When World's Finest was cut from 68 pages (including covers) to 36 pages with #71 (July-Aug. 1954), it forced a long-running team-up of DC's two biggest guns.

Several other costume heroes were featured in every issue of World's Finest, which ran 100 pages through #9, then 92 pages through #12, 84 pages through #18, 76 pages through #54, and 68 pages through #70. In that sense, World's Finest was a lesson in how comic publishers once handled inflation — by cutting the page count instead of increasing the price.

The original Sandman appeared in #3-5, followed by Sandman and Sandy in #6-7. The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesey ran in #6-18. The Crimson Avenger from Detective Comics appeared in #1-5, followed by a one-shot appearance in #6 by TNT, a minor hero from Star Spangled Comics.

World's Finest Comics No. 7Aquaman appeared in World's Finest #6, to be replaced by Green Arrow and Speedy in #7 (Fall 1942). The Emerald Archer, who also appeared in More Fun Comics and later Adventure Comics, shot through a whopping 134 consecutive issues of World's Finest, last appearing in #140 — a 20-year run! It's hard to conceive of a backup feature in any comic book today running for 20 years, isn't it?

Other mainstays of special interest include Zatara the Magician in #1-51 (except #46) and Boy Commandos in #8-41. Let's just say any issue of World's Finest through #18 would be a gem for any collector. You can't lose with any of these huge square-bound gems, bursting with the energy of several Golden Age heroes. The drawback, of course, is that you're probably going to pay well over $100 even for copies in "good" condition.

The solution? Focus on the later issues! They all contain Superman, Batman and Green Arrow, including many of their scarcest (and generally never reprinted) appearances. Even though 1950-54 issues of World's Finest are scarcer than their 1940's counterparts, they cost only about half as much or less!

I especially like World's Finest #49-58 (1951-53) because they contain the only appearances of Tom Sparks, Boy Inventor. Tom Sparks may have been modeled on the original Tom Swift, who was popular in a series of 40 novels released from 1910-41. Tom Swift rivaled the Hardy Boys (who debuted in 1927) as the most successful juvenile series for boys in the post-Horatio Alger era.

I particularly recommend World's Finest #49 (Dec. 1950-Jan. 1951), with the only cover appearance by Tom Sparks, whose robot is shown playing checkers with Robin as Batman and Superman watch. That cover was typical of World's Finest, which featured either playful or symbolic Superman, Batman and Robin covers all the way through #70. The only exceptions were serious "rescue" covers on #51, 53, 65, 66 and 67.

Those World's Finest covers were wonderful; you really can't go wrong with any of them. Different themes will appeal to different collectors, of course. Along with #49, my favorites are #3 and #15 (baseball), #11 (victory garden), #21 (basketball), #34 (bumper cars), #63 (newspaper headlines) and #68 (our heroes flee from a skunk).

In my opinion, issues of World's Finest become increasingly scarce through #70, the last 15-cent issue. Issues #60-70 seem especially scarce, indicating that sales may have slumped. The saddle-stitched binding began with #49, making those issues especially hard to find in high grade, if only because staples tended to pull away.

The Overstreet Price Guide lists #71 as scarce, which is true if only because so many copies are locked away in so many collections as an iconic issue, with the first Superman-Batman team-up in World's Finest. However, since #71 is a lot more expensive than the surrounding issues, you can generally find one if you have the bucks. Finding a copy of, say, #65 might be a lot tougher.

All the first 20 Superman-Batman team-up issues boast terrific stories, with many among my childhood favorites. Issue #90 (Oct. 1957) features one of the first appearances by Batwoman and is among my favorite Silver Age comics.

World's Finest is among the biggest bargains any collector of 1940's or 1950's comics could want. I heartily recommend this title — in short, get as many as you can afford! It's also a great "low-grade" bargain.

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cgc registry

How Would You Like Your Stake?
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

It started with a conversation about Vincent Price. A while back, I had purchased House on Haunted Hill (the original) on DVD. As an added bonus, the disc came with another Vincent Price classic: The Last Man on Earth. Now, I had no idea what the movie was about, no indication as to the effect it would have on my taste in horror, but after watching The Last Man on Earth, my take on vampires was forever changed.

Of all horror icons, vampires were my least favorite because of constant overexposure in film, television and books. There are only so many Dracula-type movies one can watch before being overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity. But watching this movie, a new light shone down upon me, piquing my interest of vampires once again, and thus leading to my newest find, which will spend its immortal days resting on my bookshelf.

During the end credits of The Last Man on Earth, something caught my eye. “Based on the novel ‘I am Legend’ by Richard Matheson” flashed across the screen. “Well,” I thought, “if the movie was that interesting, the book’s got to be even better!” I began my search on eBay and found a few results, one being an adaptation of the 1954 classic by Matheson, put out by IDW Publishing in 2003, in hardcover graphic novel format, with content adapted by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and art by Elman Brown.

The adaptation reads identically to the novel by Matheson, for Steve Niles pulled no stops keeping this tale accurate to the original, and Elman’s illustrations give the novel such a chilling view that no imagination is needed. The story stars Robert Neville, a man alone, in a world where a mysterious “plague” has swept across the world and infected all of its inhabitants. The sickness has mysterious vampire-like effects on all victims, turning what were once normal people into nightwalking bloodsuckers that stalk Robert every night of his lonely and meager existence.

Boarded up in his house, he tries to deal with his loneliness at night by chasing down his sorrows with whiskey and cigarettes, and by day going house to house, trying to rid his town of the vampire epidemic. What started the epidemic of vampirism? Garlic, crucifixes, wooden stakes and sunlight…what do they all have in common? Neville begins his quest to find the answers to his own living horror movie. Is he really the only one left unaffected? Will he spend the rest of his life trying to stay alive or will he end his madness and surrender to the masses?

Edge-of-your-seat suspense and gripping elements of horror make this a graphic novel that anyone will want to “sink their teeth into.”

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Cerebus & CGC
by Paul Litch

I consider myself a Cerebus fan. I love the artwork, I love that it is not really about an aardvark. I love the monumental stature of it. I love that this comic can humble a person. I love the diehard D.Y.I. integrity (and insanity) of self-publishing for 26+ years. I love the stubbornness of freedom shown not only by an aardvark, but by its creator as well. I am a fan.

I never would have imagined getting that phone call from Peter Dixon asking if I wanted to go to the Aardvark-Vanaheim studio in Kitchner, Ontario to witness a Signature Series signing and possibly do the Dave Sim File Copies. The first words out of my mouth, "Is Dave Sim going to be there!?!"

Dave Sim signing the Cerebus File Copies
Dave Sim signing the Cerebus #1 File Copies

There was a pause. Peter replied, "No, Pauly, I figured I was going to sign them all myself." I can still hear him laughing at me.

Fast forward to March 12th, 2004. Flight delays due to snow in Cleveland delayed me for an hour and a half. Peter and Kevin Boyd pick me up at the airport and we head off for Kitchner, an hour away. We had tentative plans to go out that night with Dave Sim, but I was worried because my delayed flight put us in Kitchner at 11:30 pm. Luckily, he was still up for it. Chicken wings, pierogies, fried dill pickles (I had to try them) and a couple of pitchers and we were all planning the "Bank Heist" (as Dave dubbed it) for 8:30 in the morning.

We arrived at the studio and I tried to stay focused as I saw the most breathtaking pieces of framed original art covers from throughout the Cerebus run hung around the studio walls. Gerhard arrived shortly after us and we quickly got to work. Dave and Gerhard sat for the signings while the three of us un-bagged then re-bagged the file copies. Trying to keep up with two artists that are used to deadlines is not an easy task.

The five of us worked in silence for a while. Personally, I was still stunned that I was there. I could barely control the fanboy. "You're here representing Comics Guaranty, don't screw it up by geeking out," I kept telling myself. But Dave and Gerhard broke into the easy banter of friends and smiles abounded. Dave asked me many straightforward questions about CGC, which I was more than happy to answer. He was very excited about our Registry and the news that we were planning on including Cerebus the Aardvark into our sets so that collectors can track and rate their "Dave Sim File Copies." But the best part was just talking about comics; what we owned, what we regret selling, who our favorite creators are and were, which lead to reading aloud some of the tribute letters from CBG about the late Julie Schwartz.

Paradise Comics showing of the Dave Sim File Copies
Peter Dixon, Paul Litch, and Kevin Boyd at Paradise Comics showing off the Dave Sim File Copies

We worked from 8:30 am to almost 8:30 pm with just a soda break. Peter Birkemoe, owner of the Beguiling, an underground comics store in Toronto, arrived at midday with a small television crew. So Dave not only had us to deal with, but he also gave an interview with, and wrote a three-page scripted scene for, Book TV, a popular Canadian Cable show. All the while he was signing file copies between takes.

It seems an understatement to say that it was a busy day. Dave & Gerhard signed approximately 20 copies of issues #65 to #135. Dave signed approximately 20 copies of #2 to #64. There are 10 Dave Sim File Copy #1's. He also opted to sign the other copies of the first issue that he has bought over time for the Signature Series. Plus they signed 100 copies of Cerebus the Aardvark #300 that Peter had pre-screened himself for the best copies. All told, we did approximately 2800 "Dave Sim File Copies" all signed for the Signature Series.

How did they look? Amazing. So far we have done two copies. The Cerebus #300 numbered 1/100 was CGC certified a 9.8. We also certified the highest graded CGC copy of Cerebus #1, which Dave has chosen to auction off for ACTOR at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon. This copy is an astounding CGC certified 9.4 with WHITE pages. Other issues of the file copies that stood out in my mind as extremely high grade were the first 10 or so of the run, including some very rare issues like #21, and the never reprinted #51. The Wolveroach issues were also stunning and I can't wait to see how they do.

By the end of the day we were all drained and quite amazed that we had done what we set out to accomplish. Gerhard had left after his part of the signings and after he had helped us a bit by taking some photos. The rest of us enjoyed a very nice dinner with Dave, one of his long time friends and the new owner of Now and Then Books, one of the oldest comic book stores in North America. It was a great night and the end of an exhausting and rewarding day.

One thing kept resonating through my mind the rest of the weekend. Before all of the chaos that befell us once the day got into full swing, Dave broke that awkward silence by saying, "You know, I got CGC right away. I read about it and I got it. You guys are for people who want the best of the best."

Dave Sim is correct; we are for people who want the best of the best and the extraordinary. It is an honor that he chose CGC for his file copies, the best of the best of his life's creation. Thanks Dave, on a personal level, for allowing this fan to be a part of it.

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Recently Discovered Collection Includes CGC Certified Books

Daniel Greenhalgh, President of Showcase New England, recently acquired an original owner Golden Age collection with about 250 books, over half of which have been certified by CGC.

This unrestored original owner collection is highlighted by a Wonder Woman #1 (6.0), a More Fun 101 (VF-7.5) and includes many comic books that are VF or better. The collection includes all the major Golden Age titles such as Action, Adventure, Batman, Detective, Flash, Green Lantern, More Fun, Superman, World's Finest, Wonder Woman and many more.

The entire collection will be up for auction on Ebay beginning Tuesday, March 23, and ending Friday, April 2nd. The collection will appear under Ebay user name "showcase-new-england". All the books in the collection will be auctioned with no reserves.

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