Comics Guaranty, LLC Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
June 2004  
 
Volume 3, Issue 5  
   
1. There's no "Asylum" in Arkham
   
2. GPAnalysis Adds CGC Census
   
3. Collecting Holyoke Comics
   
4. Metropolis Breaking Records on CGC Marvels
   
5. Opening of New Internet Comic Book Company:
Pedigree Comics, Inc.
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

June 18-20
Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon

Queen Elizabeth Building at
Exhibition Place
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


July 18
St. Louis Comic Book & Toy Show

Holiday Inn Southwest
St. Louis, MO


July 21-25
Comic-Con International

Queen Elizabeth Building at
San Diego Convention
Centern Diego, CA


Caffrey Chronicles There's no "Asylum" in Arkham
Shawn Caffrey

There's nothing that I love to read more than comics. Now don't get me wrong, books are great, but nothing makes a good read more enjoyable than beautifully rendered illustrations to help tell a story. One of the downsides to reading comics is the amount of material that comes out each week, making it extremely difficult to stay on top of all of the great books that hit the shelves. I try to read as much as I can, but there are more times than I'd like where some books escape my attention. Luckily for me, I work with two of the BIGGEST fan boys in comics, Steve Borock and Paul Litch, who are always the first to ask what I haven't read, and staying on top of what I shouldn't miss. This month, for example, a trade paperback collecting all six issues of a chilling mini-series put out by D.C. Comics was the one that almost got away. Coming highly recommended from both Steve and Paul and now this month coming from me, D.C. Comics' Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is a story that will have any reader shocked at finding the feeling of unsettlement grossly enjoyable.

Author Dan Slott, along with Ryan Sook's sinister pencils, create a nightmarish tale of the most famous, yet most feared prison in comics, Arkham Asylum. Living Hell is a story of one man's descent into the depths of not only the holding grounds for Batman's most dangerous foes, but into madness. It begins with billionaire Warren White, a.k.a. "Great White Shark," who is convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to a long term prison sentence. Trying to find a way around the law, he pleads insanity, only to find himself sentenced to a fate worse than prison, for the judge hands him a one-way pass to Arkham Asylum, a place some call worse than death itself.

A white-collar criminal now finds himself in the most dangerous place in the world. Surrounded by deranged killers like the Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, and Scarecrow, his sentence has now become his own personal hell with only one way to survive — insanity.

Ryan Sook's original character renditions and his disturbing visions of Arkham create a chilling atmosphere, and Dan Slott's unique character development and storytelling takes the reader through one of D.C.'s darkest psychological thrillers. Six issues complete this storyline, all with covers by Eric Powell, best known for his Dark Horse series The Goon. All of Eric's covers for the series come reprinted in the back of the trade paperback which come as an added bonus for any fan. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a darker take on the villains of Gotham City, or an in-depth look into the lunacy behind the walls of Arkham Asylum.

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Nolan's Niche Collecting Holyoke Comics
Michelle Nolan

Twenty or thirty years ago, Holyoke Comics were generally so little known that they were still affordable curiosities from the Golden Age. Then along came the Gerber Photo-Journal in the late 1980's, along with increased information in the Overstreet Price Guide, and Holyoke rapidly became less than affordable.

That doesn't mean you should ignore Holyoke, however. You'll have a hard time gathering (or even finding) all 80 collectible issues the little-known company produced in the 1940's, but you can get a representative example.

By the way, that count of 80 issues doesn't include the Holyoke issues of Blue Beetle (#12-30), because that title already has been covered in the essay on Fox Comics last August. Blue Beetle never really became a Holyoke-type title, anyway, even though Holyoke was its publishing "babysitter" until Victor Fox resumed publishing comics following a layoff of more than two years during 1942-44.

Captain AeroThe Holyoke count does include 33 issues of Catman, two of Captain Fearless, 23 of Captain Aero, 12 of Suspense, six of Terrific and four of Power. The 33-issue run of Sparkling Stars, however, isn't worth bothering with if you are just looking for typically collectible superhero comics of the World War II era.

Catman and Captain Aero were a numbering nightmare for collectors for many years, so let's talk about them later. First, we'll cover Suspense #1-12 (1943-1946), Terrific #1-6 (1944) and Power #1-4 (1944). They are all among the priciest short-run titles of the Golden Age, thanks to great covers by Alex Schomburg and L. B. Cole. For years, collectors didn't realize that Timely, Nedor and Harvey did not have a monopoly on Schomburg, and that Cole did some nice impressionistic work in the 1940's as well as for Star in the 1950's.

Suspense really wasn't much of a comic book — the closest thing to heroes were the The Grey Mask in #1-12 and Mr. Nobody in #5-12. The title was primarily filled out by violent crime stories. But, oh, those covers! They're all in the Gerber Photo-Journal, of course, and that's what made them skyrocket in value. Ditto for Terrific, which carried archery heroes Boomerang and Diana in #2-5, Mr. Nobody in #1 and The Reckoner in #6. Schomburg's iconic bondage/torture/hooded menace covers for the scarce Suspense #3 and Terrific #5 have made those issues the Holy Grail for many cover collectors, but almost every issue has a nifty cover. Power #1-2 have no costume heroes, but #3-4 have the little known and long forgotten Black Raider, Dr. Mephisto and Miss Espionage. Again, the attraction is the covers, nicely done by L. B. Cole and far surpassing in quality of anything inside.

Unless your funds are unlimited, you'll be hard pressed to afford more than an issue or two of each, even in low-grade. Captain Fearless #1-2, featuring five-page Miss Victory stories and a batch of otherwise nondescript heroes, are perhaps just as scarce but often more affordable.

Captain EroOn the other hand, you should be able to find at least a few low-grade issues of Catman and Captain Aero without mortgaging your house. The ones with the best covers and/or the finest condition, of course, go only to the high rollers.

The most difficult problem collectors once faced with Catman and Captain Aero was a truly bizarre numbering system, in which the indicia and cover seldom matched. The late Howard Keltner finally figured it all out, as follows:

Catman #1 (May 1941) is listed as Vol. 1 #6 in the indicia, followed by Vol. 1 #7, 8, 9 (Sept. 1941, the real #4) and then Vol. 2 #10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (May 1942, the real #10). Issues #11-15 followed, then Vol. 3 #6 for what was really #16 (Dec. 1942). Then we had Vol. 3 #7 and 8 (the real #17 and 18). Then, for no discernable reason, #19 is listed as Vol. 2 #6 followed by Vol. 2 #7, 8, 9 and 10 (really #23, March 1944). Then followed Vol. 3 #13 (the real #24), followed by Vol. 2 #12 (the real #25), followed by Vol. 3 #1 (the real #26) and Vol. 3 #2 (again listed as #26). Those two issues are dated Sept. and Nov. 1944. Issues #27-32 (April 1945 through Aug. 1946) are listed by the same number on both cover and indicia. All in all, there were 33 issues of Catman.

The Catman and Kitten were together in every issue beginning with Kitten's debut in the real #5 (Vol. 2 #10, Dec. 1941). The Catman appeared in all 33 issues. There were lots of other heroes, including The Rag Man, The Hood, Volton, Blackout, Phantom Falcon, The Reckoner and the Golden Archer, but none of them are especially interesting no matter who drew them.

Captain Aero's numbering system makes no sense either. Captain Aero #1 (Dec. 1941) is listed as Vol. 1 #7, followed by Vol. 1 #8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (the real #6). Then it's Vol. 2 #1, 2, 3 and 4 (the real #10, Jan. 1943), followed by Vol. 3 #9 (the real #11), then Vol. 3 #10, 11, 12, 13 (the real #15, June 1944). Issue #16 was Vol. 4 #2 and issue #17 was Vol. 4 #3 (Oct. 1944). The title skipped #18-20, then continued for its final six issues as #21-26 (Dec. 1944 through Aug. 1946).

The constants in every issue were Captain Aero, a good airwar hero who appeared throughout the run, along with the patriotic Flagman and Rusty, who appeared through the 17th issue (the nonsensically listed Vol. 4 #3). Miss Victory appeared in short stories in every issue beginning with the sixth issue (Vol. 1 #12, June 1942). The Red Cross appeared in most issues starting with the real #8 (Vol. 2 #2). There were numerous other war and adventure stories.

Most of the covers are by either Schomburg or Cole. In dealing with Catman and Captain Aero, your best bet is to examine each issue, since they vary widely in quality, and decide if the price is worth the cover and/or contents. I would not buy them sight unseen unless you just like odd, old comics, or you have unlimited funds. If you don't have to spend too much, they are fun examples of patriotic Golden Age comics.

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Opening of New Internet Comic Book Company: Pedigree Comics, Inc.

This week, in conjunction with the start of the summer convention season, comic collector Doug Schmell, also known as "Captain Tripps" on the CGC Registry and CGC message boards, is proud to announce the opening of his internet comic book company, PEDIGREE COMICS, INC. (www.pedigreecomics.com). Pedigree Comics

This unique Web site, which has hundreds of listings of CGC-only graded comic books and comic magazines, specializes in the buying and selling of ultra high-grade Silver and Bronze age Marvels. While many of the books for sale on Pedigree Comics are consignments from renowned high-grade Marvel collectors, there are a number of comics and magazines from Doug's own personal collection, a collection that is now over 30 years in the making!

Most of the books listed on the site are from nationally recognized pedigree collections, many being the highest graded copies CGC has graded to date. From the Pacific Coast Collection to the Northland Collection, from White Mountains to Green Rivers, almost every Silver age pedigree is represented.

Even though he is still paying record prices for books for his collection and Web site, Doug is also currently accepting consignments of CGC-certified, high-grade Marvels at a commission of only 8%, the lowest in the industry.

Doug wishes to share and extend his passion for CGC and Marvel comics with everyone through this Web site. If you are a buyer or a seller, a dealer or a collector, or just someone who loves comic books, there is something for everyone to be found on Pedigree Comics.

PEDIGREE COMICS can be reached at www.pedigreecomics.com, email: dougschmell@pedigreecomics.com, or phone: (212) 568-4267 or (646) 345-6886. Happy Hunting!!

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cgc registry

GPAnalysis Adds CGC Census

Since its release in April 2002, GPAnalysis for Comics has become one of the industry leaders in reporting public CGC sales. There have been many enhancements to the service during that period, with the GPA Market reports being one of the latest additions. Subscribers have emailed us with a number of suggestions on how to improve our service, including "how cool it would be to have the CGC Census information somehow integrated into GPA."

Well, wait no more! As of this month all subscribers to GPA will be able to link to CGC Census information directly from GPA.

"It was natural for us to integrate CGC Census information into our product," says George Pantela, GPA's founder. "Both sales and census figures are important elements of the information equation when looking at buying and selling CGC-graded comic books. The excellent relationship between CGC and GPA has now made it possible for collectors to access both services through one interface."

"We've always been supportive of GPAnalysis for Comics," said Steve Borock, CGC's Vice President and Primary Grader. "Just like CGC, when it first came out, GPAnalysis provided an innovative, important, and unique service to our hobby and it has gone from strength to strength since. The suggestion from our friends at GPA to provide a direct link back into CGC's Census made total sense to us and we were happy to support it. I believe GPAnalysis will now provide collectors with an even better tool than it already has, and enhance our hobby further."

Subscribers familiar with GPA's interface are able to drill down from comic book title to issue number and list all sales across specific grades. A new link now appears at the issue level; with one simple click a pop-up takes you directly to that issue's CGC Census info.

"As there are some differences in the way we categorize comic titles to CGC, it was necessary for us to first build hooks into CGC from our database," notes Dr Simon Cuce, GPA's technical director. "We're hoping to make the integration even tighter in the future — it's not unreasonable to expect to see the CGC Census numbers directly next to GPA sales data on the one page — that would be very cool."

This enhancement to GPAnalysis for Comics will save collectors a great deal of time when analyzing information from both companies. It is now available to all GPA subscribers. For more information, go to www.gpanalysis.com

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Metropolis Breaking Records on CGC Marvels

Over the last few months, Metropolis has seen an explosion of demand for high-end Silver Age Marvel keys. What makes these recent record-breaking sales so unlikely is that the market has already been red hot for years. Metropolis COO Vincent Zurzolo, explains the phenomena as follows:

"Silver Age Marvels are the single most popular period in the comic market. With every movie made, and every article written in a newspaper, Marvel Comics draw themselves closer and closer into the mainstream consciousness as collectible items. Furthermore, the general public doesn't see comic collecting solely as a hobby. Each and every day, more collectors are coming into the market seeking comic books as an investment vehicle for their finances."

Case in point, Metropolis and the comic book market received much media attention during the course of the last two years in financial publications and news services such as Forbes magazine, Barrons, Bloomberg, Institutional Investor, Reuters, CBSMarketWatch and Yahoo!Finance, as well as traditional venues such as USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, ABC and CBS. Tie this in with the advent of CGC 3rd party grading four years ago, and the road has been paved for the comic book hobby to be an up-and-coming financial investment market still in its infancy.

The Sales
Metropolis recently sold an Incredible Hulk #1 CGC VF+ 8.5 for a record-breaking $31,000 to a collector buying the comic as a long-term investment for his infant son. After watching the market and reading the Metropolis Index in the Overstreet Price Guide, he had a clear picture of the potential return on his money if he held onto this book until his son's 18th birthday.

Spider-Man, the most popular character in the Marvel pantheon, is also the most highly collected title (making up almost 20% of CGC submissions). The Ohio Copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC-graded VF+ 8.5 was just purchased by a collector from Metropolis for a record-breaking $29,500. In the same week, Metropolis also sold an Amazing Spider-Man #1 CGC-graded NM- 9.2 for a record-breaking $33,000. Add to these the recent record-breaking sale of Amazing Spider-Man #16 CGC 9.6 NM+ for $11,000, and you literally have a price explosion. Zurzolo explains, "In all three cases the books were purchased due to several factors: a tremendous love for the character, the high grade/investment potential and the success of the movie franchise."

A record setting price was also recently achieved for a Fantastic Four #12 CGC-graded NM 9.4 at $22,000. "The book was simply stunning and after looking through a stack of Golden Age and Silver keys including Mile Highs, Detective #27 and All Select #1, this is the comic that stood out in the collector's mind as the book he had to have!"

When asked why his company is able to achieve these types of prices, Zurzolo said, "Metropolis has a tremendous reputation as an industry leader with over 40 years of experience combined, and an intricate network of buyers and sellers making it easier to sell or find even the rarest comics. Couple this with the largest inventory of vintage comics in the world and a state of the art Web site (www.metropoliscomics.com), and you have a recipe for success!"

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