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January 2005  
 
Volume 3, Issue 8  
   
1. CGC's 5th Anniversary Convention Specials
   
2. New Search Engine for Collectibles
   
3. Hillman Comics
   
4. The Changing Face of The Caffrey Chronicles
   
5. Reminder: CGC Comics up for Auction
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

February 5-6
Emerald City ComiCon
Qwest Field Event Center

Seattle, Washington


February 13
Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention
Shrine Auditorium Expo Center

Los Angeles, CA


February 18-20
Wondercon Moscone
Convention Center

San Francisco, CA


February 25-27
Megacon
Orange County Convention Center

Orlando, FL


CGC's 5th Anniversary Convention Specials
CGC is celebrating its 5th year anniversary! In honor of this event CGC will be offering the following discounts and giveaways at all conventions during the month of February:

Discounts:

Moderns:
2 Books – $16/book
3-9 Books – $15.50/book (normally $16/book)
10+ Books – 14.50/book (normally $15/book)

Standards:
$45/book (normally $49/book)

Express:
$74/book (normally $79/book)

Giveaways:

Every person who submits comics to CGC at February conventions will be entered into a random drawing. There will be 5 prizes* given out after every show.
1st prize – Free 1 year Collector's Society Membership and 1 free Standard Submission.
2nd prize – Free 1 year Collector's Society Membership
3rd prize – 1 Free Express Submission
4th prize – 1 Free Standard Submission
5th prize – 1 Free Economy Submission
*Prizes are non-transferable and have no cash value.

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Nolan's Niche Hillman Comics
Michelle Nolan

Hillman Periodicals was one of the more intriguing second-tier comic book publishers of the Golden Age, especially because the company almost seemed beat before it really got started.

When Hillman gained its “second chance” in 1942, Air Fighters Comics, which became Airboy Comics in 1945, emerged as one of the longest-lasting Golden Age titles. Until Hillman went out of the comic book business in 1953 to focus on paperbacks and magazines, the company also produced successful comics titles in the genres of crime, western, romance and many others.

By the end of 1941, Hillman seemed like a full-fledged four-color flop, and that's why its earliest titles are tough to come by today. Get one of each – if you can!

Hillman published Miracle Comics #1-4 (February - April 1940), then a final issue dated March 1941), Rocket Comics #1 - 3 (March - May 1940) and Victory Comics #1 - 4 (August - December 1941). In addition, Hillman's Air Fighters #1 (November 1941) is essentially a one-shot, with #2 not coming along until November 1942 – and with a different cast of characters. Not a single one of those dozen issues rates a Gerber Photo-Journal scarcity rating of less than 6! (50 to 200 copies exist)

By far the most fascinating of these four early Hillman titles was Victory Comics, which featured three costume heroes in each issue – The Conqueror, The Crusader and Bomber Burns. Ironically, the last issue of this early patriotic war title hit the stands shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor which drew the United States into World War II. Apparently Hillman suffered either financial or manpower problems following Victory #4, which was the last of the original 12 issues released by Hillman.

All four issues of Victory featured dramatic patriotic covers of The Conqueror, the first of two by Bill Everett. Numbers 1 - 2 are listed as 7's in the Gerber Photo-Journal and #3 - 4 are 6's. There's no question that they are probably just that scarce. Victory was actually intended to be one of the first war-action titles in comic's history rather than strictly a costume hero book.

In contrast, Miracle Comics and Rocket Comics are more science fiction oriented. Miracle featured the Sky Wizard, Master of Space, in 16- to 20-page stories in each of the four issues, along with Dash Dixon, Man of Might, in 10- to 13-page tales. In addition, Miracle Comics featured two of the shortest-lived heroes in history – Masked Angel (four pages in #1) and the Veiled Prophet (five pages in #4). It's these kind of heroes who drove Golden Age “hero completists” nuts years ago. (Are there still collectors seeking at least one example of every Golden Age hero? It would seem prohibitively expensive!)

Rocket Comics featured the interplanetary exploits of Rocket Riley and one costumed hero, Red Roberts the Electro Man, in all three issues, but nothing else of note. Miracle #1, #3 and #4 are 7's in Gerber. Rocket #1 and #2 are 7's and #3 is an 8. That's why if you get one issue of each, you'll be doing well, indeed, along with one issue of Victory.

Likewise, Air Fighters #1, featuring a 12-page story of The Black Commander in this costume hero's only appearance, is rated a Gerber 6. It's no wonder Hillman went out of the comic business for a year – its early comics apparently sold poorly in the glut of early Golden Age competition.

On the other hand, the World War II issues of Air Fighters, beginning with Vol. 1 #2 (November 1942), are filled with original costume heroes, including Airboy, Iron Ace, Sky Wolf, Flying Dutchman, Black Angel and Bald Eagle. They all appeared through Vol. 2 #8 (Fall 1944) except for Bald Eagle, which finished in Vol. 2 #5 (February 1944). With issues dated between Vol. 2 #9 and Vol. 4 #1 (February 1947), it's a matter whether you like the cover and/or contents, since both varied widely. But you can't miss with any of the first 16 issues of Air Fighters, which were all 68 pages (through the February 1944 issue).

Eclipse reprinted at least the first seven issues as the full-color Air Fighters Classics in 1987-1989, during the same period in which that independent company began issuing a new Airboy series, which ran 50 issues in 1986-1989. Air Fighters Classics were originally $3.95 per cover and still can be acquired for about that today, so try to find a couple before you invest big bucks.

Airboy appeared in every issue through the last, dated May 1953, which was Vol. 10 #4 (whole number 111; there was no Vol. 3 #3). The Heap, the first version of a Swamp Thing type in comics, appeared in the Sky Wolf stories in Vol. 1 #3 and 9, Vol.2 #10 and Vol. 3 #4. The Heap's own series began in Vol. 3 #9 (October 1946), and the scraggly Toxic Avenger-type creature appeared in most issues thereafter, with art and story quality varying wildly. The same could be said of the Airboy stories, because what will appeal to one fan won't to another. After Air Fighters became Airboy with Vol. 2 #11 (December 1945) – apparently in response to the end of World War II – the quality of the title varied dramatically from one issue to the next. But they are all worth looking at. I especially like the few stories in which the villainess Valkyrie appeared to match wits with Airboy. Eclipse reprinted most of those in a one-shot in the late 1980's.

Hillman's other costume hero title was the bizarre 15-issue run of Clue Comics, which became the highly successful Real Clue Crime stories with Vol. 2 #4 in 1947 (whole number 16). Every hero in Clue Comics – Boy King, Nightmare and Sleepy, Micro-Face, Twilight and Zippo – was an oddity. You have to see these characters to believe them! All five of those creations appeared in Clue #1-5, so any of those five issues will suffice unless you find your fancy taken with these weird guys. There was also a costume hero of sorts called The Gun Master in #10-15, but the really interesting off-the-wall creations were Iron Lady (Vol. 2 #1 and 3) and Rackman (#12), both oddly violent strips. Incidentally, Iron Lady also appeared in an origin story in Airboy Vol. 4 #1 (February 1947) and Rackman ran in seven stories in Airboy Vol. 4 #2 through Vol. 4 #8.

In my opinion, just about any Hillman comic is worth looking through, simply for the wide variety of characters, art and cover themes. It's tough to pin these down. Beware, though – I've run into several Hillman completists over the years, so you still may have competition. The nice thing about Airboy is that a few issues can be found at most large comic conventions and on eBay. Hillman issues are always worth a look!

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cgc registry

New Search Engine for Collectibles

Our friend Joe Fiore or, as some people know him from the CGC Chat Boards, “comicwiz” has created what we think is a new and exciting internet search engine to find your favorite collectibles: “myAdhound”.



For more information, click on the following link:

http://www.myadhound.com/cgc/myAdhound.htm

And don't forget to tell him CGC sent you!

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The Changing Face of The Caffrey Chronicles
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

The past year has brought many changes into comics, some good, and some bad. For example, 2004 had seen Spider-Man's life forever changed, both physically and emotionally, D.C. Comics facing a “crisis” that forever altered its continuity, and an explosion of talent through the many new and existing titles on the market. With the numerous changes to comics and introductions of new comics and publishers, I can only hope that 2005 will be just as good to comics, if not better.

Last year we were reintroduced to characters of old and introduced to new and exciting characters. Marvel and DC have revamped existing titles and characters, while publishers such as Top Cow and IDW are introducing new titles and characters. Unfortunately for me, with the abundance of great material on the stands, not to mention my predisposition towards certain genres, many great comics, both independent and mainstream, tend to be overlooked. That's why this month I chose not to write about a comic in particular, but offer something new.

Each month for the past two years, “The Caffrey Chronicles” has been seen on the pages of CGC's e-Newsletter, and each month, I write about a particular comic title, single issue, trade paperback, or graphic novel. When I look back at all of the comics that I've written about, I can't help but think about all of the comics that I haven't touched on. But with that, also come the comics that you, the reader, the collector, and the fan have yet to see reviewed here.

As of the next newsletter, I'd like to offer you a chance to recommend a new comic* of your choice. All of us at CGC are fans and readers foremost, and we welcome anything new to delve into.

If anyone has any ideas of what you would like to see reviewed on the pages of CGC's e-newsletter, send me an e-mail at scaffrey@cgcomics.com. If your comic is chosen for “The Caffrey Chronicles”, CGC will send you a CGC certified copy of that very comic!

*Any comic recommended must be a recent title (not including variants or special covers). Trade paperbacks and Graphic Novels are also welcome. Comic books that are out of print, and have a fair market value of over $20, will not be available for this promotion.

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Reminder: CGC Comics up for Auction

Just a reminder that Hake's Americana & Collectibles Auction #182, showcasing CGC-graded comic books including acclaimed and noteworthy issues from high profile collections including the Mile High, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Rockford, Gaines File, Bethlehem, and other pedigrees will be held on January 25-27, 2005.

For more information, go to http://www.hakes.com/search.asp?CategoryID=160 to be directed to the CGC-certified comics.

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