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Comics Guaranty, LLC Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
March 2005  
 
Volume 4, Issue 2  
   
1. Planet and Rangers Comics
   
2. Average CGC Grade Analysis from Greg Holland
   
3. GrimJack Returns!
   
4. Across the Pond Studios Offers CGC Variant Comics
   
5. James Payette Now Online!
   
6. The CGC Collector: Kenneth Boddie
   


UPCOMING EVENTS

April 1-3
Big Apple Convention
Penn Plaza Pavilion

New York, NY


April 22-24
Pittsburgh Comicon
Pittsburgh Expomart

Monroeville, PA


April 29-May 1
Paradise Comics
Toronto Comicon 2005
National Trade Centre

Totonto, Ontario, Canada


June 3-5
Wizard World Philadelphia

Philadelphia Convention Center
Philadelphia, PA
On-site grading


Nolan's Niche Planet and Rangers Comics
Michelle Nolan

Of all the long-running comics of the Golden Age, perhaps no title more often combines the factors of undeniable collectibility with forgettable characters than the inconsistent run of Planet Comics. What has always made Planet a favorite of collectors is its covers, which were among the most colorful and outrageous of the 1940s—a decade during which Planet was often the only true science fiction comic on the newsstands.

When early television shows and serial re-runs helped to make science fiction comics far more common on the stands of the 1949–54 period, Planet went into a slow death spiral. Only 11 issues of Planet, all a skimpy 36 pages and some with reprints from earlier issues, appeared during a four-year period from late 1949 (#63, dated Winter 1949–50) through the last issue (#73, Winter 1953–54).

Planet pretty much had an anthology-type comic book monopoly on bug-eyed monsters and science fictional women in distress from #1 (January 1940) through #62 (September 1949). In hindsight, this isn't surprising, since during that decade, science fiction in the movies was pretty much limited to serials, both original chapter plays such as Republic's "The Purple Monster Strikes" (1945), plus re-runs and feature versions of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Planet was monthly for its first six issues, but Fiction House apparently realized the market wouldn't support a monthly science fiction title. Planet was bi-monthly thereafter through #62.

Considering what gorgeous covers they boast—including Lou Fine’s work on #2 and #5—the 1940 issues of Planet (#1–9) have some of the worst insides of anything published in the Golden Age. In fact, no fewer than 18 different characters appeared in those nine issues. Does anyone remember Buzz Crandall of the Solar Patrol? Captain Nelson Cole of the Solar Air Force? Spurt (!) Hammond, Planet Flyer? And those were all the characters who appeared in every issue in 1940!

Gale Allen and Flint Baker—who later teamed with Reef Ryan to form the Space Rangers—provided 1940–41 hints of better characters and art to come. Gale Allen debuted in #4 and appeared under four different labels in the first dozen issues. Planet's art improved markedly as the title moved through 1941 and the character list became more consistent.

One of Planet's most noteworthy features, The Star Pirate, debuted in #12 (May 1941) and never missed a beat through #65, also appearing in #67, 68 and 70. Original stories of Gale Allen and her Girl Squadron appeared through #42, with reprints in #65–66 and 68–70. The Space Rangers first teamed in #26 and appeared in original stories through #64. The Lost World, staring the nicely named Hunt Bowman, debuted in #21 (Nov. 1942) and ran through #68 plus #70.

Some collectors prefer issues #36–62 because they featured pretty much the same lineup for more than four years. Mysta of the Moon debuted in the last original Mars God of War strip in #35, then earned her own strip with #36, which also featured Gale Allen, Star Pirate, Lost World and Space Rangers. Futura replaced Gale Allen in #43 (July 1946); otherwise, the lineup remained pretty much the same after Auro (Lord Jupiter) returned in #41 (March 1946).

Unless you are a Planet completist—or unless you care only about covers—your best bet is to look through any issue you're thinking of buying, especially since the art varied so wildly in the first 20 or so issues.

Interesting early work by many of the best 1950s artists in comics—Murphy Anderson, Matt Baker, George Evans, Graham Ingels and Ruben Moreira—appears in many 1945–50 issues of Planet (also see the Overstreet Price Guide listings). Since even copies in "good" condition seldom appear for sale under $40, it behooves any collector to check out each issue. Except for a 4-page Space Rangers story in #71, the last three issues consist of non-series stories.

Rangers Comics was the last of Fiction House's much-advertised "Big Six of the Comics." Rangers was never monthly and was the first of the "Big Six" to be canceled, with #69 (Winter 1952–53). The title was filled with war-themed stories through 1945, then became an intriguing anthology title. The title came full-circle when the last four issues (#66–69) featured a Korean War version of Commando Rangers.

Rangers #1–5 covers featured a kid costume hero group, the Rangers of Freedom, although the strip became a Marine hero story with #5 (the cover to #5 was a mistaken carryover of the kid group). One of the first attempts at a horror theme, Werewolf Hunter, began in #8 (Dec. 1943). A quasi-costume hero, Commando Ranger, appeared in #13–20.

Rangers is best known for featuring one of the finest of the Western heroines—Firehair, Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier. She debuted in #21 (Feb. 1945) and ran through #65 (June 1952) while serving as the cover feature for #40–65 with many of the best Fiction House covers of the 1948–52 period. A good horror strip, The Secret Files of Dr. Drew, ran in #47–60, with art by Jerry Grandenetti. As the Overstreet Guide indicates, his work in #47–56 strongly shows the influence of Will Eisner and has long been a favorite with collectors.

Like Planet, the post-war issues of Rangers often offer attractive artists' work, including work by John Celardo, Matt Baker, Bob Lubbers, Ruben Moreira and Maurice Whitman. Again though, it's important to leaf through each issue. Fiction House comics tended to be produced in an assembly line manner and the result was anything but consistent. Though not nearly as expensive as issues from Timely and many from DC, Fiction House titles are not cheap and warrant close inspection.

I've met only a few Fiction House completist or even those who collect complete runs of the "Big Six" titles. Most collectors seem to buy only the issues that appeal to them most. When you think of it, isn't that a pretty healthy way to collect unless you're rich?

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Across the Pond Studios Offers CGC Variant Comics

Our friends at Across the Pond Studios have released four different CGC Hologram Variant Covers for sale to the public. The books, Across The Pond Presents #1 (3 covers, each cover limited to only 10), and ATP’s newest release, Armor X #1 (limited to 30), debuted in MegaCon in Orlando Florida, offering fans and collectors a chance to own a high grade copy of their favorite title. All are available in CGC 9.8, and each one comes numbered, having come from a limited run.

"We like the fact that we offer the comic enthusiast both a CGC book and a readable copy," says ATP President/EIC Stephan Nilson. "There are a lot of collectors out there who really enjoy getting their favorite comic already graded at a 9.8 or higher with another copy to read. Now they have a piece of pop culture that they can truly enjoy and will last forever."

Each book has been specially labeled with an official CGC hologram, officially authenticating the book as one of the few CGC Variants available on the market today. For more information, or to purchase one of the few remaining copies of these limited books, visit Across the Pond's Web site at www.acrossthepondcomics.com. If you are not interested in the CGC Variants, check out their store for some great comic book reads and merchandise!

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James Payette Now Online!

Our friend James Payette of Rare Books & Comics finally has come into the internet age. They have just put their Web site together and it is now online. The Web address is: www.jamespayettecomics.com. They have more than 30,000 items to choose from in their easy-to-use Web site catalog. They have many great comic books for collectors of all genres and grades. James has been a hobbyist for years, and has found many pedigree collections like the Denver, Allentown and Nova Scotias, and not only that, but James sold our very own Steve Borock his first Pedigree Golden Age comic book, the Allentown Daring Mystery #8. If they can be of service, please contact them through the Web site or by calling (603) 869-2097.

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cgc registry

Average CGC Grade Analysis from Greg Holland

Comparing the average CGC universal grades assigned between 2000 and 2003 to the average grades assigned in 2004, it appears that there has only been a slight decrease in the average condition of submitted books dated 1940-1945, and from 1960-93. Average grades for submissions from the late-1940s actually increased in 2004. All other years since the 1960s appear to be very stable in terms of average grades, which may indicate that the general supply of ungraded comic books has not yet been impacted significantly by encapsulation.

Only the early 1940s and early 1960s show signs of lower condition averages in 2004, which could be attributed either to declining supplies, or to increased submissions of key books in lesser conditions. In the future, trending the overall number of submissions, as well as the average grades, may prove beneficial for understanding the ungraded comic supply.

To do your own CGC Analysis, visit Greg Holland's Web site at: www.GregHolland.com/CGC or chat with him on the CGC Forums, under username Valiantman.

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GrimJack Returns!
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

If there's one thing we love to talk about in the CGC grading room, it's comics. Now, I know what one would think as soon as I say that, but it has nothing to do with grading. We're geeks at heart and always discuss things like our favorite characters, future titles, and sometimes even who would win in a fight. Though we all have our own titles and characters that we singly enjoy, there are a few that we agree are just plain cool. One of them in particular is First Comics' 1980 s "bad ass," John Gaunt, or as many fans of First's successful line knew him as, GrimJack. The original series, starting as a back-up series in First Comics' Starslayer, took readers to a gritty, Science Fiction/Fantasy style realm set in the city of Cynosure. There, John Gaunt, an ex-soldier and police officer turned mercenary, fought the forces of Hell in the Demon Wars. After becoming its own monthly series, GrimJack lasted into the early 1990s with 81 issues, and at its end, all it left was hungry fans begging for more.

When we heard that GrimJack was coming back, we were excited. Many characters in the 1980s left their mark on us, and this was one of them. To top it all off, we found out that our good friends at IDW Publishing were the ones behind the resurrection, with a scheduled February 2005 release. So then came February, and there it was, GrimJack: Killer Instinct #1, written by John Ostrander and drawn by Timothy Truman, the two originally responsible for helming GrimJack in the 1980s.

Most people who are familiar with GrimJack realize that John Gaunt died during its 81-issue run. What makes this a definite read for any reader is that it starts off from the beginning, delving into the character of John, then slowly progressing to John's last mission as a black ops soldier, something that was vaguely touched upon in the original series. Now, most people unfamiliar with the original series may feel a little lost not knowing much about the characters or storyline. Well fear not, for IDW Publishing saved the day once again by re-releasing the original story arc in trade paperback, titled, The Legend of Grimjack. Reprinting the first stories of GrimJack, along with a new story and text, IDW has pulled out all the stops in getting fans well acquainted or even reacquainted with John Gaunt.

John Ostrander brought back GrimJack in Killer Instinct in a way that I feel was better than before. Characters like John, Roscoe and Blacjacmac start the book off with non stop action, giving the reader a true taste of their characteristics. And Timothy Truman, as incredible as he already is as an artist, is even better. His detailed gritty style brings the characters in Cynosure alive, adding distinct touches to characters such as our hero back from his hiatus, John Gaunt, and even characters like the Dancer. All I can say is that this is a title that shouldn't be missed. It's been missed for way too long, and I don't intend to miss it again.

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The CGC Collector: Kenneth Boddie

The CGC Collector, a new addition to the CGC newsletter, will spotlight a different CGC Registry Set and its owner. If you are interested in being spotlighted as The CGC Collector, please send a link to your Registry Set and a small write up with its contents to plitch@cgccomics.com

Hello true believers, my name is Kenneth Boddie and I guess you can coin me a modern marvel fan-boy. As you can see by viewing my set that I have been bitten by a spider-bug. An ultimate radioactive spider bug to be exact, because out of all the bronze, copper, and modern comics I collect and get CGC graded, Ultimate Spider-Man has quickly become my "Osborn" obsession (but in a good way!).

My father purchased my first comic book back in the late 70s. A Star Wars treasury edition published by Marvel. I remember as a kid holding that huge comic in my hands, and with it being a treasury edition comic the panels of Luke Skywalker dueling against the vile Darth Vadar for the fate of the galaxy seemed to just jump out at me! From that point I was hooked on collecting comic books and drawing my favorite superheros, I collected various titles like the Uncanny X-men, and Daredevil, but the Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker titles in particular drew my attention. By my pre-teen years, around the early 80s, I started my consistent run of ASM at #246. By this time the Hobgoblin story arc was well underway and I could not wait to read what would happen next. I would rush to my local 7-11 convenience store with my allowance in hand, spin the tin rack and BOO-YAH, I would have my face buried in a comic book before I even paid the cashier! I loved Spider-man so much I even wrote my first letter to the folks at merry Marvel about how I was thought the spidey villain the "Spot" was an awesome character, which they published in their Spectacular Spider-mail letter page (PPSSM #105). Over 10 years later it is so embarrassing to read my comments! But not embarrassing, was around this time I started trying to "preserve" my comics as best as I could. I would neatly stack my secret stash in shoe boxes (labeled on top in marker by title of course) and then putting those shoe boxes in my steamer trunk pretending it was my own personal bank vault. But by 1992 with the climate of the comic hobby changing I decided to stop collecting comics for a time. I helped develop illustrations and news-letters when I worked at a national theme park and I even designed and created super-hero related tattoo images and logos for local musical acts. By the late 90s comics were a distant memory for me, until...

After swearing off comics for the better part of eight years, in the early part of the turn of the century someone told me about Marvel deciding to launch a bold re-telling of Spider-Man for the next generation. Amid the media hype I have to admit I was very skeptical. The title it was reported was going to be called "Ultimate Spider-Man". I honestly believed that there would never be another title like Amazing Spider-man. Of course once the first issue was shipped out in October 2000 any doubts I had about the title quickly vanished! Ultimate Spider-Man lived up to the hype! Between Joe Quesada piloting the USM ship, Mark Bagley's pencils, Art Thiberts inks, and then burgeoning super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis, it became apparent that USM was becoming the new standard of what modern comics should be in my mind's eye. And record sales for USM proved it. With its release, USM became a main-stream phenomenon and ushered in a whole new generation of comic lovers. With the mammoth ticket sales of Spider-man the movie to back up the new series it became abundantly clear that Ultimate Spider-Man had found its place in comic book history.

I immediately found a local comic shop and started researching everything I could about USM. Because I knew I didn't have the resources to start collecting the silver age run of ASM, I figured I could start collecting a complete run of USM at the ground floor since I got back into collecting at the right time. I was able to get the much sought after variants of #1 after about a year of haggling, trading, and comic treasure hunting from numerous sources. After collecting the first 25 issues of USM I heard about a company called CGC from my local comic shop The Comic Company (which is who I submit my books to CGC through). Jim the store owner told me how they would check a comic for condition and restoration and then assign that comic a grade. I was really curious to find out more, because here was a way to protect my collection and at the same time I could finally get an impartial third party (non-retailer related) to give me their evaluation of what condition my comics were in. (It was way better than storing them in my shoe box!). My first CGC comic book was actually an Ultimate Spider-Man 1/2 mail order edition from Wizard Magazine. After receiving the book, inspecting the case and seeing the condition of the book, I was impressed and decided to submit some of what I felt were my best raw copies of Ultimate Spider-Man with a goal of having a complete run of 1 - 50 all graded at 9.8 or better.

Sure enough, when the books I submitted to CGC returned, I was very pleased with the overall grades my books received. My crown jewels were the USM white variant copy #1 which graded at 9.8 and the USM Dynamic Forces variant #1 copy which garnered a 9.8 also. My #2 car cover copy, and the death of Uncle Ben #4 received 9.8s. Even the much publicized "rare" #5 issue graded at 9.8. The ones that missed the 9.8 mark just barely were my two USM #1 red cover copies that both received a 9.6 grade. Those were fair grades because it is difficult to find a USM regular cover copy that does not have chipping on its corners which I find is the case of many USM regular cover number ones. My USM #3, 7, and 14 also just missed with a 9.6. The card stock covers of the first 31 issues of USM will always get a bit more scrutiny than the "gloss" covers of 32 and up, but there are some exceptions to that rule. USM number 48 continues to be a thorn in the sides of many USM CGC collectors seeking a complete 9.8 or better run. When my personal hand-picked copies don't make the grade, that's when eBay can be a completist's best friend. I have purchased several CGC graded books on line via eBay with mostly very positive results. I still, personally, feel nothing beats going to a comic shop or comic convention and seeing a potential comic buy for yourself first-hand, but making an online purchase can help fill in the gaps if you don't have the time to travel to one of the many comic-book related shows and shops outside your area. I just try to make sure any online purchases I make are done with reputable sellers who have large feedback numbers from many different buyers. My USM collection is about 73% complete now with only one last batch of "raw" USM to submit. These later issues are 34–40, 42 and 43, and finally 46–49. I see having my CGC set being complete by the end of this year. I credit Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel for reviving the modern era of comics, and CGC for making the hobby of collecting comics safe and fun again.

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