Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
December 2002  
 
 
   
1. The More Fun Mystique
   
2. Bernie Wrightson
   
3. Ladies Lend a Hand

 


UPCOMING EVENTS

February 28 – March 2, 2003
Megacon

Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, Florida


May 30 – June 1, 2003
Wizard World Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Convention Center
Philadelphia, PA


The More Fun Mystique
Michelle Nolan

Since comics fandom as we know it began in the 1960s, More Fun Comics has maintained a mystique distinctly separate from the other seven members of National's legendary "Big Eight" of the Golden Age.

With the publication of Sensation Comics No. 1 (January 1942), DC (as National is now known) billed its eight monthly comic magazines as the "Big Eight" and frequently pictured them all in 1942-44 house ads. More Fun was the first to go bi-monthly, with #91 (May-June 1943), so DC published eight monthly titles for only 16 months. More Fun also was the first of the "Big Eight" to be discontinued or converted - in this case, More Fun became a humor title with #108 (March 1946).

More Fun has always been one of the most collectible comics of the entire Golden Age, if only because the title for some reason simply didn't sell as well as Action, Adventure or Detective - the "Big Eight" survivors of the Golden Age - much less All-American, Flash, Sensation and Star Spangled. There is little doubt that issues of More Fun are generally scarcer than the other "Big Eight" titles.

The mystique developed in large part because the leading features of More Fun #52-72. The Spectre and Dr. Fate were among the few cover-quality characters who were not revived and/or continued through the early days of the Silver Age, beginning in 1956 and continuing for seven years through Justice League No. 21 in 1963, when Dr. Fate was finally brought back into action in the first Justice Society - Justice League team-up (there was a Dr. Fate cameo in Flash #137).

More Fun was National's first title, dating to the oversized New Fun #1 (February 1935). The first 51 issues are curiosities, and worth a bundle in their own right, but the collectibility factor always has sharply kicked in beginning with #52, the first of the two-part story detailing the origin of The Spectre, who didn't spend a full story in costume until #54.

As valuable as the More Fun #52-72 are, collectors of modest means are better advised to seek out More Fun #73-91, which contain no fewer than five costumed heroes and are all 68 page gems. Johnny Quick first appeared in #71 (September 1941), and both Green Arrow and Aquaman made their debuts in #73 (November 1941). The last 68 page issue was #91, although all five super heroes continued through #98 (July-August 1944), which was the last issue with Dr. Fate. However, Dr. Fate stories were chopped to only 6 pages beginning with #94, and stories of The Spectre became less worthy with the addition of Percival Popp the Super Cop (beginning with #72).

For my money - or at least if I had the money - the most collectible issue of More Fun is #73, which not only contained The Spectre, Dr. Fate and the third Johnny Quick story, but also the first appearances of two of the few DC Heroes who survived the Golden Age - the quasi-iconic Green Arrow and Aquaman. Aquaman's origin story appeared in #73; Green Arrow's origin was not published until #89.

However, #73 is listed at $1,000 in "Good" in Overstreet, so you may have to shoot for one or more of the issues in the #74-91 range to really have more fun (apologies for the pun!). These guide from $273 (for #74) to $80 (for #91), with the average "good" price charged by many dealers ranging from about $150 to $200.

You simply can't lose with any of these More Fun #74-91 issues, but you should definitely check out the covers in the Photo-Journal if you intend to buy only one or two. If you like Dr. Fate, go for #74-76, which have his last three cover appearances. If Green Arrow makes you quiver, #77-85 and #88-91 feature the Emerald Archer and partner Speedy out front. Johnny Quick's only cover appearances of the Golden Age are on More Fun #86 and #87, plus #100, so those make exceptional collectibles.

More Fun #101 (January-February 1945) contains the historic first Superboy story - a mighty 5-pager! Just to show how little DC suspected what Superboy might mean in the way of sales, he was the only character in the issue not plugged on the cover! In retrospect, that's mind-boggling. But then, can you imagine the reaction of a Superboy reader circa 1945 if he could be transported to see the technical magnificence and story subtleties of "Smallville" on TV today? Now that's truly mind-boggling!

Superboy was not cover featured until #104, when he appeared with the comical team of Dover and Clover, who also shared the cover of #106 with the Boy of Steel. Of the issues with Superboy -- #101 through #107 - the best to get is #105, which features an amusing "Superboy plays marbles" cover which will delight Americana collectors. It was Superboy's only solo cover appearance in More Fun before he shifted over to Adventure Comics with #103.

Dover and Clover took over the cover of More Fun with #107, in preparation for the title's conversion to all humor strips for its last 20 issues, through #127 (November-December 1947).

By the way, all of those 20 humor issues of More Fun are difficult to find - much tougher than other DC humor titles of the 1946-47 period, such as Mutt & Jeff and Funny Stuff. If you attend a major convention with more than a million bucks, you might be able to acquire most of the costume hero issues of More Fun. But I'll bet you won't find more than half a dozen of those 20 humor issues even at the largest shows, even though most of them can be had for less than $30 in "good" if you can find them.

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Bernie Wrightson
Shawn Caffrey

Bernie Wrightson, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, has long since established himself as one of the top artists of the horror genre. Being a huge fan of EC comics at a young age and particularly of the work of Graham Ingels, Bernie was destined to work his way into the field of popular art. He had enlisted in the all-too-familiar Famous Artists Course, the correspondence course that graced the back covers of comic books. Working jobs in the Baltimore area that only required a small fraction of his talent, Bernie eventually made his way to New York City. It was there that he met Mike Kaluta, Jeff Jones, and one of his greatest influences, Frank Frazetta.

By this time, he was an immense fan of the Warren magazines, Creepy and Eerie, because of the horror content and the similarity to the EC books he grew up with. In fact, his first published work was in Creepy #9 in the letters column as a fan illustration. In 1968, at a convention in New York City, Bernie met DC editor, Dick Giordano. It was there that Bernie got a job with DC and began his work in House of Mystery with issue #179 in 1968. His work for DC caught the attention of Marvel, and Bernie then worked on a few titles for Marvel beginning with Chamber of Darkness #7. It wasn't until 1971 that Len Wein, a writer from DC, approached Bernie with a script that would launch his career and establish a cult following: House of Secrets #92, the first appearance of Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing was brought into comics and became a smash hit. Although Bernie had only penciled the first ten issues, the series took off. Bernie was at the peak of his career. His fine line work and insatiable attention to detail brought him back to Warren, where he drew some of the most incredible stories in Eerie and Creepy, a few of his most famous being "Alice" and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat." Continuing his run of excellence, he then did some of his most famous work for Stephen King books, and of course, the famous Frankenstein graphic novel published in 1983 by Marvel Comics Group. Frankenstein contained 44 awe-inspiring plates that gained Bernie recognition and put his name along the ranks with childhood favorite artist Graham Ingels. Bernie moved from there to draw countless projects over the next 20 years, including trading cards, prints, to even movie storyboards. So many projects, in fact, that Pacific Comics put out a four-issue mini series titled "Master of the Macabre" solely devoted to his work. Bernie's art in horror comics and magazines illustrated his chilling detail and pencils that some people consider among the likes of Frank Frazetta. He had become one of the great horror artists, and Bernie had proven himself to truly be the "Master of Macabre."

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Collectors' Society Boards


Ladies Lend a Hand
Phil Kaltenbach

My brother Tom and I got our first lethal dose of comic books in 1960, when I was 11 years old and he was 9. Our next-door neighbor Judy, on whom we both had quite a crush, got pre-hero Marvels from her older brother and passed them along to us, and they made such a sufficient impression that I can still remember specific issues and stories that came from her. In future months I will discuss some of these in detail, but right now I want to move ahead a year or so.

Two books that she had lent us were Fantastic Four #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15. In fact, during a trip to the ocean in August 1961, I decided not to purchase a brand-new copy of FF #1 that I held in my hands because I had already read it. I'm sure I will never forget that decision! Tom enjoyed the AF #15 so much that he dashed off 12 cents to

Marvel, asking them to please send him Amazing Fantasy #16 as soon as it was available. He received a very pleasant letter from Nancy Murphy, in Marvel's subscription and sales department, informing him that the title had unfortunately been canceled. She promised, though, that she would send him the first issue of Spider-Man's own book, which would be available soon. She made good on that promise, and a few months later a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 (mailed flat!) showed up at our door. Tom still has that comic, though it does show the ravages of repeated readings long ago.

Tom decided to press his luck and wrote back to Miss Murphy, asking if she had any back issues of Fantastic Four for sale, especially number one. She responded that although no issues of Fantastic Four were available, she did have older issues of some of Marvel's other titles, specifically those wonderful pre-hero monster books which we still loved and bought whenever we could find them. She enclosed a list of available numbers, but apologetically wrote she had to charge 12 cents instead of the 10 cent cover price for all of them. Tom ordered a number of books and they arrived a couple of weeks later. We read and loved all these comics, but the one that made the strongest impression was Strange Tales #26, which had a distinctive and very unfamiliar cover and contained stories that completely blew us away. Next time I will discuss this issue in detail.

About a year later Tom and I, who shared a bedroom, decided it was silly for both of us to buy the same comics, so I, still thoroughly smitten by Alanna of Rann, focused my attention and cash strictly on comics from DC and a few other publishers, while Tom continued to collect Marvels.

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