Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
November 2002  
 
 
   
1. Mark Bagley: A Decade of Web-slinging
   
2. The Green Hornet
   
3. Heritage to Auction One of the Finest Amazing Spider-Man Comic Book Collections Ever Assembled
   
4. Phil's Corner Odd but not Weird
   
5. Would You Like to be a Guest Writer for the CGC E-Newsletter?

 


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


Mark Bagley: A Decade of Web-slinging
Shawn Caffrey

Now, when most people think of the art in Spider-Man comics, they associate names of delineators such as Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr. & Jr., and Todd McFarlane. These four names have been forever engraved in the history of Spider-Man. But, there is one man not mentioned who, like the previous four, is beginning to make his mark and will soon be remembered as one of the Spider-Man greats. Mark Bagley, who pencils the ever so popular Ultimate Spider-Man, is approaching his ten-year mark of working on pages of various web-slinger titles.

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Mark entered into comics by winning first place in Marvel's Try-Out-Book, and began his career working on Marvel's New Universe label. After gaining the experience in storytelling, he was finally given a chance to pencil a Spider-Man title with Amazing Spider-Man issue 345. After that issue, Erik Larsen picked up and continued until issue 350, but from then on Mark Bagley began his full-time run on the Amazing Spider-Man. Now for those of you who don't remember him doing the early nineties issues, think Carnage. Mark was doing the art at the time of the first appearance of Carnage, the new and lethal spawn of Venom in issue 361. But even before that, he was working on the title, beginning with issue 351 and carrying through to issue 415, including the art for variant covers of various issues. Not only did he draw almost 70 consecutive issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but he continued his work for Marvel and for Spider-Man penciling such titles as Venom: Lethal Protector, Spider-Man Annuals, and Spider-Man appearances in various Marvel titles like Daredevil Annual 5, What If? 4, and Thunderbolts 1 & 33.

He has carried his legacy through Amazing Spider-Man, and has hit the artistic peak of his career penciling Marvel's hottest title, Ultimate Spider-Man. Ultimate Spider-Man, which is now on its 30th issue, has had Mark busy changing the face of the Spider-Man universe. His ability to produce quality work and tell a story with his clean line work, has made his name in Spider-Man. His consistent high quality artwork has been pulling him through the crowd to join the ranks of the recognizable Spider-Man artists that we associate with the wall-crawler today.

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The Green Hornet
Michelle Nolan

The Green Hornet ran 47 issues spanning most of the Golden Age in the 1940s, but a handful of those 47 comics are much more potentially attractive than others to collectors - and not always the most expensive ones either.

The vast majority of comics in the late 1930s and early 40s were anthology titles, regardless of whether they featured costumed/super heroes. Green Hornet was among the first costumed hero titles to break that mold. Indeed, the only commercially successful single character-dominated comics that appeared before Green Hornet #1 (Dec. 1940) were Superman, Blue Beetle and Batman. A few other Golden Age titles devoted primarily to one character, such as The Flame and Green Mask, appeared before Green Hornet, but none of them ran more than nine issues in their first incarnations.

What many fans of the Harvey version of the Green Hornet may not realize, however, is that Green Hornet apparently wasn't commercially successful at first, either. The first six issues (#6 is dated Aug. 1941) were published by Holyoke, the same small outfit that produced the likes of Captain Aero and Catman. Indeed, the first issue of Captain Aero (#1 on the cover and #7 in the indicia) was dated Dec. 1941, and was picked up from Green Hornet #6.

Perhaps the Green Hornet's licensing rights had something to do with this, since the Hornet comic was based on the wildly popular radio show, created by Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. The show began in 1936, meaning that the Green Hornet - conceived as a descendent of the Lone Ranger - had more in common with early 1930s characters like The Shadow and The Spider than with any costumed comic book cousins.

The Green Hornet comic also may have been published in part to take advantage of the two Green Hornet serials from Universal in 1939-40. Oddly, Harvey issues #7-36 all featured the cover blurb "On the Air, In the Movies," so those two Universal serials must have been recycled a lot, since there were no other Green Hornet movie appearances, either in serials or feature films.

Regardless, the first six issues of Green Hornet all are valued in the Overstreet Price Guide at more than the Harvey issues, which began with #7 (June 1942). Indeed, there's little doubt the first six issues are probably scarcer, though certainly not better. The best of the first six issues are #1 and 3, with no fewer than eight Green Hornet stories of six to eight pages apiece. Issues #2 and 4 have seven stories, #5 has five and #6 has four. So if you can't afford #1, shoot for #3 - although #1 has by far the best cover of the first six.

However, the title became much more interesting from the standpoint of both story and art when Harvey took over, even though Green Hornet basically became an anthology title, since there were never more than two Green Hornet stories in any Harvey issue. Green Hornet #7-19 featured two Green Hornet stories and the rest of the series had one Hornet appearance except for a pair in #35 and #40 through #44.

Green Hornet #7 through #10 represents the apex of the title, since three costumed characters also appeared along with two full-length Green Hornet stories - Sprit of '76, Zebra and Robin Hood (not to be confused with the legendary bowman of Sherwood Forest). There's a bonus in #9 - a Jack Kirby cover. So if you want the most for your money, get #7 through 10, all more inexpensive than any of the six Holyoke issues.

The other top bargains in the Harvey run are #17-19, which boast Alex Schomburg covers to go with two Green Hornet stories along with Spirit of '76 and Zebra tales. The Schomburg covers continued through #23.

Later issues of top interest include #39 (with a 12-page Simon & Kirby Stuntman story) and #31-34 (with early appearances of Bob Powell's Man in Black).

The Green Hornet probably appeared in fewer stories than any other mainstream Golden Age hero. His only other full-length comic book appearances were single stories in All-New #13 (July-Aug. 1946) and #14 (Jan.-Feb. 1947).

Interestingly, it was in the second half of 1946 that the Hornet appeared he was destined to be one of the first of the classic Golden Age characters to be cancelled. Harvey's #30 was dated May-June 1946. The Hornet finally did bite the comic book dust with #47 (Sept. 1949), but not until after Harvey tried an interesting experiment. They tried to make the title more of a crime comic. Even issue #44 (March 1949) as "Green Hornet Racket Buster Comics," with "Racket Buster" in huge letters and "Green Hornet" in much smaller type at the top of the cover.

New episodes of the radio show continued through 1952, with the ever-present "Flight of the Bumblebee" musical theme, which at the time was second only to the Lone Ranger's "William Tell Overture" in fan familiarity. Unlike the Lone Ranger, however, the Green Hornet did not have television show running in 1966-67 for a single season, inspired by the success of Batman. Gold Key Comics published three highly collectible issues of Green Hornet, with fine photo covers, in conjunction with the show.

There was also an odd, inexplicable one-shot 1953 Green Hornet appearance from Dell (Gold Key's predecessor) in Four Color #496. This is one of the tougher Four-Color issues to find, although dealers and collectors have sought this one avidly because it's also one of the more valuable Four-Color issues of the 1950's. One can only guess why Dell decided to publish this, but it does provide a 36-page all-Green Hornet issue, which is far more Green Hornet pages than Harvey ever offered.

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Heritage to Auction One of the Finest Amazing Spider-Man Comic Book Collections Ever Assembled

Heritage's December 6-7 Signature Auction will feature the Deer Park Collection, the best near-complete run of Amazing Spider-Man comic books ever offered for sale at one time. Book after book in this run is absolutely stunning, with many (if not most) being the highest graded copy certified by CGC to date. Many of these copies are sure to hold up as the best ever.

Take a look at the highlights...

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Collectors' Society Boards


Odd but not Weird 
Phil Kaltenbach

When the standards and restrictions imposed by the new Comics Code Authority went into effect in March 1955, one of the most important involved the prohibition of the use of certain words in comics titles, like "horror" and "weird." This spelled big trouble for EC ("Weird Science-Fantasy" became "Incredible Science-Fiction") and Atlas ("Adventures into Weird Worlds" disappeared altogether), but DC did not have to shake up its titles at all. Their "horror" titles already made use of the relatively innocuous "mystery," and later they would employ the services of "secrets" and "unexpected."

DC launched its primary entry into the horror field in late 1951. "House of Mystery" bears a cover date of 12/51-1/52. Although it had company in the early going, including transformed titles like "Sensation Mystery," it would become the company's sole horror book for five years, until the publication of "Tales of the Unexpected" and then "House of Secrets" in 1956. The book enjoyed early success, switching to monthly publication with issue number five, and it ran a very impressive 142 issues as an anthology series before it welcomed the ubiquitous super-hero (the Martian Manhunter, in this case) into its pages in mid-1964. Throughout its run, "House of Mystery" distinguished itself from the competition with its appearance as well as its content.

The early covers illustrate clearly this title's distinctive quality. Instead of such staples as murder, torture and dismemberment, "House of Mystery" promises such spooky fare as a female werewolf (number one), a witch (number five), eerie tattoos (number eight), and a scary satchel (number nine). These and other stories all inspire a sense of dread and fear, but never venture into the ghoulish territory explored with such relish by other publishers. As with its science-fiction titles, DC demonstrated a certain decorum and restraint, qualities reflected also in the artwork of the mystery titles, which were clean and workmanlike, but rarely displayed the gory flash and detail of artists like Bill Everett and Russ Heath at Atlas.

"House of Mystery" drifted further and further into mediocrity as the '50s drew to a close, and after about 100 issues it became consistently awful (only the most poignant childhood memories could inspire devotion to "Dial H for Hero"). But by the late '60s it would enjoy a true renaissance under new editor Joe Orlando. That's subject matter for another time, but "House of Mystery" still stands as the longest running and, in its own special way, one of the best horror and mystery series.

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Would You Like to be a Guest Writer for the CGC
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