Introducing Michelle Nolan
Steve Borock, CGC Primary Grader
Not that Michelle needs any introduction to most comic
book aficionados, but just in case you don't know who
she is, here is a very brief introduction for you.
As a life long comic book collector, it seems Michelle
has always been a major part of Fandom. She has worked
conventions, helped out the American Association of
Comic Book Collectors (AACC), written articles for almost
all of our major industry trade papers and magazines,
and even self published fanzines as far back as 35 years
Michelle has now agreed to write one article a month
for the CGC newsletter and I could not be happier, not
only because CGC is getting insights from one of the
best historians in our hobby, but also because I get
to talk to Michelle more than just during the two conventions
a year that we get to spend some time together. I learn
something new about comics and/or the history of Fandom
in every conversation I have with her. Now if she would
just stop telling people how as a little boy I used
to run around the Phil Sueling conventions causing havoc
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Collecting "Adventure Comics"
One of the best examples of why a comics collector
should do a little research before buying an expensive
Golden Age comic book is Adventure Comics.
Unless you have unlimited funds, DC's Adventure Comics
is typical of the old anthology titles of the 1940s,
in the sense that certain partial runs and/or single
issues can be much more rewarding to collect than others,
regardless of age or historical significance.
course, if you are primarily into "key" issues
and/or financial investments, then you'll want Adventure
#40 (the debut of Sandman), #48 (Hourman), #61 (Starman)
and #73 (Manhunter). Remember, also, that Adventure
#103 (March-April 1946) saw Green Arrow, Aquaman, Johnny
Quick and Superboy all shift over from More Fun, where
they last appeared in #107 (Jan.-Feb. 1946) before More
Fun converted to all humor strips.
But Adventure #103 is not really a key, because Superboy's
first seven appearances came in More Fun Comics #101-107
(Jan.-Feb. 1945 through Jan.-Feb. 1946). Want a pricing
oddity? Check this one out: Adventure #103 is listed
at $300 in "good" in the Overstreet Price
Guide, but More Fun #102 through #107 are listed at
only about one-third of that value, yet they have the
same characters as Adventure #103! Nor was Adventure
#103 the first Superboy cover -that honor went to More
Fun #104. By the way, Superboy's first appearance in
More Fun #101,with a mere five-page debut, was not one
of the five features plugged on the cover!
Let's assume, though, that you don't have the money
to buy "keys," but rather are seeking the
best examples of Adventure, whether it is only one issue
or a short run. In that case, you'll want to pursue
at least one issue of Adventure #73-83 (April 1942-Feb.
1943), which are among the few Golden Age comics with
different super heroes in addition to Hourman,
Starman and Simon & Kirby's "new costume"
version of Sandman and Sandy, you'll also find the Shining
Knight and S&K's Manhunter.
Adventure #73-83 are wonderful examples of Golden Age
vigor and versatility at its best. Each issue, all of
them 68 pages, is a certifiable gem, with an S&K
cover to boot. And how many comics contain two different
S&K heroes? S&K's first DC work after
they moved over from Timely's Captain America
appeared on Sandman in Adventure #72 (March 1942). The
Hourman, which always seemed like something of a dated
hero by DC standards, was the first of the five World
War II Adventure heroes to depart, last appearing in
Adventure #83. Manhunter concluded a 20-issue run in
#92 (June-July 1944), and both Sandman and Starman last
appeared in #102 (Feb.-March 1946).
Adventure #81-90 are all listed at $118 in "good"
in the Overstreet Price Guide but obviously #81-83
are the far better values because they contain Hourman
and the others do not! That's why research is so important
if you're going to spend more than $100 for a
"good" condition early issue of Adventure,
or maybe $1,000 or more for a beautiful copy, wouldn't
getting #73-83 be your best bet? Of course it would!
Be warned, though: the Guide lists #73 at $1,033 because
it not only has S&K's second DC work with the debut
of Manhunter, but also boasts an S&K Manhunter cover.
The only other Manhunter cover was #79.
Oddly, the character most DC historians would consider
the least important of the five had the longest run
the Shining Knight appeared from #66 (Sept. 1941)
through #166 (July 1951). In fact, the Shining Knight
might have lasted even longer had not Adventure dropped
from 52 pages to 44 pages (including covers) with #169,
although the Shining Knight appeared only sporadically
after #122. It was one of the few examples of inconsistency
in DC history, since there were only 23 Shining Knight
stories in the 44 issues of Adventure from #123-166.
Frank Frazetta, then only in his early 20s, nicely
handled the Shining Knight stories in eight stories
of six pages apiece in #150, 151, 153, 155, 157, 159,
161 and 163 in some of his earliest comics work. However,
the only Adventure issues in which the other four super
heroes all appeared were #150 and 151 after that,
Aquaman and shining Knight alternated through #166.
So, there's another example of the benefit of research
- Adventure #150 and 151 are clearly your best bets,
even though all eight issues with Frazetta have the
same $64 Price Guide value in "good"!
Interestingly, Adventure Comics was the only all-super
hero anthology in all of comics throughout the 1950s,
since sister titles Action and Detective also featured
non-costumed hero strips. Adventure #170 (Nov. 1951)
through #204 (Sept. 1954) all of which were 44
pages - all feature Superboy, Green Arrow and Speedy,
Aquaman and Johnny Quick. Four different costumed heroes
(five, if you count Speedy) in a 1950s comic! Adventure
slipped to 36 pages with #205. The editors finally made
up their minds with # 208 after Johnny Quick skipped
#205, Green Arrow skipped #206 and Aquaman skipped #207.
The loser was Johnny Quick, whose final appearance was
in #207 (Dec. 1954).
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80s Nostalgia Back in Comics
Recently there has been a new trend developing throughout
comics. It seems as though the 80s are coming back.
No, not the Kevin Bacon movies or the hair bands, but
the cartoons that today's comic readers grew up with
are finding their way back on the pages of comics. Now,
most comic book fans know that at one point, characters
such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Transformers,
Thundercats, etc. had been in comics, but fans are calling
for their return. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who
were put out by Mirage, are returning through the same
publisher, in color instead of black and white, carrying
the TMNT legacy over a decade. Micronauts and G.I. Joe
are being put out by Image Comics/Devil's Due with some
great art by the likes of Alex Ross and Jeff Scott Campbell;
Masters of the Universe are being done by MV Creations
with some wonderful art by Emiliano Santalucia and Marco
Failla; Thundercats are being put out by D.C./Wildstorm;
and Dreamwave has been successfully publishing multiple
titles of Transformers with some great art by Pat Lee.
With a large variety of these titles coming into the
market and selling successfully when they hit the stands,
companies are buying up the rights to as many 80s titles
as they can in order to continue the trend. This trend
seems to be setting off a merchandising craze, starting
with comics and working its way into merchandise and
some even into new television shows. How long this will
continue, no one knows. The fans want it, and as long
as there is a calling for it, it will continue. This
only leaves one question - what will be the next title
pulled from the vaults of the 1980s?
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