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Comics Guaranty, LLC Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
September 2004  
Volume 3, Issue 8  
1. CGC Invades Baltimore Comic-Con
2. CGC Hires Two New Modern Pre-Graders
3. Identity Crisis
4. Super Hero Limbo
5. CGC Teams with Across the Pond Studios
6. CGC in Following Cerebus #1


September 25-26
St. Louis Royal Fest

Collinsville Convention Center
St Louis, MO

November 5-7
Wizard World Texas

Arlington Convention Center
Arlington, TX

November 19-21
New York National

Penn Plaza Pavilion
New York, NY
On-Site Grading!

CGC Invades Baltimore Comic-Con

On September 11th & 12th, the staff of Comics Guaranty, LLC made their way to Baltimore, Maryland for CGC's first on-site grading experience at Baltimore Comic-Con. "Marc and Bonnie Nathan and staff at the Baltimore Comic-Con organized another great show where collectors and creators shared their passion for comics," said Tom Gordon III, Managing Editor of Gemstone Publishing. "It was wonderful that CGC offered on-site grading for attendees, as it gives dealers and collectors the chance to interact with them and learn more about third party certification. Many of the people we've spoken with look forward to CGC's return next year." The convention floor was filled with leading comic dealers such as Heroes & Dragons, Harley Yee, and Koop's Comics, along with some new faces. The presence of comic books, especially CGC certified books, was strong. Even though Baltimore Comic-Con isn't one of the larger shows, its "artist's alley" guest list was quite large. With artists and writers such as Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman, Frank Cho, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Walt Simonson & Frank Brunner (to name ONLY a few), fans were in for a treat. And speaking of fans being in for a treat, the staff of CGC was visited by the legendary Frank Brunner, who, it turns out, is a supporter and user of CGC's services and took advantage of the on-site services. The on-site grading was very successful. Fans and collectors took advantage of CGC's same-show turnaround times and altogether CGC graded 825 books during the course of the two day show. "CGC was a presence at the con with a huge demand for onsite grading," said David Matteini, collector and fan. "This was a great opportunity for both dealers and fans to certify their con purchases on the premises by the hobbies only third party certification service."

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CGC Hires Two New Modern Pre-Graders
Comics Guaranty, LLC is excited to announce the new additions of pre-graders Matt Dakan and Joe Pierson to CGC's Modern Age department.

Matt Dakan
Matthew Dakan is one of the few local Floridians to work for Comics Guaranty, LLC. He started reading his brother's comics in grade school and has been interested in them ever since. The Sarasota community is known for being supportive of all forms of art, so Matt had little trouble finding local artists willing to lend their time and knowledge to help young people learn. As an aspiring artist, Matt was always on the look out for new and different styles of graphics and writing. This introduced his fascination with underground and independent comic books and helped him gain his knowledge of the vast array of Modern Age titles in circulation. His infatuation with comics led to his employment at Pop Comics & Games, a local comic store in Sarasota, where he worked for one year, gaining extensive knowledge of Bronze and Modern Age comics. His invaluable experience and love for comics led to his employment with CGC, where he now works as a Modern Age Pre-Grader.

Joe Pierson
Joe Pierson has been a comic enthusiast since the age of six and a serious collector of Silver and Modern Age comics since the age of eleven. As an aspiring young artist, he surrounded himself in comics and became forever engrossed by the comic book universe. Joe was a regular at Mint City Comics, a local comic shop in New Jersey, for over 12 years. Multiple visits each week helped him amass an enormous collection, and his sharp eye for detail helped him obtain impressive high grade Silver & Modern Age books. In 2000, Joe became Manager of the same shop he so often frequented, and by 2002, he became the owner. His association with Mint City Comics carried his love for the stories, characters and comics as a medium and opened the door to the grading aspects of the comic book market. In August of 2004, Joe made the move to Sarasota, Florida where he is now employed at Comics Guaranty, LLC as a Modern Age Pre-Grader.

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Nolan's Niche Super Hero Limbo
Michelle Nolan

During the super hero limbo that characterized comic books 50 years ago following the end of the Golden Age, eight collectible titles from three "second-tier" companies emerged with short, little-known runs ending in 1955.

If you want them all – and it's not out of realm of possibility to collect them all – the "stack" you build will be little more than three inches high!

Original concepts Captain Flash, The Avenger, Strongman and a revived Phantom Lady ran four issues. Four lesser-known revivals – The Flame, Samson, Wonder Boy and Black Cobra – lasted only three issues.

Some collectors speculate that the success of the syndicated Superman television show spurred a few publishers to try superheroes. Whether that is true or not, all eight titles died about two years before the show's final original episodes were released in 1957.

By far the best of the eight titles, The Avenger from Magazine Enterprises, features one of the few original superheroes to be introduced during the fifties. ME publisher Vincent Sullivan – who had a big hand in putting together Superman's debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938 – and editor Raymond Krank put two of their best artists, Dick Ayers and Bob Powell, on the Cold War hero. That estimable pair alone makes this title worth collecting.

Oddly, all four issues (Feb.-March through Aug.-Sept. 1955) feature nothing but Avenger stories – four tales in each, with all but two of them seven pages apiece. The first story in #1 is eight pages and one of the tales in #4 is six pages. Thus, if you want only one issue of the title, there isn't much difference, other than the origin story in #1. The first issue, by the way, was reprinted (with a new and particularly awful cover) as IW #9 in 1958. (IW started most of its titles with #9, hoping to fool stores into believing its comics had a history.)

Ayers, best known for his ME Ghost Rider strips, drew all four Avenger stories in #1. Powell handled all four covers and each of the stories in #2-4.

Strong Man, an original concept apparently inspired by the Charles Atlas ads then so popular in comics, featured four stories in #1-3 and two tales in #4 (March-April 1955 through Sept.-Oct. 1955), along with Strong Man's body building tips. All but two of the stories ran from six to nine pages. Powell, one of the most prolific artists of the 1940's and 50's, produced the covers and art.

The covers on #2 and #4 are pedestrian, but Strong Man destroys a helicopter on #1 and bends a giant clock hand on #3 in two of the most original covers of the Atom Age period.

Captain Flash, from tiny Sterling Comics, was a quasi-nifty Captain America knockoff from the pen of Mike Sekowsky in his pre-Justice League days. Captain Flash and his junior partner Ricky (!) appeared in three stories in each issue (Nov. 1954 through July 1955), running five to seven pages apiece. The origin story makes #1 the best issue, but there really isn't much difference among the four.

An original teen heroine, Tomboy, fills out each issue with stories of seven pages (#1) and six pages (#2-4).

The five super hero titles from Ajax-Farrell Comics – Black Cobra, The Flame, Phantom Lady, Wonder Boy and Samson – all feature "re-costumed" revivals of Iger shop characters who first appeared in either Fox or Farrell comics of the 1940's.

The best of the five Ajax titles was Black Cobra, a grim Cold War avenger who first appeared in Farrell's World War II era Captain Flight title. Interestingly, none of the four Black Cobra stories in #1 (Oct.-Nov. 1954) featured a logo, just titles such as "Ace Spy Smasher."

The second issue (#6, Dec. 1954-Jan. 1955), was inexplicably continued from Billy Bunny #5, as indicated in the indicia – the type of title that morbidly delighted Dr. Fredrick Wertham. Once again, there was no Black Cobra logo other than the one on the cover. The two Black Cobra stories in #3 (March 1955) finally sport a logo. Issue #3 – that's right, it went from #1 to #6 to #3! – also features a tale of Torpedoman, one of the worst "costume" heroes of all time and another steal from Captain Flight.

The Comics Code Authority probably killed off Black Cobra. Issue #3 was still not Code Approved, even though all of DC's March 1955 issues were approved.

Ajax tried an intriguing revival with three issues of The Flame (Dec. 1954-Jan. 1955 through May 1955, the only Code-approved issue). The Flame, an original Fox character, had not been seen since early in 1942, but apparently Farrell acquired the rights.

The two Flame stories in #1 did not sport a logo; the other two stories are Ajax-Farrell inventory. Issue #2, probably the scarcest of the three, features the Flame fighting scaly, green aliens on the cover while spouting, "Don't get us wrong! In this country we offer friendship, but we're always ready to fight if necessary!" You have to see this one to believe it – it's definitely one of the silliest comics in history! A Captain Flight story is reprinted in #2, with the character changed to "Captain Speed." In issue #3, the two Flame stories finally sported a logo.

The only Ajax costumed hero to run four issues was Phantom Lady (Dec. 1954-Jan. 1955 through June 1955). The first issue was #5 (formerly Linda, a teen humor title), before switching to #2-4. The Phantom Lady still features well-endowed "headlights" but no cleavage is ever spotted in her one-piece culotte outfit. The last two issues were Code-approved. The Red Rocket, a character from Captain Flight, appeared in stories in #3-4.

All three issues of Samson (#12 through #14, April through August 1955) were Code-Approved and apparently took the place of Black Cobra, even though Samson was continued from a non-super hero title, Fantastic. In #12, Wonder Boy and Captain Burke (yet another reworked Captain Flight story) also appeared, followed in #13 by Wonder Boy and Rocketman (a sci-fi character who appeared in an Ajax one-shot in 1952). Samson is by far the least collectible of the five Ajax titles.

The unspectacular but highly patriotic Wonder Boy #16 through #18 (March 1955 through July 1955) rounded out the Ajax lineup, featuring an Iger shop World War II feature. Issue #16 is actually entitled Terrific Comics in the indicia and at the top of the cover. There are Phantom Lady stories in #17 and 18.

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CGC in Following Cerebus #1

Who said Cerebus was over? Well, Dave Sim might have said it, but Following Cerebus #1 unleashes Cerebus-related material to the hungry fans. Its pages are filled with a Dave Sim Q & A and a behind-the-scenes (background scenes, that is) interview with Gerhard. Dave Sim speaks highly about Comics Guaranty, LLC (CGC) in a 2 page overview of the CGC Signature Series "Dave Sim File Copies" that was done in March 2004.

Future issues of Following Cerebus will include previously unpublished art and stories, rare interviews, essays and letters. For further information about Following Cerebus, check out: For further information about the CGC Signature Series "Dave Sim File Copies," go to:

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cgc registry

Identity Crisis
Shawn Caffrey
Caffrey Chronicles

All of us in the grading room at Comics Guaranty, LLC share one thing...we're all a bunch of comic book geeks. Each grader has their favorite character, their favorite title, and their favorite creators. Some prefer the universe of D.C. Comics over Marvel Comics; some prefer the stand-alone titles from IDW and Top Cow. But no matter what our differences in opinions may be with each, no matter who prefers what over whom, we all share the same interest in one suspenseful title: an epic, 7 issue mini-series published by D.C. Comics, Identity Crisis has us all begging for more. A who-done-it murder mystery involving the entire D.C. Universe is beginning to change how readers look at the heroes and villains that they have grown to love.

Written by Brian Meltzer, a well-known thriller novelist, and writer of Green Arrow issues 16-21, with pencils and inks by Rags Morales and Michael Bair, known best for their work on JSA and Hawkman, Identity Crisis is a mystery centered around a devastating murder and a disturbing secret from the Justice League's past. Now on issue 4, the story begins with the murder of a well-known character from the D.C. Universe, a character's death that leaves every hero asking if any of their families and friends are safe from this killer. The death stirs up questions about actions taken in the past by the Justice League, and a secret that had been kept hidden for years is revealed to everyone's shock and dismay that forever changes how one will look at heroes throughout D.C. continuity.

The writing is compelling, suspenseful and full of characters that readers thought to be long lost in D.C.'s past. Rags Morales and Michael Bair put forth their greatest effort, with pencils and inks that give characters emotion that one has never seen on their favorite characters' faces, and action sequences that leave the reader wanting more. Any fan, past and present, even non-comic readers, can find enjoyment in this suspenseful, 7 issue mini-series. In fact, Identity Crisis has people at D.C. saying that this could be one of the most important events since Alan Moore's Watchmen, only adding to the popularity and curiosity of all of the hype behind it.

As for the graders at CGC, we've been in a constant guessing game. "The Butler did it," laughs CGC's Jerry Stephan. "No, seriously though, Identity Crisis has left us all with our own theories. But one thing's for sure, we're all on the edge of our seats..."

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CGC Teams with Across the Pond Studios

After spending years circulating through the small press circuit, Stephan Nilson has become known for his ability to get people "together." Wanting to find a way to bring some fresh air to the comic industry, Stephan created his own publishing studio. Across the Pond Studios, often referred to as ATP Studios, provides an outlet where professional writers and artists are given the opportunity to explore their creativity on projects that they would normally not be able to do with a larger studio. Plus, it gives new talent a chance to work with industry professionals in a mentor style work environment. The much anticipated first book released by the studio, "ATP PRESENTS," will hit the stands this November with a special Comics Guaranty, LLC (CGC) exclusive pre-release at Wizard World Texas (Nov 5-7). A special edition (limited to 500 copies) version of the book will be sold to convention attendees. Sixty of these books will carry the CGC logo and be specially numbered and graded, and will be a convention exclusive packed with a limited edition "Metal Locus" print signed by artist Sergio Cariello.

"We're thrilled that CGC is interested in partnering with ATP Studios on exclusive comic releases. Being a small start up company, it's very flattering when a larger company is willing to put their name on the line to support you. It's even easier to see how this will become something big when you have people like Steven Borock and Shawn Caffrey at CGC treating us like equals and not like they are doing us a favor," says Stephan Nilson, President & Editor In Chief of Across the Pond Studios. "We're extremely excited about this partnership and look forward to a long term friendship between companies."

"As comic book fans ourselves, CGC has always supported new comic endeavors by some of the 'smaller' publishers such as 3 Geeks by Rick Koslowski from 3 Fingers Press and Astounding Space Thrills by Steve Conley from Day One Comics, as well as some of the larger 'small' publishers like Top Cow and IDW," said Steve Borock, CGC's President and Primary Grader. "We are now pleased to add ATP studios to the list of great comics CGC is very proud to help support. I have known Stephan Nilson for a few years now and not only is he very talented, but also a great person with an intense love for our hobby."

To read more about the release of ATP Presents #1 and Across the Pond Studios, visit their website at

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