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
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.
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 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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||Super Hero Limbo
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: www.followingcerebus.com.
For further information about the CGC Signature
Series "Dave Sim File Copies," go to:
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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