Comics Guaranty, LLCNumismatic Guaranty Corporation
October 2002  
1. Introducing Michelle Nolan
2. Collecting "Adventure Comics"
3. 80s Nostalgia Back in Comics
4. Phil's Corner � Educational Comics?


November 8-10
The National Expo
Big Apple Comic Convention
New York City, NY.

February 28 – March 2, 2003

Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, Florida

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 ago.

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"
Michelle Nolan

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.

Of 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
Shawn Caffrey

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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Collectors' Society Boards

Educational Comics?
Phil Kaltenbach

At the half-point of the twentieth century, two comic book genres seemed poised to become the next big thing: science-fiction and horror. The former had enjoyed great popularity in pulp magazines, but the transition to comics did not come easy. EC, of course, introduced titles in each category, and they lavished considerable talent on their sci-fi titles, including stories by Ray Bradbury and terrific art by the likes of Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood and Al Williamson. But EC's most popular titles were those focused on horror, and within a few years they had to consolidate Weird Science and Weird Fantasy into one title, and that one disappeared a short time later.

Atlas Comics also tried sci-fi for a brief period, then gathered most of their eggs into the horror basket. DC, however, started up two science-fiction titles in the early 50s and made them into the titles in that genre by which all others were measured. Strange Adventures began with the issue dated 8-9/50, featuring a cover, based on a popular movie, showing two men in space-suits. This title would continue with new material for some 20 years, always with a strong sense of the "scientific" aspect of the stories. Most issues featured science facts and trivia, and the authors always emphasized the "technical" aspects of their futuristic stories. Eight months later DC launched Mystery in Space, with the first issue featuring a wonderful space damsel in distress on the cover. Both these titles featured stories that dealt with the perils and adventures of space travelers in the "distant" future. When DC began reintroducing "super-heroes" late in the decade, neither book abandoned its sci-fi focus, with the post-apocalypse "Atomic Knights" (with fantastic art by Murphy Anderson) stories in Strange Adventures, and the fantastic Adventures in Other Worlds featuring Adam Strange in Mystery in Space.

DC's success with these books illustrates, I think, their slightly more cerebral approach to comics, contrasted to the more visceral impact of the Atlas horror titles. When I was a kid my friends and I always thought of DC books as a little "smarter" than Marvel's offerings, although we enjoyed many titles from both publishers. Even after super-heroes had begun to work their way back at DC, Marvel continued to run stories featuring alien monsters or radiation-induced freaks of nature. These offerings were entertaining, but did tend to repeat themselves in terms of basic plots and themes. The one exception was the five-page Lee-Ditko stories that began to appear in all of Marvel's monster books. These quirky stories, with an appeal similar to that on television's "Twilight Zone," laid the groundwork for the more sophisticated approach to comic stories that would characterize Marvel's reinvention of the super-hero genre in Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man. By the time the 60s were well under way, DC's titles and characters would appear a bit stodgy and old-fashioned compared to Marvel's more realistic and vibrant offerings.

DC did start up several "horror" titles in the 50s, but they were quite different from those available from other outfits. Next time we'll take a look at these books and quite different approach to scary books.

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