A Glance at the Gallery

Posted: 10/5/2010 by Michael McFadden

....Pow!...Zoom!....The QC Doctor is sure to amaze with this month's gallery update!

From the Great Hall of the Fortress of Qualitude, located deep in the darkened recesses of CGC's Secret Sanctuary, this is Michael McFadden coming at you with another guided tour of new additions to our dazzling DigiGallery collection. I see some mega-cooltacular books every month and we at CGC like to put a selection of the elite online for your enjoyment!

Before we start this month's abbreviated session, I'd like to thank the good folks at St. Louis' Project 2 Comic Con and my many friends in St. Louis comic fandom for their recent magnificent Midwestern hospitality to SigSeries Czar Joe Pierson, Scintillating Nicole Sowders and myself. Your QC Doctor isn't often released on his own recognizance to do shows on CGC's behalf and it's always a gas to see the fans and pros of comicdom assembled for some frantic face time. Did you know artist / colorist extraordinaire Moose Bauman is a proud father of twins? That Ethan Van Sciver's Golden Age faves are Jack Cole, Will Eisner and Al Plastino? In St. Louis, I got to chat with some great folks like Howard Chaykin, Gail Simone and Greg Horn, and catch up with my old favorites like Rick Burchett and Gary Friedrich. I saw many collectors walking away from the Mound City auction held at the Con with beaming smiles and thinner wallets carrying stacks of CGC-graded and encapsulated- four-color treasures. I know these fans — many of these books will soon be cracked out of the slabs to read. Thanks again, everyone, for a grand time under the Arch in the Gateway City. If the stars align, we'd love to see you again next year!

So let's get started with our tour, shall we? Remember: say the secret word and the duck comes down with a free WalkThru submission coupon.

Muppet Show SigSeries is still hot, hotter than a lava milk shake on a summer's day in hell. Writer of Boom Kids!'s new Muppet Show book, Roger Langridge, shows he can draw, too, with a charming pencil rendering of Kermit the Amazing Spider-Frog on the blank Convention Edition of #7. Talented Steve Rude does a Kirby-esque Thor on the cover of Avengers #1 Sketch Cover (July, 2010) as well as Pat Broderick, whose fine line rendition of the ol' Odinson graces the same book. If you're a “V for Vendetta” fan, check out David Lloyd's nifty portrait of V on New Avengers #1 Sketch Cover. Distinctive cover artist Dave McKean offers his sophisticated vision on another New Avengers #1 Sketch Cover. An Avengers / Invaders #1 Dynamic Forces Sketch Edition sports signatures by Alex Ross, Steve Sadowski and an imposing Iron Man by Barry Kitson. Cyclops by Frazer Irving is a dynamic pencil sketch on Dark Avengers #1 Sketch Cover. Apparently, Marvel has more flavors of Avengers this summer than Ben and Jerry have ice creams.

Marvels Project #1 Sketch Cover has an Art Nouveau-reminiscent female head by Milo Manara. June Brigman drops a deliciously detailed Power Pack illustration on the same book. You don't see many Atlas books submitted in SigSeries. That's because so many of the Atlas artists are dead and CGC doesn't recognize paranormal automatic writing by ghosts through mediums on books. Damn that CGC VP Paul Litch and his fancy Rutgers education! Anyway, prolific ink slinger Mike Esposito, who is thankfully still with us, personalized a copy of Men's Adventures #6 from 1951 for a lucky submitter. Batman legend Jerry Robinson signed a 9.6 Batman Masterpiece Edition #1, a facsimile of Dynamic Duo's first issue from 1940. I bet not many on the stands in 1940 looked this nice. Groo Chronicles #1 (9.8) is signed by Sergio Aragones. This month's Danny Cruz illo, who is getting to be quite the regular around here, is a ball point pen (!) workout over a penciled rough. My educated art materials eye suggests that he likely used a “Bic Accountant's Fine Point” pen on this. Cap and Wolverine never had it so good and this is on a copy of, what a surprise, Avengers #1 Sketch Cover Edition.

A 9.9 mass-printed J. Scott Campbell sketch cover on currently hot True Blood #2 leads off our super high grades. A copy of Morning Glories #1 by Image earned CGC's coveted 9.9, as did New Mutants #100 and Justice League of America #201. I love Silver Age nine-nines because of their scarcity. In the 60s we used to grab all the copies of a new book off the comic book spinner rack the day they came out, to find ones that didn't already have some significant damage from the distributor or the druggist. (You might recall all those 9.9 Gaines File Copies from the 50s were never store-circulated.) So a 9.9 Daredevil #50 from 1969 is a most notable find. Artifacts #1 (Image / Top Cow) Hastings Variant cover went all the way to 10.0, gem mint.

Superboy The White Mountain copy of Mystery in Space #56 (7.5), the third Adam Strange in the title, while not the top copy, is still a significant book. Only four copies currently grade higher, a lone 8.5 being the benchmark. Heck, high grades of 54 through 59 were tough in 60s and 70s fandom. The Larson copy of Human Torch #3, the title's second issue, stunned at 9.4 and Superboy #2 (Davis Crippen) at 9.6 was highest graded. Also at 9.6 was the Massachusetts copy of Fantastic Four #11, the first appearance of Impossible Man and, as I recall, the only early FF with two stories in the issue. Mystery Men #3, a classic cover by Lou Fine, earned 8.0 for the Cosmic Aeroplane copy. The idiotic cover on the Vancouver copy of Meteor Comics, aptly the title's only issue, received a 9.4. Edgar Church's copy of Fawcett's Whiz Comics #81 got 9.2, Atlas' Black Rider #9 got 9.2, MLJ's Top-Notch #11 got 9.6, and from June of 1938, with an ad for Action #1, DC's More Fun Comics #32 got 8.5. Rocky Mountain's Silver Age Green Lantern #72, the first with a redesigned, Golden Age-inspired, new logo garnered 9.6. Harvey File copies of Little Dot #86 (9.8) and her paranoid fantasy cover on #92 (9.6) will please CGC's Little Dot expert, Dangerous Dave Couillou. Dave does love his complete collection of Little Dot. In fact, in the office we’re all waiting for the day that Dave’s mind snaps and he stops recording color breaks in his grader’s notes and starts noting how many dots he counted on a cover! TV Casper and Company, from Harvey’s “Giant Size” series, all hit 9.8 on File copies of #s 1, 6 and 7.

Mickey Mouse Story Book We saw a couple of neat groups of books spread over a number of submission invoices. Representing the “Wonder Bread years” of everyone's favorite Man of Steel, we added Action Comics #6 (7.0, a non-Superman cover), #8 (6.5, ditto), #12 (7.0, Zatara cover), #19 (7.5, beginning Superman's consecutive cover run), #21 (6.0), #25 (7.5), #28 (8.5), #34 (9.0), #54(8.5) and #88 (9.6). All are top-five certification-type books. Some exquisite Carl Barks’ Donald Duck Four Colors included #159 (9.0, “Ghost of the Grotto”), #178 (9.4, “Christmas on Bear Mountain”), #203 (9.0, “The Golden Christmas Tree”), # 256 (9.2, “Luck of the North,” where Gladstone Gander's character-defining luck is introduced) and #408 (9.2, “The Golden Helmet”). Let's add to that some cool oddities, like the delightful cover on an early Mickey Mouse appearance in 1931's Mickey Mouse Story Book #nn (7.0). I added it not only for its cover, but so my friend, longtime St. Louis fan and uber-Disney enthusiast Bruce Mohrhard, can take a (Gladstone) gander at it. M.C. Gaines' very rare Good Triumphs Over Evil, subtitled More About the Comics, is a sequel to his pamphlet Narrative Illustration. Good thing it's not a comic book, because the cover is duller than a 1990s Marvel!

Informer We also saw a batch of nifty early-1950s crime comics. Many times, when I see a low-graded but uncommon crime book, I play a hunch that the low certification score will still be highest-graded or pretty close to it. My pal, the dear lady who scans and posts all the books for the DigiGallery, gorgeous Gemma Adel, says I have “bunches of hunches.” Hmm, with clever wordplay talent like that, maybe Gemma should be writing this column instead of me! Police Comics #109, a post-Plastic Man issue, offers a lovely bondage cover courtesy of Reed Crandall. Hunted #13 and Famous Gangsters #1 are both first issues. You're sure to get a shock from the ironic electrocution cover on Fight Against the Guilty #22. Perfect Crime #26 is a “dope” cover. The Informer #1 depicts a gangland rub-out scene similar to what grader Matt Dakan did to a colleague once when he threatened to divulge the hyper-secret CGC identifying handshake.

Daredevil B&W Some fun number-ones include Timely's Comic Capers #1 (8.5), starring Super Rabbit and the ever-mirthful Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal; Peanuts #1 (7.0, 1953), from United Features Syndicates' comic book line; Daredevil Black and White #1 (9.8), with a bold and graphic David Aja cover; Zap Comix #1 (9.6, Plymell edition) and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 at a robust 9.8. Only two copies at 9.6 are better than the Star Trek #1 (Gold Key) we exhibit at 9.4. Yeah, Spock, fascinating. Marvel's innovative Marvel Collectors Items Classics #1 was 9.6, a tie for highest-certified (copies of #s 2 and 4, both 9.8). Atlas cult favorite Yellow Claw #1 at 6.5 is bested by only one 7.0 copy. Nostalgically, I saw Yellow Claw #1 initially on display at the first comic con I attended back in 1968 in St. Louis.

Other worthwhile books this month are Harvey's Speed Comics #3, highest graded and only the fifth copy we've seen. We saw for the first time G.I. Joe, A Real American Hero #63 (9.2), a third print with “Classic” added to the cover. It's unusual when we haven't seen a 1980s Marvel before, but Sizzlin’ Shawn Caffrey says only 5,000 were printed of this edition for SoMuchFun, Inc. It's signed by Mike Zeck, as well. The last issue of Ajax-Farrell's 1950s hard-to-find run of Phantom Lady (#4, 5.0) and Marvel's final Star Wars #107, not so hard to find, was 9.8. Youthful's Fantastic #8 was highest-graded at 9.2, as was Atlas' Journey into Unknown Worlds #8 at 8.5 and Eastern Color's Famous Funnies #7 (6.0, 1935) tied for top spot accolades. Green Lantern #76, the landmark first Green Lantern / Green Arrow issue, stands alone as the only 9.8 of that book ever certified. That copy will generate a lot of green in its own way!

The origin of Batman (and his gun holster on the cover) highlights Detective Comics #33. We added an 8.0 copy, superseded by only two unrestored copies. From 1936, More Fun Comics #9 was 6.0. House of Mystery #2 at 9.0 was the fourth best yet certified and Justice League of America #78, the first Silver Age appearance of the Vigilante, is the number-two copy at 9.6. Superman's 100th anniversary issue, with cover reproductions of #s 1, 25, 50 and 75, tied for the summit at 9.0. Captain America Comics #18 was an eye-opening 9.6. We didn't let our resident Timely expert West “You can be sure if it’s Westinghouse” Stephan grade this one...geez, he kept drooling!

Comments and questions regarding the gallery? We’re fans, too. We enjoy hearing from you, unless we don‘t. You can contact me at mmcfadden@CGCcomics.com. Thank you for your time and do remember — Fresh-Up Freddie says fresh-up with a refreshing 7-Up! Be good to yourself and be CGC-ing you!

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