This page was last updated 06/26/06

 

Market Report 

The comic market is moving along at an amazing pace. Just when you think you have seen what is an amazing record price. It seems that it just has to be broken on an almost consistent basis. The upcoming auctions by Heritage Comics and Mastronet should be truly awesome as both auctions are offering an enormous amount of quality material. With books like Action Comics #1 CGC 7.5 and the Wonder Woman #1 Ashcan it will be truly interesting to see were the market goes from here. So far if all the previous sales are taken into account it appears that the market is moving faster then a speeding bullet!


Platinum Age Comics are continuing to sell when the supply is available. These books continue to be very difficult to locate in any grade. To date we have only seen two very high grade CGC graded Platinum Age comics. We recently saw a Buster Brown's Experiences with Pond's Extract (nn) 1904 CGC VF+ 8.5 offered. It will be interesting to see how the marketplace responds to high grade Platinum Age comics. An 8.0 is the highest grade in the guide for a Platinum Age book and this is equal to a 9.4 in any other comic.

CGC books are continuing to move well. Gold, Silver, and Bronze always moves very well in the high grade range. We are still seeing amazing prices for many books. It seems that just when you think you know where the market is going it continues to surprise us all. We have also seen collectors who have now realized that some books will not turn up or be available in top grades. These collectors are wisely purchasing those books, which are available. It will be interesting to see how the market will accept prices for books that were once the "best known copy" at 9.0 as they are replaced by higher grade copies. CGC has been very good with turn around times since their move to Florida and continues to do rather well with the "Monumental Task" they have taken on. Grading a comic book is never easy as it is scientific and also an art form in itself.

I recently received back several books that I had restored. I have to say that they were very well done. The one book had amazing results as it was a difference of night and day from its previous condition. If you buy restored books it seems that many times you come across a nice looking restored book, but it has a technical flaw. Many times amateurish work tends to leave out some of the important factors of restoration especially those that keep the work stable. If anyone is looking into restoration that they need done or checked I would have to recommend Matt Nelson of Classic Conservationís. I have seen work done by Matt and also had a number of books worked on and his work is without a doubt first rate. Thanks again for the excellent work Matt!!

Character Toys and Premiums are selling well as usual. The new edition of Hakeís Character Toys, which will be out in June and should give us all something to spend countless hours looking over. The new guide will include many more items and categories then the past editions, which is always amazing. We are seeing some decreases in radio premium prices, specifically the more common items in lower grade. These types of collectibles seem to have come out of hiding now that the internet has opened the flood gates. Time will tell how the growing availability of some items effect their values. Premiums across the board have continued to sell very well with the rare and unusual leading the way.

Toys and Action Figures continue to sell well if fairly priced. We are seeing some real interest in the upcoming Star Wars and Spider-Man movie, which may translate in sales for related collectibles. The new Star Wars pre-view figures line sells well, but many of the figures are turning up in less then stellar packages. It appears that the cards for the figures are rather easily damaged in the cases during shipping. Vintage Star Wars continues to sell well, but the prices have come down slightly as the availability of certain pieces are easier to locate then once thought. The internet has created an interesting issue with some items as it is no longer the issue of scarcity in ones local area but more the cost of purchasing the item online.

 


 

Mark Jeweler Variants

Here is another variant collectible for you Bronze Age collectors! This variant, unlike many other comic variants, is not subject to one comic company, but both DC and Marvel. In the mid 1970's DC and Marvel comics included a four page color insert in a number of their comics. These inserts can be seen if one looks at the top edge of the comic, then one will see a blue heavy stock insert. There is a belief that these variants were distributed near U.S. military bases, both at home and abroad. These Mark Jeweler inserts allowed servicemen to purchase jewelry and engagement rings. The ratio of standard comics to the number of variants is currently unknown, but it appears that the variants were produced in a smaller quantity. To help along the theory of these variants being distributed to servicemen, about a year ago we acquired a small number of these books from a former soldier who was in Germany in the 1970's. Below is a list of the known issues that include the Mark Jeweler variant. If you discover an unknown example please let us know because we are looking to add them to the list.

            

        One of the many DC Variant issues

DC:  Action Comics #444, Adventure Comics #440, Black Magic #8, Flash #233, 234, Ghosts #33, It's Witching Hour #50,51, 52, 53, 55 Kamandi #24, Shadow #12, Superboy #206, Superman #282, Weird Mystery Tales #15, Wonder Woman #215, and Young Love #116.

The main key variant issue to date!

Marvel: Adventure Into Fear #27, Amazing Adventures #29, Astonishing Tales #28, Avengers #134, Captain America #182, 183, Chamber of Chills #15, Conan #47-50, DareDevil #113, Fantastic Four #155, 156, Incredible Hulk #158, 167, 181, 182, Iron Man #68, Marvel's Greatest Comics #56, Marvel Super Heroes #49, 50, Marvel Tales #48, 55, Marvel Team-Up #18, 31, Thor #231-234, Tomb of Dracula #32, WereWolf By Night #21

 

The Spider's Ultimate Foe

To many collectors there are numerous items which they desire to obtain. One item that many Pulp and Premium Ring collectors are on the lookout for is the Spider Ring. The Spider ring was produced for the readers of the pulp magazine in 1930's. This ring is considered one of the top ten premium rings. There are currently about thirty known examples in existence. The condition of the known rings vary, with five in good condition, ten in very good, five in fine, five in very fine, and three in near mint. The Spider may have been an amazing hero, but the one foe even he could not stop is the forgery of the spider ring!

 The Spider Ring of which 28 are known to exist.

Many collectors who have collected for some time know that the fake ring exists and it is nothing more that a nuisance. Unfortunately these rings have caught quite a few collectors by surprise. The fake is rather crude in that it is poorly crafted and produced. The most obvious tell tale marking is that the fake has a visible seam running on the outside and inside of the band. The next way to differentiate the original from the fake is the type of metal and weight of the ring.



An example of the crude fake of the  Spider Ring


A close-up of the band on the fake ring. Note: The seam that is running on the inside of the band!!



The order form that was featured in  the pulp magazine. It allowed readers to order a ring just like the pulp hero's. 

 

 

The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats Storecard

Richard D. Olson

Because advertising was essentially restricted to print a hundred years ago, there are more posters and storecards available for comic characters of that period than there are for todayís comic strip characters. While it is hard to even imagine a world without radio, television, and the movies, it is nearly as difficult to imagine beautiful color posters and storecards of your favorite comic page characters plastered all over the city, on trolleys, and in every store where such merchandise might be sold. Imagine catching a ride on the trolley and seeing colorful posters by R. F. Outcault, Archie Gunn, and others advertising next Sundayís comic pages. Imagine walking into a store and seeing those same posters or smaller storecards, again featuring the stars of your Sunday newspaper comics. Finally, imagine taking the trolley to Coney Island to finish the day and seeing similar posters for the exciting rides and exotic attractions. what a great day that would have been!

                              

 

                               

The Yellow Kid in McFaddenís Flatís storecard was apparently produced by printing extra copies of the cover and then printing the ad on the reverse. I have seen a Yellow Kid Schottische sheet music storecard where the same thing was done except the reverse was blank. I have also seen a Yellow Kid Magazine storecard but didnít get to inspect it, and I donít know if the reverse was blank or if it contained an ad. Storecards are great advertising collectibles to add to your collection. Images are provided courtesy of The Marty Goldman Collection.   

Visit R.F. Outcault Society's Yellow Kid Site for more information on Yellow Kid or Platinum Age comics.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Comic Book Grading: The Hidden Science

An Interview with Steve Borock  

By Tom Gordon

The thought of grading comic books is, to say the least, a difficult and opinion-based task. Grading a comic book, or any item for that matter, is rather subjective in nature. Some people tend to be strict, while others liberal, in their grading. Many collectors strive to find collectibles in the best condition possible, and grading without a doubt is an extremely important factor. If one were to purchase a low grade example of a comic in good condition it may be worth a hundred dollars. The same book in near mint condition would be valued at maybe a thousand! For years comics have been graded in many different ways. The early grading scale in the 1970's when the hobby formally began was rather simplistic in design. Over the years this grading system has been altered and changed many times. The past 10 years brought professional grading to coins and sportscards. This has now entered the comic book market.

Recently I sat down with Steve Borock, the Primary Grader at Comics Guaranty (CGC). We discussed the changes in the comic book marketplace and third party comic book grading.

Gordon: How did the concept of third party comic grading begin?

Borock: Third party grading has been around for a while. Our sister companies Numismatic Guaranty, LLC (NGC) and Sportscard Guaranty, LLC (SGC) have been around for a long time. We are all part of the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG). The concept of third party grading for comics came about because it was really needed. The comic hobby was at a lull because of undisclosed restoration and over-grading mostly on the internet. It was like the wild west, anyone could put a comic book up for auction regardless if they knew how to grade or spot restoration. It was a becoming a haven for people who wanted to take advantage of the novice. Collectors were becoming scared to buy anything on the internet. The principals of CCG saw this and, with the help of top comic book dealers and collectors, decided to open CGC. 

I came on board after the decision to go ahead was made. Stephen Fishler, knowing my reputation in collecting for my integrity, professionalism, grading expertise, and knowledge, introduced me to the founders of CGC. At first, not knowing anything about certification and third party grading, it sounded like a way to scam my fellow hobbyists - I was going to have no part in that. After hearing what they had to say and seeing how they operated their other two companies, I knew that these people were truly impartial, third party authenticators and graders. The feeling that I could protect novice and veteran collectors alike with a full restoration check and truly impartial grading, while helping the dealers sell their comic books, was like a dream come true. I had been doing this for years, taking new collectors under my wing and helping them learn about grading and restoration. Now I am getting paid for it. I have the greatest job in the world!

A comic being photographed for CGC's records

Gordon: How many books has CGC graded to date?

Borock: We have graded about 150,000 comics since opening our doors in January of 2000

Gordon: Is there any competition from other companies currently?

Borock: Right now there is no competition. I think the reason is that opening a comic book certification service was much more work and much more expensive than anyone could have anticipated. I really give the principals of CGC credit for sticking with it; they could have opted out early on. No one knew if this was going to be successful or not. We had to hire specialists like Mark Haspel as a grader. Formally of Comics on Parade,

Mark is an expert in comic book history and has an incredible knowledge of pedigrees. We also hired Chris Friesen, formally of Renaissance Restoration, as our restoration detection expert. Chris has one of the best eyes in our hobby. Remember, a comic book is not a card or coin with only 2 sides and an edge. Comic books have to have pages counted and if the page count is correct, is it the right page? We have seen lots of restored comic books that have the centerfold of a different issue inserted just to make it look as if all the pages were there. It takes about 40 times the time to grade a comic book compared to a coin or card. 

There is also the trust factor. We spent a lot of effort proving that we are truly expert, impartial and third party. Collectors were sending in comic books hoping that we would not find hard to detect defects such as very tiny color touches, a advertising page that does not affect story missing, replaced staples, a cover on a different interior, a married page, foreign editions and so on. The collectors saw that we would not play favorites. If the submitter sends in 1 comic or 200, all comics are treated the same.

Gordon: What is the process for grading a comic book?

Borock: The process of grading a comic book takes a long time. When Comic books come into CGC they first go to the receiving department where the packages are opened and checked against the invoice it is sent with. All comics over a certain value, for insurance purposes, are then scanned under a video camera. The comics are then put into new mylars with a backing board. The comic books are entered into a computer and each is given its own barcode and corresponding number on a sticker which is carefully placed on the mylar so that each comic can be tracked no matter where in the building it is. 

The comics are then put into a box labeled with the invoice number on it and put in our safe where it waits until it is up for the restoration check. After the restoration check has been performed and the information about any restoration that has been detected has been put in the computer, the box goes back to the safe. When it is time for the comic books to be graded, a pre-grader will count the pages, take notes and give the comic book a grade. It then goes on to a senior grader who does the exact same thing except he does not need to count the pages because that information is already in the computer. The next step is that the comic books are graded by a Finalizer. After the Finalizer decides the grade and page quality that he wants to give the comic book, he than checks what the other graders have given it. If it matches, he moves on to the next comic book. If the two senior gradersí grades don't match, they discuss it, figure out the best grade, finalize it, and move on. 

The comic books then go to encapsulation, where they have two pieces of archival safe paper put between the covers and first and last page to help stop the deterioration of the paper. It then gets sealed in an archivaly safe well, a label gets put on stating the grade, paper quality, and any pertinent information about the grade or the comic books history. It then gets put into the CGC state of the art, tamper evident holder. The next step is called the QC (quality control). We take a final look at each and every comic book before it leaves CGC to make sure that the grade is correct, the comic matches the label it has been given, and that we feel the comic book is set correctly in the holder. It is then shipped out by either USPS, UPS, or Fedex.

A comic being inspected and  graded 

Gordon: Approximately how many hours a week do you work?

Borock: The demand for CGC has been so great that I am working about 70 hours a week.

Gordon: What type of individual purchases graded comics?

Borock: There is no one type of person who purchases CGC comic books. I first thought it would only be the person who is buying expensive comic books, but I see people buying $25 comics just to have a great holder for it.

Gordon: Do you see more high grade vs low grade books graded?

A comic being fitted for encapsulation

Borock: I was very surprised by this. The number of high grade comic books we get in are only about 15% more compared to lower grade.

Gordon: What era of books do you see graded the most?

Borock: Marvel Silver Age (1961-1968) are the most prevalent. Spider-Man seems to be the most popular comic book out there. We are also seeing a large number of brand new modern books currently.

Gordon: How successful has professional grading been in the comic book hobby?

Borock: From the looks of things, it is very successful. I get phone calls and emails all the time from collectors and dealers alike, thanking us for the great job we are doing. It makes me feel great to know that we are moving the comic book industry to a safer and brighter future.

The finished product, complete and sealed

Steve Borock is the Primary Grader at Comics Guaranty (CGC)

CGC can be contacted at www.cgccomics.com or 1-877-662-6642

 

 

The San Diego Comic Con was held July 19-22nd  at the San Diego convention center.   The con featured a wide variety of comic artists and exhibitors.  The show featured guests including  Forrest J. Ackerman,  Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho, Will Eisner, Kevin Smith, Judd Winick, and more.  The show also featured a huge number of exhibitors. This included American Association of Comic Collectors, Basement Comics, CGC,  Comiccon.com,  DC Comics, Diamond Comic Distributors, Ebay, Marvel Enterprises, Mastronet.com, and many more!! 

Maggie Thompson Editor of CBG and me seen  here with a CGC graded Platinum Age comic. The Book is a CGC graded 8.0 of the 1904 Buster Brown Drawing Book . This book  is the earliest CGC graded comic. Platinum Age comics are very difficult to locate in any condition due to their age, but high great examples are virtually unheard of.

Marty Nodell is seen here here holding a sketch of the 1940 Green Lantern. He is well known for creating the Green Lantern and he also designed the Pillsbury Dough Boy. 

Although the main focus of the show was comics, there were many other movie and character related items on hand. Also at the show was the Time Machine from the 2002 movie The Time Machine which is based on the H. G. Wells novel. 

Here is the Batmobile from the 1960's TV series. The car was on hand to promote the soon to be released DVD of the 1966 Batman movie.

My wife Jenny waiting to get into the Show Saturday morning. She was looking forward to getting Elisabeth from Survivor's autograph.  It is rumored that 25,000 people attended on Saturday alone. 

Here's Elisabeth Filarski from Survivor II. She was a guest at the Show and was signing promo cards for Upper Deck's Survivor II card series. There were only 300 cards signed by Elisabeth so many fans were unable to get one. Yet they did get a glimpse on everyone's favorite Survivor sweetheart.

You never  know who will be at the San Diego Con. These Stormtroopers were rumored to guard the show after hours!

 Saturday Night was the American Association of Comic Book Collectors dinner. This is a great event that is held each year. This year was the 9th year of the AACC Dinner.
The AACC had an amazing art exhibit for the 60th  anniversary of Captain America. Those attending the dinner included Gene Colan, John Romita Sr., George Tuska, John Romita Jr., Marie Severin, Maggie Thompson, and many more. The dinner was followed by an art auction.  AACC Treasurer, Michael Naiman is seen here auctioning one of the fine pieces of art. 

One piece of art which received heavily bidding was a Don Rosa Captain America parody cover titled Captain Duckburg.

Here is  Joe Simon's 1941 Model Sheet for Captain America. This was just one of the many pieces of art on display at the AACC Dinner. 

For more information on San Diego Comic Con 2002 visit San Diego ComicCon

For more information on the American Association of Comic Book Collectors (AACC), visit  the site at AACC.

 

 

Marc Nathan Baltimore Comic-Con Promoter 

The Baltimore Comic Con was held on October 29th  at the Towson Sheraton.  The convention was presented by Cards, Comics and Collectibles of Reisterstown, MD  The show featured a wide variety of dealers and  comic artists.   The show featured guests Murphy Anderson, Frank Cho, George Perez, Walter Simonson,  Roy Thomas,  Mark Waid,  John K. Snyder III, Steve Conley, Marty Baumann, Alex Simmons, Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, Allan Gross, Dan Parsons, Vincent Sneed, John Peters, Scott Mills, Keith Carter, Rich Henn, Terry Flippo, Tony Digerolamo, Ken Haeser,  and Peter A. Deluca.

 

 

The Comic Con program featured a George Perez cover. 

 

The crowd at the Baltimore Comic-Con was busy looking for their favorite collectibles to add to their collection! Rumor has it that they crowd was at least 1,000 people. The crowd at the show consisted of people from Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington D.C., and  Pennsylvania.  

There was a large variety of items for collectors. These items ranged from Comics,  Original  Comic Art, Action Figures, Character Premiums,  and much more. One could find either the latest comics and toys or even a Golden Age Whiz Comics #1. 

Diamond Comic Distributors the world's largest distributor of comics and related merchandise was on hand at the show. 

Comic artist Murphy Anderson was there to meet and greet fans and collectors. He is considered by many to be one of the best all time comic artists. His works include Mystery in Space, Hawkman, Batman, Justice League of America, Flash, Green Lantern, and numerous other titles.  He is currently working on cover recreations for Diamond International Galleries.  He  recently illustrated one of the two covers for the Overstreet Comic Book Guide #31 which is available in the spring of 2001.

John K. Snyder III is seen here holding a sketch of the 1939 Batman.  He is highly praised for his work on the Doctor Mid-Nite.  He recently  illustrated one of the two covers for the Overstreet Comic Book Guide #31 which is available in the spring of 2001.

 

 

           

The Golden Eagle Comic Con I was held on September 29th & 30th at Renninger's Antique & Collectibles Extravaganza at Kutztown, Pa. The convention was sponsored by Golden Eagle Comics of Reading, Pa. & Monumental Collectibles of Reisterstown, MD. The show featured a wide variety of items, Comics ranging from early Golden Age to Modern, Toys, Collectibles, and original art. The show also featured guests Dan Atkins, Jack Keller, Chris Hinz, Pete Delucca, and Ken Haeser. The show was enjoyed by both collectors and dealers alike.

The surprise guest of the show was The THING of The Fantastic Four! He was shopping at the show looking for a copy of Fantastic Four #25. Matthew Kilareski of Brain Banana Design is the designer of The Thing.

Artist Jack Keller with an original splash page from Kid Colt #125. Jack Keller worked for 32 years in the business. He worked on the staff at Quality Comics doing backgrounds for Lou Fine on "The Spirit". He later worked for Marvel Comics Kid Colt and later Charlton. His work at Charlton include Hot Rods and Racing Cars, and many others

 

 

 

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