Comics Buyer's Guide

Comics Buyer's Guide (CBG; ISSN 0745-4570), established in 1971, was the longest-running English-language periodical reporting on the American comic book industry. It awarded its annual Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards from 1982–2008, with the first awards announced in #500 (June 17, 1983). The publication ceased with the March 2013 issue.[1][2] The magazine was headquartered in Iola, Wisconsin.[3]

Comics Buyer's Guide
Comics Buyer's Guide #1600 (January 2005)
Senior EditorMaggie Thompson
Categoriescomic books news and criticism
monthly (February 1971 – August 1972)
twice-monthly (August 1972 – July 1975)
weekly (July 1975 – June 2004)
monthly (June 2004 – March 2013)
PublisherF+W Media
FounderAlan Light
First issueMarch 1971
Final issue
March 2013
CountryUnited States
Based inIola, Wisconsin



Alan Light 1975
Alan Light in his first office, in his parents' basement, in 1975

CBG was founded in February 1971 by Alan Light under the title The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom (TBG) as a monthly newspaper in a tabloid format. TBG began primarily as an advertising venue – known in comics fandom as an "adzine", i.e. a fanzine devoted to ads. Ron Frantz, in his book Fandom: Confidential, traces the lineage of Light's endeavor to Stan's Weekly Express, (aka WE) a pioneering adzine published from 1969 to 1973, whose bare-bones approach was inspired by an "obscure journal of flower advertising known as Joe's Bulletin."[4] Frantz also provides background on Light's interaction with the WE Seal of approval program, with which he cooperated in order to help combat mail fraud. Frantz in addition describes the infamous long-running feud between Light and Comics Journal founder Gary Groth.[5]

TBG's frequency was changed to twice-monthly with issue #18 (August 1, 1972). Besides occasional letter columns, beginning with issue #19 (Aug. 15, 1972), prominent fans Don and Maggie Thompson began a monthly column, "Beautiful Balloons." A news column, "What Now?" by Murray Bishoff, was added with #26 (Dec. 1, 1972). These provided the editorial content required by the United States Postal Service to qualify for second class mail (along with paid subscriptions being instituted with issue #27, Jan. 1, 1973).[6]

TBG went weekly with issue #86 (July 18, 1975). Cat Yronwode succeeded Bishoff as news reporter with issue #329 (March 7, 1980), renaming the column “Fit to Print".


In 1983, The Buyer's Guide was purchased by Krause Publications.[7] Columnists Don and Maggie Thompson were hired as editors. Krause changed the name with their first issue #482 (Feb. 11, 1983) to Comics Buyer's Guide. At that time Krause instituted the controversial[8][9][10] CBG Customer Service Award, the display of which signifies an advertiser had a "clean bill of health".

Writer Peter David's column, "But I Digress...", joined the publication in 1990.[11] The magazine added Mark Evanier's column "P.O.V." in late 1994.

In 1992, the magazine spun off its distributor and retailer news into a separate periodical, Comics & Games Retailer (which ceased publication in 2007).[12] Co-editor Don Thompson died in May 23, 1994.[13] In 1998, Krause brought on John Jackson Miller as managing editor and Brent Frankenhoff as projects editor, with Maggie Thompson remaining as editor.[14] Frankenhoff was promoted to CBG Editor in 2006, with Maggie Thompson assuming the title of Senior Editor.

In July 2002, Krause was acquired by F+W Publications.


With issue #1595 (June 2004), CBG changed its format from a weekly tabloid to a monthly perfect bound magazine. In addition, in hopes of enhancing newsstand sales, CBG added a price guide for contemporary comics as well as other new features intended to make the magazine more appealing to those with an avid interest in comic books as an investment. This marketing strategy was also tied to the yearly publication of the Standard Catalog of Comic Books, produced in conjunction with Human Computing, the makers of the comic collectors’ software ComicBase.

In July 2005, the magazine began archiving past features at its service. In late 2009, CBG's page count was reduced, the perfect binding ended, and some of the features changed, including the removal of the price guide listings.

On January 9, 2013, Krause Publications announced the cancellation of Comics Buyer’s Guide effective with issue #1699 (March 2013). The website CBGXtra and its Facebook page continued as archived resources for a time but are no longer online, replaced by the web site of the new owner The Antique Trader.[1][2] Alter Ego #122 (Jan. 2014) is a tribute issue devoted to Comics Buyer's Guide with features regarding what would have made the 1700th CBG issue if the magazine had continued.[15]

A complete collection of CBG and its predecessor is held by the Michigan State University Comic Art Collection.[16][17]


CBG hosted many columns over the years in addition to Don and Maggie Thompson's "Beautiful Balloons", Murray Bishoff's "What Now?", and Cat Yronwode's "Fit to Print."[18] With issue #25 (Nov. 15, 1972) Martin L. Greim, publisher of the fanzine The Comic Crusader, began to contribute an occasional column initially titled "M.L.G. on Comics," that later would be known as "Crusader Comments."[18] With issue #162 in 1976 Shel Dorf began an occasional series "Shel Dorf and the Fantasy Makers" interviewing creators in comics, television and film.[19] Another columnist in the 1970s was David Scroggy.[20]

Another column was Robert Ingersoll's "The Law is An Ass!". The column dealt with how comics writers erred in their depiction of the law, and what Ingersoll thought they should have done. It also dealt with procedural errors.[21]

In the CBG era, the magazine has been noted for its letter column "Oh, So?", as well as columns by Peter David, Tony Isabella, Catherine Yronwode, Rick Norwood, Mark Evanier, John Jackson Miller, Bob Ingersoll, Heidi MacDonald, Chuck Rozanski, Craig Shutt, Beau Smith, Andrew Smith, and others. As part of the June 2004 switch to monthly publication, Maggie Thompson revived the "Beautiful Balloons" column.

Cartoons and strips

Cartoonists whose work appeared in CBG include Marc Hansen, Chuck Fiala, Jim Engel, Dan Vebber, Fred Hembeck, Mark Engblom, Brian Douglas Ahern, Chris Smigliano, Mark Martin, Batton Lash, Brian Hayes, and others. For some years CBG reprinted installments of The Spirit comic strip by Will Eisner. The panel cartoon "Last Kiss" by John Lustig was also among the longtime fixtures. Professional comic book artists such as Jack Kirby, C.C. Beck and Alex Toth, as well as otherwise-unknown fan artists, regularly contributed covers along with headers and spot illustrations to the "Beautiful Balloons" and "Fit to Print" columns.

See also


  1. ^ a b Frankenhoff, Brent (January 9, 2013). "F+W Announces Closure of Comics Buyer’s Guide". Comics Buyer’s Guide
  2. ^ a b Miller, John Jackson (January 9, 2013). "End of an era: Comics Buyer's Guide, 1971–2013". The Comichron
  3. ^ Brent Frankenhoff (December 14, 2012). The Greatest Comic Book Covers of All Time. Krause Publications Craft. p. 1. ISBN 1-4402-3499-X. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  4. ^ Ron Frantz. Fandom: Confidential. Mena, Arkansas: Midguard Publishing, 2000, p.53
  5. ^ Ron Frantz. Fandom: Confidential. Mena, Arkansas: Midguard Publishing, 2000.
  6. ^ Groth, Gary. "Editorial," Nostalgia Journal #27 (July 1976).
  7. ^ "Light Sells Buyer's Guide to Krause Publications," The Comics Journal #80 (Mar. 1983), p. 22.
  8. ^ "Comics Buyer's Guide Advertisement Criteria Draw Fire from Advertisers," The Comics Journal #91 (July 1984), pp. 8–10.
  9. ^ "CBG Censors Ad Addressing Glenwood Distributors Accounts," The Comics Journal #115 (April 1987), p. 26.
  10. ^ "Comics Buyer's Guide Rejects Trident Ad," The Comics Journal #131 (September 1989), pp. 11–12.
  11. ^ Greenberger, Robert (January 10, 2013). "The Comics Buyer’s Guide: 1971–2013". ComicMix.
  12. ^ "F+W Shutters Multiple Magazines" (Folio:). Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  13. ^ Butler, Don (July 1994). "CGB Co-Editor Don Thompson Dead at 58". Hero Illustrated. pp. 16.
  14. ^ "News Watch: Krause Publications Names Editors," The Comics Journal #203 (April 1998), p. 30.
  15. ^ Mr. Morrow (2013-12-05). "Alter Ego bids farewell to Comics Buyer's Guide in a special tribute issue". TwoMorrows Publishing. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  16. ^ Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection: "Buxadé" to "Büyük Mavi"
  17. ^ Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection: "Comics Ban" to "Comics Express"
  18. ^ a b "Comics Buyer's Guide – Antique Trader". Antique Trader. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  19. ^ Russ Maheras list of "Shel Dorf and the Fantasy Makers" interviewees Archived March 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Hal Scroggy's Watercolor Portrait of Shel". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  21. ^ Ingersoll, Bob. "The Law Is an Ass". World Famous Comics. Retrieved May 3, 2014.

Further reading

  • John Jackson Miller, Maggie Thompson and Brent Frankenhoff. "Weeks of Wonder: The TBG Years. A Guide to The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom 1971–1983". Comics Buyer's Guide 1997 Annual, pp. 59–101.

External links

Astro City

Kurt Busiek's Astro City is an American superhero anthology comic book series centered on a fictional American city of that name. Created and written by Kurt Busiek, the series is mostly illustrated by Brent Anderson, with character designs and painted covers by Alex Ross.

The first volume was published from 1995 to 1996 by Image Comics. In 1996, a second volume was launched under the Homage Comics imprint of Image partner studio WildStorm, which was then acquired by DC Comics, where the series later transitioned to the WildStorm Signature Series imprint and continued until 2010. During this period it switched from a regular ongoing series to a sequence of periodic mini-series and special issues. A third, ongoing volume was launched under DC's Vertigo imprint in 2013 and concluded with no. 52 in 2018, reverting to occasional miniseries and original graphic novels. Counting all series, mini-series and special issues, over 100 issues had been published as of early 2017.

Brent Frankenhoff

Brent Frankenhoff (born February 10, 1966) is an American author and editor of books and magazines about comic books, best known for his work on Comics Buyer's Guide and the Standard Catalog of Comic Books.

A collector of comic books since childhood, he joined Krause Publications in 1992 as an assistant to Don Thompson and Maggie Thompson. In 1995, he co-authored the first of a line of price guides, the Comic Book Checklist and Price Guide (now on its 15th edition). Named Comics Buyer's Guide's projects editor in 1998, Frankenhoff became Editor of the journal in 2006. He worked with ComicBase creator Peter Bickford to develop a joint comics database, which Krause used to launch the Standard Catalog of Comic Books series in 2002. The fifth edition of that publication was issued as a DVD-ROM in 2008.

Carol Kalish

Carol Kalish (February 14, 1955 – September 5, 1991) was an American writer, editor, comic book retailer, and sales manager. She worked as Direct Sales Manager and Vice President of New Product Development at Marvel Comics from 1981 to 1991. She is credited with pioneering the American comics direct market when it was in its adolescence, in part through a program wherein Marvel helped pay for comic book stores to acquire cash registers. She was the winner of an Inkpot Award in 1991, and in 2010 was posthumously awarded the first ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award, beating nominees such as Will Eisner, Julius Schwartz and Phil Seuling.

Cerebus (comics)

Cerebus is the first collected volume of Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim's Cerebus comic book series. It is made up of the first 25 issues of Cerebus, plus, as of the 11th edition, some strips that ran in Comics Buyer's Guide featuring Silverspoon, a parody of the comic strip Prince Valiant.

While Cerebus is the first volume in the series, it was the third to be collected in "phonebook" form, after High Society and Church & State Volume I.

Chuck Rozanski

Charles Rozanski (born March 11, 1955) is a German-American retailer and columnist, known as the President and CEO of the Denver, Colorado-based Mile High Comics Inc., and a columnist for the Comics Buyer's Guide.

Comic book price guide

Comic book price guides are generally monthly, quarterly, or yearly publications which detail the changes in the resale value of a comic over a period of time. Price guides are also important tools for collectors looking to sell their collection or determine their collection’s worth for insurance purposes.

Each collector will have his or her own preference regarding which authority to follow, but popular and respected guides have included The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, Comics Buyer's Guide magazine, Wizard Magazine, the Comics Buyer's Guide Standard Catalog of Comic Books, and Human Computing’s ComicBase, an inventory/databasing software program. Popular online price guides include (free), (free and paid services), RarityGuide (free and paid), and specifically for CGC (certified) Comics (paid). Online and print price guides will have their own discrepancies, so a combination of several sources is often used by collectors to arrive at an accurate estimated value. Checking completed auctions at eBay and Heritage is also very helpful.

Although many price guides come and go, long-standing publications such as Overstreet (which has been running for over 35 years) or the more recent Standard Catalog of Comic Books, have long since become inextricable elements of comic collection history. These guides are popular resources for collectors and enthusiasts seeking information on anything from storylines to writers and artists to the original cover price of a comic. Grand Comics Database and, in particular, offer users the ability to quickly search for characters by appearances and deaths. The Big Comic Book DataBase combines a searchable database of per issue character and creator information and a linked price guide.

The advent of certification enabled increased liquidity of comic books by removing disputes over grading and by disclosing restoration, and accelerated sales of comic books through online auction sites such as eBay or Heritage Auction Galleries. Certification is also valued by some comic price guide providers, as certification leaves the perception of removing the uncertainty about the actual grade of the comic book being sold, although, because books that are certified are graded by numerous different individuals, the dependability of these services is not universally agreed upon. Individual and/or aggregated reports of certified comic book sales are available online.

Garth Ennis

Garth Ennis (born 16 January 1970) is a Northern Irish-born naturalized American comics writer, best known for the Vertigo series Preacher with artist Steve Dillon and his nine-year run on Marvel Comics' Punisher franchise. He has collaborated with artists such as Dillon and Glenn Fabry on Preacher, John McCrea on Hitman, Marc Silvestri on The Darkness, and Carlos Ezquerra on both Preacher and Hitman.

Goethe Awards

The Goethe Award, later known as the Comic Fan Art Award, was an American series of comic book fan awards, first presented in 1971 for comics published in 1970. The award originated with the fanzine Newfangles and then shared close ties with The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom.

The Goethe Award was named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Goethe was the person who encouraged Rodolphe Töpffer, "the father of comic strips," to publish his stories.The Comic Art Convention (CAC) twice hosted the presentation of the awards, at the 1972 and 1974 CACs. The format and balloting of the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards, presented by the Comics Buyer's Guide from 1982–2008, were in many ways derived from the Goethe Award/Comic Fan Art Award.

John Kalisz

John Kalisz is an American comics artist who has worked as a colorist in the comics industry. He has been recognized for his work with nominations for the Comics Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist Award in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

In August 1997 John Kalisz worked on the official movie adaptation comic of Steel, which was released by DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Shaquille O'neal starred as Steel in the movie.

John Lustig

John Lustig (born January 25, 1953) is an American comics writer and former journalist, principally known for his comic book scripts featuring Donald Duck and other members of Disney's Duck family. Lustig's scripts have been illustrated by William Van Horn and other artists. In addition, Lustig has written Mickey Mouse scripts that have been drawn by Noel Van Horn (William's son) and others. His first script was for Gold Key Comics ("Flatfood Duck" Daffy Duck #112 [Dec. 1977]), done just after graduating from college (it would be a decade before he wrote any other comics).Lustig has also become known for his clever post-modern rescripting of panels from old romance comic pages previously published by Charlton Comics under the banner Last Kiss. Besides four issues of the comic book Last Kiss, the panels have also become a regular feature of Comics Buyer's Guide, and recently expanded into being featured on T-shirts, greeting cards, etc.

Krause Publications

Krause Publications is a publisher of leisure-time and enthusiast magazines and books located in Iola, Wisconsin. The company was started by Chet Krause upon the publication in October 1952 of the first issue of Numismatic News. They are best known for its Standard Catalog of World Coins, a series of numismatic catalogs commonly referred to as Krause-Mishler catalogues or simply Krause catalogues, they provide information, pricing, and Krause-Mishler (KM) numbers referring to coin rarity and value. Krause-Mishler releases a yearly catalogue of world coins with values and KM numbers. Krause-Mishler numbers are the most common way of assigning values to coins. In addition, they established the Coin of the Year Award. Krause Publications also publishes paper money catalogs, knife collector price guides and formerly the comics industry magazine Comics Buyer's Guide. In July 2002 Krause was acquired by F+W Media.

Maggie Thompson

Margaret "Maggie" Thompson (born Margaret Curtis on November 29, 1942), is a former librarian, longtime editor of the now-defunct Comics Buyer's Guide (a comic book industry news magazine), science fiction fan and collector of comics.

Murray Bishoff

Murray Bishoff is a writer at The Monett Times in Monett, Missouri. Formerly a contributor to Comics Buyer's Guide, Bishoff won an Inkpot Award in 1980. Bishoff is also known for his research and writings on the 1901 fifteen-hour lynching spree in Pierce City, Missouri, during which white residents murdered three African American residents and caused nearly 300 others to flee the city. His writings include a series of articles published to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the event and the historical novel Cry of Thunder. In addition, the town's cemetery holds a marker to the event paid for in large part by Bishoff and the Pierce City Museum hosts an exhibit which Bishoff created. He has also publicly spoken about the event to CNN and appears in a documentary about the event, Banished: How Whites Drove Blacks out of Town in America.Bishoff is the vice-president of the Harold Bell Wright Museum in Pierce City.

Peter David

Peter Allen David (born September 23, 1956), often abbreviated PAD, is an American writer of comic books, novels, television, films and video games. His notable comic book work includes an award-winning 12-year run on The Incredible Hulk, as well as runs on Aquaman, Young Justice, Supergirl, Fallen Angel, Spider-Man 2099 and X-Factor.

His Star Trek work includes both comic books and novels such as Imzadi, and co-creating the New Frontier series. His other novels include film adaptations, media tie-ins, and original works, such as the Apropos of Nothing and Knight Life series. His television work includes series such as Babylon 5, Young Justice, Ben 10: Alien Force and Nickelodeon's Space Cases, which he co-created with Bill Mumy.

David often jokingly describes his occupation as "Writer of Stuff", and is noted for his prolific writing, characterized by its mingling of real-world issues with humor and references to popular culture, as well as elements of metafiction and self-reference.David has earned multiple awards for his work, including a 1992 Eisner Award, a 1993 Wizard Fan Award, a 1996 Haxtur Award, a 2007 Julie Award and a 2011 GLAAD Media Award.

Sandman Midnight Theatre

Sandman Midnight Theatre is the title of a one-shot comic book in which two DC comics characters called the Sandman — Dream and Wesley Dodds — encounter each other. Sandman Midnight Theatre was co-written by Sandman Mystery Theatre author Matt Wagner (co-plot) and The Sandman author Neil Gaiman (co-plot/script), and featured painted artwork by Teddy Kristiansen and lettering by Todd Klein. It received the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Original Graphic Novel/Album for 1996.

Tony Isabella

Tony Isabella (born December 22, 1951) is an American comic book writer, editor, artist and critic, known as the creator and writer of Marvel Comics' Black Goliath; DC Comics' first major African-American superhero, Black Lightning; and as a columnist and critic for the Comics Buyer's Guide.

Uncle Scrooge Adventures

Uncle Scrooge Adventures was a comic book published by Gladstone Publishing under license from the Walt Disney Company. It features the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. It was usually distinguished from the main Uncle Scrooge title in its focus on longer, full-length stories, often in the pulp adventure style.

The first series ran for 21 issues from 1987 to 1990, when Gladstone Publishing's license with the Walt Disney Company ceased. Disney Comics chose not to continue the series from 1990 through 1993. When Gladstone renewed their license in 1993, they resumed the series, picking up with issue 22. The series continued until 1997, when it fell victim to the "Gladstone implosion" and ceased publication following issue 54. The series was not subsequently revived by either Gemstone Publishing (who held the Disney comics license from 2003 through 2008) or Boom! Studios (who held it from 2009 through 2011).

The story Horsing Around with History in issue 33 of the second series won the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Comic-Book Story for 1996.

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