So I don’t buy older back issues for myself too much anymore…partially because I just don’t have the budget to do so, and partially because I have far too many comics as it is, and it’s already a Heculean task awaiting those who have to clear out my home after my eventual demise. But, “he says, after going super-dark in the very first line,” I find a deal I can’t pass up, and this week’s deal is…
…Archie Annual #9, from 1957-8. It’s nearly 100 pages of comics, it’s from my favorite period of Archies, it’s in reasonable and readable condition, and it was under nine bucks. Plus, it has the cutest Midge ever:
…but don’t tell Moose I said that.
Anyway, I do love giant special comics…when I was a kid, I sought out those special anniversary issues, like Detective Comics #500 and Justice League of America #200…I bought the annuals, the anniversary issues, and a couple of decades back, I started collecting all of DC’s Eighty Page (then 64-page, then 48-page) Giants, back when they were still affordable. I used to fish DC’s 100-Page Giants out of the quarter bins, back when “aw, these are just reprints, who wants these” was the prevailing school of thought. I guess that’s just the…frugal side of my collecting bug, wanting more for my money.
Plus, there just seems to be some more…significant about the extra-sized issues. The historical value of the reprinted stories. The special event-ness of the superhero anniversary issues, where, like the “mythology” episodes of X-Files or Lost, something wrapped up, something concluded, something was revealed or something changed, where the running-in-place status quo actually seemed to run forward an inch or two (until maintainers of the franchise forced things to return to where they were). Or, like this Archie annual, the sheer amount of content you received for your money was in itself special, where you were getting, like it said on the cover, a “BIG COMPLETE BOOK” with a squarebound spine and everything, not like that floppy, thin, and not nearly as permanent-seeming magazine that you could get every month.
And as I drove home, with this copy of Archie Annual #9 sitting on the seat next to me, I thought about how there were once stacks of these sitting on newsstands over 50 years ago, in brand new condition, being bought by kids with their quarters, brought home, read, passed along to friends, confiscated by teachers, or left behind and tossed out when it came time for parents to reclaim the former rooms of their grown-up children, and how this copy, this very copy right here now sitting on my desk next to me as I type this, managed to survive the decades and end up with me. So thanks to that kid, who may have been seven or ten or so years old at the time, who’d be at least in his or her sixties now or just about, for investing your quarter so long ago and beginning the chain of events that continued with my Thursday purchase of this comic. And that chain will continue on when the time comes for this comic to move on to someone else.
To that person who eventually gets this comic, hopefully sometime in the distant future, who may think back about the people were part of the chain that eventually passed it down to him: you’re welcome.