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If that Swamp Thing book existed, I would never fall behind on it.

§ September 21st, 2015 § Filed under collecting, pal plugging, self-promotion § 1 Comment

Well, now I’m at the point where the to-read pile of comics is beginning to creep every so slightly upwards each week, as I find myself with decreasing amounts of time to keep up with them. The side effect of owning a store, surely, particularly since it’s still just me running the place seven days a week, so “free time” is no longer the easily-obtainable commodity it once was. “Read ’em at work,” I’m sure someone may cry out, but I’m generally too busy trying to make some coin of the realm while at the shop, and I’m sure it wouldn’t help matters any for comic book guys ‘n’ gals across the nation to perpetuate the idea of “wow, a job where you just sit around and read comics all day…sounds like hard work, har har.”

It’s not as if I get all that many comics, either. And I manage to make time to read the Peanuts reprints and last week’s release of Kate Beaton’s new book, so it’s not as if I have towers of unread runs of Those Other Avengers and Swamp Thing’s Kung-Fu Force teetering over me in my Gentleman’s Reading Room. Like I said, it’s a slow creep, a small stack getting gradually, almost imperceptibly higher each week, filling me with no small amount of nostalgic lament for the days when I’d bring home the week’s new comics, and just sit there and read ’em ’til I was done with the stack. Now I have my allotted comic reading time, where I read what I can until I have to go on and do whatever the next thing is.

Okay, it’s not quite as regimented as that, but I’m a little more aware of the free time I have and more careful about how I spend it. Like spending an hour or so every other night writing a comics blog.

Some of the comics that are getting backlogged on me:

The Maxx – Sam Keith and William Messner-Loebs’ weirdo Image comic from the early days of the company, now being reprinted issue-by-issue by IDW. I read the first six issues of the original release back in the ’90s, and cut it from my reading list in a cost-saving measure, I think, and sort of regretted it ever since. I fell behind on reading the newest reprintings, but knowing this is a finite run makes it easier to deal with. I suspect this comic holds together better reading all together over a short period of time, anyway, rather than absorbing it in monthly installments.

Haunted Horror and Weird Love – two of Craig Yoe’s bimonthly reprint series, which are great, don’t get me wrong. However, being as how most of the stories contained within date from a time when comic publishers weren’t scared of piling the text into each panel, it can take a little longer to properly appreciate each issue. Which is great…get that $3.99’s worth out of each installment, but sometimes they get sorted to the bottom of the pile as other, more current, more easily absorbed titles get read first.

Miracleman – well, sure, I read ’em all the first time when Eclipse Comics published them decades ago, and still have those issues in what’s left of The No Longer Quite So Vast Mikester Comic Archives. I’m still buying the reprint issues, partially to appreciate the recoloring/remastering, partially to complain, and partially to support the series so that we can finally get the new Miracleman stories by Gaiman and Buckingham, picking up from where they left off twenty years ago, or whatever it was. Tends to get left for last because I don’t feel like prying off the mostly-unnecessary polybags.

In conclusion, “a bloo-bloo, I don’t have time to read my funnybooks,” which is the whiniest of my complaints ever. I think I’m in good shape, though, so long as I don’t backlog myself into a warehouse full of boxes filled of unread comics, awaiting that day I’m bedridden with some horrible yet non-reading-impairing illness that will allow me to catch up.

And that’s just comics. Here’s a stack of hardcovers sitting on an endtable in the bedroom, and the Netflix queue, and…ugh, someone tell the Grim Reaper I can’t fit death into my schedule for the next few decades, I have too much entertainment to follow.

• • •

This week’s Question Time over at Trouble with Comics addresses the most terrifying of queries: “DO COMICS MATTER?” The answer is of course, NO WAY, NUH UH, FORGEDDABOUDIT…well, okay, we all say they do, more or less. SPOILERS. Also, this time around everyone’s question is put up as a separate blog entry, so this little ol’ link here to this week’s question time should take you to all of them. You’ll need to scroll down a bit to see mine…stop when you find that one somewhat familiar picture of me (which has been altered ever so lightly).

In which Mike refers to himself in the third person a little too much at the start.

§ June 9th, 2015 § Filed under collecting § 7 Comments

Sorry for missing out on my usual Monday post…turns out Sunday night your pal Mike’s body said “NO BLOGGING, MUST SLEEP,” and I had to give it a pass.

I’m still a little wiped out, but I was reminded of a story from the Comic Collecting Adventures of Young Mikester, in the far-distant mists of time, of that near-fabled year of 1985. It was then that I picked up a copy of The One #2 off the rack, attracted by the strange looking cover and the fact that it was by that Rick Veitch guy whose work I’d enjoyed in Epic Illustrated:

I looked around the shop a bit, looking for a copy of the first issue. When I couldn’t find it, I put the request in to Ralph (the shop owner and, a few years after this, my boss) for that initial issue. He didn’t have it available just then, but said he’d try to get one for me.

So, for the next couple of weeks, when I made my usual new comics day journey to the shop, I would bug Ralph about the status of my request. “Is The One #1 in yet?” “No.”

“Is The One #1 in yet?” “No.”

“Is The One #1 in yet?” “NO.”

Until finally, one week, I asked if it were in again and Ralph replies “YES! Yes, I have it! Here you go!” and hands me a copy.

With a twelve dollar price tag on the bag.

I know I said “…uh….” I’m sure I blanched a little. As cheap as I am now, I was even cheaper then and I certainly wasn’t expecting that price for the comic.

And then Ralph laughed at my reaction and quickly scratched the “1” out of the price, making the comic two bucks. And thus I learned my les…okay, I didn’t learn anything. Well, except to do similar pranks to my own customers, but that was still a few years away.

Anyway, I actually still have that sticker attached to my copy of The One #1:

I’ve even replaced the bag on that comic at some point since then, carefully removing the sticker from the old bag and placing it on the new one.

Here’s a closer look:

According to the most recent price guide, near mint copies of this comic now price out at $3.00. Hah, I got this comic out from under Ralph for only 2/3rds guide! What a (thirty-years-in-the-making) deal!

And this week’s “Recovered from the Stacks” book is…

§ March 23rd, 2015 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 8 Comments

Dr. Fate!

When I initially opened my shop, I was primarily feeding the back issue bins with comics from my own collection…sure, there was the odd long box or two I picked up along the way, but a lot of the books were collected by my own hands, picked up once a week at ye olde comick shoppe (later ye olde place of employmente). I was, and still am, by and large, okay with parting with most of the stuff…I’ve read and enjoyed it all — well, enjoyed most of it, anyway — and I don’t mind it going to new homes for new folks to enjoy. And some stuff (like, say, Preacher) I can always get in reprint form.

I’ve noted before that not everything went into the shop. Obviously I kept my Swamp Thing comics…I mean, duh. My Don Rosa Disney comics I didn’t have otherwise reprinted. My Groo the Wanderers. My Cerebus. That full run of Yummy Fur I finally finished and am selling over my dead body. And so on.

But there are a few things that I put on the tables at the shop that I kind of regretted, and as I’ve acquired more collections and filled up more of the store with a wider selection of back issues (and not just “whatever Mike was reading when he was in high school”), I’ve felt like I can take back some books I planned on sacrificing to the greater good and return them to the personal collection. Not that I’ve done it very often…the odd book here and there, DC’s Who’s Who, that’s about it. Not anything that was really selling at the shop anyway.

…Like, as I said above, Dr. Fate.

I doubt there will ever be an extensive reprinting of these particular comics, unless DC decides to counterprogram Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie with a Dr. Fate film and merchandise appropriately, and I will go to the hat store, spend an hour picking out a hat, buy said hat, take the hat home, gently remove the hat from its packaging, cook the hat for about an hour and a half at 350 degrees, take the hat out, let the hat sit for about fifteen minutes, garnish the hat lightly, and then eat the hat if that should actually happen. Anyway, I really enjoy this particular run of the book, from the ’80s into the ’90s, starting with this three-issue reprint series:

…which includes a Golden Age Fate story, plus a kick-ass story where Fate fights a mummy, as drawn by Walt Simonson:

The remaining two issues reprint the Dr. Fate back-ups from The Flash:

…which features Keith Giffen’s art to better effect on the nice white Baxter paper than it did in its original newsprint presentation, which had lots of color holds and heavy inks and other visual hoohar that kind of got lost in translation initially.

A little bit later was this all-new mini-series establishing a new status quo for the good Doctor, again illustrated by Giffen, who’s joined by J.M. DeMatteis:

With DeMatteis along, things get a little more spiritual and mystical (even for a character already mired in magic, that’s quite the trick), and occasionally a bit abstract:

…which makes complete sense in context, I promise.

DeMatteis continues to bring his more introspective perspective to the character in the follow-up ongoing series, primarily illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Shawn McManus:

That’s not a typical cover for the series…usually it’s line-drawn images, but I always liked that weird cover so there it is, representing the ongoing series on this here website.

With issue #25 William Messner-Loebs, Vince Giarrano and Peter Gross come on board, and…if memory serves, it’s not quite as bonkers the preceding 24 issues, but it’s still not bad. Can probably stand to reread the series and refresh my recollections of it, but if only I had a full run of…oh, wait, I do! I can’t believe my good fortune.

…Of course, this will be the week someone charges into my shop, waving a fistful of hundred dollar bills in his hand, demanding that he be able to buy full runs of the above Doctor Fate series right this instant.

It’s always the 1990s here on Progressive Ruin Dot Com.

§ December 31st, 2014 § Filed under collecting, death of superman § 7 Comments

So being in the comics retail industry in a location close to where Malibu Comics’s home base was located when it was active, we’ve seen a lot of the material produced by that company. And I don’t mean just the regular stuff, but promotional material, rare items, and just lots ‘n’ bundles of multiple copies of various products. I remember at one point obtaining what must have been a case of The Trouble with Girls graphic novels.

I’ve seen a pretty large number of the variant covers over the years, such as the full-cover hologram variants for Mortal Kombat and Star Trek Deep Space Nine and the like, not to mention plenty of those foil-variant Ultraverse covers. In fact, the other day I had a fellow who identified himself as a former employee of Malibu (and Marvel, after that company bought out the former) come by the shop, hand me a small pile of comics, and tell me “here, I’ve been sitting on these a while and you can have ’em if you can use ’em.” And yes, there were a few of the usual items in there, like those hologram covers I mentioned, and what I thought was just another foil Ultraverse variant:

…until I noticed this embossed stamp on the front cover:

…and this certificate explaining just what it was:

…and I was all set to write up a whole post about this, but just like two weeks ago this Ultraverse blog already put together a far better and more informative post about this very thing than I would have. The thing I learned from that post I found most interesting was that, despite the certificate stating “limited to 500 copies,” far fewer than that were actually created and distributed. The number given is about 30, though the picture in that blog post shows a certificate numbered 134, but who knows what kind of numbering shenanigans were going on. Perhaps earlier numbers were being reserved for employees and other special persons, since the copy in my hands is #7.

Anyway, I put it on the eBays to see who’d salute, so we’ll see how it goes.

Also recently acquired was the Platinum Edition of Adventures of Superman #500, which you can tell is totally the platinum edition of the comic because the bag surrounding it is clearly printed with the words “PLATINUM EDITION” along the bottom:

It’s kind of a drag that someone had this pinned up on a wall, apparently, as there are a couple of pinholes in the top center of the polybag…who’d buy a “hot, rare collectible” in a time where “hot, rare collectibles” were the be-all, end-all of the comics retail industry and then pin the sucker on a wall? That seems almost counter-intuitive to the investment mentality running rampant in the business then. It even had the $125(!) price tag still affixed to the comic bag it was being stored in.

I’ve come across these bagged platinum editions before, and always wondered if just the polybag itself was supposed to be the “platinum” bit (as this bag was black and silver, versus the red and white of the regular version) or if the comic inside was platinum-ized. I suppose if I really wondered that much, I could have Googled or eBay-searched it for myself before now, but I finally looked and found a few of these for sale:

This is one of those “pro-graded” slabbed copies, where they apparently removed the polybag before sealing the funnybook into its little plastic coffin. The color of this cover may be dimmed a bit, as you’re seeing it through about 1/16 inch or so of plastic, but that is definitely a “platinum” (well, silvery-whitish) version of a cover that is normally black. Plus it says “platinum” in the corner and they wouldn’t print it if it weren’t true. Another difference is that the logo on the platinum version features raised lettering while the regular version does not, a fact I just now went to check with my copy of the non-platinum version down in the No-Longer-Quite-As-Vast Mikester Comic Archives.

Speaking of polybags, I also picked up one of these:

…which is the regular cover edition Superman #82, which also had a chromium cover. However, this version of #82 polybagged with a poster was, according to my two seconds of Google research, a Walmart variant which I don’t believe I’d seen before. No UPC code on the comic cover, but said code was provided on the back of the bag itself. I don’t know what the poster itself looks like…my guess is that it’s that cover, but maybe someone can let me know.

Twenty-plus years on, I’m still talking about the Death of Superman. Let us look forward to a happy 2015 and, with any luck, even more posts about the Death of Superman. See you then, friends.

I’ve collected comics for less reason…well, okay, I haven’t.

§ December 29th, 2014 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 4 Comments

So it came time for your pal Mike’s Teen Titans collection to be given up to the store in sacrifice, but I’m still a’keepin’ a couple of them in the no-longer-so-vast Mikester Comic Archives: this special by Bob Haney and Jay Stephens, this issue of DC Super Stars that I’ve had since I was a kid, and this issue:

…the not-so-stealthy “crossover” with a superhero team that may be somewhat similar to the DNAgents. I partially retained it because it was illustrated by Nexus cocreator Steve Rude:

…but I was actually on the fence about it for a minute or so until I glanced through it and spotted this panel in the George Perez-illustrated back-up story:

I am an insanely easy mark, sometimes.

This was a hard run of comics to give up to the shop, but it helps that I recently just reread the early “prime” issues of the Wolfman/Perez run, up to about issue 50 or so, enough to realize that if I really want to keep these stories around for posterity, I’m going to want to invest in one of the recent reprint volumes. I don’t know if you’ve looked at your copies of those earliest issues lately, but time and paper stock has not been kind to the printing on those. Or maybe it’s just a decline in my own eyesight, but that would mean I’m aging and clearly that’s not possible.

My pricing of the Titans comics hasn’t quite reached this issue yet, which, if you haven’t read the “Titans Hunt” storyline, was a much-needed revitalization of the Titans franchise, and really kept you on the edge of your seat wondering what was going to happen next. It honestly did feel like “anything goes” and had an energy to it that the series hadn’t had since its earlier days. The storyline certainly made me a fan of artist Tom Grummett, who I think was probably the best artist on the series aside from Perez.

Hopefully I didn’t just talk myself into keeping those comics, too.

• • •

In other news:

  • The article in the online version of the county newspaper about my store that I linked to a few days ago finally made it to Sunday’s print edition, resulting in a few more folks discovering my shop. It also resulted in a handful of customers of mine from my previous employment realizing “oh, that’s where Mike went.”
  • My post about shipping to prisons resulted in a couple of people contributing their own stories on the topic that I think you might enjoy reading. I certainly found them interesting.
  • Special thanks to ProgRuin reader/commenter Walaka for dropping by the store over the weekend! Always happy to meet in person my online friends!

Eight out of ten ain’t bad.

§ April 18th, 2014 § Filed under collecting § 7 Comments

So I made good on my promise…well, my passing whim, at any rate…and dug deep into the back issue bins at the store to pull out a set of the 1970s Charlton run of E-Man. Most of it, at any rate. We had several copies of some issues, in a wide range of conditions, but alas, issues 8 and 10 were not to be found. Sure, I could have settled for the reprints of those original issues First published later, but given the choice, I’m going for the older books, what with the swell covers and the tanned pages and the terrible ads and what have you.

I’m not much of a stickler for condition; so long as they don’t fall apart in my hands or smell like gasoline I’m okay. Most of these were in the Very Good to Fine range, and the worst condition copy was #2, which was in Good (i.e. “the eBay ‘Fine Plus'”):

Speaking of the eBay, it’s probably to the Internet auctionings I go to fill out the run, unless I’ve got #8 and #10 hiding in the backroom of the shop somewhere (and given the “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” state of the backroom, it’s not unlikely).

It does look like we have all of the First Comics series, and then things get a tad complicated after that, looking at the Wikipedia page. Then there’s all the Mike Mauser stuff, Mauser being a private detective supporting character in E-Man and having his own back-up series in Charlton’s Vengeance Squad. I think we have those at the shop, but those are also reprinted along with the original E-Man stories by First Comics, and that series also has some previously unpublished work and now I’m thinking I should have just taken home the reprints instead.

AAARGH. Now I’m waffling. I may bring back the originals and go for the reprints. But the originals have the cool Ditko back-ups. Man, these big decisions are the worst. I’m going to end up buying both versions and hating myself. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE MADE ME DO.

There was also a series teaming up Mike Mauser with Ms. Tree, Ms. Tree being a series I did read and I tell you right now, without checking my inventory list, I couldn’t tell you with any confidence whether or not I own that mini. I’ve seen it at the shop plenty of times, but my memory tells me I didn’t pick it up because I wasn’t familiar or just indifferent to Mauser, but my collector-fanboy-sense tells me I did pick it up because it’s a Ms. Tree tie-in. I have no idea. Okay, hold on for a second, I’ll check.

[tempus fugit]

Looks like I don’t have ’em. Well, I guess if reading E-Man is going to turn me into a Mike Mauser completist, I guess I’d better pick those up at some point, too and fill out that Ms. Tree collection at the same time.

Now, all I have to do is find time to read all these. I’m sure that’ll be no problem. I’ve almost made it through #1!

Gang of street toughs closely stalking the Black Cat, or promo image for a new wave band?

§ April 9th, 2014 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 6 Comments

…or, possibly, both:

Anyway, that’s not what I originally planned this post to be about. This image was taken from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #90, cover-dated May 1984, and is notable primarily for being one of the first appearances of Spidey’s then-new black costume.

The subject came to mind when, on our store’s Facebook page, a customer questioned an assertion I made on our regular website that Amazing Spider-Man #252 was the black costume’s first appearance. “Isn’t it Secret Wars #8?” he wondered, and I explained that even though Spider-Man is shown first receiving the costume in SW #8, that is actually a good seven months or so after the costume made its debut in ASM.

However, even that’s apparently not cut ‘n’ dried, since in Overstreet it’s noted that ASM #252, the aforementioned Peter Parker #90, and Marvel Team-Up #141 are “tied” (Overstreet’s terminology) for the costume’s first appearance.

Today’s Marvel is more than happy to crank out four or five or six Avengers or X-Men titles the same week, but it was my memory that wasn’t Marvel’s habit way back when, when all these comics were hitting the stands. So it had me wondering, even though they’re all cover-dated May 1984, did they all come out the same week, or on succeeding weeks, and which one was first?

Alas, though our store was open then, those invoices/cycle sheets/what-have-yous were discarded long ago. A little Googling finds some discussion (like this example), based mostly on “I-was-there” memories, plus additional blurring of the costume’s history with the inclusion of prior promo pieces from Marvel’s news/interviews comic Marvel Age and elsewhere.

A mention of Amazing Heroes #39 as a possible “first appearance” of the costume (speaking of blurring the lines) reminded me of a feature of Amazing Heroes, the “Coming Distractions” section, which would list all the new releases for that month, including specific release dates. Thus, I pulled out #40, the issue with the relevant information, out of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, and here is what it says:

Amazing Spider-Man – “ships 1/10, newsstand o/s 1/31”

Marvel Team-Up #141 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 1/14” [typo – supposed to be 2/14…see below]

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #90 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 2/14”

And, yes, of course there’s that typo in the Marvel Team-Up listing, confusing things. But it’s certainly a typo: every other comic with a ship date of 1/24 is listed as being on sale on newsstands February 14th. (Both December 24, 1983 and January 14, 1984 would have been Saturdays, whereas every other date listed is on a Tuesday. In addition, no other book with a December shipping date is noted, so the 1/24 date doesn’t seem to be a typo.)

According to the information provided by Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man #252 was at least planned to ship out at least two weeks before the other books, making this the first in-story appearance of the black costume. This is of course assuming things worked out the way they should have. Shipments could have been delayed, books might have been late, etc. etc., so it is within the realm of possibility that some of the books may have been released, at least in some locales, simultaneously.

And then there’s the fact comic shops in the direct sales market received their books weeks prior to newsstands. I wasn’t on the business side of the counter in those days, but my memory is that direct shipping of new books wasn’t quite the exact science it is today, he said half-sarcastically, so again, it’s possible that even if the books stuck to Marvel’s schedule, who knows what order they showed up in which comic book stores.

On top of that, there was the usual speculation/hoarding shenanigans that turn up whenever something in the comic market smells like it could be “hot,” so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some people remember seeing Marvel Team-Up #141 before Amazing #252, since all the 252s were immediately scooped up, bagged, boarded, and thrown in boxes marked “DO NOT OPEN ‘TIL EBAY.” And even beyond that, the disparity between new arrivals in comic shops and new arrivals on newsstands could have meant people spotting the latter Spidey books at their comic shops before seeing #252 pop up at the local 7-11.

Anyway, I wish I knew back then I’d be writing this blog today, so that I’d have taken better notes. As it is, at the time I did buy Amazing Spider-Man #252, from a newsstand no less, because I was semi-collecting that series anyway. I don’t recall when those other Spider-Man comics in question came out in relation to 252, since I wasn’t reading those at the time and didn’t pay any attention.

I was also going to discuss whether or not Web of Spider-Man #18 should be considered the actual first appearance of Venom, but I think we’ve all had quite enough of this sort of talk today. (And if you say ASM #252 is his first appearance, I’m gonna pop you in the nose.)

image from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #90 (May 1984) by Al Milgrom and Jim Mooney

Oddly, not all that much demand for Deathlok.

§ February 24th, 2014 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 4 Comments

So I recently acquired a few of these Whitman comic book three-packs (still sealed!), and this particular one has something I’ve never seen before:

…two copies of the same comic! That’s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids #25 (from June 1978) on the front there, there’s a copy of Woody Woodpecker #168 on the other, and, in the middle, another copy of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids #25, espied by me by carefully separating the comics while still inside the polybag. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I shilled out my 99 cents and got two of the same funnybook for my troubles, I would have been a tad miffed.

I don’t know how common an error this was, as at the time these were in stores, I wasn’t going around from toy store to department store carefully examining each three-pack and doing a little amateur quality control. It was more like “MOM! Can I have this pack of Star Wars comics?” and the depth of my examination was mostly restricted to “do I already own the outer two comics visible in this package?”

Anyway, none of the comics in any of these pre-packed bags are in particularly high demand…I mean, there’s some demand for cartoon comics like Fat Albert, but the packs themselves as is will sell more quickly for us as novelty items than waiting for collectors to request the specific issues therein.

Of course, that’s not always the case. There are a handful of issues from various series that were only distributed via the Whitman three-packs and not as a racked single issue, most famously (and expensively) Uncle Scrooge #179. A copy we had about — oh, ten years ago, maybe? — sold in the $300 range on eBay, and it was around a Very Good to Fine copy, if I remember correctly.

Speaking of collectability and also awkward transitions, I’ve started to have some inquiries into the first issue of Preacher, a comic that long ago stopped having any back issue demand since the primary way anyone wants this series now is via the trade paperback/hardcover editions. Which is fine, I sell plenty of Preacher books, which has more than made up for any dead Preacher backstock we’ve had sittin’ around, but now that people are getting wind of a television adaptation, I’d better dust off that section of the back issue bins for the brief period of time that they’ll be sought after again.

Plus, the return of Doomsday is resulting in multiple requests for Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (Doomsday’s first appearance) and #18 (the start of the “Death of Superman” story). I assume that’s what’s causing it, and not some spontaneous uprising of Doomsday nostalgia. Or maybe he’s in that Batman/Superman movie and I haven’t heard about it? I mean, everyone else is, so why not.

I’m also looking forward to the eventual revival of interest in Heroes comics and merchandise. I mean, all you folks loved Heroes, right?

Ha ha, that crow will surely suffer some kind of leg or back injury! Hilarious!

§ September 30th, 2013 § Filed under collecting, golden age § 4 Comments

Here are a couple of funny animals books picked up at a recent local flea market while finding some goodies for the shop…Goofy Comics #24 (February 1948):

…and Krazy Krow #1 (1958, reprinting a comic from 1945):

I do so enjoy the off-brand (i.e. not Disney, Warner Bros., or DC Comics) funny animal comics from the Golden Age. So many oddball characters that only so briefly saw the light of day, and are now mostly gone and forgotten save for the occasional archaeological find like these.

The bags for these comics had, shall we say, optimistic pricing written upon them:

…which turned out to be Overstreet’s near mint pricing for the books. As it turned out, the comics were sold for much cheaper than the marked prices, which is a good thing since the seller had marked the near mint price for the original 1940s Krazy Krow comic, and not the decade-later reprint this was.

Anyway, I totally kept these for myself, which is one of the two perks I have at this job (the other being the cruel mistreatment of my employees). And I decided to just show them off in this post instead of writing out my usual overly-verbose Monday posts since I’m coming down with a cold, I think, and also I just watched the Breaking Bad finale and you seriously expect me to write anything after seeing that? C’mon.

I apologize in advance for using the word “pamphlets” to describe comic books.

§ September 16th, 2013 § Filed under cerebus, collecting, x-men § 9 Comments

So I recently acquired a comic that’s been haunting the back of my mind for nearly thirty years:

I glanced through this comic in the shop back when it was released in 1986, and two parts of the book have lingered with me all this time. One, the pronunciation guide on the cover (and repeated several times inside as a running gag):

I have been sort of privately pronouncing the name “X-Men” this way in my head for years. I usually don’t say it out loud, unlike “Defective Comics,” which I say every time I pull down the Detective Comics box because I think I’m hilarious.

And two:

…the shocking Cerebus cameo has stuck with me, because, you see, in the regular X-Men books, Professor X uses Cerebro, a big ol’ computer thingie, to enhance his mutant psychic abilities to find mutants. However, in Xmen (pronounced ZHMEN, one syllable) it is, of course, Cerebus who tracks mutants for Professor X, because “Cerebus” sounds sorta like “Cerebro.” Or, excuse me, “Cerebos,” as the clearly-edited-after-the-fact Us in these word balloons would have it:

I’m not even really sure why I kept this comic, which showed up in a collection recently. It’s not as if I haven’t had opportunities to pick it up in the past, since copies turned up at the shop from time to time. The comic itself as a parody doesn’t really do anything for me. There’s the funny names for the characters, the poking at X-Men tropes, the satirizing of then-current X-Men plot twists and character quirks, and so on, which might play a little better for someone more invested in the X-universe. The comic does feature some nice early work by Charles Troug, who would go on to illustrate Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man, so there’s that.

I suppose I mostly kept this comic to finally have a physical representation of those two wires this comic crossed in my head so long ago, a print version of the memories still echoing from that brief exposure.

Speaking of Cerebus, this comic came out last week:

…an anthology of parody/tribute stories by cartoonist Cerebus fans, using the Cerebus character as per creator Dave Sim’s decision to allow other folks to use it in new creative works. For the cover alone this probably deserves a place in your Cerebus collection, and you can read about its creation here (and buy a color print here!). The contents are amusing as well, with even the…less polished entries still having an undeniable and entertaining enthusiasm. Like the Xmen book above, it’s probably best appreciated by those folks still in the bag for the property being parodied, and a little too much “reading someone else’s mail” for the uninitiated. But, I’m still game for new Cerebus spin-off stuff, making me the target audience, I guess.

Almost universal reaction from customers at the shop (and even an employee or two) to seeing Low Society on the stands has been “a Cerebus parody comic…now?” which, well, fair enough. It has been nearly ten years since the series ended, but I do have to note that I’m seeing a small uptick in sales on Cerebus trade paperback collections lately, so someone out there is still discovering and reading it. Or, at the very least, upgrading their collections from the pamphlets to the phonebooks. At any rate, I did fear that once it was over, Cerebus would fade into memory, but there appears to be a little life sticking to it yet. It’s a complex, multilayered, and (especially in the latter half) divisive, problematic and controversial work, and still contains a wealth of material to be mined, discussed, criticized, and, yes, parodied.

Anyway, Cerebus: I still need to reread that someday.

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