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from Charlie Brown’s ‘Cyclopedia Vol. 15 (1981)
Hi pals…I realize posting and content on this here website thingie has been a little more slight than usual lately. I’ll be back up to speed soon, but I need a bit of time to recharge the ol’ batteries. Thanks for understanding!
So there are those reality TV shows where folks buy the contents to abandoned storage units in auction, and then do their darnedest to pull a profit out of whatever they happen to acquire. I happened to see an episode where one of the buyers was digging through the boxes in the unit he purchased, and suddenly lifted up a handful of comics books which he declared to be worth five bucks each. The onscreen tally was thusly updated, $5 times whatever number of comics he had in his hand. Of course, watching this at home, knowing the kinds of comics one usually finds in these units, I suspected the value was closer to about five cents per book.
I vaguely recall a backstory for one of the participants in these shows involving a discovery of a comic book collection that actually was worth something, containing comics that people would want, but that is almost certainly the exception, not the rule, and I’m guessing the handful of comics that gentleman was waving around was more likely 1990s Brigades than 1940s Batmans.
The main reason for that is, given the prominence and popularity of these storage unit/collectibles shows, of late I’ve been seeing an increase of folks coming by the shop, introducing themselves as buyers of old storage units, and presenting for sale whatever comics and other related items they’ve found in said units. And so far, I’ve yet to see a whole lot of any significant collector’s value. It’s bulk ’80s and ’90s comics, generally, and any older comics I’ve seen brought in from these storage auctions have been damaged to the point of being unsellable. Or, at best, in poor enough condition that any offer I make based on what I think the comics could sell for is rebuffed by the sellers, disappointed that they’re not going to make their fortunes.
It’s not unfriendly interaction, by any means. They’re not sure what they have, and I think I’m fairly successful in communicating to them that I’m not trying to undervalue their material in order to get my hands on it cheap; I’m genuinely trying to explain to them why the comics aren’t worth a lot, or aren’t in demand. I had to explain to one person that the comics they had would have been worth something if they weren’t all water-damaged. To another I had to explain that while he may have seen the same comic on eBay for hundreds of dollars, the torn-up copy he had wasn’t worth anything close to that, and in fact I probably couldn’t sell it for any price. No acrimony, no accusations…most everyone’s been understanding and reasonable and believe you me, that’s a relief.
These storage-unit collections aren’t always a bust. I do occasionally find things I can use, though nothing’s been terribly expensive. I sometimes get the “aw, I thought these would be worth more” response, but they are still happy to get the money, and I certainly hope they know I’m giving them as fair an offer as I’m able.
And once in a while, after I look at a collection and decline it, the person selling it decides that they don’t want to bother taking it with them and just dump it on us as a donation. Usually I’ll just throw ’em in the bargain bins, or (ahem) the recycle bin. However, just recently this one fellow, whom I unfortunately had to inform that his books were in unsellable condition, said “well, I had this, too, and I don’t want to deal with it, so you go ahead and keep it,” and tossed one of these on the counter before departing:
That would be a 1967 Peanuts
wall calendar (or, rather, the Peanuts Date Book 1967
). Here’s a shot of it opened up:
It’s not in bad condition…no water damage, no writing, doesn’t even appear to have been used. At worst, it may have been flipped through a few times, but otherwise it seems to have just been stored away for 46-something years. A quick look at Amazon shows some reasonable pricing in the $20-$25 range, plus some…enthusiastic pricing at nearly $200. EBay shows one being offered in the $12 range ($16 Buy-It-Now), and none showing up in the recent sales search. Had he actually offered it for us to buy, I probably would have passed, since old calendars, even neat collectible-ish ones like these, are a real bear to sell. But getting it for free? Heck, I’ll just keep it in the personal Peanuts collection, and besides, the calendar will be good again
in 2017, 2023, 2034, and 2045, so I’ll be saving a few bucks those years.
I’ll still happily look through anyone’s abandoned storage unit collections. I’m sure the long promised copy of the first Superman that everyone’s claimed to have once owned has to turn up eventually.
So it appears that with Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts: 1989 to 1990, we are fully into the “Snoopy likes cookies” jokes phase of the strip:
I remember picking up a couple of the softcover strip collections way back when, while Peanuts
was still being produced, and noticing the proliferation of cookie-related punchlines. I wasn’t particularly fond of these strips then, as many of the jokes seemed to me at the time really only technically
“punchlines,” where the humor of any particular installment seemed to be, as noted, “Snoopy likes cookies.”
I think my stance on this pressing issue is a bit more forgiving now, since I find myself enjoying the strips not so much as, you know, any kind of deep insight into the human (or beagle) condition, or as a laugh-out-loud gag, but as just a…I don’t know, a soft smile or a quiet sense of gentle bemusement as a familiar character repeatedly expressed his quirk. Also, I think I’ve since come to appreciate Schulz’s commitment to the cookie joke repetition…he decided that Snoopy liked cookies, that he thought it was funny, and by God he was going to use his comic strip to explore every freakin’ facet of that comedy gem. Plus, the dude did work on this strip for fifty years. If anyone deserved being cut a little slack, it’s him.
There may also be a small element of reappreciating someone’s work in the light of “well, there ain’t gonna be no more, so enjoy what you have.” I’ve mentioned this before in relation to Jack Kirby’s 1970s output, which was mocked in some quarters at the time, but now try to find someone who doesn’t love Devil Dinosaur.
Also in this book is this reference to Siskel and Ebert, as Sally and Charlie Brown discuss a movie they’re about to see:
Well, to be fair, that could
be a reference to Jeffrey Lyons and Michael Medved, who were also hosting a movie review TV show
at the time.
And here’s yet another terrifying example of Snoopy just straight-up speaking:
Or Schulz just merged the thought balloon and the “woof woof woof” speech balloon together, but that possibility is not nearly as fun.
AAAAAUGH! It’s terrifying! Demon! Sorcerer
Well, okay, Charles Schulz just gave Snoopy a speech balloon instead of a word balloon, which he did once or twice over the years. I think we can cut the man some slack. But still, this is the sort of thing that always stops me dead with its…wrongness, somehow. There’s a measure of communication between human and animal characters in Peanuts, of course, but never do the animals explicitly “speak” to any of the children (unless there’s something I missed).
However, there is a strip later in the volume where I spotted the above panel (The Complete Peanuts: 1985-1986) in which Marcie calls Snoopy by the name of “The Lone Beagle,” a sobriquet Snoopy used to refer to himself during one of his flights of fancy in the previous days’ strips. At first I believed it could only have been communicated to Marcie via direct speech. Then again, perhaps Marcie was able to infer the name by observing Snoopy’s acting-out of his fantasy, which opens up yet more questions regarding Snoopy’s undoglike behavior and its general acceptance in the Peanuts universe, but perhaps that’s far enough down that rabbit hole.
In other news:
- There’s some interesting stuff going on between Fantagraphics and Dave Sim regarding the possibility of new packaging of Cerebus material being covered by the Moment of Cerebus site. No idea if it’ll ever happen, but it sure is fascinating reading the back-and-forth of what would be required to make such a project materialize.
This is all in response to Sim’s statement in the last issue of Glamourpuss that he’s pretty much done with comics, and how some folks responding with the desire for him to be able to continue producing work. One of my readers asked for my thoughts on the matter, particularly from the retail end, and…well, heck, let’s just do it here instead of putting it off for another day.
Now, I liked Glamourpuss. Its weird combination of fashion parody and comic strip history was a little mindboggling, but it worked, somehow, and kept me entertained through its entire run. It started off with having me wonder what Dave was up to, and as time went on, I realized the only real answer to that was “Dave was doing something I find entertaining and informative” and that was good enough for me.
It started off relatively well as far as sales go, too…I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but if memory serves it was selling at respectable indie title levels. But, as time wore on, sales did drop, until we had just a couple of holdouts still hanging on and reading the book ’til the end. I don’t know if those readers who dropped the book were expecting Cerebus II and didn’t get it, were looking forward to new Sim material and just didn’t care for it, or just stopped buying comics entirely (a sadly realistic possibility). It’s just the simple fact that Not Everything Catches On, and I’m sorry this didn’t go as well as it did for Dave, and I certainly don’t want him to leave the industry (though I couldn’t blame him if he did).
I think he a good job promoting Glamourpuss, sending out promotional copies (I still treasure my signed copy of #1), calling stores personally (alas, he got our answering machine…when I called him back, I got his voice mail, answered by “Glamourpuss” herself!), his crazy variant covers (“zombie” variants, and variants featuring his Zatanna parody), and free overships of issues (which sometimes sold for us!). This certainly ensured good sales early on, but obviously their effectiveness wore off as time passed.
Now, did I do enough to promote Glamourpuss at the shop? As a funnybook seller, it’s my job to be an advocate for every comic for, you know, the customers I think would enjoy said comic. I can’t shout out across the shop “I think everyone will enjoy this issue of Swamp Thing!” as much as I’d like to, simply because I know it’s not for everybody. And Glamourpuss was always bit of a hard sell. I mean, it was easy (if a little nutty) to describe to people, but hard to find the people who might be interested in such a thing. And given the number of comics we carry and the number of customers with differing tastes that we have and simply given the number of hours in the day, sometimes the most advocacy I can give a comic is just making sure it’s visible on the rack, and occasionally pointing it out to people I think would like it.
I mean, I did what I could. I bought it, I enjoyed it, we carried it at the shop, I occasionally discussed it with folks, but if I could save every comic I liked from cancellation singlehandedly, Jupiter would still be on the stands.
- Pal Jim is still blogging Hellblazer comics in his extremely intelligent and captivating way over at The Laughing Magician. He’s up to issue #3…only 292 issues (at press time), plus all those annuals and tie-ins, to go, Jim!
- Well, well, well…look who’s back. …It’s Adam at Comics Make No Sense! The People have demanded that he revive his fun-filled weblog, and lo, it has come to pass. Go make the man feel welcome!
- Bully, Schrodinger’s Bull Who Is Simultaneously Little and Stuffed, brings us a Ten of a Kind featuring really, really angry folks on comic book covers…which ends in the only way it can, with comics’ greatest symbol of unrestrained rage.
- Look at what was in our pog haul. JUST LOOK AT IT.
image from Peanuts #1 (May 1963)
from The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984
- So perhaps you gathered that I was a tad excited about Nancy Is Happy, Fantagraphics’ collection of Ernie Bushmiller Nancy dailies from 1943-5. I’m only a couple of dozen pages in so far, which may surprise you, but Nancy is a pleasure to be appreciated at a leisurely pace, and not gulped down like a cheap soda.
Having read and reread and rereread the previous Nancy strip collections and nearly committing all their contents to memory, having some new (relatively speaking) material to enjoy really is a treat. Plus, getting to see some of the more explicitly propagandistic wartime material (Sluggo throwing a firecracker at a globe, which blows off the country of Japan, for example), as well as some of the more politically-incorrect gags (a couple of punchlines which play off the stereotypically-slanted eyes of Nancy’s Chinese friend), is certainly interesting from a historical perspective.
I also like the red lettering for the years and page numbers on each page…really gives the book a unique look. And there’s plenty of Sluggo in this volume. Mike, like Nancy, Is Happy.
- The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984 – holy cow, we’re purt’near the home stretch on the Peanuts reprint books…we’re what, eight, nine books away from the end? It hardly seems possible.
The appeal of the series is of course the “complete” aspect, where we get to see strips that eluded the previous paperback reprintings and are finally seeing the light of day for the first time since originally popping up in the funny pages. I’ve noted before that my prime Peanuts reading was when I was but a young Mikester in the late ’70s/early ’80s, where I read just about every Peanuts book I could get my hands on, thus making the reprint-debut of strips in the Complete Peanuts volumes presenting years prior to about that time of particular interest to me. I missed most of the ’80s Peanuts strips, except possibly for having read them once in the newspaper way back when, which makes these more recent Complete volumes almost all new to me.
A number of years ago, just prior to Peanuts ending, I got back into collecting the paperback reprints of the later strips, which, at that point, seemed to be collecting full dailies for each year, or at least close to it. Thus, once we move into the ’90s volumes for the Complete Peanuts, I’ll likely have read most of those strips…but I’ll keep getting these new collections anyway, because I’m a sad old fanboy who has to have the full set, that’s why.
- Unlike the two books above, which I’ve at least started reading, I haven’t had a chance yet to crack open the latest Smurf book from Papercutz, The Smurf Olympics. At the very least, however, I wanted to mention that I’m glad this particular reprint effort survived the movie promotional push that presumably helped bring it about, even if the “Soon to be a movie / See the movie in theaters now!” blurbs on the front have now morphed into “See the DVD!” A small price to pay to finally get these volumes of classic cartooning back on the shelves.
1. Charlie Brown’s family really needs to clean out their garage. I mean, honestly, how many old mattresses do they need? And is that a stove above the chest? And what is
in the chest, anyway? What horrible secrets are the Brown family harboring inside that thing?
Not to mention the golf bag with the one lonely club within. There’s a story there, I’m sure. I mean, aside from Snoopy getting his hands on it to accessorize his rich fantasy life as “Joe Golfer.”
But aside from all that…Happy Thanksgiving, where applicable, and Happy Thursday otherwise. I’ll see you folks tomorrow.
So I was complaining just yesterday about how all these different variant covers and ratios and hoops I have to jump through to get said variants was beginning to really drag me down, maaaaan, and subsequently proved myself a hypocrite by acknowledging my desire for the Swamp Thing variant covers.
Well, I’m gonna double-down on my hypocrisy since I fully intend on getting the “first appearance” variants for the Boom! Studios Peanuts series:
That’s the “How I Hate Him” variant (note: not actual name for the variant, but it should be) for the first issue, and following issues will feature Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy, and good golly I want ’em all. Basically, I guess this means I’m against comic book variant covers except for the ones I’m personally interested in. That seems fair.
• • •
If you don’t mind, I’m going to respond to a couple of comments from yesterday’s post…and even if you do
mind, I’m going to do it anyway since it’s my site:
- My ol’ internet pal Roger Green sez
“It was the variant covers of Spider-Man #1 and those Valiant(?) #0s that made me crazy back in the 1990s.”
Yeah, it was Valiant with the #0s…and Malibu/Ultraverse, and DC Comics, and probably plenty more. (It was all Robert Crumb’s fault.) But those didn’t bother us nearly as much as the Spider-Man #1 variants…specifically, the prebagged editions (which you can see at the bottom of this page).
Seriously, Marvel charged you an extra quarter so you could get a copy of the comic sealed in a polybag specifically as a collectible. The pages inside might as well have been blank. Hell, they could have been blank…did anyone buy one and open it? Anyway, I haven’t seen one of these prebagged editions in a long time…after 21 years, that polybag is probably slowly turning back into oil and becoming one with the comic at this point.
- Alex asks
“Speaking of upcoming books… how do you feel about the upcoming Dardevil crossover with the Amazing Spider-Man book? You still get Mark Waid writing for both, with the main artist on the Daredevil portion (I believe), and what looks like a fun little plot, buuuuutttttt…
This does sort of run against the ‘self-contained’ vibe that book really should keep, right? Do you think these sorts of things can be pretty good and turn out alright when you get the right guy steering the ship?”
I’m not totally against crossovers. Keeping it simple with just Spider-Man and Daredevil, and, like you say, having Waid writing both titles…that sounds like a good time. And it’s very Silver Age-y Marvel, with a nice, simple crossover between a couple of characters. No cosmos-spanning, every-Marvel-title-spanning menace needed.
My main objection with crossovers is more with the company-wide event-type things that force folks to push aside their own storylines to make space for the Beyonder or for Atlantis Attacking or whatever. And even then, depending on how the creative teams handle it, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (The Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-ins in Green Lantern at the time are a good example of using crossover-event shenanigans for a book’s own benefit.) But for readers who aren’t following every event that comes down the pike, having yet another tie-in to a separate series they’re not interested in, yet another “INFINITE FEAR COUNTDOWN INVASION” branding above the comic’s regular logo, can be bit of a turn-off.
I wonder how the creative teams of these books feel when it’s time for the thrice-yearly event tie-in? Is it “oh boy, a challenge!” at fitting the editorially-mandated event into their plotlines, or “ah, crud, there go my plans for the book over the next month or two,” or a mixture of both?
I’m probably oversimplifying things a bit, but I picture the editor, puffing on his giant stogie, picking up the phone to call his writer to say “Look, there’s this event we’re having, see? And it’s gotta go in all the books, see? And we want you to play along, see?” And the writer, knees shaking, stammers out in reply “y-y-y-yes sir, Mr. Big, sir,” and immediately hunches back over his typewriter, sparing only a brief, sad glance out the window at yet another sunset he will again only experience from his under-lit office.
Anyway, Alex, I hope that answers your question. And probably created some new questions in the process.
So I just finished reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, and again, like I explained last time, the vast majority of this book was new to me, having not read previous reprintings of the strips from this period (as opposed to the near-memorization of the reprint books from the late ’70s and earlier).
One of the great new features of this particular reprint series, aside from, y’know, the whole completeness of the strips reprints and all, is the index in each volume. Sometimes humorously exact (like the breakdown of which Beagle Scouts are mentioned by name on which page), sometimes helpful (the “psychiatric help” listing helped my research in writing this Content Farm gag), sometimes facilitating celebrity spotting (oh, hey, namecheck of Carl Sagan in this volume)…
…And sometimes it’s a useful tool in documenting character appearances in the strip. Like Violet…in this 1981-1982 volume, Violet only appears on one page, versus (pulling out an earlier volume at random) 1961-1962, where she appears on about 30 pages. Yes, I know it’s no secret that some characters fell by the wayside as time went on (alas, poor Shermy), but it’s still a little…sad, I suppose, to see once prominent inhabitants of the strip only pop up once in a blue moon in the latter part of its run, if at all.
By the way, in the earlier volume, Violet was listed in the index under “Violet,” but when I couldn’t find her in the 1981-1982 volume’s index, I realized that she was probably listed under her last name, which I could not remember for the life of me. A quick Googling took me to her Wikipedia page, revealing that her last name, appearing once in a strip in 1953, is “Gray.” Also, I learned that “her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17,” so only about 10 shopping months left, friends. Apparently, according to the Wiki entry, this contradicts previous information placing her birthday in other parts of the year. Hey, reader De, remember when you joked about Peanuts canon arguments?
By the way, the index to her Wiki entry reveals her to be a monster:
• • •
In other Peanuts-related news, Tom Spurgeon reports
on the possible loss of the Charles Schulz Library at the Center of Cartoon Studies due to storm damage.
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