And the expletive of choice was “Shazbot.”

§ February 22nd, 2019 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

Well, you know what, I’m so close to the end of the questions here that I’m just gonna go ahead and wrap things up. I’ve kept you nice folks who asked them waiting long enough!

Tom Cherry pits the following against me

“If NANCY ever crossed over with PEANUTS, do you think Sluggo and Pig Pen would be friends?”

I feel like Pig Pen would be one the regular walk-on weirdos that Nancy and Sluggo would be all “whoa, check this oddball out!” for a one-strip gag and that would be it. There wouldn’t be any animosity as such, but probably not someone Sluggo could connect with.

In fact, I’m having a hard time picturing any Peanuts character comfortably fitting into the Nancyverse. They’d all be annoying creatures to N&S. I mean, maybe Peppermint Patty…I could see Sluggo having something of a crush on her, while Nancy is totally put off by how pushy she is. …HOLD ON, LET ME GET MY FANFIC WRITIN’ PEN

• • •

@misterjayem spells out the following

“Will either of the Big Two ever again have continuity that stretches all the way back to 10 years ago?”

Well, here and there DC and Marvel make references to things that happened in the Long Ago Times of, like, 2002, or whatever, but I think the cohesive shared world continuity thing with a long history is a relic of the past. I feel like this is something they’re trying to do with Doomsday Clock, and restoring that sense of a lengthy continuity, but who knows if this will work any better than anything else?

Probably the best strategy, and probably the one that’s primarily being followed, is “we’ll access continuity and history when we need it,” and just otherwise do their own things without worrying about it. I mean, if anything, I wish they’d worry less about maintaining a consistent “universe” — that’s how you get all this rebootery.

• • •

BRR chills me with

“As a purveyor of back issues, would you like to see more editor’s notes*? They seem to disappear as a more ‘cinematic’ story style took hold, and I remember those notes occasionally driving a search through the local stores’ long boxes to get the rest of the story.

“* e.g. ‘Way back in Avengers#28!!’-ed”

Sure I would! Even more than just for storytelling clarity and sending people to my extensive back issue stock availble now at Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of beautiful Camarillo in Southern California, but for the connection between the creators/editors and the audience. Those editor notes made it seem like pals were sharing a cool story with you, that you were in a fun club where you got to enjoy these adventures with other like-minded people. The letters pages added to that feeling as well…when you bought a comic, you weren’t just buying that month’s tale of Spider-Man, but you were getting a piece of the real world community that built around reading that comic.

I might be romanticizing this a tad, but those little touches went a long way to making someone feel welcome in the worlds you were presented in these weird little booklets.

• • •

Robcat steals my heart, and my cat, with

“Ok, question. As a shop owner and collector and a guy who spends A LOT of time around comics, have you ever lost a substantial amount of money by accidentally damaging an issue of something yourself? Spilled coffee on Amazing Fantasy 15, opened a package containing Journey Into Mystery 83 and ripped the cover, that sort of thing? Not to wish you ill will or anything…”

Can’t say I’ve really done anything like that with comics, as such. I’ve had some close calls…just last week, when I was breaking down the new comics, I had pulled a water bottle out of the fridge that I hadn’t realized had been in there maybe a little too long, and when I opened it, the partially frozen state of it causes water to kinda explode out of it, just barely missing the stacks of new comics and the boxes of customer pulls I had out. That could have been a disaster of epic proportions.

Oh, and there was that time, early in my comics retail career nearly 30 years ago, when we were moving from the old store to a larger location across the street, that I accidentally dropped a short box filled with Golden Age books, spilling them all over the pavement. Thankfully, they way they slid out of the box kept them from experiencing harm, but still, nobody tell Ralph I did that.

The worst thing I did, also at the previous place of employment, that resulted in actual damage, was when I was moving some boxes or something around, and somehow forgot there was a big, fancy ceramic Spider-Man statue (one that also included, like, three or four villains of his) just out of my sight. Yup, ended up knocking it to the floor and smashing it to pieces. I felt the bump, heard the crash, froze, and softly uttered your favorite expletive of choice. As it turned out, the statue was basically given to us for free by someone just clearing their house of stuff, back before Marie Kondo made it cool, so no actual expense was lost. We lost the money would could have gained from selling the thing, but, well, at least nobody was mad. Your pal Mike got off scot-free that time.

Anyway, that’s all the stuff I’ll own up to. I have no idea how those boxes of Marvel Comics Presents caught on fire, and besides, you can’t prove anything, there were no witnesses.

• • •

And that’s it! Finally, all the questions are answered! Thanks for contributing, everyone, and I’ll probably open the floor to more questions soon. Or you can just ask me whenever you’d like…we’re pretty casual around here.

If you register that domain name, please use it for good, not evil.

§ February 20th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

I bet you thought I forgot! You folks still have some questions I need to answer, so let me knock a couple out before this new medicine I’m taking knocks me out:

William Burns fires me up with

“Are all these monster mega digital comics sales making it harder for you to sell trade paperbacks?”

I’ve got to be real honest here…I haven’t the foggiest. I’m sure there must be some diverting of monies from physical copies in my shop (well, everyone’s shops) to digital alternatives. I mean, it’s not like folks stick their heads in the door, announce “I’m not buying the Unicycle Tragedy: The First Decade trade paperback from you because I’m getting all the issues for eight cents each on UpYoursSmallBusinessOwners.com,” then rush off into the darkness, laughing. Well, okay, there’s that one guy back at the old shop who came in on New Comics Day, looked around, and loudly asked the room “where I can download all these for free?” but maybe that’s not quite the same.

So…yeah, I can’t really say. I know a lot of my customers use the digital codes in their comics to supplement their reading, but they’re still coming in and buying comics. I’m sure I’ve lost customers over the years who decided that they preferred to just get everything digitally for shopping and storage convenience, I’m also sure there are plenty of folks who just get all their goodies online, period, and never thought about going to a store…do they count as lost sales, or are those sales that would never have happened in the first place, from people who never would have considered buying a comic save for being able to click a button and suddenly have it available on their devices?

That’s a lot of words for “I don’t know,” I realize. I hope I haven’t suffered too much attrition of this sort, and can only hope I continue keeping the customers I do have happy and freshly replenished with actual printed-on-paper comics on a regular basis.

• • •

David has this goliath of a question

“Realizing that Progressive Ruin is pretty much a one-stop shop for all the comics info I need, I do still like poking around the web reading other sites. Do you have any favorite websites for comics news/reviews/reporting? It seems so bleak out there.”

I’m glad I’m keeping you up on all the early 1990s crash-era news that you can use, David! But as far as other comic news sites…I don’t really have a particular one that I regularly look at. Comics Reporter is probably the best for the most wide-ranging of comics news from all parts of the industry, and…well, I’m sure you’re aware of all the more mainstream-y sites for comic news about The Big Guys, though at some places you have to sort of pick it out from amongst the movie/TV news and listicles.

Your best bet may be a curated social media feed…like, following the Twitter accounts of companies and creators that you want to keep tabs on, or Instagrams, or the nightmare realm of Facebook, and so on. Generating your own news site may be the way to go.

• • •

Chris Gumprich spends his question on

“If you could bring back one cancelled title that did NOT start a muck-encrusted mockery of a man, what would it be and why?”

Hoo boy, not even sure where I would start. I was thinking ‘Mazing Man but feel like that’s so much of Its Time that bringing it back would just feel weird. Maybe leaving it as the short-run 1980s book that it was, keeping it a special thing that was here and gone and didn’t wear out its welcome, would be the best.

So I’m going with Atari Force, which had a terrible name but was an amazing comic. Imaginative and beautifully illustrated, and I was really bummed when it got canned. I think some of the characters (like Martin Champion) are straight up owned by Atari (or whoever owns the Atari IP now) so I don’t think DC could bring it back as, I don’t know, Syzygy Force or something and continue their adventures. But it would be nice!

“(That counts as one question because I only used one question mark.)”

YOU NE’ER-DO-WELL

* * *

AN ADDENDUM TO THE RECENT END OF CIVILIZATION POST: I’ve been informed by Matt from Moment of Cerebus that there is in fact a House of Cerebus comic coming in early 2020! You can see the schedule here. …You know, I did see that list at some point recently…guess I missed that title or (more likely) I just forgot! Well, I look forward to seeing House of Cerebus, and totally hope it’s the parody of #92 I’ve been waiting for!

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ February 18th, 2019 § Filed under End of Civilization § 7 Comments

GREAT SCOTT! It’s the End of Civilization, Marty! Hope into this DeLorean and we’ll travel back to February 2019 to try to stop it! We’ll use this copy of that month’s Diamond Previews that we found in a future comic book store/tattoo removal parlor to guide us along:

p. 50 – Little Girls TP:


Alas, no members of Oingo Boingo got back in time with any pull quotes for the cover.
 
 
p. 90 – Spawn #296:


Only four more issues to go before we can ratchet up the surprise from people shocked that Spawn is still coming out by adding on “yes, for over 300 issues now!”
 
 
p. 123 – Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 2:


“Volume 2?” Oh, you mean Frenzy.
 
 
p. 132 – Star Trek Year 5 #1:


Revealing the tragic fates of Arex and M’Ress, which is why they don’t, like, help save the whales or search for Spock or anything.
 
 
p. 152 – TMNT Shredder in Hell #1 Director’s Cut:


Oh good, hopefully they’ll be restoring the scenes where he meets both Hellboy and Godzilla in hell.
 
 
p. 232 – Giant Super-Cerebus Annual #1:


C’mon, Dave, do these just long enough so that you eventually do a cover parody of House of Secrets #92. Look, “House of Cerebus,” I’ll let you have that for free. EDIT: Whoops! Dave beat me to it!
 
 
p. 291 – Star Wars Leia Organa Rebel Leader in a Box:


I had a joke for this but I’m holding it back because 1) I’m keeping people from um, actually-ing me with “Carrie was cremated,” and 2) a rare bit of taste.
 
 
p. 296 – The Worst Book Ever HC:


That’s a weird trade dress for the Purgatori collection.
 
 
p. M17 – Bruce Lee Minimates Series 1 Box Set:

“The many looks of Bruce Lee are on display here, as his Dojo, Clawed, Casual, and Completely Nude looks make up the four-pack.”

 
 
p. M117 – DC Heroes 5.5oz Scented Candle Tins:


You can light up the Harley Quinn candle to disguise that smell when you’re reading this comic:


 
 
p. M118 – DC Comics Batman Bat-Signal Kitchen Timer:


Surely some kind of Clock King timer would have been more fitting.
 
 
p. M118 – DC Heroes Batman Bat-Symbol Apron:


The Batman ’66 version of this apron just has a big “KISS!” sound effect printed on it.
 
 
Marvel Previews p. 100 – Star Wars Age of Rebellion Grand Moff Tarkin #1:


Here’s hoping Tarkin is a weird 3D CGI rendering in the comic while everything else is traditionally illustrated.

And now, my favorite comic book promo poster of all time.

§ February 15th, 2019 § Filed under promo § 5 Comments

Straight outta 1994, this promo poster made me laugh at the sheer chutzpah of it:


…and I absolutely 100% do not mean that in a bad way. I admire the salesmanship at work here. “Hey, you know that impossibly-hot superstar artist? Yeah, this guy is just as amazing, so get on board!” More power to ’em, I say.

I know, that was a lot of promo material in your faces here over the last couple of weeks. I’ll try to have a little something different next time, I promise…unless I find more cool promo posters, of course.

“Leaps and bounds” — I see what you did there.

§ February 13th, 2019 § Filed under fantastic four, marvel, promo § 8 Comments

From Marvel Comics Retailer Spotlight #16 (August 1990), here is the hype for the Walt Simonson/Art Adams “New FF” run on Fantastic Four #347 through #350:


In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what the first issue looked like:


Now, it’s been a long time, and I think in 1990 I was still in the “huh-yuk, I’m a’sellin’ comic books!” starry-eyed haze and not worried overly much with the behind-the-scenes ordering hoohar that the boss concerned himself with, so I probably didn’t know at the time that this first issue was in fact returnable. (Returnability is only occasionally afforded to retailers on certain books today, but it was a real rarity back then.)

As it turned it, it sold extremely well, eventually going to a second printing (also not a very common occurence in those long-ago Young Mike days). I know we didn’t have much backstock on it, and we’d buy back copies as they came in collections. This was quite the popular item for some time after its release, and even still today gets an inquiry from curious fans here and there.

It’s an interesting look at the cross-promotion and sales strategies used for a comic that one would think would almost sell itself anyway. This was during the big 1990s comics boom, so something like this seemed like it was almost guaranteed to outsell the Bible anyway, but even in those times when the gold poured out of the rivers and the oil flowed freely, no one was going to take any chances. Even dragging in ol’ Fin Fang Foom and referencing the rest of the Marvel Monsters to get that crowd (you know, “them”) shows the extent of hype for this book.

The listing of each guest star and why he’s of import is certainly a sign of the times, when any of these characters popping into any book usually meant at least something of a bump upward, if not necessarily in rack sales, but at least in retailer order numbers. It may still sorta be true today, but not nearly to the extent it once was, a combination of readers being a little choosier with their comics money and the fact that “Special Guest Appearances” of “hot” characters are no longer the huge sales pull due to overuse and overexposure. Wolverine’s “sales power,” once taken for granted as shown here, is no longer the sure thing.

I think most interesting to me is the characterization of this storyline as a “fill-in,” which I think maybe surprises me a little. It never felt like a fill-in, like some inventory story or reprint pulled out of storage thanks to the Dreaded Deadline Doom. I mean, it was the same regular writer and a special guest artist…it may have interrupted the main storyline, but it didn’t feel intrusive (like a fill-in in the Simonson run a couple of issues later, which was…okay, but it was a real case of “well, I guess this’ll do ’til Simonson’s back”).

Anyway, this is one of those few cases where the publisher was all “better order lots of these!” and being correct. It was quite the item, and stil is today, thanks to fans with long memories or a deep interest in comics past. Also a rare encouragement to stock up for later back issue sales, which you don’t see too much of anymore. (I think Crossgen was the last company to really push the “better have back issues for new fans!” thing.)

But as far as that advice to place copies of this comic “all over [our] comic racks” — yeah, I know one of Marvel’s publishing strategies was (and maybe still is) to make a retailer fill up his/her shelf space with all the Marvel product they could possibly carry, and crowd off everyone else. I mean, I get it, they wanted copies of this next to Ghost Rider, etc. However, I’m pretty sure we just had them up on the rack under “Fantastic Four,” and it seemed to do fine.

One last note…as to this being the Punisher’s “most unique” role…yeah, I think there’s a challenger.

I never did buy that Swamp Thang parody comic…wonder who worked on that?

§ February 11th, 2019 § Filed under promo § 2 Comments

Now I’ve probably shown you this before, I think:


…a promo piece from the early to mid-1980s featuring Dalgoda, a fine science fiction comic by Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake that deserves to be collected (along with the stories from the Flesh and Bones mini, and a back-up in that Doomsday +1 reprint series, and probably something else I’m forgetting…Anything Goes, maybe?) into a fancypants hardcover. Hey, if they could do it with Puma Blues and Border Worlds, right? Anyway, this sign dates from those long ago pre-Mike in Comics Retail days, but I seem to recall seeing it on display in the shop at the time.

Same with this next item, pulled out of the endless boxes of old promo material that my former boss passed along to me:


I have yet to find the matching “OPEN” sign (and yes, pal Tom, I checked the other side!)…as I recall, this part was taped into the window in such a way that the “OPEN” sign could slide in front of it when necessary. I suspect the “OPEN” half eventally disintegrated from constant handling, given the state of the “CLOSED” portion here.

Anyway, Dalgoda hardcover. Someone get on that. In the meantime, I’ll add my copies of those comics to my “Pile of Stuff Mike Was Reminded of While Blogging or Tweeting and Would Like to Reread Someday.”

Next up, a couple of promos for Wizard, that price guide and news magazine that somehow I didn’t think I’d miss once it was gone, but it did go a long way to getting even casual fans excited about comics. In a very facile, surface-level way, usaally, sure, but I don’t think any retailers nowadays would really turn down anything getting folks hyped about the weekly funnybooks.

But perhaps I digress. There were a few of these 9 by 12 inch mini-posters that I found in The Box, which were basically just reproduced images of forthcoming Wizard covers. Like, for example, this one by Sam Kieth:


Not really much to say except “that’s a neat image.” I always liked Kieth’s work, and I especially liked it those couple of times he drew the Hulk. Glad he’s still out there doing stuff for us to enjoy. (Kieth, that is, not the Hulk…well, Hulk too, I guess.)

Kieth also drew this image for Parody Press in 1992:


Parody Press was sort of dismissed at the time, but I’d like to go back and see what creators worked on some of these titles. Sam Kieth just did the cover for this particular comic, though he (and Mike Baron) wrote a couple of the stories. And it looks like Ty Templeton drew a “pin-up” page, too! Huh. (I do know I have a current pal who wrote a Parody Press title back then, but I’ll let him out himself if he wishes!)

And going back to Wizard…boy, doesn’t this promo flyer sum up the ’90s something fierce:


“Order with reckless abandon,” indeed. I’m pretty sure that was printed on the covers of the distributor order forms at the time.

I wonder just how shocking that back design on the Badger shirt really was?

§ February 8th, 2019 § Filed under indies, promo § 4 Comments

So I was digging through the endless boxes of old promo materials that my former boss gave me from the previous place of employment, when I came across this thingie: solicitation material from Capital Comics for their forthcoming releases, Whisper #4, Nexus #8, and Badger #8, all due out early summer 1984:

(you can click the following two images to enlarge them)


And it took me a moment to remember…oh, hey, these comics never actually came out from Capital. First Comics ended up acquiring the properties, with those issues of Nexus and Badger eventually coming out as-is, with the same numbering scheme (imagine that!) from First Comics in 1985. Whisper, on the other hand, while also coming out from First in 1985, instead picked up with the Whisper Special, wrapping up the story from the previous issues, and continuing on with a brand new series starting with a first issue.

Looking back on this reminds me of just how close we were to these titles being tiny blips on the marketplace from the early direct sales days, if another publisher hadn’t arranged to acquire them. I know the rights issues behind this transfer was complicated…I don’t think the comics were strictly creator-owned, but I believe eventually they would be. Don’t recall the whole story, and I’m sure someone can remind me.

At any rate, I’m glad the titles survived that initial setback and left us some nice long-ish runs to enjoy. Yeah, I know, given the way the market is now, they may have kinda sorta fell to the side, but for a while there it was nice to see some good ‘n’ weird superhero alternatives on the shelves that had a little wit and style.

Why isn’t “Smile…Doctor Doom Loves You” still in print?

§ February 6th, 2019 § Filed under marvel, merchandise § 5 Comments

So please let me know if you’d like me to put in orders to Pacific Coast Distributors for you on any of these items from their August 1984 catalog (click to expand):

Any room,” you say? I say every room! Redecorate the interior of your house solely with mighty Marvel banners!

I remember seeing these banners around the old shop back when I was but a mere customr, and then eventually selling the last two or three still languishing about the backroom when I was doing the eBay thing for that same shop a couple of decades later. The one I remember specifically is that Alpha Flight pennant. I bet that Spider-Man one will still sell great today.

Now these things:


…Sure, it’s a little more common knowledge nowadays who the “X-Men” are* but I can only imagine how the mundanes reacted to the whole “Mutant Maniac” thing. …By the way, do people still refer to non-nerdy folk as “mundanes” or is everybody too infected with nerdiness now to be separated out? Gobble gobble one of us, and all that.

When discussing these on the Twitters pal Andrew noted that his younger brother still had a “Follow Me to the Secret Wars” bumper sticker on this car. As I said to Andrew, given its current non-awareness by the general public, I can imagine the uninitiated seeing that and thinking it’s some kind of political statement or somesuch. Or, like, some conspiracy-minded talk radio thing. It can serve multiple purposes!

And I was serious about the subject line. That Doctor Doom sticker needs to make its comeback, especially if this image of ol’ Vic were used on it:


 
 

* A story I’ve told before, but worth repeating: one of my earliest experiences in comics retail was, sometime in the late 1980s, someone calling the shop alarmed that these X-Men books she just heard about were “X-rated,” hence the name. “No, lady,” I replied, “the 1990s aren’t here yet.”

Yes yes, and “Platinum Age” and “Victorian Age” and “Pioneer Age.”

§ February 4th, 2019 § Filed under Uncategorized § 13 Comments

So, going back to Friday’s post, I’ve got a little bit of follow-up. First, very briefly, as was pointed out in the comments there and on the Twitters, the early ’80s Ka-Zar was something of a popular comic at the time, as borne out by my own perusal of former boss Ralph’s early ’80s order forms. Not only was Ralph ordering nearly as many Ka-Zar as he was of Avengers, he was actually ordering more Ka-Zar than Amazing Spider-Man. Now whether this says more about the popularity of Ka-Zar or about possible sales doldrums for these flagship Marvel titles, I’m not sure.

Secondly, commenter Matthew asked:

“So if you don’t like ‘Bronze Age’ as a term, are there terms you do like?

“And do you think we need more ‘ages’? The current ‘modern age’ has been (according to Wikipedia) going since 1985, and so is longer (34 years) than the silver (1956 – c. 1970) and bronze (c. 1970 – c. 1985) ages put together (30 years).

“If you were to create more ‘ages’ what would they be and what would be the signifiers?”

These are all perfectly reasonable questions. I’ve discussed the whole “comic ages” thing before, perhaps a tad derisively. Though I quoted it there, it bears repeating that the Overstreet Guide itself resisted the term “Bronze Age,” defining it thusly in their 28th edition:

“Non-specific term not in general acceptance by collectors which denotes comics published from approximately 1970 through 1980.”

Well, it’s pretty much a thing now, I guess. Like I said last time, creating a “Bronze Age of Comics” more like a deliberate marketing strategy to get those copies of Human Fly out the quarter bins and into glass classes with “KEY BRONZE AGE BOOK” written on the price stickers. But, you know, it’s here now, and I just gotta live with it. Mostly I was just complaining without providing any alternatives, a thing no one in any fandom ever does I’m sure you’ll agree.

Do I like any terms? Well…”Bronze Age” may have stuck in my craw a bit, and here in an old blog post filled with linkrot I transcribe a somewhat paraphrased discussion between pal Dorian and me about said ages and our incredulity at same. Now it’s been…egads, fourteen years, so I’ve got the current Overstreet here with me and let’s check the definitions of terms:

Golden Age: 1938 – 1945

Silver Age: 1956 – 1970

Bronze Age: 1970 – 1984

Copper Age: 1984 – 1992

Modern Age: “catch-all term applied to comics published since 1992”

As you see, there are some gaps there, which I’ve seen folks describe as “pre-Silver Age” or “post Golden Age” and so on, though others just simplify matters and call a 1948 book “Golden Age.” I don’t think the Price Guide Police will get ’em for doing so. And yes, there’s a little overlap…I don’t think Bronze ends May ’84 and Copper picks up in June or anything, but I suspect if anyone really wants to split that hair I guess it’s a case of “I know it when I see it” in trying to decide if J’emm, Son of Saturn is Bronze or Copper. To be fair, I don’t see “Copper Age” used to much in the wild…guess I’m not hanging out with the right people.

There are other general terms, like “pre-Code” (anything put out prior to the Comics Code Authority being established in 1956) and “pre-superhero Marvel” (stuff I thought just meant “whatever came out before Fantastic Four #1, but apparently very specifically meaning Journey into Mystery before Thor showed up, Tales to Astonish before Ant-Man, etc.).

Okay, do I like these terms, Matthew asked? Well, it’s too late for me to do anything about them now, and my post here on this silly blog (remember blogs?) isn’t going to change anything. I’m fine with them, I suppose…I “get” the divisions, more or less. And “Modern Age” does sound better than “Holy Shit The Entire Comics Market Just Collapsed Age.”

Modern Age seems to be tied to the whole Image launch thing, which is about as definitive a division in eras as we’ve had in recent comics history. One can easily recognize a “before Image” and an “after Image” in the industry. While the Overstreet definition of “Modern Age” isn’t as long as the period is descried by Wikipedia that Matthew noted, it’s still over a quarter of a century. However, I can’t really think of a specific line to draw at any point here that seems like a definable “age” in the sense of the previous ages. I joked in the title of this post about “Downloadable Torrent Age,” but…maybe that’s close? Maybe we’re in the Digital Age, where that’s a significant source of distribution not just for the big comic companies, but for smaller creators too? That’s not perfect, but it’s a possibility. It’s more likely that any such further delineations will come about with more distance from the present and we can look back and get a better picture of how things played out over time.

We all know the facetious suggestions, like the “Polybag Age” or the “Chromium Die-Cut Foil Cover Age” or the “Jemas Age.” Okay, that last one I just made up right now, which I would describe as a period of increased antagonism between Marvel and DC. Or, maybe, the “Rebirth Age,” by which I don’t mean DC’s post-New 52 initiative, but that time when DC was actively trying to undo major events in the past to bring back Barry Allen as the Flash, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and so on. Maybe a period of attempts to return to form after upending all the characters for, like, a decade or two. Sort of company-specific, but then, so are the definitions of Gold and Silver.

So, to recap answers Matthew’s questions: I don’t care for the term “Bronze Age,” but now that it’s here I guess it’ll do.

No, I don’t particularly think we need new ages, but new divisions will likely become more apparent once we look back on this time with some distance.

And I do have a few semi-jokey ideas for new ages. “Rebirth Age” still sounds as likely as any to me. But I suppose “The Mike Sterling Age of Comics” is still in the running.

Your Progressive Ruin 1981-2 Comics Investment Guide.

§ February 1st, 2019 § Filed under collecting § 10 Comments

So I was looking through the “Marvel Comics Guide to Collecting Comics,” a pull-out insert distributed within Amazing Spider-Man #234 (1982):

…and within, I found this little chart of then currently investible comic books:


According to the footnote:


…and unfortunately I don’t have a 1981/1982 price guide in front of me to compare prices, but let’s see what Marvel was pushing as “collectible” and how things compare to the modern marketplace.

While the collector’s guide is at least somewhat evenhanded in its dealing with other comic companies (it at least mentions they exist, even if it sort of downplays their importance in comparison to Marvel’s), it’s probably not surprising that only one DC title makes it to the chart. In fairness, there probably wasn’t a lot to choose from at the time that was still relatively obtainable and at least partially in demand. I mean, Metamorpho #1 was probably not too pricey at the time, but probably wasn’t burning up the back issue bins in the early ’80s. House of Secrets #92, perhaps, as a Swamp Thing movie was on the way and surely the huge success of that film would jumpstart demand for this decade-old book. On the other hand, New Teen Titans #1 was likely only listed because they could hardly ignore it, being one of the real hot books of the period. They probably would have happily used that spot for, I don’t know, Dazzler or something.

Anyway, #1 – Daredevli #158: Frank Miller begins his run on the title, and currently guides at $160 in NM. Still an in-demand item…all the Miller Daredevils still move very well for me. A good investment pick, Marvel Comics Guide to Collecting Comics writer!

#2 – Peter Parker [The Spectacular Spider-Man #27: haven’t had one of these in a while, but I remember it being a good seller at the old shop, though the guide price did seem to outstrip demand. This is another result of the “Frank Miller on Daredevil” mania that was going on at the time, as this issue featured Miller’s first work on ol’ Hornhead. $85 in NM now, though I wonder if it has the same level of demand as Miller’s owrk in DD.

#3 – [Incredible] Hulk #181: nope, can’t say I’ve heard of it.

Okay, fine, the first full-length story (and over appearance) of our favorite Canucklehead, Wolverine, which tends to go for bonkers prices. $4200 in NM, $4199.95 if it’s missing the Marvel Value Stamp. I could be a bit off on that second price. Anyway, that’s just the guide price…it’s all over the map online, and by “all over the map” I mean “still more money than most of us reading this would be willing to spend.” I’ve sold trashed copies of this for hundreds of dollars. Demand is over the top for it still.

#4 – X-Men #129: took me a second to remember what’s special about this specific issue of X-Men, aside from being in the middle of the classic run by Chris Claremont and John Byrne…a run still in heavy demand today. A quick check rmeinds me it’s the first appearance of Kitty Pryde, which is absolutely a significant event in the history of the series, the introduction of one of the now-quintessential members of the team. Hope she survives the experience! $160 in the guides now.

#5 – [New] Teen Titans #1: assuming they mean the comic by Marv ‘n’ George, of course. Still sells great. Guides for $70, which seems lowish…but the Marvel Comics Guide to Collecting Comics should have pushed the second issue, with the first appearance of Deathstroke the Terminator, as that now guides for $175. Hokey smokes.

#6 – Iron Man #115: boy, I had to look this one up. And it’s not even separated out from the issues around it in the current guide…numbers 101 through 117 are all lumped together, priced at $12 in NM each. The issue in question features John Romita Jr.’s first art on the title. Oh, and an Avengers appearance. …The Marvel COmics Guide to Collecting Comics should have plugged Iron Man #55, the first appearance of Thanos, a comic I get asked for nearly every day. For reference, that one guides for a mindboggling $1500.

#7 – Micronauts #1: $18 in NM now, but I don’t know if there’s a lot of demand for this right now. I mean, at this point in the list we’re into the stuff that will of course sell in higher conditions, as certain collectors are now looking for copies of Bronze Age books and will buy stuff like this because it’s it excellent condition, not because of any particular interest in Micronauts or whatever. By the way, I still don’t like the term “Bronze Age” — I mean, yes, “Golden Age” and “Silver Age” were marketing terms, too (“A Golden Age Classic” sounds better than “Here’s a reprint of some old comic we don’t have to pay anybody for”), but “Bronze Age” feels even more blatantly so. But perhaps I digress.

#8 – Rom #1: I was all ready to poke a tiny bit of fun at this, but the current guide has it at $75, amazingly! Guess I haven’t looked it up in a while. But this was a comic that had a fan following at the time, and still has some interest nowadays. Though, as folks found out, that interest of “nostaglia for Rom in the Marvel Universe” doesn’t necessarily translate to “sales on a new Rom comic that is separate from the Marvel Universe,” but What Can You Do?

#9 – Moon Knight #1: two words, please note. Moon Knight was a semi-hot character for a while, especially the issues that featured early work by Bill Sienkiewicz. Not a whole lot of demand now that I’ve noticed, though there’s an occasional blip in character awareness (such as the recent short run by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey). And that series that began in ’89 ran 60 issues was in quite a bit of demand both early on and, due to some artist-driven collectibilty, near the end of the run. But this series, from 1980…$40 in NM in the current guide. Like I noted with Rom, primarily in demand by folks looking for “key” Marvels of the period, rather than out of Moon Knight fandom. But I know Moon Knight fans are out there, don’t get me wrong! Don’t write in to complain!

#10 – Ka-Zar #1: hoo boy. So, not, like, Amazing Spider-Man #129, or Marvel Spotlight #5, but Ka-Zar. Look, not casting aspersions on the former pulp magazine character that’s legally nothing like Tarzan, but was Ka-Zar ever a “hot” character? I mean, he must have been at least of some interest, with multiple series over the years, but I don’t recall there being a lot of fan demand. Maybe I’m just not remembering. And I don’t know which series of Ka-Zar they’re even talking about here. I’m assuming it’s the 1981 series that had launched around the time of this Marvel Comics Guide to Collecting Comics (which now guides for $5), but there’s the 1970 series (#1 – $65) and the 1974 run (#1 – $28), both of which would have surely been more than $1.25 at the time.

So there you go…once you get your hands on that time machine that every comic book collector wishes s/he could have, you can go back properly informed as to which funnybooks you need to buy to make your fortune. Because surely that’s the wisest use of a time machine. Sorry JFK, too bad passengers on the Titanic, we need to get multiple copies of Rom #1 to seal in plastic slabs.

Guide prices I list above of course don’t necessarily reflect whatever shenanigans folks get up to on auction sites, or price bumps due to the aforementioned slabs, or whatnot. But that should give you an idea, anyway, of a specific era in time where even the big comic companies couldn’t ignore a burgeoning interest in comics collectibility.

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