Just ramblin’ about the past.

§ September 22nd, 2023 § Filed under collecting, dc comics § 6 Comments

I miss being able to flip open a comics ‘zine and seeing a pure and simple news blurb like this:

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like reading about scandals and shenanigans in the comics industry as much as the next guy, but it’s…just nice where the item is entirely “this dude got a job on this comic.”

And whatta comic it was:

I bought this new off the rack in 1981, where 12-year-old me was still learning about the back continuity of DC’s heroes. And Tales of the Green Lantern Corps went deep into the history of that particular franchise. Between this, reprints of older stories in DC’s digests, and seeing that Golden Age/Silver Age GL team up against Krona on the early Nickelodeon show Video Comics, I knew pretty much everything I needed to know about Green Lantern.

I really ate up that stuff as a young Mikester, trying to find out about the histories of all these characters. It’s probably why I really appreciated Roy Thomas’ work on DC’s Golden Age characters at the time, as that fan feared no footnotes, exposited every exposition. I loved it all. Now, going back as Old Mikester, approaching it as storytelling versus an educational textbook, that early ’80s Golden Age material doesn’t go down quite as smoothly, but I’ll always appreciate the lessons of Roy ‘n’ pals.

Those aforementioned digests helped a lot too, reprinting from DC’s vast back catalog in themed releases…”here’s the Justice League one, here’s one with a bunch of secret origins, here’s one with Batman villains.” I grabbed those whenever I could. Even if they weren’t necessarily “educational” in the sense of explaining pertinent details of the past, it was still fun to see these tales of yesteryear, and even so E. Nelson Bridwell (or someone) usually had a small text piece providing historical context for the contents.

Sometimes the digests were like mini-graphic novels, like this one which included this whole “Batman – Murderer!” storyline. Or this whole “Warlord versus his arch-nemesis Deimos” one.

And then, going back to supplying some background to their currents series, there’s that one pictured to the right…a digest focused on the Justice Society, released shortly after the debut of of Roy Thomas’s Golden Age-centric All-Star Squadron, It not only featured an origin of the Justice Society, but also included the first Per Degaton story, a character that would again rise to some prominence during the ’80s.

Look, I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up when I started writing this post…it’s just that seeing that ancient news blurb made me nostalgic for a simpler time as a comic collector. One where I actually did wonder who was going to write/draw what title, and one where I still eagerly awaited any glimpses into the past either via reprints or flashbacks.

news blurb from Comics Feature #9 (1981)

Joe Matt (1963-2023).

§ September 20th, 2023 § Filed under obituary § 4 Comments

Indie cartoonist Joe Matt has passed away, and boy, I was sure into his comics when he was (semi-)regularly putting stuff out into shops. His series Peep Show (as well as the accompanying strip collection of the same name) really took the burgeoning autobiographical comic book genre of the period to its extreme, leaving no personal foible or blemish unrevealed. It could have been unbearable in other hands, but Matt’s appealing illustration and humor kept you reading no matter how low he depicted himself going.

I’m sorry that he passed away as young as he did. My condolences to his family and friends. So long, Joe.

There goes my Fables stage musical.

§ September 18th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 18 Comments

An update to Friday’s post about Bill Willingham declaring his Fables comic to be in the public domain: in a shocking turn of events, the publisher of Fables, DC Comics, has a problem with that. They released an announcement that basically says “Fables is ours, don’t even try it, we’re looking at you Rob Liefeld” and okay I added that last part, but still, they’re not into the whole “public domain” thing as one would expect.

And like I said, this ain’t gonna be settled ’til there’s been a lawsuit or three, so…um, don’t make up stories based on public domain fairy tale characters that even slightly resemble those published under the Fables label, I guess? And certainly don’t call it Fables.

Anyway, there may be a lot of probable…grey area to this story, as has been brought up in the comments to Friday’s post. We’ll see how this plays out.

To answer the question Sean brought up regarding who owns Willingham’s superhero team the Elementals: I actually Googled the phrase “who owns the elementals comic book” and up popped the name “Andrew Rev.”

“Comico’s publisher, Andrew Rev, purchased the Elementals property from Willingham in the 1990s.”

So I presume ol’ Andrew is still just sitting on the rights, and doing nothing with them. Or trying to do something with them and none of us know about it because it hasn’t been going anywhere. Ah well.

• • •

In other news, I’ve got medical stuff going on in the mornings for the first part of the week, so…posting may be light on Wednesday. I’m only getting this much typing done right now because I got an early start Sunday evening. But at least I wanted to show you this picture:

Believe it or not, I thought I was smiling. But I guess comics are Serious Bizness so my stern look of disapproval at all of you is the best I can manage.

So anyway, those comics. That Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1. About a year and a half ago a gentlemen brought in some Silver Age Marvel for sale and I purchased them from him. He and his family had inherited these and over a few weeks he offered up several comics to me that I of course had to buy. Then one week he showed me those two omics in the picture there. He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to part with them just yet, but we talked about them and how we’d sell them and so on.

I saw him a few more times over the following months, buying other comics from him but he still wasn’t ready to part with those two books. Until he was, just recently! And before you ask…no, they’re sold, I don’t have them hanging around the store, so keep your Ocean’s 11-style shenanigans out of my shop. But I guess after all our dealings together he decided he liked the cut of my jib and asked me to handle these two beauties.

More and more stuff has shown up from this collection, and one of the unintended consequences of letting people know I had an Amazing Fantasy #15 is that I’m seeing and hearing from a lot of people about what I have to offer in my shop. Now, while I’ve been in this business for three and a half decades, I’m not a Big Name Retailer. I’m probably not even the biggest retailer in the county. So it probably came as a surprise to a lot of folks that this nobody with a tiny shop out in Camarillo, CA is suddenly awash in The Big Books.

This won’t last forever, of course. This collection will eventually run out (though there’s plenty of good stuff I still need to process) and once I no longer had The Big Books folks will move on. Unless more people bring me stuff like this after seeing…um, that I had stuff like this. I don’t know, we’ll see. But it’s been fun looking through these books that I haven’t had in my hands in a while.

…Like that Amazing Fantasy #15. Last time I held one of those in my hands was just before the big price jump in the…1990s, I think? Back when we had it for a few hundred dollars, as opposed to the…quite a bit more it commands now? Quite the item, and it was good to see it in person once again.

Not a lawyer, not even a little bit.

§ September 15th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 19 Comments

So I suppose the big, surprising news of the week is Bill Willingham announcing that he is giving Fables over to the public domain. According to his press release (warning: Substack link), his frustrations with the current publisher of Fables, DC Comics, has brought him to this decision.

There has been an enormous amount of commentary on this already, and here I am slopping more on the pile. You’ll see a lot of people saying things like “I’m not a copyright lawyer, but” and then pontificating on the ramifications of this, and look, I’m only human. I’m gonna ramble on about it myself, because there are a few questions I have, a few responses I want to relate, and so on.

First off, can Bill Willingham even do this? Can you announce that something is just “public domain” now and that’s that? A few years back Tom Lehrer put all his music into the public domain, and apparently it was quite the chore on his part to do so. Granted, I’m getting the “quite the chore” part second hand, since I’m not finding a primary source for that, but Tom definitely dood it. And I presume the hard part was getting any record labels with whom he had prior arrangements to play along.

But what does this Fables announcement mean, exactly? Various commentators have noted dumping a thing into the public domain isn’t necessarily a thing you can do. The Techdirt article link I posted suggest that really the best you can do is say “I won’t, and no heirs (if any) will, sue you if you use this thing I own.” As pal Nat said on Bluesky, maybe Willingham can offer what amounts to a free license to everyone to use his Fables material…which may conflict with preexisting contracts Willingham has with DC.

Willingham’s take is that, while he’s under contract to DC, he himself can’t do anything with Fables outside their purview…but by offering Fables up for free, everyone else can. Now I’m sure there’s going to be a test case for this eventually, as, say, Dynamite decides to publish their own Fables book, and DC/Warner/Discovery says “hold on there, pardner,” and slaps a big lawsuit or, at minimum, a cease and desist on them. The legality of “anyone can use Fables is going to be settled by courts, I’m almost positive.

It’s that contract with DC that I’m now wondering about, after Nat pointed it out. I am presuming Willingham’s lawyers looked over everything and gave him the “sure, go ahead” with this announcement. As he says repeatedly, he is the sole owner of the property, and outside the agreements he has with DC, he can do whatever he wants with it. But I suspect DC is going to spend at least a little money in legal action deciding if in fact this is the case. Willingham said that part of what moved him to this course of action was that he couldn’t afford the time or money to sue DC, but he may end up in court about this anyway.

As anther Bluesky user said (and Neil Gaiman concurred), this may be less about getting Fables into the public domain than about basically putting the screws to DC regarding their own ability to make new Fables comics. After all, ol’ Bill was pretty pissed at DC. (Given that he lost control over a previous comic he created, Elementals, I imagine he’s pretty sensitive about ownership of his work.)

Also, as many folks have joked, “at last, we can do stories about Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf!” I know, I know, Fables primarily concerned itself with characters from fairy tales, all of whom were already in the public domain. The situations, stories, and character interpretations are all Willingham’s, of course, and that’s what he’s offering up. It’s like, anyone can do Frankenstein’s Monster, but only Universal Studios can do the Frankenstein’s Monster you immediately thought of when you read the name.

I’m reminded a bit of Dave Sim, who has said that Cerebus would enter the public domain upon his death. Again, this is likely the “no one will sue you” option more than actual public domain, but Dave owns Cerebus outright and, far as I know, has no legal contracts involving the character with outside parties. Quite a different situation than that with Fables, where an entertainment conglomerate has at least some minor interest in the property.

Basically what I’m saying is, nobody knows for sure how this is going to work until someone tries to make it work, and we see how DC reacts. Like, don’t look for “Stan Lee Presents Fables” from Marvel anytime soon. Though…if Marvel still has publication rights to comics based on Once Upon A Time, maybe we can get that crossover we’ve always wanted…!

Or there was some ballot-box stuffing goin’ on.

§ September 13th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 21 Comments

So Pedro said in response to Monday’s post about Mister X:

“So it sounds like this highly-voted for series kinda sucks, eh?”

And LouReedRichards already gave a solid response:

“I wouldn’t say it sucks, but like many projects, the parts are actually greater than the whole.

“It has good, often amazing (IMHO) art & design work, a wonderful setting and concept. Motter is a good writer and artist, from what I can remember from his other works.

“For some reason it just never comes together as a cohesive package.

“It’s definitely worth picking up any of the Vortex color issues in the cheap bins.”

Just so this isn’t a lazy post where I reprint what you guys wrote in my comments and call it day, I do have something(s) to add.

First off, the votes. I’m just a little ol’ blog that pleaded for readers (and for pals on Xwitter) to contribute to my poll. It’s not a wide-ranging, comprehensive poll by any means. I think it’s not a bad representation of what fans liked, and by and large I think the results of my poll more-or-less reflect fairly well my own experiences over the years in the shops I’ve worked in.

But my poll isn’t perfect, and some titles got fewer votes than I expected, some got more. All it took was enough fans of a certain title to decide to participate in my poll, or enough people deciding not to, to skew things one way or another. Mister X is one of those titles that I was honestly surprised that showed as well as it did when I tallied the numbers.

As LouReedRichards said, there is plenty to recommend the series, even despite its uneven production and storytelling. A failed experiment can still be compelling and interesting and worthy of attention, even if it rarely, if ever, gels as a complete package. And it could very well be that the World’s Biggest Mister X Fan is reading this right now, buildin’ up a head o’steam over me daring to suggest the comic was lest than perfect.

One of my all-time favorite comic books remains the Andy Helfer/Bill Sienkiewicz/Kyle Baker run on The Shadow. It very famously ended mid-story, where the Shadow’s head had been put on a robot body, and someone somewhere decided “ooookay, let’s put everything on pause for a sec.” Many claims had been made to exactly why the series ended, and I covered them in a long-ago post here, probably link-rotted. I would point out that what DC said and what one of the creators said very much contradict each other.

But it’s unfinished. Even so, if I were asked to vote in some kind of favorite comics poll for which this series was eligible (“Series Most Likely to Give Old Fans of the Property Heart Palpitations”), I 100% would hang that chad for The Shadow.

On a related issue, I thought Matt Wagner’s Mage was highly and widely regarded as a classic comic series. Turns out that wasn’t quite the case, and, well, there you go.

Ultimately, there were enough people participating in my poll to give Mister X the good showing it received. That it’s received a certain level of critique for things never quite working out, there was enough there to make it a favorite title of some. It may not have always succeeded in what it was trying to do, but it succeeded enough.

The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Twenty.

§ September 11th, 2023 § Filed under final countdown § 18 Comments

Finally back to the favorite ’80s indies poll, which I put off a bit because…well, I’ll get into it.

Mister X (Vortex 1984-1988)

My first exposure to the idea of Mister X came from Amazing Heroes #48, which cover featured the character and contained an extensive preview of the then-forthcoming titles. While the character was created by Dean Motter, who had originally planned to produce a series illustrated by Paul Rivoche, the initial issues of the first Mister X comic were by Jaime, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez.

That issue of Amazing Heroes came out early in my picking up that ‘zine, so I read and reread this issue and thought this Mister X thing sounded interesting. And the Hernandez Bros’ involvement of course caught my attention. Inexplicably, I ended up not buying the comic. I don’t know if I missed it on the shelf, or if I didn’t have the scratch for it (I was 15, long before I had the Infinite Comics Retailer Budget that all comic shop owners have now), but I just didn’t pick it up. And, to this very day, it still remains one of the very few Hernandez blind spots in my funnybook reading. Even now, as an issue from their run shows up at the shop, it’s just, like, a single copy of #3 or something and not a full run, I just go ahead and price and sell it.

Anyway, the Hernandezes left the book after the fourth issue due to some problems with the publisher, and Motter wrote #5 with Ty Templeton (who’d been lettering the book), and the art was by Klaus Schoenefeld (who’d colored the previous issues. Issue #6 through #13 were illustrated by Seth…yes, that Seth of Palookaville fame. The last issue was drawn by Rodney Dunn, which was redrawn by Motter himself when the story was included in a later collection. Motter provided most of the covers for the first series, with others drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave McKean, and Mike Kaluta.

The premise of the series I still remember form that Amazing Heroes preview (and I double-checked against Wikipedia, to make sure I wasn’t too far off): Mister X is a bald and bespectacled fella who lurks about in the wildly-designed Radiant City, and as allegedly its architect he seeks to maintain the city and deal with any problems that arise within it. He is also dependent on a drug to keep himself awake 24 hours a day. He is a man of mystery to most of the cast, though his girlfriend Mercedes refers to him as “Santos.”

There were more series that followed, including a second one from Vortex (1989-1991, mostly written by Jeffrey Morgan, with art by Shane Oakley and D’Isareli), a four issue series in 1996 from Caliber Press, and then a few mini-series from Dark Horse (2008-2015) as well as appearances in Dark Horse Presents. Also in there was a Mister X Special from Vortex in 1990 by Peter Milligan and Brett Ewins.

So yes, I missed a lot of this as it was happening. I think the only Mister X content I experienced in real time were entries in the A1 anthology from Atomeka (including a story by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean). And I never got around to these either, but other Dean Motter books that took place in the same “world” were Terminal City (DC/Vertigo 1996-7) and Electropolis (Image 2001-3), both by Motter. Mister X is in the latter…I don’t know if he’s in the former.

Now, if you wanted to read all this stuff now? The only collection currently available from Diamond is Razed, one of the later Dark Horse minis. Otherwise, this may take some searching, but Dark Horse produced two volumes of Mister X Archives, reprinting up to the second Vortex series. Volume 1 appears to have been in both hard and softcover. Volume 2, “Brides of Mister X and Other Stories,” I think was only in hardcover. A third Dark Horse release, Mister X: The Modern Age, reprints all of Dark Horse’s Mister X releases. (All of the Dark Horse minis have had their own trade reprints.)

From iBooks there were two volumes of Mister X: The Definitive Colleciton from iBooks in 2004-5, reprinting up through the second Vortex series plus lots of extra material (from A1 and elsewhere). And for you completists, there were also collections for Terminal City (in HC from Dark Horse) and Electropolis (in trade also from Dark Horse), both out of print.

Now I put off writing this entry because, like I said above, my knowledge of the series is almost exclusively from 1) the Amazing Heroes article, and 2) those segments in A1. Most of what I wrote here was cobbled together from those memories and what I could piece together from the Comics Database and Diamond’s old product catalog. It remains a pretty big gap in my comics reading, especially those early Hernandez Bros. issues. I can still recall a bit of that feeling of experiencing something new in comics when reading that ‘zine article, like when I first read about Cerebus in Comics Scene. But I missed out at the time, and hopefully I can make room in all the comic reading I have left to do to finally redress this omission.

I think the “Star Wars II” parody that ran in Cracked Magazine was just about as close.

§ September 8th, 2023 § Filed under star wars § 14 Comments

So one of the things that has haunted me since childhood was an article that I believe I’ve read in Dynamite Magazine, a pop culture publication aimed at schoolchildren. (COMICS CONNECTION: Dynamite was created, and the early issues edited, by Jenette Kahn, who would later become publisher of DC Comics.) It began in 1974, so it was just in time to ride the Star Wars bandwagon, running several articles and cover features on the franchise over the years.

Your pal Mike was 8 years old in 1977, the proper age for Star Warsing, and thus I glommed onto this mag right quick when I saw it was featuring related material. To be fair, I’m pretty sure I read the occasional issue prior to the release of that film (I seem to recall picking up a special 3D issue of the mag, though that might have come later), but if anything had Star Wars on it, I had to at least give it a look.

One memory I’ve carried all this time, exacerbated by the eventual completion, for good or ill, of Lucas’s plan for a nine film saga, is my having read an article in Dynamite back in ’78 or ’79 with their conjecture as to what those nine films might be. I’m unclear on the exact timeline, but Lucas stated at some point early on that he wanted to make nine movies, three before the current trilogy, and three after. Knowing what the movies are now, I wanted to see this supposed articles conjectures.

Just randonly poking through some Dynamites on the Internet Archive, I believe I may have found the source of that old memory of mine. In issue #44 from 1978, I found an article titled “Star Wars ’78 and Beyond,” which sounded as if this might be a likely suspect.

I remembered a list of multiple entries, each headed “STAR WARS II,”STAR WARS III” and so on, with a paragraph or two beneath giving a brief outline of the alleged events in each film. Kind of a proto-Supershadow, for you oldies out there.

This article…looks like what I was remembering, though with only two entries for Star Wars II and III. I mean, there could still be an article like the one I remembered, but more likely I saw this article and over the years remembered it was having addressed all nine flicks.

Anyway, here’s what Lucas(?) himself(?) said about what Star Wars II would be like:

In a way Lucas sort of predicts the Expanded Universe, what with other people coming to play within the framework he created via books, TV shows, role-playing games, other movies, etc. Everything else is kind of a nothingburger, as none of these origins are really addressed. But it’s interesting to see the “Vader kills Luke’s father” business is at this point still part of the narrative (and it’s pretty clear Lucas doesn’t mean “from a certain point of view” either). And the Ben/Vader fight over the volcanic pit was pretty firmly established at this time.

Elements from this barebones outline would show up in some form in the prequels, from the “midichlorians cause the Force” to that final lightsaber battle between Ben and Vader (and, I guess, the “death” of Luke’s father, more or less). I don’t know when this interview was conducted, but I feel like it had to be early on (or at least drawn from interviews fomr outside sources) if everything is still this nebulous. I mean, I wasn’t expecting major spoilers or anything, but it just sounds like Lucas ‘n’ pals are still working everything out. For example, we’re still at “several sequels” instead of nailing it down to The Nine.

Which brings up to LStar Wars III, where, uh:

Wow, George Lucas invented the Avatar movies, too! Anyway, I think we’d all be down with a Wookiee movie. And again, we’d sort of get this in the Prequel Trilogy, not to mention the Holiday Special.

And that was that. I’m beginning to think this was the origin of that old memory of mine, altered over time from covering a couple of sequels to the dream mag that I carried around in my brain all this time. Unless, of course, I do turn up that article I remembered. Then at last, I will be vindicated!

In which Mike finds a way to annoy both G.I. Joe and Final Faction fans with a single sentence.

§ September 6th, 2023 § Filed under cartoons, misfit toys § 11 Comments

Okay, a couple of things: I did mistype the address for Pal Nat’s site in Monday’s post, so let me tell you all here that you can see all the wonderful comics-and-other items he’s published over at About Comics.

And so long as I’m talkin’ about Nat, in the comments to that post he did address the obvious question that I should have answered but didn’t: yes, the Disney comics distributed through the Dollar Tree stores are, indeed, a mere $1.25 of your American dollars.

Also in the comments, Matthew Murray mentions

“…Interestingly, they also published an issue of ‘Final Faction,’ which is based on a line of GI-Joe-style action figures & YouTube cartoons made by Dollar Tree.”

I did know about this comic, again thanks to Pal Nat. And this time the distribution gods that control Dollar Tree’s stock managed to place a stack of Final Faction: First Strike #1 at the location directly across the street from my shop.

And I do mean a stack…this isn’t like the Disney books, secreted amongst the coloring books for you to sniff out and dig up like truffles. There was no missing these, when I went to pick up a copy or three a few months ago, what with a thick wad of these bagged books stuffed into the shelving:

Why was it in the bag? No idea, other than to make it stick out. But I can assure you, it was still only $1.25! Here’s what it looks like out of the bag:

The comic is 24 pages including the covers, which, unlike the Disney books, are the same stock as the interior pages. Speaking of which, here’s an interior page from the comic:

Haven’t done more than flip through the book, so I can’t speak as to the quality of the writing, but it all looks perfectly fine for the toy tie-in that it is. Lots of action showing off the characters, which you can conveniently find for sale in your local Dollar Tree stores as per this detail from ad on the inside front cover:

The only other ad is for an issue #2 on the back cover, and I don’t know if that exists or not. There’s also some gag fake ads on the inside back cover, and I always enjoy that sort of thing.

Of note in the credits (printed at the bottom of the aforementioned back cover) is artist Chris Marrinan, who’s worked for Marvel and DC and drew Champions and Flare for Heroic, among other things.

Now Matthew also mentions that there are Final Faction cartoons on YouTube, and if you thought I wasn’t going to post one here…friend, you thought wrong:

This particular installment is only nine minutes, two of which are credits…including some for folks from Dollar Tree. And is it all CGI? Sure shootin’ it is. As far as I can tell, there are only three episodes, the last of which was about a year ago.

Anyway, I like the idea that a discount store put out their own series of G.I. Joe knockoffs along with animated adverti–er, adventures. No idea if you can still find the toys in stores…I mean, in any sort of quantity, I’m sure there’s a figure or two warming a peg at assorted locations. I’ll have to check in my local store and see if I can pick up a Shift. She seems pretty cool for being a reskinned Lady Jaye or Baroness or whatever, I don’t know, they’re basically the same, right?

And that millionaire’s name? Probably Nat.

§ September 4th, 2023 § Filed under disney § 9 Comments

So my man in the street, Huggy Bear pal Nat, informed me a while back that the Dollar Tree chain of stores has been carrying Disney comics. And not old copies of, say, warehoused copies of unsold Gladstone comics or anything.

Instead, these are newly-published comics produced by a company called Peachtree Playthings, which appears to specialize in producing products based on various licenses.

Far as I can tell, these are repackagings of previously published material, such as the above DuckTales comic, which contains a story that originally saw print in the U.S., Italy and France in 2017. And then there’s Spy Power which, if I’ve looked this up properly on Inducks.org, was originally published in Germany in 2020.

These are standard comic book size, 24 pages plus covers, full color on nice paper. The only ads appear to be in-house. The covers are slick and thicker than your normal comic book’s. I’ve seen 2021 and 2022 copyright dates on these books.

Nat has noted that he’s not seen too many of these at any single Dollar Tree location…apparently they haven’t been at the store right across the street from where my store is located. But when he does find them, they’re only a couple in stock and they’re mixed in with the coloring books, so whether he’s finding them at the end of the sales cycle where only a few are left, or they’re not getting a lot in stock in the first place, who’s to say. And the copies Nat’s been finding have seen a little battle damage, so you mint hounds seeking out copies of these have your work cut out for you.

Some of these have apparently been around a bit…that Frozen up there is issue #5, and there’s a next issue ad inside for #6. Even the Spy Power comic has a next issue tag, and from what I see on Inducks I’m not even sure how much more material they have to reprint.

I’m not sure what the distribution is like on these. Just from Nat’s reports, it sounds like it’s pretty spotty but perhaps they’re available in more quantity and more consistently in other areas. And I was going to say something along the lines of these being relatively “rare” as Disney comics go, but again, I’m just basing that on local conditions. Plus, I don’t know what the print runs were like on, say, some of IDW’s Disney periodicals. But I think it’s safe to say anyone hoping to send these off to CGC is going to be disappointed, unless they find that Only Mint Copy in Existence and to them, I say “Congrats, New Millionaire.”

Catches variants just like flies.

§ September 1st, 2023 § Filed under variant covers § 7 Comments

So, in the culmination of a process that’s taken, oh, about a year and a half, I found myself finally in possession of Amazing Spider-Man #1, #2 and #3, as well as a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15. I’ve been buying (and occasionally consigning) Silver Age Marvels from this particular person for a while now, and I knew he had those early Spideys but he wasn’t quite ready to part with them…until NOW.

Well, by “NOW” I mean “a couple of days ago” and before you ask, I only have the #3 left as of this writing and even that will likely be gone shortly after you read this. Or long before you read this, if our giant-brained, spindly-bodied descendant are reading this ancient archived post in the very distant Weird Science-ish future.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about, mostly. What I’m here to talk to you about is another item that came along with this early Spideys…another early Spidy of some note. But first, let me show you a picture I took of the actual, real, straight-from-1963 issue #1 that I briefly had my mitts all over:

And here is the other Spidey…can you tell the difference between the two (other than my inability to take a decent photo that’s not at a weird angle)?

Yes, the 12-cent price is missing. And that’s because this comic is the reprint included in the Golden Records Book and Record Set from 1966, pictured here in an image “borrowed” from eBay:

Nope, I didn’t get the record, just the comic. But if you absolutely have to, you can listen to it via the YouTubes. WARNING: will challenge your ability to listen immediately.

There are a number of other differences between the two versions of the comic, as I’m sure comes as no surprise. The big one is the reprint has fewer pages, having removed all the ads. They also removed all the credits from the stories, much to Stan Lee’s chagrin I’m assuming. The story pages were also renumbered…in the original, once the second story starts, the page numbering starts over with “1” but the reprint just continues along enumerating the pages from 1 to 24. I’ll show you an example in a moment.

There were a few pages devoted to espousing the virtues of Golden Records and advertising their wares, such as this message to parents and teachers on the inside front cover:

And here’s a list of other records in the series. Tag yourself, I’m “Bozo Finds a Friend:”

And here’s the back cover, with a convenient order form that I’m going to clip out and mail in right away:

The most interesting difference is this, I think. The very last panel of the second story of the comic looks like this in the 1963 original:

Here it is in the Golden Records reprint, with the blurb removed (and you can see the page number now reads “24” instead of “10,” since, as it says in the parents/teachers note, the narrator reads off the page numbers and starting over again from #1 might have been confusing):

Someone had to go and draw in that little web to fill the panel. I’m assuming some art guy at the record company, or maybe Marvel did it for them. Unless that was something Steve Ditko did originally in that panel and it was covered by a pasted-in caption, but from what I know about actual comic production, that doesn’t seem likely. I don’t know, but still, it’s pretty neat. What a weird panel to end a story on in the reprint…and without that blurb, how will kids know there were any more Spider-Man adventures? Maybe they thought this was it! Spider-Man tried to get a job with the FF, then fought the Chameleon, and then was never seen again.

Anyway, neat item…and something I noticed when pricing the book was that in the latest Overstreet price guide, this comic is worth more on its own than with the record, which is…weird? And not something that was true in previous years’ guides, far as I can tell. It’s also not like that for the Fantastic Four Golden Record. I’m guessing it’s an error and prices got switched…or it’s simply a case of that’s just how the sale prices reported to the guide worked out. Strange, and I guess we’ll see how it looks in the next edition of the Guide.

Should also note that yes, this technically isn’t a variant, but a reprint…but what the heck, close enough. It’s been a while since I’ve done a variant covers post and it’s probably not a bad idea to remind people this series of posts exists.

• • •

By the way, as of this month I’ll have been in comics retail for 35 years.

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