Or maybe I should just enjoy this comic and not think about it so much.

§ September 14th, 2012 § Filed under archie, collecting § 14 Comments

So I don’t buy older back issues for myself too much anymore…partially because I just don’t have the budget to do so, and partially because I have far too many comics as it is, and it’s already a Heculean task awaiting those who have to clear out my home after my eventual demise. But, “he says, after going super-dark in the very first line,” I find a deal I can’t pass up, and this week’s deal is…

Archie Annual #9, from 1957-8. It’s nearly 100 pages of comics, it’s from my favorite period of Archies, it’s in reasonable and readable condition, and it was under nine bucks. Plus, it has the cutest Midge ever:

…but don’t tell Moose I said that.

Anyway, I do love giant special comics…when I was a kid, I sought out those special anniversary issues, like Detective Comics #500 and Justice League of America #200…I bought the annuals, the anniversary issues, and a couple of decades back, I started collecting all of DC’s Eighty Page (then 64-page, then 48-page) Giants, back when they were still affordable. I used to fish DC’s 100-Page Giants out of the quarter bins, back when “aw, these are just reprints, who wants these” was the prevailing school of thought. I guess that’s just the…frugal side of my collecting bug, wanting more for my money.

Plus, there just seems to be some more…significant about the extra-sized issues. The historical value of the reprinted stories. The special event-ness of the superhero anniversary issues, where, like the “mythology” episodes of X-Files or Lost, something wrapped up, something concluded, something was revealed or something changed, where the running-in-place status quo actually seemed to run forward an inch or two (until maintainers of the franchise forced things to return to where they were). Or, like this Archie annual, the sheer amount of content you received for your money was in itself special, where you were getting, like it said on the cover, a “BIG COMPLETE BOOK” with a squarebound spine and everything, not like that floppy, thin, and not nearly as permanent-seeming magazine that you could get every month.

And as I drove home, with this copy of Archie Annual #9 sitting on the seat next to me, I thought about how there were once stacks of these sitting on newsstands over 50 years ago, in brand new condition, being bought by kids with their quarters, brought home, read, passed along to friends, confiscated by teachers, or left behind and tossed out when it came time for parents to reclaim the former rooms of their grown-up children, and how this copy, this very copy right here now sitting on my desk next to me as I type this, managed to survive the decades and end up with me. So thanks to that kid, who may have been seven or ten or so years old at the time, who’d be at least in his or her sixties now or just about, for investing your quarter so long ago and beginning the chain of events that continued with my Thursday purchase of this comic. And that chain will continue on when the time comes for this comic to move on to someone else.

To that person who eventually gets this comic, hopefully sometime in the distant future, who may think back about the people were part of the chain that eventually passed it down to him: you’re welcome.

14 Responses to “Or maybe I should just enjoy this comic and not think about it so much.”

  • Casie says:

    This is lovely, Mike.

  • Snark Shark says:

    25 cents for 100 pages!!!

    pretty cool!

  • Pietro says:

    Nice thoughts, Mike! I happen to think along the same lines whenever I buy an out-of-print “paperback” novel by some obscure writer from the 40s or 50s.

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    I don’t think it’s any coincidence that so many people who were reading comics in the late 60’s/early 70’s got hooked on the history of the medium: it was the first golden age of reprints. Marvel had a whole line of reprint books (not to mention the reprint paperbacks that would show up) and those DC Giants, especially the 100 pagers, were a living history lesson.

    and the best part was that when you bought a 100 page Brave and the Bold or World’s Finest – you got a variety of stories – a true anthology. This is the main drawback of today’s reprints. When I’d read a DC War reprint book, I’d get a Sgt. Rock story, a Losers story, a Haunted Tank story, and a couple of non-series stories. There was variety. Today, if I buy the Showcase volume of G.I. Combat, after two or three Haunted Tank stories, I have to put it down because the formula starts to stick out like a sore thumb. An occasional Elongated Man backup as a reprint was a charming treat. I still haven’t bought the Showcase volume because I know how repetitive those stories can get when read one after the other.

    I recently started buying the World of Archie digest, and the stories that I consistently enjoy the most are the oldest ones. late 50’s to late 60’s were the high point of Archie as far as i’m concerned. I wish they’d do a regular reprint book from just that period – the more current stories just fall flat for me. Part of the reason I buy World of Archie is that they reprint what seems to be an entire issue of an older book in each one. They had an issue of More Seymour a couple of issues back, and the most recent one that I’ve read had Super Duck (who I always enjoyed when he’d be reprinted in things like Little Archie giants). But I digress…

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    I have had similar thoughts about back issues and other vintage items. I felt that significance when I was younger, but as I get older it’s much more profound.

  • philip says:

    I don’t know how to “adjust for inflation” or whatever but I have to figure that 25 cents was quite the expenditure for a kid 50+ years ago. I like to think that this thing was a treasure for whomever had it then, at least as much as it is a treasure for you now.

    Also, Midge. Always and forever. Midge.

  • swamp mark says:

    Isn’t it funny that as we age and start to “lose” things,one of the things we “gain” is perspective.For all the good it does us!lol

  • Mike Nielsen says:

    Love those Archies. The only new comics I buy anymore are the Archie double digests. Seems like a heck of a deal on a per page price for $3.99 for 165 pages vs 2.99 for 36 pages, and I’m enjoying the stories just as much as I would have if I’d stuck around for the New 52.

  • JRC says:

    awesome mike!

  • Casey says:


  • Interstate Shogun says:

    I love the DC 100 pagers too. One of my current reading projects is reading all of the 100 pagers that I was able to get my hands on, which is a lot. They are really cool and it takes a long time to read through one, it’s a satisfying feeling when you finish it.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    I was sorting through some of my collectibles from the 60’s and 70’s last weekend and came across a box of Spider-Man and Hulk toilet paper. No idea how much it’s worth and don’t really care but I had similar warm thoughts/feelings – minus the “sharing with other kids” part.

  • Bear says:

    A lovely post Mike, thanks for that.

  • You express the very thoughts that frequent my mind as I continue my hobby / obsession.

    Long have I been a collector / dealer in antiquarian books/comics and assorted curiosities, and always I wonder about the chain of events that brought it to me along its long journey through time.

    A lovely post, Mike.
    Thank you.