Yes, I know there was a third treasury in the series collecting the first two, so technically owning just the first two wouldn’t be “complete,” don’t @ me.

§ April 22nd, 2020 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So I’ve been hustling that “30 comics for $20” pack from my store pretty hot ‘n’ heavy since the Plague Times began, and I’ve been retweeting several testimonials from happy recipients of said bundles both on the personal Twitter and the store account.

However, get a load of this: J. Caleb bought a pack, along with a handful of specific back issue requests, and he went and did a review of every comic I sent him! Great Scott, man! …But I’m glad he enjoyed them AND did some classic ol’ style comicsweblogosphere blogging about them!

Anyway, speaking of blogging, Chris G had a blog response to my blog post from my previous blogging day:

“The shop I went to about 20 years ago occasionally put out stacks of treasury comics – Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and Cap’s Bicentennial Battles among them – priced at, I think, a dollar or two. Would something like this be warehouse finds or something? I was always curious how they made their way from 1970something to a store in Washington in the late 90s.”

I mean, sure, it’s possible. You never know when and where some excess inventory of these may get squirreled away and then unleashed upon an unsuspecting public decades later.

I don’t know of specific major warehouse finds of treasury editions, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if someone happened to find a bunch in storage, or if maybe had collections come in with multiples of the same old-ish comic. I mean, that certainly happens. All it takes is someone cleaning out a garage or storage locker of someone who decided to put their retirement money into nearly seventy copies of Time Bandits for them to end up in your local comics emporium, with a retailer desperate to unload them at any price.

Admittedly, a large overstock of treasury editions doesn’t seem like it would be nearly as common, but I know from experience this happens too. If I may repeat a story some of you have probably heard from me before, many years ago at the previous place of employment my former boss Ralph had, for some reason, cases of the first Star Wars treasury, as so:

Now, as you may recall, this only comprised the first half of the film, with another volume of the Marvel Special Edition containing the back half. Now, having a pile of one and none of the ohter makes said pile a tad harder to move, so we didn’t do much with those cases of treasuries. Keep in mind this was in The Dark Times for Star Wars, long after Return of the Jedi had completed its run in theaters, and long before the shining, glorious promise of what would almost be the greatest, most beautiful and amazing motion picture ever made, Episode 1, was even hinted at possibly existing. This may have even been before Dark Horse kicked off its Star Wars line with Dark Empire.

Basically, no one gave much of a shit about Star Wars. And we had stacks of these things. So Ralph decided he’d rather have the space in his backroom instead of these albatrosses, and that’s how we put them out for sale on the front counter, right by the register, for exactly 25 cents each. One slim quarter would get you a VF to NM copy of Marvel Special Edition #1 (1977) featuring the first half of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. And as an impulse buy, it went fairly quickly. I don’t recall anyone buying, like, stacks of them as investments or anything. Just people buying their regular comics, seeing the pile, saying “sure, throw one of those on, too” and that was that.

Of course, the cruel thing we could have done is tracked down some copies of the second half and then charged $100 each for them and cackled maniacally as people were forced to complete the set. But we didn’t, because we were nice guys, or at least successfully pretending to be nice, whichever.

My favorite story from this period was the person who called the shop looking for a copy of that very Star Wars treasury we were unloading for two bits. The conversation I had went a little bit like this:

CALLER: “I’m looking for a copy of the first Star Wars comic…the oversized one, had the first part of the movie in it? Have you heard of it?”

ME: “Yes, we have them in stock right now.”

CALLER: “Great! I need to replace someone else’s copy…my kid accidentally destroyed it. How much is this going to set me back?”

ME: “Twenty five cents.”


ME: “…”

CALLER: “No, you see, this is the first Star Wars. Not the comic book sized one, but the bigger one. A treasury, I think it’s called.”

ME: “Yes, that’s exactly what we have. A whole lot of them. Only a quarter each.”

CALLER: “I don’t think you understand. This. Is. Star. Wars. Number. ONE. From 1977. The one that’s printed at a big size.”

ME: “I swear to you, we have that exact thing. We have TONS of them, we’re trying to get rid of them. That’s why they’re only 25 cents.”

…and it went on like that for a little while longer, the guy trying to convince me that what he’s looking for is rare and valuable and couldn’t possibly be only a quarter, and me trying to convince him that, no, I knew precisely what he was talking about and yes it totally could be a quarter. It ended with him hanging up, slightly pissed, and I’m pretty sure he never came in and bought one of our copies.

Not one of my retail successes, as I wasn’t able to get my message across, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t entirely to blame. And admittedly, I suppose it would be hard to believe that specific situation we found ourselves in unless you saw it with your own peepers.

Of course, in hindsight one wishes that we’d kept a case aside to sell at premium pricing once the Star Wars machine started to activate again, but back at that time, who knew? I’m sure it may turn out that some of comics I’m selling for a song in those 30-packs I’ve been offloading could turn out to be valuable collectors items due to the vagaries of shifting tastes and faddish demand goosed by media adaptations, or something like that. Worrying about that sort of thing, however, is a good way to have a storage area filled with comics you’d never sell, and that’s already too easy to do without helping it along waiting for a bigger payday that may never come.

8 Responses to “Yes, I know there was a third treasury in the series collecting the first two, so technically owning just the first two wouldn’t be “complete,” don’t @ me.”

  • Dave Carter says:

    Oh man, as a kid I owned that first Star Wars treasury edition but not the second; so I could re-live the first half of Star Wars over and over but never the ending! (I was so glad that Empire was collected as a complete treasury edition. And then Jedi was compiled in a magazine-sized edition IIRC.)

  • Matthew says:

    Unrelated to anything, but I read recently-ish that the original Fathom #1 from the 1990s had variant interiors. Do you remember anything about this?

  • jmurphy says:

    What’s this Episode IV New Hope nonsense? That wording didn’t exist until 1981. Anything from the late ’70s is just “Star Wars”. Kids these days…

  • JohnJ says:

    Didn’t Marvel also do a Treasury combining all 6 issues? They had to realize the whole thing was something that would continue to sell and that would have been why they bombed out the Treasury with just the first half. They should have pulped them to make extra copies of the St. Francis comic they did later. My sister is a Franciscan nun and you can’t imagine how much time I wasted trying to get hold of more of them after she found out such a thing existed.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    The Captain America’s Bicentennial Battle was the first Treasury edition I bought off the rack at 7-11. Actually, it didn’t fit in the spinner rack but was displayed in the magazine section. Barry Windsor-Smith inked Kirby’s pencils over the first few pages which eventually led me to track Conan back issues down over the next decade…

  • Donald G says:

    I missed the first Star Wars treasury edition, but got the second. Then, I was given the third treasury collecting the entire movie as a Christmas gift.

  • Robcat says:

    Reminds me of a parent I had. I was teaching 8th grade and gave Little Johnny a B. Woman calls me up furious. Wants me to give it an A. I won’t do it. I invite her in to read over the paper and the rubric for grading but she won’t do it.

    Her: “His uncle is a lawyer and HE said it was an A paper.”

    Me: “I’m sorry but his uncle couldn’t write an A paper in 8th grade. Tell you what- come on down…”

    This went on for a few minutes and I get sick of it. It’s just not worth it it me. It’s 8th grade!

    Me: “Ma’am, I cannot in good conscience give this paper an A, but I tell you what. I will let you grade it. I will delete the B. I just need you to tell me officially what grade you want me to put in the grade book.”

    Her: “I would NEVER tell you what to put in the grade book!”

    Me (in my head) “You just did, you idiot!”

    Me (on the phone): “Ma’am, it’s ok. I am deleting the grade now. I just need you to officially tell me what grade to put in.”

    Long silence.

    Her: “I do not have time for this crap! I’m calling your principal!”

    She slams down the phone and that’s the last I ever heard of her.

  • JohnJ says:

    Speaking of Star Wars, doesn’t everybody think it’s way past time for Disney to put out dvds of the original versions of the first three movies?? I’ve got a nice boxed set of letter-boxed vhs tapes of those movies and it’s so nice to remind myself of what originally made us fans of these movies. Just because they CAN drop in a hundred more creatures, doesn’t mean that they needed to. Strange to watch this company turn up their noses to another big pile of money from sales of those 3.