There goes my Fables stage musical.

§ September 18th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 19 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.

19 Responses to “There goes my Fables stage musical.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Mike Sterling

    Thanks for the who owns the The Elementals update!

    That’s an instant classic photo of Amazing Mike Sterling and two Amazing books!

    Cool that more buzz is building about your shop and more collectors are coming in to buy the big books!

  • Tom W says:

    But did you take the time to read them? Because I’ve always wondered where this “Spider-Man” fellow came from, his origin if you will, and as far as I know those are the place to find out.

  • DK says:

    I always feel bad for the guy trying to assemble a full run of AMAZING FANTASY or the dude who is the world’s most passionate Zatara collector who needs to pick up ACTION #1 to complete his set.

    Sometimes you don’t need to be the biggest retailer, a reputation as a knowledgeable and fair person with reliable grading is good enough. If I’m dropping $10k+ on funnybooks I want someone I can trust who knows the business extremely well.

  • LouReedRichards says:

    As someone not accustomed to being around high-priced items like that, I’d be afraid to even hold them.

    Ha! Good point DK.

    While it’s nowhere nearly as dramatic as that; I remember really liking the entries for Death-Stalker and his former henchmen, The Ani-Men in the “dead and deceased” issue of the original Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
    Then and there I decided to collect all of their appearances. Even on a 12 year old’s allowance budget most of the appearances wouldn’t have been a problem.
    Needless to say, my eyes popped out of my head when I looked up Daredevil #158. “Damn, Death-Stalker must be way more popular than I thought!” Surely the Ani-Men will be easier acquisitions.” Then I looked up their appearance in X-Men #94.

    The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Ani-Men…

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ LouReedRichards

    This is why Marvel and DC should be printing facsimile copies of so many of their old comics on the regular…so that even if most people are priced out of owning the originals, they can have facsimiles as single issues.

    All of the 1939 issues of Detective Comics with Batman would be a good place to start. And all of the Ditko art Spider-Man issues.

  • LouReedRichards says:

    Yeah that would be nice.

    When I first got into comics I was so confused by Marvel Tales, didn’t realize the concept of reprints. I just knew I liked Spidey vs. Meteor Man more than say, the Puma.

    Like a lot of people in the 80’s & 90’s, I eagerly prowled through the bargain bins looking for the marvel reprint series from the 1970’s. It was always a joy to run across Marvel Double feature, Marvel Super Action, Marvel Spectacular, and esp. Marvel’s Greatest Comics with the FF reprints! Only later did I learn they usually omitted a page from the original to fit the lower page count of the day. Oh well, I still love those comics from the days before seemingly everything could get a nice collected edition.

    BTW: I later ran across a beat up DD #158 at a flea market for $1, still no such luck with X-Men #94.
    All us Ani-Men, and I guess die-hard Count Nefaria fans, will have to be content with reprints.

    And that should read “deceased and inactive” from my previous post, d’oh!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I still go after early ’70s issues of Marvel Tales and Marvel’s Greatest Comics if they are in Fine or better condition. Some of those comics had new cover art, like the Marvel’s Greatest Comics which features the FF reprint of the first Black Panther appearance. At this point, those comics are 50 or so years old, so, even if they are reprints, they have some cool nostalgia value…also, some of those early ’70s Marvel Tales issues have a cool corner emblem of Spider-Man swinging out towards the reader which looks badass.

  • Thom H. says:

    “Sometimes you don’t need to be the biggest retailer, a reputation as a knowledgeable and fair person with reliable grading is good enough.”

    I agree. I’m lucky enough to live in a town with plenty of locally owned comic shops, but I’d still trust the little guy over the big chain operation(s). Dealing with the person in charge feels more direct and fair than speaking through middle managers and/or getting stuck with take-it-or-leave-it corporate policies.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    This is what I mean when I say you’re “living the dream.” Holding history in your hands. (And I hope getting a decent commission.)

    I’m thrilled that those comics aren’t slabbed. Someone could actually, conceivably read them! Although I have to confess to being a little nervous about how loosely those seem to be bagged and boarded. I hope there’s no tape holding the flaps down.

    Mike, can you offer any commentary on the condition those books are in?

  • DavidG says:

    This looks a bit like those ransom photos where the hostage holds up a newspaper to prove they are still alive. So we know Mike was still alive in 1963 now. Should we pay the ransom?

  • LouReedRichards says:

    @ Sean

    Yeah, I remember a new cover or two from Gil Kane on MGC.

    I’m a fan of Kane, but a non-Kirby cover on a Kirby FF is
    almost Blasphemous! ;)

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ LouReedRichards

    Fair enough. I guess since the Buscemas, Romita Sr., and Gil Kane became the Marvel House Style artists of the early Bronze Age it made sense for Marvel to get Kane and other artists to knock out some new covers on reprint books…but I agree that a Jack Kirby comic book should have a Jack Kirby cover.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Fables is ours, don’t even try it, we’re looking at you Rob Liefeld”

    OMG that would be SO bad. Possibly So Bad It’s Good.

    “And certainly don’t call it Fables.”

    I’ll call it FOIBLES.

    “I thought I was smiling.”

    Been there!

    “Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1”


  • Snark Shark says:

    “I always feel bad for the guy trying to assemble a full run of AMAZING FANTASY or the dude who is the world’s most passionate Zatara collector who needs to pick up ACTION #1 to complete his set.”

    Or the Bronze Age equivalent, a guy who wants the entire 70’s run of the incredible Hulk, most of which aren’t sky-high, except for the Wolverine 1st app, and the Wolverine cameo app. before that!

    “Marvel Tales”

    Marvels old reprint books seem to be in more demand than they used to be, as it is indeed cheaper than buying the originals, which I think a lot pf people figured out.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Are there obsessed Zatara collectors out there, though? I mean, Zatanna I can see collectors obsessing about…but her dad…?

  • Jon H says:

    Might need to consider boosting your insurance coverage and security.

    For all I know you might leave those in the hands of the owner until the sale takes place, and never keep them on-site, but “bad guys” might not expect that and still cause a mess.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    Congrats Mike!

    Some of the old Marvel reprint books are specifically in demand because of the new covers, lower print runs, and back issue stories to fill-in 17 page stories from the 70s. Specifically, the MacFarlane covers from Marvel Tales are in demand.

  • Aaron says:

    Amazing Fantasy in one hand, *Amazing* Spider-Man guest starring the *Fantastic* Four in the other.
    Shame on me for not noticing that before, but to be fair, I’ve never had them side by side like that.
    That’s cool. Thanks, Mike!

  • Snark Shark says:


    “It’s the Top Hat. Chicks dig the top hat.”