Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comics Uncovered - 1980

sgRob Kelly One relic of Buying Comics Past that has completely vanished for later generations is the Coverless Comic.

As I'm sure most everyone reading this blog already knows, coverless comics were a...er, slightly shifty newsvendor's way of getting credit for unsold comics while still, in fact, selling them. They would rip the cover(or sometimes just the title) off, send it back to the publisher, and then sell the mutilated comic for less than cover price. It is so very illegal.

As I've mentioned before, buying comics while on vacation with my family in the Poconos were some of my favorite childhood experiences--they had newsstands, gas stations, and supermarkets galore up there, and all of them--all of them--carried comics. Ah, the good old days.

There was a Woolworth store(a tri-state area chain; kind of like a super-small, more grubby version of Target) in the town of Hawley; which was the closest approximation of Civilization that we had to our cabin. My Dad and I were in there one day August of 1980 and I saw this book--a coverless copy of Justice League of America #179, the one where Firestorm joins the team.

I had somehow missed this issue(and the part 2 of the story in #180), so I never knew how Firestorm ended up in the JLA. So when I saw this book, I just had to have it; the fact it had no cover puzzled me, but didn't stop me from asking(read: begging) my Dad to get it for me.

The coverless copy was the only one I had for many years; when I hit my teens and got more serious about being a Collector, I ditched that copy and got a better condition one, with the original spiffy cover by Jim Starlin.

Now of course I wish I still had that original one; even coverless it would mean a lot more to me than any Pristine Mint, slabbed or whatever perfect copy.


Rick L. Phillips said...

We had Woolworths in Kentucky too. I thought they were a national chain. I guess I was wrong.
The first time I read a story with the PUnisher was when I bought a coverless copy of Amazing Spider-man from a little Mom and Pop shop in Ryland Heights,Ky. where I lived at the time. Thanks for the memories

rob! said...

hmm, they had them in Kentucky? maybe i'm wrong.

its just i remember mentioning Woolworths once in a while when i was at Kubert, and a lot of guys had never heard of them, so i assumed they were just local.

Anonymous said...

We had Woolworths in St. Louis and Minneapolis, too, Rob. As for this issue of JLA, I always hated it. I loved Firestorm as a character UNTIL he joined the JLA. Then I instantly hated him. He couldn't have told his fellow memmbers that he was a high school student or they would have kicked him out, for according to the JLA bylaws printed in the JLA issue of Amazing World of DC Comics, each member had to be a full-time hero. Plus as a teenager, he better belonged to the Teen Titans than to the JLA. AND he overshadowed most of the other members. So I was totally in agreement with Ollie (and Alex Ross) on this guy: he shouldn't have joined.

Anonymous said...

Woolworth's was either the grubby version of Target or the up-scale version of Newberry's!

I had purchased Firestorm's short-lived series and I kind of liked the character so his membership in the JLA didn't really bother me. Besides, I always dug membership issues in JLA - they happened fairly infrequently. Also, I always liked that the DC teams like the Justice League of America and the Legion of Super-Heroes "grew" as opposed to "changed" which is what the Marvel teams seemed to do every few issues. Sure, Green Arrow might quit in a huff or 'gasp' a Legionnaire might actually die but, for the most part, the JLA and the Legion just grew and grew.

That always made more sense to me than a "The Old Order Changeth!" issue every other year.

rob! said...

ok, i'm Officially Wrong on Woolworth's...they were everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Dang kids these days!!! Guys:


Woolworth's was big - very big - really, the FIRST "Five & Dime" chain.

It was a very sad day when bad management closed them down in the US (they still exist, in England). They were a real asset to NYC - always including terrific Halloween and Christmas sections.

Happy Halloween,
-Old Man Wichman

Anonymous said...

I thought Firestorm brought a fresh perspective to the JLA, but clearly his induction open the door for other...less tested folks like...Vibe. Ugh.


rob! said...

the reason Firestorm never bothered me as a JLAer (even tho he was hardly of the caliber of the other members...well, except maybe Red Tornado) was because he was the young, brash kid and that gave later stories a fresh angle. having one new guy counterbalaned with all the old hands i thought made for a nice dynamic.

the problem i had--have--with the whole Vixen/Vibe/Steel/Gypsy thing was there was way too many young guys, and not enough old guys for it really to be the JLA. the balance got thrown way outta wack!

rob! said...

thinking back, i must be confusing Woolworths with another store, since Hawley was so small a town they really didnt get chain stores, so it couldnt have been WW's in the first place.

the place did a have that grubby, not-always-well-kept-up, smelling-like-tobacco feel that great old newsstands used to have.

there's still a place like that a few miles from here, and they still sell comics! i always buy some there everytime i happen to be over there.

K.B. said...

This was always a puzzle to me. There was of all places, a hardware store by my house when i was a kid that sold 3 packs of these coverless comics. It sucked that the covers were missing, but the plus was the packs contained hard to find older books and the price was dirt cheap.Something like 25cents for 3 .So,..you go your monies worth and caught up on some good history.

Grears said...

Back in 2002 I had to stay overnight in a mall... Long story for another time... I took a walk aroun at 1 am, and outside of the book store was a bunch of coverless comments. I spent an hour or so reading Batman and Archie. for free.