Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Miss Brooke - 1983

sgRemember this photo? It ran in Dick Giordano's Meanwhile... column for DC's April 1983 cover-dated books.

Brooke--at the time a really huge star--was lending her fame to a PSA program trying to keep kids from smoking. Apparently there were kits put together to be given out in school, called "Super Kits", and starring guess who of the DC Universe. It even mentions TV commercials featuring Brooke and Superman, but I sure don't remember seeing any of those. I'd love to find one of the kits on ebay to see what it was all about.

I wonder what Brooke was thinking while reading this issue of Superman?

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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vincent Bartilucci - 1977

sgVincent Bartilucci On November 26, 1977, I attended my first comic book convention. The reason I can be so precise regarding that date is because it was one of those Creation Conventions that always took place over Thanksgiving weekend.

Whether my father had heard about the convention before me and had asked if I’d like to go, or I had learned of it first and begged him to take me, I cannot recall. The former is more likely. My dad was a conductor for the Long Island Railroad so he probably became aware of the upcoming Creation Con during one of his daily runs into Penn Station. These daily runs into NYC also meant he had access to the newsstands in and around Penn, a fact that allowed me to score the two biggest "gotta get that one" comics of my youth. Oh, but that’s another story.

This story is about that Saturday in November all those years ago when my father and I took the train into New York City for my first convention. As I mentioned, my dad was employed by the LIRR so, naturally, he introduced me to the men working the train that day. It was weird seeing my father in the context of 'co-worker' and it made me proud to observe how well regarded he was by the other men on the job.

If I recall correctly, the convention was held at a hotel directly across the street from Penn Station. I don't remember waiting on a line to get into the show although I'm positive we did. In fact, I was so excited about the whole experience I bet there's a whole heap of stuff that didn't register, even at the time.

Now, almost exactly thirty years later, only three experiences associated with the convention remain crisp and clear in my mind. I remember, for example, that I was able to plug the holes in my Adventure Comics/Aquaman run and that I also picked up Aquaman #54 with that creepy "evil Aquaman coming out of the mirror" cover. I've always considered Aquaman #54 my first "real" back issue. The Adventure Comics, after all, were books I had been looking for at the newsstands but had missed. Aquaman #54, on the other hand, had been published way back in 1970! That was an old comic! Or, at least, it seemed so at the time.

I also remember that my dad and I sat in for a few minutes at a presentation on Superman: The Movie, which was still a little over a year away from its release date. At one point a large slide showing a picture of Christopher Reeve in full Superman regalia was projected on a big white screen. The sight of Reeve on that rooftop in his super-suit was breathtaking, even for this comic fan who has always been fairly apathetic regarding the Man of Steel. Yes, it was a wonderful sight...but something was just a little off. The emcee of the presentation asked the audience what was wrong with the image and we all roared back, "Superman doesn’t have an 'S' on his belt!" Sure enough, some over-eager costume designer had slapped the Superman "S" shield on Reeve’s belt buckle! The emcee assured us that that error had been straightened out and a completely accurate Superman would appear on the nation’s movie screens in '78. Oh, for the days when moviemakers strived for that sort of accuracy. Bat nipples, indeed!

We wandered out of that presentation and took another trip around the dealer's room before calling it a day. There is a part of me that is very glad that I cannot recall any comic book creators who may have been in attendance at the show. At the time, the draw of the convention for me was the dealer's room and all those long boxes filled with four color treasures. If I discovered now the comic pros I passed on meeting back then, I'd probably break down in tears!

The final "crisp and clear" memory of the day occurred on the ride home. Now, I didn't dare pull out my new comics on the train; I might leave one behind! So, I passed the time by looking over all the giveaways I had picked up at the con--one-sheet ads for stores I'd never visit, pin-back buttons announcing movies I'd never see, and photocopied reviews of books I'd never read. My father was unusually quiet as I inspected my haul of freebees. About halfway thru our hour-long trek home, he interrupted my inspection. "You know this stuff isn’t real, right?" he asked, indicating the comics sitting safely in their plastic bags on the seat between us. There was just a hint of concern in his voice. It took me a moment to understand what he was asking me, so surprised was I by both the question and his tone.

I'm not sure now what my reply was but I guess I said something like, I'm not a little kid anymore and that I just thought comics were fun to read. Whatever my response, it seemed to reassure my dad. "Okay, as long as you know," he said and I returned to my giveaways.

Later that weekend, my father explained to me that during the Superman: The Movie presentation a man in his late 30's had engaged him in conversation about the origins of the Man of Steel. According to my dad, who has always been a fair judge of character, the man was more than just a passionate fan rattling off obscure bits of comic book lore. No, this guy was talking about Clark Kent like they sat next to each other in 8th grade English Class! For almost the entire time my attention was focused on the presentation, my father was involved in a dialogue with a crazy person who was having lunch with Superman that afternoon!

The encounter had unsettled him to such a degree that he felt compelled to bring it up. The whole experience prompted a great "grown-up" discussion between my dad and I about what's really important in life and about keeping things in perspective. He let me know that if I wanted to collect comics all my life, that'd be fine. And I let him know that I wasn't going to try to fly out my bedroom window anytime soon.

Over the next few years, my father and I went to a few more conventions together. I remember one con when it took me three hours to convince him to let me spend a whopping $6.50 on one back issue--Giant-Size X-Men #1! I remember another con when I walked away from a number of Marvel Team-Ups I wanted only to have my father pull me back to the seller's table. Apparently, the guy was willing to cut a deal for the issues I wanted; my dad had picked up on the "make me an offer" vibe but I hadn't. I remember all those father/son times together fondly. In a way, the comic book conventions were our ballgames or camping trips.

I don't go to many conventions anymore, maybe one every 3 years or so. It's hard to find the time. Even when they’re announced months in advance, it seems like I still can't free up my schedule. And there are so many other things I should be spending my money on, right? So, con-going isn't really on my radar at this stage in my life. But I've never been to the San Diego comic-con and I'd really like to go. Maybe one of these years my schedule and finances will align perfectly and I'll make the trip out to the Big One. If I ever do though, I'd like to bring my father along.

That'd freak him out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Mighty Avengers! - 1981

sgThis is me, circa August 1981 in our cabin in the Poconos. As you can see, I'm really proud of this particular issue of The Avengers.

You can't hear it, but most assuredly my Dad is sighing on the other side of the camera.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Adventures of Bob Hope - 1950

sgAnother Corbis pic, this one of Bob Hope visiting a small child named Alice White, reading her a copy of The Adventures of Bob Hope #2 from DC. Presumably this was some sort of goodwill visit to a children's center or hospital.

It seems jaw-droppingly astonishing that Bob Hope had his own comic book, and that it ran for 109 issues, well into the late sixties!

Not that the book was bad(in fact, it featured work by the likes of Bob Oksner and Neal Adams!), but in today's cultural landscape, can you imagine some celebrity having a public image so vastly popular he/she could support their own comic book, just based on their personality?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Two Refugees - 1942

sgI figured Corbis would be a good place to look for some of these type of photos; I also figured since I'm not making any money from this blog and I'm admitting I got this from them, then I'm not breaking some copyright law somewhere(I guess as a professional artist I should know this stuff).

Anyway, this is a photo taken in 1942 by Marjory Collins of German refugee child reading a copy of Superman at Children's Colony, a school from refugee children in New York.

There's some sort of Profound Statement implicit in this photo; a young kid having just escaped the Nazis reading the adventures of Superman, another refugee and the symbol of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

This kid looks about nine or ten years old, which would've made him the exact same age as my Dad. Wonder where this guy is nowadays, and if he still has the comic...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Reasons Why I Like Jimmy Olsen - 1970

sgRick Phillips I have always liked the character Jimmy Olsen. He was a favorite character of mine on The Adventures of Superman as played by Jack Larson. From all of Superman's supporting cast Jimmy was the closest to my age. So he was the eyes from which I viewed all of Superman's adventures.

The episodes of the TV show and the issues of any of the comic books that centered around Jimmy were my favorites. So is it any wonder that his own comic book series was a favorite of mine growing up? There were no action figures for supporting characters of comic book series back then like there are now. You might get Superman and any of his enemies but I never saw any of Jimmy, Lois or Perry. So to compensate for that I would (gasp!) take a pair of scissors and cut out the figures of the characters from the comic books and play with them. I know I may have lost alot of valuable comic books this way but I still had fun.

I suppose I liked Jimmy because I knew no one could ever be like Superman. I nor anyone I knew was ever going to be shot off to another planet and gain powers to fight crime there. However, Jimmy was a young man close to my age and he grew up to become a reporter who was always having an adventure. At that age that was what I wanted to be. Also, if there was someone who did become like Superman I could always be his friend just as Jimmy was Superman's pal. But I knew that would never happen.

Now I told you all of that to tell you a little bit about my Granddad. He was my Dad's Father and the only Grandfather I ever knew. My Mom's Dad died when she was a little girl so I never knew him. Now I know he loved me but he rarely did anything with me. He was from an older generation that didn't seem to think you needed to say I love you or give you a hug. You just had to instinctively know that they loved you. Also, I was the fourth of six grandchildren that he had so he may have been grandfathered out by the time I came along.

He and my Grandma would always let me read their books or play their records and watch TV but since my Dad and my Uncle George grew up their house was mostly made for adults. There was very little for a boy to play with. I was never one for sports but my Dad's old baseball bat was always hanging on a string out in the back part of the house. So I would take it and pretend I was a famous ball player and always hitting home runs.

I was always in search of a fun grandfather figure like I saw kids had on TV or in the comic books. I do have some good memories when his love for me came through. Like hunting easter eggs with my cousins in the yard or when grandma and grandad would come over for my birthday.

I remember one day while we were visiting my grandparents when I was tired of pretending to play baseball and asked Dad if he and Grandad would play with me. Dad jumped at the chance and Grandad came along too. They would pitch the ball to me and I would try to hit it back to them. A nice memory of three generations of men playing ball together. Maybe it wasn't as fun for them as I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn at that time. I remember once at a local amusement park he would ride some of the rides with me and my Dad. So while I had some good times with him and some good memories I never felt that Grandad understood me.

Then one day I over heard him and my Dad talking and he told my Dad that I always reminded him of Jimmy Olsen. That was the best thing he ever said about me. I suddenly realized that my Grandfather. My Pop (as he liked to be called) really did understand me. He has been gone for over 20 years I still am touched by those kind words. My Grandfather and Jimmy Olsen are forever intertwined together to me. It makes me smile to know that deep in his heart he loved me very much.

Ironically I chose to go into broadcasting after I got out of school. For a short time I worked in the news department for WHKK, a local radio station in my town that is now out of business, and I interned at WCPO in Cincinnati as a gofer in their news department. I didn't like the hours so I got out of the business but for a short while I really was like Jimmy Olsen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Russell Burbage - 1974

sgRussell Burbage I will never forget the fall evening in 1973 when the Brady Bunch Kids hosted ABC-TV's introduction to their new Saturday morning line-up. There was going to be a show called Super Friends that looked good. I was familiar with Superman, Batman, and Robin from their live-action re-runs, but I had no idea who Wonder Woman or Aquaman was. Up until that time I had come across the odd issue of Detective or Action, or The Avengers or
Spider-Man, but I was not a comic-book geek. Not yet.

When I saw that Alex Toth designed opening sequence to The Super Friends the next morning, however, I knew I was hooked. Each character's logo appears, followed by a dashing action sequence. Remember? For some reason, the introduction of Aquaman sticks with me to this day. First his logo flashes on the screen and the voice-over says something cool about, "Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas!" Then he appears, astride a sea horse I think, leading an army of octopi, sharks, whales, and fish. How cool was that?!? And the music...even now, I sometimes find myself humming The Super Friends' theme.

I don't know why I didn't realize that there were comic books to go along with this show, but for some reason it never occurred to me to go searching for comics. (Or maybe I did, and the only ones I could find were Ross Andru's Spider-Man and horror books...I definitely remember *them* around).

Flash forward about a year. One of my best friends brought a copy of Justice League of America #112 to school and showed it to me. The cover shouts out at you, "Here comes TV's Super Friends!" The lead story features the entire membership at that time, with Aquaman in a leading role. The creative team was Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano (my eventual choice for best JLA creative team ever!). The story was the conclusion of the Injustice Gang fight from JLA #111. Quick recap: Libra uses The Injustice Gang to steal half the super-powers of six JLAers, and when the JLA defeats him, their powers disappear into the cosmos. In JLA #112 the entire membership debates whether to re-animate Amazo so he
(it?) can re-absorb their missing super-powers.

I had never seen any comic like this before. In this story no hero was all-powerful or "the star;" all these super-cool characters depended on each other! And one of the stronger and more dynamic of the group was the blonde guy in the orange and green suit. I bought the issue from my friend, tore out the subscription form in that issue, and never looked back.

Of course, the back-up reprint "Super Exiles of Earth" should have been the story I was paid closer attention to. Oh, Aquaman is featured in it, sure, but all he does is sit in the space ship and wait for his friends to have their adventure. (He doesn't have a secret identity, so he couldn't just put on a suit and go back to Earth like the rest of 'em??).

The first issue of JLA I got for my subscription was #115, which didn't feature Aquaman at all. And it's been like that ever since.

For a little while there, I thought everybody else knew Aquaman was a kick-ass great character, too...(sigh)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

D.C. Dill - 1977

sgD.C. Dill I remember very clearly my first issue of Brave and the Bold. Summer of 1977. I was seven.

That summer, the Air Force decided to move us from San Antonio, Texas to Plattsburgh Air Force Base in upstate New York. My parents made a long road trip of it, stopping to see every conceivable family friend and relative along the way. Mom was pregnant with my baby sister Robyn and not feeling too well. I remember her sitting at the kitchen table at Aunt Betty Knight's, holding her forehead in pain and keeping her eyes squeezed shut. Everyone was trying to leave her alone. I approached to offer her my latest issue of Swamp Thing to read. My logic was that comics always made me feel better when my tummy hurt, so she should give them a try. She quietly thanked me and refused the comic, preferring to handle the pain in her own way. To each their own.

That road trip will forever stick in my mind. My mother had bought enough comics to keep me quiet for the duration of the trip. If it's one thing my parents knew, it was that comics would keep me docile. My mother had a time schedule for 'trip happy' distribution. I would get a comic, my sister Tara would get some puzzle book or picture book or some crappy thing. Tara could take them or leave them. Whatever. But my comics...ahhh what a trip.

At one point, the moment of 'trip happy' distribution came along and Mom was asleep. Curses! I was now counting on my father to remember. I stared intently at the back of his head, too respectful and fearful to mention anything to him. Would he miss the appointed moment? Most assuredly. I'm not even sure he was fully aware we were getting regular 'trip happies'. Although, he must have paid for them. When Mom woke up, she took entirely too long to fully come to her senses. Checking her watch, she turned to Dad and asked if he had given us our 'happies' yet. I answered for him.

My first issue of Brave and the Bold was given to me on this trip. We were entering North Carolina and a couple of hours away from my maternal grandmothers. It was issue 135, Batman meets the Metal Men. I had never heard of the Metal Men, and was eager to learn more. The issue was drawn by Jim Aparo and ended in a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger ending bothered me, but the artwork was fantastic. I believe that was my first Jim Aparo Batman, and he was so graceful and powerful under Mr. Aparo's pencils that I went on to judge other Batman appearances by that look. Beautiful. I was too young to associate an art style with an artists name, but I had long since learned to tell the different art styles apart. I could tell Jim Aparo from Neal Adams from Mike Grell from Dick Dillin when my closest friends couldn't even tell you who the Legion of Super Heroes were. I read the issue. Reread the issue. Flipped through admiring the artwork. Then read the issue again. This was standard operating procedure when I was seven. The issue was perfect.

Except....

That title. What in heaven's name did that title mean? "The Brave and the Bold". I sat quietly trying to figure it out. I had learned many new vocabulary words through comics, and "Bold" was a new one on me. "Bold". The Brave and the "Bold". What did that word mean?

I finally broke down and asked my father. You can disturb my father when asking about a new vocabulary word. But asking him for new comics, those were waters better left untread.

"Dad, what does 'Bold' mean?" I asked.

"Bold means brave." My father is famous for the brevity in his answers.

Oy! What an answer, though! "Bold" means brave!!?!! This comic was entitled "The Brave and the Brave"?! What the heck did that even mean?

My seven year old brain just had to force this to make sense. What kind of comic company, my favorite no less, would name a comic something as silly as The Brave and the Brave? It just didn't make sense.

I sat thinking for awhile. Trying to prevent the thought that was floating around in my subconscious. Soon, the thought took over and I had to face a startling fact.

Maybe Dad was wrong.

It would make much more sense to title the comic "The Brave and the Cowardly". Meaning, of course, that the brave would beat up the cowardly. Or the brave would protect the cowardly. Anything but the brave would team up with other people who were brave. That just seemed silly! These people were professionals who had been putting out comics for years! I could picture their editors sitting in the conference room talking amongst themselves when suddenly: "Wait a minute, people, bold means brave! What have we done!"

So, maybe Dad was wrong.

I looked at my comic book, as if doing a last minute check of the facts. I looked up at the back of my father's head. I thought to myself: "It would be awfully bold of me to ask my father if he could be mistaken."

Naaah, that just didn't sound right.

So which need was greater, maintain the status quo and not question my father...ever. Or get my comic book research and understanding done in the meticulous manner that I had been practicing for the last five years.

"Bold." I said out loud.

"Bold. Bold. Bold." I said again.

I was just about to pounce the question when Mom announced we were nearing Grandmom's house. Eagerly using the distraction to chicken out of my question, I put the comic aside and promptly forgot about my quandary.

An addendum to this story is that it was this same comic that I chose to demonstrate my reading skills to my Grandmother. One of the characters, Tin of the Metal Men, stuttered a lot, and I thought this would be an excellent passage to use to prove how well I could read. All I succeeded in doing was upsetting my Grandmother, who worried that comics were creating a stuttering problem for me. Sigh. Nobody gets me.

A couple of days later, we hit the rode again. Destination? Washington, D.C. to spend July fourth in our nation's capital with the Robertsons. My first 'trip happy'? Aquaman #57. Jim Aparo artwork. Life was good!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sean Tiffany - 1982

sgSean Tiffany It’s hard for me to remember when comic books first entered my life. I can remember a specific moment when comics captured my attention and imagination and I started collecting them, sure. But, before that, there were instances where I remember knowing about comic books and cartoons and superheroes.

My first cartoon memory was my love of the Flintstones. Every night, before going to bed, I would change the TV to the channel The Flintstones aired on in the morning since I didn’t want to waste a second in finding my favorite cartoon. When the local station cancelled (or moved)The Flintstones, my father tells the tale of how I made him write the TV station a letter with a simple phrase on it, "Free Fred Flintstone!" (I guess I thought someone had imprisoned him or something.)

I know I had knowledge of Superman and an actual comic at one point since I made my grandmother sew me a Superman costume, complete with the cape and the yellow "S" on back. I remember her taking the image of the "S" from a comic where Supes must have been move at super-speed, hence there being multiple Supermen in the same panel.

I read comics as a kid, having them bought for me for those long car treks or plane rides across the country. But, I was never allowed to read super hero comics. It seemed the likes of Spider-Man and Batman were deemed too scary for me(this from parents who pre-screened the first Star Wars before I saw it and thought the cantina scene in Mos Eisley might be too scary for me, and then let me see it anyway.)

Instead of super-heroes, I got books in the vein of Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, and Casper. Nothing too serious but fun nonetheless. It wasn't until I went back in my mind and tried to remember my comic book history that I remembered even having these books. I loved them, but, because they were taboo, I still wanted to see what was happening in the more "adult" and "scary" world of super-heroes.

Unlike most fans, who could easily pop down to the local 7-11 spinner rack and see what new issue of Justice League they could find, I spent, from age four until I was eighteen, growing up on an isolated island off the coast of Maine. It took a twenty-minute ferry ride to get back to civilization. So, I never had those great experiences of spinner racks and trading friends comics that so many people seem to have these days.

That first moment where comics really captured my attention and imagination came, when I was in the fifth grade, and our whole class(maybe twelve of us) were signed up for one of those kid things where you go door to door, bug your neighbors, and sell magazines. If you sold enough subscriptions then you were awarded some prize. Well, somewhere in that catalogue of People and Time magazine was a section for Marvel Comics. Wanting to win a prize, I signed my brother(who was three years younger than me at the time...at the time...not like he's caught up to me in the last thirty years) for two twelve-issue year-long subscriptions to Marvel. I chose Amazing Spider-Man. My brother wanted Spectacular Spider-Man but I wanted Spidey to be all mine so I made him get Captain America.

I can't even remember if I ever got a prize from selling those subscriptions. But, the real gift for me was getting that first issue in the mail. It was Amazing Spider-Man #227 and featured art by John Romita Jr. It had Spidey facing off against the Black Cat on the cover and included bits of story(that I still remember) which referenced Indiana Jones(which I loved) and actually had ol' Spidey getting shot in the leg while trying to protect the Black Cat(a super-hero shot! I’d never seen such a thing!) I loved it.

That twelve issue run included great art and great stories. It had Spidey in a two-parter face off against the Juggernaut all by himself. That story is still one of the best in my memory. Throwing all he had at him, and with no chance of winning, Spidey never gave up. Of course, in the end, he found a way to defeat the Juggernaut and still make it home, beaten and bruised, but with still some photos taken of the event by his trusty belt camera (does he even wear the belt with all his gear on it anymore?)

Thus started my love of continuing comic book stories. Later, at the end of that year long subscription, I was shipped "uptown" to go to middle school(the island school only went until fifth grade and then you were sent to school by boat, every day, until you graduated high school). It was up town(or Portland to you people looking to google map it) that I found my very first comic book specialty store. It was in the basement of a string of shops called The Exchange. As you walked by you could see, down below, some of the newest comics in the window. To my amazement, they had issues of my Spidey subscription in the window even before I had received them in the mail.

So, of course, once my subscription ran out it was easy to just go get my monthly comic fix there. Of course, it didn't remain monthly for long and was soon weekly and maybe even daily. I collected all things Marvel, back when that was possible. I fell in love with comics, with the art and stories and all the possibilities. I was there to see the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come out and see that it was possible to do a comic yourself and get away with it.

I miss those days, miss the island, and miss my travels "uptown" to see what new comic adventures I could find. But, it has set up a habit of, every week, hitting the local comic shop, and seeing what new goodies have come out. It's no where near as magic as it used to be back then but I still get the same rush walking into a store and seeing what new things this world has in store for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Comic Land" - 1948

sgThis is another vintage, presumably P.D. photo I found online, titled "Comic Land." It's from Spring(ish) 1948--I know that from that bottom copy of DC's Mr. District Attorney; its issue #4, cover-dated July 1948.

This is what I imagine Heaven looks like.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Standing Room Only - 1940s/1950s

sgI found on the web this photo of an apparently SRO newsstand on what had to be New Comics Day; I can't make out any of the titles but judging by what the kids are wearing I'd say its somewhere in the late 40s/early 50s.

(I never know what the rules are, intellectual-property-wise, in the virtual Old West that is the internet.
I've found lots of photos like this, but I'm not sure how kosher it is to appropriate them for my own use.)

It had to have been this particular newsvendor who coined the phrase "This ain't a library, kids!"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Doug Slack - 1984

sgDoug Slack August, 1984. I was enjoying our annual vacation in Ocean City, NJ. I walked to the corner book store to pick up the latest issue of The Mighty Thor(#349). I was hooked on Walt Simonson's now legendary revamp of the God of Thunder.

Unfortunately the gods did not smile upon me that day. The guy working the register rang up my sixty-cent comic with the NJ state sales tax.

"Sixty-four cents.
"

"No, it should be sixty cents."

"Sales tax."

"There's no sales tax on magazines."

"It's not a magazine."

"Sure it is, look..."

At this point I proceeded to point out the 'comic magazine' designation found in the indicia. But this modern day bridge troll was having none of it.

"It's not a magazine. It's a comic book. Books get sales tax."

Instantly I realized I was dealing with a moron. As much as I wanted that issue, there was no way I was going to allow this mouth breather to rip me off. By the Cask of Ancient Winters, this would not stand!

"I've never paid sales tax on a comic before!"

"Then you don't have to buy it."

Indignantly I returned the issue to it's wire rack and stormed out.

That bozo just lost a sale. On the walk back I imagined him later relating the story to his boss. His boss of course would be furious over his stupidity and I would be vindicated.

The following year the book store was gone, replaced by a take-out joint. Take that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blast From The Past - 1981/2007

sgRob Kelly A few days ago my friend Rick from Mail It To Team-Up sent me some comics in the mail as a way to say thanks for designing his blog header.

Anyway, one of the books he sent me was this--Marvel Two-In-One Annual #6 from 1981, starring the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing and the brand-new character American Eagle. I had bought this comic when I was ten years old, right off the stands while we were on vacation in the Poconos(Pennsylvania).

I've talked about our yearly trips to what we called "The Mountains" on one of my other blogs, but my memories of those times is so drenched in comics that they're inseperable. I begged my parents to take me to every newsstand, supermarket, and drug store that carried comics(and there were a lot of them)and the books I bought there have a special place in my memory. Seeing this book in the pile of the ones Rick sent me took me right back to that time and store--it was a newsstand/convenience store/gas station right off the main(read: only) road that went through the area for many, many miles.

There were two doorways on the left wall, and they had installed the racks the comics sat in inbetween those two door frames. The racks went so high I could barely reach the top row, and they always had several different books in each pocket, so there was always a lot of books to comb through. No matter how long my parents took to get gas or buy whatever they needed, I always used up every second of that time, trying to find the most compelling comics available.

sgI wish to God I had photos of the stores I frequented; even though we took hundreds of photos during those vacations(like the one of me at left enjoying Captain America #262), I guess it never occurred to my parents to take some of the insides of the local convenience stores.

I stopped going to the Poconos regularly with parents during art school in the early 90s, and they themselves stopped going a few years after that. I have never been back since; though some day I desperately want to go back and see how much has changed; and whether any of those wonderful little stores are still around.

If I ever do go, and some of those stores are still there, and they still sell comics(sadly, the biggest if of all), I'll buy whatever ones I can find. It won't be the same, of course, but it'll be the closest I can come to honoring those great places that meant so much to me growing up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DC's Comic-Pacs - 1963

sgThis is an ad for the "Comic-Pac" method of comics retailing that ran in a 1963 issue of Justice League of America.

While hardly anyone liked the Comic-Pacs, they were apparently fairly profitable for publishers, distributors, and vendors alike, so DC and other companies kept with them for a while.

And even though I didn't like them much as a kid, either, I honestly think I would've wet myself if I had ever seen this
awesome display in a store.


Further reading: You can find out some more info on them via Mark Evanier's
blog, and you can see the one Comic-Pac I own here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Frankenstein - 1944

sgEven Frankenstein(well, Glenn Strange) loved comics!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vincent Bartilucci - 1975

sgVincent Bartilucci "Like many LLCF's(life-long comic fans), I can't recall the first comic book I ever owned. Comics seemed to be part of my little kid landscape for as far back as I can remember. Not many, mind you, at least not at first. A few Superman titles, a Batman, or two, some Thors, and four or five issues of Ironman. No doubt, Mom and Dad bought them to encourage me to read which, I gather, is also a fairly common experience among LLCF's. They worked. I read 'em over and over again, running to my parents or older sister for help on words like radiation and verily.

Around the time I was 6, two wonderful things happened to young Vincent Paul Bartilucci, budding comics fan. The first wonderful thing was the broadcast in the New York area of a show called The Super-Heroes. The Super-Heroes was a syndicated program that packaged together the DC super-heroes cartoons produced by Filmation in the late sixties and the Wild, Wild West-inspired Lone Ranger shorts created by Halas and Batchelor in 1966. The second wonderful thing was the three-foot high, above-ground pool that my parents purchased for our backyard. Those two events are forever linked in my comic book-addled mind. They became the basis for my obsession, an obsession our host, Mr. Kelly, shares.

The Super-Heroes was broadcast every afternoon on Channel 5 in New York. Each episode would lead off with a DC cartoon, typically a Superman adventure but occasionally they’d swap in a Superboy tale. Then there’d be a Batman short; one of those Bat-cartoons that had a cliff-hanger in the middle, an imitation of the live-action show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Sometimes, a neat Lone Ranger adventure would follow. Other times it would be a story featuring Flash, Green Lantern, or some other DC hero. The show would close with another DC cartoon. I loved all those guys but I soon became enamored of the hero batting clean-up. Yes, you guessed it; almost every episode of The Super-Heroes ended with an adventure starring the 'swift and powerful monarch of the ocean', Aquaman!

That entire summer, I'd play in the pool all morning. Then I'd climb out, dry off, eat lunch, and read comics until it was time for The Super-Heroes. After the show, I’d run back out to the pool where I was the 'swift and powerful' Aquaman! My Styrofoam tube served double duty as Storm, my faithful seahorse mount, and any number of Aqua-villains. I fought Black Manta over possession of a magic trident(the pool skimmer), prevented Queen Vassa from blowing up a bridge(the pool ladder), and saved Aqualad(my Styrofoam tube in a gutsy breakout performance) who had been trapped by the Brain in an underground cave(the hose to the water filter). For three glorious months I was Aquaman every single day, the current episode of The Super-Heroes coloring my adventure du jour. Naturally, I asked my parents for an Aquaman comic book. Only one problem: the year. It was 1973 and there were no Aquaman comics on the newsstands.

But my folks, God bless 'em, they tried. They soon realized that the only place Aquaman was appearing with any regularity was in the pages of the Justice League of America. So, that's the title they scoured the stands for. I eagerly devoured those books. But they weren't the starring vehicles for the Sea King for which I really hungered. In the autumn, when it became too cool outside to swim, I was extremely sad. This sadness was partially alleviated by the premiere of the first season of The Super Friends. There was my guy, Aquaman, in all new adventures alongside Superman, Batman and Robin, and Wonder Woman. How cool! Sure, he looked and sounded a little different from what I was used to, but it was still Aquaman. With The Super-Heroes on Monday thru Friday and The Super Friends on Saturday, Sunday was the only non-Aquaman day of the week. Kind of an Aqua-Sabbath!

At the end of that school year, as a reward for my excellent grades, my mother bought me the Mego Aquaman figure. I was in heaven! There were two shows on TV featuring my favorite hero. I had an action figure of my favorite hero. And I was facing another summer splashing around the pool pretending to be my favorite hero. There was one thing missing--I still didn't have a comic book starring my favorite hero. The few panels that Aquaman would get in the pages of JLA just weren't cutting it. Heck, he wasn't even in some issues! I came to the conclusion that despite the TV appearances and the posable plastic effigy, Aquaman wasn't that popular. Somehow, that made me love him even more.

Another summer of cartoons and pool-based aquatic adventure passed by. And then another year of school with a Mego in June as a reward for good grades. Captain America this time, if I recall.

Yes, it was June again. June of 1975. I was 8 years old. I'd be 9 that November. And I guess my parents decided it was time I learned a little something about money. So, I was given a few household chores to do over the summer. In return I would receive the princely sum of one dollar, American, per week. To be honest, they weren't all that strict about enforcing the chores part of the transaction. To them, allowance day was more about learning lessons on the value of things.

Lessons like, if Vinnie spends all his money on candy over the weekend he won't have any left for that balsa wood glider he sees in the store on Monday. I still remember the feel of that dollar bill as my father placed it in my hand. Obviously, my eight-year-old mind couldn't grasp the rite of passage that buck signified. But I did feel different with that dollar, my dollar, in my pocket. The next weekend, my mother made a trip to the local shopping center and I asked to accompany her so that I might check out the comic books on display at The Clearview Stationary store, my comics Mecca of choice. And there it was...Adventure Comics #441 starring Aquaman. I snapped it up(the only copy!) and turned to my mother. 'This one, Mom! It’s got Aquaman!' I nearly shouted. 'If you want that one you can buy it with your allowance. Do you have your money with you?' she asked. Do I have my money with me? Are you insane?! Of course, I do! That 'first allowance dollar' went everywhere with me!

I took the comic up to the counter and asked the owner of the store if they'd be getting any more Aquaman comic books in, a move that surprised my mother to no end; shy, quiet kid that I was. The store owner, a tall, thin man who would see me spending my allowance in his store for years to come, replied that the company that sent him his comics didn't always send him what he ordered. He'd order Aquaman comics but he might not get them. But that noncommittal answer couldn't dampen(dampen...I made a funny!) my spirits. I had a comic book about Aquaman. Only about Aquaman. I read it about a dozen times over that weekend.

God, I love that issue of Adventure Comics. Reading it as an adult, it's a rather lackluster story with a silly scuba-wearing pirate. But I still love it. It was the beginning of what I consider the best run of stories about DC's Marine Marvel, comics that I would hunt down every two months as if my life depended on it. Oh, I missed a few issues, but any holes in that run were plugged at my first convention when I was eleven.

That issue was also the first comic I remember owning that was drawn by the late, great Jim Aparo, who would become my favorite comic artist of all time. A few years back I got the chance to meet Jim Aparo at a comics convention in NYC. I brought two things with me to get signed by the legend; my cover art to Adventure Comics #450(the Weather Wizard issue) and a copy of Adventure Comics #441. I shook his hand and blurted out something like, 'Mr. Aparo, you're the best ever!' He signed the comic and the art--he gave a funny fake grimace when I said my name was 'Bartilucci' and signed both pieces ''To Vinnie 'B'''. Then he signed my friend Rob's copy of Adventure #452. I would have loved to talk with him some more but there was a huge stack of The Brave & Bold comics that someone had plopped down next to him and he felt obligated to sign each one. No matter, I got to shake his hand. The hand that drew Adventure Comics #441.

My very first Aquaman comic. And the very first comic I ever bought with my own money."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Reading Is Fundamental - 2000

sgRob Kelly This is me helping my friends Chris and Carry's new daughter, Sage, start off right by reading her the classic Superman vs. The Flash treasury comic. As you can see, she's quite captivated.

Gotta get the next generation off on the right foot. That way she can take over this blog when I become senile.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The March of Dime - 1981

sgRob Kelly I was driving with my Dad, and I begged him to stop at the nearest 7-11 so I could get a comic book. I was looking to mainline some four-color(I just made that phrase up, pass it on!) and I wanted to get a comic, any comic. I had 50c on me, so I knew I could get at least one.

My Dad agreed, and I ran into the store and after a quick scan grabbed a title I always enjoyed, DC Comics Presents. This was a new issue, and the George Perez cover, as usual, was all I needed to be convinced to pick it up.

I went to the counter, handed over my money, and the 7-11 guy said "that'll be 60 cents."

Wha?

Yes, in fact, since the previous month's books, DC had raised their price from 50 to 60 cents, and in my mad rush to grab a comic, I didn't even notice the price increase.

Crestfallen, I marched back outside and gave my Dad my sob story(with real sobs!) about how the price went up and I didn't have enough money and I really wanted the book and normally I wouldn't ask but...

My Dad, not wanting to hear this pathetic tale any longer, uncomplainingly handed me another dime and I went back in and the bought the book. Victory, and the comic, was mine.

But I walked back out of that 7-11 just a little less innocent than I had been going in.

Friday, October 12, 2007

D.C. Dill - 1976

sgD.C. Dill "I was always a DC kid, inspired by the Super Friends still to this day. This issue of Justice League of America holds special memories for me. It was this issue that made me first realize I was a comic collector.

It was the end of my fifth grade school year and my father had been restationed in Montgomery, Alabama. That seemed like a full country away from our current home in Rochester, New Hampshire.

One of the mothers in my Boy Scout Troop heard of our impending move and wanted to give me a going away present. She suggested this to my mother who reluctantly told of my love of comics. The woman knew a guy who was selling some of his old comics and offered to take me and let me pick out a couple.

This was my first experience with finding comics that were long off the shelf. I picked out a couple of things, this issue of JLA among them. I loved the 'disembodied head roll call' along the top of the cover.

Driving back, the woman strained to make conversation with me. I was far from the most liked kid in my Boy Scout Troop. Truthfully. I joined under duress. and abhorred camping, fishing and hiking. Anyway, she asked me if I was a 'comic book collector.' I said 'no, I just like to read them.'

'Do you keep them?'
she asked.

'Yes',
I answered, thinking, 'who wouldn't keep their comics.'

'Then you're a collector',
she stated.

And from that point on, I considered myself a collector.

As for the issue itself, it was glorious. A transporter accident fuses the bodies of Hawkman, Flash, and an alien, producing three mute, strangely powered creatures. Aquaman had a big moment and acually ended up bitch-slapping Green Arrow. I was extremely happy."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Neal Patterson - 1976

sgNeal Patterson In the fall of 1976, I started junior high school. Due to the curious way in which the school board divided up the neighborhoods, I had to go to a school one mile away while most of my elementary school friends when to a junior high much closer to my home. It felt strange not only adjusting to a new school, but doing so in a place where I hardly knew anyone. Mornings were the worst, when all the kids gathered into their various cliques in the courtyard waiting for the doors to open. I had no clique and stood around awkwardly hoping no one would notice what a loser I was.

Then one morning I saw a familiar face. Vince was someone I had known casually in elementary school, but we never hung around in the same circle of friends. He was standing by the wall looking as out of place as I felt, so I went over and struck up a conversation. I noticed he had this really cool comic book cover taped to his loose leaf binder. It was The Eternals #2. I was especially intrigued by the bold lettering which claimed, 'More Fantastic Than Chariots of the Gods!' Today, such a claim would elicit gales of laughter, but to a 70s kid raised on those Sun Classics movies, this really got me excited. Vince was only too happy to fill me in on what was his current favorite comic, and I grabbed the latest issue as soon as I could (it was issue #6).

From that point on, Vince and I would meet in the courtyard and talk about The Eternals, comic books, Space: 1999, horror movies, and all the other things we had in common. I then started going over to his house after school, where I got to read Vince's back issues of The Eternals. Having been more of a DC kid, this was my first exposure to Jack Kirby's art, and I was truly blown away. I was also glad to have a partner with whom I could face the brave new world of junior high.

As the months passed, The Eternals story line lost its luster for me, but my friendship with Vince grew. We were best friends all through our adolescence and remained friends well into adulthood. I always associate
The Eternals #2 with starting an enduring friendship."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Scott Saavedra - 1972/73

sgScott Saavedra "I spent my teen years in Newbury Park, then a fairly small town in Southern California with a single grocery store and maybe two or three intersections with traffic lights. As I recall, the only place locally to buy comics circa 1972/3 was the local 7-11, about a mile away from my home.

Unfortunately, at the time there was no paved road directly from our house to the 7-11. The fastest route (and when I needed my comic book fix speed was essential) was via a steep, rutted dirt path. It was rare for me to have cash so when I did (on this particular day I had 40 cents) I didn't wait to spend it.

Even though it had rained the night before (or perhaps earlier that day), the route was muddy, and I was traveling downhill I made it safely to the 7-11. I wasn't so lucky on the return trip. I hadn't gone more than 100 feet with the day's treasure --two whole comic books--when I slipped trying to walk my bike back home up the muddy hill. The comics fell into a great, dirty, gloopy puddle.

I was really horrified because at the time comic books were truely precious and rare to me. I wasn't like one of the neighbor kids who got twenty bucks (in 1970s dollars!) to spend every couple of weeks on comics. I brought my muck-encrusted mockery of comics home and tried to wash off and dry them in the oven but they were garbage.

Though I couldn't read them (a Sgt. Fury and some other forgotten title) I kept both for a long time before very reluctantly tossing them out. Maybe I was waiting for someone to develop comic-saving technology. I don't know. What I do know is that decades -- and thousands of comic books--later I'm still really bugged about the Two That Got Away."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hey Dad, Comics! - 1941

sgRob Kelly I knew there was only one suitable image for our blog header--a shot of my Dad, age eight, reading a comic book!

Growing up, I sometimes felt like my Dad wondered who the hell this kid was, who was so consumed with comic books, cartoons, art, and other internal, inside activities, rather than sports or more gregarious hobbies.

To my Dad's credit, he never tried to change me, but I did always have that in the back of my mind. So imagine my surprise when I found the above picture!


It seems that even though the comic-reading habit never made it out my Dad's childhood, the DNA was there.

(btw, my Dad is reading The Shadow Comics, Volume 2 #2, cover-dated January 1942)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Which One Of These Is Not Like The Other? - 1979

sgRob Kelly One of my most beloved memories of reading comics was back when my Dad would take my sister Sue and I out to the movies. This was where I got to see every cool movie of the times--the Star Wars trilogy, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon, you name it.

Anyway, one week we were seeing movie in a theater inside a mall, and we had planned to see 101 Dalmations(which I guess was a re-issue...remember when they did those?). So we get to the theatre and...we either misjudged the time, or it was sold out, or whatever...we weren't going to see it. My Dad and sister realized they wanted/were willing to see another movie about to start...Kramer Vs. Kramer.

As I'm sure everyone knows, KvK wasn't exactly a kids movie...it was, in fact, a brutal depiction of the ravages divorce can inflict on a family. I don't remember a Burger King drinking glass tie-in.

Of course, I had no interest in seeing such a movie. So my Dad, not above bribery, offered to take me to the Woolworth's just across the way and buy me some comics if I was willing to see the movie. I don't think he had to ask twice...offer me comics, I'd have sat outside in the cold for two hours.

Anyway, the beloved memory is that at this Woolworth's is where I came across the above two comics--DC Super-Stars #17 and
Limited Collectors' Edition #C52, The Best of DC. I may have gotten more, but these books quickly became two of my all-time favorites--DCSS deals with the origin of the Huntress and various doings on Earth-2(even as a kid, I always loved Earth-2 stories) and The Best of DC book featured all kinds of cool stories...plus it was a treasury. I don't think I need to say any more, do I?

I've kept this story in my head all these years a Wonderful Comics Memory, when a missed movie led me to getting two of my all-time favorite comics.

Problem is...it didn't happen that way. The above two comics came out in 1977, and Kramer Vs. Kramer came out in 1979. While the treasuries did hang around, they didn't hang around that long, and even so there's no way that issue of DC Super-Stars was still on sale two years later. So I must have gotten these two books a lot earlier, and had gotten different ones as the bribe. Weird when reality doesn't jibe with what you just know to be true.

So even if the comics I got in 1979 weren't that memorable, the event wasn't a total loss...unbeknownst to my Dad, Kramer Vs. Kramer features a famous full-frontal nude scene(with JoBeth Williams), which had to have been the first time I ever saw anything like that. I had gotten a glimpse--even if I didn't understand or care about it at the time--of something that would eventually supplant my comics as my #1 interest.

(Almost.)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Frank Miller - 1988

sgThis(click here to supersize) is the intro Frank Miller wrote for the 1988 hardcover edition of Batman: Year One, talking about the first time he bought a Batman comic, and how it affected him.

So, until I get can story from Frank directly, this will have to do...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hey Kids, Karloff! - 1958

sgThis is one of my favorite photos; obviously I'm not the only one since you can find it all over the 'net(I found mine on Scott Saavedra's Comic Book Heaven blog--thanks Scott!).

I'm not sure what this photo was shot for--it's obviously staged, since that is not Boris' daughter Sara, but its way too early for her to be a grandchild. From what I've read, old Boris was a kind, agreeable fellow, so maybe he just liked comics--he did have his
own series, after all.

Judging from the covers, this photo was taken sometime in early 1958, right around when he was making Grip of the Strangler and the confusingly-titled Frankenstein 1970.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Spreading the Love - 1982

sgRob Kelly I wasn't content with just reading, thinking and breathing comics all my waking life as a kid; I had to get my family in on the act, as well.

Pictured with me is my Mom and my Great Uncles Fred and Walt, respectively. They were always very sweet and nice to me, and Uncle Fred especially had a real joie de vive that I really took to. He was always willing to be silly so I'm sure he took it upon himself to pick up one of the issues of Cracked I have in front of me(sharp-eyes can also make out Justice League of America #206 on top of the pile in back) as the picture was being taken.

Rick Phillips - late 1980s

sgRick Phillips "Like alot of people my age I learned to read with comic books. For this I have to thank my Mom and Dad. You see they had a part time job of repackaging the comics that didn't sell at the local drug stores and selling them packaged as 3 comic books for 29 cents.

Remember this was sometime in the late 60's and early 70's when just one book cost 15 cents. They let me read them hoping that I would want to know what they were saying in those colorful drawings. It worked. They also said I could keep any that I wanted. But I wanted to be a good son. I knew they made money with this to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table so I never kept any of them. I sort of wished I had kept some. They would be worth quite alot now.

Anyway one day sometime in the late 80's I was at my local comic book shop, Comicbook World, with my good buddy from college Chuck Baker. Before we left we were going through the $1 bin. When I found the book that is pictured above. I know that at least my Mom had handled this book before. If you look closely above the letter h in Archie you will see a sticker. It says 3/29 cents and it is my Mom's handwriting. I had to buy it. So a book that I could have had for free I was now paying a dollar for it.

The owner of the store is Paul Mullins. He prides himself on customer service. When I was checking out he saw the sticker and said 'Oh! It's got a sticker on it. Let me take care of that.' I nearly leaped over the counter to stop him. 'No! That sticker is why I'm buying it.' Then of course I had to tell him this story. Anyway that was how I learned to read and it is what I had on my mind."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Thrill of the Hunt - 1981

sgRob Kelly One of the magical things about buying comics in the 70s and early 80s, when newsstands and other type stores were the only places to get them(for most of us), was you never knew what you were going to get. The people filling the racks were not comics specialists, even if they might have been fans, so there wasn't much--if any--thought over what books arrived each month. Plus, some areas of the country simply never got some books, so what you read could depend a lot on where you lived.

So, obviously, getting comics at comics stores is/was a great improvement--you get everything you want, in perfect condition, and you'd never miss an issue (and if you somehow did, you could still get it later, unlike at a 7-11, where the previous month's books seemed to fall off the face of the earth).

But the one thing that's gone now is the mystery. The mystery of not knowing what four-colored wonders you'd find on the newest spin of the racks. I can clearly remember being excited--actually excited--about finding this issue of Sgt.Fury and His Howling Commandos (#166, Oct. 1981), simply because, in my area, Sgt. Fury rarely showed up. Even though I was not a particular fan of war comics (then), I snapped it up, ahead of more regular favorites like The Flash or DC Comics Presents, because of it sheer unusualness. I ran home, laid on my basement floor, and tore into it with as much abandon as my nerdly-self could muster. I still have that comic.

I think I miss that Thrill of the Hunt a bit, I really do. While I wouldn't trade my comics-shop-shopping for anything, it's an instance where progress is not always an Absolute Good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rick Phillips - 1978

sgRick Phillips "For years I have had people ask me why I read and keep my comic books. The reason I read them is that I like them. The reason I keep them is a lot harder to answer. But it goes mostly to nostalgia.

Take the above issue of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #100. Some would say that I kept it because it is an anniversary issue. That is partly true. Others would say I kept it because I hoped it would be worth money someday. That is partly true also. But the real reason I have kept it around is because it reminds me of a certain day. Nothing really special about that day to anyone but I am comforted by it. Some people plan when they will buy something. For years I always bought a Christmas themed comic book on Christmas Eve and a week later on News Years Eve I would buy my last comic book of the year.

One year I bought a Hulk comic book because the first episode of the Hulk series was on that night. Like any addiction you used any excuse to buy your books. Then there are those quit ones that sneak up on you. This is one of them. I use to work at Showcase Cinemas as an Usher in the 70's. It was a part time job I did after school and on weekends. One cold cold snowy winter day I was working at the movie theater. I stopped on the way to work and bought this book. I sat in the parking lot and read the book then went inside to work. Later I simply went home. Driving in the snow all cold and alone in the car but excited about having this issue.

You see I told you it was nothing. But to me it reminds me of my youth. When I look at that book I am 17 again driving in my Pinto in an Usher's uniform on the way home. It's cold outside the car but warm inside. With those memories I am kept warm in my heart."

Joe Jusko - 1972

sgJoe Jusko "I was coming home from school and I stopped at Andy's candy store because it was new comic day. As I scanned the racks for all the new stuff, my eyes caught site of a book I had never noticed before, probably because it was stuck on the top rack with the more 'mature' magazines. This was a time when magazines weren't racked with comics, no matter what the content.

It was a copy of Warren's Vampirella #21, with that great Enric cover of Vampi dying of thirst with the big Death's Head radiating behind her. After paging through the book and seeing Jose Gonzalez' art on the lead Vampi story, I had to buy it. This sure wasn't your typical comic art. It seemed like something so much more, somehow.
I found that book fascinating! So much so that I decided to send away for issue #1 from the back of the book.

Like every comic geek in history, though, I didn't want to cut out the coupon, so I made my own! This turned out to be a great decision on my part, as it was probably so illegible that the clerk handling back issues obviously didn't understand it.

About a month later (a looong month) I received a large package from Captain Company, the mail order service for Warren Publications. Inside were all twenty one issues to date (minus #3), plus the Annual with the incredible Gonzalez origin story! A note included read, 'Sorry, we were out of Vampirella #3, please accept these as a replacement.' I couldn't believe it! Truth be told, I was sure they would realize their error and send someone to take them back! What else would a twelve year old think? LOL."

Hairdresser Comics - 1976

sgOne of my earliest memories of reading comics was when my Mom would take me with her to the Neshaminy Mall(located in southeastern Pennsylvania, for those of you outside the tri-state area) when she got her hair done since it was the summer and I was too young to be left at home.

To give me something to do while I waited, she would take me to the bookstore(or was it a newsstand?) and buy me a comic or two, and this is one of the ones I distinctly remember getting--the Famous First Edition of Flash Comics #1, at the wonderful treasury-size.

I was so enraptured by this book that I have another memory, of some of the other women in the place marveling to my Mom how well-behaved I was, because I pretty much just sat in the plastic chair and didn't make a peep. Such was the power of a treasury-sized comic to my then five-year-old mind.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Welcome!

sgWhile on our nightly walk, I got struck with the idea for a new blog, so as soon as Darlin' Tracy and I got home, I went to see if this blog name was taken--I was so close! So just remember--when searching for this blog, drop the cs in comics and add an x and you're here!

Anyway, one of the things that has always fascinated me about the world of comics--which completely dominates my waking hours, as the list of my other blogs at right will attest--are people's individual stories.

The times I had as a kid buying comics--first under my parent's supervision, then on my own--are some of the magical times I can recall. My first encounters with these four-colored wonders left an imprint on my life that I simply will never shake(nor do I want to!).

Anyway, those stories are what this blog is about--people's first, second, hundredth, or simply really memorable encounters with comics. Where they got them, how they got them, and what those memories mean to you now.

The days when a kid went to a corner store with a few bucks in their hand and bought comics are vanishing fast, if not already completely gone; I hope this blog will become an ongoing record of those great times in people's lives.

Over the next few days as I start looking for old photos, racking my brain for my stories, and formatting this new venture, I invite anyone with a love of comics to either leave a comment with their story(ies), or email me at namtab29@comcast.net and share them there, and I'll post 'em here.

Excelsior!

(Oh yeah, I figured this would be a great first photo to post--arguably the coolest guy, y'know, ever, reading a comic book!)