Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tales of the Spinner Rack, Part 3

Rob Kelly This is my spinner rack, and the story of how I got it.

I don't remember when I got the idea I could--nay, needed--a genuine comic book spinner rack, but it must have layed dormant in my mind for a while, because when I saw the opportunity present itself, a whole plan popped into my head.

As I've mentioned before on several of my blogs, one of the newsstands I grew up buying comics at was Voorhees News & Tobacco, located in (you guessed it) Voorhees, NJ. It was one of those old-timey, cigar-smelling, porn-mags-in-the-back places, and they carried way more comics(even some of the digests, and even some Charltons! Charltons!) than my local 7-11s did, so anytime I knew my Dad would be going by there I begged him to stop and let me check it out.

Of course, once I discovered comic book shops, the newsstands trips died out, but over the years, VN&T remained(but as my friend
Doug Slack, who also grew up buying comics there, once said, "a shadow of its former self"). In fact, it's still there to this day:
Anyway, I was in there once about five years ago, and saw that they still carried comics, but no longer on the wooden racks along with the other publications. No, they were all on their own spinner racks.

Problem was, like most newsstands, their comic sales had slowed to a trickle. The store had three identical spinner racks, dusty and ignored, with maybe thirty comics spread over all three. The books, spines bent, hung over the front of each wire rack. A sad, pathetic sight.

When I saw this, I immediately figured--hey, I wonder if they'd part with one of these? It's not like they're using them. So as I wandered the store, I hatched a plan.

At the counter, I inquired about maybe buying one of them, and the guy at the counter told me to come back tomorrow and ask the manager. Easy, and better for me, too, since it gave me time to work out my story.

Now, normally I am--or try, at least--to be truthful in all aspects of my daily life. Not because I'm all virtuous or anything, I've found it just makes life easier. But I figured this time I needed a story, because it might seem odd for some shop owner if a customer came in and started asking to buy fixtures--"I'd like one spinner rack, and, oh, what are you doing with that deli counter?"

So when I came back, and I told the owner that a friend of mine in Ohio(had several, so this part was true) was opening his own newsstand/coffee shop(totally made up) and he was going to carry comics, and had wanted an old-timey type comics rack, but couldn't find one (this part was partly true, in that I had done some research and found that while DC and Marvel used to provide vendors with racks, that custom died out a long time ago).

I figured telling the guy the store was in Ohio was solid because it eliminated any feeling he might have of competition. And by saying it was for nostalgia's sake(which was true, since that's why I wanted it) gave it an extra level of harmlessness.

He thought about it for a second, and said "$50?" and I immediately said yes(I probably said "Yes!!"). I layed the money--cash--on him, and grabbed the nicest one and walked about, not before taking the comics off of it, and placing them on the remaining two racks, which made them look better, since they were now more full. I was performing a public service!

I took it home, lovingly cleaned it, and filled it with comics. Oh, how I loved it--the old-timey sign, the shrieking squeak you get from turning it, the way it bent whatever comics I put into it.

Ever since I moved in with Trace, I've had to put it into storage because now that her dining room is my studio there's simply no room for it. But one day we'll get a bigger house, and I'll put this baby out and it will again take its place as my favorite studio ornament...


Anonymous said...

Fortunately for my wallet several years ago a local distribution company was selling off several of its displays, many of them being comic spinners...for five dollars each. Yep, I bought them all, and still have a couple of them. Tip: If you want to display comics on your spinner without damaging them, get some clear plexiglass, cut it to fit the pockets of the rack, and place the comics behind the plexiglass. You can still see the funnues, and not damage them.

Rick L. Phillips said...

I loved those old racks. I am glad that you and neal got yours but I have yet to get mine. Probably couldn't afford it if I found it. $50 is a little pricey for me right now.

Damian said...

I love stories with good endings.

Grears said...


Does this mean he might have two more left? If so, I'm coming over! I still am looking for one of these to have my wife give me for a birthday present!

Swinebread said...


Anonymous said...

I had one of the exact racks in my office at DC and tried desperately to find a way to sneak it out when I left 2 years back. The best plan I could come up with was to grow about 3 feet taller and smuggle it out under by coat...

Paul K.

Aaron said...

My neighbor just left one out on the parking strip! What a score. Mine doesn't have character illustrations on it, but it's still old and has a few different sayings, such as 'Hey kids! Comics!' and 'Wholesome reading'. I'll have to see if he has more...

Mark A. Nickles said...

Posting WAY after the fact, here. What can I say? I just discovered your blog.

My spinner is identical to the one pictured. I had spent YEARS looking for one, and during a regular visit to a favorite antique store in Woodward, OK, I inquired of the owner to keep a look out for any old comics spinner racks. With something like a blank look on her face, she said "You mean like this?" Pulling away a couple of old coats (she was using the spinner rack as a coat rack...!), she revealed my "holy grail". In amazing condition, yet. I jerked off the seven dollar price-tag, paid her and made for my car like a bandit. Realizing she probably could have gotten much more out of me, it was a while before I got that "Welcome to my establishment" smile from her again.