Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moon Girl - who she?

I've been thinking about starting a Golden Age series and adding it to the Permanent Stacks.
My collection is moderately respectable in terms of its Silver and Bronze age books. Its represented with several key books.

What I am lacking in my pile of junk is ANY type of a Golden Age presence. I think I should try to balance that out a bit. But what to choose? GA books have always intimidated me. They have a reputation for being quite pricey. And not readily available. It would be a grand hunt to complete the series. The older series, it seems they were more inclined to be true serials and follow the movie format of continuing and building on a theme. Nothing would frustrate me more than not being able to complete the run.

So it struck me I needed to define some parameters for exactly what to bite off. I want to enjoy this bit and not get frustrated and have to walk away it. Still I'm left with what to do...

I used my run of Dr. Strange (1st series) #169 -#183 as the blueprint for the GA decision. Its a reasonably short run. Its reasonably available and not super expensive. All fine points to consider.

The conclusion I came to for my 1st foray into the Golden age is EC's Moon Girl.
In addition to it being a relatively short run, and not as mainstream as SOME hero titles, I just like the history of it.

An early EC hero comic? Quick name another EC hero..... I bet you cant. And from 1947 to boot.

This HAS to be one among the 1st group of Heroines in comics - period. In fact it may be the second, behind some ol' broad from All Star Comics #8. Somewhat interestingly, Max Gaines was the publisher for that book at DC. When he broke off and started his own line of "Educational Comics" he knew a good thing when he saw it and wanted his own super-chick.

1st appearance?

The story on something this old is a bit shaky. Overstreet and several on-line resources give conflicting information. Different sources cite a different 1st appearance. Happy Houlihans #1 is the other contender. If  you have more information PLEASE share. It seems to be a genuine question no one can definitively answer.

Moon Girl is a bit of a Wonder Woman knock off. She even has an invisible plane. But thats OK. I'll never be able to afford a 1st appearance of Wonder Woman - but her lesser know little sister?
Sign me up!

Moon Girl and the Prince lasted a single issue, and ran as Moon Girl for issues #2-6. It became Moon Girl Fights Crime! for two issues, before concluding its run as A Moon, a Girl...Romance with issues #9-12. Moon Girl appears only in the story "I Was a Heart Pirate" in issue #9 and in no subsequent issue. The series continued as Weird Fantasy beginning with issue #13.

A hero book, an adventure book, a crime book and a romance book. Whats not to love?
I wonder if she rode a horse to make it a Western series too?

Clearly EC was schizophrenic about what to do with a hero book. This appears to be a sleeping gem.

My 1st comic show purchase...

My recent trip to the 2013 edition of the HeroesCon in Charlotte got me thinking abut the 1st comic show I ever attended. It was held in Raleigh, NC at the Fairgrounds. I must have been in about the 9th grade. That dates this purchase to about 1982 or 1983.

This book was my 1st major comic purchase. To a kid that didn't couldn't drive and didn't have a job - it represented A LOT of saving!

I remember paying SIXTY BUCKS for this book. It was a full TEN Dollars over guide. It was the 1st and only time I ever paid above guide for a book.

Oh but this thing is GORGEOUS. Nice tight spine, no breaks. Solid, bright colors, no discoloration. In the older books as you may recall they had tiny little perforated holes at the bottom of the page in the margin. I think this is a result of the printing process used at the time. These perforations were stuck together. They still are. This book had NEVER been read.

1st New X-Men in the series

The ONLY 2 flaws this book has is in the top corners. The spine corner has a tiny tiny little split with a hint of discoloration to give it away. Again this had to happen in the printing. There has been NO mishandling of this book. The other corner has started to fold, NOT a hard crease mind you, but rather from being compressed in the bag against other books. Very minimal flaws.

Nothing is ever completely perfect. Only varying degrees of less perfect. There are probably better copies of this book out there - but you will look a looong time to find its equal, much less its better.

I purchased this book from Shelton Drum. He owns "Heroes Arent' Hard to Find and puts on the Annual HeroesCon.


n addition to his store and his major convention in the Southeast - he also sets up and supports by participating in a number of shows in the state. 

I happened to catch him at one and mentioned the X-men book from youth. He was like "Oh yeah, You're the one that bought that? I remember that book... wanna sell it? I'll give you a full refund"
It was a pleasant conversation and with the many thousands of  comics that surely must pass thru his hands, it was nice that he said it.

I may not always buy from him, but I will always visit his table.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Who kidnapped Stan Lee?

Comic prices are rising, rising and no ceiling in sight. <sigh...> News like this is awfully depressing for a collector on a budget. I'm still cheap. I don't have a choice. I cant imagine there are but a scant few handful of folks with enough liquid capitol to spend several thousands of dollars on a comic. That's gotta be a tough sell for a retailer sitting on a book with their money tied up, waiting, waiting, waiting for a willing buyer to come thru the door. I

'd love to be able to buy more key books, but my addictions get in the way. Namely eating, breathing and staying dry. I just cant afford today's prices. I have to bottom feed.

I keep waiting for the market to correct itself. I cant help but think as the aging baby boomers exit the hobby there will soon be more collections available to hit the market and create a glut. With a little luck, I'll find one before it goes to a public sale. I'm in the conservation and having OF it, NOT the selling and profiting FROM it.

If only there was some secret, undiscovered stash of comics hiding somewhere in the great "out there"....
Lets see.... who has been in the business long enough to know where that fabled, mythical stash might be?

"Stan the man" has been writing comics since Captain America Comics #3! Surely he would know if anyone does. Maybe he doesn't know that he knows? The venerable icon has probably forgotten more about the business of comics, production and distribution than any group of current professionals ever knew.

I would bet that with the right prompting and coaxing we could get Stan lead us to it. Prolly have to ply him with some wine and women. That usually works on most folks.

But ITS STAN. How do we get close to him? I guess we'll have to buy the VIP Stan package and whisk him away from a public appearance and take him on a road trip to lead us to Marvels undisclosed warehouses of pulp goodness. Returns, overprints, art storage, misprints, lost pallates of comics - the whole enchilada. Its "El DeGeek-O" the mythical city of pulp paper.

Finding this Treasure Trove is a variable that would surely crash the comics market pricing structure. Flooding the market with material is what it will take to correct prices.

You have to admit it would make a great movie. It would be part "Tuesdays with Morrie" combined with "National Treasure" and a little "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" thrown in for good measure with an overture to "On the Road".... I just pitched a film... excuse me I have to take this call from Kevin Smith hes on the line.

This is not meant to be construed as a threat or intent to do harm in any way. 
Its very much intended as satire.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Living in the Material World

This is an update to a previous Blog post on Digital/Online comics.

Lets be clear. I'm an old dude. I remember when phones had cords. I remember when you had to get up to change one of the 3 television stations. I remember gas under a dollar a gallon. I remember .30 cent comics that were printed on newsprint paper.

For my own part - I'm a collector more so than a reader these days. I still read what I get, mind you. I dropped reading new books about 3 or 4 years ago. The variants and constant stream of re-numberings confused me to the point where I just gave up. I didn't need the hassle.

I think its fair to get that position statement out of the way as I still try to get my head around digital/online comics. Its a bold new world.

Digital/online comics are great for the reader.
You can save them to you phone, computer or tablet. You can read them on a train, a plane, take them on vacation read them during lunch or in the bathroom. The key word is convenience. Many folks don't have a local comic shop to visit. Using Digital comics, they don't need it nearly as much. For them its about access.
A tremendous advantage for these folks.

As an old dude - I like the material/physical world aspects of collecting. Bags boards boxes - the smell of the paper (particularly in older books). Even the "thrill of the hunt" to find missing issues is removed. Very sterile feeling on the first go, but not having to have boxes upon boxes of new books that aren't likely to accrue any value whatsoever in my lifetime is kind of attractive.

Digital/online comics are great for the publisher.
As much as the direct market changed comics in the late 70's early 80's - I think Digital/online comics are becoming poised to have the same impact to the market. I can see why the publishers would HAVE to consider this route... If they can sell this this route they would rake it in. This could very well change the publishing dynamic and eliminate all of hands in the distribution pie. (Paging Steve Geppi)

As far as manufacturing the end product, the overhead for paper and inks fall thru the floor by removing the physical element of printing the product.

Buying direct from the publisher will give Indy artists and publishers more exposure than they otherwise would have gotten.

As for the collector - 
It really depends what type of collector you are. If you are more of a reader - then this is good route for you. If you are more of a collector and you like something akin to the ritual of the "tea ceremony" in your collecting, then you should probably stay with what you love and what works for you.

For me -
I like the vintage material. IF I got back into new comics I would go the digital route. Less hassles. I would still continue pursing the actual comics of old.

Downstream Impact
However, what does that mean for our friendly neighborhood Local Comic Shops?
Truth is - I have no idea. If they are cut out of the distribution chain and cant count on new comic sales - they will go under. They will have to diversify into RPG and or video games, albums, coffee, beer, firearms SOMETHING to generate revenue and get folks in the door.

Trying times to have a shop. I wonder how they will evolve. I hope they evolve.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What the freak, man?

Why is this book such a big deal?

I totally don't get it....

Availability - 
Lets start with the basics. Its an x-book from the 90's  - That means that this is a HIGH Print run book. There are enough of these things to fill a fleet of shipping containers. BA-jillions of them sitting on shelves at the height of the speculator market.

Secondly -
Its drawn by Liefield. - Rob is to comic art; what Mannerism is to late Renaissance art. His heroes are figures with abnormally elongated limbs often in torturous-looking poses. Grotty.

This is a delightful article that dares to compare it to Hulk 181 and Amazing Spider-man 129. It holds water for all of about 3 seconds. I agree wholeheartedly with the authors conclusion. 

I've had the good fortune to run up on two of these books. One was found by answering a craigslist ad. The guy had this book and a Spider-man 300. I think I paid 5 bucks for the pair. The second book was picked up at a local yard sale. I bought it along with a New Mutants 87 for 2 bucks. All of this within the past 5 yrs. This book is available and it IS out there..

I sold my lesser copy for $80 bucks just a couple of weeks ago. I wanted some walking around money for the HeroesCon floor.

The moral of the story is: "Smoke'em if you got 'em" The price for this book is bound to fall. Its artificially inflated.  If you have extra copies, now is the time to cash out, cuz it wont last. But just in case... keep a copy for yourself.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Farewell to EC Horror books

This was a neat book I ran across on ebay a little over a year ago. I wasn't really looking for it - but it fell in my lap cheaper than I thought it would. I made a low-ball bid offer and won it.

No one was more surprised than me. This is the 2nd to last issue of  EC's venerable Tales from the Crypt series. It is a low distribution issue.

What I found most interesting about the book was what was printed on the inside front cover.

Following the publication of Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent , horror and other violent comics had come under very intense scrutiny by parents, schoolteachers, clergymen, psychologists, and others who viewed the material as dangerous to the well-being of children and a significant contributor to the juvenile delinquency crisis in America. Think of it as McCarthy-ism for comic books.

Matters came to a head in April and June 1954 with a highly publicized Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Hearings targeted violent comic books—which fared poorly in the proceedings. While the committee stopped short of blaming the comics industry for juvenile delinquency, they did suggest it tone down the product. Publishers were left reeling. They could see the writing on the wall and recognized that the end of their industry was at hand if they didnt band together and DO something as a collective group. What they did was the Comics Code Authority.

The Code was essentially self censorship. It was meant to appease the groups giving them grief. It was a last ditch effort to stay afloat and keep the doors open.

This Tales from the Crypt #45 book and in particular the inside cover - marked a farewell to EC Horror titles

The letter on the inside cover acknowledged all of EC's woes, put them on the table and said "Eff ewe" to a certain extent. They had effectively been driven out of business and gave up in a very public statement that very few people saw, because of the limited distribution.

I thought it was quite powerful, poignant and understated given the circumstances.

R.I.P. EC. Horror.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HeroesCon 2013

To be perfectly frank - I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted to go to this years HerosCon. I was on the fence. I didn't want to make the three hour drive by myself. Then, out of the blue, I got an mail from and old friend. A plan was made.

I went thru the personal "Archive" trying to figure out what I wanted signed and by whom. They had more creators there, than I was actually aware of. I guess that the point, to get more exposure, increase awareness - get the word out about things you may not have heard about and get people interested.

I couldn't remember the last time my friend and I just hung out without kids, wives or some "event" giving us an excuse to get together. This was genuinely cool and then I really started looking forward to; and getting excited about the Show. If it were possible for us to have had a "love child" on our last adventure, that kid could have driven us. It was that long ago since we road-tripped.

The drive to Charlotte from Raleigh was a wet one. Tropical Storm Andrea was on the tail end of visiting our area and she left a lakes of water in parking lots everywhere. Rain. Gray sky's. very tired windshield wipers.. Then, somewhat suddenly, the Sun broke thru. A gorgeous day fought its way out after a sloppy start. While trying to park we had a possible Jim Steranko sighting.

After parking, we got tickets easy-peasy (ie. very small line) and waited for the magic moment to strike where they let the riff-raff into the convention hall. Grabbed a couple of copies of The Women of Geekdom Calendar. Flipped thru it as we waited. There was maybe a couple hundred folk in front of us in the line. It flowed quickly and I did not feel pushed around in the herd. I get edgy when that happens I like some space and personal distance. Things that are too crowded wigs me out. I don't shop on Black Friday for this very reason.

So now we were waiting for the turnstiles to start moving...
Cos-players always amuse me and they did not disappoint. They were milling about getting like the rest of us. There were blocky pixelated Minecraft characters (Not to be confused with the German game Meincraft). Indiana Jones, Deadpool, Stormtroopers and even a little kid dressed as a Storm-trooper. He was more like a Lego mini-figure of a Storm-trooper.

The requisite cleavage queens were in attendance making infants everywhere very thirsty. However, the oddest Cos-player I saw by FAR was the large black fellow dressed as Storm. He had the flowing cape the big classic head-dress and a booming baritone. The juxtaposition was frightening. I would have made my usual snarky-jokes, but I was afraid I'd wind up as a greasy spot on the floor. Maybe he was there because he lost a bet....

Once in the hall my biggest priorities were to visit with Steranko and Roy Thomas. Mission accomplished. Both guys were genuinely into the scene and seemingly happy to mingle and spend some time with the fans. They are fine, fine ambassadors for the hobby and consummate professionals.
Much respect!

So the strategy was to get the signings and then work our way from one end of the convention hall to the opposite side before lunch. A quick first pass. To ID the guys who had the wall books I was craving, from the guys with glorified dollar boxes. After visiting with my childhood driving fetishes - the Bat-mobile and the DeLorean from Back to the Future; it was time to get to work and fill up my back-pack.

Lots of stuff there....
My gracious it was overwhelming. I walked around until my feet hurt.
I got some of my favorite Mylar bags there. Saw some of my favorite vendors there. Earl Shaw and Tomorrows Treasures were in attendance. My fellow day-tripper found me hawking over some bins and he brought me a beer. Not that this was unheard of, I've killed many a brain cell in this fashion with this friend. But I found drinking beer and looking at comics kind of oddly disorienting.

I even saw Shelton Drum on the floor. The MAN for putting this show together for the past 31yrs. I would have said "Hi" - but I didn't have the heart to bother him on his busiest weekend of the year.

Over the years, I have gotten GREAT deals off of all of these guys. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything I couldn't live without this go-round. I was in a very specific Silver Age Key Book kind of mood.

After much hunting, and internal debating - I finally got a book on my bucket list. I even found some good deals on a couple of T-shirts to bring back home to my kids.

Then it was time to go home.

In closing - What a great "Little Comic Show".
I have been able to make the HeroesCon in Charlotte two of the last three years. Its wonderful. No disrespect; but Charlotte isn't quite the same draw in the way that New York, Philadelphia, Chicago or San Diego are. I get that. The "Big City" shows certainly get exposure and interest from the all fans, vendors and science fiction and fantasy celebrities in attendance.

And deservedly so, I love that stuff and its a BIG DEAL. The signings, appearances and the event spectacle of it are really cool and all, but if you are there just for the BOOKS - then Charlotte is the show for you need to be at. You need to make the special effort to get to the Charlotte show!

I could actually walk around without feeling claustrophobic. Perhaps the availability of beer made people more tolerable for me. It was a strange sensation drinking beer and looking at comics.

The plan, the drive, the show the return trip. Smooth as glass.
Fantastic little day trip!

Living Legend - Jim Steranko

As I was sitting in traffic, waiting to park and get tickets for the show, I noticed a quick sprightly older gentleman making his way to the entrance of the Charlotte Convention Center. I thought to myself that had to be Jim Stedenko. (I know thats not really his name... force of habit - I've watched too many Cheech and Chong movies..) I mentioned it to my fellow road tripper.

He had no idea and I was uncertain. A quick glance at a distance... who could be 100% certain? It was either an artist or a pimp. He was wearing a cream colored suit and black turtleneck with perfectly groomed silver locks.

His booth was my 1st stop on the convention floor. We were in line behind abut 20 people. I was determined to get his autograph on several items. Earlier in the week, I decided the Nick Fury Agent of Shield #1 and Captain America #'s 110, 111 and 113 to be signature worthy.

In those books Jim did these dynamic 2 page centerfold layouts. Magnificent stuff.

Imagine equal parts Jack Kirby, Roy Lichtenstein, Salvidor Dali, M. C. Escher with some Op Art thrown in for giggles and I think you could assemble your very own "Franken-Steranko".

The mans very signature is art. Big bold vibrant and exciting. Many folks have gotten their signatures down to a symbol or "mark". A scribble. Not here. This is gor-ge-mous.

Jim seemed to be genuinely happy to be out and about with the fans. He wasn't the most loquacious fellow. I think perhaps his throat was bothering him a bit. Maybe he was just pacing himself for a long weekend - who knows. His warm smile and handshake spoke volumes.

Seems I'm not the only one ^ who was stuck in a moment of awe.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bucket book

I could go into a long spiel about how things have been a bit of a challenge lately for me on a personal level. No need to. We all have stuff to deal with...

All you really need to take way from that is that it was time to treat myself.
I scoured the Charlotte Convention Center looking for either a Journey Into Mystery 83 or Incredible Hulk 1.

No dice on the Hulk - There was not an ungraded copy on the convention center floor on Saturday. It simply didn't exist. I'm not in the position to pay a used car price for something that I cannot drive. I have to dumpster dive for an affordable value. I have to go on the low-end. Something with enough flaws to get it into my window of affordability. Torn back cover, UK copy, a couple of loose pages - whatever it takes. Gotta be cheap.

However - I scored on the Journey Into Mystery 83.

Made the 1st pass and acquired the target... walked around to see if there was a better deal on another book. Then came back and took a hard look at it.. talked price with the seller. Walked around and thought it over. I had one nagging doubt. In addition to its numerous flaws the cropping on the right edge made me think it was trimmed. Had to compare it to some other books and make sure it was the right size and unaltered. It checked out to my satisfaction. I told the guy this would be my last stop before I left the Con that day.... and walked away.

As I was walking away - I took a few paces and I wondered "Why in the Hell AM I walking away?"
I found the right book, at the right price. It was there, I was there - whats the freaking problem?

So I went back and bought it. Attacked it like a shark... Bump, bump BITE!
Maybe I'll get it restored later.

Living Legend - Roy Thomas

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from Roy Thomas.
I had heard a few cautionary tales about him being a cranky old codger, irascible, ill tempered and occasionally mean spirited. Maybe he had a damn good reason to be angry and the folks doing the talking conveniently remember it wrong, who knows.

He displayed none of that in my few minutes with him at the Heros Con.
He was the consummate professional and gentleman. He seemed genuinely happy to be there and to be interacting with the fans. He signed 5 books for me, after the 1st one, he politely asked me to make a donation toward the Hero Initiative. No problem, happy to kick in for the old timers. Roy has been a long-time champion for creators.

Roy signed my Conan 1, Star Wars 1, Marvel Premiere 5, Creatures on the Loose 10 and Chamber of Darkness 4. A real signature not a rushed scribble scratch.

Wait, isnt that Berni Wrightson too???

Roy doesn't need me to be his agent. His body of work is overwhelming. If you read a Marvel book in the 60's, 70's and 80's you already know who he is... I was going thru my comics trying to figure out what I wanted to pull out for him to sign. I decided to go with the fantasy themed stuff. The licensed material he adapted for Marvel is some of my favorite work.

I asked him my pet question for the Letter Column Resource Listings page-
"What was the 1st letter he had published before he entered the comics field?"