We've all got a memory, a tale, of that one rare comic book  that we saw at a friend's house, at the beach, at the store, or the barber shop.

We have a memory of it, and of looking for it, or asking for it, or trying to trade for it, but never getting any luck in landing it.

Or, maybe against all odds, we DID find it, or scored it for a song.

This is your thread.  This is YOUR list.  This is where you should post that single most statisfying or frustrating pursuit.

 

I'll start:

When visiting my cousins, perhaps an hour north of our town in the middle 60s, I mentioned to them that I had fallen into reading and following the Fantastic Four.  Issue #60 had just come out, and I told t hem that it was the end of a major storyline with the Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom.  And that the last panel said, "Next: A New Danger Dawns".

My cousin made a smart-mouthed boast, "So, you don't know what the next issue is yet, huh?"

"NO, I don't," I admitted, instantly hooked and desirous for any information (He didn't have any idea either, but was just baiting me, teasing me.)  He refused to discuss it any further.

His mother, my aunt, remarked that "isn't that Marvel Comics the same as that Thor record you've got?"

Instantly, I was alert, as I knew there had been several LP records of the first Marvel heroes released in about 1965-66.  Cousin Kim had gotten one for his birthday or Christmas or something.

We went to their toy closet, and opening it up, found a tall stack of junk, notebooks, coloring books, kids books, comics, and odds and ends, that had been swept into a stack, out of sight. From among them, they pulled out the Golden Record album of Journey into Mystery #83, "The Stone Men from Saturn" debut of Thor.  The vinyl was not in a paper sleeve and faintly scratched, but intact, but the comic was missing. It should have been inside the sleeve with the black record.

I had only seen one similar record within the year. It was the FF version of the same release, and I had borrowed it and listened to the first FF adventure with the Mole Man, over and over. I had borrowed the record from another family, and returned it after a week.  But actually Thor wasn't as interesting to me, but I asked about the comic.  Comic books interested me.

"Oh, it's in there somewhere," said his mom, but she wouldn't let me unpack the closet and the topic was closed.

Several years later, we visited again, and I asked about the issue. No one was interested in pursuing it. I offered to unpack and repack the closet to find the issue, and while we did that quickly, we never found the issue. I quickly and carefully restacked the closet and regretfully put it out of my mind. It was gone.

 

About 18 years ago, my cousin Kim died. His had abused his liver and the transplant didn't take. He was dying of yellow jaundice. When we went up to see him for the final time, he was yellow-green and delerious. While we sat around making small talk, he was out of it on the couch.

Some how, the topic of the closet came up, and we opened it up. There in the top one or two items was the reprinted Thor adventure. It started on the inside front cover and ended on the inside rear cover.  I was puzzled, cause I didn't recall what this was at first. It had no price on it. I put it back on the stack and didn't bring it up during the wake.

On the ride home, it dawned on me that it was the long-lost missing reprint book that we had hunted for.  The key had been the lack of ads and that the story started and ended in b&w on the inside covers. There was no accounting for what had happened to it for 20 years. But now it was back!

Later that night, my cousin passed away, but we didn't return for the funeral.

I looked up the value of the book in the Overstreet price guide and mailed a letter to my surviving cousin, telling him what I thought the book was and what it was worth. I asked if he was interested in selling it, and he declined, saying it was part of his memories of his late brother. I understood. It was listed for just $4.00 in the guide. The memories were more precious. (Now, I see it listed for $1800!

I never saw it again.

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I'm right with you Mr. Silver Age.

I think Lonnie must have gotten wise to the fact that if the count was off by one, and the stack was askew, she knew that I had been there, and that I had what I wanted already.

If ONLY I had a paper route or some other means of making money back then. I would have invested in the entire Marvel line and been sitting on a mint right now, cause after reading, I put my comics in a stack and there they sat for years, well preserved, away from the sun, awaiting me to open a desk drawer and look at them again.

I had three of those Marvel record/reprint packages, but alas, my mother sold them at a yard sale. (She knew better than to sell my comics, but these were records, and the comics were tucked within.) They were Journey into Mystery #83, Avengers #4, and I think Fantastic Four #1. I heard there was a fourth one, but I never saw it. Spider-Man, perhaps?

As to my elusive issue, it was Conan the Barbarian #3. In those halcyon days, #1s weren't as hard to find as third issues, because publishers wouldn't know until the fourth issue how well the first issue sold, so they'd cut print runs on the second issue to be safe, and cut 'em again on the third issue. The fourth issue would have a print run commensurate with expected sales, so it was all right. It was those third issues that would skip my area, and it took me 10 years or more to finally find Conan the Barbarian #3.

it almost sounds like I'm talking about the Middle Ages, doesn't it? Comics were so primitive in those days, both in production and distribution. And we all accepted it as normal, because it was.

when g i joe came out, everyone was saying that the first issue was going to sell out.  Everyone was buying multiple copies like crazy.  But my friend who ran a swap show comic show in a Detroit suburb pleaded with me to buy copies of issue #2...in fact, he offered to cut me in on the hundred or so issues that HE had pre-ordered and was prepared to sock away.  I eventually gave in and agreed to invest in a wopping 20 copies, but he kept telling me that I was missing out on a chance to get rich.

He claimed the due to the fall off in orders, that the new HOT NUMBER ONE issues had become the second issue in a run...and the smart money was investing heavily in them.

I held onto my issues for two months, and offered them at double the price I paid at his shows, and also in CBG through a comics trader ad that I got for free or something.  The first 5 sold rapidly and the next ten were slowly moving, one at a time. But the end of the year, I had five left and no one was buying any more.  So, I put them in my to be sold box.  And over the next ten years, I've sold two or three at cost, but I think I still have one or two left.  No one appeared to be interested in it any more.  I think the kids grew up and out of the taste for G.I.Joe.

 

I also invested in a few of the Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 in the same way, but never got a big run for them.   So I think I still have less than 5 somewhere, with no desire for mint copies coming from anywhere.

So when you say that print runs are cut and reduced, I believe you.  I just wasn't going to invest a large amount.

I have no idea what happened to the hundreds that he invested in.

...I have a rather odd example pertaining to this from much earlier in the 60s ` and , NOT about a super-hero funnybook !!!!!!!!!

  My cousins , whenI Ivisited my grandparents and my mother's sister in East Texas , had an oddly eclectic " just-one-of-each " collection , IIRC - Really , no more than ONE of any title !!!!!!!!! Among them on " Our side of comics " were the THE FLASH with the first professor Zoom and a pre-#39 TALES OF SUSPENSE with a lead story by Ditko involving an escaped convict who , on the run , ducks into a spooky old barbershop where the barber , well...........

  But , another comic was a - Giant , I believe - RICHIE RICH title .

  I remember this one story in it revolving around Richie and Reggie having competing TV stations , and finky ol' Reg. using a drone- uh , plane of some sort to buzz Richie's TV station off the air .

  We got to see what the megastar broadcast on Richie's station was , though , and Richie , of course , got the BEST !

  " 40% Of The ' Rat Pack ' Plus A , Sort Of , Senior Member "

  Represented as non-colored/filled in b&w drawings within the TV screen , we saw caricatures of Frank Sinatra , Bing Crosby , and Sammy Davis , Jr.  Reggie's plane cut them off in the middle of Frankie singing one of his recent smashos in , or similar to , this manner - " Call me irresponsible , call me - AROO " ! ( A representation of the broadcast being buzzed off . ) This has stayed with me for many , many , tears .

  But , anyway , why did the Harvey ( Let's say that it was Ernie Colon . ) artist decide - Along with Sid Jacobson , " Harvey's Stan Lee/Julius Schwartz " . of course !!!!!!!!!!! - to represent the teriffic trio of entertainment that way , you think ????????? As non-filled-in outlines in the full-color funnybook .

  Well:(1) There might have been some " legal protection our b*tts " thought about " use of celebrities' images - showing them as seperate from the characters , carrying out their job & image as widely beloved entertainers " by showing them as black & white outlines on a TV set WITHIN the comic story's world might be seen as distancing themselves sufficiently , to count as fair use...

  (2) Perhaps allow Ernie to exercise his inner Al Hirschfeld for a bit .

  (3) And , obviously ~ to sneak Mr. Davis in !!!!!!!!!!! This was earlyish-60s in origin , once when i had an Overstreet I saw a RR ish w/that image indicated but it was far later in the 60s than this would've been :-) !



Mr. Silver Age said:

Each step can blame the next one: Druggists could say they feared parents wouldn't like their kids bringing that comic home, distributors could say that druggists wouldn't put it on the rack, publishers could say distributors wouldn't put it in the bundles. How much any of that actually happened is hard to say, because there wasn't enough reward to try the risk.

By the early 1970s, the winds were changing, and comics were willing to be more pioneering. Even so, most black characters were stamped with "Black" something, and they were never runaway stars. It's hard to say whether that was due to racial prejudice or the mostly white boy audience wanting to read about characters like themselves--after girls got run out of comics, there weren't many big-selling female leads, either.

There's no way to know the sales on any one issue back there, and whatever sales results they reported were often approximate anyway. The FF letters column on BP was uniformly congratulatory, but that wouldn't have been hard to put together no matter how high the hate mail might've been.

Here's an interesting academic paper on the times and the response to BP in the media--which was mostly nonexistent:

http://altcasey.com/works/alt_bp.pdf. It notes that as late as 1970, when Beetle Bailey introduced Lt. Flap, the strip was dropped not only by a number of Southern papers but also, for a short while, by Stars and Stripes.

It also quotes Jim Shooter as saying, “I had tried to introduce a black Legion of Super-Heroes character in 1966. Mort Weisinger, my editor, rejected the idea. He said that with a black character in it, the book ‘wouldn't sell in the South,’ and that Southern distributors would boycott DC comics.”

Again, whether that's true or not doesn't matter if they thought it was true about the next step in the line.

-- MSA

You got me curious about this Ditko story. The one Kirk describes involves an actor, not a criminal on the run. I think I found the one described by Emerkeith. I think it's the story " It Was Only a Simple Barber Shop...or Was It??!" in Tales of Suspense #29 (May'62).

Yes, I think you're right, Richard.  I found in in the Atlas Masterworks third Tales of Suspense volume.

Was THIS your comic book, E.D.?

What THIS the splash page?

Comics were so primitive in those days, both in production and distribution. And we all accepted it as normal, because it was.

Frankly, Cap, I'm not sure how many of us would still be here if it had been any other way. The excitement of not knowing what was coming out (or having seen only a cover), not knowing what would be at the store and what the NEXT store you visited, wherever that was, would have, made collecting comics cool.

Maybe one of my friends has Conan #3, maybe the next store my mom and I are passing RIGHT NOW has Conan #3, maybe it never came out (although by the time of Conan #3, the Bullpen Bulletins and DC's updates made it fairly easy to know if the next issue was coming). I'm sure my parents would've been happier if every store carried every comic, so I didn't badger them so much or wander off to look for a spinner rack in the store we popped into for a second.

I think that excitement of the unknown and the thrill of the hunt was a big part of what we liked about comics. That would be gone if I got a catalog with every comic available in it, and I checked them off and they were delivered to me

Maybe talking online and seeing creators at cons provides excitement to fill that gap, but it's not the same..

I remember we went into a furniture store downtown when I was about 10, and for some reason they had a stack of 3-for-a-dime coverless comic packs. In one of them I found a JLA I'd never seen. It was JLA #10, a very cool story. I still remember that vividly! I don't think people have that kind of reaction to comics any more.

-- MSA

Capt, maybe they do have that reaction, IF they were 10 years old...and the cover is designed to appeal to a 10 year old.

It's got to have all that charm, or hook, or immediate graphic appearance to "grab" your attention.  Plus, spinner racks were placed in high traffic areas, with plenty of books available, peaking out at you, and colorful to grab a wandering kid's wandering attention.

We're not marketing to that demographic any more.

Plus there's a psychological element when the price is only one thin dime, vs. 4 dollar bills.  The thought is that it isn't just cheap disposable entertainment any more.

...Yes , it was coverless (!!!!!!!!!) but I'm sure that was it ~ (SPOILER)

S

P

A

C

E

The barber turns out to be The Devil (visually cued , I guess , not verbally stated) , who makes the baddie disappear beneath his barbering sheet - to go You Know Where , no doubt !

I didn't catch that he was The Devil...but I can see that interpretation.

I took that he was the shadowy figure that sent him to the barber shop to hide out, but also that under the cape/sheet...

Well, he transported him..."away".   But I didn't read that as the Devil.  Just didn't get that.

PS: The Lead story in that book is the Kirby story about a Martian that stole a city...

Plus there's a psychological element when the price is only one thin dime, vs. 4 dollar bills.  The thought is that it isn't just cheap disposable entertainment any more.

It's true that comics' prices have risen way out of proportion to inflation. OTOH, I pull out some of my comics from the 1970s and 1980s, and that printing is embarrassingly atrocious. It's hard to read the comics it's so bad. And I know they're paying creators WAY more than they ever did, which had to be added into the cost.

But I think the psychological element is more the long, drawn-out stories. Knowing your $4 is going to one slice of a much longer story you won't understand if you didn't get there from the first and stay to the last, and then add on a few pieces in other far-flung titles, dampens enthusiasm a lot.

But don't get confused: you talk "one thin dime" in a time when the tooth fairy doesn't know from coinage: http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/nation/article_be938b6c-121e-1...

-- MSA  

I can't extrapolate from my own experience, because I'm probably weird. My experience on some of these points:

* I also would get to the store (Cloverleaf Pharmacy) before the bundles were opened, but they were bundled with wire on all four sides, so I couldn't pull anything out. I had to bug a clerk to open them, and they were irritated (and let me know it) when they did it, but more often they were just "too busy" and I'd have to come back. Sometimes when I came back (pedaling six miles round trip from my house) the bundles were STILL unopened, and I'd have to repeat the process, or they had been opened and already pawed through by others. I will never know if the distributor brought no copies of Conan #3 to Cloverleaf Pharmacy in 1970, or if some other kids got whatever few copies did arrive, because I didn't time my return trip right. Probably the latter. So my experience with bundles was not as happy as some others.

* Sometimes I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, but more often I found it really inefficient and a loss of time I couldn't afford. Kirk, I DID have a paper route to pay for my comics, did buy the entire Marvel line, and I am NOT sitting on a mint. And the route ate up my afternoon every day, all year 'round. And I did that route on my bike, so I got plenty of exercise and had burned up much of the day before or after "doing the circuit" (yes, I also had a long route around all the places that sold comics in bike range). I'm much happier now buying comics with a minimum of effort.

* The "mystery" of not knowing which store had which comics wasn't as exciting as it was frustrating, because often not finding a comic book at Store A meant not finding it at any of the stores on the "circuit" either. "Mystery" often translated to not finding a book that's supposed to be out at all, or discovering that it was delayed a week or two after wasting time looking for it. I'm much happier now buying comics where I know exactly what's available and just ask my LCS or Amazon to get it for me.

But like I said, I'm weird.

On another topic on this thread, I lived in the South and didn't blink an eye at The Falcon (or the Black Panther, either). They were on sale in Memphis without any worries that I noticed. What bothered me about The Falcon was what was mentioned earlier, that I was uncomfortable that the black guy needed a white guy to teach him to be a hero. And also, I hated his costume. Not only are green and orange secondary (and therefore villainous) colors, but I've also hated full-head masks that show the hair, because they're stupid (impractical, and don't disguise you very well) and stupid-looking. (I felt the same way when Goliath II let his blond locks show, because hair is distinctive.) Also, Falcon's pointy belt buckle (?) looked like it would stab him in the groin if he bent at the waist. I much preferred his red-and-white suit, which not only looked more heroic, but also more-or-less matched Cap's outfit and looked better against his skin tone.

Don't get me started on "Snap" Wilson. The only word that applies is "condescending."

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