Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bronze Age Babies Bulletins


Doug: Happy Tuesday, everyone. Today we have three items to toss your way -- a newsflash, an opinion, and a conundrum. In that order...

Doug: I don't really buy action figures anymore. The increased price of oil a couple of years ago that seemingly pushed the price of new figures out of my budget range, coupled with the switch by Hasbro to the 3 3/4" line ended my love affair with Marvel Legends. And although I really like what Mattel is doing with DC's 6-inch line, I just didn't want to jump into that with the (again) higher prices. However, having seen what Mattel has been doing as exclusives for Comicon International has me itching. Last year it was the Wonder Twins; this summer it's Plastic Man.

Now I'm no Plastic Man fan, but this package/figure/presentation is just incredible. You can read the full review at Action Figure Times.


Doug: I was at a comic shop yesterday and spied Avengers #1 on the shelves. I took a gander at it and put it back after only a few page turns. I have long argued that since comics are a visual medium, it's the art that grabs a potential buyer. Yes, story is important, and perhaps good art doesn't save a bad story (I'll say that a good story can be killed by bad art!), but if the reader/buyer doesn't feel an excitement upon laying eyes on the printed page then a potential sale may be lost. That being said, I've long held a disdain for the artwork of one John Romita, Jr. and his work on Avengers #1 didn't change that opinion. I just find his work unreadable -- it's so scratchy at times, so unrealistic (yeah, Gil Kane was unrealisitc, but the guy could move a story with dynamic camera angles and emotional characters). So even as a longtime Avengers fan, I'll continue to pass on my favorite title, which has turned into the exact thing I despised about the X-plosion of titles and characters that drove me away from the once-merry mutants.

Oh, and speaking of mutants, could someone please inform the powers-that-be that Mr. Wolverine is not an Avenger? I'll thank you for doing so...

Doug: Which brings us to our last point of interest today. Allow me to reprint a brief e-mail exchange Karen and I shared this morning:

(Doug) Good morning -

Boy, was I disappointed when I went to the comic shop yesterday. It was part of a chain that has about 1/2 dozen stores around the south suburbs. The oldest issue I saw in the longboxes was from the late 1980's, so it was a total strike-out in terms of finding any Bronze Age reader copies.

(Karen) Isn't it sad when an 'old' back issue is from the 1980s? There are four stores in our area and the one nearest us is the smallest. They have about as many boxes of comics as I do, and like the store you mentioned, most of their books are from the last two decades. Fortunately they have a much larger store about 20 miles south of us that has back issues from the 70's (wow, ancient history!), but the selection is spotty.

(Doug) Yep -- I must be a dope, because I thought I was going to march right into that store and snag 5-10 unbagged ratty-looking reader copies of Bronze Age glory for around $10. Didn't happen.

Doug: So, what's a Bronze Age enthusiast to do? If you want long runs of a title, there are always the Essentials or Showcase Presents -- these are great, cheap, etc. But if you want some color in your four-color fun, then you are looking at trade paperbacks, and I don't always like the color reproduction in those (too bright and glossy). Do any of you face these problems with your local comic shops? Seriously, I just wanted some musty, dog-eared reader copies. That's not so hard, is it?

15 comments:

Terence Stewart said...

Ah, the back-issue, erm, issue. Yep, when I started on my blog, I had in mind that I'd be able to find all the bronze age comics I needed from the various comic shops in London. However, apart from my not-so-local comic shop in South London (run by a couple of guys I'm in the same Legion APA with, and where I have my monthly pull-list) no on else seems to deal in comics any older than the 90's, if they have any back-issues at all.
I've taken to using mycomicshop.com and ebay, but nothing beats looking through longboxes. I may have to start going to some of the regular London Marts.

Kid A said...

Yeah, it's kind of the same way here. Ten years ago, it was very easy to go into my local comic shop and find any number of bronze age books, but now pickings have become quite slim. There is still one place I frequent that has the best selection in the area bar none, but even it has started to dry up on that front. eBay is were I get probably 80% if my back issues, which as of late has been quite a bit. Mycomicshop.com also sells on eBay and I've made numerous purchases through them and have always had great service. I'm guessing everyone has been picking these books up over the years and are now quietly hoarding them? One of these days, we will be flooded with them, but I know not when.

Doug said...

Comrades --

I thought I'd blow in, grab a mishmash of stuff like Ghost Rider, Frankenstein's Monster, maybe a couple of DC's like Rima the Jungle Girl or whatever -- you know... Cool stuff for our BAB Two-In-Ones. I messed around over by the Essentials and thought to myself that I already have about a dozen of those that I've read only bits and pieces of, so why commit $20 to another 20 issues. Plus, that wasn't what I was after in the first place.

So I broke down and bought a Legion tpb -- Eye for an Eye from the first six issues of the 1984 Levitz/Giffen/Lightle series. We'll probably get to it around here someday.

Doug

Karen said...

I get most of my back issues (and I'm talking primarily 60s and 70s books) either online or at comic cons. I prefer the comic con purchase, as like most of you I'm sure, I enjoy digging through the boxes. I've also had some enjoyable conversations with numerous dealers over the years.

I think the 70s comics are becoming the new 60s comics- they're not as easy to find as they were say just ten years ago, and the prices on many have started to rise. Also many of the "lesser" titles (such as ones Doug mentioned) have not been made widely available as either essentials or TPBs, which means back issues are a must.

Kid A, I'm betting that "flooding" of the market you mention will come when many of us 40 somethings decide to retire!

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, this discussion on where to find pre-80s back issues seems to have popped up on several comic blogs in the past week or so...
Don't know how appropriate it is for me to participate, since I'm one of those blasphemous oddballs who prefers collected editions (or digests at least) to the original floppies. However, I do buy originals or special editions in case of stuff that will probably never be reprinted due to copyright issues (i.e. Micronauts, Logan's Run) or just well-liked individual issues of given titles. And I have to say, the best way to go is probably online dealers or ebay. Both Lonestar (mycomicshop.com) & MileHigh have really reasonable prices and an amazing selection (plus reasonable shipping rates even for someone like me now living in Europe).
I prefer shopping online for collected editions as well, because you can find much, much cheaper used copies of just about everything - which is not the case with local comic shops.

Doug said...

Edo --

Would you direct me to the other blogs discussing this? I'd like to read what others are saying.

I agree with you concerning the collected editions -- these days that is what I usually buy. I really wish Marvel had continued the manufacture of the dvd-roms, particularly for Thor and Daredevil. Those are about the only major titles that didn't get that digital treatment. What a boon to have in one's collection!!

I'm not much of a back issue buyer these days, but as I said -- I would be if what I wanted was available and if low-grade copies were available. I long ago gave up the notion that my collection would pay for a college education, etc. I just like musty old newsprint!

Doug

ChrisPV said...

From personal experience, the shops down in Texas appear to be actively liquidating their back issue stocks. We have a local shop that I really like, and they had tons of stuff from the 70's. Helped me fill out some of the Thor run that falls between my Essentials and the Walt Simonson trades. But, alas, a few months ago they started a ridiculously high discount sale. It was great for me, as I got to pick up 1975 Thor comics for like a buck a piece, bagged and boarded and in good condition. However, they show no interest in replenishing said back issues. Which is a shame really. As much as I love mycomicshop.com (Mile High was always a bit too pricey for me), I'd much prefer to support the LCS.

Of course, I'm moving to Denver in a few months, so I guess Mile High will become my LCS...

Karen said...

Chris, you'll have to let us know how Mile High's in-store back issue prices compare to the online prices. I would agree, many times their prices have seemed a bit high. On the other hand, they do run a lot of sales, which can help get them down to reasonable.

It's sad to see the disappearance of older back issues from shops, but I understand their need to reduce costs and move stock. Perhaps we Bronze Agers are now beginning to experience the irrelevancy that I think many Golden and Silver age fans have felt?

Kid A said...

Having been a repeat patron of Mile High as well as a subscriber to their newsletter, I can say that for the most part they are WAY overpriced on books. Some run of the mill books will be on sale below guide, but by and large, even with the 50% sale they sometimes run, the prices are over guide and certainly over what I get them for on eBay. Obviously, Chuck Rozanski knows the business well, so I can't criticize what works for him I guess, but it is very difficult for me to buy any popular title from him if it was from the 60's or 70's. Say you want a VF copy of Marvel Team-up #45(and why wouldn't you? It has Killraven!). It is being listed as "temporarily on sale" for the ridiculous sum of $9.15. I have the first 100+ issues of this series and aside from a couple of the early issues, I never paid more than $2-$3 a piece and those were all high grade copies. I've purchased some supposed Near Mint copies from Mile High before, and they were most definitely not.

It sounds like I'm slamming them, but I'm not. Their customer service is outstanding. I had a shipment that I never received and they replaced no questions asked. I just feel they are way out there when it comes to some of their pricing.

Doug said...

Chuck Rozanski's story is a great one, finding the "Mile High" collections.

Back in the late '80's-early'90's I subscribed to the Comics Buyers' Guide and they always looked to have very fair advertisers. I dealt with a shop called Heroes Aren't Hard to Find one time -- don't even know if they're still around. I bought Avengers #57 in VF for what I recall as a very nice price. I mean, they made money, but I didn't feel like I got robbed.

And as Karen and I posted some time ago, I'm really past the point of "collecting" and more to the point of "possessing". Sometimes I just want to read/look at the story. I don't really care what shape it's in.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug,
About 2/3 weeks ago, Andrew Wahl at Comics Bronze Age had a poll on the best source for Bronze Age back issues with about a dozen comments; last week on the Comics Should be Good blog, Greg Hatcher's (excellent as usual) column about just how valuable anybody's collection is also touched on the subject (I think my comments on the subject are becoming repetitive).
I agree with you on the DVD collections, they're very convenient for reference as well. And like you, condition is not a big deal to me, whether of a comic book itself or a used TPB, etc. I just love reading the stories, so as long as whatever I'm reading is not falling apart, I'm happy.
As for MileHigh, while I agree with some of the commenters here that their prices can be exorbitant for certain items, in their defense I have to say I've found individual books I wanted for as cheap as a dollar or even less...

ChrisPV said...

I have been in store at Mile High a few times, the thing about it is they have so many locations in the Denver area that you'd need to hit several of them in order to get a bunch of what you want!

Honestly, I can't recommend mycomicshop.com enough. They're always replenishing their back issues, and I very rarely find a book cheaper on e-bay once you take shipping into account (if you spend at least $50, there is no shipping and even if not, the shipping for a whole order of a dozen or so comics only comes to about three-four bucks).

I'm with Doug on just wanting to possess, not collect. That said, I like to get books at least VF grade, at least after say 1975 or so. Any older than that I'll go down to Fine. Basically, I'm fine with reprints and whatnot, and the DVDs are the bestest thing EVER. But I want my individual issues to last for a while. I have this romantic notion of sharing these great stories and characters with my potential children.

That and I'm a touch OCD.

Karen said...

The DVDs are a godsend; I am so glad I got them. One of the things I really like about them is that they include every page, including the Bullpen Bulletins and letters pages. Now if only they had included the Giant-Size issues with the annuals!

ChrisPV said...

I've always had a sort of weird relationship with GS and Annuals. On the one hand, they so rarely have anything to do with anything in the book you can skip them no problem. On the other hand, more of the beloved character is a good thing. On the third hand, it's sometimes a pain to figure out where the annual happens in the overall run. On the fourth hand, when the story is relevant I get cranky about having to buy an additional comic whether I want to or not...

I have issues, don't I?

Doug said...

Hello to all of the commenters in this thread --

I wanted to tell you that I won an eBay auction yesterday. The seller offered 24 lower-grade Bronze Age books, and I won with a whopping winning bid of $3.24! Of course, it will cost more for shipping and handling, but I am excited nonetheless. This is the sort of thing I was hoping for when I went to the comic shop last week. Here's what I will be getting (again, reader copies):

CAPTAIN AMERICA # 140, 141, 155

GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN # 2 (w/ Master of Kung Fu)

JUNGLE ACTION # 7, 9, 11 (w/ Black Panther)

KA-ZAR # 3

MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE # 2 (w/ Captain America & Iron Man)

MARVEL SUPER_HEROES # 43 (w/ Hulk & Sub-Mariner)

MARVEL TALES # 46 (w/ Spider-man)

MARVEL TEAM-UP # 20 (Spider-man & Black Panther)

MARVEL'S GREATEST COMICS # 33, 39, 46 (w/ Fantastic Four)

MILLIE THE MODEL # 176

SHIELD # 5

SUB-MARINER # 67

THOR - 186, 205, 217, 218, 222, 223

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