Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Was Cooler Than a Banana Seat?

Doug: So it's 1972, maybe 1975, and you're old enough to pedal your own way up to the local drug store. You park your totally awesome ride, which looks like the fine piece of machinery below, outside the store. You don't even consider locking it up because let's face it -- people were just more decent a couple of generations ago. You stroll inside, quarters in hand (lordy, doesn't this sound great so far?)... Today's question is, what do you come out with?

Doug: We're not going to get hung up on the year -- we want this open to our readers of all ages. But think back to some books that you specifically recall buying on your own. What were they? I'm guessing you didn't know much about words like "Mint" or "Very Fine", so chances are you rolled that sucker up and stuck it in your back pocket for the ride home. What else did you buy? Did the drug store have a soda fountain? Did you get a Coke? I'm thinking probably not, as they were only sold in glass bottles back then, and dropping that on the way home wouldn't be good. How about some wax lips? A candy necklace?

Doug: Below I've pictured a few books that I specifically recall buying myself. Whenever I see these covers, I am swept with a wave of nostalgia. These are specific books that bring back sights and smells, the feeling of being in my bedroom pouring over them (plotting out the next Mego tussle), of the times I cut out the corner boxes and Marvel Value Stamps, of tracing paper and of wondering why I have issue #X and #Z, but when the heck did #Y even come out?

Doug: Have a blast on memory lane today!


Redartz said...

Another fun topic, Doug! To begin with, I rode a bike very similar to the one you picture, except mine was apple red! Our local drug store was across the street and then across a small field and through a narrow woods, so it was a bit of a hike to get there. The woods did provide a nice spot to stop and read a comic while downing a cream soda, though.

One book I recall specifically buying there was Amazing Spiderman 131, in which Aunt May marries Doc Ock. That cover really grabbed me, and still does. This was about the time I first started collecting comics, and I too got caught up in clipping the Value Stamps...

Along with the comics, my paper bag might also contain a pack or two of Topps baseball cards, Wacky Packages, and bubblegum cigars ( preferred the pink owl flaver). And in those days, all these things were cheap enough that you could buy them with limited allowance funds!

Anonymous said...

I don't have much time this morning to wax poetic... but I wanted to add my memories to this topic.

I'll tell you what was cooler than a banana seat... a sissy bar!!

I most commonly rode by bike to one local store to buy comics when I was younger. I'd hitch a ride with my folks when they went to the supermarket to go to the local newstand for comics (until I was a little older -- then I would ride my bike to the newstand).

I distinctly remember buying GS X-Men 1, GS Invaders 1 and GS Super-Villain Team-Up 1 at the local store. Those are the books that really stir my memory. I could go on and name many more (lots of 100 pagers... team-up books...), but I'll stop there.

There is one book I distinctly remember NOT buying there, and was haunted by my decision for years until I finally got it -- The Flash 100 pager with the Golden Age Flash and Rag Doll on the cover.

Great topic!


Anonymous said...

This is maybe a harder topic for us Europeans to tap into, as society has probably changed a bit less here (e.g. we still have milk delivered to our doors even when Debbie Reynolds sings ‘now the milkman’s on his way’ has to explain to their kids what it means), but hey, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, and all that. Society over here is older and less dynamic (for good and for ill).

I remember chocolate bars had more elaborate wrappings. Bounty (which is chocolate coated coconut) came in a wrapper on a little cardboard tray (for some reason), and Crunchies (chocolate covered honeycomb) had a kind of solid foil that nothing else was wrapped in. As you say, Coke (and milk) always came in glass bottles and no one knew what a Tetra-pack was.

Currently, I’m reading Steven King’s book 11/22/63. I recommend that to all of our American BAB’ers. Not that you’re old enough to remember 1958, but it’s closer to the world you were born into than the world of today. Also, anyone who loved IT needs to read 11/22/63, just to catch up on Derry after the 1957 timeline.
By the way, why do you guys express dates that way round? I could understand biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest, but month followed by day followed by year seems contrary to our experience of time and to the whole purpose of ‘cataloguing’ it. Not that it matters, I just wondered if there was a reason historically.


Doug said...

Richard --

Interesting question on time, and one I've wondered about as well. To me it makes sense, but of course that's because it's the way I grew up with it. If this is February 2012, that it is the 29th is a detail. I suppose that in the big picture we'd remark about our past in the form of "Oh, yes, it was back in X of 19whatever". The date, as I said, is a detail for the here and now of our lives.

That is in no way a conclusive answer... I'm just sayin'.


Karen said...

I remember Saturday mornings with a friend, riding our bikes around the back alleys and parks to collect bottles to augment our allowances. After a quick trip the market to turn the bottles in, it was time to make the circuit of liquor and convenience stores (our comic shop had not arrived yet) to try to get all the comics we normally collected -which was everything that had a cool cover!But around this time we'd be getting Englehart's Avengers for sure.

Usually after we got our books, it was time to hit the Taco Bell, where we could get lunch for under a buck. Next door was a 7-11, so we'd head over there for a treat. I favored Hostess Cupcakes or (for a short period) Sno-Balls. Then we might head to the park and read our books.

it was a great way to spend a Saturday!

Edo Bosnar said...

I had a bit of problem in this regard: the nearest towns were 3 and 5 miles away. The closer one, where I went to elementary and high school, only had two mom & pop corner stores - I sometimes rode my bike there (which my parents didn't like), but usually only bought some Jolly Ranchers or those bottle cap candies and then went to a friend's house who lived nearby to hang out and read some of his stacks of Conans (the regular comic and Savage Sword) and Warren mags. I would only get one or two of my own comic books, because riding the 3 miles back home with them either wrapped around one of the handle bars or stuff in a pocket was kind of a pain.
For my main stack of comics in that early period, I depended on my mom taking me with her when she went grocery shopping in the other town. There was a 7-11 across the street from the grocery store, which not only had a better selection of comics, but also the added bonus of Slurpees in those super-hero cups!

Inkstained Wretch said...

I wrote about this a little in the “What I like About Comics” post the other day. Let me expand on it a little:

Comics entered my life around 1979 or so and I was pretty much a Marvel kid. The problem was finding them. I lived in Fairfield, Connecticut at the time and the only place I knew of that sold comic books was a little pharmacy over in nearby Southport, which was home to the snooty, yacht club types.

(Also right next to the pharmacy was another comic book source: the barbershop my Dad used to take me to, which sometimes had discarded comics amongst the piles of Sports Illustrated, Readers’ Digest and National Geographic for patrons to read. Nobody seemed to notice or care if I took one of the comics home with me …)

Every time I would scrape together enough pocket change from doing household chores – and it was always a sweaty handful of change, never bills – I would ride my three-speed bike from the cul-de-sac we lived on, over the draw bridge that separated the towns and then up and over about four or five hills. I could use the momentum from going down one hill to get partway up the next but that didn’t work with the last one which was the highest and steepest. Once I got past that one, I then took a right and chugged down a thankfully flat road to the pharmacy. It was probably two-three miles total.

It was a tiny little mom n’ pop place and very old-fashioned looking thanks to being mostly hard wood. In the back, underneath the displays of magazines and crossword puzzle books, were the comics, always neatly laid out on a shelf about two feet from the ground.

I usually only had enough money for one and either a piece of soda or candy. (If I had four quarters on me I was a rich, rich kid that day …) Since I was always out of breath from making it up and over those hills, I usually opted for a soda. Welch’s Grape was a favorite, but 7-Up would do. I still remembered the bemused look on the store owner's face as he watched the kid counting out his dimes and nickels on the counter.

I’d then find a tree somewhere nearby and read in the shade while I finished off the soda. The comic would then go in my backpack or a bag and I’d make the long trek home.

Looking back on it, I was one determined little comic book enthusiast.

The comics I specifically remember buying there include: Marvel Super Action #24, 27-32, 34; Avengers #202, 204-5, 207-8; Marvel Two-In-One #69, 72, 75, 78-80; Fantastic Four #202-3; Machine Man #18; and Shogun Warriors #15, 19-20.

I still have all of these except for the Shogun Warriors issues. Some of them are pretty beat up. Which is fine. I have no intention of trading them, ever.

Garett said...

As I read the intro today, I suddenly smelled cap guns! This blog is doing things to me...

I had a green banana seat bike, and my buddy and I would ride zigzag through the backstreets, about 20 blocks to the bookstore. 2 second-hand bookstores had bustling businesses, right across the street from each other. Both sold and traded comics, and there was a new stack to choose from each weekend when we went. Years later I met some of the other kids, now men, who used to shop there--I was actually trading comics with them but didn't know it!

My buddy and I would read our comics, then trade with each other during the week. I remember one time seeing The Empire Strikes Back in the theatre--twice in a row, on a Saturday afternoon (eating giant chocolate bar and drinking giant pop), then coming back home via the comic store and picking up Mister Miracle by Marshall Rogers, amongst other comics. Then heading out for pizza at Pizza Hut with my parents, a rare treat!! What a day for a boy.

I needed to carry a backpack with all my comics for trading, no back pocket for me. I didn't buy comics new till I was older, as I could get so many more this way, and they were a good mix of new and old. The guy who owned one shop used to get drunk and play poker with his friends in the back room, and we'd have to call him out to make our purchase. Ah, the memories! ;)

One pop from the corner store on the ride back home: Tahiti Treat.

Anonymous said...

we didn't have bikes due to poverty but when i could find change on the ground or get the rare quarter i would walk to the convenience store-cum-gas station and buy comics. usually huey dewey & louie, sometimes flash (i remember those issues where a kid's drawing of a master villain comes to life) and dr. solar and green lantern.

J.A. Morris said...

Banana seats were cool, but my first bike didn't have one. Did anyone else ever have a Schwinn Tornado?:

dbutler16 said...

I don't remember my first bike, but I do remember my Big Wheel.

Anyway, manyy of the comics I remember buying were among the first ones I bought, at the drug store. These include Avengers#161 JLA#159, LOSH#244,245,and FF#172. Once I discovered the local comic shop, X-Men #117-119 were among the first comics I bought - my first X-Men. My first back issues were Avengers King Size Special #1 and X-Men #20. X-Men #20 was a very big investment for me, even though it wasn't in very good condition. I remember my mom taking me to the diner next door to the comic shop afterwards, and me perusing that Silver Age wonder!

Anonymous said...

you guys are making me envious... i can't imagine how great it must have been to have a bike and money for comics whenever you wanted! i had to read most of them surreptitiously while "browsing." it was a lucky month when i could buy my own copy of flash! i read the few i owned so many times that they were falling apart. now that i'm an adult once in a while i track down one i used to have...still won't pay more than $3 for any comic, though!

--matt alias anonymous

Fred W. Hill said...

My main memories of bike-riding & comics was the year and a half when my family lived in Salt Lake City, from early '72 through the summer of '73. My brother and I rode about a mile or so from our home on Sunnyside Avenue to a mini-mart where we'd get comics & candy. Among the significant issues I purchased there were Spider-Man 122 & 123; Captain Marvel 27; and most of the issues making up the Avenger/Defenders clash, the big event the summer before we moved to West Jordan (a suberb of SLC), where I'd get my comics fix from a drug store just a few blocks away. Then, late in '74 we moved yet again, this time to San Francisco, where I lived on the Treasure Island Navy base and got my comics from the Navy Exchange there. Then in the summer of '76 we moved yet again, this time to Lemoore, CA (about 40 miles south of Fresno), but we also made a trip to Texas for a cousin's wedding and I remember stopping somewhere for lunch along the way and getting the first issue of Nova and a reprint of Spider-Man's first attempt to join the Avengers (originally S-M Annual 3). I think moving so often threw me a bit out of whack, but, hey, I read a lot of fun comics during those days too!

Anthony said...

I love this topic today. I feel the same as Garett. This blog is doing things to me. Since I started reading it on a daily basis I began a list of anyplace that I can remember buying comics and what I may have purchased.

Unfortunately I can't pinpoint the exact books that made up my first solo purchase. What I can remember is that while I did own a bike my solo comic buying trips were all on foot. I used to live in the Bronx and there were two small convenience stores on the avenue where I lived that sold comics and magazines. When I was younger I always referred to them as " candy stores. " I don't know maybe it was a Bronx thing.

At the store closest to my house I can remember buying Famous Monsters 128 with the Food Of The Gods cover. The other store, about 8-10 blocks from my house, was a place owned by a guy named Larry. Here I can remember getting X-Men 111, Defenders 52, Tomb Of Dracula magazine 3 with the sweet Bob Larkin cover as well as the first Kiss comic.

If I was in the mood for a longer stroll I 'd walk 2 miles into Parkchester. Just down from the long closed Palace theater was another " candy store. " From here I walked away from with Thor 243, Incredible Hulk 228, Marvel Two In One 35 and Marvel Triple Action 39.
There was another place further down in Parkchester but I usually only went there when the first store didn't have anything good.
There were definitely other earlier solo purchases but those seem lost to a fading memory.

Thanks for this post today Doug.
The nostalgia is sweeping over me as well as I remember reading these books on my walk home.

Garett said...

Hey Matt, sorry to hear you didn't have a bike. What were some of the comics you had that you read till they fell apart?

I feel lucky that I had those second-hand comics at half price, or trade 2 for 1. The rising price of comics through the '70s helped, as I could buy the old 15, 20, 25 centers at half price, instead of a new one at 40 or 50 cents. Then trade them in the next week. Even the almost-new ones that came in were a good deal that way.

Anonymous said...

i can't tell the issue #s but if i saw the covers i'd know...mostly flash as he was my favorite and therefore the one i'd buy if i had the money. i think cary bates was writing it and was it alex saviuk drawing it? it was by no means great looking at it now, but at the time i loved it so those issues will remain classics to me. i had a spotty collection due to (1) no money and (2) spinner racks not always having the next issue anyway. it was mainly flash in the late '70s thru early '80s and rarely a dr. solar from whitman comics, green lantern, spider-man, daredevil, iron man, and wonder woman. but about 75% flash. i'd like to re-collect them someday! i do have the 2-parter where flash fights a master villain who is really an alien being taking on the form of. a neighbor boy's drawing.

William said...

I very clearly remember buying Amazing Spider-Man #163 & 164 where he fights the Kingpin. Whenever I look at those books, I get that same feeling I got when I first read them. I loved them so much that after that, I started reading Spider-Man on a regular basis.

I also remember buying Marvel Team-Up #61 (my first Claremont/Byrne issue), and after that I was totally hooked on that series. I don't think I ever missed another issue.

Also, Marvel 2-in-1 Annual #2. I can vividly recall getting it at the 7-11 down the street and reading it over and over and over.

I also specifically remember buying Avengers #161, 162, 163, 165 and 166, but I somehow missed 164. Don't know how that happened. (I own it now though.) All those issues were and are still my very favorite issues of the Avengers EVER. I think I must have read 161-162 (The Bride of Ultron story) cover to cover about a dozen times. And I'm sure I'll read it again.

Man, I wish they were still making comics like those today. If they were, maybe I'd still be buying them.

Rip Jagger said...

A lot of the cool Charlton stuff I got hold of was given to me by my grandmother, who only knew they were comic and not some of the best Action Hero stuff ever.

But the first comic I remember buying on my own in the store was New Gods #1 which I still can see sticking out of the top rung of the wonderful spinner rack at Land's Drug Store in Louisa Kentucky.

I know I bought comics before that, but that's the one that jingles in my memory.

And as for banana seats, love 'em. My brother and I used to take bikes like that, break them up and cobble the parts together to create monster forks and some of the longest bikes I've ever seen. They were outright dangers to ride, and popping a wheelie required downright Spider strength.

Rip Off

david_b said...

On vacation attending a military wedding at the Citadel here in SC, but what was cooler than a banana seat..?


WAY too many comics to mention, but from '73-75, I roamed the small town I grew up in weekly for both current AND back issues in those baggies, 3 for 49c, which is how I picked up my missed back issues, and my Spiderman 122.

Wacky Packages cards..? Bought lots of those and Space:1999 cards, loved it all.

Lemnoc said...

Easy: Marvel Tales 57, reprint of ASM #76.

That battle with the Lizard was freaking awesome. I read that comic until the pages came apart.

Can only hope the movie captures some of Big John's frenetic energy

Lemnoc said...

Let me add that that run of Marvel Tales had some of the best early battles of Spidey's career. What distinguishes them in my mind was the environment was always an important aspect of the battle, and Spidey's wisecracking was never sharper.

Ten issues later he would just get pounded by Doc Ock.

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