Karen: When I was working on my recent Marvel Tales post, it got me to thinking about the importance of reprints to me (and probably many of you). The regular reprint books, the Treasury reprints, and books like Origins of Marvel Comics were exciting, because I was discovering the "history" of the Marvel Universe. Even though by 1972 what we knew as Marvel had only been around 11 years, it seemed like it was already a complicated web of interconnected characters and concepts. Characters in different books knew each other. They would recall past meetings when they got together, and if you hadn't read those stories already, it seemed very intriguing. Had Spider-Man really tried to join the Fantastic Four? Had the Avengers and the FF teamed up to fight the Hulk? Or what about finding out about past details of heroes you'd been reading about? What do you mean, Iron Man used to wear a big ugly suit of grey armor?The Hulk was grey too?
Karen: Finding out these 'facts' made the Marvel Universe seem almost real. There was depth to these characters and the world they lived in. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. It completely drew me in.
Karen: Now, the only exception to my enjoyment of reprints is when a reprint was run in a regular title, when the 'dreaded deadline doom' had struck. In the middle of an interesting storyline -like the Serpent Crown Affair in Avengers say - it could be annoying. But otherwise, they were great.
Doug: At Karen's request, I'm going to drop a couple of statements. I'll echo everything Karen said about the "big books", like the Treasuries and those wonderful paperbacks at left. Those were anticipated Christmas gifts for several years in a row (five to be exact!). However, I must confess a bit of snobbery about titles such as Marvel Tales, Marvel's Greatest Comics, etc. At some point in my young life, an older kid told me to leave those alone -- they were reprints (like it was a four-letter word!). He said they were worthless... Of course, he must have had some knowledge of the burgeoning collector's market of which I had no perception. As far as I knew, comic books came out every so often at the drug store. But, not wanting to be dumb or uncool, I heeded his wise-beyond-his-years warning. Silly me, as now reprints are the only comics I buy! And like Karen, I grew really uptight when I opened a title that I regularly collected, only to be greeted by Kirby's blocky fingers and that annoying little box "Originally presented in XXX". Funny how times change, isn't it? I need to run an updated photo of my comics room, with the 270+ reprint/resource volumes!
Karen: In those early days, most of us didn't have a comic book shop to go to, and who had the money to buy all those old issues? The reprints were the same price as the regular books, and usually reprinted the story in its entirety (there were a few exceptions). Was it an easy way for Marvel to make some more money? Sure. But I look back on those books now as performing an invaluable service -teaching me about the Marvel universe I have so enjoyed for all my life.