Saturday, May 24, 2014

Inaugural Post: Take a Stand

Doug: You're going to have to make a commitment today -- stand up for yourself, be firm, and all that. In yet another effort to get some pop culture conversation rolling, we're going to try something slightly new. Those who've been around for the past year or so know we occasionally toss out a query that falls under "Who's the Best...?" or "Who's the Worst...?" Even though the topics are narrowed down, the discussions can be somewhat broad. But today you're going to get three -- and only three -- choices and have to tell which you favor and why. No wishy/washy, kids!

Doug: To start things off in this new category of discussion, I'm going to give you three images, each representative of some aspect of comics loving in the 1970s. You must declare which aspect resonates with you the most and then hopefully indulge us with reasons why you made your choice, and any fond or contrary opinions toward the other two choices. Ready?

Which of the following was the coolest ancillary to comic book reading in the Bronze Age?

Marvel Treasury Editions

Mego -- World's Greatest Super-Heroes

Third Eye posters


Humanbelly said...

Oh, it's the Treasury Editions. . . not even a close race. And for the most basic, simple reason: they were available! The Mego figures? Never, ever saw them in a store during my childhood, and not a single one ever popped up in the hands of my friends. . . or anyone I knew, for that matter. Distribution, maybe? I don't know-- we frequented South Bend, IN as our nearest "big" town, but never saw them there, either. Could've just been a case of agricultural-region behind-the-times-ish-ness, I suppose. Ditto w/ the (beautiful!) Third Eye posters. I do remember seeing them at times in some of the South Bend/Elkhart/Mishawaka record shops (boy, I miss those places!), but they didn't really become coveted items for my pals and I.

The Treasury Editions, however, actually were a bit of a status-item. They were displayed prominently in the magazine racks at a couple of our stores, and just beckoned. . . beckoned. . . with every visit. I have, maybe 4 or 5? They were just so (relatively) darned expensive that it was tough to make the choice between one of those and, like, six or eight regular comics. The fact that they tended to be reprints did work against them on that score, but man we loved and coveted them just the same. My favorites among the ones I own are the Spidey one which reprints Annual #1 (BOY does that look great in a larger format!), and the Conan one which reprints RED NAILS (a masterpiece). The one that's been on my X-mas list for a couple of years now-- ever since seeing the back cover on this blog!-- is #13's Holiday Grab-Bag.


Anonymous said...

Definitely the Marvel Treasury Editions - they were easy to find in Britain and were regularly advertised in Marvel UK's comics. I had most of them including the one pictured here and I think it was this Treasury Edition where I first noticed that U.S. Marvel comics had a cover date three months ahead of when they were actually released (as the original covers were reprinted on the inside back page and all the Christmas stories had March cover dates). The only action figures I had were Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and as for "Third Eye" posters - I've never heard of them until today.

Murray said...

HB pretty much covers my answer.

I didn't know Mego dolls existed until a decade or so ago. A friend is something of a collector and had a display of the heroes. I thought they looked pretty goofy. They wouldn't have called to me even in my dewey-eyed youth. The best use for the line was the often hilarious "Twisted Toyfare Theatre" .

My high school life saw the tail end gasp of black light posters. I had a couple but not comic related. They were...all right. Like Medusa, here, they were decent artwork, but rather garish and oddly coloured in normal light. Ah, but under blacklight...rather underwhelming.

SO, of the three, Treasury Editions wins! But here, I must diverge from the esteemed HB. I bought them, and enjoyed them (especially the Conan issue with "Red Nails"), but then...what do I do with them? They sure didn't fit in the shelves where I kept my comics. In fact, they didn't fit anywhere. They got stashed wherever I wouldn't trip or step on them.

My father collected Astounding SF/Analog SF. For decades they printed a "digest-sized" (somewhat bigger than a paperback) magazine. The, in the 60's, they went mental and did a couple of years with a full magazine size issue. It presents the same annoying problem. Handsome volumes on shelf after shelf...then this stack of oversized material lying on its side, or on a different shelf out of sequence.

And there you go.

Humanbelly said...

Boy, true 'dat about the awkward size of those Treasuries, Murray-! I finally gave up and built a bookshelf that had one compartment specifically big enough to handle that mega-oversized format. Happily, my accruing collection of Prince Valiant reprints fits nicely there as well. But, I wonder if that awkwardness contributed to that format's lack of staying power? It would almost relegate itself to being kicked under a kid's bed. . . and the size would be an obvious target for drawing the wraith of clutter-fatigued moms and dads. . .

Anonymous said...

To quote Murray: HB pretty much covers my answer. My comic book buying took a leap in '77 because I got WHEELS!!!! Two, one in front and one in back. Ten speeds. Riding around with my padre allowed me to see that other stores also had spinner racks with comics. Having my own wheels allowed me to peruse them at my leisure. It was a lucky accident, we were buying post-Christmas clothes, the magazine rack. There in the back, amongst the cars and clothes and home furnishings........was Spider-Man. The Sensational Spider-Man to be exact. First one I purchased. Picked up quite a few other Marvel treasures and, for some strange reason, DC ones. I have Super-Friends, Superman Salutes the Bicentennial (?), I honestly don't know what happened. And it was at this same place I discovered the Savage Sword of Conan. And Marvel Preview. I have the Thor The Mighty and X-Men issues.

I didn't care that they contained reprints. What I loved about the larger size is that it made it easier to trace the panels. I would copy them over and over until I could do them freehand.

I know that if I had grown up in a larger city I would have had to choose, but again, these were the only other show in town.

The Prowler (is just a substitute for another guy ...the simple things you see are all complicated I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated).


William said...

This is a tough question, I loved those Treasury Editions, but I have to go with the Megos myself. Those were my favorite toy when I was a kid, and at some point I had every figure shown in that picture (and then some). In fact, I still have my Spider-Man.

The first one I ever got was Aquaman, and I didn't even know who he was or what his powers were at the time. I just thought he looked cool I guess. I used to pretend he could fly and such, but then the Super Friends show came out and I discovered his true powers. He still remained my favorite superhero for a long time after, mainly because of that Mego figure.

I eventually discovered SHAZAM / Captain Marvel and he ended up replacing Aquaman as my favorite super guy. I was absolutely addicted to the live action SHAZAM show, and I used to watch it while playing with my SHAZAM Mego action figure.

As far as I was concerned, Megos ruled when I was a kid, and I bought one whenever I got the chance. Despite how cool I thought they were, the thing that always bugged me about the Megos was the costume inaccuracies. Such as the mitten gloves, and the fact that Captain America had no gloves at all, or white sleeves, or folded buccaneer boots (same with Captain Marvel on that last one). I guess the toy makers figured kids were too stupid to notice those things, or that we just didn't care. I noticed, and I cared, but it didn't keep me from loving the figures.

The main Mego that I always wanted, but never got for some reason, was The Thing. I had the Human Torch, but I don't know why I never owned Mr. Grimm. I think if I ever came across one at a flea market or something I'd probably buy it. (If it was in decent shape).

Anonymous said...

I have a soft spot for the Mego dolls...I had a bunch of them when I was a kid. I wish I'd held onto my Spider-Mobile...that thing was cool!

The Treasury editions were kind of hit and miss for me, and I don't even remember those posters.

Mike W.

Edo Bosnar said...

The choice here for me - like several others above - is quite easy: Treasury Editions. I only had about 8, but I absolutely loved them - they were truly, well, treasured comics (in fact, Doug, should treasury books really be considered "ancillary" to comic book reading? They were just oversized comic books after all).
My favorites were the second Holiday Grab Bag, Capt. America's Bicentennial Battles, and the Superman vs. Flash book from DC. I read those to tatters. Actually I read all of them to tatters...

Those posters are only dimly remembered - I think I saw one in a record/head shop once.
As for the Mego dolls, I had a few and liked them well enough for a time. But then they kind of lost their luster for me (and William, one of the few I had was in fact the Thing).

William Preston said...

My first Treasury was most likely the Spectacular Spider-Man (unless the Spidey/Supes thing came first). I just kept the giant ones in a pile on a closet shelf. They did get pretty beaten up, I suppose. I think the surviving ones are in my attic (next to my boxed unsold comics).

One thing I loved was the cover and additional images. Something about the way the characters could be abstracted from the stories, played with visually and incongruously (really, did anyone want Nick Fury in that blue outfit at some kid's Christmas party?), appealed to me, made the characters seem like actors in a play. I would study those images, which took on a heightened reality beyond what took place in the comics.

I hadn't thought about this before now . . .

david_b said...

I'm going with the group on Treasury Editions. Megos are a pretty good alternate treasure though..

I agree with William as to the hit-miss on the Mego's. As one who had the 'First Four' (yes, the removable masks for Batman and Robin...), I'm still gobsmacked with the level of quality that went into Robin, with the different cloth material used for the vest and shorts, the ultra-exact green shoes, they could not be beat.

But THOSE cowlicks and insipid wide-eyed smirk..? Ugh. I know they were emulating the '50s/ early '60s look, but his head was so goofy looking. I remember when Spidey and Cap both arrived at the local dime store, and I could only choose one. While Cap was my all-time fav back then, I chose Spidey. Not only did Spidey look THAT good.., but comparatively Cap looked just terrible. His Kirby glare was nearly as bad as Robin's look, plus, 'Where was the exact-style investment..?' Without white sleeves and red gloves, Cap was pretty disappointing attempt. I had picked up a few more since then like GA and Batgirl, but unfortunately, other cool interests were replacing comics at that time (like Trek and 1999), so for me the Mego timing had come a few years too late. I do recall initially having only a few bucks and not knowing whether to invest in the POTA or super heroes. I ended up with the latter. Besides, my GI Joe AT Headquarters made a pretty cool Batcave. Never had any vehicles, but I did manage to pick up all the vintage Trek and WGSH FF figures a few years back. I even bought a limited-made Dido Enterprises 'Baxter Building' for my FF figures, complete with 3 floors of glorious Kirby art and designs.

Back to Treasury Editions, my fav will always be the first Spectacular Spiderman one (the first red one with the Romita art), simply glorious. I've collected a half-dozen Editions over the last few years, and it's funny..: Whenever one comes in the mail nowadays, it just feels like an 'extra special' treat, not sure why but it always puts a huge smile on my tired face.

Anonymous said...

All of these are great!
I've managed to get my sweaty little hands of a respectable stack of Treasury Editions, but sadly not the toys and posters.
I remember some kid in school had the Spiderman figure, and man was I jealous.
It's probably best I never had any, my dog had a weird habit of attacking and killing action figures.
What he did to Evel Kneivel was horrible.

Vintage Bob said...

To me the choice is easy - Mego Superheroes! The Treasury Editions were (are!) awesome, but I can't see them as "ancillary" since they were just another form of comic - aside from the size, I treated them just like any other Giant Size or Annual issue. I mean, they were comics, I read them, collected them all, etc.

Never saw any of the Third Eye posters for sale as a kid, and would love them.

But for me, the Megos win hands down. I could take my favorite Marvel (and DC) characters and interact with them, play out my own storylines (ones I wished for to appear in the comics), etc. Plus, they enabled me to play out Marvel vs. DC type stories long before the first Marvel/DC crossover.

Doug said...

RE: my use of the term ancillary.

I consider comic books as the gateway to the four-color characters we love. I wanted Treasuries, Megos, Mead notebooks, Aurora model kits, etc. because I read comic books first. So unless you're an enthusiast who came across Treasuries first, then I hope you'll humor me on why I see comics as the foundation and all other related collectibles as supplemental.


J.A. Morris said...

Treasury Editions, because they were so damn big! I was a little kid (I believe younger than most here) and it was giant in my hands. I still love the giant pages in those Treasury sized comics. If I want to read the original Sinister Six story, it's the super-giant reprint I go for. Those Ditko splash pages are even better in a Treasury Edition.

I loved Megos too, but I had one problem with them:
Why was the Hulk shorter than the rest? If anything, he should've been bigger. It always bugged me, and it also bugged me with Mego's smaller Pocket Superheroes line. Hulk should NEVER be dwarfed by Spider-Man.

I never owned any of those posters, nothing to contribute on that topic.

Joseph said...

Vintage Bob nails my thoughts exactly: Treasury Eds were great, didn't know about Third Eye back then, but Megos were king in my world. Not just Marvel (still my fave), but DC, Star Trek, and POTA figures all ruled my home. Until, that is, Kenner's Star Wars figures were hatched.

I occasionally check eBay for old Mego figures, but am always shocked at their price.

J.A. has a great point: why were the Hulk (and the Thing) so small?

Redartz said...

Count me with the many who choose the treasury editions. Like David_b, my favorite was the first Spiderman edition. Also loved Superman vs. Spiderman and the Holiday treasuries. At one time I had a nice pile of them, but now all are sadly gone. I still watch for them at flea markets, but most I've found were in very rough shape ( due, no doubt, to the size issue).

Never had any of the Mego figures, and was unaware of the posters until now. If I'd seen one back then, it certainly would have been appealing...

david_b said...

This may be sacrilege to most of you true believers out there, but I'm typically pickin' up Treasurys or those '70s Mead comic cover folders in less-than-VF condition and matte/frame the covers.

Just an inexpensive way to decorate an office a cube at work and radiate zuvembie coolness.

I still love collecting cool custom Mego's. I have a delightful Antman I'm trying to finish (just need to find cool boots, belt and gloves..) with it's professionally-done custom box. Ah, retro love.

Dr. Oyola said...

Late to this party - but definitely Treasury Editions!

I have the Holiday Grab-Bag one pictured and a couple of other over-sized ones (like Batman vs. Hulk and Action Comics #1). I used to have more, but they were in suhc bad shape I got rid of them a few years ago.

I never got Megos (though I did love Twisted Mego Theatre) and have never even heard of those posters until this post.

P.S. Love the new Take A Stand feature.

Karen said...

Not much more to add here, but I'd go with Treasury editions as well. Loved to see the art blown up to that size. The occasional pin-up or map was a treat. I had probably a dozen of these but today I only have one- Superman and Spider-Man. I may have to look for some at the Phoenix comic con. There's still the question of where to put them though.

Vintage Bob said...

Hi Doug! I totally get where you're coming from and I don't mean to imply anything wrong with the use of the word ancillary. I can see them in the same way, similar to Giant Sizes and Annuals. They were special events, not just regular comics. But I went with the toys because they were less similar to the comics, ie they were toys, not printed material.It's sorta six of one and half a dozen of the other. :-)

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