Friday, August 28, 2015

The Spinner Rack - a Variation on a Theme


Doug: No month and year for you today, kids. Nope -- I have something else in mind. Today's a tell-all from you to the rest of the BAB community. Our fun this time around is going to be in telling of those books that you recall obtaining at a specific time and place. I'm sure many of us know that we used to get a stack of comics in a cardboard box shipped from a place like Westfield Comics and brought to us by the UPS man. Others among us (looking at you, HB) used to subscribe to a few titles and eagerly awaited the mailman's arrival after a certain amount of time had passed. And that's cool - we've all been there. Let me show you what I'm after --

Purchased for me by my Aunt Mary while at the Old Chicago indoor amusement park.
Purchased by my summer sitter, my mom's cousin, at Southside Drugs in Kankakee, IL
Purchased by me after my mom drove me all over town looking for it. Bought it at Mickey's Books and Novelties (yup - those kinds of "books and novelties". Hey, I was 11; I didn't see anything other than the spinner rack! I swear...)

28 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Since you pictured Bicentennial Battles, I do recall coming across that one in the books & magazines aisle of the large Payless Drugstore in a mall in Salem, OR - where I would later find a few other Marvel Treasury books.

I think I've mentioned it here before, but I very fond memories of the first two Treasury editions I ever had (a few months before getting Bicentennial Battles), when my mom let me order the Batman Limited Collector's Edition and the Secret Origins of the Super-villains LCE. I vividly recall my elation when seeing the big brown cardboard mailer they came in when I got home from school that day, and I kept them in that mailer for the longest time.
I also have a very specific memory of purchasing the first issue of Captain Victory, because it was the first time I visited a comic book shop (also in Salem)- I got a stack of other comics as well, but that one sticks in my mind because it couldn't be found in the spinner racks, and it was the first 'indie' comic I ever bought.

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redartz said...

The purchase that stands out for me is Amazing Spider-Man 132, with the Molten Man. My father was a doctor and would sometimes bring us along when he made his rounds at the hospital. Usually we (Mom, my brother, sister and I) would hang out in the waiting room until he was done, or go to the cafeteria. On this evening, late February in 1974, I had accompanied Dad alone; I was in 8th. Grade and a friend had been badgering me to check out Marvel comics. As I waited for Dad to finish, I went to the hospital gift shop (St. John's, in Anderson, Indiana), where the above mentioned comic sat on the rack. I saw the great Romita cover, and remembered how I enjoyed Spidey back when I first read about him. Thus, I took the plunge and bought it. This marked my entrance into comics fandom, and life was never the same again!

Anonymous said...

I remember this one: Spiderman King Size #9 - 1973.

Back in 1973, I was almost exclusively a local convenience store spinner rack guy. I mean, that was the only place I could get to on my bike. But, my grandmother lived in the country about 50-60 miles away so of course we would go visit her some weekends. On one such trip, for whatever reason I can't recall, we stopped about halfway there at a local drug store of a regional chain. I took the opportunity to check their spinner rack and found that Spiderman. It was like striking gold! I never saw THIS one anywhere else! That issue reprinted a classic Goblin story just after the Gwen/Goblin death issues had come out. It helped open my eyes to the whole history of the Marvel Universe and Stan had his hooks in me now.

From then on, I insisted that we stop at that drug store on EVERY trip to Grandma's. Even a few years later when a new section of Interstate highway opened up that made it much faster to go a new route, I would beg and plead with my parents to go the "old way", at least on the way there so I could make my comic stop. They were pretty cool about it. The funny thing is, I would often find myself buying something I didn't really want just to keep justifying my stop in the hope of having another strike it rich moment.

Besides...they could take the new way back home.

Tom

Humanbelly said...

Strangely enough, Doug, getting books via subscription had the opposite effect as far as linking a specific issue to a specific memory or point in time goes. That's kind of the trade-off, I suppose. You get the security of knowing (well, for the most part) that you'll receive each issue in due time, no matter what-- but there's no question that the almost-ritualistic thrill of discovery ("Omigod, THERE it is! At LAST!!!") is lost. Joy of ritual becomes the stolid (but unremarkable) comfort of routine. Hmm-- and it might also be because the first visual contact with the new book now has it in an anonymous, generic wrap or paper of some sort-- so even though you'd know it was the new issue, the very first impression is that it looks like every other previous issue AND like every other title you've received, as well. When scanning a spinner rack or a magazine/periodical rack, there would always be that little jolt of excitement upon seeing the new, unfamiliar cover & number at that very first moment. Sort of like a chick imprinting on its mom, in a way?

There are "big" memories, of course, like the ones Doug cites.

Avengers #80 (I've probably mentioned this before) on a late, hot summer evening at a desert KOA camp store near the Arizona/New Mexico border.

Hulk #128 @ Buy-Lo's Supermarket-- probably the first time (and there weren't many!) I remember my Mom buying me a comic book on a regular grocery trip.

Hulk #136-- same place, what, eight months later? It's notable because it is the perfect example of how time seems so much. . . longer. . . when you're a little kid. What I distinctly remember is seeing the book on the rack and thinking, wow, I liked the Hulk a LOT back when I was little (i.e.-- eight months prior)-- I wonder if it's still any good? And to my sensibilities it seemed as if there was this vast, vast, unbridgeable chasm story between the Hulk "then" and the Hulk "now". (Actually, it was indeed a very eventful 8 months-- but you know what I mean.)

Avengers #128-- Buy-Lo's again; paper route money opened the world back up to me in earnest, at least for awhile. I'd had the advantage of being able to read by buddy's brother's run up to #127 (which, heh, is now part of my own collection), and that great floating-head, purple cover jumped smack into my hands.

Champions #1 (and all the rest of the run, in fact)-- Harding's Supermarket, a bit farther down the street. Hunh-- I just realized that, since my buddy Bryan's dad ran that store, he was very likely the source of that unusually comprehensive horde of comics. But somehow, the two stores never had quite the same monthly comic inventory.

GS X-Men #1-- Gohn's Pharmacy. My freshman year was the last year our high school was in a crumbling downtown building. But students could leave during lunch! So I'd trudge the block and a half through a couple of parking lots to get to the nearby drugstore on Thursdays. REALLY snowy and messy that day. And there was GSXM#1-- unheralded, unremarkable-- but I was just about as nostalgic for the X-Men as anyone could be. And it had Wolverine-- who at that particular point was a character only I myself was familiar with in our small comic-savvy circle!

Aaaaaaaah, there's a million (well, several hundred) of these mundane little memory snippets clogging up the ol' cerebral gears. And yet I never know where I've left my glasses. . .

HB



Colin Bray said...

I was born in 1970 and between late '76-'78 I relied on my parents to select and bring home occasional imported Marvel comics. The only specific instance of a comic purchase I can recall at this time is also a confession.

One day I sat in the car while my parents picked up an early all-new, all-different X-Men comic (precise issue unknown for reasons that will swiftly become clear)

When they returned holding the precious artefact I decided that I wanted two comics, not one. I demanded and cajoled to no effect. Finally, I threatened that I would tear up the comic they had just given me if they didn't do what I wanted.

They called my bluff so I ripped the comic to shreds through hot tears.

It wasn't big and it wasn't clever but perhaps the life lessons were necessary - not only that this was pointless behaviour, but also that a comic in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Doug said...

HB -- isn't it the truth!

I also distinctly recall buying the first issue of Peter Parker #1 at the Osco Drugs on Washington Ave. in Kankakee, IL; I can recall buying FF #172 and later 173 at the same location.

While a student at Eureka College, my main weekly source for comics circa 1985 was the Rexall Drugs in "downtown" Eureka. It was about a 2-mile walk from campus, but always worth it as I was getting back into buying (and always too much buying).

Doug

Dr. Oyola said...

One of my clearest memories in terms of buying new comics (my favorite was when I was interviewed by cable news back in the day before we even had cable in my area) when I freaked out to discover a box full of Marvel's Greatest Comics at a flea market for super cheap - but those were back issues of a reprint book) is buying Amazing Spider-Man #252 - first black costume.

I had a feeling it'd be worth something so I bought two copies off the rack at this luncheonette/soda shop where I sometimes found comics b/c no one else bought them there. When I paid at the counter, the guy tried to correct me because I had two of the same comic. Worried that if I said they might be worth something he wouldn't want to sell me both (kid logic) I said one was for a friend. And then I asked for a bag.

The guy replied incredulously, "A bag? For a comic book? Get the the hell out of here!" and went back to serving eggs to those sitting at the counter. As a kid (I was 12) I felt like I had barely gotten out of there alive! ;)

Humanbelly said...

Aaaaaaaaand now I'm hungry for a diner-counter breakfast. . . thank you, Osvaldo. . .

Oh man, Colin, the parent in me surely recognizes the scorched-earth-level of willful child you must have been! (HBGirl, now 16, has been capable of that tactic pretty much since she was two weeks old. . . ) Say, didn't you recently share an anecdote about a kid in a store having a meltdown 'cause his mother mistakenly thought he was demanding a comic that cost "40 bloody pence"-?

You tore it up.

You tore your comic book up.

Ohhhhh lordy. . .

(Along those lines, my Gal Friday tells me she once sat at the dining room table until midnight-- when her parents finally relented-- rather than eat even one bite of broccoli. . . )

HB-- (Also remembers 90% of the places he's ever eaten. .. )

Colin Bray said...

Edit: of course, the correct phrase is 'a comic in the hand is worth two on the spinner rack.'

Colin Bray said...

Ha '40 bloody pence'? Nope, that must have been the other Colin of this parish.

I sense an alliterative BAB column theme coming on - 'Bronze Age Bad Behaviour'

Colin Bray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redartz said...

Tom- nice job at keeping your supply source available! Sometimes those out-of-the-way stops really do pay off...

Colin- wow; wow.. you have the greatest story! Can't say I ever tore up a comic, but my brother sure did during one of our little battles...And you're quite right about a comic in the hand!

HB- We had open lunch hours at Anderson High School, too. Reminded me of another memorable day: one October midday I headed from school to the local magazine store downtown, where the comics were to be had. On this sunny fall day I left with Howard the Duck number 1! They actually got a few copies in; I was incredulous. Then, of course, I had it stuck in my notebook all afternoon during classes...

Doug said...

Tom's story probably heads toward another post idea, but shoot -- let's have it here (and continue over the weekend). Did you have certain places you haunted that always seemed to have a better selection, or a different selection, than other places you went to regularly?

Belscott in Kankakee (it was a large discount-type dept. store -- not sure if it was part of a chain as I never saw another one) always had 4-5 Marvel Treasury Editions in stock. Their magazine rack also had an abundance of the Marvel mags.

Hornsby's in Bradley, IL was the place to go for the paperbacks -- the ones that reprinted Marvel or DC comics, as well as the Marvel novels. They also had a nice cache of the MAD paperbacks, like Spy vs. Spy.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

The story Redartz told about buying ASM #132 in a hospital gift shop triggered a similar memory of buying a comic in a gift shop in a hospital in Portland, OR: Daredevil #184 (it's also a bit of sad memory, as the reason I was loafing around in a hospital was because I was waiting with my mom for my grandmother to get out of some serious surgery - she never fully recovered from that and died before the year was out).

Colin: like the "bad behavior" idea; and don't feel too bad about ripping up that comic - at least it was just that one. Although I never tore one up out of spite, for the first roughly 2 years that I was getting comics, when I was 6-7 years old, I often cut out panels or just images of individual characters from my comics.

Doug, interesting (additional) topic: before I discovered comic book shops, my favorite place to go was any Fred Meyer - this was a chain of huge department stores that could be found in any city or larger town in Oregon (the closest one to where I lived almost 20 miles away, in Salem). The book & magazine section always had a well-stocked spinner rack, and they carried all of the b&w magazines, and there were paperback book spinner racks as well, full of SF and fantasy books...

Anonymous said...

Almost all my comics back then were bought at the local drugstore, so nothing really stands out. I do remember buying Avengers #177 (final part of the Korvac story) at a school rummage sale; of course, I hadn't read any of the preceding issues, so I had no clue what was going on, but it was cool to see the Avengers all get slaughtered by Korvac in that little house in Forest Hills! I also got MTIO #52 at a (different) rummage sale, which started my love of Moon Knight (probably because he reminded me of Batman, but at the time I was too young to make that connection).

I remember having a World's Finest (I think?) comic that I bought at the airport when we were on our way to England in 1978, but I left it on the plane...it had a cool wraparound cover, but I can't remember anything else about it.

Mike Wilson

Martinex1 said...

Most of my comics were bought off a spinner rack in a drug store two blocks from my house. I walked past it every day from school and would stop in all the time hoping something new would show up. My mom once in a while would pick up 3 pack bags of Marvel comics at Jewel Osco. Those were always like a present because you could never see the middle comic through the plastic. That is how I first got an Invaders comic.

I too can remember camping in the western states and picking up Avengers 188 and Annual 9 at a 7-11 neighboring a campground in Colorado. That's actually where I first saw the All new x-Men because the local drugstore did not carry that title.

There were a few places in the neighborhood that carried comics. I can also remember comics I didn't buy. The local news agency had a magazine shelf with some comics and a What If with Ghost Rider, Spider Woman and Captain Marvel sat on that rack for months as I passed it by choosing other comics regularly.

Never tore up any comics like Colin, but I spilled my share of cereal and milk on many issues.

Humanbelly said...

There were definitely subtle idiosyncrasies even between the few small available outlets from my childhood. The oft-mentioned Buy-Lo's stock person at that time clearly had no conception of "shelf-life" for comic books, and would just keep jamming new ones in on top of old. . . under the assumption that SOMEBODY would eventually buy just about everything. Because of that lackadaisical practice (and the fact that it coincided with a time when I often had a little more spending money), there were several times when 3 consecutive issues of a book I mightn't be normally buying would be right there in the rack. IMPOSSIBLE to resist. I picked up three issues of Kubert's TARZAN this way-- beautiful books. Three issues of SUPERMAN at a point when. . . he was unshaven in space (that's all I can remember). FOUR issues (53-56) of CONAN, which were my first foray into that title. Three of the later issues of DC FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL (Dingbats, and then the next two). I guess I was the target market for that store.

HB

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

My first source for comics was the local store of Berget's Jewelry, the proprietor had set aside one corner of the store for periodicals and paperbacks. Comic books took up several selves, as I remember, with the remainders eventually having their covers torn off them and sent back to the distributor for credit. I think that the books themselves were given away to friends of the owner but I can't swear to that.

Oh, directly behind one of the comic shelves were where the 'pictorial' magazines were displayed . . . if you get what I mean (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more)!! Probably explains why so many high school seniors went over to the comic section.

Eventually I started shopping elsewhere when Marvel switched distribution companies. Their books disappeared with the sole exception of a single issue of Daredevil over an eighteen month stretch. I found my way to a drug store in a neighboring community that simply stuck as many comics in the rack as could fit, and I once found an issue of Lois Lane from Nineteen Seventy there during Nineteen Seventy-Seven. From there I found a better stocked cigar and soda fountain shop that had a list of those permanently uninvited from the next World Series featuring the Chicago Cubs.

I have no idea how many of those individuals are still alive so I can't say if any were too terribly upset over the snub.

seeya

pfgavigan

Redartz said...

When I first got the fever for comics, our town was fortunate enough to have had a comic book shop. Obviously, they carried everything. Unfortunately, by 1975 they had gone out and converted to a disco?! Henceforth I got my comics fix at the Anderson News Center;books, magazines and a pretty good selection of comics.

Back then, in those glorious 70's, there was also a used bookstore in town that I would frequent. They had literally mountains of comics! Stacked in piles, 10 cents each. Much was junk or in lousy condition, but I still grabbed many a cheap back issue. Best find there: one afternoon, in the middle of a mound of forgettable stuff, I found Amazing Spiderman #5! Even in the late 70's, a dime was a steal...wish I still had the book...

William said...

Back in the mid-80's I had a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man, but I decided to let it run out because a friend of mine opened a comicbook store and I was going to start getting all my comics from there. At the time I calculated that my last issue was scheduled to be #252 (the first appearance of Spidey in his black costume). I was pretty excited for that issue because I was digging the new costume. So, I received issue #250, and then I began the long wait for issue #251. Well, I waited and waited, and it never showed up. By the time I realized it wasn't coming it was already time for issue #252 to come out. Well, when I realized that I was not going to be getting any more ASM issues in the mail I went to the comic store to get them, but both #251 and #252 were sold out!! I didn't ask my comic store to pull them for me because I thought I would be getting them delivered.

Well, I was pretty bummed out because my comic store couldn't get them (and there was no eBay back then) so there was no way for me to get them. Then two miracles happened. (At least it seemed like it then). I was at the local gas station convenience store and low and behold there was a copy of ASM #251 on the spinner rack. I was beyond happy and snatched it up. Then a day or two later, to my great astonishment, I suddenly get another comic in the mail, (and I thought sure it was going to be ASM #251), but it was #252!!! I couldn't believe my luck. For some reason, my subscription skipped over #251, but then went ahead and sent me #252. One of my best memories of getting a couple of comicbooks.

Joseph said...

Gosh, I think most of the early comics I bought were on a spinner rack at the local liquor store in Granada Hills California (suburb of Los Angeles).

Highlights include many unremarkable Bronze Age finds that nonetheless have a special place in my heart: Marvel Two In One 32, 39, 40; Amazing Spiderman 160, 178; Avengers 152; Superman 304 and lots of Spidey Super Stories.

Pick-n-Save was a great resource in the 70s and early 80s where you could get three prebagged comics for 99 cents. I'm certain that my copies of Star Wars 1-3 came from there.

Edo Bosnar said...

Redartz, Spider-man #5?! Wow - I think my little head would have exploded if something like that had happened to me...

PFG, I also remember coming across "old" comics (i.e. from a year or two before) in the spinner racks of certain stores, usually small mom & pop type shops. However, I specifically recall snagging X-men #118 in the spinner rack of the aforementioned Fred Meyer store I mentioned above - this was when X-men #121 was already out. I was so elated by that (even though it's part one of a two-part story) because as of issue #120 I got bitten with the X-bug really hard.

Colin Bray said...

Edit: of course, the correct phrase is 'a comic in the hand is worth two on the spinner rack.'

Dougie said...

On my own blogs, I've posted about coming across "old" comics too, like Edo. Distribution of what I knew as "American comics" was pretty haphazard in West Central Scotland in the 70s. But one memory that jumps out is of a family visit in 1973.

If you've ever seen the original Wicker Man, you may be aware that many Summerisle scenes are shot in the Dumfries and Galloway areas, about as far South as you can go in Scotland. Lord Summerisle's garden is actually the Logan Botanic Garden, in the Rhins of Galloway (literally, the "nose").

My mother's cousin was curator of Logan Garden in the early-to-mid 70s and my parents took my brother and I to visit in July of '73. They can grow plants and trees from Asia, Australia and South America outdoors, thanks to the Gulf Stream so it can look like Thailand on a sunny day!

En route, we stopped in the village of Glenluce and three Avengers comics were bought for me: issue 70, the first Squadron Sinister; 72, the first Zodiac and 95, the Inhumans/Maximus episode of the Kree/Skrull War. The oldest was four years old and at the age of 10, it was like something from another decade! I was crazy about the Zodiac and on subsequent trips, always kept an eye out for the spinner rack in that village shop. In '76, I got Killraven's "Only The Computer Shows Me Any Respect".

I was in Galloway again this July- I've been returning to childhood haunts in the last 5 years. Thanks to the recession, Glenluce is very run down and that village shop is long gone. happily, though, Logan is still open and still very exotic. It's a very rural and remote area and not very touristy but you can still get UK reprints of Marvel and DC in Stranraer, the biggest town.

Humanbelly said...

Dougie, you've provided a wonderful reason to put forward Scotland to HBWife as a Place We Need to Visit (once we're able to commence with a bit o' world travel in 15 years or so). Botanical gardens like that are a particular passion of hers. Me, I'm more likely to want to go hiking up in the northern regions. . .

William, your subscription experience was unfortunately all-to-common. It was the drawback of going that route. While it was sometimes the fault of the postal system (there were some instances of issues being absolutely mangled to pieces when processed; once the destroyed wrapper arrived with no comic inside. . . ), it mostly fell on the shoulders of the less-than-stellar company they contracted the service out to. Eventually, as they made a push to boost subscription revenue, they dropped that vendor and went through a few others over the course of the next few years-- with still-mixed results.

HB

Jerry said...

Late (as always) to these posts...

The spinner rack at the IGA grocery store was my main source; it was a short bike ride from my house where I could quickly exchange my $1 a week allowance for 3 comics and a pack of gum!

Those trips with the parents to 'exotic' grocery stores in other neighborhoods or the occassinal 7-11, Pay Less, Skaggs or Fred Meyer (I grew up in Spokane, so shared some similar regional retail as Edo and some others it seems!), were always sources of anticipation as their spinner racks always had something new and mysterious for me (and sometimes that vital 'missing issue' in the storyline that I was reading).

Edo Bosnar said...

Jerry, ha! My mom did most of the grocery shopping at a local IGA, so I can relate (and there was a 7-11 across the street, to which I'd occasionally dash off, as the selection of comics was usually better - plus Slurpees in those super-hero cups). Also, I didn't know there were Fred Meyer stores in eastern Washington back then...

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