Saturday, December 5, 2015

And Then I Saw It...


Doug: Venture with me to those days of yesteryear, when the men were men and the boys (and girls) got all wide-eyed and giddy when they entered the aisle at the supermarket with the magazine rack. Yep -- I'm talking about the Bronze Age, baby, with no Internet, no Diamond Previews, nothing at all to tell a poor soul what magnificent four-color love was about to enter my life. I have three distinct memories (among others) to share.

Doug: The first breath-taking moment I'll relate occurred at the Thrif-t-Mart on Broadway in Bradley, IL in the summer of 1977. Eleven-year old Doug was along with Mom on the weekly grocery run. As was my habit, I'd make my way over to the magazines and paperbacks. I felt all grown up looking at Parade, Creem, and their ilk. I was most enraptured by anything I could find that featured KISS. And then I saw it, right there on the bottom shelf just begging to be picked up: Marvel Super Special #1, starring KISS. Wowza. I grabbed it, leafed through it quickly, and then made a mad dash to the meat counter where I found my Mom. You may not think $1.50 is a lot of money, but back in those days that was "begging and pleading" money. But as she usually did, she said to put it in the cart. Yes!!!


Doug: Chronologically, my next moment came just a short while later, and it was a "twofer", so even better yet. I was at Belscot, a discount department store (sort of like a Wal-Mart or K-Mart) in Kankakee, IL. Not sure why that particular trip was being made, but you guess it -- I stole away to the magazines. And that store had a huuuuuuge magazine rack full of all sorts of goodies. On that particular day the pot o' gold happened to be Justice League of America #s 147 and 148! Not a regular JLA reader at the time, I had been however digging the Legion of Super-Heroes as well as the Justice Society revival in the pages of All-Star Comics. So to see all three teams in a throwdown, and against Mordru, was 10 tons of awesome right there. And again, the combined $1.20 price tag didn't seem to faze Mom and I walked out with all that comic book goodness.



Doug: Lastly, and this was also at Belscot but a few years later, I vividly remember having my senses shattered from a distance when Marvel Treasury Edition #21 met my eyeballs. We mentioned this one a few days ago -- the twice-up (that's original art talk to you) presentation of Fantastic Four #s 120-123 is spectacular. The John Buscema/Joe Sinnott art is worthy of the size, and what a grabber the cover is! And talk about pushing my luck... at $2.00 I'm sure I had to pledge to do some extra work around the house. But I exited the premises with that tome in my clutches -- you know I did!



Doug: I could go on, about the time I saw the Spider-Man novel, the first in that series, or the paperback that reprinted the first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man in color, or the similar offerings from DC that presented early tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But that's what you're here for -- to share those memories etched in your childhood's memories. I'm looking forward to it.

14 comments:

Martinex1 said...

Nice memories Doug. I can remember Christmas shopping with my mom and aunt and stopping in a Krochs and Brentano Bookstore. They had a shelf near the kid's section that had magazines and digests. I remember picking up a Spider Man pocket book there but also the novel Avengers: The Man Who Stole Tomorrow. They had some other Marvel novels there and I always hoped to go back but that was about a once per year excursion. I got those two books though and must have read the digest a dozen times. I distinctly remember being sick and reading it while drinking 7Up and eating Saltines.

Never had that KISS book. Did they fight Dr. Doom? That is pretty wacky. Was that the story? Who is in the background on that back cover? Are those Asguardians? Looks like Star Saphire, but my resolution is bad.

Those JLA look great.

Redartz said...

Great memories, Doug and Martinex! Its always cool when a specific book has a specific memory tied to it. None of those stores ring a bell, Doug; guess they didn't extend into our section of Indiana.

Most of my Bronze Age purchases came via our local comic shop. However, when I first started collecting, there were some newsstand buys. Most memorably: within the first couple weeks after my comic fan friend finally lured me back into the fold, I was hungrily hunting recent comics. Our local drug store had a spinner rack, and didn't change it frequently. This was right when the price of Marvels went to 25 cents. One afternoon I was thrilled to find Fantastic Four 145 and 146, and Spiderman 130 and 131. Of course, one of those was a quarter. No biggie, but I was disappointed not to find Spiderman 129 with the Punisher; juuuuust missed it...

Doug said...

Martinex --

I haven't read that KISS mag (or the sequel in MSS #5) in decades, so I have only slight memories of the plot. Yes, they do fight Dr. Doom, but how/why/when is a mystery. I got nuthin' on those other characters, either. Getting old sucks, doesn't it? But I sure can see that magazine rack from which I plucked it.

However, soon I'll be readying both KISS books for sale, so keep your eyes peeled! ;)

Doug

Doug said...

Redartz --

In a similar vein, I always scratch my head about quitting comics the issue before the Dark Phoenix Saga ramped up. Sheesh...

Doug

Anonymous said...

I don't remember finding specific comics, but I bought all my comics in the 70s-80s at the local drugstore. I think they had a fairly good selection (especially for small-town Saskatchewan); lots of Marvel/DC stuff and even some Gold Key, Whitman, and Charlton, if memory serves.

The store is still there (though it's moved a couple doors down), but it no longer carries comics.

Mike Wilson

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I have a very specific memory of getting that very same Fantastic Four Treasury Edition - found it in the well-stocked magazine aisle of PayLess Drugstore in Salem, Oregon. In fact, I have quite a few vivid memories of great finds in various PayLess stores, even though they didn't carry regular monthly comics as far I recall, just the black-and-white magazines, plus digests, treasury editions, and other 'special' books; it's where I found all of the Marvel pocketbook reprints I had (Spider-man, Hulk, Dr. Strange), among other things.

I have a very specific memory attached to buying the first issue of Captain Victory, in Rackafratz Comics, also in Salem, OR in the autumn of 1981. It was the first time I visited an actual comic-book shop.

Colin Jones said...

I'll never forget the thrill of encountering my first ever Marvel comic which was Marvel UK's Planet Of The Apes weekly #5 - I'd been a massive fan of the POTA TV show since it had began a month earlier but wow !!! here was a POTA comic !!! But it was very confusing at first as I was expecting the characters from the TV show - instead I got a bearded man being chased around who gets caught in a net and then starts shouting and all the apes are shocked because he can speak...what on earth was all this about. I'd never heard of the apes films at that point but hey, this was a comic called Planet of the Apes and I was instantly hooked - and inside were other characters called Gullivar Jones and Ka-Zar who seemed like Tarzan and also adverts for other Marvel comics with strange new characters with names like Spider-Man and the Hulk. My second wow moment was 20 months later in July 1976 when I discovered real, imported American Marvel comics for the first time - comics in colour with each issue devoted to a single character and adverts every two pages. It was like stumbling into Alladdin's cave and I bought ten comics on the spot - 10 pence each so 10 for £1. They were all dated May 1976 and the only two I can remember are Conan The Barbarian #62 and the Daredevil issue featuring Uri Geller. I suppose a third memorable moment was buying X-Men #132 where the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix story begins - I bought the whole run except the double-sized #137 which I acquired via mail order a year or so later.

The Prowler said...

I have that deep sense of deja vu that I have told these tales before.

There was a small store close enough to my house that I could walk to by myself where I found my first spinner rack. My first comics were found and purchased from that rack. Somehow, my mind just accepted that that was where comics were. Then on a trip with my Dad, we happened to stop at a 7-11, a real convenience store. And they had a spinner rack with comics. It was mind blowing to discover that other places had comics!!! I know! Right?

Jump foward a few years, 1977 or 1978 or so. My Mother, sister and I were on a Greyhound to visit my oldest sister and her husband. The bus made a lunch stop and everybody got off. As we sat at the counter waiting for our burgers, I spied against the side wall an entire rack of comics, hundreds of comics (in my mind), row after row of comics!!! Could this be real!?! This had to be every comic, EVER!!! Now I finally knew how Bill felt on the day he finally told off his boss.

I know I didn't buy anything, there was no time but that has always been a "pop" moment for me. Such is life.........

Colin Jones, I remember that Daredevil comic. They teamed up to battle the "Mind Tank" if I remember correctly. Good Times..... ain't we lucky we got 'em!!!

(I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...)

J.A. Morris said...

Another great topic, here's my story.

In 1977, "the year of Star Wars," I lived in Laramie, WY while my dad attended University of Wyoming. The Student Union had a large magazine rack in the middle. One day I stumbled on the Star Wars Treasury Edition and my jaw dropped. Ever since I'd seen the movie, I wanted every Star Wars tie-in I could get hold of. The Treasury-sized comic was $2.00, I was 6 and didn't really understand the concept of money back then. My excitement of getting it was matched by my frustration when I realized it only told half the story, I'd have to wait another month for the ending.

William said...

Doug, I remember all of those books you mentioned. I had the two JLA books, but I didn't get the KISS mag. I saw it at a little grocery store across the street from me called the Top Banana, which had a typical spinner rack full of comics, and a magazine section. I didn't get the KISS book, because I wasn't really into them (or any music) all that much back then. But I do remember looking at it, because it was just so strange, and cool.

Now, speaking of the Top Banana store, I found one of my all-time favorite books there. It was a pocket book digest that reprinted the first six issues of the Fantastic Four, in full color, with the declaration on the cover "Complete and Unabridged". And even though I didn't really know what unabridged meant, I knew it had to be important. I think it cost $1.95 which was not easy to convince my mom to spend, but I must have been persuasive because somehow I got it, and I still have it to this day. Man, I loved that book. Six awesome FF comics in one volume!! What could be better? I'll tell you -- Six awesome Spider-Man comics in one volume, that's what.

A few months after I got the FF book, I saw an ad in one of my comics for the exact same type of book, but this time it reprinted the first six issues of Amazing Spider-Man (and Amazing Fantasy 15). But the only way to get it was by mail order. So, I gathered together $1.95 in change. (Yes change, as in coins), and I stuffed them in an envelope, along with the order form, and sent it off in the mail. Amazingly, a couple of weeks later, the postman delivered a package to me. You can't imagine how thrilling it is to receive a package when you're 11 years old. Especially when you know the package contains the thing you desire most in all the world. The book was delivered on a Monday, and as hard as it was, I actually waited all the way until Friday afternoon to start reading it. (You see, I didn't want any distractions like school, or homework to interfere with the joyful bliss I was sure to experience upon reading this magical tome). And I was not disappointed. And FYI, I also still own that book as well.

Rip Jagger said...

Two leap to mind.

The first was when I first saw the debut issue of New Gods on the spinner rack at Land's Drugstore in Louisa, Kentucky. It sat on the top rung, a DC comic book for a Marvel fan, but one featuring the magic of Jack "King" Kirby. I'd missed the earlier Jimmy Olsens and Forever People #1, but I was fully into the "Fourth World" after this.

And some few years later in Ashland, Kentucky at a corner news shop I first found the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. This was the sixth volume with a lush Joe Kubert Tarzan on the cover, and with this purchase I(around seven bucks)I was ushered into a whole new universe of vintage comics. In those archaic pre-internet days, the little stamp-size covers in the Overstreet guides were glimpses of wonders to yearn for.

Rip Off

Redartz said...

Rip- your tale about the Overstreet price guide hit home with me! (By the way, it seems remarkable you found it at a local news shop. I never saw one until walking into an actual Comic Shop). Looking through that book for the first time was a real eye-opener. I knew that there were many, many comics available, and had been for years. But just how many, and the variety of subjects and formats, was a huge revelation. To this day it is interesting just leafing through the OPG; often finding some bit of trivia or obscure appearance I'd overlooked before...

R.Lloyd said...

I remember the Kiss Super Special because the quality of the paper and art were there. It made me question Marvel's intentions because why wasn't their first effort put towards a slick super hero magazine. My fears were quickly addressed when I saw the first Hulk slick magazine. That was due to the TV show. Each and every month I would pour my heart out and try to duplicate the art in each issue of the magazine. I learned to draw by coping the images in those terrific magazines. The same holds true for those Giant Marvel comics that reprinted old material. I remember the first Spider Man $1.50 oversize comic and got every one since then. Sadly I had to sell them all at one point but I enjoyed them while I had them long ago. That's the trouble with comics today. Not enough experimentation of new formats. Back in the 70's it was very rare to see a paper back or hard cover collection of comics in a book store. Now they are in each Books A Million and Barnes and Noble. The graphic novel section in book stores is here to stay.

RobAnderson said...

Probably the moment I remember best like this is when I was receiving Avengers via mail subscription -- yep, folded in half in brown paper. I was ~ ten years old at the time.

I checked the mailbox at the end of the driveway with my best friend, opened the comic wrapper and saw the cover to Avengers #141 -- the face-off between the Squadron Sinister and the Avengers (A Kane/Romita cover.)

I loved the squadron so much that I LITERALLY fell to the ground in the road screaming and kicking my feet. Luckily, not much traffic and my mom didn't hear it. No one called the police. But, yeah, hard to get that level of surprise nowadays...

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