Friday, February 5, 2016

A Simple Question About Old Comics

Doug: When did you become enamored with "old" comics? When was your realization that something had come before? For example, in the 25c era, I about wet my pants the first time I laid eyes on a "12-center". The Holy Grail had been published monthly ten years earlier!


William said...

When I was about 11 years old I found a paperback sized book at a convenience store that reprinted the first 6 issues of the Fantastic Four "Complete and Unabridged" (as it stated on the cover). It was a whopping $1.95, but somehow I got my mother to buy for me, and it changed my life. I devoured that book, and the stories in it seemed so timeless and epic to my 11 year old self.

Shortly thereafter I acquired the same style paperback sized book, but this time it featured the first 6 issues of the Amazing Spider-Man (plus Amazing Fantasy #15). I loved that one even more than the FF book.

As a result, I became fascinated with the Silver-Age of Marvel, and I would buy anything I could get my hands on that featured the early appearances of those characters that I loved, like "Origins of Marvel Comics", "Son of Origins of Marvel Comics", "Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles", and etc. I also picked up several more volumes of those paperback sized reprint books that featured the first Silver Age appearances of Captain America, and then The Hulk, and Volume 3 of the Spider-Man series (I never did find volume 2).

What's really weird is that those old Silver-Age stories seemed to me then like they had happened a long time ago, but the other day I was thinking about it and I realized that when I bought that first Spider-Man reprint book (somewhere around 1976), it had only been about 13 or 14 years since Amazing Fantasy #15 had come out. That would be like today if it had come out in 2003!! It totally blew my mind.

Is that how an 11 year old today thinks of 2003 -- as some ancient time long ago?? It makes me feel really old. (But then again, I guess I am). :D

Redartz said...

Upon first reading comics, as a 7 year old, I didn't grasp the significance of old comics. I just read what was on the stand. This included, at the time, an issue of "Fantasy Masterpieces" that reprinted several Golden Age Marvel stories. At the time, I just thought the art looked odd and didn't match what I was used to. Even looking at a neighbor's "Marvel Tales" and seeing a Ditko story for the first time, it seemed off to me...

Several years later, when I started reading seriously as a fan/collector, I was mindblasted when first taken to a comic shop and seeing all those back issues! My first purchases were some of the comics I'd had as a younger boy, such as Not Brand Echh! issue 5. I recall the appeal of seeing that 12 cent price; that signified an oldie for sure. From then on, at flea markets and such, the search was on for those 12, 15 and 20 center's. And the looks of the covers was a big tipoff, too: I was excited to find Marvels with the "corner box" and DC's with the "bullet". Again, it meant history in your hands...

Doug said...

I enjoyed both responses - I love storytelling.

My intent, though, is to discuss the first time you set eyes on an actual 12c comic.

I recall basically being told I was stupid (not in those words) by my mom for trading a small handful of 12c comics for a grocery sack filled with Bronze Age Thor comics. In my 10-year old mind I was getting something like 40 comics for maybe five. No-brainer. But Mom tried to convince me that the no-brain was what I must have had to get rid of older stuff for current stuff.

As to the first time ever for me? I've mentioned this before, but it kills me that I can't remember if I had Avengers #19 or the Marvel Triple Action that reprinted it. I keep coming back to the distribution date of the MTA and think it must have been the original edition that I owned. So that would have been my first 12c comic (this would be around 1972 or '73). At the age of 6 or 7, though, I don't think I would have recognized any difference. The next time I think I had some older books would have been around 1975-76, and the much older and wiser me would have appreciated the difference between 25c and 12c.

Until, that is, you wave a grocery sack of Thors under my nose.


Edo Bosnar said...

I honestly don't know when I first saw a comic with a 12 or 15 cent cover price. Might have been in a comic book shop when I was about 11 or 12 years old. The first comics with 20-cent cover prices I held in my hand (which to me seemed like comics prehistory at the time as they were already 25 cents when I stared reading comics) were in this big box of back issues my future brother-in-law let me borrow. Not long after I scored the entire run of Red Wolf, which were also 20-centers. Also, I don't know exactly when I had the epiphany, but I knew pretty early on that any comic that had a lower price on the cover, especially if it was 10, 12 or 15 cents, were probably pretty valuable.
The first, and only, 12-cent comic I own is Nick Fury #3 (by Steranko) which I bought just a few years ago here in Zagreb for the equivalent of about 4 dollars.
To answer your other query, my realization of things that came before came pretty early in my comics reading career, when I picked up some of those giant DC comics that had Golden Age reprints.

William, your reminiscences of acquiring those Marvel pocketbook reprint books brought a smile to my face. My experiences with them were similar: I also got the FF book first, at about the age of 9 or 10, followed by the Spidey, Dr. Strange and Hulk volumes. Had no trouble getting the second Spider-man volume, but I never, ever had the Captain America book. I read and re-read all of those almost to tatters, and I loved them so much that when I got back into comics I went through the trouble of re-acquiring the Spider-man and Dr. Strange volumes (and recently I found a pretty cheap copy of the second Hulk volume).

J.A. Morris said...

When I was 8, a fellow 3rd grader showed me his copy of Amazing Spider-Man #13, Mysterio's first appearance from 1964. It had as $.12 price tag, Marvel's regular-sized comics had just gone from $.40 to $.50. ASM #13 was only 16 years old, but to me it seemed ancient. It got me interested in older comics and shortly after that, I learned that Superman had been around since 1938, and suddenly ASM #13 didn't seem so ancient.

Steve Does Comics said...

One of the quirks of reading Marvel Comics in Britain was that they'd often turn up in the shops years after they were published. Because of that, one of the very first Marvel comics I ever bought was X-Men #44, which was published in 1968 and had a cover price of 12 cents. I bought it in the summer of 1972, thinking it was brand new, without the slightest clue it was from a time before man had walked on the moon.

I became fully aware of Marvel's more historic days when Mighty World of Marvel was launched in the Autumn of 1972. Each week it reprinted Hulk, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four stories from the early 1960s. Like William, I had that feeling that I was reading something truly ancient, even though the stories were only ten years old. Nowadays, comics from the early 1990s still seem new to me, despite being a quarter of a century old. It really is weird how your perspective changes as you get older.

William said...

Oh, I didn't understand the question, Doug.

Well that's easy. The first time I ever walked into a comic-book specialty store when I was 12 years old. (The place was called Starship Enterprises), and the first actual, in person 12¢ comic I can ever remember laying eyes on was Amazing Spider-Man #33. It became a huge goal of mine to someday own that comic, and a few years later I did. I think I paid about $9.00 for a copy in very good to fine condition. (Again, this was a long time ago back in the early 80's).

Doug said...

Steve -- excellent point. I think of even the 80s comics as relatively new. Yet I think of the Silver Age as this huge chunk of time. Really, it was not.

William -- it's not you. My writing on the post was not clear at all. It's one of those things that when I cobbled it together it made perfect sense. But as we all know, that journey from the brain to the fingers is not always a smooth one. ;)


Anonymous said...

I was kind of like Redartz...I just read everything and didn't worry too much about whether it was a reprint or not. In fact, when I was quite young (late 70s), I didn't really understand that Marvel Tales was a reprint book, so I kept wondering why Gwen and Green Goblin weren't in the other Spidey books; after I figured it out, I kept getting Marvel Tales since it was a cheap way of reading all those old stories I'd missed.

By the way, Doug, I came across this at Our Valued Customers and it made me think of you selling your collection. Not trying to hijack the thread (I thought about putting it in the Suggestion Box, but that's looking a bit cobwebby these days), just thought you might get a kick out of it.

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

That was good, Mike! I could definitely relate. And I'll be frank - I still want to get a little cash for the stuff I've hoarded all these years, but if I could find a person to come in and make a flat offer for what's left (not an insulting offer, but fair) I'd probably bite. I still have around 50 comics that need to find a home. I sold a lot of 35 Hawkman books last week. I had relisted that lot probably 10 times - no joke. I let them go for $8, which was really more like $6 because I never charge the full S&H price for a USPS medium box. And I was relieved to walk them out the door in spite of the huge loss off cover price.

But don't anyone touch my trades and hardcovers.

I'm now selling periphery stuff, like a large collection of retailer marketing posters that I accumulated, some books about comics, some DC beanies, etc. I need to move into my action figures (not all of them), Slurpee cups, and other treasures. One thing I'm looking at is a box filled with Overstreet price guides. Will I get anything for those? Probably not. They are only valuable now as nostalgia. But I can't just put them in the recycling bin. So to say there's not still a sense of distress and sentimentality would be a lie. But it's a trace compared to when I began (as the cartoon aptly put it).


Doug said...

And a programming note while I'm thinking about it - since we had so much fun with the continuity post last week, Karen and I decided to bring parts II and III forward and run them over the weekend. The main topics will be the Crisis and good ol' Hank Pym. The posts are of course colored by the times in which they were originally written, but we think they're good for a second life on today's BAB. Enjoy!


Redartz said...

Doug- sorry I too was a bit off, I'm slow first 12 cent Marvel goodie was Amazing Spiderman 52. Bought off the rack, so it was current at the time. First ' older' comic- probably seeing the display rack at that local comic shop. They had books with 10 cent prices (wow), but what always sticks in memory was the Amazing Fantasy 15 in the case. 25 dollars...but way too rich for my young wallet.

Steve- great observation about the perspective of time. Shockingly, our beloved 70's books are as old now as the Golden Age classics were then. Feeling the years today...

Rip Jagger said...

I had just plugged into comics when the shift from twelve cents to fifteen cents hit. I still remember reading the rationales in both the Marvel and DC books about how it was necessary to change and how much they hated it. I was a trooper though and felt like I was being treated with respect by having the change explained to me. Later of course we started getting price hikes all the time, sometimes linked to page increases, but eventually not so much. And as it got more frequent the explanations became less sincere, or maybe I just became more bitter about it.

As for the split in time, when I started reading Marvels in 1968 the reprints I caught in Marvel Tales and Marvel Collectors' Items were just five years old or younger, nothing. I've been blogging about that long or longer now and it feels like yesterday I started that up. Getting older really changes the perceptions of how time flies, and it's not a good thing really.

Rip Off

Martinex1 said...

I had a bit of a reverse experience on this topic. As I've told the story before, my first experience with comics were 12 cent and 15 cent issues given to me from my cousin Joey. So when I was young I thought that was how the pricing was (and I wasn't even sure why some were 12 and some were 15 as I got them all at the same time and didn't even understand that comics were numbered at first). One day at school, little Mary Costello had a Mead Trapper Folder with the Avengers #141 cover on it, with the Beast leaping into battle against the Squadron. I couldn't believe it! The Avengers! The Squadron Supreme (who I knew from my old comics)! And even the Zodiac (if I remember correctly on the back of the folder)! All for 20 cents! 20 cents??? That was the first I saw of that price. This topic just sparked that whole memory. I remember arguing with Mary (who was a tough little kid) that that wasn't the Beast from the X-Men because that Beast didn't have hair. I can remember her saying, "Uh huh, it is so. My brother has that issue." And that is when I realized there were more out there. It was right around that time that my mom bought me a three pack at the local Osco. And those had 30 cent prices on them. Hoo boy! I remember calculating that I could only buy 3 comics for a dollar and they used to get 6 or 8 for a buck. I'm trying to remember what year that was and what grade I was in. It's all lost to the fogginess of time. Thanks for sparking the memory.

And I look forward to more continuity discussion. Cheers all!

Anonymous said...

Reprints were my doorway to the strange, magical realm of comic history. After discovering comics at around age four, which quickly turned my young mind to mush and ensured that mine would be a desolate, windblown future, I happened upon reprints of Lee and Kirby's F.F. and Lee and Ditko's Doc Strange. Ditko's Doc Strange was the weirdest thing I had yet seen, and that's saying a lot, because I grew up on a farm.

Anonymous said...

Hmm let's see ... one magical summer vacation (OK August then since it's always summer in T & T) when I was about 15 I was staying by my sister and my brother dropped off a stack of FF reprints, specifically the Lee/Kirby era, as well as some classic X-men and Spidey titles. Now that was definitely one of the best vacations I ever had!

- Mike 'have you seen the price of comics lately?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

William Preston said...

Maybe I'm not answering the question you asked, but though I later because a total Marvel guy (with a big push toward that prompted by my buying a giant stack of old Tales to Astonish (with Thor) and Tales of Suspense+the first 15 issues of Iron Man), my sense of there being a time before was provided by those big DC comics that gave you historic tales. I remember some giant-sized Batman comic that had a story from the '40s, '50s, and '60s, and you could see how much the character and the art changed.

sleek said...

I lucked out...My exposure to the old comics came two ways.

1, When I was in school, probably around '74, these people started having a garage sale in the next block over from my grade school with boxes of sixties Marvels. They started trying to sell them for a buck apiece, but that was too riff got us kids...eventually they dropped then to a quarter and I started spending all of my lunch and lawn mowing money on them. I got the whole run of FFs from 36-70 or so, tons of Tales to astonish and Strange tales, etc. Then one day, there were no more comics because a dealer found out and bought them all.

2. Also around 74, the family next door moved out and a new family moved in. I got to be good friends with their kids, and one day we got into their attic and found the "club house" that the kids from the sixties left there...It was like kid heaven, and there were big stacks of sixties DCs, notably a large run of early LSH Adventure issues and sci go comics with Adam Strange and stuff.

Good times. To this day, I check out attics and crawl spaces every chance I get.

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