Comic Charades

This is a fun one this week boys and girls. Lots of snappy chatter, games and prizes!

Let’s get to the transactions first, and we’ll talk about some of the funny stuff in a minute. Out of the gate, Bryan and Walt were checking out a Transformers Megatron figure. This was banned in America because it was too realistic-looking. It transformed into a real-looking German luger. Unfortunately, the number of super-realistic toy guns back in the day resulted in a number of accidental shootings by law enforcement officials who were unable to tell real guns from fakes. So, toy manufacturers are now required to put a blazing orange “cap” on the barrel of all toy guns.

Next up was a 1975 convention-circuit George Perez sketch of Prince Namor, the Sub Mariner. George Perez is one of my favorite comic book artists. His attention to detail is second to none. Here is a man who is not only unafraid of drawing team books with dozens of characters, he enjoys it. Most artists shy away from drawing large casts of characters because of how difficult it is to make each one stand out, but Perez gives each character a unique look and quality that transcends the four colors. This is an early sketch and I don’t believe he had ever drawn Namor professionally, but we proudly display it at the Stash behind the counter.

George Perez’s artwork is well represented at the Stash. In addition to the Namor sketch, I have a personalized YellowJacket sketch he drew for me in 2001. I waited in line for four hours for that sketch at a con in Chicago and the ten minutes I spent with him was well worth the wait. A nicer guy you’ll never meet in the comics world.

A young lady came in for a copy of Detective Comics number #359, “the million dollar debut of Batgirl.” Technically speaking, Barbara Gordon made her comic book debut nine months before her television premier. It is a comic book myth that she first appeared on the TV show. The myth comes from the fact that television executives wanted to have a character that female fans could identify with and they lobbied DC to have the character debut in the comics first. The seeds for the TV character were planted in the second season of Batman with Commissioner Gordon mentioning his daughter Barbara a time or two.

This issue was written by Gardner Fox, Golden and Silver Age legend who created the concept of the super-team with the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #3. What started as a cynical marketing gimmick and a derivative female character has turned into a self-sustaining solo-character. After Alan Moore crippled Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke, John Ostrander and Kim Yale remade Barbara Gordon into the cyber-genius Oracle who would go on to become the information-hub of the DC Universe. Barbara would reach her pinnacle under the talented Gail Simone who currently writes Batgirl.

Monster Bill…We get a lot of characters at the Secret Stash and Monster Bill is one of them. He came in with Aurora monster models that were definitely out of our price range. After going out to the Monster Van, Walt picked up a re-issue of old Universal monster model four-pack for $175 and the promise that Bill would help Walt put them together. Universal monsters are Walt’s weak spot. The Stash usually doesn’t purchase model kits, but his affection for those old timey monsters plus the fact that it was Monster Bill made Walt make an exception this time. I can say with a certainty that the model-making date never happened. And as Kevin pointed out, Walt was just yanking Bryan’s chain.
About Comic Charades. We do play on the very rare occasion when we have down time. Walt, Bryan and I are very good, and Ming is as good as you saw. A surprisingly good player is Rob Bruce…who’s Crisis on Infinite Earths actually brought me to tears…or maybe it didn’t. This week’s episode was another peek behind the curtain at our day-to-day doings. Sometimes nothing huge happens but we still get into nerdy conversations and have a blast doing it.

And there ya go.

Cryptozoic-Men

This week’s episode deals with one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of…a comic book pitch to an honest-to-God Comic Book Company. Dynamite Comics is a New Jersey based publisher, and prints some pretty big names in the industry; The Bionic Man, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger…true fans know the names. It was pretty cool to take a meeting with the fine folks at Dynamite. But more on that later. On to the swag!

The first item through the door this week was a seven-foot long Millennium Falcon created for Toys ‘R Us to highlight Hasbro’s “Power of the Force” Star Wars 3 & 3/4″ action figures. This thing is huge…and I mean HUGE!  Ming could actually hollow it out and live in there, it’s that big. Walt actually got this for a good price, although I’m at a loss to where, exactly, we’ll be able to display it.

Next up was a copy of Creepy Magazine #1 by Warren Publishing, signed by Jim Warren, Gray Morrow and Frank Frazetta. This may just be a one-of-a-kind item, as these gentlemen are no longer with us (that means dead to you.) Two hundred dollars is not really an outrageous sum for us to pay, as I truly believe this book can fetch upward of $375.

Last up this week is The Godzilla from The Shogun Warriors line produced by Mattel. This was an amazing toy that I had as a child, and foolishly brought to the beach, effectively ruining it. Godzilla had a spring-loaded fist and wheels on its feet, as it wasn’t the most articulated toy. This toy was one of the first to arouse the ire of Parent groups in the 70’s because of that fist. By 1980, the entire Shogun Warriors toy line was off the market. To find a Godzilla in as good a condition as this one was in is rare.

As I said before, it was a real kick to meet with the staff of Dynamite Comics, and helping Walt to craft a couple of villains for his book was a hoot and a half. Truthfully, I can’t wait to see the finished book. I’ve already seen a few early pages and man, are they amazing.

So thanks for reading, and there ya go.

Stash Wars

Got tremendously positive feedback from last week’s episode.  Thanks for watching and glad you enjoyed it.  Sometimes we get to put our resources to work in pretty amazing ways.  Part of what makes this a job I love — the best job in the world.

This week, you get to see a little more of our day-to-day antics.  And…some of the really unique stuff that makes its way through the doors.

First up was the R2-Q5 XBox 360.  The gentleman who goes by the artistic name “Mark Bongo” truly put his heart and soul into this creation.  Speaking to him afterwards, I found out that over 16 hours worth of work goes into each one of his mods.  I gotta admit, I’d love to have one, but unfortunately, $1,300 is a little too much to spend on an XBox when I’m trying to rebuild my house.  

This really is an XBox with all the bells and whistles.  We hooked it up to an HDTV and it was just spectacular.  

Next up was the Garbage Pail Kids cards.  It always makes me happy when one of the guys is able to get something back from their childhood.  This time around it was Ming’s turn.  And since he didn’t have much stuff as a kid, that child-like look on his face whenever he gets something is always heartfelt and satisfying.  

Now, WHY this was a fond memory of his childhood, I have no idea, but this was a little after my time.  I grew up on Wacky Packages and one of the brainchildren of that was Art Spiegleman, who was also responsible for the Garbage Pail Kids.  Parents may have shaken their heads over the Wacky Packs, but they were downright hostile to the Garbage Pail Kids.  I think there was a line that was crossed here — one of good taste.  

As we bring up on the show, Spiegleman won a Pulitzer Prize for his groundbreaking Maus, which is being taught in literature classes at many colleges and universities throughout the country.  Its a great example of how comic books can transcend the medium to be recognized as great literature.  

Following in his footsteps, Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor also received critical acclaim, opening the floodgates for other comic writers and artists to follow.  I think it’s great that more and more high schools, colleges and universities are offering courses specifically using the graphic novel as a literary vehicle.  

The cosplay girls.  These two were a lot of fun because they broadcast their geekiness in an unselfconscious way.  They were dorky and they knew it…and embraced it.  They were having fun and no amount of teasing from Bryan could dampen their enthusiasm.  

Geek Note #1:  The character these girls are trying to get into, Deadpool, is a direct swipe of DC Comics character, Deathstroke.  Both are mercenaries, carry many weapons of various types and have similar facemasks.  Deathstroke’s real name is Slade Wilson and Deadpool’s real name is Wade Wilson.  I believe Deadpool was supposed to be one of those wink-and-nod characters who should have faded into obscurity, but was such a hit with fans that, instead of fading to black, Marvel Comics ended up giving him his own series.    

Last but not least, the Marvel Legends figures.  Back in 2002, Marvel started to put out action figures of such high quality and levels of articulation that they became the ‘must-have’ toy for any collector.  These sought-after dolls, especially “chase” or short-packed per case figures were going for upwards of 5X their suggested retail price.  So for instance, a short-packed clear Vision which would retail for $12.99, could fetch as much as $69.99.  

Geek Note #2:  “Chase” or short-packed per case figures is the industry term for a figure that comes one per case.  This makes it extremely limited and therefore extremely collectible.  Oftentimes, “chase” figures are readily available in other countries.  Manufacturers hate to waste their molds and materials, but they love to create demand among collectors for their merchandise.

The figures have gone down in value in recent years, but Walt actually gave this gentleman a good deal on his figures.  

As far as foosball goes, Walt and Bryan spent MANY afternoons at the Highlands Recreation Center honing their skills.  Walt worked there prior to managing the Secret Stash.  I would have been disappointed in them, if they couldn’t have taken a couple of rubes like me and Ming.  

That’s it for this week.  Hope you enjoyed the show.

And there ya go.

 

Con Men

SOLD!

Let me tell you, cataloguing a 27,000 piece comic book collection is some Tough Sh*t.  This episode showcases Gary Conover’s collection — one of the most impressive I have ever seen, and I’ve seen many.  Gary was a reservist at the Secret Stash from day one.

Unfortunately, it was time for him to sell his collection, and he turned to us to help him.  We could have bought it for the store, but circumstances of running a business would require us to buy it at wholesale prices, meaning Gary would not get the most money for his books.   Luckily, he is one of our favorites, and so we were all happy to volunteer to put on an auction for free and run a mini-con to help him make the most money he could to help defray medical expenses.

More on the Con in a second.  Let’s get to some of our transactions.

The He-Man cel — for those not familiar with this 1980’s cartoon, He-Man was a toy line produced by Mattel.  Filmation, in conjunction with Mattel, produced He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a cartoon that was essentially a 22 minute commercial for the toys.  The cels that this gentleman brought in are fairly common, although the color schematic was pretty cool.  Even without the overlay, it’s a fairly valuable piece.  

Geek Note:  DC Comics produced an insert in which Superman met with He-Man in the early 1980’s.  In their encounter, because He-Man’s power is magical in nature, he held a slight advantage over the Man of Steel.  

Next up, Amazing Spider-Man #300.  This book is significant because it introduces the villain known as Venom.  Comic fans will no doubt realize that the symbiote that makes up one half of Venom was originally the alien costume that Spider-Man got during Marvel’s Secret Wars “Issue #8″ which had its first appearance in Marvel Team Up #141 and Amazing Spider-Man #252.  Because Spider-Man was repulsed by the idea of an alien sharing his body, he went to the Fantastic Four, specifically their leader, Mr. Fantastic, in an effort to rid himself of the parasite. Using sonic energy, Mr. Fantastic was able to accomplish the split. 

Feeling betrayed, the symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock who harbored animosity toward both Peter Parker AND Spider-Man.  A photo-journalist rival of Parker’s, Brock was discredited and publicly humiliated by Spider-Man.  

Walt is right.  Fans LOVE Venom.  My seven-year old son loves Venom.  

Ah, Kiiiirrrrrk!  The Admiral Kirk doll, signed by William Shatner, from the movie, The Wrath of Khan.  Please realize, Star Trek is not terribly popular in the Stash and, my geek reputation takes a pounding whenever Trek is brought up.  But I love Star Trek.  Sure, they talk a lot, but in the 1960’s they really didn’t have many cool special effects.  And Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future was one of galactic harmony.  Sure, he threw in a Klingon here and a Romulan there, but he really did want everyone to get along.

Thank God for William Shatner and his kick-ass ways.

James Tiberius Kirk was a role model for me.  The kind of person who would use diplomacy until it was time to bruise your knuckles.  A kind of Teddy Roosevelt of the space ways.  

 

I am surprised Walt bought it, even with the signature.  I like to think he did it as a silent acknowledgement of me and my love of Trek.  Yeah, right.

By the way, Walt, don’t podcasters do a lot of sitting around, just talking, too? Just sayin.    

The Superman Advertising poster —  How cool is it that Rob Bruce was able to pinpoint within a few years the date of that piece by using zip code trivia?  I knew it wasn’t from the 1940’s because of the way the cardboard backing was manufactured.  In the 40’s, the cardboard would have been a lot rougher in texture and cut.  The manufacturing process was a lot less sophisticated pre-WW II.  

For all that, it was still a pretty cool piece that would have looked great in the Stash.  It’s always a bummer when we’re unable to come to an accord with a seller — especially for something we want.  

Back to the Khaaaaaaannnnn!  Um, I mean Con.  

It really was a pleasure to help Gary out.  He was there for the store when it first opened, and I’m glad we were able to be there for him when he needed us.  It was exciting to see those great books sell and go to real fans.  

A very special thanks to Stan THE MAN Lee for putting a little something extra into our auction.  Just goes to prove what a prince he really is. 

I wish Gary well.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of his collecting.  

That’s all for this week.  Thanks for reading folks.

And there ya go.

Stash-Teroids

Some of my most treasured childhood memories revolve around the video games, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Q*Bert.  Seeing a machine as pristine as the Asteroids game featured on this week’s episode snapped right back to the late 70’s.  This is a classic.  There is no other game like it.  Hand-eye coordination, getting a case of the “twitchies” from all the button-pushing…

Both the seller and the buyer made out well in this deal.  But the real winner was Walt and the Stash, getting $50 for doing nothing other than standing there talking to a guy about a game.

Next up were the Amazing Spider-Man comic books.  Walt purchased for the store the essential Spider-Man stories:  #101, first Morbius; #122 and #123, the death of Gwen Stacey and the Green Goblin; #129, the first appearance of The Punisher; #300, the introduction of Venom and ASM #36 Volume 2, the 9-11 issue.  These stories are the creme-de-la-creme of the Spider universe and are highly sought after.  

The GI Joe figures — and the Night Raven fighter jet are key pieces for any hardcore GI Joe collector.  While the box for the jet was slightly damaged, the actual toy is pristine and the footlocker containing the original series of Joes is hard to find in any condition, complete.  I think was a big score for the Stash.  This is not my area of expertise.  This is more Ming’s wheelhouse.  I grew up on the 13″ Joes.  I remember them when they were the Adventure Team.  

Finally, the Star Wars battle ships.  Again, this is Ming’s era and he really had a blast when these came in.  While I was a huge fan of the Millennium Falcon, by the time Kenner got around to making it, I had stopped playing with toys and was heavy into collecting books and comics.  These are huge, big-ticket items that are sure to please any Star Wars fanatic.

This week’s stuff was a mixed bag to be sure.  It tickled me that it was so Ming-centric, coming on the heels of our big sandwich win.  Way to go, Ming!  

And there ya go.