Cryptozoic Man!!!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, folks!

Walt Flanagan has a soft spot in his heart for monsters. Werewolves, and non-sparkly vampires, and misshapen hulks of dubious humanity. These are Walt’s childhood pals, they’re the ones he had sleepovers with. That being said, it should come as no surprise that his latest venture (alongside OTHER childhood pal and misshapen human Bryan Johnson) is a hybrid hero/monster, the Cryptozoic Man. For Walt and Bryan, his comic is nothing short of a labor of love. But I’ll tell you about the Baltimore Con a little later.

The Tomb of Dracula transaction sets up perfectly how Walt feels about certain monsters… if they act in the service of humanity, sweeping the dregs off of the street, then great. They are benefitting society, allowing us to grow as a whole, while ridding us of elements we think of as distasteful. Win/win, right? To Walt, life should be so cut and dried.

ToD writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan took a character who, up until that time, was the epitome of literary evil and managed to make him somewhat sympathetic. You understood that Dracula needed to feed, much the same way that humans have to eat. It was less about morality than it was about survival. And let’s not forget the importance of ToD as a Marvel Comic book. Not only did Dracula have the opportunity to interact with characters in the Marvel Universe, he also spawned a character who is still popular to this day: Blade the Vampire Hunter. Blade proved that a comic character could actually be a profitable movie franchise. Without him, Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men might not have been made.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a little background on Sunday Jeff. Here is a guy who jumped into toy collecting with both feet in the mid-‘90s. He’s got a great eye for detail when it comes to finding flaws in merchandise, and has amazing luck when looking for hard-to-find action figures. And he happens to be a genuinely nice guy.

So it came as no shock that Sunday Jeff low-balled the guy with the Jawa Sandcrawler. AND HE WAS RIGHT TO DO SO! It’s a toy that rarely pops up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all that rare. I have seen some come in, and granted they may not have been in as nice shape as this one, but they were whole, in played-with condition, but had both box AND instructions. Collectors are, by definition, completists and willing to pay for those peculiar bragging rights.

Take the Mego Buck Rogers action figures as another example. Sunday Jeff, as is his style, gave an accurate (if a little TOO realistic) assessment of Buck’s current status in the pop culture landscape. True, Buck Rogers of the 25th Century was a pioneer in the pulp hero pantheon, but what he is today is all but forgotten. I, too, would have passed on those figures.

Now, about Baltimore… Walt and Bryan had a serious case of nerves. This was, after all, their baby, and it’s never easy putting your art right out on Main Street for anyone to take a swing at. Ming and I had less at stake, and were able to enjoy ourselves a little more. Of course, when you put cameras in front of him, Ming could have a good time at an execution. Walt and Bryan had nothing to worry about, and the Con crowd was friendly and welcoming. Being on the opposite side of the table was certainly a new experience, but not uncomfortable in the end.

And there ya go!

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