Giant Sized Anniversary

Here we are folks, the season finale.  

Thanks for hanging with us this season.  It’s been a real pleasure to geek out with you over the stuff that’s come through the doors and give you a more in depth look at the inner workings of Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it.

 

This year marks Walt’s 15th year as manager of the Secret Stash.  Ming knew he had to pull off something really great because as anyone who knows Walt realizes, he is not a demonstrative man.  Walt’s list of things he loves is short, but what he loves he loves with all his heart.  For this occasion, hockey was the logical choice.

 

But first, the swag.  Our old pal, Anthony, brought in a Warner Brother’s store  Batman cover shadow box.  Limited to 250- pieces, this shadow box was a 3-D representation of a Batman cover and came with a certificate of authenticity.

Also in its favor is the relatively low number, in this case, number 33 out of 250.

Geek Note: In the case of statues and dioramas, lower number are always more desirable to the collector. I personally do not subscribe to this theory, but hey, we nerds have our own peculiarities.

Ming agreed on $350 which is not a bad price seeing as how the WB stores have all closed. Let’s be frank, they ain’t making them no more!

Next up is what feels like an old friend: Giant sized X-Men #1. We won this in an online auction and it came in the same day that the gentleman was actually looking for it. This happens more often than you might think as the more popular books sell off our wall quite frequently. We didn’t even know that this book had been signed by the artist Dave Cockrum and found out along with the gentleman inquiring. There are a few artists who have distinct signatures and are easily recognizable to the true comics fan. We sold this without a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) because Cockrum’s signature is one of these few.

As Walt points out and the next customer proves, if you’re patient, you can usually get your price.

Our third item was a animation cell from the Lord of the Rings animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi in 1978. Bakshi may be best known for his adult animated film, Fritz the Cat, which received an X-Rating and is credited for being the most successful independent animated movie of all time. His geek cred includes: The Mighty Heroes, Mighty Mouse, and the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. This was a really nice piece for fans of Tolkien.

And now, for some DEVILS WORSHIP!

It was a real pleasure being with Walt at The Rock in Newark, home of the NJ Devils, and to get to watch Walt on the ice with his childhood heroes. Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Grant Marshall and Bruce Driver were four of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Genuinely enjoyed meeting Walt and the rest of us and we sure enjoyed spending the afternoon with them. You can see why they still have a following today.

The best part was watching Bryan get pummeled with hockey pucks and seeing him dragged off the ice. Sometimes it’s the little things in life…

I want to thank you folks for watching Comic Book Men and tweeting, facebooking, and in general loving our show as much as you do. With all honesty, there would be no show without you. Thanks for helping us prove that– beyond any doubt — our geek culture is absolutely awesome. I have seen over the past decade how much influence WE have in bringing OUR heroes into the limelight and letting non-geeks see how cool they truly are.

And there ya go.

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.

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.

Super Hoagie

I can’t believe I forgot the UnderRoos. 

Last week’s episode included a bit where Walt buys Superman and Wonder Woman UnderRoos.  He talks Ming into wearing the Wonder Woman halter and panties. Please understand, these were, as the tag line goes, underwear that’s fun to wear, but Ming is a grown man and these were made to fit an 8-year-old girl.  No matter how you do the math, something’s gotta give. Ming had one hell of a time getting into the underwear and an even worse time getting out.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of actually seeing an UnderRoos commercial, I beg of you, track one down online and watch it.  As Bryan says in the episode…it is hypnotic, and I defy you to get that music out of your head after viewing.

Now, on to this week’s show.

First up, Wolverine claw.  This was hand-tooled.  I doubt it was mass-produced.  It had no manufacturer’s markings, so this looked like a labor of love.  I actually tried them on and someone could do SERIOUS damage to another person.

These actually sold fairly quickly after we bought them.  They were too cool looking to stay in the Stash for too long.

Next up, the Flash of Two Worlds statue by DC Direct.  While this was a well-sculpted statue, it was not truly sought after due to the crudity of the diaorama set-up. It was simply a flimsy piece of cardboard that attached to the back of the statue.  It retailed for $195 when it was first released in 2005.  We didn’t purchase this statue but Walt and Bryan did have a lot of fun with the guy who was trying to sell it. 

Geek Note:  This statue represents the story, Flash of Two Worlds, from Flash #123 which introduced the concept of a multiverse.  This concept, while not unique to DC Comics, was used by DC very effectively to marry old and new storylines and heroes/heroines.  For example, you could have Superman, active during WWII and also a younger Superman, active in our time, team up to fight two different versions of Lex Luthor. 

All of this was wiped away with the Maxi-Series, Crisis on Infinite Earths, published in 1987.  Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, this book streamlined the DC Universe into one, cohesive timeline.  This would stand until Geoff Johns’ excellent Infinite Crisis which reintroduced the multiverse, now known as The New52.

I never thought that I would see an Amazing Fantasy 15 walk through our doors. The father and son selling it had inflated dreams of its value.  I agree with Rob Bruce in that it was worth about $2,500-to us, given its condition.  What viewers are truly unable to see is the amount of tape on the front cover which, in my opinion, drops a comic book down to an automatic 2.0, or Good condition.

The fact that this was such a significant issue — it introduced Spider-Man to the world for goodness sakes! — allows us to be a little lenient when it comes to grading.  Even a poor copy is one hell of a find for an issue as scarce as this one.  If we had purchased it, we could have possibly sold it for $4,500 – $5,000.

Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement — they simply wanted too much money and wouldn’t budge from their $8,500 asking price.  It’s too bad because even though it would have sat on a shelf for a long time, it would have added a little prestige to our book wall.

Finally, we have the Star Wars, Chewbacca model.  The gentleman who brought this in was so likable that Walt even went UP on the asking price — something I’ve rarely ever seen him do.  The gentleman in question dresses up as Captain America for various charitable functions and for Comic-Cons.  He never charges a fee and does it for the pure joy it brings to the children.  How can you NOT respect a guy like that?

The model itself was not especially interesting or collectible, but it does show that Walt has a bigger heart than he lets on.  I wish I could tell you how many times we’ve had to turn people away with comics and toys that they think are valuable, but unfortunately aren’t.  We usually send those folks over to Rob Bruce! 

As for my sandwich, it is indeed on Readie’s lunch board.  Next time you’re in town to visit the Stash and load up on comics and toys, stop in and have one.  Ask for the Secret Stash Super Hero.  Tell’em Mike sent ya. 

And there ya go. 

Stan The Man

WOW. We got Stan Lee for an entire day. Let me tell you kids, that’s a pretty awesome thing, especially for a comic geek like me. I’ve always been afraid to meet my heroes, because I’ve always heard horror stories about others who did and were disappointed.

Not so with Stan. This man, this, how did Kevin put it? “Modern day Samuel Clemens”, truly lived up to his hype. Affable, courteous, and just a genuine pleasure to be around. Stan Lee was everything a six-year-old Michael Zapcic could have hoped he would be.

I’ll wax poetic about Stan a little more in a second, but now let’s get to some transactions. First up, The Walking Dead #1, written by Robert Kirkman with art by Tony Moore and produced by Image Comics. This is truly one of the most collectible comics of the past two decades. Mainly due to a small initial print run of less than 8,000, the Walking Dead #1 will remain highly collectible for many years. The story captured the imagination of thousands, if not millions of zombie fans. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for its popularity is because it’s like reading a zombie “movie” that has no ending. That, and the fact that Robert Kirkman has shown that NO cast member is safe.

Walt made the right decision in not purchasing this particular issue, as it had an unknown substance on the front cover.

Transaction #2: Incredible Hulk #6. Written by Stan Lee with art by Steve Ditko, this comic book features Metal Master as the main antagonist. So different from Jack Kirby’s thick, commanding lines — Ditko’s pencils were leaner, more sinewy. The difference was jarring, especially in a character like The Hulk. Another important thing, is that, technically, this is the last issue of the Incredible Hulk as its own series. He appears in solo stories, eventually, in Tales to Astonish. He also appears as a charter member of The Avengers but only in the first three issues. His founding member status is eventually revoked and conveyed to Captain America.

Final transaction: Planet Comics #1, Canadian Edition. This is a Golden Age title. For those folks who are newer to collecting, The Golden Age typically spans from 1938 (the introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1) until 1954. The Silver Age typically spans from 1954 (the introduction of Barry Allen Flash in Showcase #4) until 1969. The Bronze Age typcially spans from 1969 until 1986, which had Crisis on Infinite Earths as one of its demarcation lines, along with Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ The Watchmen.

One of the coolest things about Planet Comics was that it springboarded from a pulp magazine, Planet Stories, which spun yarns about muscular heroes with ray guns and strong female characters which was an oddity for the time. We all know, NOW, how compelling strong female characters can be, but back in the 40’s, most female characters were cast as hostages or villain bait.

This was a good catch by Rob Bruce. I had only heard urban legends about Planet Comics #1 being reprinted in Canada with a different interior. Nicely done, Rob.

Stan. I wish we could have kept Stan there longer. But he’s a busy guy. He had places to be and characters to create. It still boggles my mind the universes that this man has helped to bring to life.

And as much as I admire the hell out of Stan, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention some of the other artists who helped him create worlds that I have, and still enjoy: Jack Kirby, co-creator of The Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk and many more; Steve Ditko, co-creator of The Amazing Spider-Man, and more alien monsters than I can shake a stick at. Marie Severin and Dick Ayers, who drew some of the coolest western characters ever. Wally Wood and Bill Everett who helped to bring about Daredevil and the revamping of the Sub Mariner.

There are other artists that I’m forgetting, I have no doubt, but to Stan and to them I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. Some are living, most are not, but I think we’re all beholden to them, at least if you’ve ever been able to call yourself a true geek.

So thank all you guys and gals…and there you go.

Tough Sh*t!

Heya folks. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

This week’s CBM focuses on a Kevin Smith signing at the Secret Stash. Let me tell you that these events are both nerve-wracking and exciting. Kevin always brings a special kind of energy into the store and even the usually taciturn Walt Flanagan is not immune.

Now on to the good stuff.

The Mecha-Kong suit. This thing was bad-ass. This gentleman, a huge Godzilla/Japanese monsters fan, had worn this two years previously to a G-Fan convention in Chicago. He really was as sweaty as he looked. I think he was losing about five pounds an hour in water weight just by wearing the costume. We got to put the costume through its paces as he slow-mo destroyed a tiny city we built in the store for him. Walt didn’t want to purchase the suit outright — it was a little too rarified for his taste…we aren’t a costume shop. Many man hours were put into the construction of the suit, and I just hope he finds the right buyer for it.

Geek Note #1: It’s still a bone of contention–about who truly won in Godzilla VS King Kong, as Kong is obviously not the same creature featured in the 1933 film bearing his name. It certainly fueled my imagination, however, back when I saw the epic battle on the 4:30 movie during Godzilla Week.

Next up, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, original artwork: This was a very cool piece of art, however, since it was signed by Kevin Eastman in 1986, a full two years AFTER TMNT #1 came out, there’s no way that this could have been a concept piece as the seller claimed. Walt made a more than reasonable offer, which was declined. There’s no way this guy is going to see the number he has in his mind for this piece.

Geek Note #2: TMNT was so big back in the 80’s that it spawned such blatant rip-off/parody titles as Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters and Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos.

Kiss Comics was the next lot–sold by Walt. Kiss actually first appeared in comic books in Howard the Duck #12 and #13. Later that year, they were featured in their own magazine format, full color comic book. Marvel Comic Super Special!: Kiss. Blood was drawn from each member of the band and poured into vats of red ink at Marvel’s Borden ink plant. The blood, yes fans, was used to print the comics. There was a second Super Special, issue #5 in 1978 which came out with less fanfare. These are a must-have for any true Kiss fan, and due to their size, are much harder to find in good condition than normal-sized books and so scarcity plays a factor in pricing.

Last but certainly not least, the Marvel World playset that Kevin buys for Walt. If there’s one comic-related “Holy Grail” item that Walt has, it was this one. Many’s the time I’ve heard Walt wax poetic about the Marvel World playset. The verbal picture he paints of his childhood with this toy is an idyllic one, reminiscent of life in Mayberry (For all you young-uns, that was a show featuring a sleepy little town where nothin’ bad ever, ever happened and the worst you had to worry about were invasions of insane mountain folk. The late Andy Griffith was the star of that show…).

I think it was very cool of Kevin to pay that high a price ($600) for a chunk of Walter’s childhood. This set is next to impossible to find in good condition as the simple act of playing with it insures its destruction. It is, after all, only cardboard.

It was great to see Jason and Kevin again at the Stash. It’s always a good time when they drop by.

As always, thanks for reading. I welcome your comments and questions.

And there you go.