Superman’s 75th Birthday Bash!

 

Comic Book Men returns with a WHOLE lot of geeky goodness, fresh off of our mid-winter hiatus!  And we kick it off with The Secret Stash’s own 75th Birthday Party in honor of Superman.  

In our first transaction, Walt is reminded by a customer trying to buy a 75th birthday present for his father, that Superman, too, turned 75 this year.  The Superman item that this gentleman picks up is a Chemtoys Superman figure.  It has exactly ZERO points of articulation and actually didn’t even really look like Clark Kent.  Chemtoys, based out of Cicero, Illinois, was originally a cleaning supply company who revolutionized the toy industry back in the 1940′s by mass producing bubble solution for solution.  Remember that little dip and blow from your childhood?  That was them!

They also produced poorly made novelty toys back in the day when licensing was cheap (and fairly unregulated).  The gentleman paid $125 for it and he got a great deal.  These are NOT easy to come by and go for almost twice as much on online auction sites.  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Walt this excited about cosplay, especially cosplay when HE is participating.  His idea for us to dress up as Superman’s supporting cast was an inspired one, and we came up with some really obscure characters that no one would have recognized, like Mon-El, Superboy’s “brother” from the planet Daxam, or the Phantom Zone villains such as Jax-Ur, Faora, Kru-El, and so on….but no one wanted to paint themselves all white.  

Our second transaction, Lois Lane #106.  In the 1970′s, spurred on by the success of their socially relevant Green Lantern/Green Arrow run by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams where they tackle such topics as racism, religion and social consciousness, DC Comics decided to branch out and have Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane, take on racism.  Using Superman’s “Plastimold” machine, Lois turns black for a day.     

I think it’s really cool that a young comic geek would come in looking for this issue.  It’s always fun to geek out with a fellow Superman fan and talk about the impact of comics in the lives of readers — especially those issues that seek to open up conversations and take a stab at starting a little ‘trouble’. 

Now for the Superman party.  Eagle-eyed fans of Comic Book Men will notice some familiar faces in the background of the Superman Bash.  I will point some out that you do not know — my beautiful wife was on hand in her red dress, and you can hear her laughs peppered throughout the scene.  Fans of Tell’em Steve Dave will recognize Git’em Steve Dave in his trademark hat.  I had other family there, three of my brothers and their wives, and my niece Erin and nephew Ian.  

But my favorite question of the night was Sunday Jeff’s about Teri Hatcher(“Are they real, and are they spectacular?!?”).  That boy’s a riot.  

And as far as Superman, himself, Dean Cain is one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met.  In between filming, I got to speak with him and found out that he’s passionate about supporting our troops and visits Afghanistan on a regular basis.  He’s also a devoted father and we can’t thank him enough for taking time out and hanging with us. 

One last thing.  Ming and I really don’t have a hot tub in the basement.  If you want to know where we REALLY keep the hot tub, stop by the Stash, 35 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ….

And there ya go.

 

The Clash at the Stash

Hey, we’re back, and just in time to help you celebrate your love….for comics!  Happy Valentine’s Day.

You missed us, right? 

We are jazzed to be headlining AMC’s awesome unscripted TV lineup on Thursday nights, though I gotta be honest–I miss our pals The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead.  

First off, let me state for the record that Nate “Rock” Quarry is one of the most interesting and genuine people you’ll ever meet.  His back story is amazing. His strict religious upbringing kept him from enjoying practically anything in life.  The amount of courage it took for him to break away from such ingrained beliefs is astounding.  

At the age of 24, with no sports or fighting background, he decided that he wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.  From what he told me, the training was brutal and painful and the first two years the only thing he really learned was how to get his ass kicked.

With perseverance and extreme dedication he went on to become one of the UFC’s top fighters.  And, he carved out a life for himself and his daughter.  It was truly an honor to meet and get to know Nate.

Now on to the swag!

Ming certainly took a shine to our third grade teacher but what Walt truly liked was the Juggernaut statue.  Sculpted by Randy Bowen and the Shiflett Brothers, this enormous piece originally retailed for $200 and was limited to 2,500 pieces.  

A little bit of backstory about the Juggernaut. He was indeed the stepbrother of Professor Charles Xavier and bullied Charles relentlessly during their childhood. 

Cain Marco (Juggernaut’s real name) would go on to fight in the Korean war alongside his stepbrother.  It was there that he and Charles found a cave that housed the ruby of Cyttorak–a mystical gemstone which granted immense physical power to whomever touched it.  Cain overpowered Charles in his lust for the gem’s power, and Juggernaut was born.  

Unfortunately for him, he was trapped in that mountain thanks to a good bit of North Korean shelling and was stranded there for a decade.  Eventually, he dug his way out.  

Embittered against Xavier for what he took for abandonment, he sought out Professor X and his X-Men, hell-bent on revenge.  It was a nice piece and Walt got it for a good price.

Second up is the Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76.  This book was groundbreaking for more than one reason.  First, it teamed Denny O’Neill with rising superstar artist Neal Adams.  O’Neill would go on to not only write but edit the entire Batman family of books.  He was also responsible for orchestrating the fan-based decision of whether or not DC Comics would kill off Jason Todd (Robin #2).

Neal Adams’ legendary career continues to this day, with noteworthy accomplishments such as: Batman Odyssey; a run on X-Men that introduced Cyclops’ brother, Havok (Alex Summers); and Batman Brave and the Bold.  

Secondly, it gave DC a moral conscience as far as their characters go.  Before this, Marvel Comics was the go-to company for social relevance in their stories.  In this issue specifically, O’Neill and Adams ratcheted up the drama, bringing together the cosmic crusader Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and the street-level hero, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).  

Oliver opens Hal’s eyes to the consequences of political corruption in our governing system.  Especially its effects on the ‘common’ man.  No conclusions are reached in the book but the reader is forced to confront some pretty uncomfortable issues.

Finally, Nate’s book, Zombie Cage Fighter.  As a comic book fan, I have a certain amount of reservation when it comes to indy comics.  There are a lot of people out there with really compelling stories to tell, but lack the resources to produce truly professional work.  

I am happy to say that Nate’s book is the exception to the rule.  Co-written by Blair Butler, it’s a very good book.  Nate’s story is one that I believe should be told and the fact that it has zombies in it….BONUS!  It’s clever.  It’s touching.  It’s action-packed.  In other words, it has heart. The art also stands out–Starwalt does good work.

And now, about the fight…..I think Kevin got a raw deal.  Maybe Nate can set up a rematch?

That’s it for this week, folks.  Don’t forget to follow Comic Book Men on Twitter @ComicBookMenAMC and on Facebook for the latest news about Comic Book Men and other cool AMCTV news.

And there you go.

Stash Bashes

Stash Bashes

Let me get this out in front, I’m writing this because I want to give you a little more background and a little more insight about what goes on when comics and pop-culture ephemera pass through our doors.

Part of what makes my job so cool is the art of the deal and sometimes, we have to let great stuff walk away.  Another great part of my job is…well…the stuff—seeing it, holding it.  The comics that come in I never thought I’d see.  The surprise of holding a signed book that you know is one-of-a-kind.  Seeing a toy that I had in my childhood can evoke a visceral reaction.  The greatest thing about my job is that people can still surprise me.

Anyone who comes in with the same sense of awe and wonder, the same collector’s enthusiasm that I have, well, we share a kinship.

So, let’s get on to it.  Comic Book Men Season 2.  Episode 1.

There were no comics.

That was the first thing that struck me after the credits rolled.  But there were Megos, and there was a big-assed Darth Vader helmet and there were the Legion of Super Heroes toys.  Comic books are our life’s blood, and all the toys, movies, cartoons and pop culture baubles that matter to me flow from them.

Megos.  I love Megos.  Walt loves Megos. Kevin loves Megos.  These were our first action figures.  These were dolls that boys played with, and what made them even cooler was that you had Spiderman who was in scale with Superman who was in scale with Star Trek characters that were in scale with Dr. Zaius and Cornelius and all those other damn dirty apes from the Planet of the Apes line. They could all play together.  Scale was a big thing for me.  My GI Joes could not play with my Megos because GI Joes were 13 inch action figures and Megos were 8 inches.

In this episode, we got to see The Electric Company boxed Spiderman – a very rare, cool item.  The customer also had Mr. Mxyzptlk, one of the dumber Megos, and also quite rare.  Just looking at the doll makes you realize how undesirable it was to a six-year old kid, so I’m sure a lot of them ended up in landfills.  The last boxed Mego was the Human Torch, a member of the Fantastic Four (Marvel).  And musing aside, there’s a rumor that when the Fantastic Four cartoon was developed by NBC for Saturday morning cartoons, they eschewed this character because they were afraid kids would try to emulate him and try to set themselves on fire.  The truth is, that the Human Torch was actually licensed to do a separate cartoon which never got made.

Geek Notes #1:  Many people hold the idea that a MIB (Mint In Box) figure fetches a much higher price than a loose figure in any condition—this is not necessarily true.  The rarity of the figure plays a role in determining value, the overall condition – these count.

Geek Notes #2:  George Lucas approached Mego for the licensing of Star Wars figures.  Mego turned him down and focused instead on a sci-fi movie called, The Black Hole. Lucas went on to Kenner who revolutionized the action figure business with 3 ¾ inch figures, launched with their Star Wars line.  Mego folded while Star Wars figures are still being produced.

The $350 we paid was more than fair, given the condition of the boxes and the figures themselves.  Very cool pieces of toy and comic book history.  I myself still own Kirk and Spock Star Trek Megos.  Oh, and Aquaman.

Next up, Darth freaking Vader.  Who didn’t love the first glimpse you get of Darth – that black boot stepping over a Rebel corpse?  Star Wars, maybe more than any other movie of my generation, is common ground for everyone—especially geeks and geek culture.  This was a cool piece that we got for a great price, and I hope it stays at the Stash for a long time.  Not much more to add on this piece other than what you saw on the show.  It just looks frigging cool.

Finally, The Legion of Super Heroes.  I personally picked up this piece for the store.  It was only available online through the MattyCollector store (think Mattel).  This piece came from a second-time offer, as I missed it the first time around.  The only difference between the two editions is, “Long Live the Legion” is printed on the box for the second edition.

LOSH is an under appreciated comic, in my opinion.  Many great artists got their starts on this book:  Jim Shooter was only 13 years old when he penned his first Legion story.  The great artist Mike Grell cut his teeth on the Legion and he succeeded Dave Cockrum of X-Men fame.  Keith Giffen had several memorable runs with the Legion, sometimes writing sometimes drawing and sometimes both. The Imperial Guard from X-Men are direct homages to The Legion of Super Heroes – Gladiator = Superboy, Mentorr = Braniac 5 and Pulsar = Wildfire and you get the drift.

The customer got a great deal and impressed the crap out of Walt.  This is my favorite kind of customer, knowledgeable, opinionated and geeky.  In her case, she traveled all the way from Kansas just to visit the store.

Check back next week when I deconstruct Episode 2.

And there you go.

Mike & Ming at KAPOW!

I’m looking forward to appearing with the inimitable Ming Chen at the Manalapan branch of the Monmouth County, NJ Library tomorrow.  We’ll be there, podcasting and answering questions about comics from 1 PM until 4 PM.

One of the best perks that’s come from being part of the AMC unscripted show Comic Book Men, is the opportunity to talk to even more people about comics, graphic novels and pop culture.  It’s a blast, sharing the enthusiasm that comes with having an interest in a particular subculture and using that lens to enjoy and savor your life.

Today I got to look through some long boxes at the Monmouth Mall — thanks to the St. Barnabas fundraiser-awareness raiser for their hospice care program:  Superheroes for Hospice.  Met a couple of cool artists, bought some books, prints and generally enjoyed being with others on the hunt.  Found some good stuff, too.  Want to see?  Come visit me at Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, 35 Broad Street in Red Bank, NJ.  I’ll show you!