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.

 

Dukes of Jersey

For those of us who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, The Dukes of Hazard was a staple of Friday Night television, even if you weren’t a fanatic(and I wasn’t), but there was a certain charm to the Duke clan, who consisted of Uncle Jesse, cousins Bo, Luke and Daisy (and Coy and Vance, who were the “scab” cousins introduced after Tom Wopat and John Schneider left due to financial disagreements.) Even in their theme song, the family is referred to as “modern-day Robin Hoods. What comic fan of the time didn’t have a soft spot in their hearts for these lovable rogues?

The gentleman who came in to sell his Dukes of Hazard wares was affable enough.  And he gave us a great deal on some rare Dukes items.  The cherry on top, however, was a ride in his General Lee.  He put almost a decade’s worth of effort into this car and it showed, in every perfect detail down to the jugs and TNT (really road flares) in his trunk.  Getting to ride in this car fulfilled a dream I didn’t even know I had:  I got to be a Duke for an afternoon.  

The dude who brought in the Amazing Spider-Man comics came in with some champagne dreams.  His asking price of $3,000 was completely unrealistic given the condition of the books…while they were not as bad as some comics I’ve seen, they were a far cry from the condition they needed to be in to get the money he wanted.  I stand behind my assessment of their value and think that we came to a reasonable compromise.  

The Green Goblin IS Spider-Man’s arch nemesis, even though Norman Osbourn was “dead” in the comics for twenty-five years.  And while others tried to take his place, most notably, his son, Harry, who was Peter Parker’s best friend, no one could match the evil and madness Norman exuded.  When I commented that these two particular books were ‘book-ends’ what I was meant was that issue #14 was the Green Goblin’s first appearance and issue #122 was his final appearance (until they brought him back in the 1990′s during the whole clone saga–and the less said about that, the better).  These are two pretty kick-ass books and are must-haves for any Spider-Man fan.  

Our Canadian Brony.  Well, he certainly was intense and had a true passion for My Little Pony.  I’ve never understood the allure of this phenomenon of My Little Pony, especially among young to middle-aged men.  It’s been speculated that former president Bill Clinton is a Brony, which would explain a lot.  Thank God this was not the only thing he brought with him or it would have been a long trip for nothing.  The Chris Hemsworth THOR statue WAS something we were very interested in, but it being an artists proof and not coming with a box or a certificate of authenticity almost squashed the deal.  But, since this was a prototype of a very popular character made, it was worth a leap of faith on Walt’s part.  And as a personal aside…I’m glad I got the tattoo I got rather than the tattoo he has.

And lastly, while not well received in The Stash, Star Trek has been near and dear to my heart since I was in high school.  The philosophy of Gene Roddenberry struck a chord with me in my adolescence.  I found this fella’s story to be pretty cool; basically, he wanted to replace for his cousin a Mego Starship Enterprise bridge playlet he had broken when he was sick as a child.  Walt let him slide A LOT regarding price.  I guess he felt a kinship…it seems to be happening more and more the older Walt gets.  

Bryan had some great one-liners in this episode and even Ming got off a zinger or two.  By the way, don’t bother trolling the internet looking for Bryan and my sex tape.  It’s locked away in an unmarked wooden box in a storage unit located somewhere in Area 51….

And there ya go!

 

 

 

 

Walt’s Big Gamble

Let’s all put our hands together and celebrate my triumphant return to Comic Book Men!

In this week’s episode, Walt meets a fellow ElfQuest fan.  For the uninitiated, ElfQuest was one of the very first independent comics ever published.  Produced by Richard and Wendy Pini, it was actually the very first closed-ended comic series ever.  Interesting geeky backstory here:  Richard Pini wrote a letter (back when comics had ‘Letters’ pages) in an issue of Silver Surfer which was ready by Wendy Fletcher a fellow comics, fantasy and scifi fan.  The two corresponded for years, met, fell in love and were married.  Fast-forward to 1977, when the couple brought forth their dream project, ElfQuest, full of dark magic and elven folk and adventure galore.  ElfQuest was the first fantasy-adventure comic series written and illustrated by a woman, Wendy Pini.  Richard serves as her editor.

This woman reminded us all that there are times when we’ve all felt like outsiders.  

 

The next items were the Aliens M41 Pulse Rifle (nicknamed Brown Bess) and the Motion Tracker by Master Replica.  Two cool props from a very cool movie, James Cameron’s, Aliens.  The guy selling the items was not out of bounds with his asking prices, but unfortunately, as I’ve said before, most people come in with a number fixed in their head and retail doesn’t work that way.  We gave him a very fair price for the motion tracker.  It could be argued that this was the first time that a major motion picture portrayed a woman taking center stage as an action hero…Sigourney Weaver kicks major ass as Ripley, a character who signed on to the mission originally as simply an advisor.  Her transformation into badass mode is prompted by a young female survivor of the colony they are investigating.  She needs to protect the girl from the Alien Bitch-Queen, and having her maternal instinct re-awakened gives her all the motivation she needs to do what needs to be done.  

 

The last of our transactions was the Ben Cooper Batman Playsuit.  The Ben Cooper company was THE premier Halloween costumer for children during the 50′s through the 90′s.  There are few things more Americana, in my opinion, than the Ben Cooper costume.  The company held licenses for hundreds of different characters. I myself can remember being:  Spiderman, Dracula, and Bozo the Clown.  The playsuit differed from Cooper’s regular halloween costumes in that it was made out of fabric with hand-stiching, and ACTUALLY looking and feeling like the character’s costume rather than having a pictorial representation on the plastic bib.  This was a really cool item and I’m really glad Walt got it for the store. 

 

Now, on to Walt’s Big Gamble.  We all pitched in $250 to get a storage locker, hoping to find some holy comic and/or collectible relics in other people’s discard.  The day was brutally hot and we’d been out there looking at storage locker after storage locker and were sweating like madmen. Finally, at one of the last lockers of the day, we saw some things that piqued our interest.  I should have known that things were going awry when Rob Bruce showed up.  (He ran us up in the bidding $500 over what we wanted to pay, but that’s ok. We’ll get our revenge eventually.)  Anticipation was high that we’d stumbled on to some fairly good comics, but it was nothing but crap.   It WAS a shock that there were no comics in the long boxes, because long, white boxes are specific to comic books and why someone would buy ‘long boxes’ -the industry term- to store magazines and encyclopedias is beyond me.  We were stunned and disappointed.  And broke.

 

One question, did ya like my gloves?  

And there ya go!

 

 

 

 

 

Super Friends

Super Friends

This is a very personal episode for me…I hate, and I mean literally HATE when my personal problems become public, but when our show runners threw this idea out there, I realized that this could make people in other parts of the country who weren’t aware of the damage we incurred due to Superstorm Sandy get a little insight. My family and I were extremely lucky…no one was hurt, and all we lost were THINGS. Sure, losing possessions that you’ve worked at accumulating over a lifetime sucks, but at the very least you can acquire them again.
More on that in a little while…Now on to our transactions!
Up first was the guy who wanted “Howard the Duck” #1. His contention was that Howard was the CENTER of the Marvel Universe, as Howard was involved in every important storyline that Marvel Comics published. My counter-argument is that Marvel has to publish characters a certain amount of times every few years to retain the rights to those characters. Either way, Howard pops up every now and again in Marvel books.
Writer Steve Gerber created Howard with the intention of it to be a joke-character in that, the fact that Howard’s stories made NO sense…it was an absurdists dream-book, but he became SO popular that the joke turned on Gerber. He fought with Marvel editorial so much he was removed from the character he’d created!
Next up was Rad-Repeatin’ Tarzan. This toy was recalled  due to the fact that if you pressed a button on Tarzan’s back repeatedly, it appeared as if Tarzan was “swinging on his own vine” if you get what I’m saying.
Sadly, this gent wouldn’t take $10 for Tarzan, but he did learn that even if a toy has been recalled, it doesn’t necessarily translate into money.
Lastly, we had a guy bring in something that Walt and I recall very fondly from our own childhoods…The Power Records Read Along Comics.
Put out by Peter Pan Records in the 70s, these books brought comics to life for young readers, with a full cast, sound effects and background music.
This was THE coolest way for a kid in the 1970′s to follow comics, and my only regret is that DC and Marvel didn’t go bigger and broader with these books. They could have opened up comics to a larger audience, much in the way Manga has 100% saturation in Japan.
Getting back to my story, It was amazing that Walt, Ming, Bry and Rob Bruce were able to get ahold of George Perez and have him do a FULL PAGE drawing of Wonder Man for me. I would never be so Pollyanna-ish as to say that Sandy afforded me the opportunity to meet one of my comics heroes, but thanks to my friends and co-workers I was able to. And may I just say what so many people have discovered at the many comic conventions that he attends: George Perez is a warm and amazing person… and so are Walt, Bryan, Ming and EVEN Rob Bruce (but don’t tell them I said that…they’d NEVER let me live it down!)
And there ya go!

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.

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.