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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.