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!

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.

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.