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.

 

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.