Ghostbusting at the Stash

Happy Halloween!

At Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, we don’t take the ‘normal’ in ‘paranormal’ too seriously, do we?  The young lady who came in with the Franz Joseph Star Trek manual and blueprints was not our average customer.

From time to time, we get people who bring in Star Trek memorabilia and this always elicits snide comments and rude gestures from the rest of the boys.  I happen to like and respect Star Trek. Star Trek is true science fiction.  There are ethical and moral dilemmas, usually involving technology and scientific “progress”, that frame out this series.  Star Trek paved the way for public acceptance of science fiction presented in a mainstream, visual medium.  Roddenberry performed a jailbreak for sci-fi which before Trek had been imprisoned in ink and paper and occasionally, B-movie reels.

The customer wasn’t a Trekkie, but her father was.  After he passed away, she was convinced that he was haunting her, trying to get a message across that his collection should go to someone who would appreciate them.  Why she brought them to Walt…I have no idea.  I wonder if he’s pissed that she brought his treasures to a guy who doesn’t like Trek and only paid her $15 for them.  Maybe he’s back, haunting her right now, knocking crap over and moaning his anguish from where no man has gone before….

Actually, Walt must have really felt for her because normally, he wouldn’t have taken them for free.

Next up, Thundercats.  Thundercats loose action figures…I think I’ve mentioned this before but loose action figures are problematic at their best.  The fact that these were in mint condition and in acrylic boxes went a long way to Walt purchasing them.  You can’t walk in to just any toy store and find vintage Thundercats figures.

There was a quick turnover time for these items and he nearly doubled his money.  I wouldn’t doubt that Walt might just take a chance on this line again.  Beyond the thrill of picking up a cool item, practicality has to be factored in to every purchase.  The longer we sit on an item, the less likely it is we will sell it, and it takes up valuable real estate in the store.

Thundercats was a pretty cool show with some weird sexual tension between Lion-o (mentally still about twelve years old) and Cheetara, the gymnast Thundercat who was most likely in her thirties.  This show aired around the same time as GI Joe and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  These are all examples of toy lines that spawned a cartoon.

Geek Note:  In this Rankin/Bass cartoon Panthro was voiced by Earle Hyman who was also famous for playing Russell Huxtable, Cliff Huxtable’s father, on The Cosby Show.

The Jersey Devil — That was so awesome.  Ming actually called us morons for propagating the myth of Mrs. Leed’s thirteenth baby boy.  Huge props go out to Rob Bruce.  He went above and beyond just jumping into a pair of horns and wings.  He went the full nine yards with hair, makeup and prosthetic teeth.  Walt borrowed a thermal camera from a friend of his that clocked in around thirty-thousand dollars.  I’m really surprised that he trusted Ming to carry it.

I’m almost afraid to find out how Rob made the tail heat up so it would show up on the camera…

That’s all for my commentary about this episode.  Thanks for all your comments so far.  Glad you’re engaged and enjoying the show.  See you next week.

And there you go.

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My Big Fat Geek Wedding

First off let’s get the obvious out of the way:  Yes, Ming and I lost the bet.  Our punishment, re-enacting Fantastic Four Annual #3, the wedding of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Susan Storm (the Invisible Girl), was not one of Ming or my more glorious moments.  Despite my aggravation and obvious frustration at losing the bet, it actually ended up being a lot of fun.  Ming is one hell of a sport – at least I got to wear pants…

Now, on to the Comics!

In the first transaction, Anthony the cigar store owner brought in five long boxes.  With dreams of fortune and glory in his head he asked for $5,000 for his “treasures”. Unfortunately for Anthony, his comics were bagged, but not boarded or sealed and they REEKED of tobacco from years of storage in the basement of his store.  Let this be a lesson to the new or newly restored collector:  board and bag your comics.  Store them away from direct light, excessive heat or cold, and VERY IMPORTANT, away from tobacco.  Tar and nicotine residue will ruin your comics.

Even though his collection had been rendered mostly worthless due to poor storage conditions, there were a few bright spots:

Invincible Ironman #55.  This book introduced a villain named Thanos, who most recently shot into the spotlight due to the Avengers movie franchise. In fact, Thanos was most often an antagonist of Captain Mar-Vell and Adam Warlock, Thanos only fought the Avengers once or twice in his thirty-odd year history.  When he found himself at odds with the Avengers, it was directly due to one of the aforementioned heroes.

Geek Note #1:  Thanos so respected his worthy opponent, Mar-Vell, that he helped guide Mar-Vell’s spirit into the afterlife after the hero succumbed to cancer.  This may be my favorite scene ever written by Jim Starlin.  You can read it in the graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel.

My other favorite keeper in Anthony’s collection was a stack of Frank Miller’s Daredevil.  Miller started drawing Daredevil with issue #158 and brought what was a second-rate character to prominence as a top-tier Marvel hero.  He re-established him as a guardian of the people, a street-level hero much in the vein of Batman and Green Arrow over at DC comics.  Roger MacKenzie teamed with Miller as the writer.

Geek Note #2:  Kevin Smith wrote best-selling stories starring all three of these characters — heroic in the most classic sense of the term and certainly in spite of their very real, all-too-human baggage.

Next up, Amazing Spider-Man #129.  This is the first appearance of The Punisher.  If you watched last season of Comic Book Men, you will remember that I hate The Punisher as a character.  He crosses the line and stops being a hero the minute he pulls the trigger and kills the bad guy.  It’s not that I don’t sympathize…the mafia rubs out my family, I might have some serious issues with anger management and revenge, too. But you can’t call him a hero, and to call him an anti-hero is also giving him too much credit in my opinion.

However, Punisher is a very popular character, so much so, that at one time he had four, monthly comic titles.  And Walt’s got something when he points out that any guy who can strike terror while wearing white go-go boots has got some serious balls.

The gentleman who bought it was not only a nice guy, but a stereo-type-breaking dude– an art therapist.  Just goes to prove that the medium of comic books has a wider reach than simply guys who frequent The Android’s Dungeon.

Our trip to Bodnar’s Auction saw us bringing back the last of our cool items this epsiode:  X-Men #94, Giant Size X-Men #1, an incomplete Flea Circus game, and a piece of original art from the comic strip, Abbie and Slats, by Raeburn Van Buren.  Too bad the Flea Circus was missing some parts or we would have won the wager and we could all have been treated to Bryan Johnson wearing the virginal white gown.

Even novice collectors understand the importance of Giant Size X-Men #1 — the first international team of mutants under the X-Men aegis.  However, they may not realize that X-Men #94 was the first NON-reprint book in close to three years and that the X-title was on the precipice of being cancelled.

Geek Note #3:  Marvel stopped producing new stories for the X-Men with issue #66 and reprinted older comics as issues #67 – #93.

Finally, a couple of special things that made me smile through my anger when filming the wedding scene.  One, did you notice the ring I slipped on my blushing bride’s finger?  Yes, indeed, that is a Legion flight ring — MY Legion flight ring, in fact.

That bouquet of flowers that Ming tossed out to the cheering crowd as we rode off into the sunset?  That was a copy of X-Men #1 by Jim Lee.  And the guy who caught it?  None other than Jeff Silverman, our own Sunday Jeff.

That wraps it up for now.  I’ll be back with more next week, folks.

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.