About michaelzapcic

Comic book man. I have the best job in the world.

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.

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.

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. 

The Clash at the Stash

Hey, we’re back, and just in time to help you celebrate your love….for comics!  Happy Valentine’s Day.

You missed us, right? 

We are jazzed to be headlining AMC’s awesome unscripted TV lineup on Thursday nights, though I gotta be honest–I miss our pals The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead.  

First off, let me state for the record that Nate “Rock” Quarry is one of the most interesting and genuine people you’ll ever meet.  His back story is amazing. His strict religious upbringing kept him from enjoying practically anything in life.  The amount of courage it took for him to break away from such ingrained beliefs is astounding.  

At the age of 24, with no sports or fighting background, he decided that he wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.  From what he told me, the training was brutal and painful and the first two years the only thing he really learned was how to get his ass kicked.

With perseverance and extreme dedication he went on to become one of the UFC’s top fighters.  And, he carved out a life for himself and his daughter.  It was truly an honor to meet and get to know Nate.

Now on to the swag!

Ming certainly took a shine to our third grade teacher but what Walt truly liked was the Juggernaut statue.  Sculpted by Randy Bowen and the Shiflett Brothers, this enormous piece originally retailed for $200 and was limited to 2,500 pieces.  

A little bit of backstory about the Juggernaut. He was indeed the stepbrother of Professor Charles Xavier and bullied Charles relentlessly during their childhood. 

Cain Marco (Juggernaut’s real name) would go on to fight in the Korean war alongside his stepbrother.  It was there that he and Charles found a cave that housed the ruby of Cyttorak–a mystical gemstone which granted immense physical power to whomever touched it.  Cain overpowered Charles in his lust for the gem’s power, and Juggernaut was born.  

Unfortunately for him, he was trapped in that mountain thanks to a good bit of North Korean shelling and was stranded there for a decade.  Eventually, he dug his way out.  

Embittered against Xavier for what he took for abandonment, he sought out Professor X and his X-Men, hell-bent on revenge.  It was a nice piece and Walt got it for a good price.

Second up is the Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76.  This book was groundbreaking for more than one reason.  First, it teamed Denny O’Neill with rising superstar artist Neal Adams.  O’Neill would go on to not only write but edit the entire Batman family of books.  He was also responsible for orchestrating the fan-based decision of whether or not DC Comics would kill off Jason Todd (Robin #2).

Neal Adams’ legendary career continues to this day, with noteworthy accomplishments such as: Batman Odyssey; a run on X-Men that introduced Cyclops’ brother, Havok (Alex Summers); and Batman Brave and the Bold.  

Secondly, it gave DC a moral conscience as far as their characters go.  Before this, Marvel Comics was the go-to company for social relevance in their stories.  In this issue specifically, O’Neill and Adams ratcheted up the drama, bringing together the cosmic crusader Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and the street-level hero, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).  

Oliver opens Hal’s eyes to the consequences of political corruption in our governing system.  Especially its effects on the ‘common’ man.  No conclusions are reached in the book but the reader is forced to confront some pretty uncomfortable issues.

Finally, Nate’s book, Zombie Cage Fighter.  As a comic book fan, I have a certain amount of reservation when it comes to indy comics.  There are a lot of people out there with really compelling stories to tell, but lack the resources to produce truly professional work.  

I am happy to say that Nate’s book is the exception to the rule.  Co-written by Blair Butler, it’s a very good book.  Nate’s story is one that I believe should be told and the fact that it has zombies in it….BONUS!  It’s clever.  It’s touching.  It’s action-packed.  In other words, it has heart. The art also stands out–Starwalt does good work.

And now, about the fight…..I think Kevin got a raw deal.  Maybe Nate can set up a rematch?

That’s it for this week, folks.  Don’t forget to follow Comic Book Men on Twitter @ComicBookMenAMC and on Facebook for the latest news about Comic Book Men and other cool AMCTV news.

And there you 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.

Tough Sh*t!

Heya folks. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

This week’s CBM focuses on a Kevin Smith signing at the Secret Stash. Let me tell you that these events are both nerve-wracking and exciting. Kevin always brings a special kind of energy into the store and even the usually taciturn Walt Flanagan is not immune.

Now on to the good stuff.

The Mecha-Kong suit. This thing was bad-ass. This gentleman, a huge Godzilla/Japanese monsters fan, had worn this two years previously to a G-Fan convention in Chicago. He really was as sweaty as he looked. I think he was losing about five pounds an hour in water weight just by wearing the costume. We got to put the costume through its paces as he slow-mo destroyed a tiny city we built in the store for him. Walt didn’t want to purchase the suit outright — it was a little too rarified for his taste…we aren’t a costume shop. Many man hours were put into the construction of the suit, and I just hope he finds the right buyer for it.

Geek Note #1: It’s still a bone of contention–about who truly won in Godzilla VS King Kong, as Kong is obviously not the same creature featured in the 1933 film bearing his name. It certainly fueled my imagination, however, back when I saw the epic battle on the 4:30 movie during Godzilla Week.

Next up, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, original artwork: This was a very cool piece of art, however, since it was signed by Kevin Eastman in 1986, a full two years AFTER TMNT #1 came out, there’s no way that this could have been a concept piece as the seller claimed. Walt made a more than reasonable offer, which was declined. There’s no way this guy is going to see the number he has in his mind for this piece.

Geek Note #2: TMNT was so big back in the 80’s that it spawned such blatant rip-off/parody titles as Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters and Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos.

Kiss Comics was the next lot–sold by Walt. Kiss actually first appeared in comic books in Howard the Duck #12 and #13. Later that year, they were featured in their own magazine format, full color comic book. Marvel Comic Super Special!: Kiss. Blood was drawn from each member of the band and poured into vats of red ink at Marvel’s Borden ink plant. The blood, yes fans, was used to print the comics. There was a second Super Special, issue #5 in 1978 which came out with less fanfare. These are a must-have for any true Kiss fan, and due to their size, are much harder to find in good condition than normal-sized books and so scarcity plays a factor in pricing.

Last but certainly not least, the Marvel World playset that Kevin buys for Walt. If there’s one comic-related “Holy Grail” item that Walt has, it was this one. Many’s the time I’ve heard Walt wax poetic about the Marvel World playset. The verbal picture he paints of his childhood with this toy is an idyllic one, reminiscent of life in Mayberry (For all you young-uns, that was a show featuring a sleepy little town where nothin’ bad ever, ever happened and the worst you had to worry about were invasions of insane mountain folk. The late Andy Griffith was the star of that show…).

I think it was very cool of Kevin to pay that high a price ($600) for a chunk of Walter’s childhood. This set is next to impossible to find in good condition as the simple act of playing with it insures its destruction. It is, after all, only cardboard.

It was great to see Jason and Kevin again at the Stash. It’s always a good time when they drop by.

As always, thanks for reading. I welcome your comments and questions.

And there you go.

The Running Dead

Hey folks.  Sorry I’ve missed a couple of weeks.  But shit (named Superstorm Sandy) happens.

We’re back with a really kick ass episode.  I’ll try to catch up with blogs pertaining to the other episodes that I missed later on, but for now…The Running Dead.

Now before you ask, no, unfortunately, I did not train as well for this as I would have liked.  And yes indeed, I did hit the wall fairly early on.  But in my own defense, no one told me I’d have to run up the side of A FUCKING MOUNTAIN !  The three tiny heart attacks and mild stroke I suffered were nothing compared to the joy of finishing– despite Bryan Johnson’s obvious attempts at sabotage. 

Let’s talk about our transactions.  The first thing you almost didn’t see – The Bat Baseball. Very cool, one of a kind item signed by: Adam “Batman” West, Burt “Robin” Ward, two Catwomen, Julie Newmar and Lee Merriweather, The Penguin himself, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshen, The Riddler, and the oddest of all, Art Carney, who played The Archer.  You almost didn’t see this because, as Walt so eloquently puts it, “We don’t do sports collectibles.”  Thankfully, he made an exception in this case.

Geek Note: Walt and I did a count on the actors who were part of the show or played major villains –who are still alive–and we figure that we could, MAYBE, get six more signatures for the ball:  Yvonne Craig, Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leslie Gore, Jill St. John, and Van Williams.  We haven’t started on that project yet.

 House of Secrets #92, which was the first appearance of Swamp Thing, is an actual piece of comic history.  Not only did it introduce a character who would go on to make the career of one of comic’s greatest writers, the extraordinary gentleman Alan Moore, it also cemented the career of Bernie Wrightson as the premier modern horror artist.  It would have been nice to acquire this book, but the seller didn’t leave us any room to make a profit.

The Batman cereal.  Just shows you that Ming will eat anything.

Finally, the Gremlin-walk, dude.  The Sheena comic, while interesting as a footnote in comics history, was in terrible shape.  There was absolutely not profit to be made and essentially, Walt paid the guy to leave. Weird walk, huh?  

Geek Note:  The Eisner connection to Sheena was cool, and while Eisner was a full partner in the Iger Studios, the bulk of the artwork chores fell on his shoulders.  One of the rarest golden age comic books, Wonderman, put out by Fox Comics, was such a direct rip-off of Superman that Fox was brought into court and Eisner testified against Fox stating that they told him to directly copy Superman.  As a direct of that lawsuit, they only put out one copy of the comic and it continues to be one of the most valuable, and elusive books on the back market.

That’s gonna wrap it up for this week.  Thanks to everyone who sponsored Ming and me in the race:  Mike Ciavolino of Shore Creative, our friends at Surf Taco, Jack’s Music, Tom and Readies Deli, Ken Kalada of Yestercades and Eric Silverstein.  Happy to have helped Kevin raise money for The Wayne Foundation.  Happy I finished.  Happy I survived.  

And there you go. 

 

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.

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.