About michaelzapcic

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


Everyone needs a little bit of space that they can call their own…sometimes it can be a study, other times a simple bathroom. On this episode of CBM, the Stash’s newest hero carves out (literally)a little chunk of Gotham City real estate…but more on him in a minute.
Walt, Ming and I see an awful lot of merchandise walk through the door every day, but some items just snap us back to our childhood in an instant. The twelve original Star Wars figures with stand was just such an item.
Star Wars came out during the summer when I was nine years old, and I’ll let you in on a secret…I HATED SCI-FI. Honestly, I could not sit through a full episode of Star Trek, I loathed Space-1999, and I thought that Lost In Space was one of the MOST depressing shows ever. I did not see Star Wars for a full EIGHT MONTHS after it was in theaters. I remember all of my friends bugging their parents for Star Wars action figures for Christmas, even though they wouldn’t get them until February after. I also remember laughing to myself that I was going to clean up at Christmas because I had a clear field to all of the toys I wanted.
Geek Note- George Lucas approached The Mego Corporation about licensing Star Wars figures in their 8″ action figure line. Mego refused, and Lucas went to Kenner and brought about the 3 & 3/4 ” action figure revolution which is still in vogue to this day. Lucas also retained ALL merchandising rights from 20th Century Fox, a visionary move that netted him a fortune.
The Dakin Underdog figure is a bit of a rarity. I only ever saw that toy as a kid, and although I was a big Underdog fan, I never had it myself. This piece is in beautiful condition, having never been removed from it’s box. I spoke with Rob Bruce about it, and he told me he comes across one, usually loose and filthy from play-wear, about every four or five years. Even he was impressed with the condition of this Underdog.
Now, on to our BatCave owning new friend. The piece he was looking for, A Hot Toys Dark Knight Rises 1:6 scale Batman DX figure…This figure is the Rolls Royce of toys. It has MULTIPLE interchangeable heads, and one of those heads has a PATENTED feature in which, get this, Bruce Wayne’s eyes FOLLOW YOU. How insane is that? There is no wonder as to why this figure sold out BEFORE it hit stores and why it fetches upwards of $500 on the secondary market.
I must admit that I was kind of jealous that the fellas got to see the BatCave and I didn’t, but just knowing that someone out there loves his heroes as much as we do tickles me no end. I can only imagine the amount of time, money and passion this man must have put into this project, and the patience and understanding of his wife. Kudos, my friend! I tip my cowl to you.
Now if I can only convince MY wife to let me build a basement with Bat Poles and an Atomic Pile…
And there ya go!

The Incredible Bulk

Another Season of Comic Book Men is upon us, and we start off with a bang, if I do say so myself!

The banter at the beginning of the show is an actual question Walt Flanagan posed to Ming, and true to form, Ming Chen’s answer to every problem is to commit murder.
We had a special guest this week: Mister Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno.  Kevin Smith had met him at a Comic Con, and the two got to chatting, and Lou had offered to help Kevin get in shape. To deflect this, Kevin had thrown Bryan in front of the speeding bus that is Lou, and hired him to try and return Bry to his former glory.
Truthfully, it was a bit daunting coming face-to-face with Lou Ferrigno.  He was, and will always be, The Incredible Hulk to me. We had no idea he was going to be walking into the store that day, so to see him there was especially jarring!
The young lady with the CGC-ed Archie #18  was a true Archie fanatic. While I read Archie back in the day, I don’t have HALF of the knowledge this woman does. Being that this was a double she had, I think she made out fairly well in this deal. We usually don’t deal in a) Archie Comics; b) Golden Age books and c) CGC graded books (not that there’s anything bad about them, we’re just comic-purists at the Stash, and believe books shouldn’t be kept behind plastic, they are MEANT to be read), but even as Walt was having his second thoughts after the transaction, she was gone like a flash.
Geek Fact: Archie’s full name is Archibald “Chick” Andrews and he appeared first in PEP Comics #22, Cover dated December, 1941.
The next transaction was a comic we sold. Daredevil # 168, The first appearance of Elektra Natchios. Created by Frank Miller, Elektra was the first love of Matt “Daredevil” Murdock, as the two met in college. Her father was killed and she embarked on a journey that would lead her to become a female ninja and a premiere assassin. This of course would bring her into conflict with her old lover, Murdock, who became a criminal lawyer AND costumed vigilante Daredevil. She was originally meant to be a one-off character, but became so popular that she appeared regularly in DD’s title until her death in issue #181.
We’ll see if Bryan took anything away from his encounter with Mr. Ferrigno. I hope so, but even if he doesn’t, he’s definitely around for fifteen more episodes for us to help change his bad habits. 
As always, thanks for reading and spending some time with me and my geeky friends. We had a ton of fun filming this season, and I think you’ll agree that it shows.
Until next time-
There you go!

Giant Sized Anniversary

Here we are folks, the season finale.  

Thanks for hanging with us this season.  It’s been a real pleasure to geek out with you over the stuff that’s come through the doors and give you a more in depth look at the inner workings of Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it.


This year marks Walt’s 15th year as manager of the Secret Stash.  Ming knew he had to pull off something really great because as anyone who knows Walt realizes, he is not a demonstrative man.  Walt’s list of things he loves is short, but what he loves he loves with all his heart.  For this occasion, hockey was the logical choice.


But first, the swag.  Our old pal, Anthony, brought in a Warner Brother’s store  Batman cover shadow box.  Limited to 250- pieces, this shadow box was a 3-D representation of a Batman cover and came with a certificate of authenticity.

Also in its favor is the relatively low number, in this case, number 33 out of 250.

Geek Note: In the case of statues and dioramas, lower number are always more desirable to the collector. I personally do not subscribe to this theory, but hey, we nerds have our own peculiarities.

Ming agreed on $350 which is not a bad price seeing as how the WB stores have all closed. Let’s be frank, they ain’t making them no more!

Next up is what feels like an old friend: Giant sized X-Men #1. We won this in an online auction and it came in the same day that the gentleman was actually looking for it. This happens more often than you might think as the more popular books sell off our wall quite frequently. We didn’t even know that this book had been signed by the artist Dave Cockrum and found out along with the gentleman inquiring. There are a few artists who have distinct signatures and are easily recognizable to the true comics fan. We sold this without a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) because Cockrum’s signature is one of these few.

As Walt points out and the next customer proves, if you’re patient, you can usually get your price.

Our third item was a animation cell from the Lord of the Rings animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi in 1978. Bakshi may be best known for his adult animated film, Fritz the Cat, which received an X-Rating and is credited for being the most successful independent animated movie of all time. His geek cred includes: The Mighty Heroes, Mighty Mouse, and the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. This was a really nice piece for fans of Tolkien.

And now, for some DEVILS WORSHIP!

It was a real pleasure being with Walt at The Rock in Newark, home of the NJ Devils, and to get to watch Walt on the ice with his childhood heroes. Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Grant Marshall and Bruce Driver were four of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Genuinely enjoyed meeting Walt and the rest of us and we sure enjoyed spending the afternoon with them. You can see why they still have a following today.

The best part was watching Bryan get pummeled with hockey pucks and seeing him dragged off the ice. Sometimes it’s the little things in life…

I want to thank you folks for watching Comic Book Men and tweeting, facebooking, and in general loving our show as much as you do. With all honesty, there would be no show without you. Thanks for helping us prove that– beyond any doubt — our geek culture is absolutely awesome. I have seen over the past decade how much influence WE have in bringing OUR heroes into the limelight and letting non-geeks see how cool they truly are.

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.


This week’s episode deals with one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of…a comic book pitch to an honest-to-God Comic Book Company. Dynamite Comics is a New Jersey based publisher, and prints some pretty big names in the industry; The Bionic Man, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger…true fans know the names. It was pretty cool to take a meeting with the fine folks at Dynamite. But more on that later. On to the swag!

The first item through the door this week was a seven-foot long Millennium Falcon created for Toys ‘R Us to highlight Hasbro’s “Power of the Force” Star Wars 3 & 3/4″ action figures. This thing is huge…and I mean HUGE!  Ming could actually hollow it out and live in there, it’s that big. Walt actually got this for a good price, although I’m at a loss to where, exactly, we’ll be able to display it.

Next up was a copy of Creepy Magazine #1 by Warren Publishing, signed by Jim Warren, Gray Morrow and Frank Frazetta. This may just be a one-of-a-kind item, as these gentlemen are no longer with us (that means dead to you.) Two hundred dollars is not really an outrageous sum for us to pay, as I truly believe this book can fetch upward of $375.

Last up this week is The Godzilla from The Shogun Warriors line produced by Mattel. This was an amazing toy that I had as a child, and foolishly brought to the beach, effectively ruining it. Godzilla had a spring-loaded fist and wheels on its feet, as it wasn’t the most articulated toy. This toy was one of the first to arouse the ire of Parent groups in the 70’s because of that fist. By 1980, the entire Shogun Warriors toy line was off the market. To find a Godzilla in as good a condition as this one was in is rare.

As I said before, it was a real kick to meet with the staff of Dynamite Comics, and helping Walt to craft a couple of villains for his book was a hoot and a half. Truthfully, I can’t wait to see the finished book. I’ve already seen a few early pages and man, are they amazing.

So thanks for reading, and there ya go.

Stash Wars

Got tremendously positive feedback from last week’s episode.  Thanks for watching and glad you enjoyed it.  Sometimes we get to put our resources to work in pretty amazing ways.  Part of what makes this a job I love — the best job in the world.

This week, you get to see a little more of our day-to-day antics.  And…some of the really unique stuff that makes its way through the doors.

First up was the R2-Q5 XBox 360.  The gentleman who goes by the artistic name “Mark Bongo” truly put his heart and soul into this creation.  Speaking to him afterwards, I found out that over 16 hours worth of work goes into each one of his mods.  I gotta admit, I’d love to have one, but unfortunately, $1,300 is a little too much to spend on an XBox when I’m trying to rebuild my house.  

This really is an XBox with all the bells and whistles.  We hooked it up to an HDTV and it was just spectacular.  

Next up was the Garbage Pail Kids cards.  It always makes me happy when one of the guys is able to get something back from their childhood.  This time around it was Ming’s turn.  And since he didn’t have much stuff as a kid, that child-like look on his face whenever he gets something is always heartfelt and satisfying.  

Now, WHY this was a fond memory of his childhood, I have no idea, but this was a little after my time.  I grew up on Wacky Packages and one of the brainchildren of that was Art Spiegleman, who was also responsible for the Garbage Pail Kids.  Parents may have shaken their heads over the Wacky Packs, but they were downright hostile to the Garbage Pail Kids.  I think there was a line that was crossed here — one of good taste.  

As we bring up on the show, Spiegleman won a Pulitzer Prize for his groundbreaking Maus, which is being taught in literature classes at many colleges and universities throughout the country.  Its a great example of how comic books can transcend the medium to be recognized as great literature.  

Following in his footsteps, Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor also received critical acclaim, opening the floodgates for other comic writers and artists to follow.  I think it’s great that more and more high schools, colleges and universities are offering courses specifically using the graphic novel as a literary vehicle.  

The cosplay girls.  These two were a lot of fun because they broadcast their geekiness in an unselfconscious way.  They were dorky and they knew it…and embraced it.  They were having fun and no amount of teasing from Bryan could dampen their enthusiasm.  

Geek Note #1:  The character these girls are trying to get into, Deadpool, is a direct swipe of DC Comics character, Deathstroke.  Both are mercenaries, carry many weapons of various types and have similar facemasks.  Deathstroke’s real name is Slade Wilson and Deadpool’s real name is Wade Wilson.  I believe Deadpool was supposed to be one of those wink-and-nod characters who should have faded into obscurity, but was such a hit with fans that, instead of fading to black, Marvel Comics ended up giving him his own series.    

Last but not least, the Marvel Legends figures.  Back in 2002, Marvel started to put out action figures of such high quality and levels of articulation that they became the ‘must-have’ toy for any collector.  These sought-after dolls, especially “chase” or short-packed per case figures were going for upwards of 5X their suggested retail price.  So for instance, a short-packed clear Vision which would retail for $12.99, could fetch as much as $69.99.  

Geek Note #2:  “Chase” or short-packed per case figures is the industry term for a figure that comes one per case.  This makes it extremely limited and therefore extremely collectible.  Oftentimes, “chase” figures are readily available in other countries.  Manufacturers hate to waste their molds and materials, but they love to create demand among collectors for their merchandise.

The figures have gone down in value in recent years, but Walt actually gave this gentleman a good deal on his figures.  

As far as foosball goes, Walt and Bryan spent MANY afternoons at the Highlands Recreation Center honing their skills.  Walt worked there prior to managing the Secret Stash.  I would have been disappointed in them, if they couldn’t have taken a couple of rubes like me and Ming.  

That’s it for this week.  Hope you enjoyed the show.

And there ya go.


Con Men


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.