Thursday, March 16, 2017
Adventures in Comics: Discovering Back Issues!
Redartz: Hello, friends! Time to relax, think back a bit, and remember. Specifically, can you recall the first time you bought a back issue comic? I'd say almost all of us started out in comics picking up new issues off the stands and spinner racks (or being the recipient of some,perhaps earlier, books from a friend or relative). When I first started my four color obsession, I considered myself lucky to find a few months' worth of a title stuck among the other comics in a rack, probably bent at the spine by now from being pulled down and looked over. I knew of older comics, but hadn't really considered how to get at them.
Fortunately, my pop culture mentor friend, upon learning that I'd finally taken his advice and picked up a couple of comics , hauled me along to a new shop in our modest downtown: a comic book store! That in itself astounded me; I knew we had a couple antique shops locally, and even a coin/stamp/hobby shop. But a whole store devoted to comic books?!? I just couldn't imagine it.
And so, on that early spring afternoon, after school, I opened the door to this shop and stepped into Wonderland. The first thing that struck me was the huge display of new comics! Every title I knew, and many that were unknown to me. And they weren't bent over and scattered around! Looking around, I saw a whole spinner rack devoted just to Archie comics, Disney and other 'funny' books. But the big discovery awaited at the back of the store. There was an alcove, filled with boxes of comics, arrayed by title. Old comics! Actual back issues, including many printed before I even existed! And in the display case , along one wall: some reeeeally old books, including the holy grail itself- Amazing Fantasy 15. It was a staggering experience.
It was hard to know where to begin; so many to look at. So I started thinking of my (earlier) childhood, when I first started reading comics. As noted a few days ago in our "Funny Books" column, one of the earliest comics I can remember having was Not Brand Ecch 5. That seemed like a good way to begin, and lo: they had a copy. Of course, the price was higher than the 25 cent cover price of current comics. It was a whole dollar! But worth it to me, unquestionably. Besides, I'd saved up a few dollars just to make this buying trip. I was just so excited at the prospect of mining comics history, little else mattered. Choice number one was made.
As I was still buying an occasional Archie, I next chose "Archie at Riverdale High" number 1. Another fifty cents on my tab. Finally, as my favorite title was Amazing Spider-man, I knew that my final purchase would be one of those. But again, how to choose? Well, as with the Brechh issue, I recalled a few specific books from my 7-year-old reading. One of those was ASM 66, with Mysterio. So I looked for it, and again: success! Another dollar to my total for the day. And what amazed me about this book: it looked like new! After seven years, it looked like nobody had even opened it. Purchase number three was made. I walked out that door a new kid, no longer just a reader of comics. I was a FAN...
Oh, and one little side note about those three comics: after all these years, and the early 90's purge of almost my entire collection, I still have all three of these very books. Guess I made good choices that day.
So that was my first encounter with old comics. Countless more would be following (oh, the impression made by that first convention; but that's a story for another day). Do you recall the first time you picked up a book from The Past? Can you name the first back issue you actually purchased, and why you chose it from among the thousands of comics to choose from? Let's hear your tales...