50 cent finds – a thing of the past?

50centaEarlier this month I made the drive north to check out the first Dyersburg Comic and Pop Culture Con. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and all in all a nice little show. Joe Staton and Rick Burchett gave an entertaining Q&A, and I even met wrestling legend Handsome Jimmy Valiant! While I’m not a wrestling fan, I have drawn him in a couple of comics for Brien Wayne Powell, so I figured I was overdue to meet the man! Since I’ve been less interested in collecting for collecting’s sake recently, I went with a bit more of an agenda than usual: I was looking for some beat-up Jack Kirby comics for a project I’m working on and cheap Essentials/Showcase collections. Over the years I’ve noticed a dwindling selection of these collections, and this show was par for the course. I guess that’s a down side of printing work to fill orders: there just aren’t as many extra copies to unload cheaply after the initial demand is satisfied. I’ve noticed this most acutely with hard-to-find back issue indy comics (who publish in smaller numbers to begin with), but also when I’ve been looking for used CDs. Maybe nothing’s being produced in mass quantities any longer. So while I was expecting to come away without bargain trades, I was surprised by the lack of 50 cent boxes; $1 seemed to be the lowest price point. And that covered a wide range of material, from coverless comics to bagged and boarded recent issues. Fortunately, Shannon and the crew at 901 Comics did not disappoint, and brought a nice range of 50 centers. So here are some of my “dollar or under” finds from Dyersburg…

 Avengers Annual #9 (Marvel, 1979): A pretty beat up copy, but it featured Don Newton art in one of his few Marvel assignments. I really love how busy the cover is, and the original Avengers logo seems really appropriate to me.

Little Archie #117, 139,141, 145, 150 (Archie Comics, 1977-1980): Okay, so maybe I am still collecting some things for collecting’s sake … no apologies, because I find Dexter Taylor’s clean yet bold cartooning a joy to look at. And if I get a few Bob Bolling stories in there, all the better!

Tarzan #212 (DC, 1972): Speaking of bold art that’s a joy to look at, I couldn’t pass on Joe Kubert drawing the king of the jungle! Much like with the art of Jack Kirby and Frank Robbins, I was too young to fully appreciate Kubert’s work when I was first introduced to it. And speaking of Joe Kubert…

1st Folio #1 (Pacific Comics, 1984): a collection of work from students of the Joe Kubert School. This issue included work from Joe, Andy & Adam Kubert, and Ron Randall. Like with DC’s New Talent Showcase (#6, 1984), it’s often instructive– or entertaining– to look at early work from pros who went on to careers of their own, such as Steve Lightle, Gary Martin, Chris Carlson, Karl Kesel, and Steven DeStephano.

Green Lantern #76 (DC, 1992 Silver Age Classics reprint): for all the times this issue has been reprinted (and excerpted in mainstream articles about “relevant” comics), I don’t think I’ve ever read it before. 47 years on, it’s hard for me to fully appreciate the impact that issue had– either in light of GL #75, other comics on the stands, or even the news of the day– but it holds up pretty well.

Marvel Classic Comics #2 (Marvel, 1976): I love the ad-free literary adaptations Marvel published in this series, even if the interiors (in this case Otto Binder and Alex Nino, no slouches in their own rights, adapting H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine) didn’t live up to the exciting Gil Kane covers.

The ‘Nam #1 (Marvel, 1986): for the most part, I’m consciously not replacing comics I shed before my move to Memphis, but this issue by Doug Murray and Michael Golden is such a great issue I grabbed a new copy for myself. I doubt I’ll replace any more issues, but Golden’s mix of cartooniness and realism is on fine display here.

Mister Miracle #19-25 (DC, 1977-78): Not Kirby issues, but the later revival by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, Steve Gerber, and Michael Golden. I’ve got a lot of good reading ahead in those issues!

Kamandi #10 & 20 (DC, 1973 & 74), Kobra #1 (DC, 1976), and Satan’s Six #1 (Topps, 1993) helped satisfy my Kirby itch a bit. More on my Kirby project as it progresses…

Blue Devil #2 & 30 (DC, 1984 & 1986): This series, combining action and character and humor, was one that I probably would have liked, but for some reason I never added it to my monthly habit back in the day. I’m starting to find a lot of issues in bargain boxes, so I may finally give it a proper chance…

Avengers Prime #1 (Marvel, 2010): someday I’ll learn to not pick up Bendis comics, even at bargain prices! Not even an artist of Alan Davis’ skill can make me enjoy Bendis’ unnecessarily over-dialogued panels. Ten word balloons in one panel? Ridiculous.

Smax #1-5 (America’s Best Comics, 2003-2004): I’ve never read this Alan Moore/Zander Cannon spin-off from their Top 10 series, but since the whole run was right there, I snatched it up. For less than the cover price of a single new monthly, even!

Airboy #1 (Eclipse, 1986): I have a real interest in 16-page comics (like this, The New Wave, and Skeleton Key), since that’s the format I often publish in. Writer Chuck Dixon and artists Tim Truman & Tom Yeates put together a good-looking comic, but paced it too slowly for my tastes. Even though published as a bi-weekly, it didn’t get far enough into the origin to compel me to keep reading.

But for good or bad, my favorite find may just be Jigsaw #1 (Harvey Comics, 1966). I have no knowledge of “the man of a thousand parts” except that he was featured in Jon MorrisThe League of Regrettable Superheroes … which is all the endorsement I need to read that comic!


4 thoughts on “50 cent finds – a thing of the past?

  1. Jigsaw is exactly the kind of comic I currently delight in finding (especially at a cheap price!) There are a lot of comics that I wouldn’t even consider touching when I was younger that I love as an adult. I am slowly reading through my collection and selling it off in chunks, but I still buy them when I find ’em cheap. I also have holes in my permanent collection I hope to fill, though that also waits for bargain prices. My Tarzan comics are part of that, including the Joe Kubert run, which I bought when it came out.

    Kamandi will be coming up in the queue soon. The only comic I ever got a subscription to. I wonder if it will hold up?

    Airboy is available to read online at readcomics.tv. I will probably be reading it there in the not too distant future.

    The best issue of Blue Devil is the annual. I stopped getting the comic after that because it was such a high point, the regular series was a letdown.

    Dollar boxes do seem to be the default cheap boxes now, filled with the 80s boom comics. I rarely look at them because it seems to be almost always the same stuff. Once in a while I spy something different in them. Yard sales and flea markets are tending toward overpricing comics just because they are “old”.


  2. I’m pretty much reading for enjoyment these days, and am much more likely to gravitate towards oddball comics and good issues (like that Avengers Annual) that are in a condition that renders it uncollectable. It’s been quite liberating, too. If I don’t like something (like the 1990’s 2nd series Nova issues I picked up) I’m not out much! Plus, finding the occasional gem is a real treat! I learned that I can skip over whole blocks of comics– the post-2000 issues (that I have less interest in) with glossy stock interiors are clearly different from newstand era books from the tops of the books alone. They stick out in such a way that I don’t need to slog through so many of them, and can get to the things I’m looking for more easily…

    Thanks for the Blue Devil tip, too!


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