Tuesday, November 06, 2007

connor dowling ripped me off!


more of a comic book-y topic today, so breath deep that smell of old newsprint and get out your favorites...

as we continue to work on the all-new, all-daring PERHAPANAUTS ANNUAL for our IMAGE launch in february, i'm reminded of the annuals of days past, the year end (though usually showing up in early september...), double-sized, extravaganza, which i'm sure was originally an attempt to repay loyal and enthusiastic readers with an extra year-end treasure!

(that's the way I like to think of them anyway...)

it made me start thinking of the things that went into an annual. usually a pretty good story. usually a pretty BIG story--one that garnered the additional pages and sometimes--most times--featured a pivotal new incident or landmark in the mythos of the star or stars of the comic. a new costume! a new headquarters! an edgy new villain!
yeah, man...i eat that stuff up like frankenberry!

and while it took a while for dc to get on this particular bandwagon, marvel certainly provided plenty of annual thrills throughout my childhood and younger years. of the ones that really stand out in my mind, there are two that just destryed me. i give you the following...

the true marvelite, marvel zombie, marvel afficianado, will recognize right off that these two covers are juxtaposed, that, in fact, avengers annual #7 actually came out before marvel two-in-one annual #2.
and they're right.
but this is the way i got them.

see, in the small town that i grew up in there really weren't a great many comic book readers--a select few--and we knew who we were. and the two places that you could buy comics--the northern dutchess pharmacy and the united smoke shop--each did a fine job of keeping us well-stocked with our monthly needs. but when it came to the ordering of annuals, well, really, how do you gauge the supply and demand on an item like that? it was usually a stand-alone, higher-priced book that a lot of kids just hadn't figured into their budget. so they would usually just order one or two.

annuals were a crap shoot.

so when i found--to my absolute delight--that marvel two-in-one annual #2 on the racks, WRITTEN and DRAWN by JIM STARLIN!!! i knew i had to have it. no, it wasn't in my budget either, but i knew a guy who would buy a kidney, and took the book right home to devour!
,,,never realizing that it was part two of a two-part story!!

oh, it opened well--just like a good one-parter should--and jim took a few panels to bring everyone up to speed--as they, and he, did so masterfully back in the old days--and i really didn't NEED the first part...

but i NEEEEEDED that first part!!! i NEEDED to read, to hold, to OWN that avengers annual #7 WRITTEN and DRAWN by JIM STARLIN!!

and so i went hunting.

and soon found out that, as far as me and my comic book cronies could tell, only one copy of that vaunted comic had passed through our remote village.

and connor dowling had it.

i knew connor. we had mutual friends, he was a nice guy. he was a bit younger, but had no older brothers and so the whole intimidation factor was not an option. not that i would go that way, that's not how i rolled. but in the world of high stakes negotiations, you had to assess all of your resources. he had an older sister who i would later befriend and even make out with, but that wasn't gonna help me now. i brought what i had to the table--which was really just a handful of books that i was willing to trade--and made my offer; a few supermans and a banged up fantastic four that a cousin had left at my house. connor wasn't going for it. he suggested a price of $5 and everybody laughed. but he was serious. i could see it in his eyes. i upped my offer, throwing in a couple legion of superheroes. connor skoffed. the worst part was that he said, right out loud, that he really didn't want the book, didn't need it, didn't really care about it. that made it hurt all the more. i couldn't stand it--i threw down everything i had, including two batmans, a detective, and three of those gold key twilight zone comics that, like archies, didn't even count as comics back then.

connor wasn't playing.

and that little bastard gouged me $3 for that book--big money in those days.

but when i got home with it, and finally sat down to read it, it was SO worth it.

a thrilling story, such gorgeous art, such consumate storytelling (immaculately inked by JOE RUBENSTEIN!)

i play volleyball with jim now every monday night--have for years--but he doesn't know how much those two glorious annuals mean to me. 'cause that would give him an edge.

and we don't play that way...

smell ya later!


Bill Nolan said...

Great story, Todd. Reminds me of all the trading and deals my friends and I did back in the day with our collections. I'll still look through my collection and see a random Silver Age Batman issue seemingly pop out of nowhere. Then I remembered I obtained it as part of some long-forgotten trade.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story...
For some reason I imagined it went down in a smoke-filled, dimly-lit room. All the cronies around sweating...kinda like deer hunter...yeah, I'm a bit off today. Working days is not my bag.

Matt Wieringo said...

Man, those WERE great comics. They were in Mike's collection so, if I wanted to read them, I had sneak into his room when he wasn't around. (Kind of like when I wanted to, um, read Dad's PLAYBOYs.) Mike always took better care of his books than I did. I'd sleep with them under my pillow, for instance.

I think a lot of modern readers are missing out on that thrill of the hunt the rest of us used to enjoy before the days of the Internet and dedicated comic shops. I remember the excitement I'd feel when we'd stop into a 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee in one of those plastic Marvel cups and see an issue of a comic we were missing still in the spinner rack. Ahhh. Them was the days.

Matt Wieringo said...

Hey, P71! Welcome to Todd's board! I think I speak for the rest of us when I say, "Shove it up your @$$." And how'd you get that picture of my Halloween date!!?

Scott Weinstein said...

Great story, Todd. I hope you learned your lesson from then. Don't let them know how much you want it. You played right into his hand.

I'm sure also at some point, someone said, "3 dollars. Who would pay 3 dollars for ONE comic." And yet, here we are paying 3 dollars a comic all the time. Ironic.

Matt Wieringo said...

Or, more often, $16.99 for a collection of six comics containing a story that could have been told in one.

portalcomics said...

great story Todd! totally brings me back to the days when I was growing up of going up to the 7-11 in our town to get my books!! counting the change I found on the street so I could get my books!! LOL!!

Brian said...

I have not held on to a lot of my old comics.

I still have some Byrne X-Men, Sterenko's three Captain America issues, Neal Adams's run on the Avengers as well as some of his Batman work, Chaykin's Dominic Fortune books from Atlas and those two Annuals by Starlin that I consider one of the best comic stories ever. I knew there was a reason I liked you Mr. Dezago.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Mmmmm....I love me some Starlin and Rubinstein. I don't have those annuals, but I've been looking to get to try and read them as I've heard great things about them. My days of comic collecting didn't start until I was like 13, and then it was only when I could find those jumbo variety packs at Toys R Us and this was like the late 80's. I didn't get into going to comic shops until they opened one in my town in around 1990/91 I think it was. So I was a VERY late bloomer into things. And trying to get the money up to get a lot of the old books was hard due to the hefty price tags some of them carried, even then! That's why I love the Marvel Essential trades, they have like a million issues for cheap. To this day though my best friend and I will swap books between the 2 of us, as we're the only ones left of our old crew who still reads them, and we keep our collections going that way. That and it helps that we share alot of the same tastes yet alot of different tastes in books as well.(Sorry if this seems rambly, I'm at work and trying to type this and work at the same time!)

Heywood Jablomie said...


Yeah i was going to say the same thing too about that P71 guy, but by the time I finished scrolling down I saw your response! Good one!! And why do they have to span one issue stories between like 6 issues anyways? I miss the old days of getting the most bang for your buck with comics. Nowadays in some instances I feel ripped off because I can finish one issue in like 5-10 minutes because of the spreading out!!

Russ Burlingame said...

Good stuff. I, too, miss the days of annuals that MATTERED. It went on as long as "The Evolutionary War," I think, so the idea that they're expendable is a pretty new one.

Just a heads-up: I created an entry for The Perhapanauts on Wikipedia. I didn't put a lot there, as I'm a lazy bastard, but it's here:

Probably some diligent reader here will improve on it once they see it exists; I was surprised that it didn't, and created one after having put "Appearances in Other Media" references to the title in the profiles of all the "Scrubs" characters who cameo in "Second Chances."

Oh, and as an aside? I loves me some Joe Rubenstein. Growing up in the '90s, as I did, there was no title that looked as consistently great as Dan Jurgens's "Superman," which Joe was often the one inking.

Matt Wieringo said...

Oh, man. I'm a huge Rubenstein fan. He inked an issue or two of THE INCREDIBLE HULK over Sal Buscema and I was in heaven. He taught a one-day inking class at the Heroes Con one year and I was shocked to see how young he is. Turns out he started in the biz in his mid-teens, I believe, and is still very young. Teaches a helluva class. I actually have a panel or two of my pencil samples inked by Joe Rubenstein!

His inks over Byrne in the CAPTAIN AMERICA run are just awesome. He's one of the greats, in my book.

Russ Burlingame said...

Matt, absolutely! There's hardly a great artist of that generation (Jurgens/Buscema/Romita/Byrne/Ordway-era) who hadn't worked at one time or another with Rubinstein.

Christian D. Leaf said...

I just like the idea that Mr. Starlin knowing that those annuals mean so much to Todd it would powerboost his volleyball skills to Spider-Man levels. Are they betting on this type of thing in Vegas? If not, we need to get in on it on the groundfloor.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the comic book trade! The pharmacy hunt! This sparks some ideas for my own blog ... worse than comic extortion: comics lost to bets with pals. The shame!!! Great blog, Todd.