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!