Growing up as a kid in the 1960s, one of the biggest thrills for me was the hunt for comic books, both new and old. Unlike today, it wasn’t that easy back in my youth. You could find comic books at your local supermarket, drug store, and, if you were really lucky, your area had a real newsstand.
Even with these outlets, it was still really hard to find comics, let alone with any month-to-month continuity. Just because your grocery store had Fantastic Four #64 this month, didn’t mean they would have issue #65 next month or any Fantastic Four in the next few months. The following month they could have nothing but Archie Comics or Gold Key Comics. That’s not a bad thing, but if you were like me, you were trying to stick with the current story lines and the crazy quilt distribution of the time didn’t always allow that.
I would love going out of town with my family, that meant new avenues of possible comic book finds. I’ll always remember finding Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #13 at a small tackle shop/grocery store at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. I was so stoked– not only did I find an issue of Sgt. Fury, but this issue had Captain America as the guest star! Every time I see this book in my collection or a reprint of it, it takes me back to that summer and the thrill of seeing that issue in the spinner rack. I would not trade that memory for anything.
Another one of my semi-constant dreams back in the 1960s was the hope that I would find a stash of old comic books at a yard sale, in a garage, or in an ad in the newspaper where someone was looking to sell a box of found comics. At night, I would literally lull myself to sleep thinking about finding boxes of unopened comic books in an old warehouse or barn. Every now and then I would hear a rumor of someone that found a stack of old comics in an old house or something similar. Oh, how I wish that would happen to me.
Once I found a guy that was selling a box of old comics that he had in his garage. He wanted $5.00 for the box. Back then, $5.00 to a grade schooler might as well have been $100.00. My friend and fellow comic book reader Randy Watts talked the guy into selling us single comics, a few at a time. I guess he figured he’d rather get some of our money than none of it. I don’t remember every comic book that he had in that over stuffed box, but I do remember us coming away with Amazing Spider-Man #4, Fantastic Four #5 and a handful of various Marvel monster comics from the late 1950s and early 1960s. I can still picture us carefully going through the box in the garage paying five cents for every comic we picked out. That's another wonderful memory that will always be with me.
A lot of decades have passed since those summer days. I’ve been in the comic book business as a writer and marketing executive now for 26 years now, I’ve traveled all over the country, been to hundreds of comic book stores and conventions and I STILL dream of finding boxes of unopened comic books in an old warehouse, barn or estate sale. That dream gets my road weary heart beating just as fast as it did during those warm summer days in the 1960s. I cannot tell you how good that feels all these years later. I hope that there are still unfound boxes of comics still out there waiting to be found.
I hope that you, as a comic book reader/collector, know what that feeling is like. I hope you have the same dreams that I do and that your love of comic books brings you pleasure for many decades after your personal paint begins to fade.
I also hope that I find that unopened box of comics in that barn before you do.
The Stan Lee Universe
Writers Danny Fingeroth and Roy Thomas
Cover Price $26.95
As I mentioned in the above section, I had many comic book dreams as a kid. Another one of my big dreams was to one day meet Stan Lee, writer and co-creator of hundreds of Marvel Comic book characters. That dream came true for me. I’ve not only met Stan on many an occasion, but I’ve also had lunch with him a couple of times.
Stan is not only a great influence for me as a writer, but also as a marketing and promotions person. Recently TwoMorrows Publishing has released a wonderful book called The Stan Lee Universe. I can proudly say that I read it in one sitting, I was THAT excited to read it.
This nice thick softcover book is filled with interviews with Stan Lee as well as so many of the great artists, writers and rivals that he worked with, for and in competition with. Reading this book and seeing all the great photos and illustrations takes you behind the curtain and into that wonderful Marvel Comics Bullpen that you wanted so much to visit when you read Marvel Comics by Stan Lee.
The book is written by former Marvel Comics writers and editors Danny Fingeroth and Roy Thomas. These gentlemen were in the four color trenches with Stan Lee during the first generation of comic readers turned professionals. That adds a very unique slant to the behind the curtain world of Stan Lee. A slant you’ll enjoy as you read through this 176-page book filled with comic book wonderment. I highly recommend The Stan Lee Universe as something you’ll enjoy or enjoy giving to someone as a Christmas gift.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Amazing Spider-Man #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Cover Art: Steve Ditko
I thought it only fitting that this week’s Busted Knuckles Manly Cover should be the very comic book that I found in that cardboard box so many years ago and bought for five cents.
It’s a wonderful example of a "grid panel" cover complete with word balloons. As a reader you not only got an idea of what to expect within the interior pages, but you were also charged with excitement to get to this story as soon as you could.
Great cover, great villain, great story.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Marie Avgeropoulos
Those Canadians sure know how to grow ‘em beautiful up north. The lovely actress Marie Avgeropoulos is living proof. Marie is from Thunder Bay and she grew up hunting, fishing, hiking with an urge to become an action heroine. Well, she has succeeded in doing that on the film and TV screen. You’ve probably seen Marie in such films and TV shows as Human Target, Hunt to Kill, Fringe, Eureka, Supernatural and the upcoming This Means War.
I hope your Thanksgiving went well and you got lots to eat. Mine was excellent. I loaded up on pumpkin pie, turkey and deviled eggs. I’m still eating leftovers and glad to do it.
Watched a lot of football, I’m sorry to report that my Chicago Bears didn’t do all that good in their loss to the Oakland Raiders. We are gonna miss having Jay Cutler behind center. I will be rooting for Quarterback, Caleb Hanie on and hope that he becomes the next Tom Brady.
And for those of you that care, this edition of Busted Knuckles was written while I listened to Mozart: Symphonies #40 & #41. Rafael Kubelik: Bavarian Symphony Orchestra.
Your highbrow amigo,
The Flying Fist Ranch