By Beau Smith

How much money do you spend on comic books every week or month?

When I was a kid in the 1960’s (Grades 1 through 9) I had no job except for the odd chores that my parents would see fit to pay for around the house. Birthday and Christmas cash were my windfalls. We traded a lot of comics back then. I really can’t gauge what I spent for comics, but from grades 1 through 6, most of it went to buy comic books. You have to remember that the average comic book then was twelve cents, so when you had a dollar it went a long way.

In high school my interests and cash went to other things. I won’t get into that here because I don’t want to be a bad influence on you younger readers. (Selfless and always thinking of others) I’d buy one every now and then, but I didn’t seek them out. If I came across some at a store I’d pick one up. I was lucky in the fact that a bunch of my buddies that used to read comics as kids still had theirs and didn’t want them, so they gave them to me.

In college I had a regular job, money and spent it all on a life you don’t want your kids to read about. So there was a pretty good gap of comic books that I missed out on in the 1970’s. After I got out of college and into the real world my social life of crime slowed down a bit and I found myself re-reading some of my comics of my childhood. It was like running into an old and trusted friend. It renewed my interest instantly.

Much to the shock and envy of some of my readers, I mentioned a couple of years ago that my dear grandmother asked me when I was in the 6th grade what I wanted for my birthday. Being honest and in the 6th grade I told her a subscription to Playboy Magazine. (What did I have to lose?) Well, she said if it was okay with mom and dad , then it was okay with her. Guess what? For the next ten years I had a subscription to Playboy Magazine.

My room was wall papered with the centerfolds and I was seen as the coolest kid on the block. Because this was the 60’s and 70’s, no parents raised Hell or reported my parents to the police, F.B.I. or any of the politically correct watch dogs that now enforce their will on us all, but let me get back on topic. It was around 1978 while in a used bookstore that sold comic books for five cents to ten cents, (No comic book stores in Huntington, West Virginia at that point.) I heard the owner talking about how Playboy Magazine was their best seller and that they wished they had more. I figured that I might be able to do some business with these folks. I had almost ten years of Playboy in my room (missing centerfolds) and I had of course read all the articles by that point, so I figured…TRADE.

I know it sounds kind of ass-backwards to trade Playboys for comic books, but as I stated before, I started early. Without taking the long way around the barn I traded in the ten years of Playboys for every comic book they had in the store. The owner thought I was nuts, but she was more than happy to have them. Needless to say with this trade I filled in most of the gaps of my comics from 1968 to 1978. Every now and then when going through my collection I come across a comic with STAR USED BOOK STORE stamped on the inside cover. Fond memories.

So from about 1979 on I was back in the game reading and collecting comic books on a regular basis. If memory serves me right I was spending around five to ten dollars a week on comics. That increased in the 1980’s when I was one of the first subscribers to Westfield Comics I got my books at a discount and they came in perfect condition. Westfield was my main source of comics for many, many years until I got into the business and started getting most of the comics for free in publisher comp trades. (I miss that as well)

I remember in the 1980’s I was spending around forty to fifty dollars a month on comics. Now and then I would grab an impulse book or two from local comic shops. Please remember that comics were at tops $1.99 then. Most Marvel and DC Comics were still well below that. Now with the average comic book at $2.99 it’s a whole different story.

I know my personal comic book purchases have dropped quite a bit just due to price. The life of a freelancer doesn’t always pay that well, so I limit myself to only things I enjoy and want to read. My days of complete collections and impulse buying are done.

So getting back to my first sentence of this column, How much money do you spend every week or month on comics?

Email me and let me know. I don’t need any long letter, unless you feel like it, but your average amount, gender and age would be a great help. You don’t even have to give me your name. Nobody’s privacy will be sold, stole or traded for Playboy Magazine. I promise.

Email me here at the ranch and let me know. I’m interested.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Month: Marvel Preview #9
Marvel Comics

It does not get much manlier than this. Based on Gladiator by Philip Wylie (1929) Novel and movie, Man God (Marvel already had the name Gladiator used by the Daredevil villain) was a former member of the Foreign Legion, Soldier, Diver and all round adventurer. His enemies were The Second Reich and other bad guys of that time period. His name was Hugo Danner and as you can see by this wonderful cover by Earl Norem, he was all man and ready to stop walls from crumbling and save the babe in distress. (The goal of every real man) Hugo had super human strength due to his scientist dad injecting Hugo as a fetus with some chemicals. (Dad of the year, eh?) Hugo grew up only using his steel bending powers discretely so not to be seen as a freak. As it always goes, one thing leads to another and the next thing you know Hugo is righting wrongs for the weak and punishing the bad. Roy Thomas wrote this Marvel Magazine and later brought back Hugo in the form of Iron Munro in Young All-Stars at DC Comics.

This is a rare gem to look for at conventions, Ebay and comic shops.

Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week: Barbi Benton
Actress/Model/Playboy Centerfold

Since I happened to have mentioned my Playboy for comics trade, I figured it would be fitting to honor one of my favorite Playboy Centerfolds, Barbi Benton as this week’s Babe of the Week. Barbi always had that incredible girl-next-door look that made her such a great Playboy Centerfold. She has always been a fun actress and known to be a really nice person when you meet her. You will remember her for her roles on The Love Boat, Love American Style, Hee-Haw and of course Playboy.

Mid-Life Crisis on Earth Beau.

Here’s a little scene between Superman and Lex Luthor where The Man of Steel scolds Lex for his care-free sense of bad guy humor. This could only happen on Earth-Beau.

There Will Be Beau.

It’s offical. I will be a guest attending the Pittsburgh ComicCon that runs from April 25th, 26th and 27th. Please note that I will only be there on the 26th and 27th. Don’t let that stop you from coming all three days. There’ll be lots of other folks there to talk to and tons of great stuff to buy. By the time of the con my 24: Cold Warriors from IDW and my book No Guts , No Glory: How To Market Yourself In Comics from Blue Line Pro should be out so bring em’ and I’ll sign em’. I look forward to seeing all of your there. You’ll find me hanging out with the lowly likes of Billy Tucci, Ron Frenz, Tom DeFalco and Mark Schultz.

The Roundup.

It’s been nothing but snow, wind and freezing rain here at the ranch as of late. It kinda makes my four mile walk a bit nippy and messy, but don’t worry, I dress for it. I’m sure as soon as I mention it here the weather will change. It always seems to be out to prove me wrong.

I’ve been watching Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Not bad. Thank goodness there’s a little bit of dark humor to it. I was afraid that it was going to be like Battlestar Galactica and all too dark and serious all the time. So Far Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles is an easy hour of action.

I was very let down with MonsterQuest on The History Channel. It’s just the usual commercial to commercial build up with no payoff of any sorts at the end. At least the old TV show In Search Of was a little more mysterious and creepy.

Fight Quest (Discovery Channel) and that other Travel and Fight show (I forget the name) could’ve been good if the hosts on the show were better. They just make me wish that they’d get slapped around at the end. (Not that I would ever want those guys to hear me say that, but I feel safe here in my office with the door locked.) To be honest the endings are somewhat anti-climactic as well. I’d rather see the history of the fighting style they’re talking about. I pass on them all. Watch UFC and get the real thing.

Okay, I will see y’all next week. I look forward to hearing from you.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin