Just over 40 years ago, my world changed in a way that I would not understand until many years later. My grandpa had his first heart attack. Back then, visiting hours were exactly that, the only time you could visit unless an emergency. My mother, worried about her parent, but also worrying about maintaining me entertained at age 6, decided to buy me my first comic book from the hospital gift store. This specific act( the book was JLA #158 for those who have a burning desire to know ), would set me on the path to where I am now, and would define and direct the course of my career.
During the next 8 years, my mommy would sporadically buy me random comics. Amazingly, they always seemed to coincide with long car rides and family vacations. Like many a boy, I read and reread my comics religiously, but one thing always bothered me. I always caught the beginning of a narrative arc, or the end, but I never ever had the full kit and caboodle. As I get older this started riling me to the phase of distraction, but to be honest I had no idea how to fix the problem, until a shiny ray of light showed me the way in the form of an ad on the back page of one of my newer books. I could have them SENT to me every month. Eventually, my world was complete. I could read all the books and not miss a beat.
Then it happened. My world came crashing around my ears. My hero of choice, and clearly I was the only one who liked him, was Spider-Man and one of the first books I received in the mail was ASM #258. What the heck man ?! How and why is Spider-Man in a black costume? Where did it come from? What is going on? Why does it move? I missed something and had no idea how to find out. The theory of a Comic Book Store was alien to me. I had recently ever driven by one a few times with my mom and we never stopped. These questions would go unanswered for three years until I make high school.
There I met a fellow comic book enthusiast. To my great pleasure, he lived near that comic store that my mommy has hitherto driven past and one day his papa took us. I recollect opening the door to the shop. The cloud parted, the angels were singing and I fell to my knees crying in pleasure that my questions would FINALLY be answered. Of that, I had no doubt. I did find out that ASM # 252 held the answers I required because that was the first time he had the black garb in that title. I had it. Finally, I was going to be complete. BUT NO! Marvel did it to me again! Because I was smart enough to get ASM #251 and #252, I unknowingly ran into a wall. I still had no answers, but I had a clue! I required Secret Wars# 8 to truly know … to know everything the universe could tell me. But where to get it? Because my freshly received store did not have it.
To the Batmobile! Ahem, I entail my first convention!
A little while after my first shop, my friend’s papa took us to a small convention at a hotel. The questions were really answered this time. However, I couldn’t merely buy Secret Wars# 8. I had to read the whole thing. I am nothing if not a completest. The only trick is that of requiring more. Here I detected the X-Men and where collecting was transformed into a passion.
We all have a story like the one above. Every single one of us in this hobby can tell you exactly what it was that drove them to get what they get and why. There is always some great trauma, or great happiness, loneliness, sadness, resentment, love, detest, or any other of hundreds of thousands of reasons that we are in this pastime and why we are really LOVE it.
I won’t get into every year from high school to my start at Heritage, but college is where I satisfied my mentor and when I actually started to see my future in this area. He taught me everything I know( and is still doing so today ). I became a comic merchant in the 1990 s, but unfortunately, situations forced me into an unwanted hiatus due to not being compatible with the job I had. Fast forward 15 years to my hiring at Heritage Auctions and I started my dream chore in comics. Suffice it to say I got lucky. When people ask, “how did you get that job? ” I always tell the truth. “I just got lucky”. I knew the right people at the right time and I knew the right people through the right years. That being said, I do know comics and I surely know the market. I do not, however, know everything about comics and anyone who is to say that they do, is lying. The comic marketplace is very complex and most people know slivers. Personally, I know more about Marvel than I do DC as it is what I read growing up.
Every month, for this blog, I will show you a listing. These listings will be HIGHLY opinionated. They will create disagreement, but what I would like the most is to create DISCUSSION. I want to know your opinions. I want to know why you think your ideas are better. I invite discussion and the occasional “ooooooo aahhhhh”. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I will always tell you what I frankly think. That being said, I DO NOT invite trolls or politics( by politics, I mean that because it has always been done that way it shouldn’t change even if incorrect. Let’s face it, worldly politics have no place here either ).
For my first Top 10 Listing That Makes Cents, I give you my top ten favorite coverings. #10 Marvels# 4( Marvel, 1994 )~ ATAGEND
I may seem all over the place with my covers and that is intended. Although my focus will be on volumes prior to 1980, I believe even newer volumes have the ability to strike a chord. I believe that Astounding Spider-Man 121, 122 is the best narrative arc ever written. I remember being younger and actively buying those two volumes and they have forever changed me. This specific cover genuinely brings back that memory. Why? Because you are looking at Spider-Man through the Green Goblin’s eyes and you know you are about to kill Gwen. What a powerful turn, being in the bad guy’s perspective.
It is not always about action with me. Sarcasm sure has its place, as you will see afterwards. The first 20 Mad comics sure had that, but this is one of my favorites. The good daughter facet from Kurtzman sure doesn’t hurt.
I love Green Lantern …. I love Sinestro …. Sinestro’s first cover! In the immortal catchphrase of another company,’ Nuff Said’.
L.B. Cole is one of my favorite artists. I could easily write a’ Top 20 ’ Cole or Schomburg list. Why this specific volume? Shouldn’t I pick out a Suspense or something a little more important from him? While I am partial to Suspense 11, this one has special meaning. A friend sent this book to me one time as a gift. When I opened the book to inspect it, Cole had autographed it on the inside page. If I wrote a Top 10 sadness list, this is easily# 1.
One of the first pre-code horror covers I ever owned. I suppose maybe this book is the reason( along with many other EC volumes ), that I like to read Urban Fantasy so much. While I do not like zombies a huge amount, the “in your face” feel to this volume is incredible. Moreover, frightening!
This book is a recent addition, but once it was shown to me, it immediately jumped into my top ten. This is something that may be the only volume of its kind. Look closely, what do you assure? Hmmm Mickey Mouse outside a Disney title? Pretty neat! But wait…. That’s not all! Seem even more closely because Mickey usually get people to stop seeming. That’s right! This is also a Hitler cover! Outside Disney, has there ever been another Mickey/ Hitler/ Mussolini/ Tojo cover? This one easily sneaks under the radar, and if you are read this, I bet it jumps into an instant “I gotta have it” list!
This is the first horror book I ever stumbled across. This one also attains my Top 10 Regret listing. This is Ditko’s first run and I have never seen one since I sold mine 20 years ago. However, that isn’t why I like the book. Coffins are frightening enough when you start thinking about your own mortality. Skeletons nailing you into a coffin while alive and then talking about it? SHUDDER!
A great war book. This has not been possible to get any more patriotic if it tried, having all four ally heroes operating with the flags trampling on the Swastika and Rising Sun. In 25 years of looking at books at conventions, I have just been ever seen ONE, and it escaped me before I could buy it.
This is my 2nd favorite encompas of all time. I believe this mini-series is the best ever written by Marvel. As stated earlier I could not be seen how Spider-Man obtained the black attire. I didn’t start collecting until he already had it. So naturally, I had to find out. Secret Wars BLEW MY MIND !! All of a sudden I had the Marvel Universe wide open to me, and I learned about the X-Men, Iron Man and all the rest. As I said, I like satire, and while there are great encompasses in this series, was there a better line on a encompas ever written than “Beneath one hundred fifty billion tons stands the Hulk … and he’s not happy”? It still to this day stimulates me chuckle every time, and when we get them to be graded I unavoidably bog down and have to read it.
My top ten has a wide range but this is easily# 1. I consider this one of the more difficult Hitler covers to find,( it took me 13 years to get my transcript) and its bright colors along with propaganda induces it so very collectible. Ok ok, the artwork by Alex Schomburg doesn’t hurt either. Shown is the picture to the Real Life Picture Magazine. I recently learned that there are two versions of this book. The’ magazine’ title is harder to find, and the Canadian version. As a side note, why does Hitler look sort of King Kong like? Because that was supposedly his favorite movie. Coincidence? I guess not. Oddly enough, at the time of this publication, we will have one for sale.
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