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Thursday, August 09, 2007


Just Like Everyone Else

I attended Comic-Con this year (my third in six years), only this time I took my 8-year-old, Theo along for the geekery. He was a fantastic traveling companion, and it was fascinating to experience the show from his perspective. He was patient beyond reason as the old man flipped through endless boxes of comics--almost as patient as I was following his hunt for Pokemon cards. Unsurprisingly, Theo was good for about 20 minutes of Roy Thomas reminiscences about late 60s Marvel, a good sign of his general mental health. He impressed a number of aging back issue dealers with his appreciation for his favorite artist, Jack Kirby. (To date, the kid has read every Marvel superhero book in order from FF #1 through July of 1965. Along with his enthusiasm for classic Little Lulu, Krazy Kat, Segar's Popeye, the works of Jeff Smith and above all Jack Cole's Plastic Man, he has better taste than most adult comics fans. In other words, he has my taste, which is one of the benefits of having kids.)

Following Theo around, we went to sections of the con I've never been to, namely the toy booths in the most crowded center section of the floor, with frequent trips to the Lego and Pokemon booths. In other news Dave and I picked up the last two copies of I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! at the Fantagraphics booth during Paul Karasik's signing session, I bought a big stack of old DC 80-Page Giants and 100-page Super Spectaculars, our friend Dana found a number of the Super Pets comics she was looking for, and Dave achieved his goal for the show of hobnobbing with A-listers.

Deeply envious of the big stack of 80 Page Giants and 100 Page Super Spectaculars. I used to love the 100 pagers back in the 70s (the 80 page Giants were a bit before my comics buying time) and to this day I like nothing better than coming across one I haven't seen before in bad enough condition to be reasonably priced in someone's back issue trough. Man, those were some cool comics.
Yeah, I mostly haunt the $5 and $10 boxes. I don't care if a book is missing half of its back cover, or if some kid in 1967 loved his comic enough to write his name on it. This time around I ended up with a bunch of big Superboy reprint books, a World's Finest 80-pager, a Super-Team Family that reprinted the JSA vs. Solomon Grundy story, and an issue of Brave and the bold filled with Bob Haney goodness.

A few years ago I was going through my oldest comics from when I was a kid, and realized that I started getting DC books in the spring of 1975 precisely the month *after* DC discontinued the 100-page format. (I was four years old.) They've always had a kind of holy grail quality for me, as a result.
I was born in 1961 and probably started buying comics myself sometime around 1969 or so. I clearly remember begging my mom for two pennies (I already had a dime from somewhere) so I could buy a copy of SUPERBOY, not because I wanted the lead Superboy story (I can't recall what it was, even) but because I really wanted to read the back up, which was something where Superbaby went to a rodeo. (Ah, the joys of being 8 years old.)

I also remember picking up a JLA 80 page Giant and a FLASH 80 Page Giant from around that time, but they were exceptions... I didn't really seriously start buying comics until probably 1971 or so. And I do remember buying a great many 100 Page Super Spectaculars. I just wish I still had them all now.

Probably the best ones (that I can recall) were the DETECTIVES that had the Goodwin/Simonson MANHUNTER back ups. The front feature was usually a new Batman story, often by Goodwin and Aparo (as I recollect, lo these many years down the trail) and in between that and the MANHUNTER back up, there were all these cool reprints... Zatanna's search for Zatara was running then through many of the regular titles, and Batman's books were serializing Alfred's villainous turn as The Outsider around then. Plus we usually got some Golden Age Simon & Kirby MANHUNTER tale, too. It was primo stuff.

I wish someone would come out with another collection of the Goodwin/Simonson MANHUNTER. I got the album that came out back in the mid 80s, but lost it in a move in 1997, and have never had a chance to replace it. I loved that story.
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