Sunday, May 26, 2013

Precious 1938 Superman comic found in wall insulation | The Japan Times

Precious 1938 Superman comic found in wall insulation | The Japan Times

It's not often we get American comic book news over here in Japan, but I suppose this is a biggie. It's too bad about the family strife it caused.  Superman himself would not be pleased.

Have you ever dreamed of finding a comic book treasure forgotten in some attic or for sale for four for a dollar at a flea market or garage sale?  I used to fantasize about such things until the reality set in that the chances of doing so-- of finding Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27 residing in some dusty wooden chest in pristine condition as if they were meant to be mine-- were about the same as hitting the Power Ball or being attacked by a shark.

Still, as I've related a few times here in this blog, I've gotten lucky more than once.  Way back in junior high I bought a run of Uncanny X-Men commencing with #94 itself from a friend.  His mother worked for a newsstand owned by a regional magazine distributor and used to bring home comics by the box-full for this kid, who didn't really appreciate them.  I had no idea what I was getting into that afernoon, but he took ten bucks plus a promise for ten more at a later date for a pile of comics he'd left haphazardly stuffed in a cabinet.  I had them for a month before I noticed an ad in one of my newer comics offering #94 for sixty dollars.

Sixty dollars?  For a comic book that didn't even have Superman or Batman in it?  I almost wet my pants.  I pulled out my X-Men books and couldn't believe my good fortune.  Not only did I have #94, but I had every issue up to #100 and then a few after that.  The one in worst condition was #106, with cover tears, but the others were fresh and glossy.  Not mint by any means.  We read them back in those days.  I was just more careful with mine than most, mainly because I knew I'd want to read them again and again.  You didn't have paperback re-print collections of entire series back then, just books with a few selected stories.

The most coveted one I lacked was Giant-Size X-Men #1.  A few weeks after that, I completed the transaction by loaning the kid my left-handed baseball glove during P.E. and by then I was a confirmed comic book fanatic.

My next lucky find was Cerebus #5 at the flea market just past the city limit sign across the river.  My dad used to buy turnip greens there, so he was usually willing to drive us way out to that dusty place almost any Saturday morning he wasn't busy with yardwork or changing the oil in our various cars and trucks.  The comic book stall featured a box marked "Four for a Dollar" and while the stock largely consisted of Marvel re-print books and old Killravens that left gray soot in the grooves of your fingerprints, somehow that Cerebus snuck in there and I took it home.  I didn't even know what it was; it just looked cool.

It may have even been one of those counterfeits I later read about (I know some unscrupulous soul faked the first issue, but maybe someone also did a full run of early Cerebus-- I don't know!), but a few months later that left-handed friend of mine offered me the first issue of New Teen Titans for it.  We looked at an ad for back issues in another comic and I felt I was getting ripped off, but he kept reminding me what a deal I'd gotten on those Uncanny X-Men comics, and I wanted that New Teen Titans.

Another Saturday at the flea market and the woman who ran the stall told me she had a huge pile of comics she hadn't been able to catalog lying on the floor of her van.  Since I was a regular customer she offered to let me pick through them and take whatever I wanted for a quarter each.  Sounded good to me, so I climbed in and found almost every single Frank Miller Daredevil.  Including the first one he wrote and drew.  He was just about to leave Marvel and go to DC to do Ronin, so Miller was huge at the time.  I bought all of them (plus some Killravens) and went through a Frank Miller phase I grew out of way before Frank Miller himself did.

Well, none of that excitement equals pulling an Action Comics #1 out of a wall in some old house, but at the time it was like being a comic book Indiana Jones.  And that was good enough for me.

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