This week we’ll take a look at my digital comic book pick ups from new Comic Book Day on November 4, 2020.
This week we’ll take a look at my digital comic book pick ups from new Comic Book Day on November 4, 2020.
In this episode we’ll take a look back at some notable comic books that were on the spinner racks in May 1983.
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This month I take a look back at my prime years of comic book collecting via the Newsstand Time Machine at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics to revisit the comics I bought off the spinner rack in June 1985. By 1985 our monthly comic book purchases were still steady at around 8 to 10 books a month, but started to decline toward the end of that year. Several superhero books on our pull list would be replaced by independent titles, with Dave Sim’s Cerebus and Mike Grell’s Jon Sable Freelance among the titles we looked forward to the most each month.
Alpha Flight #26
If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Written and penciled by John Byrne; Inked by Bob Wiacek
Written and drawn by Dave Sim; Backgrounds by Gerhard
Writers: Dennis O’Neil and Jim Shooter; Penciled by David Mazzuchelli; Inked by Kim DeMulder
Dreadstar and Company #4
The Hand of Darkness
Written and Drawn by Jim Starlin
Fantastic Four #282
Inwards to Infinity
Written and penciled by John Byrne; Inked by Jerry Ordway
Groo the Wanderer #7
The Ivory Graveyard
Written by Mark Evanier; Drawn by Sergio Aragones; Lettered by Stan Sakai
Jon Sable Freelance #29
Written and Drawn by Mike Grell
A Man Without a Past
Written by Annie Nocenti, Penciled by Arthur Adams, Inked by Brent Anderson
The Grand Alliance
Written and Drawn by Walter Simonson; Lettered by John Workman
Uncanny X-Men #197
To Save Arcade?
Written by Chris Claremont; Penciled by John Romita Jr.; Inked by Dan Green
Ten comic books purchased at a total cost of $8.05 ($17.97 in 2016 dollars). We’d been purchasing Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four and Thor since Byrne and Simonson began their respective runs on those titles in the early 80s, and we hadn’t missed an issue of Uncanny X-Men since Days of Future Past. The next longest purchase streak was Dave Sim’s Cerebus, which we would continue to buy consistently until the early 90’s. Not one DC title purchased that month, but a couple from Marvel’s Epic line, with Groo the Wanderer a favorite over the next several years.
Black Dragon #3
Written by Chris Claremont; Art by John Bolton
Conan the Barbarian #174
Children of the Night
Written by Jim Owsley; Penciled by John Buscema; Inked by Bob Camp
Written by Mark Evanier; Art by Dan Spiegle
Star Wars #99
Touch of the Goddess
Written by Jo Duffy; Penciled by Ron Frenz; Inked by Sam DeLaRosa
Swamp Thing #40
Written by Alan Moore; Penciled by Steve Bissette; Inked by John Totleben
Black Dragon #1 was a favorite of ours when it hit the spinner rack, but our local comic shop didn’t stock any subsequent issues. Recently I was able to track down issues #2-6. I have a few issues of Evanier and Spiegel’s Crossfire, but #12 is an issue I’m still on the lookout for, particularly for Dave Stevens’ amazing cover. By 1985 Star Wars wasn’t part of our monthly pickups (another title I’ll need to track down missing back issues for) and we completely missed out on Moore’s Swamp Thing. Conan the Barbarian was a sporadic purchase, which I regret because I missed out on an incredible amount of art by the great John Buscema. It’s now high on my list of back issue purchases at the next convention I attend.
This month I’m taking another trip back to my prime comic collecting years thanks to The Newsstand Time Machine at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics. I’m hoping to make this a monthly trip on Fante’s Inferno because it allows me to look back on some of the issues and storylines that I enjoyed way back when and to give me a new “want list” of missed issues to pick up at this year’s local comic cons.
“Good Guys Wear Red”
Written and penciled by Frank Miller, inked and colored by Klaus Janson
“The Angel and the Octopus”
Written by Danny Fingeroth, penciled by Frank Springer, inked by Vince Colletta
Fantastic Four #243
“Shall Earth Endure?”
Written and drawn by John Byrne
G.I. Joe #1
Written by Larry Hama, penciled by Herbe Trimpe, inked by Bob McLeod
Written by Larry Hama, penciled by Don Perlin, inked by Jack Abel
Iron Man #159
“When Strikes Diablo”
Written by Roger McKenzie, penciled by Paul Smith, inked by Terry Austin
Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1
“A Gathering of Heroes”
Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by John Romita Jr., inked by Pablo Marcos
Power Man & Iron Fist #82
“Secret of the Black Tiger”
Written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Denys Cowan, inked by Carl Potts
Star Wars #60
Written by David Michelinie, penciled by Walt Simonson, inked by Tom Palmer
The Uncanny X-Men #158
“The Life That Late I Led…”
Written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Dave Cockrum, inked by Bob Wiacek
What If? #33
“What If the Dazzler Had Become the Herald of Galactus”
Written by Danny Fingeroth, penciled by Mike Vosburg, inked by Jon D’Agostino
“What If Iron Man Had Been Trapped in King Arthur’s Time”
Written by Steven Grant, penciled by Don Perlin, inked by Bob Layton
Ten comic books bought in March 1982 for a whopping $7.30 ($17.94 today adjusted for inflation). I can’t remember a single month in which we bought ten new issues, and I couldn’t imagine buying that many current books today considering how cost prohibitive it would be. Many of those titles were consistent purchases for us, namely Uncanny X-Men, Star Wars, Fantastic Four (the cover for FF #243 is still one of my favorites), Daredevil and Iron Man (IM #159 was my introduction to the art of the amazing Paul Smith). Dazzler was most likely purchased because the X-Men’s Angel was on the cover, and there’s no doubt we picked up What If? #33 for the Iron Man trapped in King Arthur’s time story (the storyline originally told in issues #149 and #150 was simply amazing). G.I. Joe was a chance for me to own a #1 (my first speculative purchase) though I did continue to buy that title for the next year. Power Man and Iron Fist was new on our monthly buy list, and the back issues of Mary Jo Duffy’s run on that title are now on my “must buy” list at the next comic con I attend. Contest of Champions #1 was also a favorite of mine that month, though our local comic shop didn’t have the subsequent two issues. After 34 years I finally have a chance to read them now that I bought the hardcover collection.
Moon Knight #20 & #21
Doctor Strange #53
To miss an issue of Moon Knight back then was a rarity for us, but to miss two in one month? That’s unbelievable. The covers alone would have been enough for me to plunk down $1.20 for Moon Knight #20 and #21. It wasn’t until many years after their initial publication that I discovered Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin’s run on Doctor Strange with Roger Stern, and issue #53 is still missing from my collection. Three more issues I’ll have to pick up at my next convention!
This week I made a return trip to The Newsstand at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics to revisit the comics I bought (and missed out on) in February 1981. Comic book collecting was a big part of my life up to my late teens, and while I can’t remember a time in which my brother and I weren’t buying comic books, it really does amaze me as to how many books we missed out on back then. So here’s a look back at our purchases 35 years ago this month:
Jonah Hex #48
“The Vulture Creek Massacre” – written by Michael Fleisher, penciled by Dick Ayers, inked by Tony DeZuniga
“Devil’s Power” – Written by Ted Skimmer, penciled by Ross Andru, inked by Tony DeZuniga
Moon Knight #7
“The Moon Kings” – written by Doug Moench, penciled by Bill Sienkiewicz, inked by Klaus Janson
“And a Child Shall Deceive Them” – written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Sal Buscema, inked by Al Milgrom
Star Wars #47
“Droid World” – Written by Archie Goodwin, penciled by Carmine Infantino, inked by Gene Day
Uncanny X-Men #145
“Kidnapped” – Written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Dave Cockrum, inked by Josef Rubinstein
Five comic books purchased that month (cover dated May 1981) for a total of $2.50 ($6.52 today adjusted for inflation). Jonah Hex #48 is one of only two issues of that title in our collection (the first was #45), and that purchase was most likely based on Tony DeZuniga’s amazing cover. I’m not sure why we didn’t stick with the title, but it’s now on my list to hunt for at the next comic con I attend. Moench and Sinkiewicz’s run on Moon Knight was by far one of my favorites of that era, and by the time the powerful cover for Moon Knight #7 hit the spinner rack that month, we were already hooked on the title. We had purchased Rom sporadically over the first ten issues of the run, but seeing Rom and the X-Men on the cover of issue #18 drawn by two of my favorite artists (if only Frank Miller and Terry Austin had collaborated more!) made this a must have. By February 1981 I was probably a bigger fan of the Star Wars comics than the films (that changed once we got cable TV and Star Wars: A New Hope played about 50 times a month), and those books were my introduction to the art of the great Carmine Infantino. But the Uncanny X-Men was by far my favorite title throughout the 80’s, in part due to Dave Cockrum’s second run on the book which began with issue #145. While I loved the stories from Claremont, Byrne and Austin’s run, it was Claremont and Cockrum’s stories that got me emotionally invested in the characters.
“The Kingpin Must Die!” – Written and penciled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson
Iron Man #146
“Blacklash – And the Burning” – Written by David Michelinie, penciled by John Romita Jr., inked by Bob Layton
Two more rare misses for titles that were consistent purchases for us back then, though I did recently pick up a copy of Daredevil #170 at a comic con recently. Iron Man #146 was one of only two issues we missed during the Michelinie/Romita Jr./Layton run.
This week I decided to take another trip down comic book memory lane via the Newsstand Time Machine at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics and look up which comics we had bought (and missed out on) during a particular month of our prime collecting years of the late 70’s to mid 80’s. Rather than using my usual 30 year benchmark I picked a year at random and decided on a look back at the comics that went on sale in April 1981. I narrowed it down to the following purchases:
Moon Knight #9
Written by Doug Moench, art by Bill Sienkiewicz
The Uncanny X-Men #147
Written by Chris Claremont, art by Dave Cockrum and Josef Rubinstein
What If #27
Written by Mary Jo Duffy, art by Jerry Bingham and John Stuart
Iron Man #148
Written by David Michelinie, art by John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton
Star Wars #49
Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Walter Simonson and Tom Palmer
Not surprisingly, our purchases (totalling $2.75) were entirely Marvel. But I am surprised at how few comics we bought off the spinner rack that month. I wasn’t reading Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America at that point, though those titles and Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man would soon be consistent purchases. Of the issues listed above, What If? #27 was and still is a particular favorite (see my earlier post revisiting this issue). Each of these issues were part of memorable runs that I still reach into the old box o’ comics to read time and again, particularly Claremont/Cockrum/Rubinstein’s run on Uncanny X-Men. I’ll still take these stories over most of the comics published today.
Fantastic Four #232
Story and art by John Byrne
Written by Frank Miller, art by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
These two missed issues were a surprise to me. Byrne’s run on FF and Miller/Janson’s on Daredevil are still favorites of mine from that era, and I’m still not sure why we hadn’t picked up these two issues off the spinner rack back in April 1981 or as back issues over the last 30 odd years (I finally read FF #232 in its original form in IDW’s John Byrne Artist Edition). They’re now high on my list of books to seek out and buy at the New York based conventions this year, along with several other titles available that month such as Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, New Teen Titans, Jonah Hex and Warlord.
When I cut back significantly on buying comics over the last year, I wondered if that was pretty much the end of collecting for me. But discovering what I missed out on over the years has lit the fire in me to keep collecting (even if they are primarily back issues), complete runs started way back when, and start a few more along the way.
Lately I’ve been looking back on the comic book runs that hooked me during the 1980s. Back then my brother and I would visit our local comic shop every Saturday and plunk down a few bucks for the latest issues of The Uncanny X-Men, The Fantastic Four and Thor among other (mainly) Marvel titles (by the mid-80’s there would also be a few independent titles in the mix). I recently opened up the old box o’comics and wondered how many comics I would have bought on a month to month basis during my prime years of collecting.
I recently discovered the fantastic Newsstand Time Machine at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, a comic book database that allows visitors to search for the titles that were on sale during a particular month and year. I figured I would use my usual 30 year benchmark to look back, and I was able to track down our exact comic book purchases for January 1985:
Alien Legion #6
Alpha Flight #21 and #22
Doctor Strange #70
Fantastic Four #277
Groo the Wanderer #2 and #3
The New Mutants #27
Uncanny X-Men #192
Void Indigo #2
Looking back on this list, the titles we bought that month aren’t surprising. At that point in our comic collecting we were primarily Marvel readers, with only sporadic purchases of DC titles. Alpha Flight, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Four, Thor and The Uncanny X-Men were consistent favorites of ours for several years and would make up the bulk of our comic book collection. Bill Sienkiewicz’s art got me hooked for a second time on The New Mutants, and Groo the Wanderer by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones would become a new favorite over the next twenty or so issues in 1985-1986.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1
Jon Sable Freelance #24
Dave Sim’s Cerebus and Mike Grell’s Jon Sable Freelance were also consistent purchases for us, but that month’s issues sold out at our local comic shop before we could buy them. Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 was a flat out miss on our part and that’s one I regret not picking up back then.
January 1985’s purchases added up to a whopping $9.05 for ten comic books ($19.86 today adjusted for inflation). The same number of comic books today would run me about $44. In my opinion we got better art and more story/character development per issue for a fraction of the price back then, and it’s no coincidence that my comic book purchases over the last year or so have been mainly back issues. Sure they cost a few bucks more nowadays, but I enjoy the feeling of nostalgia I get when I find a back issue from the 80’s that I missed the first time on the spinner rack. In a way I’m glad we missed a few issues back then.
Since the first show in 2006, the New York Comic Con is the comic book related event that I look forward to the most each year. I still can’t believe that only eight years ago it started as a one room event that took up a fraction of the Jacob Javits Center. And while I tend to complain about the crowds in the exhibit hall each year, I am very happy that the show has grown in popularity into one of the premiere comic book conventions with an attendance (over 151,000 attendees) that has now surpassed the San Diego Comic Con.
I’ll admit I don’t take as full advantage of the show as most of the attendees do. I don’t cosplay (though I am tempted to break out the stormtrooper armor each year), and I avoid the larger panels for the less crowded sessions, but that’s because I choose to maximize my time in Artist Alley to meet the creators that have written and drawn my favorite stories of the last four decades. This year was no different but that was because I had less time at NYCC than previous years. My faithful sidekick and I had set up a two week vacation in Arizona and New Mexico that overlapped the first three days of NYCC and I didn’t think I would be able to attend this year. But when I found out we were flying the red eye from Albuquerque to JFK I knew that I could make the last day of the show.
While I may have missed New York Super Week and the first three days of NYCC, I made up for it by buying some comic related merchandise during our stop in Albuquerque. First stop was the amazing Astro-Zombies comic shop where I got a great deal on copies of X-Men #90 and Fantastic Four #92. I also found Days of Future Past HeroClix that sold out at my New York comic and game shops (Storm, Blob, Pyro and a Sentinel!). If you’re ever in Albuquerque, I highly recommend a visit to Astro-Zombies. They have a great selection of new and back issues and a friendly staff. I also picked up a few Marvel Comics themed wall decorations at a local art store on sale. Buying these items that I would have picked up at NYCC softened the blow of not attending the first three days (and probably saved me a few bucks!). Heck, even the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta had a con feel with a huge crowd and members of the local chapter of the 501st Legion in attendance as the Darth Vader and Yoda hot air balloons ascended!
But no sooner than I had gotten home from JFK Sunday morning, I was pulling together every book I wanted autographed, my sketch book for commissions, and of course The Captain America Project to (hopefully) complete. I arrived at the Javits Center around 9:15 that morning, and I was surprised to not see a crowd gathered in front. But reality soon set in when I realized the thousands of attendees were lined up in the lower level of the convention center prior to the 10:00 start time. Overall it was a good system, and even though I was towards the back of the line I made it into Artist Alley by about 10:15. Thankfully most of the attendees were heading to the exhibit hall and Artist Alley was practically empty when I walked in.
My top priority at NYCC was completing the Captain America Project: a jam page of 20 drawings of Captain America by 20 different artists. After four years, 17 of the 20 spots on my Captain America jam page had been filled by artists like Jim Lee, David Finch, Herb Trimpe and even Golden Age artist Allen Bellman. I had put a lot of thought into which artists I wanted to finish the page, and even though there were more artists to choose from than spots available on the page, I decided they would be filled by three of my favorite artists of the last 30 years. My first two stops were Lee Weeks’ and Bob McLeod’s tables.
Weeks’ art has been a favorite of mine over the last ten years, most recently his work on Daredevil: Dark Nights #1-3, and I’ve been a huge fan of Bob McLeod’s work since the early 80’s, particularly his run on The New Mutants. So as long time fans of their work, they were “must haves” on The Captain America Project. I had originally planned on posting scans of their Cap sketches in this post, but then I realized they would be major spoilers of their individual posts for The Captain America Project, so I decided to hold off. But in the meantime, here are a couple of pictures of them sketching on the page:
Unfortunately, the third artist that I was hoping would cap off the page (pun intended) wasn’t able to attend Sunday, so I’ll keep that one a surprise until I’m able to get that sketch at a future show.
After collecting autographs from artists Rob Liefeld, Allen Bellman, Howard Chaykin and former Marvel writer/artist/editor Al Milgrom for my copy of Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics, my last stop of the afternoon was The Artists’ Choice table for a sketch from artist Jerry Ordway (Superman). Going into the show, one of the items on my wish list was a full sized sketch of Superman from Ordway, and he didn’t disappoint with this gem:
I had every intention of staying until the end of the show to hit the exhibit hall and get a few more sketches, but by 3:00 I realized that I hadn’t slept in over 30 hours (maybe that’s a con endurance record?) and it was time to head home before I passed out and the attendees swiped my sketches. But this year’s NYCC was definitely worth the red eye flight and sleep deprivation. Looking forward to next year!
Sunday March 30th marked the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27. National Periodicals (later to be DC Comics) introduced Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s creation to the world on that day in 1939, and eight decades later the Dark Knight is as popular as ever in comic books, film and television.
Batman was the first comic book hero that I was introduced to thanks to reruns of the 60’s television series starring Adam West. This was several years before I bought my first comic book, and despite its campiness I still have a soft spot for the original series to this day.
In honor of The Dark Knight’s 75th birthday, here’s a list of my all time favorite representations of Batman:
Favorite Batman Artist: Neal Adams
Choosing my favorite Batman artist was a tough task for me considering how many incredible artists have drawn the Batman books over the years (Jerry Robinson, Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino and Jim Aparo, just to name a few). But it was Neal Adams’ Batman that was my first introduction to the Dark Knight on the comic book page, and it’s his artwork that comes to mind when I think of the character.
Favorite Issue: Batman Special #1 (1984)
This story of Batman vs. The Wrath is one that stuck with me over the years. Batman’s nemesis in this special issue was his complete antithesis even down to the death of his parents. Great story by Mike W. Barr and art by Michael Golden and Mike DeCarlo.
Favorite Run: Batman: Year One
Favorite Cover: Detective Comics #69
Jerry Robinson’s cover for Detective Comics #69 just barely edges out Neal Adams’ cover for Detective Comics #400 as my favorite of all time.
Favorite Batman Film: The Dark Knight
Favorite Televised Version of Batman: Batman: The Animated Series
I was 20 and out of comics collecting when Batman: The Animated Series premiered on Fox in 1992. I was expecting more of the campiness of the 1966 series, but was blown away by the noir tone and I was hooked. (My favorite episode of the series: Beware the Gray Ghost, guest starring Adam West).
Here’s to another 75 years of Batman.
Happy birthday to Jack “King” Kirby on what would have been his 96th birthday.
My first exposure to Jack Kirby’s work was back in the 70’s in the Italian language reprints of his Silver Age work on The Fantastic Four and the Eternals. These reprints were published in Italy about 10 years after their initial U.S. publication, but they were new to me and I was hooked. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since, and I’m truly grateful for the iconic characters he created and co-created over the course of his career.