A couple of weeks ago, the best local comic shop was having a sidewalk sale, which they do every so often. It's the kind of thing I never miss, if I can help it. It used to be that I was looking for finds for my own collection. Now, I go looking for stuff to sell. When the comics are a quarter or less, I can usually find it, too. I sell a lot of comics, you know.
My relationship to comics has changed over the years, but this store is still kind of special to me. It's the first comic shop I ever visited, way back in my senior year of high school. My best friend and I came up right after Christmas that year. It was an amazing experience for me. So many comics in one little spot.
That was 30 years ago, and when you consider that the store has been open for 35 years, that means that I have been shopping there, in one form or another, for most of its existence. Most of mine too, now that I think about it. Even though I am not a regular any more, one of the managers still knows me by name. It's that kind of place.
Anyway, back to the sidewalk sale. Usually, these sales are about clearing out overstock of titles from the past couple of years that didn't sell through as expected. I'm looking for these "event" issues that were hyped up and sought out then, but have cooled waaaay off now. If I can pick several up in the 25 cent range, I can make decent money reselling them at a fraction of the cover price. It's a strategy that seems to work. With prices of comics these days, not everyone can afford to run out and buy every issue of the big crossover story any more.
When I was digging around in the boxes, though, something else happened. I found memories. For some of us, the nostalgic aspect of junking is a motivating factor. It's just that instead of striking the nostalgia chord by buying something to keep, we buy it to pass on and strike someone else's nostalgia chord. I've found that it's just as satisfying to own something for as long as it takes to sell it, as it is to hang onto it for life.
You have to understand that when I was a young lad trolling the quarter boxes at flea markets and in shops, they were treasure bins. Classics from the late sixties and early seventies would fall into my hands. Eighty page giants. One hundred page specials. Classic stories. Classic art. I built an awesome collection a quarter at a time.
This was pre-eBay, pre-internet, when things were abundant and cheap and you never knew what you would find. Quarter boxes haven't been like that for years, if you can even find them these days. Mostly, they're fifty-cent boxes any more. For a few moments that Saturday afternoon, things were almost like they used to be. I was finding treasure scattered amongst the merchandise.
This was one of the first Marvel comics I can ever remember buying with my own money. I got my copy at the old drug store on the square in my hometown, the one with the soda fountain where they cut your hot dog in half down the middle and fried it on the grill. They never had very many comics, but they did have a few on their magazine rack.
|What If? (first series) #4|
I was never that into Marvel as a kid. I just always preferred the color and wonder of DC's to Marvel's angst and bombast. But I liked the Invaders. Until I got into the X-men a few years later, it was the only Marvel comic I followed.
This was a reminder of quarter boxes past. You used to be able to find these old giants all the time. You sure can't find them on eBay for that price! I didn't get to the sale until about one o'clock, so I was surprised this was still there. Kids these days don't know what they're missing. I already have this one (and the Invaders above), so they'll go to the booth to be passed on to someone else.
My mom would go through these phases when she would try to "clean up" my comic collection. Mind you, this was in the late seventies and early eighties. Mainstream, newsstand comics were pretty tame in those days. One year for my birthday, she got me a whole stack of Spire Christian comics. Another time, it was a bunch of these literary adaptations.
|Marvel Classics #18|
After Wonder Woman and Teen Titans, this was my favorite title, drawn by one of my favorite artists. I am pretty sure I have both of these, but I'm hanging onto them until I know fir sure. I've been paring my collection way down over the years, but some things you keep.
|Two more Superboys, for which I did not note the issue numbers.|
Finally, a find I could not believe. You never find these Classics Junior issues for a quarter, even when they're in rough shape. These babies are keepers. I've always loved the Classics Illustrated titles. I read a ton of them when I was young and they were still being published. I think my mother may have had a hand in that as well.
|A gaggle of Classics Illustrated Juniors|
One of the wonderful things about junking is that you just never know what waits for you when you set out. This is true no matter what the reason you go out searching for junk. Sometimes the unexpected find is tangible and will bring you dollars. Other times, it's just a memory that makes you happy. I'm not sure which I prefer more.