Over the weekend, I went to SpaceCity Con here in Houston. It’s something of a Memorial Day tradition. Typically, the convention is Comicpalooza but that’s been pushed back to Father’s Day weekend. And, yes, before you ask, I’m going there as well.
I’m to the point in my comic book collecting where I gravitate towards the dollar bins. At conventions like these, there were boxes and boxes of comics that are bagged, boarded, and sealed for all time. Those don’t hold my interest anymore. For me, comics are, as they always have been, to read. Because my interests are so varied, I like to sample a lot of different books, even ones that weren’t on my radar back in the day.
The best thing about dollar bins is that, for the most part, they are un-alphabetized, un-bagged, un-boarded, and just shoved in a box. As a result, you literally have to go through book by book looking at the titles, smelling the old paper, pulling out titles that might interest you, and then subdividing said large stack of books into something small and manageable. Now, I’ll leave it up to you whether this spread is manageable or not, but for me, it’ll get me through the first month of summer… or until Comicpalooza!
The Batman titles there on the left are good selection of mid-70s material. The writer for the flagship title is David V. Reed. I haven’t read the Detective books yet. Overall, I was very pleased that I was able to locate a good number of books from 1976 that celebrated the Bicentennial now 40 years gone. That particular title there of Action Comics, when that bad guy is his hitting Superman into 1776, I had seen that cover for a long time and was finally was able to locate it. The Superman title second from the bottom—and the Wonder Woman title—both both look different. They are Pizza Hut collectible editions from the mid-70s. They are reprints from the 50s—which is what I really thought they were—but still fun reading.
Column three has got two sets of titles. There is the Master of Kung Fu which I have heard lots of good things about. Evidently it began as a typical title to capture the early 70s kung fu craze but morphed into a sort of superspy storyline. Shang Chi, the master himself, is the son of Fu Manchu. Back in the 70s, Marvel had the rights to Fu Manchu and used them. Ever since, those rights have lapsed. Thus these titles rarely get reprinted. This particular run, issues 83 to 87, is a single storyline, late in the run, but I figured it would be good chance to read and see what it was like. The Star Hunter stuff was DC’s answer to Star Wars. I have a fondness for cheesy space opera. Back in the day, I bought the debut issue, but never read or located any more. I found these four issues and picked them up. They’re not in order so I will be looking for the others come Father’s Day.
The comics in column three are random. A couple of Bicentennial ones down there on the bottom, each numbered with a special black-and-white number in the upper right-hand corner. When I do peruse the dollar bins, I try to find books that are thicker to give me more content and, most importantly, complete stories. Thus three of those titles in column 4 are all giant size. Ironically, that World’s Finest issue that cost a dollar back in 1979 also cost me a dollar in 2016.
I was lucky to find some Shadow books. The one down there on the front I liked in particular because that was when Denny O’Neil (of Batman fame) took up the title when DC got the rights to write stories about the character. The artist was Frank Robbins who was never one of my favorites — he did the Invaders for Marvel comics and that was my first taste of how cover art and interior art could be different. The modern titles I had never read or never heard of. Ironically these are from 1987 when Denny O’Neil was the editor of the Batman titles. I don’t think he had anything to do with this run, but it is a complete four issue set. The one there on top is a Shadow annual.
The titles on the last column are even more random than the others. A couple of Jonah Hex issue, one Man Wolf (I’m not too familiar with this one, but the creature in question is transformed, I think, by a gemstone from the moon), issue 1 of the Logan’s Run adaptation, and a big annual of Christmas stories from 1997. And, yes, I won’t read that one until December. That Rampaging Hulk title you see is the collection of the black-and-white stories from Marvel magazine back in the mid-70s. Marvel tried their hand at more adult content using the larger magazine format that wasn’t subject to the Comics Code. When the TV show became a hit, Rampaging Hulk was transformed to Hulk! and became color. The Essential titles are all black-and-white reprints typically of color comics, but since this collection were originally in black-and-white anyway — and it only cost five dollars whereas the standard original book cost at least double that amount — how can I pass it up?
That’s my haul from SpaceCity Con 2016. I’ll be reading and reviewing these periodically throughout the summer. Let me know if you have any history with any of these titles as I’d be curious to know if y’all read these books back in the day or even now.