Tuesday, 4 August 2020

ARE HEROES ALL LOOSE CANNONS...?


Copyright relevant owner

If you're in a certain age group, you'll know that back in the '60s (and before), US comics were transported to this country as ballast on ships.  You probably wouldn't have known that fact back then as there was no need to, but most older collectors are aware of it now, and probably have been since the '70s and '80s.  Again, if you're of a certain age, you'll remember some US comics turning up again in shops months or years after they'd first been on sale, presumably because there'd been copies lying forgotten in the hold of a ship or in a warehouse somewhere.


I recall buying my second copy of a 1966 issue of WORLD'S FINEST in Blackpool in '73 or '74, as well as several KIRBY FANTASTIC FOURS and BUSCEMA SILVER SURFERS.  Plus, numerous copies of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Annual #1 from 1965 turned up in various newsagents in my home town, again in '73/'74.  It was quite a common occurrence back then, but when the whole distribution setup changed, finding pristine copies of '60s comics years after the fact (and at cover price too) became a thing of the past.


With one exception that I know of - HEROES, INC. Presents CANNON, a 1969 self-published comic by WALLY WOOD, aimed at US military servicemen serving abroad.  Apparently, back in 2005, HERITAGE AUCTIONS auctioned off a lot of 70,000 issues from a warehouse find.  A number of years ago, I saw several on a shelf in a Glasgow comics shop, going for the same price as new US comics alongside it, so I guess they came from that stash of 70,000 copies.  I bought a couple (though not both on the same day) and still have them all these years later.  Surprisingly, great condition copies are still not that expensive today, so if you've ever thought about adding it to your collection, now might be a good time.


There was a second issue in 1976, this time published by CPL GANG PUBLICATIONS, but that's one I don't have.  As it seems to have been an afterthought, I probably won't bother tracking it down, but if I ever see one for a reasonable price, I may succumb.  I thought I'd featured the first issue on the blog before, but I can't find the post, so I've decided just to treat this occasion as the first time.  There's some nice art in the mag and it simply sings of the '60s, so I'm sure all you oldies out there will enjoy seeing it.


So here's a question for you all.  Have you ever bought any 'old' comics years after the fact in brand-new condition from a newsagent's spinner-rack (for the same price as then-contemporary comics), and if so, which ones were they and do you still have them?  Regardless of whether you do or not, what memories are conjured up in your mind on sight or thought of them, and do you still remember the thrill of exhilaration when you saw them looking up at you from that pile of other mags?    

26 comments:

Terranova47 said...

Great comic art from Walley Wood.

I moved to the US in 1974 and found that in some stores that sold old/used books they often had old comics that were unsold returns that had been bundled in warehouses and instead of recycling them the edges were brushed with blue ink. They were then unsaleable as new but were discounted for 5 or 10 cents.

When US comics had the cover price change made at the end of the print run so they could be sold in the UK the quality/condition of the comics improved but those with the price change do not have the same price value to US collectors.

Kid said...

Steve Ditko pencilled the first story, T47, Wally Wood inked it. I always thought Wood was Jack Kirby's best inker - there are some Wood-inked Challengers Of The Unknown pages by Kirby on the blog somewhere, should you be interested.

As for UK priced US comics not having the same value to American collectors, hopefully that means they'll leave them for we Brits.

It's odd that any comics were unreturned, as the covers (or titles) were supposed to be torn off and returned so that the seller/news vendor, etc., wouldn't have to pay for them. Then they could sell them without covers or titles and make a small profit from them.

I just realised that you were born in '47 and moved to America in '74, which is '47 in reverse. Seems those two numbers were significant in your life, eh?

Fantastic Four follower said...

Hope all of you are well.Many examples of warehouse finds over the years including:multiple copies of His Name is Savage(which blew me away, pun intended) from 1968 turning up in batches of 10-20 copies around 1980 and again in 1986 in our local bookshops:similarly 25-30 copies of Mad #1(British edition from 1959 again turning up in the 1980's on numerous occasions:Also in 1979 literally 100s of Warren mags Creepy between #55-77,Eerie between 48-75 and Spirit #2-11 and also Vampirellas from the same time period all priced at 30 pence!!!!!! I had never seen Warren magazines in the flesh(pun intended) before and constantly worried my mum would find them! The innocence of youth, I was 35 at the time!The owner of the bookshop actually discounted them to 20p each because I bought that many. There were literally bundles of these mags with forty plus copies of each issue. Amazing. However ea h time they sold out, it was the same 20 issues that were replaced, none earlier and none later Also coming home from school one day I found some water wrinkled comics including non distributed Avengers #130, Fantastic Four 148 and............. Amazing Spiderman #121 the death of Gwen Stacy. We had not seen Amazing Spiderman comics in UK and Ireland in 3-4years so this was unbelievable. Remember this was basically before comic shops and there were 2 copies available! Happy memories from simpler times. We lived through a golden era with both British reprints and irregular shipments od the coveted US originals all part of a 25 year comic puzzle that was Marvel comics. Great post keep up the good work.

McSCOTTY said...

I have the second issue of “Heroes Inc Presents” comic somewhere in my collection if I recall correctly it’s in black and white. I certainly remember regularly picking up older US comics in newsagents in the 1970s that first came out 4/ 5 years (maybe more) previously but can’t recall the actual titles. The only ones I do remember were Iron Man 38 that was published in 1971 which I picked up around 74 in a newsagent. Around the same time I also picked up a couple of King Comics (Phantom and Mandrake the Magician) that were published in 1969ish but I can’t remember the actual issues as they weren’t great books and I think I gave them away not long afterwards.

Kid said...

Wow, that's amazing about the UK edition of Mad #1, wish I'd seen it, Triple F. (I've got a couple of reprints of it in some Specials.) I wonder if all the comics you mention had been lying forgotten in a warehouse, or somebody in the trade had deliberately stashed them as an investment and then finally decided to offload them. (Or perhaps popped his clogs and whoever replaced him found them and sent them on to the shops.) Great post? Thanks, great comment. Keep 'em coming.

******

Something similar happened with 'World Of Wood', McS, a mid-'80s four ish reprint series about Wally Wood. A few years later, an issue #5 appeared, but it wasn't in colour and looks out of place next to the other four, which each declare that they're part of a four issue series. I think that on occasion, some single comics just sat in the spinner-racks for years, lost amidst the others, but most of the older ones that turned up years later must've been warehouse finds. Just think - 70,000 copies of Heroes, Inc. - that could well have been the entire print run (or a large percentage of it at least).

Phil S said...

You know the story of issue 1? There was a warehouse theft of about a thousand copies which were sold off and for many years before the Heritage Auctions find , those were the issues being collected.
I have one .i think . I mean I got mine way back in the 70s so I assume .

Kid said...

No, didn't know that, PS. 1,000 copies, eh? Though seems to me it was a bigger crime to leave 70,000 issues in a warehouse for over 35 years.

Dave S said...

Around 1987 there was a shop in Glasgow which sold greeting cards, wrapping paper and stuff like that. Out of nowhere one day, they had a stack of comics that were all 2-10 years old, all in mint condition and at cover price, so I'm assuming they were a warehouse find.

Unfortunately for me, they were almost all DC stuff, which didn't interest me at the time- there was a lot of Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders and what seemed like a never-ending pile of Legion of Super Heroes issues.

What did appeal to me though was that they also had a few Alan Class comics, which I snapped up and enjoyed. Can't remember the titles sadly, but I think Secrets of the Unknown and Uncanny Tales might have been in there.

Kid said...

I'd have loved to have nabbed some of those Alan Class comics, DS - what a find. Considering that they're only poorly printed b&w reprints, they seem to go for a helluva price on ebay these days. None of those DC titles would've interested me either.

Colin Jones said...

No old comics but I did buy two Treasury Editions long after they were originally published. I was on holiday in Burry Port in South Wales (which is by the sea) in August 1977 and in a newsagents I found the 1974 Thor TE and the 1975 Conan TE. Obviously I snapped them both up :)

Kid said...

Perhaps they'd been in the shop since they first went on sale, CJ? Some of those seaside resorts keep stuff for ages. In fact, I wonder if that's why Blackpool had so many old comics still available in the early to mid '70s?

Incidentally, I've got both of the Treasury Editions you mention, but they're replacements for my originals. Having said that, I got the Thor one back in the late '70s or early '80s, though I only replaced the Conan one last year.

Anonymous said...

Found FF#105, Iron Man 32, Subby 32, DD 71 all dated Dec 1970 and picked up from a local corner shop some time in '75 for 5p each. If I had more pocket money I would have bought more of them! Hey, 5p was a lot in those days!!!
Spirit of '64

Kid said...

It's a shame such finds don't happen nowadays, S64. Wouldn't it be great to walk into a newsagent's and see old US comics in brand-new condition for the same price of current comics? Trouble is, newsagents don't even sell current US comics. How times have changed.

McSCOTTY said...

Dave's story also reminds me of a local newsagent come general store in Glasgow (think it was on the corner of West Nile Street heading towards Sauchiehall street) that also one day out of the blue had a selection of mid 1960s to early 1970s DCs comics for sale (I remember seeing an old Jimmy Olsen) this was around the mid 1980s. From memory they were bagged and whilst not expensive they were not that cheap. I never picked them up as I was on a night out with my mates at the time and we were "afe tae the dancin" and it wasn't cool going to Ultratech with old comics (well it wasn't then) I wonder if it was the same shop?

Kid said...

I remember my local newsagent's once having a selection of bagged Marvel mags (this would've been around 2003), McS, some from the early '90s. I already had two of the comics, but I bought them again anyway. I imagine it was a comics distributor clearing out its old stock. I think that was the only time I ever saw anything like that in my home town though.

C'mon, DS - we're dying to know - was it the same shop that McS was in?

McSCOTTY said...

When we moved to the town I now live in (then not a large town more a large Village) I was stunned at how many newsagents there were that sold MARVEL and DC Comics compared to the Rutherglen area I moved from (well apart from "Johnny's") . I recall going for a walk in the town and popping into this newsagent that had a massive (old fashioned) entry door . Looking at the selection of mags on the counter I was really disappointed as there were only a few UK Marvel weeklies so I just bought a chocolate bar and went to leave then I saw that behind this massive door there was around 40 US Marvel comics (and a few DC , Charltons etc) displayed cover facing on thin shelves. This was around 1976ish I think I bought just about ever one of them and they updated them regularly - I never asked if the owner was a comic fan (too shy) or just a good businessman as comics were quick big sellers back then.

Dave S said...

Sorry gents, it wasn't the same shop. The one I went to was on Pollokshaws Road, but I've no idea the name of it! It's long gone now- I did enjoy the Alan Class comics I bought there though. They were always a triumph of content over style. That's my pretentious way of saying they looked cheap but were great fun.

Kid said...

I dream about shops like that, McS - really. I also dream about walking into newsagents and seeing Wham! and Smash! still on sale. Perhaps in an alternate reality, eh? I'm not sure why, when the direct sales method was adopted, they couldn't still have had comics on sale in other shops. I know they were for a while, but it soon faded. Wouldn't it be great to go into WHS and see US comics back on sale? Bring it on!

******

They were certainly good value for money, DS, but Alan Class wore out the printing plates using them over and over again. The comics eventually became reprints of reprints, but he probably didn't have copyright permission to do new issues with later stories. The '60s issues are probably better, because they had more pages and the reproduction was a bit sharper. I've only got around 15 or so in my collection, so I really must pick up some more.

Dave S said...

I remember when WHS and John Menzies got their US comics in, they would just put them on the shelf in one huge pile. Looking through that big stack of newsprint was way better than going into a comic shop and seeing every title laid out alphabetically, for me. You just never know what you were going to see next!

I've said this before, Kid, but when I first became a collector rather than just a reader, I was going into John Menzies and picking comics from a stack that at that time included Walt Simonson's Thor, Byrne's FF, Daredevil Born Again, the Avengers by Stern, Buscema and Palmer, Marvel Tales reprints of Lee/Romita Spider-Man, Claremont's X-Men... is it any wonder I got hooked?

Btw, I've remembered another random comic purchase- mid 90s this time, a newsagent in the South of Glasgow. There was one comic on the shelf- Young All Stars #1. I bought it, and since it was a warm summer morning and I had nothing to do, took it to a nearby quiet grassy area, sat under a tree and read it cover to cover... and it was dull dull dull.

DC published some comics before Crisis that were silly and ridiculous but fun and entertaining. After Crisis, I felt that a lot of their stuff was earnest but really staid and sometimes boring.

Kid said...

Yeah, John Menzies - used to love looking through the comics in there during the '70s, DS. There are some that take me right back there whenever I look at them, even though they're mostly replacements of my originals.

I've mentioned before about going through a stack of comics in another newsagent's and finding The Saga Of The Swamp Thing #1. I was about to put it aside (ready to buy) while continuing to look through the pile, when I noticed someone hovering, getting ready to pounce on the comic. I snatched it up again and looked through the others, one-handed, then went to the counter and made my purchase. Betcha that guy was hoping to find another copy, but I got the only one. Just as well I noticed him lurking or he'd have nabbed it.

Yeah, DC mags stopped being fun quite a few years back now. Marvel went down that road too, unfortunately.

Christopher Nevell said...

Ah yes - hovering rivals... I don’t recall missing out on anything because of them but what an irritation!

Kid said...

I was just about to put the comic down next to me when I spotted him out of the corner of my eye, CN. I glanced up at him and it was obvious what his intention was - to snatch old Swampy from my side. Every time I look at the cover, I remember how close it came to belonging to someone else. (Unless I was prepared to fight for it, but then it would have got damaged.) I never saw another copy of it in any other shops in my town, so I was lucky to get it. I wonder if he ever tracked down another copy?

Colin Jones said...

In the late '70s/early '80s I had an associate called Lee who was a huge Marvel fan (I call him an associate rather than a friend because he was a year younger than me and Marvel comics were our only common interest). One Saturday morning I was in WH Smiths perusing the newly-arrived US Marvel comics but I had plenty of time so I decided to look around at other things before going back and choosing my comics. I happened to look up and, lo and behold, through the window I saw Lee approaching. I rushed back to those Marvel comics and grabbed the ones I wanted before Lee snatched them first!

Kid said...

The word you were looking for was 'acquaintance', CJ, rather than 'associate' (which suggests a business relationship), but I know what you mean. Now that I've had my pedantic fix for the day (ta for providing the opportunity), it's just as well you noticed him, otherwise you could've lost out on a few good mags that have provided you with fond memories over the years. Now, I can't quite put my finger on it, but for some reason, I seem to sense some kind of association between the words 'Marvel' and 'Lee'. I wonder what it is?

Colin Jones said...

Kid, that had never occurred to me!

In 1981 Lee came to school with about 10 plastic bags full of comics which he expected me to take off his hands. He had decided to give all his comics away and he assumed I would take them all. I told him something like "Are you bonkers, I can't carry them around all day!" so he proceeded to just hand them out to everyone he met. For the rest of the day there were Marvel comics flying around all over the place. I did end up with some myself - I got an Avengers Treasury Edition and the final issue of Red Sonja among others.

The last I heard of Lee he'd become quite religious. I suppose reading about superheroes prepares you for believing in a man who walked on water :D

Kid said...

Gosh, CJ, your overwhelming sense of gratitude in the face of Lee's generosity is palpable (not). Why didn't I have pals like that? Incidentally, I walk on water quite frequently. (Lots of puddles in my neighbourhood after it's been raining.)

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