ISSUE #2 – Who Are You?

Between The Sheets: A Cover Tunes Special

 

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS THE PERSONAL OPINION OF THIS WRITER AND NOT NECESSARILY THAT OF OTHER CBSI CONTRIBUTORS OR COMICBOOKINVEST.COM.

 

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If you’d rather NOT READ the following intro and get right to the list, skip down to where it says “START HERE.” I won’t be offended.

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Welcome back from Thanksgiving, fellow hunters. I hope you all had a restful (read as tryptophan-induced) weekend filled with food, family and football. Moreover, I really hope you got some quality hunting in for various nerdy Black Friday sales and deals. There were a lot to be had in the Nashville area. I hope you experienced similar success.

So, into this week’s topics. I think this topic is VERY important to flesh out…

 

There are clearly 5 or 6 very different types of comic collectors:

 

1. READERS – People who buy their weekly titles sight-unseen and read them. Usually, these collectors just want the run and buy the “A” cover unless a “B” cover really speaks to them in some way. These folks buy and read both new and old comics, especially classic story arcs. Interior art and story are quite important to these collectors.

2. COVER COLLECTORS – These are people who buy pretty covers and don’t really read the actual comics (nothing wrong with that, in my opinion). These collectors usually latch on to specific artists they like and will buy virtually every cover from those artists. They may also break out and buy other outlying artists if the cover rocks and may also buy based on interior art if it’s done by one of “their” artists.

3. INVESTORS –  These collectors buy in various grades at the top of the market often buying keys and highly sought after variants with the interest in holding them for future investment purposes. Many of these collectors pass on their collections to younger generations in their families and impart the knowledge on to said youth so that important comics may be preserved and well-looked-after for decades to come. 

4. WEDNESDAY WARRIOR FLIPPERS – People who wake up to get in line on Wednesdays and who buy what they think will be hot in the hopes of parlaying those purchases into more money, quickly. These people may also fall into one of the above categories, but rarely do. More often, they fall into one of the categories below, as well. These collectors really only buy moderns they can get on the cheap.

5. SPECULATORS – There are two kinds:

a. The speculators who buy in order to merely make money and do not invest the bulk of that money back into the hobby. These people are usually willing to throw larger sums of cash at comics and are willing to hold comics in order to maximize profits. They treat comics like a business. Essentially, comic shop owners fall into this category. Most Wednesday Warrior Flippers fit here, as well, but the difference is that they also hunt older “hot” comics like those from movie and T.V. option news, etc.

b.The speculators who buy to make money just like the “a” version does, but they do so in order to fund larger comics that they actually want to keep. Some speculators do a little of both (a & b), but the goal is almost always a large purchase that they couldn’t otherwise make. Most of these speculators also fall into the category of “Investors.”    

Sure, there are some clear variations on the above, but we all fall into one of those (or a combination thereof) at any one given time. We may flip between them depending on how life is going or depending on the state of comics at a given moment, but the basics are there. Be honest with yourself; which one are YOU?

 

 

There is no wrong or right way to do this thing. Whatever reasons keep you going back to the LCS are healthy for the hobby. However, I ask you all this, why do shops and those that fall into the other categories hate on flippers and speculators? Is it because they are going to “ruin” the hobby again? Is it because they “take” the good comics from those who could, perhaps, better appreciate them? Is it because they perhaps fuel the engine of “too many variants?” I’m not sure of the reason, but as far as I can tell, more money coming into the hobby is a good thing no matter where it comes from.

The danger that we face, really, is FALSE VALUE which is attributable to a conglomeration of factors. The collectors themselves may be ONE of those factors (especially if they are pump and dumpers… we should get into the REAL definition of that one day rather than the loose definition some are choosing to use, these days), but there are many other factors like the capitalistic decisions of the publishers themselves, grading companies and the duplicitous nature of their fees, ebay and… well… yeah, ebay, shop owners and their policies/pricing, monopolistic distribution and a variety of other things like floods of variants which falsely inflate print-runs. No matter what, we must all be careful where we put our money in this hobby as the future unfolds.    

Anyhow, as this column is more of a celebration for those people in the above categories #1, #2 and #3, I give you more important milestone panels from the annals of comics. Some are certainly investment/speculation-worthy for those in categories #4, #5a and #5b, too.

 

START HERE

(If you skipped the intro)

 

Without further delay, away we go…

 

1. SEX

 

 

Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (1968 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 1968

WRITER: Jim Steranko

INTERIOR PENCILS: Jim Steranko (censored panels redrawn by John Romita Sr.)

 

Sex in comics. Not new. People even had questions about Spiderman #47 of all things where Gwen beats MJ in a sexy “dance-off.” Sheesh, we were prude back then. The 1980’s and 1990’s would see a huge amount of testing the sexual waters in comics; from the scantily clad like Mary Jane Watson’s nude modeling for Peter Parker in Spidey #300 or Psylocke in X-Men #8 (although, to be fair, Psylocke’s bathing suit isn’t all that different from her regular costume) to actually seeing the deed, itself.

Notable issues include Talia and Batman in the Batman: Son of the Demon graphic novel, Starfire and Nightwing in New Teen Titans #1, Emma Frost and Cyclops in New X-Men and even as current as the “sex tape” of Black Widow and Tony Stark in Ultimates 3 #1. Let’s not even talk about what Image Comics does in such titles as Saga.

However, the clear winner is the REALLY early and REALLY controversial scene in Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 from July, 1968! Yep, the censored version is the one that saw release which some would argue is more suggestive than the original uncensored preliminary art version. The 2 censored panels were redrawn by John Romita Sr. See for yourself, above, paying particular attention to the gun in the holster. Anyhow, Steranko wanted to give Nick Fury more of a James Bond feel and, thus, he seduces Val de la Fontaine in what is probably the first openly obvious sex scene in a mainstream comic. Prior to this, Stan Lee and others would often allude to sexual tension between characters, but never quite show anything other than the suggestion of sex.

 

RUNNER-UP

 

 

(The Saga of) Swamp Thing #34 (1982 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – March, 1985

WRITER: Alan Moore

INTERIOR PENCILS: Stephen Bissette

 

Yeah, so amidst the groundbreaking writing that was ALL of Moore’s Swamp Thing, we have this issue. In it, Swampy and Abigail Arcane consummate their love and marriage by having sex with roots and moss tendrils that grows out of Swamp Thing’s body and envelop Abigail until they become “one being.” Very weird and controversial, but also elegantly and elaborately illustrated by Stephen Bissette.  

 

2. RACE

 

 

(Superman’s Girl Friend) Lois Lane #106 (1958 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – November, 1970

WRITER: Robert Kanigher

INTERIOR PENCILS: Werner Roth

 

It has been suggested that I do a ‘between the sheets’ issue just based on the history of black characters in comics. I’d like to eventually do that once I have thoroughly researched the topic, but in the meantime, the following issue is very important for a variety of racial reasons.

Yes, it’s on the cover, too, but it’s a hyper-important book on the inside panels, as well. The social climate after the Civil Rights movement was heavily charged in 1970 and in a noble effort (however misplaced) by DC to inform the next generation about racism, they attempted this story. It is albeit REALLY on the nose the entire way through, but the essential question is whether Superman would mary Lois Lane if she were a black woman.

As the story unfolds, Lois plans to go to the “Little Africa” of Metropolis to report how it “really is” there. When she gets there, she is shunned. So, of course, she does what any logical person would do; she transforms herself into a black woman with Superman’s transformation machine and goes back. The machine also gives Lois an afro which, again, is a little much, but between that and her traditional African clothes, she is now accepted in Little Africa.

Long story short, she ends up having to give a blood transfusion to a black man and also asks Supes, whether he would marry her as a black woman. Superman says no, but not because she’s black per se, but because he’s an alien and because she’s always vulnerable. Then, her “blackness” wears off. The end.

The obvious implications, here, are about acceptance, racism, reverse racism, coexistence and the fact that we have the ability to help each other no matter what color we are “on the inside.” My big question, though, is why does Superman have a machine that turns white people into black people?     

 

3. POLITICS

 

 

X-Men Gold #1 (2017 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 2017

WRITER: Marc Guggenheim

INTERIOR PENCILS: Ardian Syaf

 

Here’s a recent one, but I think it’s important based on the current political and foreign affairs climate. Politics has been a part of cartoons for decades and often published in newspapers and magazines that lean in a particular political direction. Furthermore, politics has often been alluded to within the fabric of mainstream comic storytelling, but rarely ever blatantly so. The mainstream companies have seen fit to avoid bias when it comes to politics and rightly so.

No topic gets folks more riled up as quickly as politics. Alienating a certain segment of their market share would be idiotic. Thus, when blatant politics found its way into a mainstream book (and a historically and mamouthly popular one), Marvel flipped and fired the artist. Subsequent printings omitted the content and we have largely forgotten about the issue… but we shouldn’t.    

The Indonesian Muslim artist Ardian Syaf managed to slip two seemingly bigoted political references into X-Men Gold #1 (an enormous release event for Marvel, by the way). The first is “QS 5:51” on Colossus’ shirt which references a passage in the Koran that is often interpreted to suggest Jews and Christians cannot be appointed as Muslim leaders. In addition to historical implications, it had current event impact, as well. That brings us to the other reference which is the “212” written on the building.

This was a reference to the rally against a certain Muslim governor who is a Chinese Christian and was on trial for blasphemy. Syaf’s statement on the subject was that he was stating a political opinion and NOT trying to spread hate. However, since the X-Men has, in-and-of-itself, been a political allegory against bigotry, it was a distasteful move on Syaf’s part to include that content, there.  

 

4. REAL 1ST APPEARANCE

 

 

Amazing Spiderman #299 (1963 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – April, 1988

WRITER: David Michelinie

INTERIOR PENCILS: Todd McFarlane

 

This one is short and sweet… Venom does not appear first in the widely accepted Amazing Spider-Man #300. No, I’m not even going to get into retcon stuff or cameoed shadows or hands. Instead, here he is in full and named on the final panel of ASM #299, just like the Wolverine from Hulk #180 from last week’s article. This one just doesn’t get the love.

Again, argue cover appearance on #300 all you want, but when we compare other “full” first appearances of other characters, this one is way “fuller.” With the way prices of #300 have gone through the roof, this one should have seen some of the leavings, but sadly, it really didn’t even though it deserved to. Still an important issue that Venom and Spidey collectors need to grab.     

 

5. ALCOHOL

 

 

Invincible Iron Man #128 (1968 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – November, 1979

WRITER: David Michelinie and Bob Layton

INTERIOR PENCILS: John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton

 

You probably all saw this one coming, but it’s important. The first time a major story arc concerned alcoholism (issues #120-#128) and, as such, it is considered a minor key. The images and suggestion of alcohol and alcoholism had been explored, before, but it took center stage, here. I’ll keep this one short and sweet since this article has gotten rather lengthy, but suffice it to say, I could feature about 5 or 6 different panels from this comic. The one pictured above is probably the most famous of them.

In this issue, Tony confronts his dependence on alcohol to cope with the stresses of his superhero/playboy lifestyle and it is a fairly powerful story of soul-searching that is still extremely relevant, today.

While some criticized it for being silly that Tony could confront and kick alcoholism in one issue, the story is a powerful one that hits home for many readers.  

 

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I am thrilled with your support for this new ‘between the sheets’ format. Thank you all for the kind comments and information you’ve all added. Keep it coming. I’d like to keep rolling these out, but I don’t want to neglect the regular ‘Cover Tunes’ format, either. Thus, on weeks when I do a ‘between the sheets,’ I’ll still give you a quick-hit version of ‘Cover Tunes’ over the weekend. How’s that sound?

Next time, another real 1st appearance, bondage, costumes, recalls and a death. So, until then, thanks as always for reading, be good to each other and happy hunting.

 

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4 comments

  • great stuff, i’ve been looking for a copy of 106 at a decent price but still can’t find one. it’s just a funny book lol

  • Dan Piercy

    “Who are you this time?”

    I am a reader 1st, but I definitely cover collect some and flip books to usually buy more books.

    I go to two comic shops: one near work and one near home. One actually will pull the cool/hot weekly books (if they have them) for me in case I want them.

  • Congrats on writing an article good enough to have me sign into WordPress that’s a miracle on it’s own so well done. I just felt compelled to speak after identifying myself in all of the introductions categories of comic readers. As an artist I started as a cover collector, admiring various artists works, then I had an Albuquerque Thanos 13 I got for a fiver and we know how much that is worth. So I looked into it as an investor and Wednesday warrior flipper I can say I have chased trends, the comic book market is like a more accessible faster reacting art market to me. I’m now chasing my first big Grail some of the FF and X-Men keys to get before the Disney fox merger. And after doing all these I finally became a reader again, after years of reading TPBs I’ve had a surge in wanting to read all these awesome stories I’ve invested in. So yes, we must not hate on one another, I have seen it too and thought how silly. We can all be here for different reasons the thing is we’re all here collecting comics!

    • Mike Morello

      So well and succinctly said! You got directly to the heart of what I was trying to say. Thank you for taking the time to sign in and read and comment. I very much appreciate it.

      Obviously, given that I write Cover Tunes, I do collect covers, but I also read A LOT. I was and have since gotten very tired of Wed. Warrior flipping. Thus, most of what I do now is speculate so that I can fund large keys, like you, and hold onto them as investments. I am back to enjoying reading modern and bronze and collecting Golden Age covers.

      Thanks again! Looking forward to your future comments.

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