A Fisherman’s Tale: Foreign Darlings
I have always been fascinated by other cultures. I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe and see the world a little, and I enjoy seeing and finding foreign versions of American music, books, and comics. On my last trip to Europe, my wife was at a conference so I had the day to explore whichever city we were in. Of course, I did the tourist thing, and I would save the best spots for us to see at night. The days were mine and I discovered googling nearby comic shops is a great way to explore a city. I found a used book store in Paris, book districts in London and some great pubs along the way. It's strange that I have built my collection of foreign books more often from dollar bins at my Local Comic Shop. Most of my foreign books are books I would not have picked up if they were American. A random copy of Defenders because it is a Pence copy or a copy of Hombre Arana from the Ultimate Spiderman series. I do love the old British weekly marvel comics from the ’70s because they are usually B/W with a couple of issues in one book. Trying to find value in these books is hard, because not every book is listed and some rarely come up on eBay.
Early on in my Amazing Spiderman collecting, I got suckered into buying a lot of L’etonnant Spider-man. I thought the lot was for 20 different copies, but I missed the fine print, I was selecting 5 issues out of the lot. I grabbed some great books with late silver age/ early bronze covers. The best book was the copy of ASM 121 with the back cover torn off, but how often does a french version of this key come up. Every once in a while I explore eBay for foreign keys, because they are usually a little cheaper than their American counterparts, and they might have been printed pretty close to the original release date.
Check out this article from 2016 on CBSI Foreign Editions: Key Sets.
I was racking my brain trying to think of where I had seen this picture because this is one of my collector goals. Turns out I read it on CBSI years ago.
Just recently I came across a box of foreign magazine size issues at my Local Comic Shop. There was a long run of British copies of the Defenders, some Spanish books and some horror books. I grabbed 4 books. Rampaging Hulk 1, Marvel Preview 8: Legion of Monsters, Doctor Extrano (Doctor Strange 1+2) and Terror Grafico (a Spanish Horror Magazine). The seventies magazines have some great covers but are harder to store unless you collect many of them to fill a magazine short box.
The cover of Terror Grafico is striking. The blend of blacks with the brightness of blue and pink create a truly haunting image. Anytime a cover catches my eye I have to look up the artist. The artist is by Esteban Maroto. He did some Warren Magazine covers too.
I had some fun with Doctor Strange because I didn’t recognize the cover right away. I opened the book (I know not a collector thing to do). I found this beautiful B/W splash page full of marvel superheroes.
I don’t speak Spanish so I got out my Google Translator app. It is fun to take the app across the speech bubbles because the handwritten words can be hard to for the app to interpret. You can get random phrases like this screengrab.
Though the original phrases don’t make much sense either.
After completing the article a friend reached out to me with a garage find of comics. He doesn’t collect, so he was just giving me the box. It was a box of old G.I. Joe comics and some random issues, but there were 5 Swedish issues of some late eighties early nineties books. I was super stoked to see the cover of Amazing Spider-man 301, sadly it is 301 and 302, not 300 and 301.
One of the coolest/strangest articles I have found about foreign Spider-man books came from a post by Matthew Roybal in the CBSI Facebook group on October 17th. Bleeding Cool posted it to their site a few days later. Over the past few years, I had always wondered why people on comic sites would celebrate getting a Japanese Playboy. Roybal informed us that inside these playboys are early spiderman comics. Read his thoughtful explanation on the Facebook site.
. There are many reasons to collect foreign issues. I love the cultural aspect of the older issues, collecting foreign keys might be cheaper than the original, or you might just like to collect the unusual and strange. I know I fall into each of these categories, so I have a small ever-growing collection of foreign comics.