Do your ever wonder what it would have been like to have see Babe Ruth play in his prime? Well, guess what, it doesn't make a difference, because you can't.
But, 50 years later, you can still see what it was like to experience comic books' greatest writer/artist team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at their peak. And the early issues of Thor (1966 series) have some of their best work.
After creating a team of super-heroes bombarded with gamma rays (Fantastic Four) and a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider (Spider-Man), the Lee/Kirby team set their sights on Norse mythology to create the Mighty Thor.
On a mission from his father, Odin, Thor acted as a superhero while maintaining the secret identify of Dr. Donald Blake, a physician with a partially disabling leg injury. When he tapped his cane on the floor, it became the magical hammer Mjolnir and Black transformed into Thor.
Forty-five years after his debut, his first movie hit the big screen.
That was the cover blurb for one of the craziest comic book series of all time. Forget the George Lucas-produced cinematic abomination from 1986 (which bears little resemblance to the comic) and focus instead on these entertaining tales.
Howard is an anthropomorphic duck plucked from his home planet, Duckworld, and transported to earth. Created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, the cynical, cigar-chomping fowl first appeared as a gimmick character alongside Man-Thing in Fear #19, moved to a backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing. One year later he had his own title.
The morose mallard waddled the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, providing satire and social commentary (not to mention Quack-Fu), thanks to the brilliant mind of Gerber, whose real-life world, at times, also crept onto the book.
Gerber perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the 1970's. He was a pioneering author who tacklied such touchy issues as the effects of violence in the media, politics (Howard for President? He got some write-in votes!), and even the comics industry. Gerber gave us a tremendously trippy time with Howard and his zany cast of characters, including companion/girlfriend Beverly Switzler and super villain Doctor Bong. Throw in some spiffy spoofs (including Star Wars) and pencils by
legendary artist Gene Colan (23 issues), and you've got the makings for a "must add" to your comic book collection.
Be warned, Howard may resemble Donald (enough that Disney threatened a lawsuit), but this is not a children's book. The series deals with adult themes, especially the Marvel Max series, Howard the Duck 2002 series, so you might need to check out an issue or two before committing to the collection.
In a comic book world dominated by male readers, Wonder Woman is the biggest selling comic book in history featuring a female hero.
I always realized the need the for role models for young girls, but it didn't hit home until my own daughter dressed up as Wonder Woman one Halloween.
I'm no psychiatrist nor psychologist, but it's pretty apparent that people always drift to idolizing heroes who are similar to them. Spider-Man was a teenager back in 1963, and guess who the biggest buyers of comic books were back then?
Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, created Wonder Woman because he believed in the educational potential of comics. Marston, a psychologist, struck upon the idea for a new superhero, one who could win any battle with love, rather than fists.;
You may think that the women's liberation movement began in the 1960s, but read what Marston wrote in 1943, in American Scholar magazine,
He wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
For me, Wonder Woman comic books are important, not only as a positive role mode for female readers but as reinforcement to young men that their female counterparts are equally deserving of respect. (Except, of course, if you live in Saudi Arabia).
The 1942 series features the more expensive earlier issues, while the 1987 series is more affordable. In May of 2011, Wonder Woman was ranked as the 5th most popular comic book hero of all time by IGN.
What if...you could take your favorite comic book character and turn his or her world upside-down?
What if...you could rewrite classic adventures and alter the original outcomes?
Well, Marvel did just that in these two series of What If. They are imaginary tales built on the notion (and owing a bit to Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken') that if you take an event, find a point of divergence, then choose an alternate path, the consequences of that action (or inaction) could make for an equally compelling story. And the editors at Marvel were right!
The first series ran 47 issues and the second for 114, indicating the success of the concept.
From the very first issue (What If Spider-Man Joined The Fantastic Four? - a re-imagining of The Amazing Spider-Man #1), readers were hooked. What followed was an upending of the Marvel universe: What If...Conan The Barbarian Walked The Earth Today? (#13) ...Wolverine Had Killed The Hulk? (#31) ...Spider-Man's Uncle Ben Had Lived? (#46)
Some stories even found their way into Marvel continuity, in one form or another: What If...The Hulk Had The Brain Of Bruce Banner? (#2) ...Elektra Had Lived? (#35) ...Spider-Man's Clone Lived? (#30)
At times, What If was even able to inject some humor into the proceedings such as when Marvel's writers and artists gave themselves the powers of the Fantastic Four. (#11)
A series of one-shots and specials have kept the What If brand part of the Marvel Universe up until today, and they are readily available.
If you're not a fan of Marvel and aren't familiar with some of their classic tales, these issues could be a bit perplexing, so you might want to steer clear. But if you're the kind of fan that always wanted to know What If...Captain America Had Formed The Avengers? (1989 series #29), then these series are for you!
The price is right, too. Most issues of the 1989 series in NM- condition are priced between $3 and $6 and with the exception of the first 14 issues of the 1977 series, most every issue in NM- condition is priced below $8.
This is our biggest selling comic book from the Bronze Age (1970-1983), by far. It's also the most cost-effective way to get a full run of a Spider-Man series.
Whereas the original Spider-Man series (Amazing Spider-Man 1963 series) is pretty pricey, this series is an affordable way to get a long running series (263 issues). The first 10 issues of Amazing Spider-Man in Very Good condition will run you $7,346, but the first 10 issues of Spectacular Spider-Man in Very Good condition only cost $62. That's less than 1% of the cost of Amazing Spider-Man's first 10 issues.
The price disparity makes little sense because stories in Spectacular Spider-Man are all new (no reprints) and the same length as those in Amazing Spider-Man. But this series' prices are much lower. For example, look at the issues published in September 1977 -- Spectacular Spider-Man #10 and Amazing Spider-Man #172. Amazing Spider-Man #172 in NM- condition is $30 and Spectacular Spider-Man #10 in NM- condition is $14 -- less than half the cost.
Archaeologist and adventurer Henry "Indiana" Jones discovers the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Paramount Pictures releases Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of four Indiana Jones movies.
Marvel launches The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones.
Back in 1981, when Indiana Jones took the world by storm, there was no Internet, no smart phone captures of behind-the-scenes pictures and no "spoiler alerts". In fact, the only way to find out what was going on in sci-fi was to get a copy of Starlog magazine. But, by the time you read it, the news was months old.
So we had no idea what was in store when we saw a movie poster with Harrison Ford (looking much scruffier than he did as Han Solo) wearing a fedora and slinging a bullwhip. But, by the time the boulder started to roll, we all had a new hero and we couldn't wait for his next adventure.
And boy, did we have had to wait! It took Paramount three years to release the second Indiana Jones movie.
And, although Marvel (hot on the heels of their smash comic series, Star Wars) adaptated Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, it took until 1983 for readers to get new Indiana Jones stories.
The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #1 hit the stands with superstar John Byrne at the helm. But he bailed by issue #2.
Regardless of the creative turmoil, the brand was too big for Marvel to give up, and, starting with issue #4, Indy's adventures fell to David Michelinie, who had a great reputation as the writer of Iron Man and The Avengers.
A self-professed huge Indy fan, Michelinie was the perfect choice. His penchant for snappy banter, slavish devotion to research, and adoration for the time period led to some of the series' most memorable tales. Ventures to Stonehenge, the Dark Continent, the Land Down Under and more were highlights.
So, if you're a big Indy fan, this series is a must.
One of the drawbacks of the recent flurry of super-heroes movies is that the images from the movies can ruin your own image of a character. For example, for years I had a certain vision of Spider-Man and Peter Parker as a nerdy, zit-faced teenager. But once I saw the movie, that picture was replaced by Toby Maguire's face. And as much as they tried to make him look like a dork, he'd didn't.
So, one of wonderful things about the Sub-Mariner is that he's one of the few remaining Marvel characters who hasn't been portrayed in the movies, so whatever image you have of him is created in your own mind and subject to the nuances and biases of your own brain. No Hollywood casting director can formulate your image of the Sub-Mariner. And for that, I'm grateful.
His 1968 series is a wonderful one to collect for that reason and several others. First, since the earliest and most expensive Sub-Mariner stories were published in Tales of Suspense (1959 series), the Sub-Mariner series is pretty inexpensive. Second, with only 72 issues in the series, it's a great starter set for a youngster to test to see whether he'd be interested in collecting comics. After all, it won't take a long time to find all the issues and that can fuel the interest of a new collector.
The Sub-Mariner is one of the first super-heroes. He debuted in 1939, and was one of Marvel's top three heroes, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. He was the son of a sea captain and a princess of Atlantis. He has super-strength and aquatic abilities that dwarf that of Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps.
He has been alternatively portrayed as a short-fused superhero and a hostile invader from the sea seeking vengeance against us surface dwellers for slights against his underwater home. Hmmm... he might very well have been the first environmentalist superhero.
The Watchmen 12-part comic book series is one of most sought after mini-series in comic book history. Written by Alan Moore, with art by Dave Gibbons, the series depcts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s, and where, by the mid-1980s, costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes have retired or were working for the government.
Structured as a nonlinear story, the series skips through space, time and plot. Watchmen is frequently considered as the best mini-series in comic book history. The 2012 prequel, "Before Watchmen" was created without the involvement of Moore or Gibbons.
If you enjoy horror stories, science fiction stories, or war stories, you should check out this under-rated series because Weird War Tales combines all of these genres. Each issue is hosted by "Death", depicted in a different military uniform each issue. Stories included undead characters, paranormal characters and robot soldiers. It's like the Walking Dead meeting Patton meeting the Twilight Zone.
Since it's not a "superhero" comic, and since the series ran for 124 issues from 1971 to 1983, the prices are not in the stratosphere.
There aren't many comic books collected by non-comic book collectors, but Mickey Mouse is. If ever there was an icon for youthful enthusiasm and fun, it's Mickey.
Today, a comic book is a smash hit if it sells 100,000 copies. But back in the 1960s, Mickey Mouse's circulation topped 500,000 per issue.
The storylines are universal, but the specifics often mimic the times. For example, in 1966 at the peak of the James Bond's movie popularity, three issues (#107-109) were re-titled Mickey Mouse, Super Secret Agent. And, of course, Mickey never had a cell phone back in the 1950s.
If you have a friend who laments about missing the "good old days", then this is a great gift. Because nothing says endless childhood like Mickey Mouse.
Here's a Mickey Mouse animated cartoon from 1936 to give you a taste:
The first four issues retell Mary Shelley's original novel. The remaining issues are original. Midway through the series, Frankenstein was put into suspended animation and revived in modern times.
Alas, the public was no better at coping with someone, or something, out of the ordinary in 1975 than they were in 1812 when Mary Shelley first wrote the story.
The series' original concept was to avoid having the monster chumming it up with Spider-Man or other Marvel superheroes. The series' original creators kept him off in a small corner of Marveldom, trying hard to live a life without interference from others. But alas, he finally did meet Spidey.
This series is an interesting take on Shelley's creation and with only 18 issues, is easily affordable.
The success of The Walking Dead TV series brought to mind one of the first successful comic books featuring the supernatural and zombies -- DC's House of Mystery. It was DC's long-running horror comic book with a publication history spanning 321 issues over 32 years (1951 to 1983).
Within this one series, a reader can watch as fear of U.S. government censorship forced DC to drastically alter the content of the series.
The series began as a horror anthology, featuring tales of the supernatural. However, in the mid-1950s, when restrictions on horror-themed stories were imposed by the Comics Code Authority (banning stores with werewolves and vampires), the series evolved into stories featuring science-fiction monsters.
By the mid-1960s, superheroes infiltrated the title, including J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, followed by Dial H for Hero.
Finally, in the early 1970s, after nearly 20 years of self-censorship, DC began challenging the Comics Code Authority and starting with issue #174, the series returned to horror stories. These stories were well-respected and won numerous awards. "The Demon Within", a story in issue #201 won the Shazam Award for Best Individual Short Story.
Later issues (#290 to #319) featured "I...Vampire", about a heroic vampire.
Dazzler was Marvel's 1980s entry in its never-ending quest to attract female readers. Dazzler was a mutant who could convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams. As part of Marvel's strategy, some stories focussed on her career and her family relationships, rather than typical "fight the bad guy" plots.
In the series, Dazzler is an aspiring singer and uses her light powers to enhance her performances. In fact, she turns down an invitation to join the X-Men to continue her music career.
The 42 issue series is easy to collect -- a limited number of issues and a low cost for each (issue #1 in Near Mint- condition is only $4).
When Marvel hit it big in the early 1960s, they changed the entire comic book industry by creating superheroes with faults as well as virtues. Their characters had "attitude".
In contrast, DC's superheroes were just vanilla "good guys" through and through. Marvel's success gave them a certain swagger. And Marvel enhanced that attitude by making fun, not only of DC's characters, but their own. The result -- Not Brand Echh, a satirical look at the entire world of superheroes.
Marvel's top artists and writers -- Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gen Colan, Bill Everett, John and Marie Severin and Roy Thomas -- flocked to the series to take jabs at the entire genre of superheroes as well as the characters they created. There are only 13 issues, but there are lots of laughs in each one.
The first Star Trek comic series was published by Gold Key starting in 1967. They're unique among our collection of comic books we like because they were illustrated by an Italian artist -- Alberto Giolitti. But that's not what's unique. Giolitti had never seen the TV show and he used publicity photos of Star Trek's cast to draw the characters.
Most stories are original and not adaptations of the TV shows. This series is popular among Star Trek fans and people looking for gifts for a Star Trek fan, because it was the first Star Trek series. The look is unmistakenly 1960s.
The series only has 61 issues. If you're not a Star Trek fan, don't bother. If you are Star Trek fan, don't miss it.
One of the reasons I enjoy comic book series that began in the 1960s is that you can chart society's changes by the way the comic book stories reflects the changing moral fiber of the country. Marvel had proven a few years earlier that putting real world issues into their stories made the fantasy of comic books far more interesting. DC was slow to follow, but the Teen Titans finally made the transition to a more politically aware
The original Teen Titan series teamed up the teenage sidekicks of Batman, the Flash Wonder Woman and Aquaman -- Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad. Their first appearance in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) #60, led to their ongoing series.
At first, the stories dealt with the group helping other teenagers, pretty much ignoring the politics of the day. But, as the raucus 1960s moved to a conclusion, the stories explored some of the real issues of the day -- racial tension, the Vietnam War.
The series is a bit under appreciated these days and as a result, the books are priced lower than they probably should be. With only 60 issues, its one of the more affordable superhero titles of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Black Panther is yet another creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and as usual, they created an uniquely original hero.
Unlike DC characters of the 1960s, Marvel's characters had complex, multi-dimensional motivations and none more so than the Black Panther.
As king of the African country of Wakanda, he invites the Fantastic Four to Wakanda. There, he attacks and defeats each one. Why? To conquer the world? Nope. For revenge? Nope. For money and riches? Nope.
The Black Panther (T'Challa) was the ruler of a spiritually-based warrior cult -- and Wakanda was the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. As a 19-year old (in issues #52 and #53 of Fantastic Four 1961 series
he battled the Fantastic Four to test his own powers and to test the Fantastic Four to see if they would be an effective ally to help him protect his kingdom and people from their mortal enemy Klaw.
This was the beauty of Kirby and Lee. They actually created motivations for their heroes, other than the cliched irrationality seen in DC comics -- "I want to rule world, for no apparent reason, other than, why not?".
After his first appearance in Fantastic Four, he starred in Jungle Action #5-24 and then in his own series. The Black Panther was Marvel's first black superhero (a novelty in the 1960s) and beyond that, the series is recognized as the first successful series using mult-issue story arcs. The first arc, "The Panther's Rage" ran for 13 issues in Jungle Action.
Acclaimed comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie raved:
"This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it ... sit down and read the whole thing. It's damn-near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You'll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully
developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero's skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion."
The series is an under-appreciated madcap combination of comic book genres: part superhero spoof, part black comedy, part magic and fantasy.
Some stories were light-hearted, some were violent. Some readers objected to the series' star -- Norbert Sykes a Vietnam war veteran suffering from multiple personality disorder. Regardless, the title was strong enough to survive for 70 issues and also survived the bankruptcy of its first publisher, Capital Comics.
When the first Spider-Man movie was released, Spider-Man comics starting to sell like hotcakes and now, years later, they are still the biggest selling comic at NewKadia. Then, when the Batman and Iron Man movies came out, they moved up about 20 spots in our top sellers.
And, about a year after each of the movies, the prices of the original series of these comics began to skyrocket as interest in the characters, and thus the demand for their comics, increased.
Well, the same thing is happening to Avengers comics because of its 2012 blockbuster movie. One of the big movie events of the year -- it starred Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Add Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and the movie created a giant media frenzy
which turbo-charged interest in Avengers comics.
Why the excitement? The movie was written by Josh Wheedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and who wrote the original Toy Story movie.
Avengers (1963 series) is the comic book series that inspired the movie and the series has always been one of the most popular in the Marvel universe. Created by (here we go again), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Avengers were the counter-Justice League. While everyone loved everyone else in the JLA, the Avengers interacted with each other more naturally, and everyone wasn't quite lovey-dovey with each other.
The original Avengers series is a pre-requisite for any collector who wants to explore the Avengers universe, with spin off titles like West Coast Avengers and the current New Avengers and Mighty Avengers.
If you're a John Byrne fan, this series is required reading. In the Next Men he weaved more mature topics -- including sex, abortion and the pains of child abuse -- into his stories. This series is definitely not for young readers.
A group of youngsters given up for adoption by single mothers were experimented on by a team of scientists to create a group of super humans. The five escape from the scientists, only to be taken in by a U.S. Government agent.
Byrne broke with conventional comic book story telling, that's for sure. In addition to the mature themes, he eliminated thought balloons and sound effects. If you're looking for a different, more mature reading experience, the series is worth a look.
He is THE original superhero. If not for Superman, there probably would never have been a Batman, Spider-Man, or any other superhero. In fact, we take for granted the existence of superheroes as a fictional genre, but before Superman comics, most people did not. (unless you studied ancient mythology).
So, while fantasizing about swinging through the streets of New York like Spider-Man, or donning the caped crusader's outfit may now be commonplace, readers in 1938 had no such frame of reference.
That's how amazing Superman was. He was totally original, sparking an entire industry. For those old enough to remember the first Star Wars movie, you can appreciate the spectacular breakthrough that film was for cinema. The same can be said for Superman with regard to the breakthrough his creation caused for magazines and fiction writing.
For those who can remember the first time they saw an iPod, or a computer, and that amazing awe that permeated your soul, well...that's what the debut of Superman did, too.
And the 1939 series is Superman's original series. Although he first appeared in Action Comics (where he was one of several features), DC quickly gave him his own title, where he starred in every story.
In a very real way, the stories chronicle America from 1939 to today, and as a result, should be required reading for any superhero fan or social anthropologist. In fact, the number of Ph.D. dissertations dedicated to the real meaning of Superman number is in the hundreds.
There are lots of ways to collect this series. As the oldest comic book superhero, the oldest copies are very expensive. One customer wrote me that he only collects issues #200 and higher. Another told me he collects every 50th issue... #50, #100, #150, etc, to chart how the creative teams changed and evolved all the characters in the series.
The first series ran for 423 issues and then DC changed the name of the series to the Adventures of Superman for issues #424 to #649. From issue #650 to #714, the name changed back to Superman (2006 series). After that, DC re-booted the Superman character and his current adventures appear in Superman (2011 series).
Quick -- name the most popular comic book character created since 1990. For many, that question is a no-brainer. For them, the answer is Spawn.
Created by Todd McFarlane, who attained superstar comic book status writing and drawing Spider-Man in the 1980s, Spawn was his first creation when he left Marvel to form Image comics.
Spawn is Francis Simmons, a CIA officer who was transferred to the super-secret U.S. Security Group and becomes an assassin. After Simmons is murdered during an assignment and sent to hell, he makes a deal with the devil to serve Satan in return for being returned to Earth to see his wife one more time.
Spawn is certainly not your typical American teenager bitten by a spider origin. Geared to older readers, the title sacrificed a young boy audience in exchange for darker, more adult themes, which made it extremely popular with its more mature audience. You won't find Jimmy Olsen saying, "Jeepers, Mr. Kent" in this series.
So, if you're looking for darker, less childish story lines, this just might be the series for you.
Crisis on Infinite Earths is our best selling mini-series of all-time. We're constantly getting them in stock and they consistantly fly off the shelves. That's what happens to a series that some consider the most important DC mini-series of all time.
Published in 1985, the series was designed to simplify the then 50-year old DC universe. The problem originated when DC re-booted their superheroes starting in 1956 with a re-introduction of a new Flash. To reconcile the new Flash with the Golden Age Flash, DC said that the two superheroes existed on "alternate" earths. In fact, DC threw all of their Golden Age heroes (including a duplicate Superman with gray hair) into that alternate
universe, named Earth-Two. That opened up a pandora's box of alternate worlds, like Earth-Three (where heroes were villains and vice versa) and Earth Prime.
By 1985, it was pretty hard for readers, and DC's writers, to keep track of all the different worlds. Crisis on Infinite Earths tackled the problem by combining all the worlds into one universe in a 12-issue mega event. In the process, consolidated everyone onto one universe and also killed off about 30 characters.
The series was very successful in sparking renewed interest in comic books and popularizing "crossover" comic book events, where one incident or story line spans every title of a publisher's line of comics, which is now an annual event for both DC and Marvel comics.
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, then you should give Dr. Strange a try. Or, if you know someone who is a big Harry Potter fan, this is a series you should turn them on to.
He's a master magician, the "Sorcerer Supreme" of the cosmos. He can achieve most any effect -- telepathy, energy blasts, and teleportation. Originally billed as the "Master of Black Magic", potions, spells and strange, often bizarre settings fill his stories.
The series showcased surrealistic mystical landscapes and readers often analyzed the stories for their relationship to ancient myths. The series delved into very abstract realms. Dr. Strange's adventures take place in bizarre worlds and twisting dimensions that resembled Salvador Dali paintings.
Dr. Strange has always had a niche following among readers seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superheroes. That's the reason that Dr. Strange has never made it in the movies, although Marvel comics constantly tries to figure out exactly how to move the character to the big screen. A Dr. Strange movie has "been in the works" for what seems like a decade. On the heels of the phenomenal success of Harry Potter, it would seem that Marvel's Dr.
Strange could find a home in Hollywood, too.
If you are young at heart (and after all, you are a comic book collector so there's a greater liklihood that you are) then this is a great series for you. Before there was Sponge Bob Square Pants, or Bart Simpson, there were Looney Tunes -- Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd... now come on, these guys WERE the essence of childhood back in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Anyone born from 1925 to 1965 is a big fan of these characters and Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics capture these nutty guys at the peak of their popularity.
Going head-to-head with Disney, Warner Bros. studios created this group as a more irreverent gaggle of characters than the Disney characters. Any sharp bite that Mickey Mouse had was pretty much gone by the 50s. Really, can you tell me any character trait of Mickey other than a "nice guy". Now compare that with Bugs Bunny and the crew -- they had spirit, they had foibles, they were... well crazy! Gosh, I can still hear Mel Blanc's voice
any day of the week for any of these great characters. And, I do mean CHARACTERS.
Here's a sample cartoon:
If you're looking for a gift for anyone over 50, this will do the trick and bring a giant smile to their face. After all, I've never seen an adult see a picture of Daffy or Bugs, or Elmer Fudd or Porky Pig and not smile. I'm not sure why, but I think I once read that cartoon characters with over-sized heads remind lots of people of infants (whose heads are proportionately larger than those of adults) and as a result, it brings a smile to lots
of people's faces.
By the way, and younger readers might not believe this, but it's true, from 1930 to 1969, when you went to the movies, not only did you get coming attractions and a movie, but you usually also got an original Looney Tunes cartoon. A full 7-minutes of crazy, wacky behavior. The library of these old films later became a staple of kids' TV in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
In any event, if you're a collector this is a great series because there are lots of copies out there, so getting the full set is possible. And, without the Disney hype and the hordes attracted to Disney memorabilia, the prices are much less than comparable Disney titles (like "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories").
So give this title a try. From first glance, you'll start asking everyone around you, "What's Up, Doc?
Although Hollywood still can't get the Incredible Hulk right, he remains one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. The first Hulk series in 1962 lasted only six issues. And, like most comics from the early days of the Marvel revolution, the price for each of those six comics is quite high. Even though Marvel cancelled the title, Marvel made the Hulk the lead story in Tales to Astonish just 18 months later in issue #60. Hulk stories ran for 42 issues, through #101 and these issues of Tales to Astonish can also get a bit pricey.
Finally, in 1968, Marvel changed the title of Tales to Astonish to the Incredible Hulk (1968 series) and devoted the entire issue to the Hulk. This series ran for 38 years, until March of 1999 and contains some of the best Hulk story lines.
The Hulk was created by Jack Kirby and Kevin Watson and editor-in-chief Stan Lee summarized the appeal of the Hulk by comparing him to Frankenstein. Said Lee, "I had always loved the movie Frankenstein and it seemed to me that the monster wasn't really a bad guy. He was the good guy. He didn't want to hurt anybody. It's just those idiots with torches who kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, 'Wouldn't
it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?'"
So, in a very real way, the Hulk is literature's descendant of Frankenstein. It's a good thing that the copyright for Frankenstein ran out a long time ago, because it gave Marvel the ability to adapt some of his features for its own character. That probably couldn't happen today.
Ever since the U.S. Congress extended the length of copyrights from 28 to 150 years, the ability of new authors to craft characters from existing characters has pretty much been destroyed. You may not think that's a bad thing, but consider the Walt Disney company's use of characters whose copyrights had expired -- Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Beauty and the Beast and on and on. Disney created new classic versions of these old stories
And that's what Marvel did, too. It makes you appreciate Mary Shelley all the more. She "invented" the idea, and then Marvel really massaged it and fostered it for the next 50 years.
One of the most frustrating things for a comic book reader is enjoying one issue of a mini-series and then being unable to find the next issue. We've solved that problem because we have over 1,000 complete sets in stock and many sell for under $3 for the entire set (that's $3 for the entire set, not for each issue).
You might ask, "How good can a series be if it costs under $3?" Well, the answer is surprising -- it can be very good. Here's why.
First, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has a bias for pricing continuing series much higher than limited mini-series. And conversly, they have the bias towards pricing limited series much lower. As a result, the prices of limited series complete sets seem arbitrarily low.
Second, because the mini-series is a recent phenomenon (most less than 30 years old) most of their prices have stayed pretty low. Third, you can order the entire series with 1-click. You'll get the entire story and won't be left hanging.
We don't generally highlight cowboy comics but Jonah Hex is a worthwhile exception. IGN, a great comic book website, voted him the best western comic book character of all time.
Don't let Hollywood's lousy movie adaptation fool you. The comic book series is very good. Hex was the only DC western character to flourish in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite being blind in the right eye, he's an incredibly fast and accurate marksman, an excellent tracker, with a reputation as a ruthless killer, making him a ferociously successful bounty hunter in the Old West.
It's partially set during the American Civil War and the only successful comic book character I can think of who fought for the losing South in the war.
This is the first series named for him and it lasted 92 issues. His earlier adventures appeared in Weird Western Tales (1972 series) issues #12 to #38 and before that in All-Star Western #10 and #11.
In the late 1980's, the character was revived and transported to the 20th century in the series Hex, which was well received in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Japan, but mostly ignored in the United State.
So, if you're seeking to broaden your horizons beyond superheroes and willing to try something different, check out Jonah Hex.
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories is the longest running continuously published comic book in history.
The first issue was published in October 1940 and fresh issues are still coming off the presses today. This is a truly amazing achievement. No radio or television show has had anywhere near that longevity. No other magazine featuring fictional stories has had a longer run either.
It's a tribute to Walt Disney's brand of wholesome family entertainment.
There are alot of ways to collect the series. Some people collect only the earliest issues, while others collect issues starting with those published in the year that they were born. Still others only buy the most recent issues which are the least expensive.
One of our customers only buys issues which end in a zero -- 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, so she can enjoy seeing how the art styles and the story themes have evolved over the past 70 years.
One customer only collects issues with Donald Duck on the cover, another only collects issues featuring Minnie Mouse.
The Eternals were Jack Kirby's first creation after he jumped back to Marvel from DC comics. The Eternals were an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created man. The story line was similar to the New Gods in that it mixed mythology with science fiction.
Pros 1. Another Jack Kirby creastion.
2. Only 19 issues to collect.
3. Cost for the entire set runs from $70 to $111.
Cons 1. If you hated Kirby's 4th World Saga (New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle), you won't like this either.
2. Only 19 issues. Readers of the 1970s didn't think this was one of Kirby's best works.
Looking for a new title to add to your collection featuring famous superheroes, at a great price? Then, look no further than X-Force (1991 series).
It's a spin-off from the X-Men, one of Marvel's top lines (and the subject of 5 recent movies). X-Force was a re-invention of the 1980s 'New Mutants' team. Led by Cable, X-Force was a bit more aggressive than the X-Men.
Rob Liefield's great artwork propelled the series through its first 9 issues. Throughout its 129-issue run, the series was one of Marvel's best sellers. The series was so popular that Toy Biz launched a line of action figures based on the series.
Because the series was one of Marvel's best sellers, and because the earliest issues are still only 20 years old, there are lots of copies available at a low cost. The average cost for the first 25 issues& is only about $1.60 each.
If you have a youngster who is interested in collecting comics, or if you want to encourage one, this is a great starter series, since no issue is expensive, every issue is easily available somewhere and the stories are really good.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight is a great series to collect because it attracted great writers and artists including Dennis O'Neil, Grant Morrison, Mike Mignola, Bill Willingham, Matt Wagern and Doug Moench.
The idea was to create a graphic novel, but split it into 5 issues. So, if you buy issues #1-5 you get a full story. Same with #6-10, #11-15 and #16-20. After that the size of the stories changed.
So, even if we don't have the entire series in stock, there's a great chance that we'll have ALL the issues of most of the storylines. Keep a copy of the above list handy and you'll never finish one issue and be left hanging.
With the exception of Superman, Batman is the longest running title in comic book history. Issue #1 was published in 1940 and here we are 7 decades later and it's still going strong.
That's longer than any radio character or television character has been around. Just simply, an incredible run.
What makes the original Batman series so interesting is you can see its transformation through the years and pick and choose what era is right for you.
The original stories in the 1940s featured a dark, brooding hero. By the 1950's, with the addition of Robin, many stories had a science fiction theme and focussed on the dynamic duo's exploits with extra-terrestial beings. In the 1960s, once the famous TV show starring Adam West hit the screens, the series changed yet again, with Batman's "New Look" and it swung back to its original roots.
I've heard so many stories from so many people on how they collect the series. One fellow only collects issues from the year he was born, 1965 to the present. Another only collects from #1 to the year he was born. And yet another guy only collects issues with can be divided by the number 25. He goes after issue #25, #50, #75, #100, #125, #150, #20 etc. In that way, he can see the changes over the years and not break his bank.
One other guy only collects issues with The Joker and the Riddler, while another only collects issues with Catwoman or Batwoman on the cover. Yet another customer told me he only collects issues where the word "death" or "dies" appears on the cover. I wonder if he's an undertaker?
But my favorite was the guy who said he was going to find every issue where Batman was tied up. (I didn't ask why).
In addition, collecting Batman can fit pretty much any budget. Of course the original Batman series is the most expensive to collect, but other Batman series, more recent in vintage, can be collected within most any budget. There are tons of good titles available, including
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Batman: Shadow of the Bat Batman Chronicles Batman and the Outsiders Batman Family Batman: Gotham Knights
Lots of customers ask what comic book titles will go up in value. I can't answer that specifically because no one has a crystal ball. But, I have observed that prices of old comics are based in the continued interest in that character by today's audience.
So, if that's an indication of future value, Batman might be one of the safer bets out there. If he can survive and prosper for 71 years, then I'd say there must be something in the character and story line that has appealed to three generations. It might be a good bet that the universal themes and story lines of Batman comics will be of continuing interest in the future.
If you're looking for the original stories of Marvel's greatest heroes, like Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but don't want to spend a fortune on the original issues, you can get the same stories for a fraction of the cost by buying these reprints of the original issues. Spider-Man's earliest stories were reprinted in Marvel Tales. The early issues reprinted early Spider-Man stories and early stories of other heroes, but as the series progressed, Marvel cut it back to just Spider-Man.
Issue #137 reprints Spider-Man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and the next 50 issues, reprint the first 50 issues of Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series).
Hey, Marvel did it again. Realizing that they didn't have to pay a writer or artist if they merely reprinted their original stories, the Fantastic Four got the same treatment... great reprints at a fraction of the cost of the originals. The FF reprints started in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and continued in Marvel's Greatest Comics.
If our civilization is dumbing down, Classics Illustrated may just be our last hope, or a part of the contribution.
As its title suggests, the title highlights a classic piece of literature and illustrates it. Hamlet, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and 166 other of the greatest books in history are given the comic book treatment.
Back in high school, I had a teacher who used to assign some of these books and he always said, "And, don't rely on Classics Illustrated for the exam, because all of the test questions are going to be based on items not in the comic book." Oh, well. But, the series did give you a pretty good outline of the plot, so that reading the actual book went a lot easier.
Here at NewKadia, we've also found a lot of parents buying these for their younger children. I can't see an 8 year old slogging through the novel The Time Machine, but many parents have told me that a Classics Illustrated makes for a good change of pace for a bedtime story for kids once they grow out of Green Eggs and Ham.
And, for older readers, who passed high school English as a result of Classics Illustrated, the series can be a great gift for them... they both re-live their adolescence and get a bit of a culture boost, too.
To collect the series, you do have to know a bit about its strange numerology. Each issue of Classics Illustrated was re-printed many times. The easiest way to figure out which reprint a copy is, is to look at the re-order form, either on the inside front cover, inside back cover, or on the back cover. On the re-order form, each issue that had been published up until that time is shown. So, for example, for issue #72, the highest re-order number on the 1st
edition is #72. Later re-prints have a highest-reorder-number (HRN) higher than #72. So, for each issue, the LOWER the HRN, the older the copy.
Classics Illustrated Junior actually makes pretty good bedtime reading to youngsters. And although I personally enjoy Horton Hears a Who, a classic from any age remains a classic. I doubt there's any rigorous scientific study, but I'd bet that a child exposed to classics from ages before Star Wars and Dr. Seuss, will grow up with a broader appreciation of the arts. No proof, but it sorta makes sense.
Classics Illustrated Special Issue features stories, but not based on a specific classic piece of literature, but rather stories from many sources... The Story of Jesus, or Prehistoric World, for example.
The World Around Us can still be relevant with titles like the Illustrated Story of Dogs, or can be somewhat less relevant, like the Illustrated Story of Indians. No, not Mahatma Gandhi, more like Cochise. I haven't reviewed it lately, but I'd guess there might be some vintage 40's era racist stuff in that one. I don't know, but comics of the 40s and early 50s certainly paid little attention to being politically correct.
So, if you're a bit tired of talking about Snooki, or Lindsay Lohan, those two shining examples of what our civilization thinks merit interest today, check out Classics Illustrated. In the days of superhero movies catapulting comics like Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman to the top of the heap in terms of sales figures, Classics Illustrated is the only non-superhero comic to crack our Top 10 in sales on a consistent basis.
Marvel Premiere also featured tryouts for new characters. Warlock's first appeared in issues #1 and 2, and Iron Fist first appeared in #15 to #25. Today, no collection of the original Warlock or Iron Fist series is complete without those issues.
If you're a fan of either, get them.
The series ran for 61 issues and included runs of Doctor Strange (issues 3 to 14), and an eclectic mix of other heroes and monsters, including Hercules, Satana - the Devil's Daughter, the Legion of Monsters, the Liberty Legion, Woodgod, Monark Starstalker, the Mark of Kane, 3-D Man, Weird World, Torpedo, Seeker 3000, Tigra, Palladin, Jack of Hearts, Man-Wolf, Ant-Man, the Falcon, the Black Panther, Caleb Hammer, Dominic Fortune, Dr. Who, Star-Lord, and even rock star Alice Cooper.
If you're a fan of Star Trek, this is the series you should be collecting because it gives you a sense of place since it interweaves the Star Trek movies into its timeline.
The series starts right after the events of the second Star Trek Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Then, starting with issue #9, the series moves to events after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The series also integrated some characters from Star Trek: The Animated Series. If you're not a fan of Star Trek, stay away.
During the early 1950s, as a result of the concern that comic books were a negative influence on adolescents, hundreds of comic books featuring bloodshed and gore ceased publication and the the comic book industry nearly died. By 1955, DC comics was looking for a way to introduce new characters with minimum financial risk. To minimize the number of new publications, DC featured new characters in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) and
If the "tryout" was successful as measured by the number of copies sold, DC would spin off the character into their own comic book.
The method worked. Showcase #4, for example, starred a revamped Flash (modernized from the 1940s hero), and it was so successful, DC gave the Flash his own comic book. Showcase #4 is widely viewed as the first comic of the "Silver Age" since led to DC's revamping of many of its then-defunct Golden Age superheroes.
Similarly, Showcase #22 through #24 launched the new Green Lantern and other superheroes followed: Aquaman (#30-33), the Atom (#34-36), Metal Men (#37-40), The Spectre (#60-61), The Phantom Stranger (#80). All had strong enough sales to launch their own series. Other good series, almost totally forgotten today, also got their start in Showcase, such as Rip Hunter, Time Master (#25-26), Sea Devil (#27-29), and the Inferior Five
(#62-63 and 65).
The Brave and the Bold featured the same "tryout" format from issue #1 to #60. The Suicide Squad (#25-26, 37-39), the Justice League of America (#28-30), Hawkman (#34-36), Strange Sports Stories (#45-49), the Teen Titans (#54 and 60), and Metamorpho (#57-58) all earned their own books from the success of their Brave and the Bold tryouts.
The format changed starting with issue #61 when DC changed the format to superhero "team-ups" -- two DC superheroes working together in one story.
Then, with the Batman TV show creating incredible interest in the Caped Crusader, DC changed the format again and issues #67 to # 200 starred Batman in most every issue, along with a different superhero each issue.
Some people collect the entire series, while others collect only those which feature a hero they're interested in. So, for example, most collectors would agree that a Justice League of America collection is not complete without Brave and the Bold #28 through #30.
But beware! Because both titles featured so many first appearances of characters, these issues are generally more expensive than issue #1 of their own series, which were published after the tryouts.
Even though Wolverine wasn't one of the original X-Men, he is the most popular. A central character in the X-Men movie series, now a new Wolverine movie is in the works.
He first appeared in Incredible Hulk (1968 series) #181 in November of 1974. He is clearly the most popular comic book character created in that decade and Marvel has reacted to the demand for his stories by featuring him in the main X-Men series -- X-Men (1963 series) and Uncanny X-Men -- as well as giving him the starring role in his own series.
In May of 2008, Wolverine was ranked #1 by Wizard Magazine as the Top Comic Book Character of All Time. And this Wolverine series, with 189 issues, is the longest series starring Wolverine.
The first Wolverine series, Wolverine (1982 series) was a 4-issue mini-series, but it is this ongoing series that more deeply developed his award-winning character.
Wolverine was typical of the anti-authority antihero that emerged in American culture after the Vietnam War.
When a new Three Stooges movie was released in 2012, it renewed interest in their comics.
The Three Stooges were famous for their slapstick movies, each about 20 minutes in length. That's back in the day when you went to the movies you saw a feature film and a 20 minute "bonus" short film. The Stooges churned out 190 of these one reelers. In the 50's the movies became the stock in trade for afternoon kids' TV.
I've found that most people either love the Stooges, or hate them. So, if you're thinking of giving them as gifts, make sure the person you're getting them for laughs when he hears the immortal words, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk".
Here's the movie's trailer:
All-Star Superman won the 2007 Eisner Award (the Oscars of comic books) for the best continuing comic books series. Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Morrison's aim was to write a "collection of timeless" Superman stories.
The 12 issues were published between 2006 and 2008, making it one of the first "classic" series of the 21st century.
If you were a Superman fan before 1986 you know that Superman left Smallville after his parents died, that Krypto was his super dog and Luthor was an evil scientest. Well, guess what? Everything you learned was wrong!
In 1986, DC decided to revise the Superman mythology, junked his entire previous history and started from scratch. He never was Superboy (instead he only learned to control his powers and went public in Metropolis) and Lex Luthor became an evil Donald Trump without hair, or without a toupee, or hair-weave, or whatever is sitting on the Donald's head.
So, if you've been away from Superman for awhile, check out this inexpensive 6-issue series and see what's been new for Superman for the past 25 years