I’m all about buried treasure lately. Next week I’ll tell you about my wild ride that led to the PIRATES book, soon to be published by Clover Press & Yoe Books. But this week, I want to write about my travels to the exotic and mystical land called New Jersey, and my adventures in three comic shops and the treasures I found.
The Joker’s Child
The Joker’s Child, a long-lived comic shop nestled in the northern part of New Jersey, used to be my hometown store when I lived there. I brought my daughters, the Catto Girls, there when they were little. They are all grown up now, and I was back in town to help celebrate one daughter’s bridal shower. Tempus Fugit!
This comic shop has a big selection of new comics and I was surprised what struck my fancy. I ended up rescuing a few treasures including:
Creeps is a total love letter to the old Warren Publishing black and white horror magazines. The black and white stories are just delicious, and I always enjoy the tight artwork by my old buddy, Reno Maniquis.
Justice League Dark #19 – I usually have zero interest in this title, or knowledge of it -despite being a big JLA fan as a kid, but I just loved the art by Martinez Bueno (he’s got a cool Sean Murphy vibe) and I was surprised to see an old friend, Dr. Fate, again in this book.
And wow- how about this innovative cover by Robert Hack on the latest issue of Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica? I’m not sure if you can “get the joke” from this photograph, but Dynamite recreated the old ¾ cover look with the title page peeking through. Back in the old days, retailers would strip off the logos and send them back to the publishers for credit. The retailers were supposed to destroy the rest of the book (sending in only the masthead logo was more efficient). But were they ever destroyed? We used to be able to buy ¾ covers all the time! Kudos to Dynamite and Archie for having the “marketing courage” to do this!
Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash
Down on the Jersey Shore, I visited what may be considered the most famous comic shop: Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, NJ. I stumbled across their “Archie” box and was able to snag two wonderful giant issues of Sabrina. Issue #5 was especially cool as it was essentially an early cross-over with the Archie characters.
Comic Crypt in Eatonton, NJ was creepily creative. Their Cryptmobile, a converted hearse, had the best parking spot in the lot, but I didn’t mind. Inside, they kept the morbid theme going with their $1 dollar comics…. neatly arranged in a coffin!
Treasures I rescued from this store included:
Those creepy dollar boxes yielded a few issues of the recent Jonah Hex series, masterminded by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. I never tire of Jonah Hex, and my dad likes them too – so I always pass them along to him.
My wife, surprisingly, was drawn to Liam Sharpe’s covers of the mini-series, Green Lantern: Blackstars. This series is kind of like the old summer replacements for TV and It is meant to be a breather between the first and second season of Grant Morrison’s brilliant new Green Lantern. I told her I really liked the artist too, but that I was astonished she picked it out on the racks and suggested I should buy it. This woman is always full of good surprises, I must say.
Killadelphia is new book from Image Comics that looks creepy and crazy. Not my usual cuppa tea, but flipping through Jason Shawn Alexander’s brilliant artwork sucked me in.
The Most Fascinating Treasure
I must thank Comics Crypt for selling me this amazing treasure: the Creation 1974, a convention program book. Creation Cons were early comic conventions, complete, as you would imagine, with a fascinating backstory. This beautiful program book sports a Howard Chaykin cover and has pin-ups by luminaries like Gray Morrow, Frank Brunner and Bernie Wrightson.
The introduction speaks to the fact that in the new year of 1974, Creation Con had become the 2nd biggest “comic SF art convention in the country”. I wonder what their attendance was? Could they ever imagine a day when New York Comic Con attracts over 200,000 attendees? I was especially enchanted by the ads for a NYC comic shop, Adventure Bound, the vintage comic art shop in the Village and the Inside Comics, an early fanzine. Wouldn’t it be something, from today’s vantage point, to be able to attend those early comic cons?
Oh, you’ll be glad to hear I resisted buying the Superman Winter Gloves I found on a display at Comics Crypt. They were awfully cute and nostalgic, but really – I just don’t need Superman gloves. Or maybe I do? In 2020, not one but two grandbabies are on the way for my family. Maybe I should drive back and get them.