It’s Been Too Long

It’s been two and a half years since the last time I cleared out my PO Box in Niagara Falls, New York. The pandemic, travel restrictions and the dauntingness of all the customs paperwork did a good job of keeping me away. Last Friday I finally went and did the work. The interesting thing is that I have purchases from 2020 in here and from 2021. Even more interesting will be on how well, or how poorly I did with these purchases. So much has happened to the marketplace for comics, sportscards and toys, (all of which are in abundance in those boxes you see), yes it will be interesting to see how I did. The thing is it’s been so long I can’t remember half the stuff thats in there. Hopefully I can report back on a few things I find in next week’s post.

There was something immediately familiar when I found this Joe Orlando cover for Weird Words #3, it didn’t come to me right away but a few minutes later, while I was leafing through some Charlton Gorgos it hit me, Frazetta! I knew it was on of the Famous Funnies covers so a quick jump on to comics.org and there it was, Frant Frazetta’s beautiful cover to Famous Funnies #213. This Orlando homage is a very nice piece.

Crime comics were some of the bast selling comics of the 1940s and early 1950s, titles like Crime Does Not Pay sold millions of copies per month. Dynamite published by Comic Media was a title that ran a few issues in 1954/55 and it featured Johnny Dynamite, a very noir gumshoe. It got me to thinking about how one of the most popular genres in comics failed to produce a lasting character. Was it because noir was more a film genre? I don’t think so seeing as how Spillane’s characters were introduced in books. Name me some Crime Comics characters. Crime Stopper? Johnny Dynamite? Artist Pete Morisi later produced some great covers for Charlton’s Peter Cannon… Thunderbolt.

Speaking of Charlton, I think Chris may have been right about the Marvel readers of the late 1960s! Check out the International Correspondence School’s ad in Charlton’s Gorgo comics, then look below and see the same company’s ad in Marvel’s Conan #10. Note how the company figured it would be too tough for Marvel fans to read out a few paragraphs, they were smart to dumb it down to base emotion, neanderthal level. I wonder which ad worked better?

Last nights icecollectibles weekly eBay auction ended with a few surprises, I was impressed with the performance of Amazing Spider-Man #61 graded by CGC at 9.2. ASM #61 is a run book and the grade is not high enough to enter the high end of the market. In early July there was a sale of $372 on this book and I thought three months of downward trends would leave this book exposed to a weak result. The final price of $355 was a great result, that guy Chris might be right again, this time about his assessment of the market.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1688

17 Comments

  1. Max Allen Collins brought Johnny Dynamite back in the 80’s as both a back up feature and collaborator to Ms. Tree if I am not mistaken ( and being a Ms. Tree fan I am not). However, I was dumb enough not to have gotten in on the ground floor of computers by sending in that coupon from my Conan #10. I hate it when Meli is right!

  2. That P.O. box would be daunting to many non-comic people, but to us it looks like a giant cool mystery box. Looking forward to seeing some finds.

    No question that Weird Worlds is first and foremost a Frazetta swipe, but it takes a lot from Wally Wood as well.

    Batman started in Detective and is The World’s Greatest Detective, so you are asking a lot for a lasting comic character to go up against him. Similarly The Spirit, The Saint, The Phantom, etc. These other gumshoes are too interchangeable.

    Totally delusional that a Gorgo “reader” would be able to parse that text ad. Why would anyone pitch high school equivalency in six-point type?

    The market remains weird. I bid what I thought was above market for an issue of Boy Comics last night but lost. Meanwhile FF #4 CGC 5.5 finished at a chilling level. I think the bloom may be off the Namor – these days there generally seems to be a selloff just as the character makes it onto the screen, and some racism here and there might not be helping. (I recently saw a great Onion headline: “Man on doomed planet’s biggest concern is skin color of mythical creatures”.) I don’t think now is the time to go all in (it’s never the time to go all in), but good stuff at 2018 prices deserves a careful look.

  3. Walt, don’t touch those boxes!!!

    hold up a second, hear me out!!!

    We sell it as a ‘holiday package’ – for a fee comic collectors get to come up to Beautiful, Sunny Hamilton – and get to open comic boxes, then grade and price the books! I honestly think we could end up with a bunch of Instagram Influencers willing to pay (of course they’ll then pretend to own the books on their feed, but that’s nothing new!).

  4. Spider- Hamilton is neither beautiful or sunny! Parts of it look quite run down & dismal !!! It does have one of the highest crime rates in Canada though !! What it needs is a crime fighter like Batman or Daredevil to help it, not tourists !! However, if you’re thinking of visiting, you can come down to my house & I will teach you how to grade pulps. We can then try to organize my massive Argosy, Adventure & Short Stories accumulation/collection! I can use the help. Yee-hah !

  5. Meli- congratulations on taking a shot at that Boy comics, hopefully you will get to snag one next time. GLEASON books are worth the fight- they are very well drawn [ sometimes SUPERBLY drawn- ie- Crime Does Not Pay by Tuska- his BEST work, period!] and the stories are generally very, very good. Keep at it and do not weaken! However, you should have been buying Gleason before covid, as they were selling for as little as one third of guide back then ! I kid you not & can show you a slew of Heritage & ebay invoices to prove it !!!

    As has been written on this site recently- the market is undergoing a much needed correction in certain areas, but not so much in Golden Age. Most books are being fought after tooth and claw, and that includes GLEASON. I am happy that I bought what I did until 2019, but it is unlikely that I will ever fill all the holes in my runs with the prices at current levels. Is this just a ‘flash in the pan’ or the beginning of a new found appreciation for these and other previously ignored comics from the GA & pre-code in general??

  6. Whoaaa, Live Frog, I’ve lived in Hamilton for over six decades and I do find it beautiful and often quite sunny. Even though I grew up in the North End, crime was never a problem. This is where I started collecting comic books by buying them at the local corner store. I also collect Canadian pulps with unique Canadian cover art and one artist who did some of these pulp covers was a Hamiltonian, Edmond Good. I even have the original art for one of his Short Stories covers and had it on display for my art show of Canadian war time comic book artists held at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas last March. Hamilton is presently a comic, graphic narrative artists hub in Ontario, just a notch below what’s going on in Tranna. Spider, you’re so right. That locker demands a 1 or 2 hr unboxing video on YouTube.

  7. Gerald, you and me both hate it when Meli’s right.
    Meli, the FF #4 news is concerning, I thought that book still had room! I still think comics could have created their own Mike Hammer, Sam Spade, maybe you’re right again, this time about the too interchangeable.
    Spider, always which the cockamamie schemes, is that an Aussie thing?
    Live Frog, I can’t just stand idly by as you dis our home town, and as I can see in the comment above, neither can Ivan! Atta boy Ivan. Hamilton is a beautiful place to live and to visit! If anybody is in town visiting just note that Big B Comics is centrally located on Upper James Street.

  8. Oh, be quiet, you two ! I’m just having fun !! I never know if anyone actually reads my stuff as I get so few replies. However, you should read this:

    https://www.insauga.com/survey-shows-hamilton-is-perceived-to-have-one-of-canadas-highest-crime-rates/

    Hope the link works. This is just one of many links that I can send you about this perception of Hamilton. I am not making this up- it is out there for all to see!

    And now, the serious stuff- I have not been impressed by Hamilton & do not go there unless I really have to. My cousin had a stroke last year, not long after retirement- & is now paralyzed. He was in a care home in Hamilton & whenever I visited him, I had to drive through some really desolate landscapes on the way to see him. The sight of so many homeless people sleeping/living on the street was also distressing, something I have not seen since I worked in downtown Toronto back in the 1990’s.
    I have lived in Oakville/Mississauga for the last 42 years and view this whole area as a sterile, soulless desert. It is not just Hamilton that I dislike, it is this entire area ! We are surrounded by cookie cutter homes & malls, as far as the eye can see! When I moved here from England back in 1980, there was still a lot of life around us- lots of green space, fields & trees, farms with cows, horses & tractors and old churches with old graves dotted around them- but they are all gone now, replaced by reams of ‘stick & tissue’ homes and strip malls, block after block after block ! It is only going to get worse, as ‘they’ are projecting that the population of the GTA will increase by SIX MILLION PEOPLE by 2043- where the hell are these people going to live ??? We will be standing on each other heads ! Our highways cannot handle the crush of people that are using them now, let alone another six million people!! It is time for me to leave before I go mad !!!
    I lived in England for 14 years and in that time did not notice a single house in my area being torn down & replaced with a new construction. Homes in England are made to last & some homes built back in the 1600’s are still in operation as primary residences !! You should take a stroll down the cobbled streets of York & see this for yourselves ! Over the last decade, my area [ in Mississauga ] has been afflicted by a madness of perfectly good homes being torn down and replaced by mammoth mansions & concoctions, no two alike! Where we used to have neighborhoods composed of 1950’s & 1960’s bungalows & back-splits, we know have a hodge podge of differing architectural styles, ranging from ‘homes’ that look like oriental temples to homes that look like ‘Fire-Stations’ [ lacking only a fire-engine parked in the driveway!!]. People have WAY too much money & WAY too large egos. There should be a law against the tearing down of perfectly good homes and putting up a ‘monster home’, thus disrupting the aesthetics of a community- but I guess that too many people & organizations profit from all this construction & really don’t care that their City ends up looking like a pot-pourri.
    I have driven along Lakeshore Road from Mississauga all the way down to Burlington regularly, for the last 42 years. There are ALWAYS several mansions [ Lakeshore Road is ‘millionaire’s row’ for those not familiar with the area ] at any given time being torn down and rebuilt along that stretch, 24/7. I am sure some of the homes being torn down have not even been up for ten years before they are bull-dozed by a new owner & replaced with an even bigger, more monumental mansion ! This is madness! What is the point other than to stroke somebody’s ego ???

    The plan is to sell the dump where I live & go live in the country, thus saving my fragile sanity! Yes, I can live in the ‘green’, I will not get bored. I would rather look at trees & birds than curse at sh*t-loads of cars sitting bumper to bumper on the QEW [ or Hwy 403 or worse still…Hwy 401!!!!]. The kicker is that I can buy a home as big as the one I have right now- for half the money that this one is worth, just a few hours away from the GTA. That will leave me with cash in the bank, all my debts paid & I will be able to compete with Meli for the few Boy Comics that I still need to complete my run [ Yep, I’m nearly done- just missing a few issues ]. However, my kids don’t want me to sell yet, so I’m stuck here, for now, slowly going mad in this soul-less landscape, crushed by the teeming humanity around me- just another sardine in a jam-packed sardine can !!

    Yes, yes!- I too have fond memories of buying my first comics in Canada in Oakville, at Vic’s Variety on the evening of Thursday, February 14th,1980- Savage Sword of Conan #51, Conan the Barbarian #110, Master of Kung Fu #88 & Star Wars #35- probably in that order ! I subsequently bought stacks of back issues right down the street at Treasure Island books & set up my first pull list around 1983 with Oakville’s first comic book shop- TARGET COMICS. Happy memories all !! Lots of happiness, it’s not all doom and gloom! I am aware that our area has a rich publishing history and more to boot, but I am not challenging this! I lament at how the environment has changed in the four decades that I have been here, and I always compare it to the beauty of the area that I left behind in England. This area is a soul-less, sterile desert, a grey, congested mass full of angry lemmings rushing around 24/7- to god knows where!?!- day and night- & I hope to escape this before it destroys me! I am hoping that I can find a place to live just a few hours away from the city [ or more!] where I can restore my sanity and find peace with the world.

    But then, it all becomes pointless if some idiot launches a nuclear strike in the Ukraine…..

  9. Walt, I’m the son of a wheelin’dealin’hagglin Scotsman…honestly, I think it’s one of the reasons I like the comics – the meeting of other people and trading.

    I’ve heard rumors though, of a man, no…of a God….of trading…up in the great Nothern continent, a man whom the phrase ‘sell ice to Inuits’ was written. It’s said if you go in to sell him a simple book, you leave without your comic, underwear, self-dignity AND you paid him for the transaction!!! I can’t remember his name though…sounded like the shifting mechanism of a bicycle though!

  10. Thanks for the clarification, Live Frog. I’m genuinely saddened by the reason that drew you to Hamilton and what has happened to your cousin. I hope his progress goes the best way it can.
    You know, I too grew up in England before coming here and appreciate both places. After living in the suburbs and the city, in England, India, and China, I’ve found that the veneer of a place doesn’t tell you what its heart is. Its heart is the people. Though Hamilton is 9th on the top ten city crime rates, Surrey, BC, nestled just outside of Vancouver in a back drop of mountains, is No. 1. One may very well get the wrong impression of Hamilton coming into it over the Skyway bridge and through the industrial sections. Those areas of the city are often used in post-apocalyptic movie scenes, but that’s not Hamilton. Also remember that wherever you move, you have to take yourself with you. I honestly do hope you eventually find the surroundings (and the comics) you are looking for, I certainly have. I hope too that we could meet over a coffee since we are so close geographically, maybe with Walt as well, and have a chance to chat about comics. Meeting up with other collectors is one of the true pleasures of being one.

  11. Ivan, you are a founding member of OCMTC!!! Coffee sounds briliant, hopefully it’s a Sunny, Beautiful day in Hamilton and Walt can post a picture.

    (Old Canadian Men Talking Comics)

    T-shirt still coming soon; Walt, I’m thinking we get an artist to do a Bernie Wrightson homage of a few skeletons, wearing white t-shirts with maple leaves, sitting around a coffee table (with a coffee steaming, maybe some Timmie Hortons donuts on the table) and a Canadian White placed on the table, or in a hand, or such.

  12. Ivan- a get-together would be nice & we should make this happen. Do not be afraid!- although I tend to rant and lecture in my posts, I am not like this in real life- this is just my writing style. I don’t tend to say anything in reality that requires an exclamation point [or several exclamation points!] after my sentences !!!!!!!! Most of my collecting over the last decade has been via the internet, & I miss actually leaving the house & making a trip to a convention or simply doing the rounds of my local comic book shops. Meeting other collectors & dealers face to face is very much part of the hobby & I do know many hobbyists [in various fields, such as militaria & military modeling etc] who routinely go to various shows not so much to buy stuff, but to connect with their friends.

    I made a crack at Hamilton, but this was tongue in cheek. I don’t think Hamilton is any more dangerous than Toronto or Mississauga & there are certainly parts of town over here that I wouldn’t want to hang about in after dark. I do not know how they create these lists of dangerous places, but it may have to do with counting the physical number of calls the police have to attend & the nature of those calls. It may amuse you to know that Oakville has been listed as one of the most safest places to live in Canada, and that is probably because it is as dull as day old toast! I lived in Oakville for 18 years & in that time, nothing happened!! If you want a sedate, peaceful environment- move to Oakville !!! Crikey!- now I’ve pissed off people who live in Oakville! Will I ever learn ???

    We drove out to Crawford Lake [in Milton] today to see the Fall colours & make a small hike. It was fantastic & I have to push myself to do this kinda stuff more often. Two years of pandemic have kept me hunched over the computer & turning into a miserable hermit. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned in my previous rant- I live in a grey, dull, suburb filled with cookie-cutter bungalows dotted with ‘monster’ homes here and there. This is not an environment that entices me to come out of the house & go for a walk. I actually get depressed walking about this area & come home feeling worse off than when I started. I need to go further out than my immediate area to find mental relaxation. As we drove to Crawford Lake, past all the construction sites where new cookie-cutter homes were about to be built for the teeming masses to come, we finally reached Guelph Line at Britannia, where there are still many farms in operation & many old, charismatic homes still standing. A beautiful area that finally relaxed my soul for a short while, but I wonder how long it will be before urban sprawl buries this picturesque environment under a carpet of generic, mindless architecture.

    The trick, for me, is to find a green space to live that is far enough to be safe from urban sprawl for many years to come. I may have to go as far as Owen Sound in order to find this safety! I can do it, if necessary, but will my kids let me??

    So what has all this to do about comics ??? Nothing ! Sorry !!
    I made a dig about Hamilton & had to write an essay explaining myself to everybody. It’s a joke kids ! Chill your beans !! Don’t get me started about Oakville!!!!

  13. LF
    There are few places in southern Ontario as good for the soul as Crawford Lake! The boardwalk around the lake is something nobody could imagine until they walk it, and the view of the Nassagaweya Canyon at the lookout is gobsmackingly beautifu at this time of year! Now, off you go to Belfountain and Elora!

    I only remember names like Nassagaweya because I was born in Esquesing Township, then grew up in Chinguacousy Township, right next door to Nassagaweya Township, and Stan Lee had already taught me how to spell words like “phantasmagorical” at a very early age.

  14. Mel- I still cain’t spel fantazmagoricul , no matter how hard I try ! I should read more DC comics & become smarter !!

    I rant about my suburban existence, but will admit that Southern Ontario is littered with lots of beautiful conservation areas & waterfalls, many within a short drive from my house. These areas keep me sane, relax my soul & I need to push myself to go out an experience them more often. I need to hike the Bruce Trail more often too!- it is right on my doorstep & I hardly go there! It was beautiful today, bathed in sunlight & Fall colours!!! What am I waiting for???
    A favourite spot was Spencer Gorge near Hamilton which now appears to be destroyed by the tromp of countless feet over the years and requires a permit to be viewed. I believe the base of this fall has been fenced off, but people still climb over or slink under the fence to continue their destruction of this fragile environment. As our cities swell with thousands of people moving in every year, so our fragile waterfalls & conservation areas begin to crack under the weight of more visitors than they can handle. Pretty soon, most of these delicate environments will be fenced off & will need a permit to be viewed !

    Owen Sound- here I come ! Far less people up there & the area is littered with beautiful parks & waterfalls too! They should last longer than the conservation areas over here. Fingers crossed !

  15. We have not answered one of Walt’s key questions, posed at the top of this post and one of interest to myself-

    Crime Comics- “..how one of the most popular genres in comics failed to produce a lasting character.”

    I was hoping that one of you, maybe Bud, could have answered this by now, as I am puzzled by this. Crime comics hit the ground running & were very successful in presenting one-off short stories to their audience & did not see the need to create many recurring characters in order to keep those readers coming back. The crime pulps, on the other hand, created a host of recurring characters, from Hammett’s Sam Spade to Carroll John Daly’s Race Williams & many, many more completely unknown to most comic book collectors. Why such a difference of philosophy? Maybe the comic book publishers expected that the visual punch that the comics provided, with the violence & gore of this subject matter was enough to entice the reader to drop that dime into their coffers & get their fix. Simply leafing through a pre-code crime book gives you a very good idea of what you are about to receive, but a pulp mag, with it’s reams of black & white text needs something more to keep the reader coming back. Two things that pulp mags excelled at were serials and recurring characters, and the king of them all was Tarzan, whose stories all appeared as serials except for the very first one. Many key pulp writers created a character or a number of characters & kept up with their adventures on a regular basis. Many fine crime stories featuring such repeat characters were published as serials in the pulps- such as Hammett’s Maltese Falcon featuring Sam Spade, running as a five part serial beginning in the September 1929 issue of BLACK MASK. Many of these fine stories are back in print, published by several specialist publishers & you can learn more about them by checking out this blog, simply the finest mystery & crime blog on the internet:

    https://mysteryfile.com/blog/

    Visuals vs text- that may be the answer. The gore & violence filled illustrations will sell the comic, but more effort is required to sell a text filled pulp. Certainly there were well-known characters in the crime comics, with Will Eisner’s SPIRIT being the most famous, closely followed by Mr. Crime, the host of Gleason’s CRIME DOES NOT PAY & who appeared in virtually every issue for over 14 years!- but most other characters such as DICK TRACY or KERRY DRAKE were reprinted from the newspaper comics and were not original comic book characters. The newspapers yielded a number of fine crime strips & many examples can be found in the newspaper reprint comics of the time. Crime has been a staple ingredient in comic books since day one but once you get past The Spirit or Mr. Crime, only a few of the characters who fought crime enjoyed a lengthy run or even their own series. Off the top of my head, I can think of Ken Shannon [ Quality ] who ended up taking over POLICE COMICS from Plastic Man and SAM HILL [ Archie ] who enjoyed a very small run [ 7 issues ] in the early fifties & the above mentioned Johnny Dynamite. Of course, as crime comics were dominating the market ,there were still superheroes out there fighting crime- Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man & Captain Marvel were still doing their bit & maybe it was felt that a non-costumed recurring crime fighting character could not compete against them?

    Crime comics seemed to find their niche just spitting out violent short stories every month without the need for a repeating, established character. It seemed to work for them, until Dr. Wertham spoiled the party.

  16. The chubby Namor I saw in the Black Panther trailer certainly didnt inspire. Marvel phase 1 at least captured the essence of its comic Universe.
    I think the Sub-mariner comic values circa silver age will come crashing down

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