What A Day!

This past Saturday, May 7th, was Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). I hope you all were able to visit your local comic book shop to support them. The event is always held on the first Saturday in May and for over a decade has coincided with the big Marvel first weekend in May movie release. Marvel usually saves their big gun for this time slot so we end up with this nice symbiotic relationship where FCBD and the Marvel movie work together to promote comic book culture. We used to set up at the big Cineplex on the Friday nights handing out hundreds of fliers inviting moviegoers to come to our FCBD the next day. Everything worked like a charm, the movies always seemed to be hits and our FCBD event seemed to grow every year.

The pandemic had us cancel FCBD in 2020 and then again in 2021 so we were a bit unsure of how to approach this year’s event. We decided to plan for a three-quarter event; this was three months ago when we had to decide on order quantities for the books we would give away. We thought that not everybody would be ready for a full-on event with 1200 people funnelling through a small store over the course of eight hours. It turned out we got what we wished for: I’d say we saw 800 people this past Saturday and everyone had a great time. It was nice to see the shop busy with regulars and new customers. In hindsight, we obviously made a mistake in not promoting and investing into the event more heavily: it was obvious that the crowd was ready for more, but we just weren’t. Next year we’re going hard!

More sad news from the comic world this week with the passing of George Perez. I remember the hype and buzz when the New Teen Titans came out in 1980: #1 was instantly collectible. Back in 1980 the X-Men seemed to be the whole comic book industry, all the other Marvel titles were so stale but DC’s New Teen Titans was fresh with Perez’s art and winning new fans fast. I remember it being a legitimate challenger to the X-Men for a time. George left the Teen Titans and went on to make more comic book history with the DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. RIP George Perez.

I was leafing through Batman #227 for next week’s eBay auction and was hoping to use the cover or perhaps a page I liked for this week’s post when I happened upon this page. Here we have DC boasting about how their artists won big awards at a Comic Art Convention. Holy Crap can you imagine the art that would have been available to buy at that convention! I don’t want to even think about it. Note the bottom where DC raves about how well-received their new superstar artist was received at the show.

Last week I got fixated on hanging Supermen so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that this week I was mesmerized by raining Superboys. I’m not sure why but these covers just work.

I’m going to ask the help of Bud Plant on this next pic. This ad is from Star Wars #3 in 1977. Bud, can you tell us anything about Pacific Comics in the mid-1970s? Looks like they were from San Diego and the ad says they got Frazetta to do the art on their catalogue? How long did these guys last? I remember Mile High from a couple of years later but I don’t remember these guys.

Our internationalcollectiblesexchange weekly eBay auction closed last night and I noticed that the quality raw books had strong sales. I thought this small batch of early Silver Age Batman books did particularly well selling for $212.50 USD; then again, who would not want that Batman/Batwoman Wedding cover with a distraught Robin.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1671

7 Comments

  1. While I would have loved to have gone to one of the local stores this weekend I am afraid if I did I would have simply accumulated more I must eventually divest. I remember Pacific comics ads but can’t remember if I ever bought from them. The big dealer in CA I bought from way back when was American Comic Company that had multiple outlets throughout southern CA some I visited when going out to see my brother, then eventually moving there ( I still have a coupon they sent me when they supplied me with a substitute issue for less money… ah the days of printed mail order catalogs). They have since moved to Florida under a different name. I watched with interest this weekend auction of Strange Tales Brother Voodoo 1st appearance. I have the 5 issue set of the characters initial adventures and it gives me some reference. I agree its sad when another great creator passes on.

  2. Sad news about George Perez. I bought just about every book he drew from the late seventies through the eighties.

    I went to the first small show that I’ve been to in about forty years on Saturday. Only one dealer was half-heartedly supporting Free Comic Book Day, but I can’t blame them because attendance was very good and there would have been way too much demand from the unwashed. Out of maybe twenty exhibitors there were only three with any serious inventory of books, but I still had a great time for a couple of hours and came away with some dollar books with cool covers and some very nice mid-silver $10 books that I am hoping will be worth a bit more. The best thing I saw was a lot of kids drooling over and buying old books. We need to bring down the average age of collectors!

    Those Adams Superboys have been ridiculously undervalued (in high grade) forever. Adams put his heart and soul into those late sixties DC covers. I just bought a beautiful copy of the very scarce Unexpected #113, another title with one of his fantastic cover runs of this time. We have so many amazing artists working these days, yet Adams’s style and skill continues to stand out.

  3. Thanks for the Pacific Comics info Gerald, I hope Bud has time to jump in and add a bit more.

    Chris those one day shows can be great, especially when an old timer rents a table to sell off a bit of the collection, I’ve found some great stuff at those over the years. I have a run of higher grade Unexpected books going up on the weekly auction!!

  4. Boy, how long an essay would you like regarding Pacific? They were indeed from San Diego. Bill and Steve Schanes started Pacific when they began exhibiting the conventions circuit back in the mid to late 1970s somewhere. They were just a tad younger than our San Jose group but lots of enthusiasm, hauling around boatloads of old comics to the shows. Once the Direct Market opened up with other distributors besides Phil Seuling coming on board, Pacific (as well as I) began wholesaling new comics and fanzines etc. Pacific jumped into actual Marvel and DC comics before I did—I got in when when I bought Charles Abar’s distribution biz out in 1982. They began in 1981. Before that I only retailed and wholesaled fanzines,books, not regular comics.

    Wiki dates them as as a publisher from 1981-84 though of course your ad above is prior to all that. Dave Scroggy also worked for Pacific, having a lot to do with their publishing arm. He ended up at Dark Horse, handling all of their non-comics creation of products such as statues and books, if I have that correctly. All those Craig Yoe mini-statues in the metal boxes, of comics characters, those were his. He just retired also from DHC.

    Anyway, back to Pacific….They had a warehouse in Los Angeles circa 1981 and primarily distributed comics in Southern California. But then they got into publishing, doing the very earliest creator-owned full colors Direct Market only comic— such as Kirby’s Silver Starr and Captain Victory, Neal Adams’ Ms Mystic, Alien Worlds with Wrightson, Bruce Jones and crew, and most famously, Pacific Presents which premiered Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer. They also opened a chain of comic shops between LA and San Diego, prior to and during their publishing, though I think they’d divested those by the end. Here is a list of their comics on MyComicShop:

    https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?PubID=10681

    So…next they proceeded to leap with both feet into the signed/limited portfolio market, probably producing more than 100, maybe even upwards of 200, by all manner of comic book artists and also fantasy illustrators. An outfit in Denver, Middle Earth, had done several with Frazetta (Women of the Ages, Tolkien) and Pacific saw how well they had done and realized there was money to be made there also, since they could retail them in their own stores, and distribute them to comics shops—vertical integrations is the marketing term. But meanwhile they were still publishing comics AND distributing and had stores. A lot to handle. And of course success is publishing is all about selling. And from my viewpoint, they finally did too many lesser products, comics and portfolios, that didn’t keep selling and thus tied up the working capital for the distribution business in unsold inventory. We were guilty of keeping back to much product in those days, as comic shops are wont to due, but that can and will kill your cash flow. I stand to be corrected, but I think that is what happened to kill Pacific after so much success.

    They got more of the Schanes family involved, I think their Dad and another brother at least, if not Mom too. But it all collapsed in 1984, when they ran out of money and could not pay off Marvel for the weekly shipments. I recall the number $400,000 that they owned Marvel.

    DC had not set up very many distributors, preferring a few guys (like Seuling and me) to sub-distribute to “smaller” folks like Pacific (and Alternate Realities, which was Chuck Rozanki’s (technically his wife’s) distribution company). So Bill Schanes called me one day to explain they were going under, when he owed me $26,000 for DC comics I had billed him for. But golden lining…he gave me his distribution business in Souther California, complete with his existing warehouse andj all his accounts. I brought Ken Krueger, the former manager, back from the Pacific warehouse he was running in Sparta, Illinois and thus my business expanded overnight.

    Pacific had a huge liquidation sale also and many distributors, including myself, bid on comics and portfolios and books they were liquidating.

    There’s a long piece in Wikipedia on them:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Comics

    Soon thereafter, Bill was hired by Diamond Comics as their Purchasing manager and he worked there until he retired a few years ago. He is the primary reason I sold my distribution busness to Diamond in 1988. At the time, Capital was #1 largest, Diamond was #2 and I was #3. But although I liked the guys at Capital, a situation had occured when we were competing in the bay area, where we both had competing warehouses, and I didn’t trust them enough to offer my business to them. So I went to my still-friend Bill, and I knew Steve Geppi pretty well, and Bill helped to engineer the sale of my distribution business to Diamond, making them #1. And, sadly, leading towards the end of multiple-distributors and the beginning of Diamond as the exclusive comics distributor. But the real nail in the coffin was when Marvel took over their own distribution in the early 1990s. That deep-sixed all remaining distributors who could not downsize and survive, having lost the flow of Marvel (and its’ profit) through their companies, since Marvel was somthing like 40% of the comics market at that point.

    Nuff said?

  5. Pacific OWED Marvel $400K…not owned. Pretty huge number, especially considering it was 1984. Word is Marvel just wrote it off, they never did force Pacific into bankruptcy. When Alternate Realities went down, same thing happened. Marvel wrote off the debt, meanwhile I got stiffed for the DC’s Chuck was buying from me. But Chuck did the best he could to make me whole, since we were good friends. He also gave me his wholesale operation with two warehouses, Denver and St.Louis and a bunch of inventory to help me eventually get back my cash. And I inherited two great employees, Cindy Sherman, who became Diamond’s Operations Manager for many years, and her husband Phil. They co-managed my San Francisco warehouse for some time and did a wonderful job. That all happened four years after Pacific went under, in 1987.

    Back to the period of the ad above, Pacific obviously got into mail order for a while there, along with doing shows and opening stores, but I don’t think the mail order lasted too long. Mile High quickly became one of the biggest players, along with some of the old guard like Robert Bell and Howard Rogofsky. Lone Star, who is now MyComicShop, was steadly doing mail order also back then…Buddy had started in the early to mid 1960s!! Buddy started a chain of stores too. Eventually, he sold all the stores and went into pure mail order, thanks in part to his MIT graduate son, Conan, who writes their software (and very good it is). Word is MCS is larger than Mile High these days in the mail order biz. Last I head MCS had 100 employees!

  6. I knew sending out the Bat Signal to Bud would get a response and my goodness Bud, you really brought out the history of the lay of the land during that time. It was a bit of the Wild West with these things back then, nobody could know that the whole industry would keep consolidating and keep snowballing in growth. While the times seemed ripe with opportunity its obvious there was a lot of uncertainty as well. Thanks Bud.

    On an aside, I owe Marvel a bit of money for the big invoice with all the FCBD comics on it, maybe if I ask them they caould write that puppy off ?

  7. Well, Walter, give it a go…but then again, you probably won’t see any more shipments from Marvel. You only get to pull that stunt once. And just maybe Marvel has some better people in charge of collections these days. Wild and wooley, indeed.

    After Bill Shanes retired from Diamond several years ago, he spent a couple years just traveling world, by himself, visiting a bucket list worth of countries. He had a harrowing story about being in a country in South America with revolutionaries firing guns outside of his hotel room and a narrow escape from who knows what they’d do to foreign tourists. Hold them for ransom? I sure admire his adventurous spirit! I think he’s selling Pacific Comics portfolios he’d put away, on Ebay or the net, last I heard.

    And last I saw him, Steve Schanes was still setting up at San Diego Comic-Con, selling animation stills and such, though I think he sold the business in the last couple of years. Boy there is no getting the comics ouf of us folks. Dave Scroggy just moved to Ireland.

    And news flash…Craig Yoe, who’d moved with his family from upstate New York to Germany, thought better of it. He just called this week from the Canary Islands. He says it’s Spring all year round there. They are looking for a house! He has new projects coming up but mum is the word. Sounds very cool, doesn’t it?

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