There must be something in the air this week, because just as Scott was brought to tears thinking about paper bags, I was led down memory lane thinking about the Yellow Pages and how they were once a key tool of any comic book collector.
You see kids, once upon a time before the Internet and cell phones we kept all phone numbers in a large newsprint tome that was not only informative but also gave circus strongmen something to rip in half with their bare hands. All joking aside the phone book was a pretty important part of tracking down new comic books for your collection.
Now, we have the Internet deliver any comic book we want from anywhere in the world, but before the world-wide web most of our collecting was done locally. Shops got their books from a bunch of different distributors. Some stores ordered some titles, some ordered others, some convenience stores ordered some titles, so you really couldn’t be guaranteed that every book you wanted would always be at your local shop. In order to expand and complete your collections you needed to have a circuit of shops, especially when you were looking for deals.
But where did you find this list of other shops? In the Yellow Pages. I remember combing through those pages and looking up comic book store after comic book store. Seeing which one had the best ads, seeing which ones I could get to myself, and which ones I needed to get my parents or a friend’s older sibling to drive me. If they shop had a half or quarter page ad (no shop around me ever, every had a full page ad) you knew they would be a big enough store and have a great back issue section.
Back issue sections might not make much money for shops now (some shops don’t even have any) but once upon a time they were just as important for me as the new comic rack. I loved looking for new stuff, cool covers, or stories that I didn’t know about and had never read. Every trip to a local comic book shop was a chance to see something new. When I first discovered that the cast of Saturday Night Live helped Spider-Man defeat the Silver Samurai it was during one of these trips. When I found an awesome Christmas themed book where the Hulk punches Santa in the face it was during a trip to the local comic book shop. And when I learned that Rocky Balboa was almost a member of G.I. Joe is was thanks to a trip to a comic book shop that I found in the Yellow Pages.
Now I’m sure that collectors still have a circuit of shops that they frequent and make regular visits to, but there was something about discovering a great new shop in the phone book that I will always remember fondly.