I used to spend a lot of time at used bookstores when I was a kid in the 70’s. My mom loved to read, and passed that on to the rest of the family. It’s so funny that these places are, for the most part, a lost relic. There’s a unique smell in a used bookstore as the slowly decaying paper takes on its own odor. There were 3 different ones in Pittsfield that I remember, all three of them a big mess inside, but all filled with treasure. This was before the rise of the comic shop, so these were the only places to get comic books, and more importantly – back issues, because it was easy to miss issues that for some reason never made it to the convenience store.
I used to buy comics for a nickel that had no covers on them, it wasn’t until I was older that I learned that these are illegal copies, paperbacks and comics that were returned from the stores and were supposed to be destroyed. Through some gray market action they made it to the used bookstore.
One day I found a giant size Fantastic Four annual and was blown away by this story with Galactus, Gabriel and his Herald, The Silver Surfer. For years I wanted to get the issues but they are classics and one of them is over $150. The irony is that when they hit that price you don’t ever take them out of the airtight bag they are in. Marvel does have a reprint but it’s in black and white and that just never seems as much fun (the exception being material that was written and drawn with the intent of being in black and white.
In the last place I would expect to run into the power cosmic, I found a DVD at BJ’s (the local warehouse club) – 44 Years of the Fantastic Four. All of the issues, in the original format. It’s been fun to cruise through them and read the old stories, but much like when I finally found DVDs of The Six Million Dollar Man, the stories aren’t quite as tight and thrilling as the 12 year old John remembered, but Stan Lee tells and incredible story, and the artwork is classic. Even more fun has been laughing my ass off at all the original ads – here’s a couple classics: