Spinner Rack Blues, by Mike Gold

Mike Gold

ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, www.getthepointradio.com and on iNetRadio, www.iNetRadio.com (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check www.getthepointradio.com above for times and on-demand streaming information.

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18 Responses

  1. Rick Taylor says:

    I had a fortunate situation a s a kid.Mrs Lukeoff who was the adult crossing guard at my grade school also worked at the local drug store.She used to let me open the bundles ay take first pick of the comics once a week.That way I never missed anything.A position of envy with my peers.

  2. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    Being one of the "kids" you might be talking too, yes, I had it easy. Not more than 2 miles from my doorstep was "Fiction House"… a small baseball card emporium and comic book shop on Dixie Highway. I became a "box holder" within a year of finding the place… subscribing to a handful of "X-___" books. Later I'd change to nothing but DC titles, and then for a long and lonely stretch I purchased nearly every book of Malibu's line (it was neat to read about super heros no one else knew more than me about for a change.). Slowly Fiction house grew less as a shop for comic purveyors though, as "Warhammer" and "Magic" gave way to a new sect of nerditry we comic bookies despised (while secretly buying starter packs to "just give it a try"). As we gained the ability to drive, me and my Unshaven Comics cohorts (who were ONLY my best friends at the time) took our travels out to frankfort and tinley park for more books, adding "A and F" and "10th Planet" to our list of comic shops. On rare occasion when we would take the Metra downtown (the same Metra I now take as a commuter, with graphic novels in tow) we would spend hours in the upstairs stacks of Graham Cracker comics looking for those lost jewels of our youth.As I write this now, my normal shop has changed to a friend owned shop in Lansing, Stand-Up Comics. The owners are my age, and we as creators and they as sellers.. have formed a close bond. After new book day Wednesday, we go out together for a drink and bite to eat… to discuss comics and pop culture… It's indeed a golden era for me still. So yes Mike, I've had it easy when it's come to getting my comics. Getting into comics.. well… "You grownups today… you got it easy, ya do." :) Look out for my e-mail, great article as always.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This post generated so many flashbacks for me. I remember the one-mile bike rides to the drugstore so well. And somewhere I still have the custom comic carrier that I had my brother help me make. It was a cloth tube, with a loop that fitted over the handlebars. I would gently roll up the latest Dave Cockrum-drawn issue of Legion of Super-Heroes, or something by that new guy, John Byrne, and get them safely home, sans sweat and crumple free.

  4. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    My dealer of choice was the candy store up on Dutch Broadway. Now, it had an actual name (Dutch-Way Stationery or something like that) But these were the days when the stores would have the name of a popular (tho cheap and hideous, I'm told) cigar brand in HUGE letters up on the sign, so I and my friends would regularly refer to the store as "The Te-Amo" Similarly, another candy store a mile or so away past the A&P was "The Optimo".I was good at math even as a kid, so I knew exactly how much the books would cost. I'd grab what I needed from the rack, total it up, and run over the drug store and hit Mom up for the cash. One time I asked her for the two dollars I needed, then as I was running off, I remembered the books had just gone up to twenty-Five cents from twenty, and had to turn back and ask for the the other fitty-cent. It got a laugh from the ladies she was talking to, and I got the cash.Aside from the price, there was one major difference between the mindset of comics fans of then and now. We didn't know they were valuable. They sat in piles on the floor and in clubhouses made of discarded refrigerator boxes, they were rolled up and placed in back pockets. They were read, re-read and traded with little or not worry about comparative value. (Tho you knew if a kid really wanted a particular book, you could get a two or three-to-one trade ratio. So even then we were figuring out how to profit from others' needs)Nowadays comics are trated as inherently valuable, and have to be kept nice, getting bagged and boarded as soon as they're read, if not sooner. Even worse they're getting sealed in plastic, never to be read again, in a sad reverse-copy of the never removed from box toys that are smothering to death on collectors' shelves.This is all Mr. Wilson's fault, you know.I remember an episode of Dennis the Menace where Mr. Wilson is explaining to Dennis about the value of first edition books when Dennis wants to show his comics to him. In traditional sitcom fashion, a valuable old letter or something gets dropped into Dennis' comics, and gets traded away into oblivion. while Mr. Wilson starts paying kids a dollar to let him look through their comics to find the letter, Dennis is educating them about the world of first editions and valuable collectibles, and by the end of the episode, the kids are asking Mr. Wilson to be careful with their books, as they are "First Editions". So you see, that's where the seed was planted.

  5. Russ Rogers says:

    Shinder's. News, Comics and Porn. Open for 91 years. Had as many as 13 locations around the Twin Cities in Minnesota. It was part to the character of the Cities. Poof. Gone. Blame it on the economy. You can also blame it on a criminal mismanagement fueled by drug abuse. http://www.startribune.com/business/11217741.html Ah, I miss Shinder's. Hot Comics is too far away. So are Dreamhaven and Big Brain. We have some COOL Comics shops in the Twinkies. I just can't get to them.

    • Mike Gold says:

      I liked Shinder's a whole lot. One of those amazing places where you discover all kinds of magazines you didn't know existed. I seem to recall one of their outlets getting torched by a "feminist" who was protesting their sale of skin magazines.Dreamhaven is one of the best. Absolutely. I've never been to Big Brain; in fact, it's been 20 years since I've been in Minneapolis / St. Paul. Not like I was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention…

  6. Dave says:

    I used to go to my Seven-Eleven on the day before the comics came out. In exchange for putting the comics on the rack, he'd let me pick out my copies first. I guess this was my first experience working for a comic shop. :)However, before that, I loved going to the local drug store or mom and pop store and buy my comics off of the rack. It was great fun spinning the rack to see what was in the next section – or to go through the comics in order to find the gems hidden behind the front comics. Even then I was a bit of a neat freak as I'd move the comics around to put all of the issues of a given title together.Those days were part of what made comics so much fun for me as a kid!Today's kids just don't know what they're missing.

  7. Neil Ottenstein says:

    I had to bicycle to several places in town to get my comics. One place, the Darien News Store, kept their comics on the shelf longer than most other places and had the best selection. Earlier, I remember looking forward to food shopping with my mother in order to run over to whatever drug store was neaby in order to get my comics.

  8. Dave says:

    On the subject of keeping comics on the rack, I remember one store that had the same comics on the rack for at least a year! They must have ordered a one-time shipment and were waiting for them to sell before ordering anymore. My friends and I used to go to the store for new Wacky Packages and would joke about the same comics being there all of the time.

  9. Glenn Hauman says:

    Hate to correct you, Mike (what am I saying? I love to correct you) but the Four Yorkshiremen sketch was first seen on At Last The 1948 Show.On your ostensible topic, though, there's a major generational difference between you and me. I grew up in the era of comic book stores and the direct market publishers, where you could get all the comics you wanted with relative ease, and also books from Capital, Pacific, Eclipse, Comico, and (ahem) First.That made a tremendous difference to people who started the habit about the time I did, no?Question for the audience: how many of you had your first comics shopping experience in a specialty store, rather than a general-purpose newsstand? (For purpose of argument, I'll include gaming stores and SF bookstores as specialty.)

    • Mike Gold says:

      Feeble attempt, Glenn. First of all, I didn't say the Pythons originated "Four Yorkshiremen," I said they did it. It was also done by a combination of Pythons and Beyond The Fringe folks in The Secret Policeman's Ball. And, no doubt, by others. Kim Howard Johnson would know.Second, you missed the point of my column. I wasn't claiming the retail era was superior — get defensive much? — to the direct sales era. I said the latter is more convenient. You had near-total access, but only if you had a comic book store nearby. Admittedly, those were easier to find in YOUR childhood than they are today; and Long Island New York had more comics shops per square mile than just about anywhere else in the nation at that time.But during the retail era, new comics were accessible to virtually everybody. It was far, far easier to discover the medium, which is why the average comic book title sold in numbers undreamed of today and the top sellers routinely sold between one and three million copies. You didn't know what was coming out (The Comic Reader didn't start publishing on-sale lists until the late 60s, and they were incomplete), and you had to visit several locations before you knew what was out.One isn't superior to the other, they're just different. You missed out on the thrill of discovery and the thrill of the chase, but that doesn't necessarily breed fandom. Obsessive/compulsive behavior, yes. Fandom, maybe.

      • Glenn Hauman says:

        Not quite what I meant– I meant that the content of what you found on the stand versus what you found in the stores. Going from one to the other was more of a graduation experience, to more adult materials.

        • Mike Gold says:

          Adult, aschmult. Back in the spinner rack days, we had all kinds of genres, most long ignored (or impossible to find) in the direct sales market. Romance. War. Crime. Fashion. Newspaper strip reprints. A wide, wide variety of kids comics. Today we've got two dozen X-Men and one dozen Batman books each month.It isn't an either / or, Glenn. Cutting off the youth market means cutting off our next generation of readers — which we've been seeing as the average age of the comic book store customer increases as our arteries harden. It was a mistake.We've held on to the so-called adult audience because it's all we have left. In order to survive, we need to offer content that appeals to all aspects of society, just as they do in Italy, Japan, France… you know, the rest of Earth.

    • Russ Rogers says:

      My brother (who is older, smarter and cooler than me) also gave me the At Last the 1948 Show boxed set too! That show also contained the seedlings of Pythonism. John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman! Eye-gor/Marty Feldman, from Young Frankenstein? Yeah, that one.

  10. Alan Coil says:

    Got mine from the local soda shop. Get home from school, walk to the soda shop, buy comics, stop at the 5&10 next door to buy a Three Musketeers candy bar, walk home with my goodies, and spend the rest of the afternoon reading comics. Homework? HAH!As to the "support your local dealer", I seldom buy anything except from the LCS. My former LCS was more convenient, but then he Really. Pissed. Me. Off. and I started mail ordering comics. After a bit, that company went out of business holding some of my money. I've been back to LCS ever since. The weekly comics discussion is one of the highlights of the week.

  11. ed zarger says:

    You hit the nail on the head for my youth. The smell of cigars or pipe smoke let me know that I was at the newstand. I didn't see spinner racks for a few years — the comics were neatly organized just like magazines but lower, of course. I got good at figuring multiples of 12 cents. When I found out what days comics came out, I'd run from school, hoping to get there before something sold out.Sadly, I don't know of any comics for sale less than 30 miles away now, in backwoods NW PA. Some of the parents ask me where they could find comics, when I give the ashcan-sized comics out at Halloween. (You ARE doing that, aren't you?) All I can do is point to the comicshop locator ads in those comics, or the mail order service I use.

    • Alan Coil says:

      ed,Here's another idea for Halloween. Talk to a retailer near you to try to make a deal buying Free Comic Book Day comics at cost. Most of those cost the dealer 25-30 cents. You could get 100 comics for $25-30, maybe a little on top for shipping. A friend of mine lives in the city, and gets 200 every year. He figures the cost is actually minimal, and he doesn't have 10 or 20 pounds of candy left over every year. Plus the left over comics can be given to relatives, or a children's hospital.

  12. Andy Vaughn says:

    I can remember walking down from my house in Springfield Ohio about a block to Glendale Pharmacy every Tuesday and Thursday after school to pick up the new comics for the week. Many times I would arrive before the comics would be placed into the spinner rack and they were still bundled with steel wires. Man, I use to hate it when the outside issues would get crumpled or turned up from the wires! But there was nothing like seeking out the next issue of Batman or Superman or Spiderman. The only dis-advantage then as opposed to today was that at these retail stores, you weren't guaranteed that the next month's issue would be there. Several times I remember missing out on a continued issue of Spidey or especially the Aquaman series where the Sea King was asearching for his lost wife Mera.