Jaws1965

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Jaws1965's Bio
Hello, CGCers!
Now that I’m a half-century old, I’ve been reflecting on my love of comics—first as a reader (like many kids in the early 70’s), then as a collector—over the past 45 years. I hope my stroll down memory lane evokes some fond memories and reflections of your own.

I was a born a military brat, and in 1971-72, we were stationed in Germany. Dad was a buck sergeant in the Air Force, and payday was magical. We'd go to the Ramstein Air Force Base Exchange (BX) bookstore, and I'd get to pick out a handful of comics and one Hardy Boys book. Forty-plus years later, I can still remember the smell of that bookstore. Early on, I loved Gold Key and Harvey comics such as Turok Son of Stone, Magnus Robot Fighter, Star Trek, Space Family Robinson, Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, Little Dot, Casper, Uncle Scrooge, Boris Karloff, Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, Gyro Gearloose, Walt Disney Comics and Stories, and so on. My dad liked superhero comics (mostly Marvel), but those stories were beyond me at the time. I just couldn’t wrap my head around multi-issue story arcs. I remember looking at the pictures though…some of those monsters left an indelible impression that endures today. Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf by Night, Swamp Thing, and the Man-bat are indelibly etched in my mind. I also remember wrestling with my dad…super-hero style! I was usually the Hulk, and he was always the Silver Surfer.

In the summer of 1973, right after I finished 2nd grade, we moved back stateside, and my dad was assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. This summer is my first conscious memory of spending my own money for comics. I'd plop down my allowance or chores money at 7-11, Magic Mart, Weingartens Grocery, or Chambers Drug…back when 50 cents bought two comics and a few pieces of bubble gum. By age 10, I was heading out to buy comics on my own. I remember pedaling my bike through the damp summer heat, sometimes to two or three different stores, emerging with a paper sack of comics tucked under my sweaty arm or even curled tightly around my handlebars (argh!). Sometimes, I'd spend dime for one of the long, flat Jolly Ranchers (they only came in Fire, Watermelon, and Green Apple flavors…do they even make these anymore?) -- or a quarter for a Guillow’s balsa wood glider. But the comics usually came first.

Family vacations were a great opportunity to pick up more comics. On road trips, we'd stop at Stuckey's, which were ubiquitous in the 1970’s. Stuckey’s sold all kinds of tourist/traveler garbage, but back then, they also sold comics in three-packs! (These were usually the Whitman reprints of Gold Key titles). And even more awesome, these comics didn't come out of my allowance. I'd read happily for hours in the back seat, while my sister played with her etch-a-sketch or colored, and my parents drove and smoked.

Alas, most of my comics from this era are long gone – as my tastes changed, these books became trading fodder for “more mature” comics. More on that later…

By the mid-70’s, I started to become interested in some DC vanilla superhero stuff, such as Superman and Action Comics (Curt Swan era). I distinctly remember buying World of Krypton #1 off the spinner rack at Magic Mart. After Superman, I had a brief foray into The Flash (Cary Bates era).

However, I have to say became a *real* collector (i.e., wanting to collect a complete series) in 1977 when I discovered Marvel's 24-issue Godzilla run (Doug Moench/Herb Trimpe). I was 12 years old when I bought Godzilla #9 (he trashes the Hoover Dam, then moves on to Las Vegas) at my local Quick Shop, and I still have that well-read and beloved copy (probably a 4.0, haha!). Ah, those days...Godzilla, Shogun Warriors, Micronauts, the Human Fly, ROM, and Battlestar Galactica. Godzilla also represents the first time I ever sent off for a back-issue comic, ordering issues #1-8, and #10-11.

Marvel superheroes were next, and I started with Amazing Spider-man (right around issue #200) and Fantastic Four (around issue #215). It was also in the 1978-1980 timeframe when I learned the impact of preserving the condition with my books, although I still had a lot to learn. But my world changed when I bought my first X-men comic off the rack. I still remember…it was nighttime, and I purchased issue #136 at Weingartens Grocery store. I had no idea until then that comic art could be so beautiful. I had read a friends copy of #112 a few years earlier, which I had thought was really scary, but I had forgotten about it (Remember how issue #112 ends…the X-Men are captives of then-still-evil Magneto, and their synapses are scrambled, rendering them as helpless as babies? Brr!)

Starting with that issue #136, I went crazy, collecting avidly for about nine years (1977-1986). I focused primarily on Marvel, with a smattering of DC interests. At the end of the 1970's, I, along with everyone else had absolutely fallen in love with the immortal Claremont/Byrne X-Men. X-men #138 (Exit Cyclops) was the first time I purchased multiple copies of a comic (x2 for #138-142), and then I went apesh*t with ten copies of #143. (I still have 9 copies to this day, and my best copy fetched a nice 9.8 WP). I was heartbroken when Byrne left.

I continued to enjoy Spider-man as well during this time, and Fantastic Four rocketed to the top when Byrne took over. I added in the Miller Daredevil run (#186 was my first off-the-rack, and I scrambled to get back issues), as well as the classic Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans series (#21, same drill to retrieve back issues). I collected hard for the next 5 years, through the end of high school and into college, focusing mainly on new issues, with only an occasional flirtation into back issues (aaarggh!).

In early 1986, things shifted again. It was my junior year in college, and a general malaise and burnout had been creeping up on me for a while. The continuing proliferation (by Marvel and DC) of 4-issue mini-series, crossovers, etc. was overwhelming. Secret Wars II was in full swing. I was buying about 2/3 of the Marvel titles, and the cost in terms of time and expense of reading, bagging and inventorying was beginning to outweigh my enjoyment of the content. Despite all that, two specific storylines firmly triggered my departure. I was still a big X-Men fan, and I had always liked Cyclops and Storm (my second and third favorites respectively, behind Wolverine of course). I was already pissed about Storm with a Mohawk and no powers, and I deeply missed the elegant and beautiful Storm of the Byrne era. When a powerless Storm defeated Cyclops in hand-to-hand combat in issue #201, I just couldn’t swallow it. When Jean Grey returned in Fantastic Four #286 and Avengers #263 I was appalled…I didn’t care about the distinction that it wasn’t Phoenix; I felt cheated. So with those pivotal January 1986 issues, I completely quit buying new comics for 26 years.

I still had my collection, meticulously stored in 1 mil gerber mylites within the gray, flip-top acid-free boxes (I used the acid-free boards only as dividers in those days, so I could see the back cover, and plus they were expensive). They sat, dormant and waiting, in the bottom of my mom’s closet in Arkansas, for 26 years.

Nowadays, I'm 50 years old and winding down my career in the U.S. Air Force. I returned to the hobby in late 2012 after almost 27-years (although I kept all my old books during that time). Fortunately, I missed the '90's glut and industry meltdown. Alas, I also missed NM #98 and ASM #300, though...

I've currently got about 4,000 comics (as mentioned above, I didn't shed a single book during the hiatus). 1977-1986 Marvel dominates my collection, with a smattering of early bronze and silver age stuff I picked up in the late 70's and early 80's, as well as the last few years. I've also picked up quite a few modern books since I returned to the hobby. (I do have a small handful of GA books, but nothing significant or noteworthy.)

For CGC comics, I'm working to complete my run of new X-men #94-143, filling in a few gaps in Amazing Spider-man 150-300, pre-1980 Conan books, and completing 1970’s Marvel Godzilla collection in 9.8 WP (check it out!)

These days, I visit my local comic shop every Saturday morning. There’s a wide range of customers, but the majority are male Gen-Xer’s with a bit of disposable income like me. I have a handful of “pull list” books, such as Walking Dead, Amazing Spider-man, Thief of Thieves, Saga, Alex and Ada, Lazarus, Manifest Destiny, and Uber. I also usually contribute to their business by picking up a few back issues, when I can find something in mid-high grade. Occasionally, I’ve picked up a few gems that have gone straight to CGC!

Thanks for reading --- please check out my CGC collection!



    

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