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2013.06.13

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Regarding '90s pamphlets in today's used bookstores: I don't know if anyone remembers going to a Wal-Mart or a Dollar Store in the '90s and finding those weird polybagged 3-packs of random recent-ish comics hanging on the wall, but they are very much still around, and they largely have the SAME COMICS in them. I spotted a pile at TJ Maxx just the other day. My own theory, based largely on supposition grown from a tiny kernel of personal experience, is that there is just a shit ton of that stuff (Marvel, DC, Valiant) kicking around out there in the ether, being shopped around by remaindered book distributors. I know when my dad closed his comic shop back in 1996, he filled a large abandoned dog kennel (it was in the family and so cheaper than renting storage space) with literally hundreds (if not over 1,000) of longboxes filled with all of his backstock, and a lot of it was the glut of '90s books ordered just before the crash and then left high and dry in the new post-speculator market. He sold the entire kit and kaboodle to a re-seller in another state, and it only stands to reason that many other shops did the same. Those re-sellers, in their long-term search for ways to make any kind of money off RAI back issues, would inevitably look to remainder bookstores. My only real point is that, while its possible the 2nd and Charles that Joe shopped at adopted a local collection of comics, there could be something more systemic going on, a weird vestigial piece of '90s comic book culture wandering around the nation's cheap book racks. Which I would find weirdly charming.

Hmm, this sounds pretty plausible... I wonder if all of these '90s publishers are assigned ranks in the great resale calculus? Like, maybe every 2nd & Charles has exactly the same compliment of Ultraverse classics and early Savage Dragons...

I like the image in my head of a buyer at one of these stores ordering an anonymous gross of "HOT COLLECTIBLE OUT OF PRINT COMICS" expecting to get recognizable super-heroes or at least something they've vaguely heard of via the rise of the literary graphic novel, and then their utter dismay and confusion at receiving SOLAR MAN OF THE ATOM, or a Norm Breyfogle PRIME with pictures of an adolescent boy sliding out the back of a disintegrating gelatinous superman. "Oh well, shelve these weird things and get ready to look at them sitting there until the internet makes our business model completely non-viable and we all go wait in line for the last remaining jobs at Target."

I'm a 90s/early Aughts manga guy, so you can't discuss that stuff often enough for me.

I gave away a bunch of comics recently as part of a school project/housecleaning, and put all my Pulp issues in a longbox marked Adult. I warned all comers that the box contained R-rated material. One mom of several boys didn't mind the eldest boy (about 11, I'd guess) pawing through it, though. He'd leaf through each item in the box, and if he saw some hot lady nudity he'd set it aside as a keeper. One panel from Black & White, however was too hot to handle: a naked little boy with his willy out. It wasn't a sexualized picture, but Mom got all offended, and he put that issue back. Maybe that's part of why Black & White was so poorly received by Pulp readers (per the letters column); too many naked boys, not enough naked ladies.

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