A Comic Book Avalanche!
Prices of old, collectable comic books have been skyrocketing in recent months. It’s really something to witness. It’s also fun to see the values of books I own going bonkers. I do sometimes regret a few books I sold off years ago. Oh, well.
I work for a comic book store in Minneapolis, so I get to see the crazy price increases first hand. I also get to see comic books I would like to own, but are getting priced right out of my range.
You know a good way to devalue a comic book? Damage it.
Last Saturday morning I walked into the store to be greeted by the sight of a couple of stacks of comic books having fallen over, spilling onto the floor and the boss’s chair, and cascading under his desk.
“That’s not good,” I said to myself and then spent the next almost an hour carefully picking those fallen books up off the floor. In doing so, I found there were some quite valuable comics that could have been badly damaged. There was a Fantastic Four #48 in there, and that could be worth a couple of grand.
One comic book did get munched, but that seemed to be the only casualty. Hard to believe, but it’s true.
It could have been so much worse.
Those Early Marvel Comic Books…
In 1961, when Atlas Comics (formerly Timely Comics) rebranded itself Marvel Comics with the release of the earth-shatteringly popular Fantastic Four, the world of comic books was forever changed. At the helm of that change were writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Together they brought a freshness and page popping excitement that had been lacking with then comic book giant DC Comics.
DC Comics had almost single-handedly kept the super-hero genre alive with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and a few other characters. But there was something stodgy about DC. Marvel’s heroes were more human in that they had personal problems that the readers could identify with.
Marvel’s stories were more sophisticated…
Wait. Were they?
I have been reading those early Fantastic Four comic books online. Those early books were definitely for kids. They are kinda silly. Stan just seemed to come up with anything just to have something incredible happen on every page. He even threw in a magnetic monkey in a battle between the FF and the Red Ghost.
Over the years, as other writers took over the story creation from Stan the Man, Marvel’s stories did get more sophisticated, intricate, and complex, while still being completely entertaining. But there was still some silliness. They were comic books, after all.
Later, other publishers and creators expanded on what the whole comic book thing could do.
In 1980, writer/cartoonist Art Spiegelman began publishing Maus, the highly acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning series that told the story of Spiegelman’s father surviving the Holocaust.
I had never read Maus, but I was aware of the series. It was part of the genre of comic books called “underground”. Underground comics didn’t appeal to me back then. I was more interested in Marvel’s super-hero comics. The Avengers was my favorite title in those days.
However, through the magic of the internet, I am able to read Maus now. I’m about a quarter of the way into the series.
Why am I reading it now? For the same reason the story is in the news again. The Tennessee school board has unanimously decided to remove Maus from the eighth grade curriculum. The board seemed to be mainly concerned about a few curse words and a depiction of a naked woman. Well, we wouldn’t want to subject a 13 year old to that!
As far as I can find no board member has voiced a concern about exposing eighth graders to the horrors of the Holocaust. It seemed to be the naughty words and a simple line drawing of a woman’s breasts.
I’m not sure it’s a ban exactly, but that’s what people are calling it. And a ban can be good for sales and getting people to read a series that ended its run in 1991, which is what is happening now. It’s the Streisand Effect and I hope eighth graders all over the world and especially in Tennessee are reading Maus now.
Maus can be read online here.
I also told the story of my seventh grade English teacher reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men to the class. He told us up front that he was not going to censor the language. He said we were mature enough to understand the book was depicting the language and attitudes of 1930’s America. He told us we could handle the N-words and other curse words, the violence, the sexism, racism, and the depiction of the mentally challenged. And he was right. We handled it fine.
Neil Young Vs Joe Rogan & Spotify
Geez! I don’t seem to be able to get away from one of America’s favorite desseminators of dipshittery: Two time Dimland Radio Science Zero Joe Rogan. This time it is rocker Neil Young who has brought the ‘roided out Rogan back to our attention. Young threatened Spotify that if they didn’t remove Rogan’s podcast, exclusive to their service, he would remove all of his music from their streaming service.
Spotify looked at the download numbers and said, “Goodbye, Mr. Young.”
Then Joni Mitchell joined Neil’s music removal protest. I’m hearing that other musical artists might follow suit and there are Spotify subscribers dropping their subscriptions and going to Pandora or Apple Music or some other music/podcast streaming service.
I applaud the protest against Rogan’s misinformation, but I won’t be giving up my Spotify. I have built a playlist of more than 4,500 songs and I don’t want to go through all that again with another service.
Let me ask a few questions of those leaving Spotify. Do the other services offer music by Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison? They’re all, to some degree, anti-vax, anti-COVID shutdowns, and anti-proof of vaccination measures taken by music venues.
Do those services offer Ike & Tina Turner? Ike was a wife abuser. How about Chris Brown? Didn’t he beat the shit out of Rihanna? How about legendary music producer Phil Spector? He was convicted of murder. The horrible glam rocker Gary Glitter was a convicted pedophile. Do you listen to classical? Wagner was a notorious anti-Semite.
Sure, none of them might have the current influence and download numbers of Joe Rogan, but you are obviously against COVID misinformation on any scale, right? And I’m certain you are against spousal abuse, murder, child molestation, and anti-Semitism. These purity tests can be difficult.
Leave Spotify if that is what your conscience dictates. Or don’t download Joe Rogan.
Of course, if The Who leave Spotify, I’ll be out of there in a shot!
I know. I’m weak.
What A Weekend Of Sportsball!
I coined the phrase “sportsballer”. I’m claiming it, damn it!
I didn’t come up with “sportsball”. That was someone else.
Well, I’m a little conflicted in my annoyance of the sportsball thing. On one hand, I think people should be able to express themselves, but on the other, I think if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. But, I should talk, right?
There’s something about the sportballer though. They use the sportsball word to dismiss other people’s enjoyment of sports. Their dismissal is often it’s unsolicited. There’s a big sporting event going on, for which lots of people are excited and commenting on social media, and the sportsballer can’t just ignore it and let people have their fun. They have to smuggly dismiss the event, letting everyone know how uninterested they are in it. Why they can’t even get the name of the sport right. They call it sportsball.
I’m not innocent in this whole dismissal of other people’s enjoyment of something I’m not into. I’m trying to be better.
The current internet distraction from the drudgery of life and pandemic exhaustion is a word game called Wordle. Overnight, my Facebook started getting filled up with people posting their Wordle playing results, which cleverly disguises the puzzle so you know how well the player did without giving away the game. And it’s just one word a day.
So, each day there would be several FB friends posting their Wordles. I asked what the hell was going on with this Wordle thing. I was given the answer and a link to try it myself.
And I did. Once. (Right there! A little snark about Wordle. Did you catch it?)
I guess that’s the nature of social media. When something gets a little too much enthusiasm and attention, there are those who just have to give it a dismissive knock.
I’m trying not to be one of them.
And that weekend of football was pretty damn entertaining! The two games on Saturday were defensive struggles in which the visiting teams each won in the final seconds by kicking a field goal. On Sunday, the first had a dramatic comeback by the home team, only to be beaten by the visitors in the final seconds with a field goal. Then, the second Sunday game was incredible. Lots of offense and lead changes in the last two minutes, and then an unbelievable drive by the home team to tie the game with a, you guessed it, a field goal. That last drive was all with only 13 seconds left in regulation. The game went to overtime. Unbelievable!
There was a let down in the overtime of that game, which was won by the home team. The NFL needs to do something about its overtime scoring rules.
Watch the highlights of that incredible game. If you dare!
Mask up! GET VACCINATED! GET BOOSTED! And if you have been vaccinated, THANK YOU!
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