I’m delighted to kick off Guest Reviewer Month here at Trouble with Comics with a post by Roger Green, keeper of the FantaCo flame and all-around excellent human being. I’ve written before of buying comics from Roger and his fellow FantaCo folk back in the 1980s and what an honour it is to have gotten to know him during this, The Age of Blogging, so I won’t tell that same old story again. I will just say that Roger is one of the smartest, most thoughtful people I know, and I’m thrilled to have him here on Trouble with Comics, sharing his thoughts on a little corner of his own comics history. Look for more guest reviews as April unfolds.
— Alan David Doane
I didn’t start collecting comics until I went to college. Oh, I’d buy a random Richie Rich or Archie, and I’d manage to get my hands on an odd Superman issue or two; he usually seemed to be dealing with a half dozen different forms of kryptonite. But it didn’t take.
Jump to 1971. My friend from virtually the first day I met him on September 12 was Mark. And Mark, as peculiar as I found it, collected comic books, specifically Marvel Comics. Even weirder, I soon started collecting comic books, starting with Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1, Red Wolf #1, and Sub-Mariner #50. I really lucked out on the latter, for most of the next dozen issues were drawn by the great Bill Everett. Unfortunately, Subby ended with issue #72, but even before that, I had discovered a nascent back issue market where one could buy old comics via mail order.
Eventually, I bought issues back to #1, encouraged by love-of-my-life-at-the-time, who was a huge Namor fan; it was either his buff bod, his pre-Spock ears, or his mixed race heritage. (I have a picture of her in a Sub-Mariner T-shirt, somewhere.) But then I discovered that even his recent past had started, not with Sub-Mariner #1, but with something called Tales to Astonish. So eventually, I picked up THOSE issues, #70 to #101, which Namor shared with the Hulk.
And I thought I was done. But no. There was this one-off book called Iron Man and Sub-Mariner. Tales to Astonish #101 was followed by Hulk #102, just as Tales of Suspense #99 was followed by Captain America #100, and I loved the arcane numbering system; it made me feel like an insider. But apparently Marvel wanted to stagger their rollout of four new titles, so one last shared issue before SM #1 and Iron Man #1 was put out.
I sold the bulk of my comics in 1994, in no small part because I’d just finished graduate school and I didn’t have a job yet. Unfortunately, those issues of Sub-Mariner were among them.
So when I somehow got on Mile High Comics’ mailing list and saw a bunch of Marvel Masterworks on sale last year, I ended up buying a couple. The Sub-Mariner: Volume 1 contains a story from Marvel Comics #1 from 1939 (!) by Bill Everett; Daredevil #7, which came out a few months before Namor’s run in TTA in 1965; and TTA #70-#87, most of which were written by Stan Lee, penciled by Gene Colan, and inked by either Everett or Vince Colletta. Volume 2 covered TTA 88-101, during which Stan Lee passed the writing torch to Roy Thomas, and Bill Everett penciled about half the stories, with inks largely by Everett and Dan Adkins; Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1; and Sub-Mariner #1.
I must say that it took me back to a point where I really loved comic books, was excited about outcome of the storylines, and long before most people even thought of comic books as an “investment.” This was years before I ever worked at a comic book store, so I didn’t care how the book sold except that it move enough copies to keep coming out. My GOODNESS, it felt good to see these old friends again; really good.
Roger Green blogs daily at Ramblin’ with Roger.