Thursday, June 9, 2016

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode I

If you're a member of my generation (I'm 45)1, comic books from the 1970s are one of the best sources of a true nostalgia fix; they can catapult you back to the days of Shaun Cassidy and Star Wars figures and the after-dinner ice-cream truck coming down the street.

I also associate comic books with summertime (and trips to the beach), even though they are obviously published year round. We had more time, of course, to read comics in the summer than during the school year.

Anyway, I was leafing through the May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One," featuring the Thing and Vision, and I realized that I could get a bunch of blog posts out of just this one issue.2

So we'll make it a summer series, revisiting the late 1970s with a couple of Marvel superheroes. I think that can take us into August, as a weekly feature here at the Papergreat home office.

First up is this advertisement from comic-book dealer Robert Bell of Hauppauge, New York.

If you read comic books in the 1970s, you certainly remember this ad and its Thor-like character, which made it stand out from the other dealers. (The page featuring this advertisement has three dozen small ads3, including 10 other comic-book dealers. Bell's advertisement is the only one with an eye-catching illustration. Smart advertising.)

Robert Bell was, indeed, one of the big-time comics dealers in the United States. If you want to know about Bell's time in the business (which spanned 1961 to 1986), you should check out Lewis Forro's interview of Bell, which was published in Comic Book Marketplace in 1996. It's an interesting read that includes this historical tidbit:
"The only idea of mine that was copied, and it still upsets me today, was my invention of the comic bag. I was only 18 years old at the time, so I didn't know any better. But I did invent the comic book bag. ... It all started when I would put more expensive issues in shirt bags or whatever kind of plastic bag I could find. I would fold it over three times, tape it up, and put the comic book in it. It protected the book pretty well. So then I thought, 'Hey you know maybe I can find a bag that would fit a comic book?' I went to a manufacturer and asked how much it would cost to manufacture bags. He gave me a price and the rest is history."
Related comic book posts

Cranky footnote
1. Speaking of generations, and generation gaps, one of our favorite pastimes at the office is quizzing the youngest staffers and interns in our office about their knowledge of pre-Justin Bieber pop culture. We hit a new low, I think, earlier this week when the summer intern admitted to having no knowledge of who Robert Redford was. My daughter, at the very least, knows him as The Old Guy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Non-cranky footnotes
2. Specifically, it is issue #39 of the magazine, which ran for 100 issues from 1974 to 1983. This one was written by Roger Slifer and illustrated by Ron Wilson and Pablos Marcos.
3. And we'll certainly get to some of those other ads over the summer. I almost got pulled away on a rabbit-hole tangent when I tried to research the classified ad "'MUNICH' by Jones. $3.95. Dorrance, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, PA 19003." Turns out it's a book. Stay tuned.

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