Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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

Today, I'm taking a deep dive into this 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One," focusing on perhaps the teeniest advertisement in the book. Nestled under the MARKET PLACE header, the two-line ad states:
"MUNICH" by Jones. $3.95. Dorrance, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, PA 19003.
You probably won't be surprised to read that I found very little information about this book online. Here's a roundup of what we do know:

  • Full title: Munich: A Tale of Two Myths
  • Author: Thomas Brooks Jones
  • Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.
  • Year: 1977
  • Pages: 58
  • ISBN: 0805923802
  • Format: Hardcover (I think)
  • Subjects covered: 1938 Munich Agreement, the influences of World War I, and the causes and diplomatic history of World War II.
  • Reviews or ratings: None on Amazon or Goodreads
  • Used copies: Five currently available from Amazon, starting at $12

Then, in a final sweep for info, I came across an article in the March 11, 1979, issue of The Enquirer Magazine, a Sunday supplement of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Here's part of the article — tellingly headlined "Vanity Fare: Publishing's Altar of Ego" — that discusses the book's history:
"... little more cynically,' says Thomas Brooks Jones, an Anchorage, Alaska, attorney whose book, Munich: A Tale of Two Myths, was published in 1977 by Dorrance & Co. of Ardmore, Pa., the nation's oldest subsidy house. 'I answered Dorrance's advertisement in the American Bar Association Journal and their editors had glowing things to say regarding my book (which was about the Munich Conference). They charged me $3000 to print it, and I'm supposed to get $1.48 for each copy that's bought. But it has sold only 74 copies, and most of them went to my friends. 'When I got into this, I assumed that my luck couldn't be that bad,' adds Jones. 'I figured that some people would buy it just by accident. But they don't.'"
I would say that explains just about everything regarding this book's publication and fate. A fee of $3,000 in 1977 is the equivalent of nearly $12,000 today, so you can understand Jones' unhappiness with the how things turned out.

I wonder if Jones even knew that his serious book on 20th century German history was being advertised in a comic book featuring characters named Vision, Daredevil and the Mad Thinker. Was that part of Dorrance's deal to provide "national advertising" for the book as part of the publishing deal? I'm sure those two little lines of classified advertising didn't cost much — or do much to woo potential readers.

A final note regarding the book's legacy: If it's any small consolation for the friends and family of Jones, who died in 2009, one of the few available (and remaining) copies of his book resides in the official library of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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