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Adventures At The Local Comic Shop - Part 2

Written by  Published March 15, 2017 03:30
Last week, I told of a couple of convenience stores that I used to go to back in my childhood. I HAD an actual comic book store, complete with both new comics and vintage back issues in my town. But the owner did not stock EVERYTHING for the discerning collector. Back then in the 1970's and even into the early 1980's, a kid had to cover a great deal of ground in order to find ALL of the books that they collected each month. I never paid all that much attention to the names of the stores, so when I wanted to go to a particular store, I had to use descriptive nick names to tell my parents which store I needed to get to then.

yang1I wrote about a couple of stores last week, and this week I wax nostalgic about a few more! The "Mini-Mart" store was the "Store by the Railroad." It was (and IS, since it still exists all of these years later, even if the comic book spinner rack is a thing of the past) a good, well managed shop. I used  to go there because they were the ONLY place in town that stocked Charlton Comics. I used to get "The Fighting Five" and "Yang" (my favorite from Charlton) there every month! And , if I happened to run across a new issue or several of books that I could get elsewhere -- I went ahead and bought them anyway. After all, they were right there. Why not grab them as well? Sometimes, the train would come by on the track. That was always fun to see. I actually rode the train years later and we ended up on the news thanks to a bomb scare! There was no actual bomb, however! Someone had just called in a threat!

Batman 302

Another great place in which to find books that were available nowhere else was at our local K-Mart store. Almost directly in the center of the store, on an end cap, was a display of Whitman Three Packs! Whitman Three Packs were three comic books, all tightly sealed in a plastic bag; usually priced for a dollar!  This was where I would get the fun Disney and Warner Brothers Comics that I loved. Sometimes, they would have some superhero books in the three pack bags as well (this is how I found my copy of Batman # 302). The distributors would put two good comics in the front and back of the bag and seal the bag tight, so you could not see what the middle book was. We kids KNEW that the middle book must be the "clunker" that they could not get rid of any other way (this "rule" did not always ring true, I used to get some good middle books in some of those old three packs)! I got very adapt at CAREFULLY  prying the two books close enough apart that I could see what the middle book actually was. Sometimes, you would get lucky and you would want all three books in the three pack! Sometimes, the middle book would be okay and you were willing to get it as well .

But if it WERE  a "clunker" then you had a choice to make. "Do I want the other two bad enough to get stuck with the middle book?" Could I find another three pack that has the books that I want in THIS three pack and with a better middle book?" Sometimes the answer would be yes, and sometimes it would be no. Sometimes you would only find ONE of the two books in another three pack. Sometimes you just took the three pack; "clunker" and all!

Whitman3 packs

I'll never forget the smell of the books when I opened the bag. To me, that smell was like Strawberry Pez tastes (I hope my readers get the comparison)! That smell takes me back to my childhood and elicits many happy memories! I still recall opening those three pack bags and pouring over the contents within! I still have shelves FULL of Whitman/Gold Key comics today!

I hope that my readers have enjoyed my look back. Next week I will write about two of the BEST stores, and then after that -- a special tribute !! 

Bryan Frazier

Bryan W. Frazier has been reading and collecting comic books for the past forty years! He has a love and fondness for the Vintage Comic Books, Comic Strips, Magazines, Books, Toys, TV Shows and Movies, and even radio shows  of the past (paying particular loving attention to the Pop Culture of the 70’s and 80’s! His personal “glory days”). He has two little poochies named Leyna and Layla, and an as yet unfinished novel  that he hope to turn into a series someday. His column is "Old School" and so is he!! He is Bryan W. Frazier -- Mr. Bronze Age!

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