Tales From the Crate Extra: Billy Ireland Book Sale
Do I need to do a sister zine to Tales from the Crate where I talk about comic sales and shops as opposed to records? Maybe keep the EC theme and call it “Panel!” instead of “Panic!” or just straight up lift “Dandy Comics?” I probably should, if for no other reason than TFC has done wonders to offset my record collecting expenses, but I think that is a next year project.
Why is a new publication about comic collecting even on my mind? Because I just went to the best comic sale EVER! For those of you not in the know, Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and museum is the home of largest collection of cartoon art in the world. That’s original art, printer’s proofs, work product, business documents and correspondence from artists as well as actual publications. Many artists and comic pros, from Milton Caniff to Annie Koyama, have donated all or part of their personal collections to the museum over the years. About a month again The Billy announced that it was going to hold it’s first book sale, featuring duplicate comics and books from their collection. I didn’t think that was something that they would ever do and my mind was reeling from the possibilities of what could be included in such a sale.
I got there early. I knew people would start lining up at least an hour before the designated start time and I knew I only had an hour to spend at the sale before needing to go to class. (Yep. Taking a class at OSU. Doesn’t my writing seem just a hair smartimer now?) Anyways, there were four covered tables set up marked as $2, $5, $10 and collectable. I could tell that most of the 30 or so early-bird reseller types had their sights set on the higher priced items, but given my state of broke-ness, I had set a $50 budget for myself so I had my eyes on the $2 table.
The $2 table had some CRAZY deals. Like “I feel guilty buying these at this price from my beloved public institution” crazy. I don’t know if a conscious decision was made on their part to price things to move or if they simply didn’t have anyone on staff with the time and background to do pricing, but any which way I think I let out an audible gasp when I came across the copies of Punk Magazine.
If the situation was the former, I hope that they hire on a consultant to do some pricing for them for the next sale. I think it would more than pay for itself. I’d offer myself, except I want to be able some of the books myself and that creates the ol’ conflict of interest!
If the goal was to just move the books, it worked on me. My $50 budget was blown before I made it halfway through the $2 section. I had to call it quits before I made it two thirds of the way around the table. If my budget had been unlimited, I would have needed a dolly to haul away everything I bought. I even stopped back by after class to grab some on-second-thought purchases… And if the left-overs at that point were any indication, the price point at the $2 table had the same effect on my peers. All told I spent $84 and I never even made it to the higher priced sections of the sale.
I went in to the sale looking only for things to flip. Like I said… I’m broke… and as a general rule, I don’t consider myself a comics collector. My “collection” is filled with random stuff of eclectic personal value, has no real organization and fits into a small corner of our guest bedroom. I like to purge it whenever it outgrows the Ikea shelf it lives on, which I’m overdue for. To paraphrase my buddy Kyle from Lost Weekend Records, I’d rather have a cool comic company than a cool comic collection. (He says it about records, but that’s nuts… Everybody wants a cool record collection, right!?) But some of the things at the Billy Ireland that I found are making me want to hang on to them.
For instance, it turns out a big chunk of the stuff at this sale came from underground cartoonist Jay Lynch’s personal collection. The $2 section was filled with stuff that he had subscribed to over the years… Mad Magazine, The Comics Journal and those Punk Magazine copies I picked up. It’s tempting enough to keep a copy of Punk Magazine #6 with the Richard Hell/Nick Detroit photo comic, but doubly so to have a copy that Jay’s subscription mailing label on the back. To me, that kind of weird provenance is what collecting should be about: When you’re reading that mag you’re not just reading the same story as Lynch did, you’re literally reading the SAME pages! GET OUTTA HERE!!!!
I didn’t recognize Flaming Baloney when I picked it up, I just thought the cover was stunning and I liked the look of the Basil Wolverton inspired “Kid Cozmic” stories in the back. Turns out that this is a Cleveland based pub from 1976 and features Rosco Drummond, Gary Dumm, R.B. Johnson, Greg Budgett, Munan, and early Harvey Pekar. (The cover is still the best thing. I can’t stop staring at the Ghost Rider-esque skull done up in Black Velvet painting style) Besides being a beautifully designed book, the tie to other Ohio comic creators makes me kind of want to hang on to it.
Issue #81 of The Comics Journal isn’t quite the same level of collectible as the Punks or Flaming baloney, but it has an amazing William Stout cover inspired by the classic (somewhat infamous?) Bill Gaines interview inside. I even think I saw someone on my facebook feed recently asking about copies of this particular issue, but the Stout cover (a Nix hero as a music art/comic art crossover guy) makes me think about calling it a keeper.
What’s a guy to do? Well, picked up plenty of comics and zines that are cool, but I don’t much intend on keeping. (Gemstone EC reprints, the first issue of Gilbert shelton’s Wonder Wart-hog, a bunch of copies of Weirdo…) Those will help me at least get my dough back! I have multiple copies of Punk # and #4, so I can hang on to the Jay Lynch subscription copies for now and list the dupes. For the Punk magazine #6 and Flaming Baloney I think I’m going to go ahead and list, but at a premium rate so I can’t gripe if I have to part ways.
So… Yes… Please buy some comics from me to help pay for publishing Nix Comics. If you’re feeling particularly supportive, share the link below with some friends, like it was a kickstarter or something.
But... what’s the real thing to take away from this blog post? This was only the first Billy Ireland book sale… You should be keeping an eye out for the next one. (And, if you want the good