It’s Sunday. I’m hot, a little sweaty, and my mind is weary from standing under the draining Texas sun all morning. It’s 2:30pm and I just returned from lunch after church. I’m ready for a long nap. Moments later my friend Kennedy calls and tells me he found the first issue of Wolverine on Craigslist. Said it was an hour away but wanted to see if I’d come with. I’m still tired, and my head’s starting to hurt from the lack of water, but I say yes without hesitation. Why? Because I’m a comic book nerd – and sleep is secondary to a good find.
Kennedy and I have been best friends several years now. In truth I have three “best friends.” I know it sounds like something from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but this is an article about lifelong comic book fans, so what’d you expect? But like I said, Kennedy is in the big three – the other two besties being Drew and Eric. But Kennedy, he’s who I go comic-booking with. Comic-booking is like the History show American Pickers, except we don’t do this for a living and aren’t always calling a pretty, tatt-ed up lady back at our store. Though, admittedly that would be pretty cool. But no, Kennedy and I love reading a good comic, and almost as much as we enjoy reading them, we enjoy finding them.
He’s more of a Marvel man, and I’ve been a DC fanboy since I can remember. We made the hour drive to meet the seller waiting for us at a Home Depot parking lot in McKinney, Texas. The transaction went about as well as any Craigslist one does – my friend gave him money and the man gave him the comic book, with little to no words involved. I stayed in the car. He returned after a minute and plopped the comic in my lap. With steady hands reminiscent of Indiana Jones during the idol to bag switch scene in Raiders, I opened the comic book and my eyes saw that famous first line from the 1982 appearance, “I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do isn’t very nice.”
A few days later at work Kennedy came up to me and said there’s a man in our town who’s wanting to get rid of his massive comic book collection. That’s something I couldn’t pass up. So he called him and set up a date for the following weekend to see what he had.
I woke up that Saturday and headed over to Kennedy’s place. We got in the car and drove the maybe two blocks drive to this man’s house (don’t know why we didn’t walk except the fact it’s summer in Texas).
He came out of the garage in bare feet, dressed in baggy jeans that were frayed at the bottom from being worn too low. He was sleepy; later he would tell us why. As a side job, he teaches conversational English to Chinese students from 11pm-1am. But, over his beer belly he wore a white shirt with the print of the silver age Joker – which told us he more than likely knew a thing or two about comic books. He was cool; his voice and demeanor were plucked from woodstock – “woahs” and “cools” and “far outs” seasoned his speech. He took us to where he kept his collection behind a door in his garage that led to his laundry room. It smelled terrible; there was a cat litter box filled with more clumps than litter, and the light you could tell was on its last legs. But there were comics, lots and lots of comics. And he kept them in pristine condition. “Twenty-five cents per issue and $5 for each graphic novel,” he reminded us before ducking away into the main house.
On top of his washer and dryer he had around seven white boxes lined up awaiting our hands to flip through, mostly in alphabetical order. And behind that he had two large shelves filled with his graphic novel collection.
We went to digging. There were some definite gems hidden between the vampire and old Barbarellaesque Sci-Fi comics. My little brother is a huge Beast Boy fan, so I couldn’t pass up the first four issues of Beast Boy released in 2000. It was a plus, considering they were still in great condition. As I was looking through one side, Kennedy was finding some great issues on the other. “Dude!” I heard from him. He was holding the 1994 Graphic Novel Spawn vs Batman in his hands with a big grin on his face. His favorite artist is Todd McFarlane, and he’s always had a soft-spot in his heart for Spawn.
I didn’t have a list of exact comics I was looking for (I have since learned from that mistake), so I was looking through ones that I either knew, or artwork that stuck out to me. Although I know some about the Flash, his comics have not been read much by me. But I have been wanting to read up on him and Cyborg more in preparation for Justice League in November, so his comics were on my radar. As I was flipping through I saw them. All 13 issues of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive were there, ripe for the picking. I went in really only looking for first issues, but I couldn’t break up a set like this. The first issue’s cover is a cornucopia of red and yellow, cascading across the page in blurred scarlet and gold.
This was it. I found what I didn’t know I was looking for. I had already picked through some other good comics, the aforementioned Beast Boy, and Superman: For Tomorrow, as well as the special four issue run of Dr. Fate released in 2004, and a few other single issues of comics. But this was it. This is the reason I go comic-booking with Kennedy – to find the issues that jump out at you, the ones you didn’t know you needed until they’re looking you in the face, and in this case, literally reaching out to you. I had ’em, and I was ready.
The man had told us to knock on the door to let him know when we were finished looking. We did, and soon after we heard his shuffling feet come close. He came in with an old college-ruled notebook with pages and pages of names of comic books, revealing how many comics he had at one point. He told us by the time we got in he’d already sold all his Deadpool collection, and a few hundred other comic books. This man enjoyed comics. He’s the kind of man you want to buy comics from. He’s nice, knowledgable, and since he’s not really looking to make a ton of money, you can get some great runs for pennies on the dollar. I had easily $250 worth of comics in my hand by the time we walked out, and my wallet was only $40 lighter.
Although I had a headache by the time I left, I couldn’t help but to think that on my day off, I got to spend it looking for great comic books with my best friend. That was a good day.
In the next piece, read as your dynamic duo, Joseph and Kennedy, travel to Canton Trade Days. Never will you find a more oddly-patriotic hive of trinkets and redneckery. Find out what’s in store for the two heroes in the next issue of The Comic Book Friends: All-Star Canton.