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False Starts
posted December 5, 2004

25 Most Memorable Comics Characters, US Version
I was on the phone waiting on hold with someone about a quickie article I did about Bravo's television characters list, when I start making equivalent notes for comics. This has probably been done three times by CBG, twice by Wizard.


1. Wimpy
2. Mr. O'Malley
3. Popeye
4. Mr. Natural
5. Charlie Brown
6. Bernard and Huey
7. Snoopy
8. Maggie
9. Brock
10. Skippy
11. Albert the Alligator
12. Lucy Van Pelt
13. Jughead
14. Frank
15. Tawky Tawny (above)
16. Drinky Crow
17. Vladek Spiegelman
18. Jimmy Corrigan
19. Captain Easy
20. Calvin
21. Guadalupe
22. Superman
23. Bizarro-Superman
24. Alec
25. Buddy Bradley

It's really, really weird for me to think of comics in this way.

Comics-Related Gifts I've Actually Given People

I had a phone conversation about comics gift-buying with a friend of mine, and we got onto the subject of comics that we had actually purchased for people, instead of comics we simply recommended to make ourselves look smart. Here's what I could remember.

image1. Tales of the Bizarro World: This is a terrific trade from DC full of some of the funniest comics ever made. Don't confuse this with whatever they're calling the "wacky" alternative-comics-artists-doing-superheroes effort, the first volume of which made me not want to read any comics for a year. This is the old stuff, which somehow makes it even funnier. I bought a bunch of these once from a retailer's discount table, and no one was disappointed.

2. Barnaby, by Crockett Johnson: I got this for a friend of mine who liked the Barnaby strips in the first big Smithsonian collection. They used to be much more affordable.

3. Little Orphan Annie Volumes 1-5: I gave these to my Mom as like an Easter present or something weird, maybe a "Sorry for the Crushing Disappointments of My Adult Life" gift. It was her favorite strip growing up. Except for an unfortunate editorial oversight in volume five, these were really great and unappreciated volumes when they came out in the 1990s.

Unlike the comparatively paltry-paged Pogo collections, which garnered multiple industry award nominations, the Little Orphan Annie books did a whole year of Sundays and dailies per volume, an amount of work wholly necessary for enjoying the long plots Gray would march his characters and even more of a requirement for losing yourself in the understated power of his cartooning.

4. An Entire Run of Badger, Including Crossovers: For my brother.

5. Abe, by Glenn Dakin: I really like this Top Shelf collection because it's such a sturdy, lengthy read and because Dakin does a fine job unpacking a certain way of looking at the world. I've probably given two or three of these out to people. There's a preview on the Top Shelf site.

Comics Where I Remember the Act of Buying Them

X-Men #141: From a MARSH supermarket in my hometown; they moved the comics off of a spinner rack and into a corner of the magazine racks behind a spinner rack of religious books.

imageThompson Is In Trouble, Charlie Brown: From an upstairs bookstore in Syracuse, Indiana. I still like that title.

Cerebus #150: Halley's Comix in Chicago -- the second location near the fake Beat Generation-themed bar; I was a grad student, and I wasn't really keeping up, and I was pretty certain after reading it that the series had just ended.

Hutch Owen's Working Hard: At the Zanadu University store in Seattle; I was new in town.

Kramer's Ergot #4: From the editor, at Tom Devlin's apartment in Brooklyn, New York.

Places I Bought More than $50 in Comics, 1975-2005

Marsh Supermarket
Ross Supermarket
B&B Loan Company; a pawnshop
Hooks Drugs
Back Issue Dealers Working out of Winnebagos at the Amish open market in Shipshewana, Indiana
Bright's Book Exchange
Bob's Comics Castle
The Kitchen Sink, Fantagraphics and Harvey Pekar tables at the old Chicago Comicon
A drugstore on Main St in Lexington, Virginia
Halley's Comix
Moondog's Comics
Chicago Comics
The Comic Store in Lancaster, PA
Captain Blue Hen's "Ten Cent Room"
Fallout Records and Comics
Fantagraphics Warehouse Half-Price Room
Village Comics
Mile High Comics
The Guy in San Diego next to Lou Ferrigno whose stock was 80 Percent Jack Kirby Comics for $3 and Less

Questions I'm Too Lazy to Try and Find Out the Answers To:

1. What was the deal with the Superman made out of sand that kept showing up in the mid 1970s?

2. How are any of the Justice Society of America still around? Aren't they all really old? If Babe Ruth came back and was still swatting home runs, wouldn't he be a bigger star than Barry Bonds?

image3. I think I remember why Howard the Duck went up in price as a back-issue collectible, but why did it collapse in value? Was it just the movie?

4. Why is the Giant-Size Spider-Man with Spider-Man on a chainlink fence really expensive, thus screwing my plan to buy a friend of mine every comic book appearance of Moses Magnum?

5. Why in the hell would I ever consider every comic book appearance of Moses Magnum a proper gift?

6. Is Little Archie #20 really that good?

7. How many readers were made aware of Indy comics for the very first time by Bud Plant's advertisements?