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A place where further content can materialize. Please enjoy our first post below, the Indy Con was  a huge success. More exciting content outside of the online magazine format on its way! Thanks for checking us out...... Define999

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Q & A with Trent Claus, the owner of the largest foreign Spawn collection in the world!

Posted on September 3, 2015 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (7)


FCC staff in blue, Trent in white


Ok Mr. Lobstrosity, lets get the titles out of the way first! You are the owner of Spawnworld.com and the undisputed “King of Spawn”. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started on the road to collecting all things Spawn related.


As a kid my family collected Star Wars stuff and we’d go to all the flea markets, toy stores and comic shops we could find. We started frequenting a store called Cosmic Comics, which had a small selection of toys. While I was in there I started to learn about comics and developed an interest in them. I ended up hanging out in the store so often that they put me to work! I was 13 when I started and didn’t leave until college.

I’ve always been an X-Men guy but when Image started up and Spawn debuted I was blown away. I bought all the debut image titles but Spawn was the only one that really resonated with me. A couple years later when the first Spawn toys were released I snapped them all up immediately and decided at that point to collect everything Spawn related. To keep track of everything, I kept a list of every item I had, as well as items I believed to exist but didn’t have yet. That list grew and eventually went online and became SpawnWorld.com, which today is the largest Spawn website in the world.

My collecting focus has shifted over the years, these days I’m much more focused on the comics than I am the toys and other paraphernalia, although I still collect all of it. With the comics I became more aware of the existence of newsstand editions several years back and have tried very hard to complete a set of those. Over the years I picked up foreign editions of Spawn here and there but didn’t fully commit to collecting them until around 2001. Currently my international Spawn set is my main focus, I’m trying to complete a run of Spawn #1-10 from every country in which it was published.


What is the appeal of the character of Spawn in particular?


In the beginning, McFarlane's art of course, but also the storyline and characters. I've always been interested in religious fantasy like Dante, Milton, etc. angels, demons, Purgatory, reincarnation... Spawn has all that stuff and I really enjoy it. Unlike a lot of Spawn fans, I was never very interested in the "guy with big guns" angle or the more purely superheroesque storylines, but the mythological stuff is great.


How many countries have you completed your run of #1-10 from so far and which have proven to be the most difficult to find?


There are 28 countries confirmed to have printed Spawn comics, 5 of which printed more than one run (usually by a different publisher). So that makes 33 runs. Ignoring variant covers and multiple printings, I've completed 29 out of 33.

Five of the runs have variant issues, either special covers or multiple printings, which I also try to complete. So if those you count those I only have 27 of the 33 runs finished.

Finding them has been quite the challenge. For some of the countries it's relatively easy to track down an issue or two but finding all 10 can be difficult. For other countries finding anything is hard. The hardest to find have been Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.

As for the variants, Japan is by far the most difficult. Spawn was very popular there at the time and issue #1 alone had 12 printings! Just looking at Japan's #1-10 run, there are 79 unique issues to track down. I'm have 65 so far.


So you are the world wide bad-ass of Spawn, no question there! Lets delve into the hypothetical for a bit shall we? Todd hears about you and your collection and decides he not only wants to meet you but might actually want to purchase it for his library. What cash amount would it take for you to even think about selling your entire Spawn #1-10 global run?

And a second question, have you ever thought about letting the McFarlane entertainment company know this collection exists just to see what they might say? It has to be the biggest in the world right?


Well I'm definitely not into collecting comics for the money so I don't think I would be interested in selling. But it would be fun to act as more of a curator of Spawn memorabilia, kind of like Steve Sansweet for Star Wars. I've met Todd a couple of times and talked to him about SpawnWorld but never about my collection in particular.


Well I understand the not interested in money thing, trust me! For insurance purposes though it might be something to think about.

I also think you’re being too modest with Todd. He needs to know about you Trent! Who knows it might even provide some inside information that could help you source more foreign Spawn collectables you might not know about. Or at the very least get you an invite to the studio and some sort of recognition. But, we don't do this for that do we? Love is what drives us and in that vein I feel like you have hit some sort of mainline when it comes to niche collecting.

Tell me Trent, What has been the most dog-gone difficult Spawn books to find #1-10? Not including the multiple Japanese editions/reprints though. What has been that group that made you consider selling a kidney?


It's so difficult to choose the hardest... they've all had their own challenges. I've joined chat groups in some countries, cold-contacted countless bookstores, contacted publishers and luckily I've made a lot of friends around the world who have helped me out tremendously.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges is always the language barrier. Unfortunately I don't speak anything other than English and a bit of Spanish, so Google Translate is a necessity. Sometimes it works great, other times not so much. Because of that, countries that don't use the Latin Alphabet such as Bulgaria, or Thailand are particularly difficult.

Another major issue is the rarity/value relationship. Spawn comics, in general, aren't worth a tremendous amount. You would think that this would make them easier to buy but I've found that it tends to be the opposite. Because they are perceived as low value they are often mishandled, discarded, or simply not put up for sale because the seller doesn't feel it's worth their time. Even if I offer insane cash finders fees they can be very hard to track down because people have all thrown them away! There's a common dilemma amongst us international collectors in that, in some countries, the US versions have been more desirable than the local versions so the local versions often get tossed out.

This was a big problem trying to put together my run from the Philippines. It's a perfect example of a situation where the printing was perceived to be of low quality so the US versions were more desirable. I think most copies were thrown away and those that didn't fell victim to the harshly humid climate over the last 20 years. So it becomes a situation where no matter how much money you offer, the items simply cannot be found! I was lucky to be able to finally put the Philippines run together through a contact Matt found... again it's through the help of my friends that I've made much of my progress.

The countries I still need to complete (Australia, Indonesia, etc) are similarly difficult. Australia was the biggest surprise for me. When I first started this adventure, I assumed that places like the UK, Australia and South Africa would all be pretty easy since they are in English... boy was I wrong!

Speak of the devil... I just received Spawn #3 from Australia in the mail today. That only leaves Aussie #8 that I'm missing!


I know right? Some of the english language countries can be the toughest countries to crack. The foreign indigenous bias rears its ugly head in lots of sourcing situations. I remember searching for a Portuguese Spawn #1 and my contact telling me that it would be a very tough order to fill. At that time the American book was what all the collectors in Portugal wanted. The cultural irony of Americans seeking out this indigenous material that was considered less valuable than its American counterpart is quite interesting.

Im glad you landed that Aussie book! I admire your passion Trent and Spawnworld.com is a wonderful achievement. But, I think maybe its time for show and tell don't you? I’d love to see some pics of your international Spawn comics as well as your entire Spawn related collection!


Sure! Here are my "grids" that I use to keep track of what I have/need for the #1-10 collection:


Please see pics below


I do the same sort of thing for the action figures. Here's an example of the complete set of all 13 Mandarin Spawn variations:


Please see pic below


On SpawnWorld, I currently have more than 2197 unique comics/books and 2442 toys listed.

I also write and curate a Spawn encyclopedia on the site which currently has 1440 encyclopedia entries listing virtually every proper noun ever uttered in the comics, each with a thumbnail image and links to their references.

What I don't have listed yet are all of the thousands of other items like trading cards, stickers, arcade games, posters, gum dispensers, keychains... the list goes on and on. Someday I'll get them all added to the site.

Spawn sometimes gets a bad rap but has been a very popular character around the world. Here in the US he often gets unfairly lumped in with the chromium/variant-cover/90's drek crowd... but it's just not accurate. The main series didn't have its first cover variant until 1997, 5 years after it started. It didn't have it's second for another 3 years! In fact, the main series has never had a chrome, foil, hologram, etc. cover.

The series is currently on issue 253... one of the longest running series currently published and the 2nd longest independent US series ever. Yet most people only know about the 1st 11 issues. They know about the guest writers (Gaiman, Miller, etc.) and the legal drama with Angela but that's about it. Imagine if we judged the entirety of the X-Men, Superman or Batman by only their 1st 11 issues? Think of all the amazing stories, artists, characters and years of history we'd be ignoring.


WOW! Hold on while I lift my jaw off of the floor!!!!!!!!!! That's really impressive!


Thanks!


I buy what your selling. It isn't fair for a series to be judged only by its first issues. Spawn really has had an amazing publishing run. From getting to issue #253 to being published in a massive amount of countries. I also agree it shouldn't be lumped in with the rest of the manufactured ’90's drek. For me personally Spawn represented the future of comics in many ways. As a kid I remember being excited about creators taking full control over their creations and not being bound by some corporate webbing, pun intended. Looking back I realize I was buying into the hype but I still think Spawn represents that enterprising spirit that percolated into the creator environment that is still bearing fruit today.

Ok Trent, so you clearly are kicking collecting Spawn in the ass. Are there any other Spawn related collectible dreams you have? Where do you see your collection, SpawnWorld.com and yourself in 10 years time?


There will always be more Spawn stuff to collect. The trouble for me is space, or rather lack thereof.

I've had to drastically cut back on any further collecting of the toys, they just take up too much space. There are only a couple figures that I still hunt variations for, once those are done I'll throw in the towel.

As for the comics, I'm doing very well. By my last count, there are 1473 (US) Spawn-related books and comics, of which I'm missing only 23. Foreign issues from #1-10 I'm missing 26.

I've been assembling a set of CGC 9.8 Spawn 1-10 (all US versions) and am hopeful that a big group that are submitted for grading now will come back with some winners. The newsstand issues are really tough to get in high grade.

I'm still hunting for a few other odds and ends: There are 26 trading cards I need, 3 "palmboards" from Japan (those little toy skateboards), 1 more Citizen Watch, a bunch of Zippo lighters and a few other assorted paraphernalia.

In 10 years time I hope to have completed the full sets of the comics and cards as well as the select few figures that I'm still hunting. SpawnWorld will still be cataloging every Spawn item that's produced and hopefully I'll have all the cards and paraphernalia listed on the site finally.


Amazing my friend! I have one final question though? After all of these goals are completed, catalogued, and saved. What will you do? What is Trent gonna do when he has bagged every big, rare piece he is looking for? What’s next?


There's always something more to collect!

I have an art collection, comprised mostly of comic and animation art and I think of that as my primary collection. I'll focus more on that once the Spawn hunt is over.


Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You are a valuable member of the foreign collecting community Trent!


Australia

Brazil(ongoing)

Brazil collection

Bulgaria


Croatia


Denmark (Egmont)


Denmark (Semic Interpresse)


Finland


France


Germany (Kiosk)


Germany (Prestige)


Greece


Hong Kong


Hungary


Indonesia


Italy


Japan


Mexico


Netherlands


Norway


Peru


Philippines


Poland


Portugal (Abril/Controljornal)


Portugal (Devir)


South Africa


Spain


Sweden


Thailand


Turkey


UK


USA (ongoing)


USA (newsstand)



Bens dad found his prize! LOL

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

So Ben Samuels won our Mexican 300 giveaway back in march and we asked him to send us a picture of himself checking it out. Well, it looks like his father found the issue first, and his mind was blown by the foreign comic coolness! Thanks Ben for sending us a picture. Define999


Q&A with Vassilis Chilas - full article from issue 4

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Q&A with Vassilis Chilas: Greek Creator, Illustrator, Artist, Translator, and Comic Fan


D999. I’m drinking a nice cold glass of Stella Artois beer. What are you drinking? What’s your full name, how old are you and when was the first time you saw a superhero from America?


VC. I am drinking one nice cup of fresh...water, Matt! My name is Vassilis Chilas, I am 45 years old and my first contact with the superhero genre was 39 years ago when I read my first Phantom story written by Lee Falk and drawn by Sy Barry in a, yes you guessed it right, early Kabanas mini book! For many Americans, the Phantom doesn’t count as a real superhero because he doesn’t have superpowers, but for me this is the first character with all the characteristics that define the genre. And he precedes Superman. Didn’t like much that story, but when I read the next one, with Wilson Mcoy in the art department, I went crazy for the character! I searched like a maniac for every single issue of the Phantom series that was published before and after that one!


D999. Hey, I have nothing but respect for cold glasses of water and their ability to rejuvenate the spirit! The Phantom is a very respectable introduction. As I’ve aged and learned a little more about his history I have much more respect for Lee Falk’s creation. So Kabanas was your window into the American superhero genera. Makes sense the Kabanas books have such a place in your heart. So, with the Phantom you got your first taste. Did you continue feeding when the "Rough Generation" came out? What was your first Marvel "Rough Generation" book? Also, if you may be so kind in letting me hit you with dual questions! Thinking a bit about your future concerning your translating gig for a moment, at what age did you start learning English?


VC. Well Matt, my first taste of the "Rough Generation" books was two years later with a "(Greek text)" book that contained a Howard the Duck (Steve Gerber/John Buscema), a Red Sonja (Frank Thorne) and a Two-Gun-Kid story. Let me first tell you, that I already was an avid fan of comics. I collected almost everything that was published in those days that was of Italian or French origin the most but my favorite remained, of course, the Phantom. I loved greatly the Popeye strip by Bud Saggendorf from Dragounis Publishing as well. So, I’ll say this: After I finished the (Greek Text) book, I couldn’t even touch the European stuff anymore. For me all that was kid’s stuff now, I was in love with that gorgeous Sonja, and I started like crazy to collect everything with the imprint "Marvel" on it! After a few months I collected all the books that preceded (Greek Text) # 3 and there wasn’t a single issue that came out after (Greek Text) that I did’t buy at least two copies of! I was a Marvel Zombie and I didn’t even know it! I must also tell you that in my school, that was of French interests, they were only teaching French for a foreign language. English was almost unknown for me then. So I started private lessons to learn the language of my beloved heroes at the age of 12, this was way after other kids in school started learning English. My only reason for doing this was to finally learn to read this stuff from the source because even then I knew how terrible the translations were on the Kabanas books.


D999. Ahhhhh the Greek (Howard the Duck)"(Greek Text)" issue #3 actually used the Marvel Howard the Duck issue #3 cover right? The great one with "Master of Quack Foo" on it, while Howard jumps in frame with a cigar in his mouth! I don’t think Marvel could get away with letting any of their characters smoke on a cover nowadays with the anti-smoking stigma. So are you telling me you asked your parents for English lessons so you could read American comic books? I find it extremely interesting as well that as a young child you became "zombified" as a result of what Marvel was doing and that there was that much of a difference in what American comics were doing at the time compared to the rest of the world. Even with bad translation you could tell the difference in tone I guess. Maybe with the loosening up of the CCA during the Bronze Age here in America and the continuation of more adult themes this captured your attention. Is this why Kabanas chose to use the marketing slogan "Rough Generation"? Very fascinating stuff Vassilis. Where did you purchase your Kabanas books? Newsstands being the main avenue in Greece for comics? Also, were many of your friends following you into "zombification" or were you on a solo mission? And one more question since Howard had his own Political party in the comics and from my understanding actually received write in votes during the U.S. Presidential Election of 1976. After the ruling military junta collapsed in Greece in the early 70’s, I have read that there was a strong anti-American sentiment that persisted into the early 80’s. Im guessing because America supported the junta politically. Is this anti-American sentiment true and did this have any effect on the success of the Marvel/Kabanas books?


VC. Ahhh, those were the times! And it’s a surprise of course, but the covers on (Greek Text) matched the inside material! I think that I was lucky to stumble on this masterpiece, Howard the Duck #3, where Gerber tried to satirize the Kung Fu mania in general and the Master of Kung Fu series in particular. I even had written an extended critique some years back for a greek site that specializes in American comics (www.comicdom.gr) on that particular issue. But I think that Marvel in the 70’s had many masterpieces published, there were so many great creators working for them. Maybe I get nostalgic but even nowadays I consider the 70’s Marvels, the most diverse and influential comics of all time. So I couldn’t help but get hooked! You must not forget that Kabanas published many of the black and white Marvel magazines that contained some very adult material, because they lacked the Comics Code! I still remember vividly Red Sonja’s raping, drawn by Howard Chaykin, published in a (Greek Text) issue. I was buying my comics exclusively from newsstands. I was a minority in a school where 99% of the kids were reading comics but very few of them were Marvels. I think they were too sophisticated for them, these kids were used to much simpler stuff. I remember many friends saying to me "I don’t understand any of this shit! You really read it?"


D999. Vasilis, no wonder the "Rough Generation" label could be applied when Kabanas books were publishing both American comic and magazine output! Was their a authority in Greece like the CCA here in the States, to monitor publications steered towards youths or was it a wild-west situation for the publishers? I will wait for your response on the political situation, I find it intriguing that there could be some consequences of American foreign policy having some effect on the acceptance of American licensed material.


VC. Well, as for the political issue… it is a fact that anti-Americanism in Greece has its roots in those junta days where freedom, on any level, was canceled and the nation paid severely after the Turkish invasion with thousands of Cypriot refugees fleeing in the southhern part of the island and the motherland Greece. The poor sales of Kabanas’ Marvels though happened exclusively because the material was way beyond the standards of the common comics reader of those days, primary school kids. If the publisher aimed from the start at a more adult audience and had some respect for it maybe the result would have been different. In 1981 though another magazine started its run in Greece, a magazine created specifically for adults. It was called Babel and collected material only from politically driven European magazines like the Italian Linus and Frigidaire or the French Hara-Kiri and a couple of underground American creations. It wasn’t the first of its kind but it was the most consistent with great respect for their readers, good to perfect translations and a very innovative art department. It also presented some of the greatest European comics of all time. But that great magazine carried an equally great flaw: it hated, as was to be expected, the American mainstream comics, especially the superhero comics. So, in the following years, a strange theory was adopted through fragments of many articles that were hosted inside the magazine and in the minds of some of the Greek comic artists that published their work there. A theory, that even I, who had collected all of the Babel issues had never thought possible that anyone could believe in, that I’ ll try to describe with a few words: "The superhero mythology was created in the shadow of Nietzsche’s superman theory, a theory that had fascist and racist characteristics all in the service of capitalism and the US’s global dominance!" It’s contradictory I know but I heard it with my own ears and I saw it written with my own eyes, especially 10 years ago, when a comic book written by myself came out that presented the first Greek superhero team. That absurd theory got thin over the years but it surely proved, to me at least, that the political aspect of comics is not a matter that anyone can ignore and that anti-Americanism, even today, is still going strong among some of my compatriots. And no Matt, there was never any authority in Greece to monitor anything after the damned junta fell. You could see a pornographic comic next to a Disney comic and no one ever complained! We are completely insane here in Greece you must know! We get mad for nothing and we sleep peacefully when our home is in flames!


D999. You are absolutely correct Vasilis! You cannot ignore the interweaving of politics and comics. Especially when a funny book is being exported out of its country of origin to be defined, reworked, and translated by another nations citizens. There has to be a political element to comics because quite simply they are time capsules of culture which in turn represents a specific nation or peoples at any given time. But I digress, not wanting to devote to many precious words to foreign policy/politics discussion because I would rather discuss the "god is dead guy" and comics! LOL So my friend, I am definitely no philosopher though what person in their youth didn’t find an attraction to some of Nietzsche’s ideas? I have heard about the theory that Superman and early superheroes in general were based on the concept of "Übermensch"(superman theory). Never have I studied it in great depth, and your explanation seems perfectly reasonable. But, like you said "contradictory", and its my understanding that Nietzsche’s concept could be warped and shaped by many different movements and ideologies for their own purposes. How ironic that for some citizens of Greece at least, what I would say is Americas greatest pop culture invention (comic books), could be exported out into the world and those very superheroes would be used philosophically, symbolically, and ideologically against us in some fashion. Though I might not agree at times with the anti-American sentiment some of your fellow Greek compatriots might feel towards America I am also not naïve enough to say that I don’t understand the impetus of it. The junta had to have been terrible, and nothing compares to a lack of freedom and liberty to sour ones attitude towards anything. So you were a rebel, one of a few amongst your peers that chose to go against the grain, who understood, and loved the Marvel vision. You then moved on to underground adult-type comics and creating. Lets fast forward a bit to the beginning of your journey within the comic industry of Greece. How did you start? Were you an illustrator as well or only a writer? What was your first comic creation? Oh, and also I have to address this. Disney books could share a shelf with porn mags?


VC. In my school days I thought that I was the greatest artist of all time because I could imitate almost perfectly the most crowded Gil Kane covers, something none of my friends or schoolmates could ever do. It was a talent that impressed the girls too! So, as you can understand, I made my own complete 20 page comic story at a very early age, I think at 10, and my first creation was (what else?) a Greek superhero! As the years passed, I honed my skills in drawing and writing, and by the middle 80’s I had finished a 6 page story that, in my mind, was publishable. The sole problem was that as a superhero / science fiction kind of story there wasn’t any place for it. In the meantime, about 1986, Mammoth started to publish some Marvel material that was totally different from Kabanas, in the quality department, and I‘ll say no more on that! So I started to write fan letters to Mammoth. The guys there must have been impressed by my passion because they asked me to write some articles for the superhero comics scene, which I did. This was my first official involvement in comics. Later, in 1987, I served in the Greek army. In those two years I realized that even the right coloring and translation weren’t enough for a Marvel book to thrive in Greece! The bad name that Kabanas had given these comics was ever present and the Mammoth sales were very low from the beginning. The publisher had cancelled all their books except for the X-Men book, that sold better. The problem was that their first good translator had left and he was replaced by some guy that maybe took English lessons from his friends at Kabanas. The man was terrible, to say the least, but the publishers were too busy with other more profitable books to notice their error. Somewhere in the 1990s I decide to take action: I wrote two letters, one to Kabanas and the other to Mammoth where I explained how much happier everyone would be if they hand me over the translator duties. The Mammoth guys gave me the position one week later after they actually read the recent translations and got the laugh (and cry) of their life. On the other hand I got a call about a month later from the Kabanas graphic artist who was responsible for everything except the translation in the Spider-Man book. The guy, after he confessed to me his lack of knowledge about the Marvel material and his love for the adult Babel material, proposed to let me translate the book but without payment. There wasn’t any profit during the last few years from the book he complained. That was the Kabanas way, I realized that fateful day! I continued translating for Mammoth’s X-Men and almost immediately they left me to do the rest, like answering fan letters, ordering the next Marvel material, choosing the cover from the three inside stories that each issue contained, even drawing the story titles and doing some inside and cover lettering. I was the full editor of the magazine and I had the time of my life! In the meantime, Kabanas broke his contract with Marvel (1992), so the Spider-Man and other popular titles like Captain America, Hulk and Avengers, were free for the taking. I convinced the editors to enrich their line with another book that contained some of these milestone titles that Kabanas had left available. So the Greek Font came out in 1993 but it was a short-lived book, it only lasted for one year (24 issues) and the really bad news was that it took with it, into the abyss, the more successful X-Men book. So that was the end of Mammoth’s involvement with Marvel and mine with Mammoth.


D999. Wonderful! I love a good story where the talented guy gets the chick or in your case chicks in the plural! I’m looking forward to seeing some of your illustration work. Did that original Greek superhero story ever get published anywhere? By the late 80’s Mammoth received the license to do some additional Marvel stuff while Kabanas still held the Spider-Man rights. I have always found it odd how competing publishers in foreign countries could hold license rights to the same comic universes content. You would think in order to maintain a uniform quality the Big 2 would limit the license to one publisher only per country, language, etc. Money talks I guess, or screams for the licensing departments of the Big 2. You can definitely tell Mammoth put more effort in reproducing the art and design in their books but even with the better art direction it still seems like the environment the comics were being released into was pretty toxic as far sales go. Too bad really, but like you stated earlier the Marvel material just didn’t resonate, it seems, with the average comic reader in Greece. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding, I’m generalizing here, but if you read comics in Greece during the 70’s and 80’s you were either into the adult/political/underground Babel material or the more escapist simple story lines of a traditional child’s comic. No wonder the Marvel Greek books from this period seem so hard to source, they weren’t really loved. I bet a lot of them ended up in trash bins. So as a Marvel zombie took it upon yourself to facilitate the translation of the Marvel content in order to help bridge the cultural gap between the superhero stories you loved and a wider Greek audience. "Wow" is the first thing that comes to my mind. Passion can and will drive us to do amazing things. The Mammoth/Kabanas guys were right in letting you into their organizations. I’m telling you Vasilis, it is my humble opinion that you deserve some kind of tour of the Marvel facilities and a meet and greet with some of the guys at Marvel if not Stan the Man himself. This is why I have become obsessed with the foreign side of the comics world. The stories and people I am learning about deserve their time in the comic journalistic sun. With the many people you were involved with there in the Greek comic industry, do you stay in contact with any of them? Is there a journalistic avenue where the stories of the Greek comic industry are heralded? Now, I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t ask you to speak to the process of taking Marvel content and transforming it into a comic book that sits on a Greek newsstand. Artwork and translation process’s are very interesting, can you go into how this worked a bit? Also, what were the average print runs of Kabanas and also Mammoth books?


VC. You got that right Matt. Most Greeks at that time period (70’s and 80’s) started reading comics from the age of six, stopped reading them when they got 12 to 14 years old at the most, and later in their lives some of them were reintroduced to comics at the age of 19-25 I guess via the Babel material. The Marvel stuff wasn’t anywhere in between except for the minds and hearts of a few fanatics, like myself. I was, and am, a sweet guy, but not so sweet as to accept Kabanas’s completely unacceptable proposal. (Oh, gosh, I don’t think Stan would want to meet me after that!) But, seriously now, I never expected any recognition from all this. My only desire was to help create a much wider audience for the comics I loved. I must add that the cause of their low popularity can also be attributed to the Marvel’s VIPs because the only thing that they were interested about was to get their check on time without ever monitoring how any of their foreign publishers presented their material. I can tell you a story here about how another great company, Dargaud from France, handled very differently a not so-similar case. Back in 1978, a Greek publisher named Psaropoulos (known for his DC Superman, Batman line of comics) started to publish the Asterix comic albums. That guy’s publishing methods were the complete opposite of Kabanas’s. He printed on the finest paper, ordered the genuine films (veloxes), had an entire stuff to deal with the foreign material and even hired one of the most famous Greek writers of that time, Kostas Tachtsis, to translate the first issue. But, after the French editors read that issue they got really mad. They thought the comic book was perfect in everything except for one of their characters’ name! Obelix’s dog, Idefix, was translated as (Greek text)(Katroolix, the one that gets wet, roughly) that doesn’t mean anything bad in Greek, just that the dog is too small like a baby that gets wet. But the French guys thought that the name was too humiliating for Idefix so they sent a letter to Psaropoulos where they threatened to cancel their contract if the name wasn’t changed which it eventually did. Imagine now these guys representing Marvel and take a look at one of the common Kabanas Marvel books. I’m sure they’d instantly put Kabanas to a painful death. The Marvel guys, on the other hand, never showed any interest in the way their comics were represented. If they were lucky enough to have a publisher who respected their stuff and his own audience they never indicated it. They didn’t give a shit as long as the money rolled in. I’m not talking, of course, about the creators, but about the corporate stooges that can’t tell Lobo from the Hulk.) Here in Greece the comic creators and publishers are so few that we know each other by each others first names. Even if I tried to avoid one of them it wouldn’t be possible. The whole comic industry was always present in the next comics’ event. There’s no standard medium, printed or otherwise, that hosts regular stories or any of the history of the Greek comics scene, especially that of the old days, except maybe some story or article from members of greekcomics or comicdom sites. And, now, technically speaking, this is the way the job was done: Step 1: We ordered the material. Step 2: Marvel informed us whether or not they had the veloxes (photographic paper) available of each issue we ordered. If they didn’t, we proceeded with the next issue available. Marvel also informed us of the availability of each original issue. If they didn’t have it, they tried to acquire it from a comic book dealer and they tell us about the price we would have to pay for it. If the price was too high that was okay, we could live without it. Step 3: The veloxes and the issue, hopefully, showed up. The girls cut the large paper (8 pages each) to page-size parts and they fit the four different color shades for each page of the comic. Step 4: They scaned the film with the black lines and they electronically erase the English text. Step 5: They put the Greek text into the balloons. Step 6: They print the page with the greek text and cut off the balloons with it. Step 7: They glue the greek text balloons on the pages and they put together the letters pages and other articles. Step 8: I came in to review the work. Any mistakes that I spotted were corrected. Step 9: The book, veloxes and all, went to the printer. Step 10: The book went to the press agency that did the distribution. Step 11: From there the book went to the newsstands!


D999. The Kabanas publisher sure knew how to do the least possible to get those books out for sure. How ironic that with that lack of concern for quality it created, at least to American eyes, such a novel and wonderful little hodge podge of books. I can tell you honestly that of all the books in my foreign collection, the Marvel Kabanas books hold a special place in my heart. So Idefix got to keep his name intact! A little wet dog is the perfect metaphor for how the American publishers treated their characters abroad in the early days from my research. It’s unbelievable the stuff the licensing departments were doing, or not doing. Like a dog left out in the rain the intellectual properties were left to fend for themselves it seems. But, like I stated above, many of the older foreigns were special because of this lack of oversight. These older "wet dog" foreigns seem to be better as anthropological objects for the study of the cultures and countries that produced them. That being said, the Mammoth stuff is pretty damn cool I can tell you. You see a huge jump in quality going from the Kabanas to Mammoth. I applaud your tenacity for making every attempt at quality. I’d like to think Stan might be interested in meeting you anyway. A Marvel zombie holding his own in the ancient land of Greece probably would be more interesting to him than your average con goers he has seen for the millionth time here in the States. I’m very interested in the creation process. Were the presses in the same building as the editorial offices? What was the atmosphere like? Was it fun going to work and did you get a real kick out of seeing your work on every newsstand in Greece? And the next question is coming as purely a collector of rare foreign books. Are there file copies still in existence?


VC. -No, Matt, the presses were in another building. Mammoth didn’t own such equipment, but Kabanas did (All the worse for them)! I didn’t mention that I was an outside collaborator, which means that I was in the Mammoth office about five to six days per month. One day to make the order, one day to take the issues for the translation (originals or photocopies of the films), one day to deliver the translations, two days to monitor and edit the issues. Sometimes though I had to come, outside the regular schedule to explain things to the staff, to solve problems like too much text in balloons that needed to be cut – greek words are much longer than English ones, so sometimes they didn’t fit properly in the balloons, which we preferred to leave intact. The environment was so cozy. The publishers, Panos and Yorgos, two guys with a great knowledge about the comics medium trusted me enough to let me do anything with the books, having only a minimal amount of interference. I remember only three or four times when they complained about something, and they were right. We had so many conversations about comics and I learned many things by them. The staff was four girls, with the oldest one, Mache doing letterering, another, Irene, did more of desk work. We had two more girls for the graphic department but neither of them lasted more than six months and they were replaced by others that didn’t stay long either and they were also replaced eventually. We also had a guy that was the accountant. I remember having sort of a fight with one of girls, I can’t remember her name. I had rejected some of her graphic work but we later made amends. The day I remember the most was when Yorgos decided to give away all the American original issues that they had more than one of because there wasn’t enough space for them anymore. You can guess who was the lucky one to get those babies! It was very exciting to have your name printed below that of John Byrne and Roy Thomas and John Buscema and the list goes on. I didn’t actually work with them but I thought that I had some small part in the whole creating process even if it was only for the Greek audience. File copies? Hmmmm…if you’re referring to the Greek issues, I think that there may in fact be some. Mammoth always kept 2 or 3 issues of every published book but that was in the old days. But don’t worry, those books are not so difficult to be found!


D999. Ok, you didn’t get a chance to see your work running on a press. That’s too bad Vassilis, it’s a really cool thing to see. How neat though that you were able to hoard away the original American issues! Were they sent to the publisher by Marvel? It seems to me like there weren’t many people involved in the creation process. I wonder why the turnover rate was so high for the graphic artist girls there? Sounds a little bit like my experience with comics and girls in the 80’s and early 90’s, they just didn’t seem to be symbiotic. Honestly though I’m ashamed at my hiding the hobby during my young adult life for many years because of social stigma. It sure does seem like you guys worked with a shoestring budget to produce the books. I’m curious, what were the print runs for the average mammoth book while you were in charge? And at the time how much did a license to reproduce Marvel content cost? Was it a la cart or bundled? A few more questions my friend and I think we can wrap this up! In all of your time reading, being involved in the creation of and the translation of Marvel stuff did any of the story lines/canon ever change in unique or interesting ways that you remember? ’m also wondering what you are doing now? Are you still in the comic industry? If so, where can we see more of your work? Are there any questions you were hoping to answer that I didn’t get to? Please don’t hesitate to touch on subjects we might not have broached.


VC. I once visited the printing company but wasn’t there long enough to see the press working, but that’s okay, at least I got the originals!! I still have some of them I think. You know, as a paranoid fan, in the years that followed, I replaced most of these really mistreated (by the female staff) issues with others in higher grade. I do this with everything in my collection that isn’t in desirable shape. For this reason I had, a long time ago, so many copies of the Kabanas books. In the end though I sold most of the Mammoth issues to other "sick men" like me. (As I did with all of the Kabanas "eliminated duplicates" as I like to call them.) I think that the first hardcore convention, the Comicdom Con, took place in 2006 at the Athens building of the Hellenic-American Union, it’s still held there. The years before that event we had the Babel festival that was hosted in the old (renovated for exhibitions and other cultural events) Athens gas factory where as well as comics they had some music and theater events. To understand how small the Greek comics industry is let me tell you that the guys that started the Con were my colleagues in two fanzines that specialized in American comics. The Comicmania fanzine was published in 1993 and it was the first of it’s kind in Greece. As I told you before, an that convention every living soul that attended, in some way, is involved with comics in Greece, so cannot but be present. After the suspension of the Babel festival, the Comicdom Con is now the only major comics event and enjoys great publicity from the press too. The thing about the "fatality factor" of the feminine creative staff in Mammoth had to do primarily with the dispensable role women employees had for many years in Greece and secondly with the ignorance and sometimes aversion they usually shared about comics. I remember a very young girl named Elpida that was an extremely talented letterer, much better that the experienced Mache, who loved comics because her father was a pioneer letterer himself in one of the oldest greek companies that published European material. The father taught the daughter to love comics. It was a misfortune that Mammoth had just stopped useing hand written lettering, they, unfortunately, had little use for Elpida. Our print run, at the time I was with the company, was around 10,000 to 15,000 copies per issue. I can’t tell you exactly the price we paid for the license because the bosses didn’t share that little secret with me but I can tell you that it surely was not a la cart! Okay, now this is funny: we all know that Marvel doesn’t publish any kind of cursing in their comics. I don’t know why. At one point I had the crazy idea to print, without permission of course, a little curse word somewhere into two of my books. At the time some of the audience was complaining about the Greek renderings of the character’s nicknames. It was a strategy of Mammoth’s that the nicknames always be translated into Greek. It was a strategy that I gladly followed because I really enjoyed doing it. Most of the fans that complained about this were coming from the discontinued Kabanas Spider-Man book, where as we know there wasn’t a strategy for anything save to pay as little as possible, or nothing if they had the chance. I remember that these fans didn’t even take notice of the better translation, the actual colors or anything except the character names that were different from what they knew. A Spider-Man story happened where I had the opportunity to print a somewhat "dirty" word pay back in spades those unappreciative fans. It was a story which featured the marvelous villain Shocker! Shocker can most faithfully be translated in Greek as "(Greek Text)", a word that is the exact rendering of "Shocker" but is also the word we use in Greek for vibrator! By giving our villain this wonderful name I stayed faithful to my editorial duties and also sent my kind regards to my "friends" out there. I still remember Yorgos’ reaction, when the printed issue reached his hands: "What did you do? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!" He had gotten used to the low sales of our Spider-Man book so I don’t think anything bothered him anymore. As for myself, I think that I was in and out of comics so many times, unfortunately starting at a very young age, I had to follow in the family business that had little to do with comics, much like any real business in Greece, so my dream to become a full-fledged comic creator, preferably in the US, was not meant to be. In the art department specifically, with all that awesome stuff that I had absorbed from the American mainstream scene, I could never be pleased with anything less than what only a professional "self" would ever hope to produce. So I dedicated myself to comics writing and started to share my concepts with people that I appreciated as both artists and friends. My first work published by a formal publishing company, after the two self-published fanzines that I mentioned before, was Ypsilon. That was the very first attempt on a greek superhero theme. The book was drawn by Thanos Kollias and colored by Yannis Alertas. It only lasted for five issues. In the meantime I started writing two more comic series for an anthological book that was called Real Comics where I had editorial duties as well. Over the years I’ve also produced some short stories in both prose and comics form and some illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Last year I thought that the time had come to be a publisher so I started my own firm, "Phase Productions", and published my first ongoing series that’s called «(Greek Text)» - "MILTOS PERSIDES’ DESTINY" that is an alternative funny-animal series drawn by Angelos Konstantinou and written by yours truly! I am very proud that some of my collaborators are now working in the industry in the US such as my pal George Kambadais who was the artist of the prize winning series named «(Greek Text)» -"THE COLLECTORS’ MURDER" that has to do with the madness of collecting comics that, sometimes, can even lead to murder! by Jesus Belzunce

Staying Focused or How to bide your time when you can't find what you're looking for.

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

There comes a time for every collector where you can’t seem to find any of the books you’re searching for that fall within the focus of your collection. That’s the dangerous time, the time where you find yourself searching site after site trying to track down just one of the books on your want list. Then all of a sudden… there it is. It’s not a book you’re necessarily looking for, it doesn’t even come close to fitting into your focus but damn it has a really cool cover. The price seems reasonable too. A U.S. version of it would run $50 or more for just a mid-grade copy and here’s this really nice one from (insert country of choice here). Even with the shipping it’s a bargain by comparison and it’s always been one of your favorite covers/stories.


I can’t even begin to tell you how many sets I have that started this way. It starts with one copy of a book from somewhere and the next thing you know you’re searching for that book from anywhere and everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with it, when it comes to foreign books there are times you’re just not going to find the priority books on your want list. In some cases it takes years to track down a copy, any copy, of some books. In the meantime little side projects can keep you contented and on your game in terms of sharpening and refining your hunting skills. Plus while you’re unable to complete your main collecting project you still get to add books to your collection.


A few examples of this that I have going are:


Captain America #321 & Annual #8


Death of Superman issues


Web of Spider-Man #11 & #32


Superman #261


These are some of the books that keep me going while I wait for the last few “crown jewels” to turn up. The ones that, for the time being, are doing an incredible job of eluding me. The one suggestion I will give is this: Enjoy the hunt, enjoy the books you acquire but most importantly… mind your spending. You don’t want to deplete your budget and find yourself without the money you need when one of those focus books does show up!

 

Tim Bildhauser

lscomics

FCC Associate Editor

Amazing Grouping of rare Mexican keys!

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Please check out this killer video of key silver age / and older books from the collection of Raul Pantoja! Not only could Raul have the best conditioned group known of these key Mexican books but, he is also the guy behind the scenes of both the Spidermex and El Baul de comic websites. Both of these sites have become invaluable for American collectors seeking out scans and information on Mexican foreigns. If you need to research Mexican comic output of the past and present you must check out both sites.


Raul is one hardcore collector, and after a quick browsing of his other vids from his Youtube channel, your eyes might just melt off. If you dig the foreigns from over our southern border do yourself a favor and check out his Youtube channel. I promise you will not be disappointed...... Define999


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Both Raul's sites here...


http://www.spidermex.com/inicio.php


http://www.bauldelcomic.com/inicio.php

A different (more difficult?) take on collecting foreign editions.

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Part 1:   A short introduction
    Up until now the majority of the discussions here at FCC have been about collecting “sets” of foreign books but now it’s time to take a look at another aspect.  Building runs.  In many ways this is more in line with the traditional mindset of collecting comic books but it has a downside.  When putting together sets you pick a book, research which countries it was printed in and begin the search for copies from each country.  Pretty straight forward stuff for the most part.  As you may recall, in issue #1 of FCC, I mentioned that the main focus of my foreign collection is comprised of books with covers by Neal Adams and Bernie Wrightson.  Because of this I’ve found that rather than collecting sets of individual books from many countries most of my time has been spent building runs of the titles they worked on.
    In theory, it seems simple enough to accomplish this.  In reality it’s pretty much a nightmare.  For nearly four years I’ve been working on twelve runs of Mexican comic books published by Editorial Novaro.  I’ve thus far only managed to complete five of them:

Batman & Detective Comics the original Ra’s Al Ghul storyline (completed)
Green Lantern (completed)
Strange Adventures/Deadman (completed)
House of Mystery (need 2 books)
House of Secrets (completed)
Phantom Stranger (need 1 book)
Spectre (completed)
Swamp Thing (need 1 book)
Unexpected (completed)
Witching Hour (need 3 books)
Bat Lash (need 3 books)
Tomahawk (need 2 books)

    These comprise the bulk of my collection which presently consists of 1077 foreign books.  The most difficult part of completing a run of foreign books is finding a reliable contact who’s willing to work with you affordably and to take the time to seek out the specific books you’re looking to obtain.  I can tell you from experience that a project like this is not something to be taken lightly, it requires determination, vigilance, a touch of insanity and an unbelievable amount of patience.  There are two things that make this such a challenge. 

1)  Being able to find the title and issue numbers of the particular books you’re looking for.  In most cases, books would be printed under different titles than they were in the US and the numbering never even comes close to being the same.

2)  Finding a copy that’s for sale.  It takes time, a lot of it and sometimes sellers aren’t willing to ship internationally.

    As an example, take a look at the Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing runs.  I’ve been looking high and low for a copy, ANY copy, of the books I need to complete those runs and have, so far, not been able to find them.  You would think that scouring three auction sites (ebay, todocoleccion and Mercado Libre), at least twice daily, as well as inquiring with sellers in Mexico and South America that at least a ragged, beat down, ugly copy of one of them would come out of hiding.  Unfortunately… so far that is not the case.


Part 2:  The showcase

    Here’s a link to pictures of the six runs I’ve completed so far - http://myforeigncomics.webs.com/

Batman & Detective Comics (Ra’s Al Ghul storyline)
The best the Dark Knight has ever been in my opinion.  This classic story by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams has always stood out among the many adventures of the Caped Crusader.

Strange Adventures (Deadman)
A very tough run to put together.  I’ve been told by more than one collector from Mexico that you just don’t see these books very often, let alone all twelve.

House of Secrets (Neal Adams & Bernie Wrightson covers)
All 16 Adams and Wrightson covers from issue #81 through #107 with the exception of #93 which for some reason Editorial Novaro didn’t print.  There were a couple more Wrightson covers later on in the US run but Novaro stopped publishing this series before they reached those issues.

Unexpected (Neal Adams covers)
All nine covers that Adams did for this often forgotten DC horror anthology title.

Spectre (Neal Adams covers)
Again with these, they’re not seen very often and although it’s only four books this is an incredibly hard run to complete.

Green Lantern (Adams & O’Neil)
One of the most groundbreaking runs of the Bronze Age.  When Editorial Novaro published it for the Spanish speaking market they skipped issues #85 & #86 which contain Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy as a Heroin user.  It’s odd how these issues were able to pass the Comic Code Authority’s standards of the day yet a foreign publisher who wasn’t limited by the same standards and practices opted to avoid them entirely.

Part 3:  How/why did I do it?

    FCC Editor, Define999 (Matt) will be the first to tell you... when it comes to tracking down hard to find foreign books I’m about the luckiest s.o.b. around.  I’ve managed to assemble my collection which consists of some incredibly tough books with, in all honesty, nowhere near the effort it should have taken.  Luck, knock on wood, seems to be on my side when it comes to these foreign gems.
    When I initially started collecting foreign books I didn’t have much of a focus.  I was buying books from all across the spectrum of foreign Silver and Bronze Age books.  It didn’t take long before I came to the realization that I needed to have a designated focus to keep my buying from getting completely out of control.  That’s when I decided to zero in on the Adams and Wrightson books of which I’ve always been a fan.
    Roughly a year into my endeavor an ebay seller out of Mexico City started listing books from a collection he had picked up.  It was full of a considerable number of the books I was looking for in grades you just don’t see, it very well may be the Mexican equivalent of the Edgar Church collection (not an exaggeration).  It ranged from super-heroes to romance and everything in between.  In many cases these books have incredibly bright cover inks and supple off-white to white pages.  They’re just stunning, particularly if you’re familiar with the average condition of books that you see from Mexico and South America.
    And so the bidding began.  At the time the awareness of foreign books was considerably lower than it is now which allowed me to acquire a great number of the books in the $20 range.  Another factor that worked in my favor was that for the first couple of months that he was listing them there didn’t seem to be any collectors from Mexico or South America that were aware he was listing them for sale on ebay (US).  That changed after a while though and eventually I started seeing competing bids on some books.  This didn’t deter me though, when it came to the focus books being listed I didn’t back down.  Some of the prices I paid increased to the $30+ range and a few exceptions topping out over $100 but considering the scarcity of these books in these grades, it’s been well worth it.  At least to me.


Tim Bildhauser
LSComics
FCC Associate Editor

Insight from Argentina

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a short interview I recently conducted with Daniel Arangio, a collector from Argentina who has been very helpful in assisting me to find books on occasion.  The idea behind it is to gain a little insight into the mindset of collectors from outside of the U.S. about some of the Spanish language comics that are becoming more and more sought after here in the States.


1) How did you get into the hobby?

I´m a cartoonist, I’ve been drawing since I was 3 years old and my parents bought me all the Mexican comics that came to my country.  Every Monday at night, which was the day that the comics arrived, they took me to visit the kiosks of comics and bought me all of the new issues.  The ones I liked the most were Batman, superheroes of La Prensa (Marvel) and Disneylandia (by Chile, Editora Zig-Zag).

2) Do you collect certain titles or just key issues?

I collect Batman by Editorial Novaro (#1 to # 500 only) and the all of the Editorial La Prensa superhero titles.

3) Do you only collect comic books in Spanish or do you collect books from other countries in other languages?

I have several Marvel comics.  When I was a kid they always bought me all of the U.S. editions that were released here back in the ‘60s, especially the Marvel comics.  I was a fan of the Jack “King” Kirby, his drawings seemed magical.  These comics, unfortunately, were lost along the way as we moved a few times.  If I still had them today they would be a fortune because I had a lot of them, approximately 500 in Near Mint condition that my parents bought for me between 1965 and 1969.

4) Where do you search for the books you buy?

I kept some from my childhood but about 15 years ago I went to Mexico several times and lost or gave away the vast majority of those I had.  In still go to old comics fairs looking for them although you almost never see them there.  I contact other collectors who have comics as well and offer to buy them.

5) Are there other sites other than eBay (US) that you buy book from such as Mercado Libre or Todocoleccion?

I don't buy comics here in my country on auction sites because most of the ones that interest me I already have.  Several years ago I bought many on eBay and some on Mercado Libre.

6) What do you think about comic collectors from the US and other countries outside of Mexico and South America being interested in foreign comic books?

Without a doubt, the best comics are those from the United States, but it seems to me that for a collector it´s very interesting to have comic books in spanish, especially the first editions that appeared translated.  In my country Batman and Superman appeared in various comics that were translated into Spanish from 1940 to 1960.  I realize that comics from Editorial Novaro and Editorial La Prensa can be of great interest to a collector because they translated almost everything from 1952 until 1970, which are my favorites.  It seems very interesting to have a collector from the United States buying comic books in Spanish.

7) Is there a strong collector market for comic books in Argentina?  Which books are most popular there (Editorial Novaro, La Prensa etc.)?

Yes, the market is strong but it´s very small.  There are quite a few collectors but there isn't a culture of collecting here.  There’s no price guide for comic books and the most important thing to a collector is to simply have a copy of the comic they’re looking for even if the condition is bad.  The most popular books are the Novaro and La Prensa titles.  As far as Novaro titles, Batman and Superman and from La Prensa the Marvel superhero titles.  However, the most popular character here is the Indian Patoruzú.  It´s the most collected title.  The character appeared in the 1920s in newspaper strips and in 1936 got his own comic.  Patoruzú also appeared in the United States in the journal of the Guerra PM back in the 1940s in a daily strip.  It´s the most popular character in my country and the only one published in the United States.  But other than Patoruzú the biggest character here is Batman (Editorial Novaro) who is even more popular than Superman.

I would like to thank Daniel for his time and willingness to share a little bit about himself with the global comic collecting community.

Tim Bildhauser
LSComics
FCC Associate Editor

The largest Spidey 129 set known to exist..

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (3)

This was a roundtable discussion between solarcadet1 and the staff of FCC. The staff included Define999, Liaton-9000, lscomics and Whetteon. Solarcadet1 is a hardcore foreign collector with some of the most amazing sets in the hobby. We are pleased to bring you this Q & A...



solarcadet1, you have been an adherent of the foreign comic collecting niche for quite a while, particularly the set building type of foreign collecting. An entire comics publishing history of cool covers and key books exists to choose from, why Amazing Spider-Man 129? What is it about this book despite it obviously being a key, that drove you into building the largest foreign edition set known to exist for this book?


ASM 129 was my first substantial key book that cost over $50 in the mid 1980s. To own a $50+ book in the mid 80s was an amazing feeling.


The 129 to me is the most sentimental comic of all. I think it may be the most reprinted comic in history. It's weight, sentiment, value, and art makes it one of the most recognizable comics in the world.



Of all these Amazing Spider-Man #129 variants, which one stands out the most to you and why?


Value aside (which is little to none), the Colombian edition and the error/misprint Greek #17



I believe the Greek was somehow professionally created with an incorrect numbering which makes it quite unique in it's own right.



The Colombian is in my opinion the rarest of all the foreign 129s.


This 129 collection has been a 2 year long organized chaotic labor of love.


As far as we all know, this is the most complete collection of 129 editions, do you believe there could be more out there yet to be discovered? If so, will you chase those as well?


There is only one I know of that exists. It is a Brazilian 2007 edition from the publisher Panini. In time I will find it. It looks exactly the same in format to the French edition shown on the 3rd row 4th from left (next to the white Brazilian).


Yes, I agree with you that the Columbian and the Greek mis-number do seem to be the rarest. Columbia seems to be a tough nut to crack as far as sourcing books for sure. I have always wondered why this is? Two years also seems pretty fast to me considering how difficult sourcing foriegn comics can be at times. How do you keep all of your contacts and leads organized?


I have been successful with developing an Excel spreadsheet of my contacts and the books they have or have found all in order by country. I keep in contact with everyone as far as new leads and developments and been lucky enough to maintain foreign friendships.


As far as the other question, putting the Panni book aside for a bit, there do seem to be other foreigns of this book rumored to exist. What countries do you think might have reprinted the 129 that no one in the foreign collecting community has confirmed exists yet? I have my ideas on this but I’m curious if yours jive with mine?


My very first "sourced" 129 was the from none other than Liaton-9000 before I ever joined the CGC boards in September 2012.


There is only one confirmed missing foreign edition. The flip side to that in the foreign edition game is speculation. There could definitely be editions that we are not sure of from Philippines, Thailand, or Japan.


At this point I hope they do NOT exist in that it solidifies my fear of having to hunt them for years to come.


That's a good point, the most likely ones you haven't discovered yet are the Asian ones. On that point, which ones have been harder to locate or dig out of their home countries due to cultural reasons or language barriers?


Most difficult to get due to language barriers were the Mexican and Brazilians way back in 2012. I didn't know anyone in Mexico. Once I would get a phone number I would have my girlfriend, who speaks Spanish, call them and explain to them for me that I am hunting for these books.


Once I increased my foreign bounty hunter lists in all Mexico and South America I was able to find books in one sweep of an email because someone would know someone that knew someone to help me.


Once I even had books smuggled across the border into San Antonio, Texas and then shipped to me. I always paid nice little finders fees and they kept emailing their finds instead of wasting time in posting on Mercado Mexico and Brazil sites.


Are there other ASM #129 related items (not books) that you know of which you don't have? If so how many and what are you still looking for?


Yes indeed. There is a foot tall statue of Punisher from the 129 cover I would like to pick up later on for a glass display case and i have seen custom Beretta 9mm gun grips with punisher logos engraved and painted.


In the future they are coming out with a retro Mego style ASM 129 action figure in the same vein as the DC Retro figures.


Two of the books on the bottom with black borders next to the Essential Punisher Paperback are from the Marvel Legends 8 inch and 12 inch action figures. I ended up giving the toys and packaging to my nephews but later on I will repurchase them again for display and not to open.


I never thought I would ever get sick and tired and looking at the greatest cover all time but maybe I have. (laughs)


Without 100% confirmation on whether or not they exist how long do you plan to search for possible Asian or Filipino editions of the book before considering the set complete?


The search never ends. The beauty of hunting foreign editions is while you’re hunting one particular title from time to time you stumble upon new things. I will continue to search and source other countries. I have been hardcore in the game for 2 years and just last week I discovered another Action Comics 419 that I didn’t know about.


Its all about 2 things: The discovery and the hunt. At this point in my foreign collecting endeavors I will continue to hunt as long as it is fun. I don’t care much about the value of the book. The value is when they are next to their foreign counterparts.


Along the way, i have been very fortunate to make friends with Matt, Tim, Liam, Hector, Nuno, Ronnie and Stephane. At this point it now means more to help your foreign brothers out and we all bask in the worldwide glow of our beautiful hobby.


That’s a good point about the hunt solarcadet! When I first started hunting a very wise collector, and one of the founders of this type of collecting explained to me to never let the book eclipse the pleasure of the hunt. To enjoy the search and reap as much value from the beginning and the end is the idea. In this interwebz day and age the collecting of American books has taken on a sort of mundane, instant gratification, big money sameness that for me personally started to feel stale. The foreign niche became that place within the hobby for me where one can maybe catch a little bit of that nostalgic hunter vibe. I like to think it might feel a bit like it did back pre-internet/LCS where your options were mail order dealer ads in books, cons or old bookstores where it could be kinda of a crapshoot.


And I also agree wholeheartedly about the value of the set as a whole eclipsing the sum of it parts. This is another interesting part of the hobby that flies in the face of general collecting. In many ways collectors assume that when you purchase in bulk the value assessment should go down. That’s not the case in foreign sets now is it? Because of the difficulty of putting extremely hard to find books together a sets value should eclipse what could be gotten if the set is split up in my opinion of course. Single tough foreign books can be found but the amount of energy, time, focus and money needed for the hunt of a tough set is staggering!


Well the hunt is why we do this after all right? Oh, and of course because of the stunning imagery that comes out of this type of collecting. The images of your 129 set are stunning and you deserve some accolades for building it sir.


One major point I want to make that I believe represents the hobby as a whole.


In order for there to be a reprint you must have an original edition. In these foreign countries, these comics, characters, and titles were the first an initial introductions. Some kid in Brazil first learned of Superman and Batman with their editions, not the American editions. The foreign publishers, layout artists, and editors took their own liberties to adjust to their own preferences therefore these foreign book are not simply reprints.


Amazing Spiderman 129 has a cover date of February 1974.


El Sorprendente Hombre Araña #9 is the 1st foreign edition with a cover date of September 1974.



The 1st American reprint is Marvel Tales #106 with a cover date August 1979.


It is worth noting that the the 1st foreign edition came out 7 months after the original and 5 years and 7 months until the first TRUE reprint.


Those are some interesting and valid points for sure. The injustice of calling foreigns simply "reprints" has been an ongoing fight. Both on forums and in the minds of collectors/dealers. I totally agree solarcadet1 and would add that there are many other factors that make these books more than simply reprints. Not wanting to get to long winded I won’t go into all of them but I will say this.


Every foreign book is a window into the language, culture, and society that licensed the original American content. They are unique pieces of pop art all by themselves touched by foreign translators, editors, artists and type setters. Calling foreigns simply "reprints" doesn't give the books justice or the talented teams at the foreign publishers any justice. I prefer to call them variants, editions, foreigns, or whatever. In my opinion the reprint classification, at least what the term represents now in the current comic collecting universe, isn't a proper classification.


Ok Solorcadet1, well I think thats about it! Thank you for creating this set, it is a doozy and a very amazing feat of time, energy, and focus. Is there anything you would like to add before we go?


Nope, that is all from me! I have enjoyed collecting and adding to the foreign collecting niche and hope to see other new sets and discoveries from my friends....

 

Indy Con raffle winners!

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

And now the moment that the attendees of the Indiana Comic Con have been waiting for, the announcement of the winners of the French Canadian Amazing Spider-Man #252 and Mexican Amazing Spider-Man #298!




ASM #252: Ryan Bentley

ASM#298: Justin Allison

Congratulations to both of you!

Indy con Blog report!

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello everyone! lscomics here, reporting on the first annual Indiana Comic Con for FCC magazine. First and foremost I’d like to give you a little background on how FCC attending the convention came to pass.

Back around October or November of 2013 I saw that there was going to be a new comic con in Indianapolis Indiana on March 14th through 16th 2014. At the time FCC had pretty much just released our first issue and I thought it would be interesting to set up at the con to promote it. After a lot of discussion and planning we reserved a booth in Artist Alley, Define999 bought a plane ticket and once the dates arrived we found ourselves in Indianapolis.

We weren’t 100% sure how it was going to go over. For quite some time we had anticipated that there would be a lot more interest in foreign editions than those in the mainstream comic book community would have thought and we were right. We set up a huge display of foreign books (roughly 7’ x 12’ ) along with three showcases on the table itself. The reactions of the convention attendees was varied, when they walked by some of them dismissed the books as being nothing more than reprints in another language but the vast majority of people were just blown away. Nowhere in the world before this has anyone seen such a variety of foreign books from all over the globe.

Here’s a link to all three video clips!

1st video

https://vimeo.com/90052385

2nd video

https://vimeo.com/90065977

3rd video

https://vimeo.com/90137490

We shot video talking with both convention attendees and a couple of dealers that were set up as well. The one dealer we spoke with (Josh) came to the booth at the end of the day Friday. He had brought two long boxes of foreign comics to the con and told us that on a busy Saturday he’ll usually sell about $200 worth of stuff out of those boxes. He sold that much on Friday. By the end of the weekend he said his sales, just from those two boxes, totaled around $1400! This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt (as we suspected) that there’s a market for these books here in the States but that the vast majority of collectors simply don’t know they exist. Check out the videos, download and read the first three issues of FCC (it’s free after all) and then let us know what you think. You can reach us on Facebook.

Tim Bildhauser lscomics FCC Associate Editor

 



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