The Comic Gods can be capricious and fickle but we still go back to them time after time. This week has been no different. It started off with the delivery of some parcels to me. One I was expecting as it was a deal I had done with Ian Miller, a fellow collector. The other had me bemused until I opened it and realised it was from Eddie Walsh, a second hand goods dealer in Nottinghamshire. There was also an envelope but we will come to that in a bit. Both of these contained Commando comics and one had a smattering of Buntys too.
The reason I was excited to get them is that they took the total of individual issues that I need to collect down from 311 to 285. That doesn’t sound like much but when you are collecting a run of almost 5,200 issues and still counting then that is a big deal.
I then turned my attention to the large envelope. As soon as I could see a capital L, I began to smile. I had taken delivery of three more issues of the short run trade paperback that was Lucky Charm. I am a late arrival to enjoying girls comics as in the 1970s and 1980s, it was not ‘cool’ for a guy to like girls’ comics. You were assumed to be a bit of a weed for liking comics but if you had liked girls’ comics too then you were either a bit of a softy or even a poof! However, I have grown up since then and now my tastes encompass almost all British comics and I have a respectable collection of girls’ comics and annuals.
That same night there was a tease in the catalogue of my local auction house. It was an innocuous phrase.
Lot 141 A box of Commando comics.
So I sent an email and asked for a picture and this came back on Tuesday.
To say I was excited was an understatement. I recognised the Ian Kennedy cover to Mark Of The Lion straight away and know that has only been published twice. The first time was in 1971 and the second time was in 2016 so these were classics either way. However, I then saw that wee circle on the cover and then I knew these were worth getting. The practice of putting the price separate to the header stopped way back in Octber 1974 as issue 882 was the last one to have the price separate.
So on Wednesday, off I headed to the auction house with my fighting fund ready. I checked the issues range and saw that the earliest one was 400 and the highest I could see was 622 and it was roughly 140 issues so going up to my ceiling of £100 was well within my bidding range.
The bidding started at a realistic price of £8 and it moved along brisky to break the £30 mark. It was only when we went through the £50 mark, I realised there were 3 of us bidding on this. We hit the £100 and I was sweating bullets. I did not have the bid but I was not going to let go of it for the sake of a fiver, so I went for another bid. Unfortunately so did my competitors. At £115, most of the meat was gone on this deal so I had to bow out. A final bid of £120 sealed the deal. For me, it was a bittersweet moment as the lowest issue in the box was issue 400 but as I drove away, I was fairly sanguine about losing the auction. Once you add auctioneers fees on top, that was £138 which meant that you were looking at £1 an issue and considering they rarely retail for more than that, I was happy to let someone else have them. After all, I can’t win every deal going, can I?
However, as I was driving home, I consoled myself with the fact that the postie had delivered a rather nice purchase allowing me to complete one grailquest which was to own at least one piece by the hand of Jim Baikie and if it was in the form of one of my favourite TV shows as a kid, I am not going to complain.
Then on Thursday, I check out the marketplace on a certain social media site and I see what looks to be a rather interesting comic that is within my price range.
I am cautious about this but from what I could see, it looks like this could be a good investment. So I chat with the seller and from what he has told me, my Spider-sense tells me it’s worth a nice wee drive up to the wilds of Angus.
On Thursday evening, I was also chatting with Phillip Vaughan who has been kind enough (or mad enough! You decide) to invite me onto his podcast as he is looking for contributors to talk about different aspects of comics. For some bizarre reason, he thinks I qualify on that point and who am I to disabuse him of that notion? He also asked that I could talk about something that was contemporary, something that is a classic and bring a collection for a bit of show and tell. I think I might be able to manage that…
And just as I think that the week can’t get better, I get an email from a contact at D C Thomson’s to show me a little project he was working on way back in 2002.
The picture is unusual as we don’t often get to see one of the Gaffer’s roughs in the wild. Plus, I have never seen the Gaffer’s take on The Amazing Wilson so it was a double bonus. As I was going to be driving up, I arranged to drop in to see the Gaffer and to drop off a wee drap o’ the cratur that I had been keeping chilled for such a day.
We stopped off, admired some of his work, had a wee sneaky peek of what was on the board and chatted not only about his work but where we will see him this year and about a certain book that I am getting more excited about each time I hear about it. He has also been thinking of decluttering ( I must admit I never realised he was a fan of Marie Kondo). I can’t say much more than that but if I was a fan of the Gaffer, I would be making sure I have deep pockets and a fuller wallet in the next few months!
So off I went in search of a potential quantum addition to the collection. After a bit of comedy navigation and comedy phonecall, I tracked down the seller. As soon as I touched the comic, I knew it was a bust. If you ever get the chance to see or feel a weekly comic from the 1930s, the paper feels slightly smoother than the newsprint of the 1970s or 1980s but it is still obvious that it is newsprint. This copy was made from the paper that was used to make the Summer Specials from the 1960s onwards so it was fairly obvious that it was a reprint. Either way, it was worth the drive to spend the day and night with Karen and just generally chat.
On our way home, I had arranged for us to stop off at the home of a VIE (Very Important Editor) and we had a lovely time chatting with the ever convivial Calum Laird as I had arranged to pick up a few copies of the V&A commemorative comic. Calum surprised me with being kind enough to gift me a few Commandos he had dotted around the house which takes me down to 280 to go…