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Willie The Ice Cream Man

19 Mar

March 19, 2018

I was going through my last few remaining comics. I once had 32 short boxes full of comics. Each box holds around 200 issues, more or less, so that’s 6,400 comics. But I had many loose ones in stacks on shelves, probably at least three more boxes full, so that’s around 7,000 comics. Over the last few years I sold or gave away nearly all of them. I have just about 65 comics left. Yes, I downsized 6,935 comics.  So those 65 comics amount to around .0085% of what I used to have. But each one has a meaning or a sentimental value. I kept them not because they are valuable (a couple are, most are not) but because they all have a story, not between the covers, but behind them.

To drive home the point, where I once had hundreds and hundreds of Batman comics I now own exactly 5.

These are my two favorites.

Detective Comics 406 and 409, published in 1970 and 1971. In the condition in which I own them they are worth around $15 – $20 each.

But they only cost me 25 cents each, and that’s the background of this story.

It was around 1980, maybe as early as 1978, maybe as late as 1983, but I date it to 1980 because I distinctly remember riding my bike up and down the street pretending it could fly like the motorcycles on Galactica 1980

It was summer, of course. There was no better time to be a kid than in the summer. We had an ice cream man who came every summer day in the afternoon, and when school started he came around a little later after we were home. His name was Willie and we all knew him because we were kids and what kid doesn’t love ice cream? He peddled around the neighborhood on an old fashioned ice cream cart, basically a bicycle with a freezer in the front.

He’d jingle the bells on the handlebars and we’d hear him coming down the block. Since I and my brother lived in an apartment building (we were city boys) we didn’t have time to run all the way upstairs to get money. We’d just yell for our mother to come to the window. “MOM! MOOOOOM!” Half the mothers in the building would look out the window to see if it was their kid yelling. But our mother would come to the window and we’d yell “the ice cream man is coming!” and she’d put some money in a can or a box and she’d toss it out the fifth floor window to us. We never caught it though. We’d always have to crash through the bushes in the front of our building to retrieve it. 

So now we’d yell “Willie! Ice cream! Over here!” and he’d peddle over to us, jingling all the way, to borrow a phrase. But this is the best part. Not only would we get ice cream, we’d get comic books too. Willie had a box somehow lashed to the back of his bike with old comic books. They were old even then, and he sold them for a quarter apiece. 

Was there ever a better summer day? Playing outside, riding bikes, eating ice cream, reading comic books. This is what a kid’s life should be.

So when it came time for me to pare down my comic collection the two Batman issues had to stay. Sure the covers are great, and yes, I like the stories, but I had gotten rid of issues with better covers and better stories. But none of them had a story that I was part of, that reminded me of the days of my youth. There are very few comics that I distinctly remember buying and reading when I was a kid, and not many that put a smile on my face, so these two issues are keepers.

(The Incredible Hulk 216, which I bought new from the corner candy store is another, and yes, I still have that one too.)

 

 

And by the way, here are the flying motorcycles I used to pretend I was riding. 

 

Before I go, one quick ice cream man story. One day Willie was not there, and someone else was driving the cart. He was coming down the block, ringing his bell. We started calling out “ice cream man! Ice cream man!” and waving to him.

He looked at us and, with a big smile, waved back. And kept on going.

We didn’t get ice cream that day. 

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The Saturday Comics: The Phantom Gets Good!

29 Dec

December 29, 2017

Let’s end the year by checking back in on one of the classics. It is the Phantom, a comic character from the Golden Age created by Lee Falk. He’s “The Ghost Who Walks,” but basically just a guy in a suit who fights crime. He’s the latest in a family line of crime-fighters to use that name. When we last checked in back in 2011, there was literally nothing going on. For an entire week nothing happened. And I mean that exactly as it sounds. Let’s go back and see, then we’ll check in with the strip today and see what’s up.

UPDATED from April 16, 2011DAY ONE:

OK, I get it. I came in at the end of an adventure. It looks like a happy ending. It is actually a good thing I came in now so I can enjoy the start of a whole new story tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

DAY TWO:

Well, that’s nice. Sort of the same thing as yesterday though. And it seems a bit of a waste, story-wise, to do it in one big splash but I guess it gets the emotion across. OK, let’s see where this goes tomorrow.

DAY THREE:

What the? What’s the point of this? Is the next arc about haircuts? If this were a play I could almost hear the stage manager hissing “vamp!” while the star desperately searches for her line. This is ridiculous, the big splash yesterday should have ended the arc. I’m getting a bit tired of this, hopefully things will move ahead tomorrow.

DAY FOUR:

Um, Ok. More wasting time. Maybe they haven’t hammered out the next script yet and just tossed this in? I can’t figure out a purpose to this strip, unless it is to reinforce their dedication to fighting evil? This isn’t much of a superhero strip, it is more like a bad show on the religious station with Kirk Cameron. I’m not hopeful for tomorrow.

DAY FIVE:

Ahh, now we’re getting somewhere.

DAY SIX:Huh? Where’s The Phantom? And isn’t that the guy who was supposed to be in jail? Who are these people? I sat through almost a week for this? That strip could have been told in three panels. And re-read the second panel. “Colonel Weeks met the unknown commander.” “Worubu doubts it.” There is a verb tense problem there, and I’m usually not that picky outside of a grammar blog but that is really annoying to read. I really hope The Phantom picks up but I’m losing hope.

DAY SEVEN:

UGH! Back to that? It’s like the Sunday strip exists in a different timeline, and maybe it might. Many strips do a separate storyline on Sundays because some papers only run the Sunday strips. So I can follow the annoying story on Sunday, or follow the slow and boring story during the week, or maybe wait and see if indeed that Sunday strip is part of the same story as the weekly though it doesn’t seem to be.

DAY EIGHT:

To Hell with The Phantom. Popeye never fails. I got more out of that strip than an entire week of The Phantom. And why not? It looks like they are running a classic Sagendorf strip.

That Phantom run may have been the worst week of a comic strip that I have ever read, and that’s coming from someone who read comics written and drawn by Rob Liefeld so you know I’ve read some bad comics. The artist of this strip, Paul Ryan, was the artist on one of my favorite runs of the Fantastic Four so this hurts all the more.

DECEMBER 2017 UPDATE!

Here are the current strips from Monday December 25 to Thursday, December 28: 

Whoa, what happened? First, you might notice a change in the art. Comic book veteran Mike Manley (another favorite artist, and cool name- “Manley”-) has taken over from Paul Ryan, who died in 2016. The strip looks great. I have to give credit to the colorist too. The explosion on day two really pops. But most notably,  the writing is top notch. It zips along! There’s action! I want to know what happens next. And look at the bad guy. Despite not knowing what the plot of the story is, I feel I know all I need to know about him at this point. As a new reader I’m already drawn into the action and fairly knowledgeable about the characters. Did they change the writer, you may be wondering? Nope, it is still Tony DePaul. So maybe the 2011 run was an aberration? Or maybe he simply improved. Either way, this week’s strip is a winner. I deliberately left out the Friday strip. And that’s today (as of the date of this posts publication) so go over to comicskingdom.com and see where this story is headed. I know I will!  

 

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