We’re serializing Rob Kelly’s awesome book about the “secret origins” of comics creators and superfans, written by the folks themselves. This week, Part 2 of Doug Slack’s entry.
In Part 1, Doug writes about his obsession with Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg #1. Now, he writes about the fateful purchase at Heroes World at a Jersey mall. We’ve ALL been there…
The following week I returned with the cash in my Wranglers, ready to make my most expensive single comic-book purchase to date. I distinctly remember how nonchalant the clerk was about the whole transaction. It was as if she didn’t realize what a valuable commodity she was handling. I had assumed brokering this sale would carry the same weight as closing a deal at Tiffany’s Auction. If she was impressed at what a big shot comic-book collector I was (as I just knew she would be) her manner didn’t betray it. Casually — I swear it was almost carelessly — she separated the issue from it’s mylar sleeve.
I blurted out, “Oh no, uh, I-I’ll take that too!”
“It’s an extra fifty cents.”
Good thing I brought some extra change just in case. No way was Cyborg traveling home in nothing but a flimsy paper bag.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of buyer’s remorse. I’m sure every baron has moments of doubt. What I needed was a little reassurance. I needed someone else to tell me I made the right investment. So I showed my mom.
Which brings us back to the station wagon outside the mall.
“There better be something else inside that bag…”
“Nope! This is it!”
“No. Oh… no! Ohhhh you were ripped off!”
“No! No! It’s the Teen Titans…and see? Number one! Number ones are always more–“
“Well it is over a year old…!”
“It’s not even a new one?! No, take it back.”
“It’s an investment!”
“Go inside and get your money back. I’ll go with you.”
The horror of such a thing occurring — of my mother dragging me back through the mall to Heroes World to demand justice — was enough to put me on the defensive. I dug in my heels and said, “You don’t understand! This is a collectors item! I’m a Collector! This is going to get more valuable!”
“Look. I’ll make you a deal. Just wait until next year’s Overstreet Price Guide comes out and we’ll see if it goes up in value. Just let me keep it until then.”
In retrospect I don’t know what kind of retarded deal that was supposed to be. What happens if she was right? Was Heroes World really going to give me a refund on a six-month-old purchase? But she relented.
“Alright. We’ll just wait until that new book comes out and then we’ll see. Grrr, mutter, gripe, five dollars, kvetch…”
After we arrived home I carefully read the issue (lay flat on the table, turn pages slowly from the top corner) then returned it to it’s sleeve. I inserted an acid free backing board and sealed the top with scotch tape. Luckily the “T” titles fell in the middle of my long box so Cyborg was wedged safely inside my collection. There it waited to silently appreciate in value and ultimately vindicate me.
Today you can purchase Tales of the New Teen Titans #1: Cyborg from various online sellers for $1.00. That cost does not include mylar sleeve.
DOUG SLACK is a comics artist/writer and the creator of Slacker Comics. He grew up and lives in New Jersey, where he also teaches cartooning and painting. At 10 years old he bicycled to the 7-11 and, for the first time, used his own money to buy comic books. He hasn’t looked back since.
“The Comic Book Baron of New Jersey” © 2013 Doug Slack