Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pages 157–161: The Comic Book Mega-Post

Stanley’s Marvelous Comics (like the Overlook Hotel) is a fictional place that exists only in the pages of The Billionth Monkey…and in a small corner of cyberspace. The name is an homage not only to Marvel Comics, but also to its legendary luminary, Stan “The Man” Lee. Our Stanley’s last name is Kerbie, which is a reference to the McCartney to Stan Lee’s Lennon: Jack “King” Kirby, the illustrator who co-created so many of Marvel’s legendary silver age characters.

The story of Stanley Kerbie’s comic book trove is a fictionalized composite of several well-known real-world troves. Well-preserved single-owner collections that contain golden age or early silver age rarities are a very special thing in the comic book world. You can read about a few examples here, here, and here.

As mentioned up top, Stanley’s Marvelous Comics is another fictional place in The Billionth Monkey that has its own micro-site. It shows off some goodies from the remains of my childhood collection. It would have been a trove today, but I sold the majority of that collection to the legendary Mile High Comics around 1984. It’s a nice piece of poetry that they were kind enough to let me use a photo of their store to represent Stanley’s Marvelous Comics online. The website is also a place that carries on the Hamlet Special Edition gag; I posted the pages of the comic on the website to help promote The Billionth Monkey (hence the joke that every purchase of the comic comes with a free novel). I should clarify that—contrary to what the website says—there is no full Hamlet book coming out for Christmas. This was another one of those darned Star Wars jokes…referencing how The Force Awakens changed the traditional May release date for the franchise to Christmastime. I have much more to say about the Hamlet comic book, but will save it for when we get to that point in the book…that is, at the end of this walkthrough.

From the moment that Marvel Comics #1 appeared on the cover of the 33rd Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, it symbolized for me the pinnacle of collecting…and I shamelessly carried my boyish enthusiasm into The Billionth Monkey. It wasn’t merely a gratuitous act, however: referencing this famous issue allowed Nicholas Young to flash back to the book’s prologue, thus playing a key role in his renewed sense of determination and purpose. This was such a pivotal moment in the book that I wanted to include the cover among the view disc images on The Billionth Monkey’s cover…but Marvel doesn’t allow its covers on the covers of non-Marvel publications, which I can understand. The low-res version here lets readers who are unfamiliar with this iconic cover to see it while hopefully remaining within the bounds of fair use.

Marvel Comics #1 © October 1939, Marvel.
[Cover by Frank Paul. Image source: Marvel Wikia]
Several other well-known and not-so-well-known covers in this scene serve to club readers over the head with repeated #DevilReferences. For those who are unfamiliar with them, here are low-res versions of the titles whose covers I describe in The Billionth Monkey:

John Constantine: Hellblazer #1, © January 1988, DC.
[Cover by Dave Mckean. Image source: DC Wikia]

Ghost Rider #1 © August 1972, Marvel
[Cover by Gil Kane, Joe Sinnott, and John Constanza. Image source: Wikipedia]

Hellboy trade paperback Seed of Destruction ©Dark Horse Comics
[By Mike Mignola and John Byrne. Image source: Wikipedia]

Marvel Spotlight #12 “From Hell He Came” © Oct 1973, Marvel
[Cover by Herb Trimpe. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

Marvel Spotlight #13 “When the Devil Stalks the Earth” © Jan 1974, Marvel
[Cover by John Romita. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

Son of Satan #1 “The Time Has Come, Father…” © December 1973, Marvel
[Cover by Gil Kane. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

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