Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

This is my 200th blog and for this landmark occasion I am going to retell my Star Wars comic collecting story.  In many ways, I have been extremely lucky with my Star Wars comic collection.  Not only have I been lucky in my acquisitions, but also in the uncanny way Star Wars comic publishing events entwined with my own life's milestones.

My earliest Star Wars comic fortune happened when my dad was stationed at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany in the late 1970s.  I do remember reading comics before arriving in Germany, but it was in Germany where my younger brother and I started collecting comics.  I remember my dad had a gift for us when we arrived at our new residence in Ramstein Village, a large stack of old comics that we eagerly devoured and eventually divided between us.  I have a sister who is 2 years older, but she never did collect comics, so just my brother and I benefited from this bounty!  In a few short months, housing opened up for my family in Kaiserslautern which meant we were within walking distance of the local AAFES Base Exchange bookstore.  The first comic that I remember buying off the newsstand that kicked off my Star Wars comic collection was Marvel Comics Star Wars #26.

Star Wars #26a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1979)
my 1st Star Wars comic
We would visit the bookstore once a week and buy comics (and not just Star Wars comics!) for over 4 years.  Every comic we bought at the bookstore had the Mark Jeweler's advertisement which were only inserted into comics for distribution at overseas military bases.  The last Star Wars comic I have in my collection that came from that base bookstore in Germany is Star Wars #73.  While in Germany I acquired my first foreign Star Wars comics: a beat up copy of Krieg der Sterne #3 which contains Star Wars #13 - 15; the British Star Wars Annual from 1981 which contains Star Wars #45, 47, 48; and the British Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Annual 2 from 1981 which contains Star Wars #46 and 50.

Krieg der Sterne #3a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (January 1980)
my 1st foreign Star Wars comic
The month we arrived back in the states, Return of the Jedi hit movie theaters.  We were back east in Allentown, Pennsylvania visiting relatives and I had a newly acquired copy of Marvel Super Special #27 with me on that fateful day we saw the movie.  I remember looking at the comic all the way up until the movie began and then again when the movie ended.  Fast forward to Phoenix, Arizona where my dad was stationed at Luke Air Force Base and my brother and I would visit Stalking Moon Bookstore and All About Books & Comics for our comic book fix.  For the remaining years that Marvel had the Star Wars license my Star Wars comic collecting was on autopilot and Marvel mercifully ended the original Star Wars title with issue #107.  Marvel published the ill fated Droids and Ewoks series which ended when I graduated from high school in 1987.

Ewoks #14b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 1987)
last Marvel Star Wars comic until 2015
I went to college in Flagstaff, Arizona and became infatuated with the new comic company Valiant Comics.  During one of the trips home from college, my parents had bought me and my brother each a copy of the Russ Cochran Publishing 3 book hardcover set of the classic Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson Star Wars comic strips off of QVC.  I'm sure at the time I was indifferent about the acquisition, but now that book set is a cherished part of my collection.  The month I graduated from college, an indie publisher, Dark Horse Comics had acquired the Star Wars license and began publishing their first mini-series, Star Wars: The Dark Empire.  I moved into an apartment with my soon to be wife in early 1992 and upon learning about the new Star Wars title, went on a hunt in Phoenix to acquire a copy of issue #1.  I remember finding a copy at Atomic Comics near Metro Center and paying a lofty $12 for it.  After reading that issue, I was immediately hooked and drawn back into my infatuation with Star Wars.  As the Valiant comics which consumed my college years peaked and ended, Star Wars comic collecting took over.

Star Wars: Dark Empire #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1991)
1st Dark Horse Star Wars comic
Upon graduating from college, I found a job as a night operator at an IT company that built reservation systems for hotels.  Within 6 months, I would become a UNIX/Linux systems administrator which would last for the next 16 years at various organizations.  One of the highlights of that first job was being responsible for the company's INN news server.  I not only took care of the newsfeed for the developers, but I was an active participant on many of the comic related newsgroups.  It was during this time that I slowly began putting together a collection of British Star Wars Weekly comics.  As the 1990s drew to a close, newsgroups gave way to websites and forums.  Ultimately, Rebelscum.com and The Star Wars Collectors Archive opened up my eyes to what was available as far as foreign Star Wars comics went.

A few short years ago, I dived headlong into foreign Star Wars comic collecting.  I was no longer satisfied with having a complete domestic Star Wars comic collection, I wanted to also have a complete foreign Star Wars comic collection.  Three acquisitions in the past few years would prove to be extremely lucky for me.  My first expensive foreign Star Wars comic purchase was a Greek Kabanas Hellas Star Wars #1 from a boardie on the Foreign Comics Forum.  Shortly after acquiring that Greek Star Wars #1, another became available which I eagerly added to my collection.  Foreign comic collecting fever had hit in a big way!  My next lucky purchase was from another boardie when I bought a Colombian Star Wars #1.  Like the Greek Star Wars #1, another copy became available within weeks of the purchase.  But, it was not just a single copy, but a mini-warehouse find of issues #1 - 4!  I bought as many of these Colombian issues as I could afford and I now have a short box full of these issues.

la Guerra de las Galaxias #1a - GRECO (Grupo Editorial Colombiano), Colombia (1978)
warehouse find
And just in the past couple of months, my next lucky purchase occurred.  Another boardie sold me 5 Philippine Star Wars comics (one complete copy of #1, one complete and one incomplete copy of #2, and two complete copies of #3.)  And just like my previous purchases, 2 more issues became available (one complete copy of #1 and 2) within weeks of the purchase and here in Phoenix of all places!  These issues joined an incomplete copy of #1 I was given by a boardie.

Star Wars #1a - 3a - Alemar's, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
two sets of #1 - 3; one incomplete #1 and 2
How my life intersected with Star Wars comic publishing has been very fortuitous for me.  Being in Germany when I was helped me acquire many of my Mark Jeweler Star Wars issues.  Star Wars publishing stopped at Marvel when I went to college and resumed at Dark Horse when I graduated from college ensuring I was able and willing to keep collecting.  My parents, remembering my love of Star Wars, were compelled to pick up a copy of the Russ Cochran hardcover set which is now a very expensive set to purchase.  I also have been very lucky to meet my fellow foreign comic collectors who have helped me add some difficult to find foreign Star Wars comics to my collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment