When I decided to “synergize” this blog with From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast my original plan was to show off some of the cool stuff I had around the house in addition to the cool stuff that people have sent/given to me over the years. In the interest of having more content for this blog and in increasing my collection of Superman stuff not to mention wanting to serve (along with my co-host Jeffrey) as the historians of this era of the Man of Steel I started searching for other artifacts to display on this blog. After a few minutes of looking on eBay I found something really freaking cool.
Christopher J Warden had sent me a scan of this cover but when I saw the actual “issue” on eBay for a reasonable price I had to grab it. It came in the mail last Thursday (December 29 for you future people) and the first thing that stunned me about the catalog was how small it was. From about 2003 to 2009 I would buy a copy of Previews every month and the thing was always a huge affair. It lived up to the title “catalog” and almost made it to “phone book”. Most of the pages were in color and outside of some small “news” items it was all business with solicits that ranged from flashy to modest. I would look through it, mark what I wanted in the order book and then turn in said order book and get the money I paid for the catalog back in credit. It was a nice arrangement that got me into trouble on more than one occasion because I would see something that looked cool and order it only to have the item sit in my box for months, sometimes years because when it would arrive at the shop I wouldn’t have the money to pay for all of it. I owe a debt of gratitude to the nice people at Titan Games and Comics, especially Chuck Sheffey, for being so patient with me when I was a regular at that store.
Previews Vol. 2 Number 9 was about a third of the size of a contemporary “issue”. It was mostly black and white and while there were loud and flashy ads it didn’t seem as…polished as the catalog would eventually become. That’s not a dig at the Previews of nearly twenty years ago, just an observation. This edition also had interviews as well as a small price guide, which continues to prove my point that if you were a comic book related magazine (or catalog in this case) in the early to mid-nineties you had a price guide in there somewhere.
Damn you, Wizard: The Guide to Comics. Damn you to comic book hell.
It occurred to me as I was looking through the book that I would most likely want to post some of the pages so I paid the seventy-five cents at work and chopped off the spine so that the pages would be loose and thus easier to scan. I had a small argument with myself over this because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep the catalog intact or not, but wanting clear scans won out over being a bit OCD about how I keep my collectibles/reading materials.
Speaking of scans…
Apparently Superman (Vol. 2) #75 was a Gem of the Month right alongside Pitt #1, the first Sin City collected edition and some Silver Surfer trading cards. There was a sample of those cards in the catalog. This was a common practice at the time. Non-sports trading cards were big business at the time and had not quite hit their saturation point. In 1992 trading cards were still reasonably priced but that would soon change and instead of paying $1.25 to $1.50 for a pack of cards shops started charging $4 to $5 a pack.
It was gratifying to read such high praise for the Superman titles of the time since sales on the books weren’t where DC wanted them to be. I mentioned in an earlier post that the idea of cancelling one of the four Superman series was entertained by the powers that were. It is a shame that it took killing the character to show everyone that the creators working on Superman at the time were doing a fantastic job of turning four separate titles into what was ostensibly a weekly book. I especially liked the P.S. at the end. It made me smile.
It was weird to see Wizard and Previews working together like this. While it did serve as an extended ad for Wizard: The Guide to Comics it also allowed comic shop owners and the people that bought Previews a chance to get to know more about Superman’s background and who the major players in his life were if they were going to be picking up the books for the first time. As cliche as it sounds this was before Google, so this sort of information was harder to come by. The price guide element is a little weird but as I eluded to earlier this was par for the course in the early nineties. It wouldn’t be the last time Wizard put together a price guide for the various Superman books. I especially liked the line about the prices not being prices but values as prices vary from region to region. It was rare to see such honesty about how much back issues would actually go for in 1992.
I was taken aback by the text on the second page revealing that according to the Saturday Evening Post Siegel and Shuster made about 75,000 dollars in 1940. I won’t get into what that means regarding the current legal battle going on over the rights to Superman or what it means to the ongoing debate about how much the executives at DC were taking advantage of the boys from Cleveland but that is a good bit of money if the estimate is accurate. I also dug the quote from Man of Steel #6. That pretty much sums up the Superman of this era so it was fitting to see it here.
Fun fact before I close out for the day; in looking through the other solicits that ran in this edition of Previews I noticed that in the same month that Superman died DC put out Vengeance of Bane #1. This was a special that introduced one of the best villains to come out of the nineties and heralded the start of a major crossover that would soon begin in Batman, Detective Comics and Shadow of the Bat. So in a way it was the end for Superman and the beginning of the end for Batman even though both ends would prove to be temporary.
Next time: The interviews from this edition of Previews. They are quite cool so be sure to come back and check them out.
More to follow…