Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It couldn't possibly be true! But there it was in the Kettering-Oakwood Times, Darth Vader was coming to Rike's Department Store! Right down the street from where I lived! Why was the Dark Lord of the Sith coming to Kettering, Ohio during a Back-To-School sale? My mom drove me and my little brother to the store an hour early before Lord Vader was to make his appearance. There was already a line outside the door!  I should mention it was August in 1977? The entire nation had STAR WARS fever and we had ourselves a little epidemic here in the parking lot of Rike's. There were 2 home-made Jawa costumes in line. I was jealous. We waited and waited. What was Darth Vader going to do when he got here? At least we all knew he survived the attack on the Death Star. Then the Imperial March started playing over the store's P.A. system and two schlubby guys with wide ties and Rike's name-tags brought Darth Vader out to a podium.

"Do not speak to Darth Vader. It will only make him angry and everyone knows we don't want to make Darth Vader angry! So please, do not ask him any questions or we will be FORCED to ask you to move along without getting an autograph!"

I wasn't going to leave without that autograph.
This was no time to be a hero. 
I figured Luke and Han and Leia would take of this guy in the sequel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bookie Parlor


Every nerd remembers their first step inside of a comic book shop.
It is not unlike Richard Dreyfuss looking into the mothership in Close

As a young nerdy lad, it blows your small mind that such a shop could even

Why it most be the most magical place to work ever!

My first shop was called The Bookie Parlor in Dayton, Ohio.

I would beg my parents to stop there every time we drove by it.
It had Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and the Hulk painted on the side of the
It also looked a little shady. I must gain entrance!

When I walked through the doors of The Bookie Parlor
It was not unlike entering the hallowed halls of Valhalla!

The small shop was overflowing with four-color treasure!

On the wall behind the counter was
Amazing Fantasy #15
Fantastic Four #1
The Incredible Hulk #1
Suoerman and Batman battling the Axis on the cover of various WW2-era comics!
I had only seen pictures of them in my newly acquired Overstreet price guide!
I was feeling light-headed!

I was still obsessed with Richie Rich and asked they had any for sale.

The old man with his funny-looking ears rose from behind the counter.
"Come over here, kid" the old man growled.
He then produced a copy of Richie Rich #1 from a glass case!
I couldn't believe my eyes!
You know how rare it is to see the first of anything when you are busy doing
things for the first time yourself?
I had come to believe that Spidey and Batman and Popeye and Richie Rich had just
appeared out of the ether, and yet,
Here I was face to face with evidence that they had all STARTED somewhere.

"How much is it, sir?' I dared to ask the gruff old coot.
"One-hundred dollars, son. You got a hundred bucks on ya?' he said winking at my
twitchy dad.
The old man had crushed my 8 year old soul.
I would never have a hundred bucks.
I would have to settle for a reprint of that first issue which I could at least
read without worrying about decreasing the book's value.

I may not have left with the first issue of Richie Rich under my arm
But I did see something that I never thought I'd ever see.
The old man with the funny ears had successfully planted the collecting chip
into yet another
young nerd's hard wiring.