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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Great Kamandi Hunt

Growing up as a dedicated Marvel Comics fanboy in the '70s, I worshipped at the altar of Jack Kirby, the creator/co-creator of Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, etc., etc., mythic figures still being published monthly decades later. But by the time I was buying comics, Kirby was working on lesser lights such as The Black Panther, The Eternals and Devil Dinosaur. I didn't care...I loved them all.

So, as an adult with newly disposable income, I made it my mission to collect all of Jack's 1970s output, from the minor titles like his adaption of 2001: A Space Odyssey to longer runs on Captain America, Mister Miracle, even Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. The Kirby Kwest began in earnest around 1992, so by 2005 I had filled two longboxes with Kirby Kreations and I was down to the titles I never cared for as a child (there were precious few). One of those I never got into was Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth, which happened to be the longest-running title Jack did for DC Comics. It was the tale of a teen aged boy who emerges from an underground bunker in Earth's future after a "Great Disaster" to discover the world was now populated by intelligent animals of all species that walked and talked, while humans had devolved into a beast-like state. Basically a take on Planet of the Apes, then hugely popular in 1972 when the series began.

For some reason, Kamandi never moved me. I guess the notion of talking dogs, apes and snakes just seemed so juvenile to my five-year old mind. Plus, it was published by DC Comics, or as my razor wit called them, Dumb Comics. I was a Marvelite, through and through.

Fast-forward to 2006 and DC begins releasing deluxe hardcovers collecting Kirby's work in handsome volumes, including Kamandi. Since I'd never sampled the book, apart from picking up a #1 for a song in 1994, I plopped down my $40 for Kamandi Archives Volume One, reprinting the first ten issues of the series. I was hooked. Where as a kid, the adventures of a boy encountering intelligent animals in a post-apocalyptic Earth seemed childish, as an adult, the concept was just plain fun. Volume Two couldn't come fast enough, and when it did I devoured it quickly, but the Kamandi jones continued - thus began The Great Kamandi Hunt.

I've been collecting comics long enough to know that with the less collected, less popular titles, that often the opposite rules of collecting apply - while early issues are more expensive, it's often the latter issues that are the toughest to find, since dwindling sales equal smaller press runs and less popular titles tend to spend years knocking around the quarter bins, making high-grade copies scarcer and scarcer. With this in mind, I began the Kamandi Hunt by working backwards from the final issue #59 on down. Since I'm not happy with anything in Very Fine condition or less, this became harder than I thought.

Let's start from the beginning, though...with the copy of #1 I bought in 1993:

A beautiful, crisp Near Mint copy with off-white pages, sharp corners and colors at a bargain for just $25 (it sells for up to $135 in this shape). Only one problem, which I didn't discover until I got it home - the cover is pulled away from the lower staple. D'oh. Let's call this a placeholder copy, then.

From there, I had various issues I'd picked up at random over the years, mainly for price and condition...#6, 17, 19 & 28:

#19 & 28 are pretty rough, so those'll have to be replaced. From here, we'll see the copies hand-picked by me from the bins of comic shops nationwide. Kirby did every issue of the book up to #40, then it wobbled along under other hands to the end. Sales dipped as a result and copies got scarcer. Here are some from near the end of Jack's run, #32, 39 and 40 (scans of 39 & 40 are not my copies):

I'm particularly happy with the copy of #32 I scored for a measly $6.50, since it's a special giant-sized issue which, thanks to their glued square bindings are pretty tough to come across in so nice a shape. From here is where I began working from #59 down with great success (again, the scans do not reflect my awesome cherry copies):

You'll notice #57 is missing. That's because that little bugger has been a very tough bitch to find. I've seen some beat up copies here and there, but that truly VF/NM copy has eluded me thus far. I wonder if the Jim Starlin cover on it has something to do with its relative scarcity.

The Great Kamandi Hunt will be updated on this blog as new copies are procured. Feel free to openly mock the geek now.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

R.I.P. Merv

From the Merv Griffin Show, 1976, here's Thor covering/slaughtering Sweet's "Action":


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Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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