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October 13, 2001 - If its old, is it a collectible?, "We know, of course, that some people will pay outrageous prices for certain items simply because the items are quite old; we just don't know why. We read somewhere recently that a first-issue copy of the Superman comic book is valued at about $200,000, which tells us they aren't selling like hotcakes. It's unclear who sets the value of such things, but it seems clear it isn't a potential buyer. Still, a first-issue Captain America reportedly sold recently for $265,000. Why, for pity's sake? The actual value of a comic book apparently is related to its condition, which in collector terminology can range from "mint" to "poor." In some cases, an item's relative scarcity and condition apparently are more important than its age. Consider that the 1992 comic book Spawn, still wrapped in its original plastic, recently sold for $810. As far as we are concerned, a comic book has no intrinsic value, regardless of its age or condition. But, then, we've never been a fan of comic books. We may have read a few as a youngster, although we can't recall one in particular. Reading old comic books, though, is the furthest thing from a collector's mind. It's the worst possible thing to do. Condition is everything, remember?" The sad thing is that a lot of people agree with this logic...

This is old news now but I enjoyed the article. Superman, Steel City to do battle, "Superman is faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But can he quash a subpoena? That question may have arisen this week at DC Comics - the publisher of Superman's adventures and the defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by Marcel Walker, 31, of Oakland. Walker alleges that DC Comics last year used an idea he submitted for a Superman comic book in 1997 without crediting or compensating him. This probably marks the first time the Man of Steel has surfaced in a lawsuit filed locally in U.S. District Court. Pittsburgh presumably has jurisdiction because Superman's city of residence, Metropolis, is a fiction of fantasy writers. "It's an unusual suit," Richard Johnson, Walker's attorney, acknowledged from his Downtown office. Elaborating, Johnson noted that case law on intellectual-property infringement involving members of the Justice League of America or natives of the planet Krypton is rather limited. What seemingly is unlimited is Walker's affection for comic books and the fondness he has harbored for Clark Kent's alter ego since childhood. "The first character who made an impression on me was Superman. He was and remains my favorite superhero," he said. Walker has been submitting his own story ideas to major comics publishers Marvel and DC Comics since he was a teen-ager. That the free-lance graphic artist has yet to sell one doesn't faze him."

We're letting the American people get their crack at Osama, "A Detroit-area company, tapping into an emerging strain of dark humor after last month's attacks on America, has hit on the idea of selling toilet paper rolls decorated with caricatures of Osama bin Laden. "We're letting the American people get their crack at Osama," said Aaron Todd, a marketing specialist with the company called America Wins, which sells the unusual bathroom tissue through it's Web site ( )."

Alive, well and full of Beano, "Now a young 70, Baxendale is probably benefiting from his decision to quit when he did. The life of a children's comic artist was not famed for longevity. Former colleagues Dudley Watkins (Lord Snooty, Desperate Dan) and David Law (Dennis the Menace) both died in their early 60s, and opportunities for working yourself into the grave were always available to the talented. In Baxendale's
first five years at the Beano, sales soared from 400,000 to two million, a coincidence not lost on anyone, least of all him. But the success was soon matched by his workload. "One of the things you learn quickly in comics is that there are the selling pages and the fillers. There are certain pages that sell the comic, and when you're the one producing them, the natural thing for your editors is to give you more and more work."

NEELY'S BENIGN MAYHEM, "Tom Neely's new paintings at Jernigan Wicker also derive from genres first encountered in childhood, in his case comic books and cartoons. In his hard-edged work, which features flat expanses of high-key colors, he definitely colors within the lines, however. Neely's show is titled "i will destroy you," and although he eagerly depicts scenes of mayhem and destruction, the effect is benign. Neely's monsters and robots don't mean to be scary. Like Frankenstein, they're just misunderstood, and, just like everyone else, they want to be loved. In "Hi . . .," a yellow creature, a contemporary Fay Wray, flees for her life over rooftops as a huge green creature shyly offers her a tiny red flower. Neely's work is steeped in homage to the masters of painting as well as to those of cartooning and animation. In "Uh . . .," an expressionless monkey stares at a blank canvas like a young Rembrandt does in a famous small painting. On the work table, a Savarin can jammed with brushes pays homage to a contemporary painter, Jasper Johns, whose work is also permeated with doubt."

"In the 1940s, comic books roused children's wartime emotions. Superman and Batman went from fighting crime to battling Nazis. In movie theaters, Bugs Bunny gave Japanese soldiers grenades that looked like ice cream. Children watched newsreels that rarely shied from violence. Cartoons stirred hatred of the enemy by using racist dialogue. "There wasn't much effort to protect kids' sensitivities then," said William M. Tuttle Jr., a University of Kansas historian and author of Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of American Children. "Now, this idea to donate dollar bills is more like a feel-good thing. The thinking might be if children are involved, their parents are more likely to be as well." - White House reaches out to children

`Mutant X' needs help making its superheroes interesting, ""Mutant X" (4 p.m. Saturday, WGN-Ch. 9) has too little of its "Matrix"-like stunt-driven action scenes and special effects, and too many characters blabbering about whether those with enhanced abilities should be caged or left alone. The series, co-produced by Tribune Entertainment and the production studio arm of comic book publisher Marvel Enterprises, uses Marvel's mutants-as-superheroes format made popular by "The X-Men." But the series is devoid of the compelling characters and sophistication of the "X-Men" feature film." So has the comic series these last few years but it still sold...

Pooh celebrates 75th birthday, "The world's most famous teddy bear, AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh, is 75 years old this weekend. The honey-loving bear's antics have been translated into more than 40 languages including Thai, Hebrew and Braille. Events are being planned around the UK to mark the birthday on Sunday and many visitors are expected at the famous Pooh Sticks bridge. In the stories the bridge was in the Hundred Acre Wood, in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, where the Milne family had a cottage."

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