Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 61: Comics Collecting in the Nineties — Mail Order and the Hype Machine

Episode 61 Website CoverIf you were a comics reader in the late Eighties and early Nineties, you probably saw their ads–either a long list of back issues against a yellow background or a striking picture of the latest HOT character advertising what was going to be a RED HOT book.  Well in this episode, I’m joined by Michael Bailey of Views From the Longbox (among other podcasts) for the first part of a two-part crossover about collecting comics in the decade that subtlety forgot.

For part one, Mike and I spend time talking about being teenagers during the boom years and specifically look at buying back issues through the mail.  We talk about our experiences with Mile High Comics, the stalwart mail order service that so many of us have dealt with or bought from at one point or another.  Then, we answer a question that crosses the minds of comics fans whenever they’re flipping through some Nineties comics: Whatever happened to American Comics/Entertainment This Month?

And after you’re done with that, check out Episode 233 of Views from the Longbox, which will drop later this week, where Mike and I continue our discussion, this time turning our attention to Wizard: The Guide to Comics.  It’s the most EXTREEEEEEEEEME two-parter EVER!

Oh, and special thanks to Andrew Leyland, who really should be getting some sort of royalty check from me … but isn’t.

Here’s where to listen:

iTunes:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

As an added bonus, here are some images and links that I used as part of my research for the episode:

An Entertainment This Month ad (taken from an issue of The ‘Nam from 1992):

Entertainment This Month Ad0001.jpg

The 1986 article from The Cavalier Daily (UVa’s student newspaper) about American Comics’ founder, Steve Milo: “Comics: America’s Hottest Art”

An Entertainment This Month Ad featured on the blog Very Fine Near Mint: “Entertainment This Month, Spider-Man Ad, 1990”

Washington Post article from 1991 about the growing boom in the comic book retail industry: “Racking Up Sales of Comic Books”

An ad for a Scott Summers/Jean Grey wedding event to be held at Another Universe in the Springfield Mall in Springfield, VA (Another Universe was the company that American Entertainment was eventually purchased by in the mid-1990s):

Summers-Grey Wedding

The thread that I pulled the above ad from on the board Fairfax Underground: “Anybody remember that Another Universe store in Springfield Mall?”

The FTC press release concerning the settlement with American Entertainment/Entertainment This Month:  “American Distribution, Inc.”

A Comic Book Resources article about Steve Milo being named head of new media for Marvel: “Marvel names AU founder Steve Milo president of new media”

And various boards and websites that tracked or made announcements of the gradual demise of Another Universe/Mania.com (an online venture Milo started in the late 1990s), which include speculation that the business was being sold to Steve Geppi:

“Mania Healthy, Publisher Says” (adamarnold.net, September 1998)

Ramblings — 29th October 1998 by Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool)

“Another Universe.com Bites The Dust” (gamegrene.com,February 2001)

Finally, as an added bonus, here is an incredibly interesting read that wasn’t used for this episode but was intriguing nonetheless.  Collected from a series of message board posts (which, unfortunately, end abruptly) and published in 2005 on a site called badmouth.net, this is the story of someone who had a small comic/card show-based retail business in the early 1990s and saw it all completely go up and way, way down in front of his very eyes: “The Comic-Book Apocalypse”


One comment

  1. I listened to both parts of your crossover with Michael Bailey. It was interesting to hear from the ‘collector’ side of the comic book world of the ’90s. I have always been a reader rather than a collector; so, I ignored cover variants, special formats, double covers and the rest if they raised the page cost of my reading. The ’90s were difficult for me because some issues of comics I followed were quickly sold out on ‘new comic day’ and I usually went to my store the day after.

    In 1987, I was temporarily assigned to the Washington D.C. office and stayed at a hotel in Crystal City. I visited a comic store in the mall (I purchased The Longbow Hunters there). I had never seen a comic store in a mall at home in Minnesota. My local store smelled of old books, ink and paper dust; I thought that was the only way to sell comics. Thanks for bringing back that memory.

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