Tuesday night found this mild-mannered newspaper reporter having an extremely enjoyable conversation with his step-dad on a successful weekend of recording with the Syracuse-based Master Thieves (my primary band these days). After regaling him with tales of the surprisingly good tone I had managed to pull out of a vintage 1960’s blackface Fender Deluxe – partnered with a lovely four-ten Marshall cabinet – we wound up discussing my column for this week.
For those of you who haven’t, couldn’t or didn’t read my weekly opinion piece today, titled “Downright comical,” I addressed Marvel Comics’ recent decision to kill off one of the Fantastic Four’s founding members, the Human Torch.
The reason my stepfather and I spent the better part of a half-an-hour discussing Marvels’ original quartet of super-heroes was really quite simple – back in November of 1961, nearly 50 years ago – my step-dad purchased a copy of Fantastic Four #1, from the lower village store in Cincinnatus, NY.
While he wasn’t certain, he believed the comic cost him a whopping 10 cents. A little research determined that he was absolutely correct with that figure. The same book today, depending on its condition, would go for anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000.
My step-dad, however, sold the comic – along with a number of others – back in the mid-1980’s. His reason? So he could purchase Christmas gifts for my mother and I that year.
That story, in turn, led to another equally special Marvel Comics tale of his. As a young teenager, relegated to bed-rest in a Florida hospital, my stepfather had written the legendary Stan Lee (co-creator of Marvels’ most popular titles in the day) on his sickness and the disappointment he felt in being unable to pick up the latest Sergeant Fury comic. A week later and he’d received a personal copy of the book with a hand-written note from Mr. Lee which simply stated, “Get well soon.”
My love of comics can be directly attributed to my step-dad, as can my love of guitar, the blues and rock-n-roll. When I read of Marvels’ plan to disband the Fantastic Four through the death of an original member, I knew I had to write about it. It may seem silly compared to the many evils and challenges facing our country at this time, but it struck a chord with me just knowing that one day, nearly half-a-century ago, my stepfather walked into a Cincinnatus store and, for a dime, purchased a true piece of American history.