When I first began planning my “dream” comic collection in order to “relive” my childhood, I knew a few things that I wanted. I wanted 4 color comics printed on newsprint. I wanted equal parts DC and Marvel. On the Marvel side, I knew that I had to get ROM. On the DC side, I knew I had to get Dollar Comics.
“Dollar Comics” isn’t a comic book title like, “ROM.” It’s a comic book format. In the mid to late 70’s and early 80’s the Dollar Comic was the “Cadillac” of comic books. Early issues were 80 pages including advertising. Later the books were trimmed to 68 pages but with no advertisements. These comics were anthology titles featuring a variety of stories, characters, and creative talents.
Dollar Comics are special to me and I wanted as many of them in my “dream” collection as I could fit. I have since snatched up Dollar Comic series: Adventure Comics, World’s Finest Comics, Batman Family, and Superman Family, as well as several independent Dollar Comic issues that were part of a thing called the DC Special Series.
Dollar Comics weren’t mere comic books, they were epic events! I remember the summer of 77 and my 11th birthday. Mom had warned me up front that money was tight this year and that my birthday was going to be “small.” She wanted me to understand that I wouldn’t be getting elaborate gifts this year. I told her that I understood, and I did. I set my expectations accordingly.
First, she made me a homemade German chocolate birthday cake. This is my favorite cake, and mom was (and is) a great cook. The cake alone would have made my little 11 year-old day, but there was more: a “Son of Big Chief” paper tablet for drawing, a box of 12 Pedigree Pencil Crayons, a rubber “baseball” (it was molded with raised “stitching” like a baseball and painted white,) and finally two (that’s TWO) Dollar Comics!!
So, the Dollar Comics were yeah, a dollar each. The tablet was 79 cents. The pencils were like 50 cents, and the rubber ball was probably a quarter. All told the birthday probably cost my mom about 5 dollars including the cake. It doesn’t seem like much. (It’s around $20 today.) I know it was all that my mom could afford, and that she wanted to do more. The thing was, I was thrilled!!
For the record, the two comics were: World’s Finest #246 and Superman Family #185. These had cover dates of September and October respectively, but they were on the store shelf in July. Comic book cover dates were supposed to be used by store owners as a sort of expiration date to let clerks know when to remove old unsold comics from the shelves. So, they were always several months ahead of the current date when the comics came out.
I read and read and read those two comic books until they were falling apart. They meant so much to me that they were among the first things that I bought when I began rebuilding my comic book collection. The other gifts were important to me, too. I was always drawing and always needed paper, that was just a fact of Jeff. And the rubber ball, well … it’s got a story all its own (but, for another time.)
Maybe it was about the expectations set ahead of time, but I remember that birthday more vividly than almost any other from my childhood. I LOVED those DOLLAR COMICS!! These were the kind of comic books that important people like the President or the Queen would read!! The most expensive, most exclusive, most awesome comic books that money could buy and I had TWO of them!!!
Yeah, life was good. Thanks, Mom!