Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dreamhaven Trip!

Secret of a forbidden face?  Do an audio podcast.

I took a trip to Dreamhaven today with Metro Mike, and as usual it was an immersive experience.  There are so many incredible treasures and little seen ephemera lurking in there, you just get lost in it.  You can lose track of time in there very easily, and you can wander for two solid hours and feel that you haven't gotten past the first couple layers of archaeological goodness.

Metro Mike was looking to complete a run of Doc Savage collections, and they had just about all of them.  (He still needs Vol. 14, and then he's caught up)  Dreamhaven has a rather good pulp selection, surely the best of any comic shop in the area.  They carry a ton of sci-fi and horror books, and if you're into the Universal Monters, you just found your honey hole.  I think Remy would pass out if he walked into that joint.

This is hilarious to me
There's a couple of things that separate Dreamhaven in my mind.  Number one is that you're going to see items you don't find anywhere else.  They have a relationship with Neil Gaiman, so there's lots of signed material available.   I spent a good chunk of time just flipping through a score of movie poster prints and vintage horror paperbacks.  I was particularly smitten with the Invasion of the Saucer Men, complete with Saucer Man carting off some precious booty.

The second thing that always strikes me about Dreamhaven is that it's got you covered wherever you fall on the budget spectrum.  Take the collectible paperbacks, as an example.  They've got one in the case for $750, and I'm sure it's worth every penny.  There are rare books available, and in condition.  They've got every volume of ECs slipcase collections, and all ten boxed volumes of the Carl Barks Library in hardcover, for crying out loud.  It's a serious haven for rare collectibles.

But the unticketed paperbacks were on sale for $1.00 per, and a good host of the ticketed items were yours for $5 or less.  And yeah, if you wanted all of those Carl Barks HCs, it was going to run you $2,000.  (spendy, but good luck finding those anywhere else on earth)  But if you wanted cheap comics, there were plenty available for less than a dollar.

I was looking for Doctor Strange books, because I'm trying to put together a complete run of the 1974 series in 9.2 or better.  I'm about 2/3 done, and Dreamhaven has two short boxes of miscellaneous bronze stuff priced to move.  I didn't find any Doctor Strange in there, but I did find that those comics were now on sale for "buy one, get one free".  So at that point I knew I wasn't escaping those boxes without taking some of them home with me.

I ended up grabbing a half dozen issues of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane.  Turek raised an eyebrow at that, then assumed that I bought them to flip.  Truth is I probably could flip them for a tiny profit right now, since I paid about $3 a book and they were in Fine-Very Fine condition.  Mostly I bought them because I adore how absurd they are.

It really does crack me up when I see certain folks getting upset about Superman and his pristine image.  He renounces his American citizenship (did he ever really qualify?) for about five minutes (apparently his global focus is gone for the reboolaunch) and a small contingent of idiots lost their bloody minds.

See, I know better.  The uninitiated equate Superman with truth, justice, and boy scout purity.  What the uninitiated don't understand is that for large chunks of his history, Superman was a stone dick.  He was a bully, an asshole, and would smugly advocate that you "slap a jap" during World War II.  His mean streak was never more finely honed than in the Lois Lane comics.

After the Wertham hearings, comics decided to neuter their own balls off with the comics code, and it didn't allow for much of anything that was actually entertaining.  The Lois Lane books were targeted for girls, I'm guessing, because they were all about the pitfalls of being in love with an asshole who just won't commit.  There was no bigger asshole than Superman.

Lois Lane # 136
It wasn't just that he failed to cave in to Lois's wants and needs, he took great pleasure in exacting as much psychological pain as possible.  Once in awhile he'd even pull a feint and say "Lois, meet me at the church at 8:00 o'clock sharp and I'll marry you."  Then she'd roll up to the chapel just in time and Clark would seal her in the vehicle by welding the doors tight with his heat vision, then point and laugh at her ass.  It's just delightfully absurd!

My favorite book that I picked up today was Lois Lane # 136, guest starring Wonder Woman.  Superman announces out of the blue that he's been spending time with Diana lately, and they've decided to get hitched.  Nothing in any of the books prior that would support that by the way, in 1974 there didn't need to be.  No message boards to bitch about things, and the 1974 message boards wouldn't bitch about that any way, because they really didn't expect or give a shit about continuity.  Any way, I'm getting off the story.

The point is that Superman decides to hand Lois the scoop on this story.  Take this to the papers, honey, I'm leaving you for another woman!  It's just delicious.  But as disgusting as that is, he's not nearly done layering on the pain.  He actually makes sure to point out to Lois that he's hooking up with Wonder Woman because he's quite sure that a life with her would bore the shit out of him.  And he's doing it with a giant smile on his super face!  Right, you wouldn't write that into your worst villain's mouth in 2011, much less the angelic and perfect Superman.  But hey, man, it was the 70s, and we were just more awesome back then.

After Superman makes his big announcement and Lois loses about three pounds of water weight crying, she goes on a bounce-back date with daredevil Stacy Mason, douche bag extraordinaire.  These are his actual moves:

Priceless.  Stacy got his ass chucked out of the boat.  You go, Lois!  Of course the big breakup is all an elaborate ruse Clark cooked up to protect Lois from a released mental patient.  See, Clark knew that the very deranged and obsessed Marcia Roche would come after whomever he was dating at the time.  Rather than put Lois in the cross hairs, he decided to split up with her in the most humiliating and emotionally scarring manner possible.  And not clue Lois in on the plan.  And he made sure to make out with Wonder Woman as much as possible while enjoying his clever little hall pass.  Oh, and by the way?  No apology of an kind from the Kryptonian cock, it isn't even addressed.  Ostensibly things will just go back to normal next month with no mention of this ever again.  God bless you, Cary Bates!

So yeah, I got those Lois Lane books, and a Jimmy Olsen comic where Superman has to contend with a man with a "forbidden face".  Like I wasn't going to buy that one.  It was $3, are you kidding me?  I also got some really nice Dead of Night comics from Marvel for $2 each, which is great.

It was great, but it was also a bit sad in there today, because for the first time it occurred to me that for Dreamhaven, like most everywhere else, comics are on the way out.  The Marvel section of trades was down to a couple shelves of a single book case, and it was all old.  In fact, there was very little evidence that they were carrying anything new for comics at all.  The only thing that appeared to be current was the Vertigo section.

Yup, comics are on the way out at Dreamhaven, and that's a shame.  Remember that comic shop I reviewed awhile back just down the road from the Comic College?  Uh huh.  Double Danger Comics is now some gift shop, Puff-N-Stuff collectibles or some other bullshit.  Those cases are now lined with ridiculous plush monstrosities.  I about puked before I left it.  The Comic Book College?  Still going, but maybe it's going.  There's a giant "For Lease" sign hanging on it.

It's goddamn depressing, is what it is.  I get it, but it's depressing.  I would certainly not suggest that an establishment lose money just to prove something about how hard core they are.  I'm sure Double Danger did the right thing fiscally, and Dreamhaven is doing the same.  They cater to a diverse palate of tastes, I wish them the best, and I'd like to think they can make it work as a book and curiosity shop.

But yeah.  As happy as I was to leave Dreamhaven today with a fantastic stack of comics, I was a little sad to wonder how much longer I'll have the honor of doing so.

- Ryan

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