Beerbohm's Comics Reality

By | Friday, April 15, 2011 Leave a Comment
Lately, I've been reading some files I found buried in my archives from several years ago. It was a series of text pieces written by comics retailer Robert Beerbohm called "Comics Reality." They were all written in 1997 and '98 for the Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine. There have an interesting look at comics retailing, partially being a history lesson, but also addressing some issues that were JUST old enough to no longer be current.

I think I came across the pieces around 2001/2002, so they were slightly dated at the time. Still in the "just old enough to not be current" ballpark. But I vaguely recall thinking at the time that I'd save them and read them later when I had a chance. Apparently the chance didn't show up for a decade, as I've just pulled these out to start reading them!

I'm only on the fifth installment out of (I think) twelve. But all that "not quite current" stuff is now at least fifteen years past and Beerbohm's writing about it with then-little hindsight is quite interesting relative to having a few years to reflect on things. History as it was happening, if you will.

I bring this up for a few reasons. First, I think it's fascinating and I'd like to highlight Beerbohm's work/research in particular to encourage him to finish his book on comic retailing. I knew he'd been working on it for a while, but I found several references to it in "Comics Reality", meaning that "a while" has been well over a decade. (To be fair, I've heard he does have at least a partial draft and estimates the completed version will be over 600 pages.) Robert, if you read this, I'd love to see you finish it; if that's not likely any time soon, I'd still love to see what you've put together so far.

Second, what he has written for "Comics Reality" is incredibly enlightening, if a tad unpolished, and I'd like to encourage anyone who has the remotest interest in comic retailing to check out at least the first two installments. Sadly, the only place I can seem to find them online is through the Internet Archive. There's a very good explanations of why Jack Kirby's Fourth World books were canceled despite their popularity and how/why Howard the Duck commanded such erratic pricing when it was first published.

Beerbohm's still around. Still selling comics. Despite some health set-backs in recent years, this recent WonderCon photo suggests he's doing pretty well. (That's him on the right.) But he won't be around forever. (Not trying to sound cold here; he made exactly that point in one of his "Comics Reality" pieces!) So how about talking to him and the other "first generation" comic retailers to get some sense of perspective? To get a sense of where this industry was two, three, four decades ago? To get more of the type of stories in "Comics Reality" out to more people?

Because if we can't get one of those first gen guys don't do it, I'm going to have to write that book myself! And you don't want that, do you?
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