On History: Ode to Marcia Elliott

By | Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Leave a Comment
Quincy by Ted Shearer
I recently received a copy of the first Quincy mass market paperback from 1972. I picked it up used through Amazon for a few bucks. I believe I've mentioned before that all of Ted Shearer's premier strip has been out of print for years. The description of the copy I purchased said it was, "Used - Acceptable - cover is worn, scuffed and creased. there is writing on first page. pages are yellowed." Since all I was looking for was a reading copy, I was fine with this.

And, sure enough, when the book arrived, it was in pretty good condition. The pages are yellowed a bit, but not brittle. The book's been clearly read several times, as indicated by the state of the cover. But despite even being sat on at one point (the spine has the tell-tale crink from carrying the book in one's back pocket and the sitting on it) it seems to have held together pretty well. More than sufficient for my purposes.

But that "writing on the first page" that was mentioned in the description? Here it is...
Quincy inscription page
Don't touch inless your invited
Marcia Elliott
Quit fooling with my book

You can also spot the subtle indentations of "don't touch" and "keep out" having been penciled on the exterior, though the graphite didn't take well to the coated cover. Nor did the blue highlighter that's smeared over it.

Between the handwriting and the misspellings, I have to assume Marcia wasn't very old when she received this book. There's no indication how she obtained it in the first place -- whether she bought it herself or it was a gift or what -- but she clearly held onto the book as very much her property. And it would appear that she had trouble keeping her property safe. From a sibling or a classmate or a neighbor perhaps?

What I had not bargained on when I purchased this book was that story that came with it. I mean, sure, I knew that Shearer's work would be in there (though it seems to be just a random selection of strips in no particular order judging by the dates on all the strips) but I hadn't counted on the story about this book in particular. How young Marcia came across this book and scrawled her name on the first page. She must have read it at least a few times before someone "borrowed" it without telling her, inciting her to add the cover warnings. After it was "borrowed" again and the graphite had sufficiently worn off, the demand for an invitation to read it was included on the first page. And perhaps she found it in various random locations throughout the house just for the sake of teasing her, which then prompted the angrier "quit fooling" message. Maybe her tormentor was the one who threw it in his/her back pocket to sneak it past her at some point.

I don't know if Marcia was particularly in love with Shearer's work or whether she was more incensed that her property, whatever it may have been, was being taken. I suspect -- well, I imagine -- that she really did enjoy the book at first and made some show of affection for it, and it was only because of that affection that she was being teased with it. That's how bullies operate after all; it's only miserable to the victim if it's something that they care about, so they focus on that.

I hope that Marcia was able to resolve the issues with her bully, whoever s/he may have been. I hope that Marcia did eventually get to keep her book, and continue to enjoy it as the years wore on. I hope that when the book finally did leave Marcia's ownership once and for all, it was done willingly and still with some affection. Comics do have a tendency to inspire that, so it wouldn't surprise me.

I feel bad enough already since she never actually invited me to touch the book; I hope I'm able to get at least as much enjoyment out of it as she did.
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