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Author Topic: Historical Photos - Comic Retailers: mail-order  (Read 2677 times)

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Offline Yoc

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Historical Photos - Comic Retailers: mail-order
« on: November 23, 2018, 08:52:50 AM »
Hi Gang,
We're debuting a new category with this update.  I've been digging deep into the history of our hobby trying to go as far back as I could.  One area we haven't touched on much is the buying and selling of comics outside of newsstand purchasing.

From what I gather for a long time your best source for back issue buying of comics was your buddies at school.  Buying and trading books to read.  Then the comics started showing up in used book stores costing anywhere from 3-5 cents a book because they were old and often beaten up reader copies.  Sellers would have to get creative not to have the most popular books sold off fast.  Some would offer trades of two old comics for a latest issue.  Others would even only trade genre for genre which was something I had never heard before recently learning about it.  I will be sharing some fun pictures of some old book store sellers but before that lets jump ahead to the 50s and 60s when mail-order sellers started to appear.

http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/images/forum message pictures/newsstands/1942_-_1000_comics_for_19.00.jpg
This is the earliest example of mail order comics I could find an WOW, what a great deal!

Back in prehistoric times, before eBay and Heritage, before the internet, before comic shops, there were mail-order sellers selling hard to find back-issues for serious collectors.  These sellers first started showing up in fanzines (non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts).  The most successful of those were 'Rocket'sblast/The Comic Collector' (RBCC) started in 1964 and later 'The Buyers Guide/Comics Buyer's Guide' which was started in 1971.  And anyone here that read a Marvel or DC in the 80s will recall several sellers with ads in them.  We will have a section on fanzines in a future update.

So here we go with some of the bigger names I could actually find pictures to go with.  There were many, many sellers and it's not easy to find pictures for them all.  These are all I could find so if you have a picture of someone I missed please feel free to share them.  If they later went on to own a comic shop I might share them in that future section but I tried my best to share them here first as most such people started this way before opening their stores.

You can see a selection of different mail-order catalogs at the following link:


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#1 - Robert Bell from 1996
Photo from https://dangearino.com/2017/09/16/682/

One of the first retailers and mail-order sellers Robert Bell is credited with inventing the comics bag we all know so well.  You could see his ad in many Marvel and DC comics in the 70s and 80s.

You can read (and hear) an interview with him here:

He helped his family with their book/thrift store before opening his first shop in Sunnyside, in 1961.  Bell’s store gradually shifted to featuring comics, which grew to become at least half of his sales. By the mid-1960s, Victory Thrift had transformed into a comic shop that was way ahead of its time.

Bell left his Queens store in 1968 and focused exclusively on mail-order, first from a warehouse on Long Island and then from Florida. In the mid-80s, he sold his inventory and focused on commercial real estate. (Bell’s mother took over the Victory Thrift retail location, and turned into a general used-goods store, which is how people from Woodside in the 1970s remember it.)

Bell tells us in Comic Book Marketplace (CBM) #35 (06.1996) the idea of people giving him their wanted list started in the early 60s when tourists lamented not having a store like his back home.

Bell sold out his business in 1986 to fellow dealer Gary Dolgoff, moved to Florida and got into selling real estate even owning his own Bell Mall in Pompano Beach.



#2 - Buddy and Judy Saunders from 2007
Photo from the Oklahoma Alliance of Fandom 40th Anniversary Reunion
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Buddy Saunders originally established a mail-order company in 1961.  He was also a busy fanzine publisher and entrepreneur.  He started Lone Star Comics in 1977 which lasted until 2013 before going online only as mycomicshop.com.

More about Lone Star here:

You can read about his Lone Star closing here:

#3 - Dale Manesis from 1973-74
Dale sounds like he was a real character.
(Original caption) My very good friend Dale Manesis, owner of The Good Old Days nostalgia shop, holding original cover art for Whitman Better Little Book - Tarzan and the Lost Empire. Photo taken inside The Good Old Days store ca. 1973-74.

Dale Manesis (? - 03.21.2016)
A life long collector of comic books, movie magazines, and other rare collectibles from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, he was constantly on the hunt to find new treasures. He was selling comics via mail-order in Rocket Blast / Comic Collector (RBCC) adzine by the mid-60s.

He opened a store called The Good Old Days nostalgia shop in Milwaukee WI.'s northside in the late 1960s, jammed with dusty newspapers, movie magazines, comic books, Big Little Books, pinup calendars and other things he found irresistible. He closed the shop after a dozen years in business when a fire in the building, and the water used to put it out, damaged his treasures.
His regular job was in the accounting department at the Wisconsin Gas Co., and for a while he ran a tavern (The 40s Bar) near Good Old Days and a restaurant in Cedarburg (Maggie and Jiggs).
After he closed his store he became a bit of a shut-in due to health problems.  He would put care packages together from his huge collection of newspapers, etc and send them to people that might be interested.
Here's a link talking about his care packages:

And a letter to the editor talking about Dale's influence on future local comic shops is here:

Frank Puncer talks about buying ERB materials at Dale's store half way down this link:

#4 - Bud Plant at the 1982 SDCC
Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Plant_Inc.

Bud has a long rich history in comics retailing.  He pops up a lot as you will see.
Bud Plant started selling mail-order comics in 1966.  In March of 1968 he and a group of fellow collectors startd a small comic shop in SJ called 'Seven Sons'.  We will talk more about Seven Sons in a future share.

In 1970 he founded Bud Plant, Inc. as a mail-order company specializing in underground comix.  He co-owned a chain of seven Comics & Comix stores from 1972-1988, and distributed comics and specialty items from seven warehouses in four states until he sold that portion of the business to Diamond Comic Distributors in 1988.  During the 70s he co-published the Promethean fanzine as well and Jack Katz's The First Kingdom from 1974–86.

You can read an 2013 interview with Bud where he talks about his life in comics including the purchase of the Tom Reilly/San Francisco pedigree which directly enabled them to expand from their first store:

More on the sad story behind the Tom Reilly/San Francisco pedigree from partner Robert Beerbohm:

More on Bud with photos here:

#5 - Bud Plant from 2017.03.07
Here's a pic of Bud from 2017 with his impressive stock of books.
And you can read a 2013 interview with Bud here:

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#6 - Richard Alf from 1969
Richard Alf (in glasses at back) began selling with an ad in Marvel and DC comic books. His first ad in the comics appeared in 1969 when he was just 17 years old.

Richard Alf was an original member of the first 1969 Comic-Con Committee!
San Diago Comic Con (SDCC) founders Richard Alf (in glasses at back) and fans with Jack Kirby at his home and in 1969. Shel Dorf is second from right.  (Photo: Mike Towry)

Read about meeting Kirby here:



#7 - Richard Alf from 1975
Photo: Richard opening his Comic Kingdom store in 1975.

Richard would end up selling his mail-order business to Chuck Rozanski not long after Chuck had found the Edgar Church/Mile High Collection and bought Jim Payne's A-1 Comics in Denver.  We will share a LOT more about Rozanski in a future post.

#8 - Bill Thaling (1926 - 2003) from the 1969 NYCC luncheon
Long time Cleveland fan and comic dealer he was selling by mail-order in 1958.  He appeared at early conventions and worked with fandom on collecting comics data.

This photo is part of an amazing picture of the 1969 Comic Art Convention Luncheon Photo, July 5, 1969 at the Statler Hilton Hotel in NYC.  This is also known as the 1969 "SeulingCon".  Photo courtesy of Gary Groth.

You can see all of this wonderful picture of early fandom at this link:

#9 - 1966.02.11-Len Brown, co-owner of Collectors Bookstore in Hollywood, CA.
Leonard Brown ran a mail-order business started in 1959-60 with boyhood friend Richard Olson.  Olson would move on after a few years. Brown would next partner with Malcolm Willits to open Collectors Bookstore in an old bank building in March 1965.  Leonard handled the comic books and Malcolm movie materials.  The store closed in 2008.  You can read about its closing here:

Richard Olson shares a tribute to Brown here - https://www.cgccomics.com/boards/topic/191406-my-friend-leonard-brown-and-collectors-bookstore/

#10 - 1961-Malcolm Willits, co-owner of Collectors Bookstore
This is the only picture I could find of Willits seen here with Carl Barks and his wife in 1961.
Willits was an English teacher.

He is credited by some for co-publishing one of the first comics fanzines with Jim Bradley called The Comic Collector's News, in 1947.  After a couple of years they abandoned it in favor of another fanzine devoted to science fiction called Destiny. The first issue appeared in 1950 and lasted ten issues.

Willits, a fan of Barks duck stories  was the first person to discover his identity. Instead of writing Western he wrote to Disney Studios.

He would also attend the first NYCC in 1964 bring with him Action 1, Captain America 1 and a Superman # 1.  You can read about that first con at this link:

Photo: http://www.cbarks.dk/gar%E9photos1960s.htm

#11 - Inside Collectors Book Store, Hollywood, CA
Photo: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-hollywood26-2008jun26-story.html

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#12 - Russ Cochran, publisher and seller
Photo from his FB page.
Russ Cochran (b. July 3, 1937) started as a early mail-order seller.  Eventually he became a publisher and original art dealer for over 40 yrs via mail-auction catalogs during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.  He took over as editor of the Comic Book Marketplace magazine from Gary Carter with issue #84 in 2001 and ended with the last issue in #121 (2005).

He has been a publisher for over 30 years, after quitting his job as a physics professor.
Most famous for his EC reprint collections. From 1978 to 1996, this project reprinted almost every EC comic in 66 hardbound volumes contained in 17 slipcases.


#13 - Gary Dolgoff, at the Big Apple Con 2015

Gary Dolgoff is a comic book dealer, grader and collector.  He's been selling since the late 1960's including via mail-order where he had a regular ad in Marvel books.

Hear an interview with him here:

#14 - Howard Rogofsky, behind the Cherokee Book Shop 1973
Another seller who many here likely know for his frequent ads in Marvel comics.
Photo shared by Tri-ColorBrian on CGC boards.

Howard Rogofsky
(From his bio on the link below) Comic Book Icon - Mr. Rogofsky has been in the comic books, tv guide & magazine business for over 48 years and was one time the largest mail-order dealer of comic books in the USA . He was the first full-time dealer of old comic books.  Howard had begun selling comics through advertisements placed in comics which soon became a huge success.  During the 1960's & early 70's he was considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of comic fandom.

A interview with him and Bell can be read here:

#15 - Theo Holstein, art collector and seller
Long time collector and seller Theo Holstein is interviewed here:

You can see his very unusual 70s Overstreet Price Guide mail-order ad here:

#16 - Jay Knowles, SDCC1973
Longtime comics dealer/collector Jay Knowles of Austin Texas with his wife Helen, Austin artist Robby Campbell, and Jim Brocius.

Photo by San Diego Comic-Con Founder Shel Dorf


That's it for this batch, hope you liked them,

Digital Comic Museum

Historical Photos - Comic Retailers: mail-order
« on: November 23, 2018, 08:52:50 AM »