NOTE: This piece originally ran as part of 13th Dimension's ongoing series of Retro Hot Picks, spotlighting comic books on the rack in a selected month from the past. Dan Greenfield asked me to contribute to the post concerning books cover dated April, 1970 (which hit the stands in February) because he knew that was the very month I started reading comics. That may seem like very specific knowledge for someone to have about me, but there's a reason why (aside from the fact that I've blathered about it before). I've augmented the piece with additional art from the books described.
Anyone reading this is at least familiar with what an old spinner rack looked like—four vertical rows of up to ten wire baskets that held about a dozen or so books each. The rack rotated (hence the “spinner” part of its name) so that it could be placed in a corner or against a wall in and still allow for complete mining of the full field of pulp. Now, if you’re too young to have ever had the experience of foraging a comic book spinner rack, let me try to paint a picture.
I can still hear the squeak of the rack as I turned it to peruse the next row, squatting as I got to the lower baskets, standing up when I finished the vertical drop. I still remember the thrill of finding something I wanted hidden behind some issues I didn’t (romance comics, yuck!). I can recall the pile of comics growing in my sweaty little paws, the dimes, nickels, and quarters adding up with each selection (DC Comics mostly, but I bought from almost every publisher in the ‘70s), hoping that Mom or Dad was feeling extra generous that day and wouldn’t make me put some of them back (they rarely did). The only bad thing about the spinner rack was when you had to share it with another comic book fan (Hey, don’t spin it, I’m not done with this row yet!) Or when you could tell that the stock boy whose job it was to put out the new books didn’t care whether or not they got beat up in the process. But I can honestly say that of all the ways I’ve purchased comic books in the half-century (ouch) since that first issue—comic shops, subscriptions, conventions, used book stores, online—nothing was ever better than hitting the drugstore spinner rack.
What I didn’t come to understand until many years later was the significance the timing of my entry into comic book fandom held. Also on the spinner rack that week was GREEN LANTERN #76, widely considered to mark the very dawn of the Bronze Age of Comics. So I started buying / reading / collecting comics the precise moment that my favorite era of the medium began. Looking at the gallery of all the comic books that came out that month (many more of which I’ve since added to my collection), I am again reminded that while I may often feel the sting of middle age, I wouldn’t trade the experience of buying these books at this time in this manner for anything. I am a true Bronze Baby and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
|House ads from these comics that mesmerized me!|