Hadn't expected to natter on any more about my cartooning roots after yesterday, but, over at the Daily Ink, the Archivist blog has brought back a repressed memory that combines two of my favorite topics:
2. Stupid newspaper management
This month being the Phantom and Diana's 35th wedding anniversary, the Archivist has memories of their 1977 wedding, with both the daily and Sunday strips from that momentus event, as well as the story of the poster that commemorated it.
One of which I found in the storeroom at the newspaper where I was working in 1993, when I went from newsroom reporter to educational services person. I thought it was wonderfully campy, so I dusted it off and hung it over my desk, where it stayed for two or three years until they moved my office and it was no longer practical to have a large framed poster, whereupon it went back into storage.
Then, at some point, management decided they were going to have a garage sale and get rid of all the old junk in the storeroom.
So I went to the underboss who was in charge of the event and said, "Don't just sell off that Phantom poster. I'm sure it's worth something."
And he chuckled dismissively and said, "I'm sure it is."
And I said, "No, it really would be," and he asked "Oh yeah? How much?"
I promised to find out, and that, O Best Beloved, is how I got involved with racs, otherwise known as rec.arts.comics.strips, back in the days of lively newsgroups. And that, in turn, is how my general affection for comics got out of hand to the point where here we are today.
So that's the comics part. Made quite a few friends among comic fans and cartoonists, learned a lot more about how the medium works, learned that, as campy and archaic as you may feel the Phantom is, if you were to have the choice of referring to him as "The Spandex Honky" in front of Lee Falk's mother or in front of a Phantom fan, you should take your chances with Ma Falk.
Phantom fans take the Ghost Who Walks rather seriously.
And, whether or not it reflects the current state of the art, it truly is a venerable strip with some solid history, including that the Phantom was, when the strip debuted in 1936, the first costumed superhero.
And I should also add that the writers and artists have done a lot in recent years to significantly reduce the "Ooo! Ooo! Him make fire from shiny god Zippo!" factor.
So anyway ...
So anyway, I came back to the pointy-headed underboss and told him that the poster was certainly worth two or three hundred bucks and might go for considerably more.
To which he chuckled dismissively yet again and said, "Okay. You can have it for $200 right now."
Which. Was. Not. The. Freaking. Point.
I suppose I should have found a way to come up with the two hundred bucks, if only to re-sell the poster myself, but I was pretty skint at the time and I hadn't meant it was worth that to me anyway.
So they put it in the garage sale and got ten or twenty dollars for it and that was probably appropriate because that was more or less the way they were handling the entire industry: Get whatever you can without making an effort, no matter how much you might have made by actually examining the situation and/or thinking.
I hope whoever bought it knew how cool it was, or at least was able to flip it for a nice profit, but they were already at least five bucks ahead of the game, without allowing for twenty years of inflation, never mind collectibility, given that the thing had originally cost $25.
Falk died about two years later, which I'm sure enhanced the value of all things Phantom. And I couldn't find a copy of the poster on Google, nor did The Archivist post a color pic of it, so I've got to think it's pretty rare these days.
I hope the thing is hanging proudly somewhere.
For my part, I could have gotten up early and been first at the garage sale and bought it for a pittance, but I was so furious over the whole foolish, wasteful business that seeing it would have only reminded me that I was working for boneheads, which, as you may have guessed, I already knew.
In fact, by that point, I had this very relevant Calvin & Hobbes panel pinned to the wall of my cubicle:
And I believe that. And I like where I'm at.
But, geez, did they have to aim for every pothole on the way?