Beauology 101: Continuity In Comic Books: “I Lost My Place”

“I’ve got dark eyes. I can frighten people.” Beau Smith

“I’ve got dark eyes. I can frighten people.” Beau Smith

by Beau Smith

I’ve lost my place in the book.

You could say I fell asleep and forgot to shove my bookmark in so I could pick up where I left off. It happens.

 Batman #143. DC Comics. When Continuity Was A Breeze.

Batman #143. DC Comics. When Continuity Was A Breeze.

In the 1960s during my time from grades one through nine, I was on top of mainstream comic book continuity. I especially knew every time a superhero sneezed in either the Marvel or DC Universe. To be quite honest, I even knew what was going on in the harder to find books published by Tower Comics, Charlton, and even Archie.

In the 1970s, I fell off the rails. I was socially busy during this decade and I’m lucky I still have any brain cells left. I didn’t buy or read many comic books at all during the ‘70s. Continuity and I parted ways.

 I Traded 10 Years Of These For Comic Books. What’s Wrong With This Picture? :)

I Traded 10 Years Of These For Comic Books. What’s Wrong With This Picture? 🙂

In the 1980s, I came back with a vengeance. I had comic shops in my area to go to, I had a wonderful, short lived used book store (Star Used Book Store, Huntington, WV.) that I traded all of my Playboy Magazines from the ‘60s and ‘70s to for store credit. They sold used comic books there for like five cents each. I got every one of them, as well as any that were brought in after that. And with what credit I had left, I got paperback runs of John Benteen’s Fargo and loads of great Men’s Action paperbacks. Thanks to Playboy, I was able to almost backtrack the entire run of ‘70s Marvel and DC Comics. In the early 1980s I was also a Westfield Comics subscriber. Oh, what a wonderful discovery that was for me. I longed every month for that well constructed cardboard box with pristine, newly published comic books and comic book related magazines to come (Comic Book Reader, Amazing Heroes). I went from a barren wasteland in the ‘70s to full throttle collecting in the ‘80s.

Fargo by John Benteen. I Still Re-Read These Today. So Does Chuck Dixon.

Fargo by John Benteen. I Still Re-Read These Today. So Does Chuck Dixon.

It was also during the latter part of the ‘80s that I started working within the comic book industry for Eclipse Comics as their VP of marketing and promotions. One of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had. During that time, most comic book publishers traded “Comps;” complimentary copies of everything they published. At Eclipse, we did that. So for the many decades I worked for Eclipse Comics, Image Comics, Todd McFarlane Productions, and IDW Publishing, I was getting every comic book from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and the list goes on and on. I have to admit, it was overwhelming. To this day, 30 years later, I still discover unread comics in my collection that I never even knew I had. Last month, I found two never opened boxes of Marvel Comics from 1987. That’s how crazy it was.

Needless to say, with that many comic books coming in, keeping up with continuity was nearly impossible for me. Take into consideration that I was also getting comp copies of all the comics the publisher I was working with produced. At one time, I was getting 100 copies of each book we published at Image Comics, and I worked there from 1993 through 2000. Can you imagine what that was like? The UPS truck was in front of my house more than my own vehicle. On top that… I was also working for McFarlane Toys at the same time and cases of toys would be delivered almost on a daily basis. I remember coming home from errands and seeing a jungle of boxes on my front porch. I truly mean it was filled.

Comic Book Continuity It Used To Matter To Me.

Comic Book Continuity It Used To Matter To Me.

I think it was during those times that my desire to keep up with continuity left me. These days, with things being a bit calmer and publishers no longer really doing comp lists, I find that I am just now starting to read more comic books and retain what’s going on within them. Granted, I’m finding out that’s not always a good thing. A lot of comics just don’t produce the likability and storytelling that the ‘60s and especially the ‘80s comics did.

My life working in comics has always seemed like a “Watch out what you wish for” kinda dream. Did I overdose on comics? Naaaw, my passion for them is stronger than ever. It’s just shifted more to the creating and telling of the story than reading EVERY story from EVERY comic book. It’s an interesting place to be.

Let me add that getting all those comic books and toys for fee for so long also might have devalued them to me to a degree. You get something for free for so long, when it comes time to pay for them again, you find that you are a lot choosier and you certainly don’t buy just anything. At $4.00 a pop, no one should buy blindly anyway. The good thing is that the comic books I do buy are researched and well thought out before hand. My impulse buying of comic books has stopped. I save money, but I also only read what I like.

Comic book sales, discounts and 4 For A Dollar boxes are even more treasured now. It gives you a chance to cruise the clearance tables and really lower your risks. A lot of my money goes to buying collections as well, especially as I sell off parts of my childhood collection and replace them with the collections. It saves room here at the Flying Fist Ranch as well. (That way I can bring in more or other stuff. J)

Wynonna Earp: The Only Continuity You Need To Keep Current With. :)

Wynonna Earp: The Only Continuity You Need To Keep Current With. 🙂

So if you see me at a convention, the local comic shop or breaking in your house, and you ask me about what I think about what’s going on in the latest issue of Batman or The X-Men, I probably won’t know. But that’s okay, because then YOU can tell ME and we’ll more than likely have a pretty good conversation.

Keep talking and keep reading,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch


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  1. Westfield Comics Blog » A WASTEBASKET FULL OF DEAD KLEENEX Says:

    […] Beau’s last column (which I didn’t read until I got sick) also talks about sleeping… at least initially, before he wanders off whining about all the free comics he’s been given over the years. […]