After being shown the world's most ambitious collection of baseball pulp magazines, I was ushered into a completely different subterranean chamber and told to wait at a long table. Aside from the door through which I had come, this room had arched openings at either end. The walls past these arches curved away from my sight so that I could not reckon where it was they led. I was so busy looking at the upper portion of these openings that I did not at first notice the train tracks that emanated there from. They were of a very narrow gauge -- much bigger than a child's playset, but also very much smaller than the real thing.
It wasn't long before I heard the sound of an approaching machine and the growing glow of a light from the arch to the left. Soon, a small, streamlined locomotive appeared, ridden by a man in full engineer's regalia. Behind him were two gondolas, each about 10 feet in length and filled with boxes. My guide and his assistant unloaded the boxes onto the table in front of me. When they were done, the engineer drove the train through the arch in the opposite wall, very quickly disappearing around the corner.
"This is the first load of many from the comic-book vaults," I was told. "Please don your special gloves and respirator." The first box was placed before me, its lid lifted. Inside were a half-dozen gross of Golden and Silver Age comics. What follows are some of the highlights of the collection's comic holdings, along with descriptions designed to enhance your understanding of their place in the history of popular culture.
A Date with Judy
Why anyone wanted to date Judy was a mystery, as most of her gentleman callers ended up like this poor fellow: incurring her wrath on the diamond.
Is Very Stupid American Boy
At the height of the Cold War, orders came down from the Kremlin to create something that would demonstrate to Soviet children the incompetence of their American counterparts. The result was a series of comic books, of which this was a part. The vast majority were printed in Russian or one of the U.S.S.R.'s other languages. But a few, like this one, were published in English, ostensibly so that American children would feel the sting of the Communists' barbs.
By the time Branch Rickey had become the catalyst in integrating baseball after World War II, there were few who remembered that he'd been a player himself, at the turn of the century. But play he once had, and play he would again - until he actually tried, that is.
Babe Ruth Sports
This is Issue No. 2 in this particular line. After No. 1 didn't sell as well as expected, the publishers downplayed the sports angle, and instead delved more into the Babe's other areas of pursuit, with hopes that the sales picture would brighten.
Casper, the Friendly Ghost
In this issue, Casper, tired of being pushed around the ball field by the Ghostly Trio, embarks on a program of strength conditioning and, perhaps, something else.
Tales of the 1 Percent
Each issue contained amusing stories about how the richest of the rich would either thwart bad guys from stealing their money, find amusing ways of making more money, or simply find extra money they didn't realize they had. The entry shown here features a story about a prosperous young man who buys a ball club, then convinces local elected officials to build him a new field at taxpayer expense.
That name ... that costume ... the boy who took to Doll Man was a brave boy indeed - hence the publisher's warning.
The Three Stooges
Through a deadly combination of chicanery and gross oversight, this issue of The Three Stooges actually reached newsstands before anyone noticed that something was horribly wrong. The number-one suspect was a worker in the print shop who was often heard muttering about his great discontent with the Stooges' latter-day work. Although there were no witnesses to the crime, he was quietly let go ... as were those responsible for quality control.