Archive for the 'Spinner Racks' Category

The San Francisco Comic Book Company in Nightmare in Blood (1978)

Nightmare in Blood (spoilers ahead) is a cult film directed by John Stanley, who was writing for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time and went on to host Creature Features (replacing Bob Wilkins) at KTVU from 1979 to 1984. The plot surrounds a series of murders at a horror convention and the event’s guest of honor, a famous vampire actor named Malakai, who turns out to be a real vampire. And Malakai’s “public-relations men,” B.B. and Harris, are actually William Burke and William Hare, the famous 19th century serial killers. The film is loaded with winks and nods to early horror fandom and classic horror films.

When Malakai arrives at the convention, filmed at Oakland’s Fox Theater, he’s greeted with cheers by his young fans, many of whom are—oddly—wearing ape masks. The kids were members of a Planet of the Apes fan club, and one of them was a teenage Fred Dekker, soon-to-be writer-director of Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987), two wildly fun films that are now cult classics.

The film features, in a way, Gary Arlington’s The San Francisco Comic Book Company, the first comics-only store in the U.S. The store opened in 1968 and was a nexus of the underground comix scene throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Robert Crumb was a frequent presence, and Simon Deitch, Rory Hayes, and Flo Steinberg all reportedly worked at the store at various times. The hippie character in the clip is not just based on Gary Arlington, he’s named Gary Arlington. Arlington himself, with his own stock, tried to recreate his Mission District store at a bigger location for the scene Stanley wanted. (The San Francisco Comic Book Company was notoriously small, some 200 square feet.) Arlington died at the age of 75 in 2014.

Compare the Nightmare in Blood clip to the absurd scene in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, when Samuel Jackson’s character dotes on a vintage comic book illustration in his comic book “art gallery,” and then berates the man who wants to buy it for his boy because “art” is not for children. What makes it absurd is that the scene is played straight—entirely devoid of humor. A comparison of both films, in fact, explains quite a bit about the transformation of sci-fi/fantasy/horror fandom from a bookish, establishment-wary subculture into a mainstream, corporate phenomenon.

Read more about Nightmare in Blood at San Francisco Weekly and John Stanley’s site.

Geoffrey’s Comic Shop, Circa 1981

Geoff 1981-1

Geoff 1981-2

Geoffrey Patterson Sr. (first photo) opened his awesome shop in 1978. Geoffrey Jr., who is interviewed here, took over in 2004. The South Bay landmark is still going strong.

The guy wearing the hat in the second photo is wearing an X-Men t-shirt—the hat may also say X-Men. The movie posters hanging from the ceiling are Raid on Entebbe (1976) and High Risk (1981). Can’t make out the arcade cabs.

More comic book stores here.

(Photos via Geoffrey’s Comic Shop and eBay)

A&M Comics and Books, 1978

A&M 1978

A&M 1978-2

A&M 1978-3

Among the many ruined institutions of post-internet life lies the pulp book shop, where deviant human beings of all ages, nauseated by the mundane modern world and its small-minded minions, once went to find comfort and adventure. My dream is to open one and slowly go broke as three or four or five of us roam the aisles, sifting through and savoring all the accumulating treasure.

A&M stands for owners Arnold and Maxine Square. Pat at Destination Nightmare worked there in the late ’70s and tells the story here.

Comic Book Spinner Racks, 1982

Comic Book Rack '80s

Comic Book Spinner Rack 1982

There are two racks in the first shot. Looks like a pretty awesome comic shop. I see The Spectacular Spider-Man #68, The Uncanny X-Men #159 (starring Dracula!), Star Wars #57 and #58—all of them “wholesome,” according to the banner.

The rack in the second photo is in a book store. Captain America #268 makes yet another appearance on 2W2N. That’s three times so far.

I worked in a music store in 1990, and one of my jobs was refilling the spinner rack when new comics arrived. (I had experience, after all.) I had to tear the covers off the old comics and trash the books. The covers were returned to the publisher for credit.

(Images via Blog for Rom Fans and Derf City)

Williams Electronics Trade Ads (1982)

Williams 1982

Williams 1982-2

Williams 1982-3

Williams 1982-4

What a brilliant display of golden age video game marketing. Almost all service businesses had cabinets by ’82, but those businesses had to choose between a whole bunch of different game manufacturers. Williams (Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron, Sinistar) was one of the big names.

Is dad reading the Bible in the before shot of the first ad? And who the hell is that in the blue shirt? Pat? I had a handheld or two by ’82, but nothing compared to a row of cabinets. Just hearing the attract mode noises made life so much more exciting.

Check out the lady on the left peering curiously at the kids in the grocery store. She’s thinking: “Video games in the supermarket? What a great idea! Now I can bring my kids and spend way more money!”

The third ad is my favorite. Look how bored they are with one another until the cocktail cabinets arrive. And the guys at the coin-op-less bar are so miserable not because they’re stag, but because all the games are taken.

Fourth ad: Ruffles bags haven’t changed much, I guess. See all the beautifully pristine comic books on the spinner rack? That’s Captain America #268 second from the bottom.

(Images via The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Comic Book Spinner Rack, 1956

Comic Book Spinner Rack 1956

It took me a while to pinpoint the year on this one, but I got it.

The Little Lulu #94 is on the left, very bottom. The Adventures of Bob Hope #38 is on the same column, three up (it’s also on the next row). Our hero is reading Superman #105.

Little Lulu #94

Bob Hope #38

Superman #105

(Images via Ann Arbor Review of Books, Comic Vine, My Comic Shop, americaniron34)




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