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TSR Comic Spark: Forgotten Realms and Spelljammer Arrivals!

A couple weeks back, I posted about my "TSR Comics Spark 2021"; and the other day I included the Birthright issue in with my Weekly Haul: Week of January 27, 2021 post.

But now I also have the (I believe!) full run of Forgotten Realms from DC back in the day, as well as a chunk of Spelljammer…which leaves the remainder of Spelljammer as well as Dragonlance to snag!

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Forgotten Realms #s 1-9;

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Forgotten Realms #s 10-18;

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Forgotten Realms #s 19-25.

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TSR Worlds annual that apparently brought Spelljammer into things from Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance; and Spelljammer #s 1-2, 4-5, 7-8;

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Spelljammer #s 9-11, 13.


I don’t know if there are any "variant" covers in the mix with these…they certainly were never on the level as Man of Steel #1, and I believe otherwise pretttttty much pre-dated the ’90s stuff of variants, alternate editions, and "enhanced" covers or "Collector’s Edition" vs. "Newsstand Edition" crap.

But that makes it a loooot easier for me to intend to stick to this DC line of TSR comics without pursuing into the modern iterations and such.

Time will tell ultimately, though!

I’m grateful to be able to hit this large a chunk of the issues simply by ordering online. Especially if conventions aren’t likely to be much of a "thing" this year, similar to last year. Plus, I don’t know that there are any particularly-pricy issues overall; no major first-appearances or other "firsts" or "keys" in the grander scheme and TV/Movie/Streaming "optioning" or such. These may not be particularly plentiful in back-issue bins and such…but at least they’re not exactly "hot items" in general beyond smaller communities.

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The TSR Comics Spark 2021

As we head toward December 51st, 2020…

I’ve yet to get together any end-of-year or new-year post…pretty sure that’s not happening this year.

I have, however, been meaning to do a post updating my "Grails" and such, but hvaen’t gotten to that, as yet.

So in a sort of "spin-off" or "prologue to" or whatever on that…figured I’d share on what will likely amount to my 2021 iteration of 2020’s intention to hunt down missing Marvel 2099 books.

I’m not sure when it was that I’d come across my original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comics, but they’re issues I’ve had bagged and boarded for years–decades, really–and they’d been sitting out to keep aware of their location until last spring when I organized my X-Men and related books at the time. These had to find a new home and wound up on a shelf with my Dragonlance stuff.

More recently, I’d grabbed the Dragonlance: Fifth Age issue for bathroom-reading and enjoyed the issue well enough for what it was–though it was still rather vague, cheesey, and hardly anything wonderful. It was nostalgic, and re-ignited a bit more of my interest in the Fifth Age stuff (along with the game books the other week from Half-Price Books) such that I’m also listening to the first book of the Fifth Age novels on Audible.

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Having read the Dragonlance issue–which I specifically remember getting from a Waldenbooks back in the day–I decided to move on to the Forgotten Realms: The Grand Tour issue. That one proved to be a bit of a slog, requiring multiple reading sessions to get through. A lot of walls of (tiny!) text and such…but appropriate for being a promo comic to introduce one TO the Forgotten Realms setting. This was another issue I remember getting from Waldenbooks.

Somewhere along the way, over the years, I acquired the Labyrinth of Madness issue. This one I do NOT recall getting from Waldenbooks–which is not to say I didn’t, but I don’t recall specifically getting it, only that I had it grouped with the other two issues, so obviously recognized it as what it is in a promo issue from a certain time. It’s as likely that I snagged it from a quarter-bin at some point.

But the point of this post, and the way these are a "TSR comics spark" for 2021 comes from an ad in the World Tour issue above.

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So along with the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Labyrinth of Madness (apparently "generic AD&D") issues, there were also Planescape and Birthright issues!

birthright_serpents_eye_mcs_stock_imageNow consciously knowing this, and being YEARS removed from whenever I’d picked up the third issue…I was able to hop online to do some searching for these "missing" issues to complete my "set."

I quickly learned that apparently the Planescape issue never saw print, though was released online at one point as a digital/online comic. Ok, scratch ONE off the list.

Further digging and I eventually located a copy of the Birthright issue for sale via some 3rd-party seller on Amazon. I paid a little more than I might have liked, but as a promotional issue, "limited edition" that I hadn’t even consciously remembered/known existed and certainly not being something I’ve come across in bargain bins (I definitely would have bought it if I had!), I decided to hold my nose and go for it, just to save myself the hassle and "grail-ness" of the thing.

But then, that wasn’t enough for me.

I was already searching for TSR comics and recalled the ’80s/early-’90s Dragonlance series from DC; along with a Forgotten Realms and a Spelljammer series.

So I did some further re-searching and ultimately was able to order the entire series for Forgotten Realms (which, now as I type this, I suddenly vaguely recall snagging a small run YEARS ago from a quarter-bin…but I don’t have the time/inclination to go rummaging through unsorted longboxes for those anytime soon, so it’s a moot point). I was also able to order several of the Spelljammer issues. There were only a scant handful of Dragonlance issues available to even order, so I decided to hold off since I couldn’t just cross the series off the new list, and figure I’ll go hunting for those some other time.

But it definitely means I’m on the hunt for this "dead universe" of DC-published TSR comics; most of the Dragonlance and at least half of the Spelljammer runs. I might eventually extend to the more modern iterations of the titles such as from IDW…but those lose a certain quaint sorta "charm".

Time will tell!

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Some Negativity in the Form of Questions

I don’t like being negative, nor causing random (negative) ripples or fights on the internet; I don’t like flame wars, I don’t like raining on others’ parade, etc. (That’s part of why I have this blog–I can simply put MY thoughts “out there,” but I’m not inserting them into discussion forums or other places in some consciously disruptive fashion). But for now I want to vent a bit, with several questions that have arisen and that I’ve wound up with photos to illustrate said questions (in the course of prepping photos for other blog posts).

Who in their right mind is going to buy multiple copies of a reference book like The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide?!?

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I mean, I am long used to their having multiple covers, but those usually seem (to me, in my memory) to be singular covers, just different artists and even focus on different publishers in subject-matter of the cover. Pick your favorite, so you’re not locked into a cover you despise, for a book you may be utilizing frequently for a year or more. That I can be ok with.

What I’m not ok with is something like this, where on a freaking REFERENCE BOOK they’re taking a singular image and splitting it in half. Not even doing a wrap-around cover type thing, or some insert, or whatever. If you want the WHOLE of the SINGLE IMAGE, you have to have TWO COPIES of the exact-same, not-supposed-to-be-“collectible”-itself book.

And of course, I’m pretty sure they already do multiple editions, with the volume available in hardback and paperback. I myself several years ago bought a year-or-two-old edition to have for reference of a bunch of ’90s stuff–not for the so-called “prices” or “values” listed, but as a resource to determine relatively authoritatively exactly how long various series lasted. (How many issues were there of X-O Manowar vol. 1? Instead of trying to corroborate stuff online and do a lot of Googling, just flip to the listing in Overstreet and see what the final issue listed is.)

Needless to say, I won’t even be tempted to pick up this year’s edition as a replacement or “update,” and I’d be truly curious at the effect of this “diptych” cover stunt on sales (probably not much, since I’m just one person, and grumpy at that, and it seems very few people feel so strongly on stuff as I do).

Why must there be umpteen to half a hundred variant covers rather than some sort of “art-gallery” special issue to “celebrate” a series/issue/milestone?

Valiant is just digging its hole even deeper…this totally, completely turns me OFF to even the contemplation of randomly buying X-O Manowar #50 as a new issue!

xo50_has_50_covers

Are there REALLY so many Valiant collectors that will truly be interested in and hunt down FIFTY COPIES of the same exact issue JUST for some covers? IF you want to celebrate the character, let other artists “weigh in on” the character, you want “bonus sales” without commissioning/contracting a whole extra story to publish…

What ever happened to the “art gallery” issues? Publish some 50-page “issue” that’s nothing but cover images (with or without cover text/logos) as something like X-O Manowar: A Celebration of 50 Issues or such. Sell it as a poster book. something.

How many people are totally turned off anymore to the constant glut of VARIANT covers? I would honestly be willing to argue that the last several years and present are far worse in terms of “variant covers” than the “Collector’s Age” of the 1990s ever was with variant/”enhanced edition” comics, with the “newsstand” and “direct market” covers.

Yet another thing that will leave me willing to not even buy new issues, but go and be fairly content to drop twice the cost of a “new” issue on a random late-Bronze-Age comic from a back-issue bin.

Why do book designs have to be ruined by “branding” on something that has had dozens to hundreds of books published in its course of existence?

While I might otherwise have some interest in purchasing new Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms books; Elminster specific volumes or something with Drizzt…I flat out refuse to buy any such mass-market paperback with that ugly D&D “swish” on the spine.

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Frankly, I don’t “get” it–does anyone specifically read Dragonlance or  Forgotten Realms books because they’re a sub-brand of D&D/Dungeons & Dragons? Speaking for myself–I sure do not. I’m interested in either property for the property itself, and I truly feel like these are marred by that “swish” on the spine.

I can appreciate the “branding,” of wanting to promote D&D over an individual setting, but I absolutely do not have to like it. Nor, in that regard, do I have to buy any of the newer editions thus marred by the branding.

What, exactly, is the POINT of the extra half-inch or whatever to have “oversized” mass-market paperbacks???

I absolutely loathe the things and refuse to buy them…and they can even put me “off” from a whole series of books if I’m not “chomping at the bit” TO read them.

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I’m trying to track down the hardcover edition of The President’s Shadow, having only just recently finally finished The Fifth Assassin. I’ve been getting Meltzer‘s books in hardcover since/including The Zero Game back in 2004 or so, so I don’t have much interest in the MMPB (I’ll get the e-book first, honestly). But even if I was interested in the MMPB, seeing it on the shelf like this, next two a couple of the earlier books simply reminds me that even if I switched to paperback, it’s impossible for me to have a complete set of his books that actually go together on the shelf, without at least a couple of the more recent/”middle” ones sticking out like glowingly-red sore thumbs, having been released in the “oversized” format.

And despite that, now they’re back to the “regular” paperback size…so there doesn’t even seem to be any commitment to one or the other, thus there isn’t even consistency to the books, whatever format, regardless of my liking them or not.

In a time when buying a movie shortly after initial release costs a premium and it seems fairly routine for prices to drop within a few months until it’s on the bargain racks within a year…does Disney truly sell more keeping the higher price, or would people who’d buy it at a lower price continue–like me–to pass on stuff?

Loosely, conceptually, I’m very interested in this Descendants property. I love “legacy” characters, seeing a universe expanded on, digging deeper into stuff I’ve already enjoyed…and thus, I was originally looking forward to the home-media release of Descendants last year or whenever it was.

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But the thing was not “on sale” for the “week of release” if I noticed it then, and I have been unwilling to pay the whopping $18 for a 90-minute “tv movie” that I know darned well is gonna be cheesey and hokey and more of a “guilty pleasure” than much else.

And month after month after month, I have never seen the thing on sale such that I’d be willing to purchase it. I think it might have once been “on sale” for $16.99, but $17 vs $18 is negligible for me compared to $15 or $13 or even $10. $15 would be seriously pushing its luck, $13 a bit more reasonable, and at this point, $10 ($9.99) would be ideal.

And this is at Target and Walmart, to say nothing of other retailers and such.

To me, the $17.99 is an odd price–more expensive than the $10-15 many movies cost, but not quite the “premium” $19.99+ units. Yet, this definitely is not something I would ever pay $20 for…and negligible as it may be if one’s got the money available to spend on something like this, I’m not paying the extra $3 just on principle, beyond the $15 or $14.99 I’d otherwise have been willing to pay.

And with this stuff outta the way, back to the usual content, most likely.

I continue to “find my comic book joy” in 1990s 25-cent issues, and increasingly in the notion of actually hunting down late Bronze Age comics. Contemporary comics–at $3.99 and increasingly $4.99; characters and properties being driven into holes into which I’m uninterested or unwilling to follow; variant covers in general…as publishers strive for some mythical “new readers” audience and increased month-over-month year-over-year and other buzzwords sales in a modern market…they just keep putting me off entirely to their product(s).

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