This Year's Sunday With The Antiquarians

The Antiquarian Book Fair, that is, which is getting to be as big a thing for us as the reunion that always accompanies the big Emerald City Comic-Con.

We almost never can afford to buy anything, but I'd hatched a plan to offer a trade to Dave of Mill Creek's Fantasy Illustrated. We've corresponded a little bit here and there-- turns out he's a Bat guy too, as well as a pulps and rare books aficionado-- and we're on the mailing list for his quarterly zine, Dave's Clubhouse. I had brought along the Airship 27 Green Ghost collection I'm in, as a thank-you for the last year's worth of the zine, and also several pulp magazines I've acquired over the last couple of years. my idea was to get Dave to appraise the pulps and decide if it was wroth any store credit.

Except Dave wasn't there, because he'd apparently had a triple bypass ten days previously. His friend Bill was holding the fort for him, and we had a nice chat. (Turns out Bill's a New Pulp guy too, he and I had a nice chat about the new Wold Newton books done by Win Eckert and Christopher Carey.)

He promised to get our bag of stuff to him (and we got a nice thank-you note from Dave via email the next day) but my hoped-for swap was on indefinite hold. And we were sad to have missed Dave, especially for that reason, but Bill assured us he was recovering well.

Hearing about Dave's medical troubles had sucked a lot of fun out of the event, but we rallied as best we could. After all, we were already there, we might as well look around and say some hellos.

We always like to look at the vintage juveniles. That's Beverly Garcia-Garst's specialty, and her booth always has cool stuff. No Three Investigators this year, sadly, but lots of other interesting items.

And of course her Oz selection is the best-- and usually the best-priced. We got our copy of Tik-Tok of Oz from her a few years ago.

We passed one booth and the proprietor waved us over, so we went. He told us he was going out of business and everything in his area was half-off the listed price. Which got us excited for the ten seconds or so before we looked at the actual listed prices.

I would have loved to own the 1902 Doubleday edition of Dracula, despite already having something like six or seven different editions here in both comics and prose (and let's not get started on the movies. Or all the pastiche novels by other writers than Stoker. Look, I like Dracula, okay?) But it was $900, and even at half-price $450 is so way beyond what I would ever pay for a book that.... well, forget it. So I settled for a picture.

Next to the Dracula was an old Heinlein, Methuselah's Children. There was a lot of Heinlein out there this year; it seemed like everyone had at least a couple.

Even dealers that, normally, I don't think of as being terribly interested in SF.

Lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs this year, too.

Although there's always lots of Burroughs, it seemed to be more out in the general population this year. Usually it's just the geek-centric dealers like Dave or Bud Plant.

Speaking of Bud Plant, as far as we're concerned he and his partner Anne Hutchison invariably have the best stuff.... if we spend money at the Fair it's always there. Pulps, comics, Robert E. Howard, it's like they design their entire display just for me.

This year they had a lot of pulps, and also a big pile of PS: Preventative Maintenance, the comic-strip manuals for the U. S. military that Will Eisner spent a lot of his career producing.

But the really cool stuff at their booth is usually the weird small-press limited-edition items. The one I was lusting for was under glass-- the pastiche novel Tarzan and the Martian Legion, a limited slipcased hardcover from Russ Cochran.

This is another pastiche about Tarzan meeting John Carter of Mars, but this particular version looked amazing. This is a crossover that usually I've only seen done in comics. The book is stunning just as an artifact, though; the illustrations are breathtaking. Check out the official listing here.

But there's no way, again, we could manage even the discounted price ($200) so once again, it was a sigh and a picture.

We made it a point to visit Don from Pacific Coast Books in Lincoln City. His usual display is more traditional, without much that I am interested in -- he's more about classics like Steinbeck -- but we just like Don. We never talk about actual books. Instead, it was all about things like him having a new grandchild due any day now, or how Julie's job is going. And he always exhorts us to come spend time on the coast, and we always tell him that we have every intention of moving to Lincoln City some day. He did have a couple of juveniles that were kind of cool-- I own the Three Musketeers pictured there, and also Kidnapped from that same juvenile classics series.

Don hadn't known that the illustrator on Kidnapped, Frank Godwin, had also worked for DC on Wonder Woman for a while. (It had surprised me too.) You can read more about Godwin here.

Really though, if we'd had the budget, I probably would have gone for the vintage mysteries. There were some really cool ones I'd never seen before. This display, especially, probably would have got me to empty my wallet.

Julie loves traditional mysteries and I was explaining to her about S. S. Van Dine and Philo Vance when the owner came careening around the corer. "We've got The Scarab Murder Case by Van Dine too," he said, a little breathlessly.

The poor guy must have thought he'd got a live one. I felt ridiculously guilty explaining that I was there primarily as a columnist and we really had no money to spend. But he hid his disappointment well.

Mostly, though, the dealers are just as nerdy as we are. It was Sunday afternoon, so the Fair was largely behind them, and there was a lot of wandering back and forth. We always enjoy seeing the dealers just shooting the breeze about books.

Though for us this year, apart from the mysteries, it would have been slim pickings. Not very much Oz except at Beverly's booth, no Three Investigators, not even much Stratemeyer stuff other than Nancy Drew. The only other pulpster there was The Book Bin from down in Oregon, and it looked like his selection was down from previous years.

Even my beloved Whitmans were nowhere in evidence except for a few Big Little Books at Bud Plant's booth, and this Dick Tracy (looking weirdly out of place.)

Of course it was late Sunday, so chances are a lot of the good stuff has sold already, and it wasn't as though we could have afforded anything. We were feeling the pinch of no money to spend as it was, and Julie's feet were aching and we'd said all our hellos, so it was time to go. But I couldn't resist this shot on our way out.

I have no idea why those books are all together but the juxtaposition of Hunter Thompson, Johnny Rotten, and Conan the Barbarian cracked me up. The dealer was away from the booth at the moment, so I couldn't ask him. But I like to think his answer would have been something like, "We specialize in angry guys." I don't know what the Jordan County book's about but I assume it involves someone really pissed off. (If it doesn't, don't tell me.)

Anyway, that was our day at the Book Fair. It was fun, but next year, dammit, somehow we'll have to manage things so we can have a little spending money.

See you next week.

Doomsday Clock #12 Puts a Superman Twist on an Iconic Watchmen Image

More in Comics