09th Jul2010

Best of the West #1: Signed Amazing Spider-Man #583 Variant

by Will

Going through my posts, I realized that I never really spoke much about my time in comics. On top of that, I’m supposed to be this big collector of comics and toys, yet there aren’t many posts that reflect my hobby. So, instead of being all snarky and digging up a bunch of dirt, I figured I’d try something new, by showcasing a few of the best items in my collections that most haven’t seen. You might see some cool stuff, or it might result in me having my apartment broken into. In any case, I’ll give a little rundown of its history, and voila, I’ve got a new regular column.

So, today’s item is what you see here:

IMG00182-20100708-2333

Yes, that’s a first printing of the hard to find variant cover of Amazing Spider-Man #583. The first of the popular Obama Comic Cover gimmick, this book sold out quicker than hotels on prom night. Last I checked, I think it got up to about 5 printings, many of which are still being sold above cover price. Well, I somehow managed to get a copy. But wait, there’s more! If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s signed. No, it’s not signed by Big O, himself, but by Marvel Editor-In-Chief and Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada. So, how did I snag this comic? Well, it’s funny you should ask…

Last year, I went to the New York Comic-Con with a couple of my Diamond friends.  Near the end of most conventions, the Marvel booth has a giveaway panel. This isn’t a nice, orderly contest, however.  No, at the Marvel booth, everyone stands around yelling for shit, kinda like those  businessmen watching Jennifer Connelly get it with that double-ended dildo in Requiem For A Dream.  There’s a guy (and I really should know his name by this point), who’s like Wayne Brady with the huckster showmanship of Stan Lee. The Marvel Minions bring him large, unmarked boxes of stuff, and he just grabs something out. The stuff ranges from big ticket items (autographed books), to dead overstock (Dark Towers hardcovers), to random licensed items (lunchbox, anyone?) on down to Saga books. That’s right – I’ve seen them give away the same crappy promo comic you would’ve gotten stuffed in your bag at your LCS.

Anyway, I’ve witnessed this thing quite a few times, so there’s generally a formula: “Wayne Lee” generally looks around to see who wants the item most. Sometimes, he might ask a trivia question or ask you to dance for him or something.  He usually goes for the cute kid, the 20-ish girl, etc. In fact, he tends to go for everyone *except* the stereotypical “fanboy”. By adhering to this pattern, the Marvel Giveaway Panel may be Marvel’s smartest initiative to reach out to a new audience; cater to the young, the women, etc. So, the trick is to save your energy for something that you really want. Nobody walks away with 2 items. Not even that  kid in the wheelchair. If you don’t want the Spider-Man sleeping bag, don’t even waste the energy to acknowledge it. Wayne’s pretty good at scanning the crowd, so he’s gauging what you really want. When everyone’s jumping up and down like they’re on The Price Is Right, you become more conspicuous if you stand still. Wayne notices that, and he knows you’re being strategic. Hell, it’s best not to even make eye contact with him. Save it for the big prize.

So, I knew all of the above going in, and I used all that to play my hand. I didn’t acknowledge the Wolverine baseball cap or the Eternals hardcover. Out of the gate, we knew that the big ticket item was the Obama cover, especially since this was about 2 weeks after the inauguration. There wasn’t even a second printing at this point, yet here it was, SIGNED by the creative head of Marvel. I knew they had 5 copies to give away, and those were the only things I went for.

After he had given away the 4th copy, I probably should have gotten discouraged. I mean, I’d been at this panel for about an hour and a half, watching people sacrifice their young for a Hulk pencil sharpener. One thing about me, however, is that I don’t quit. I had a good feeling. I had no basis for said optimism, but I really thought I was going to leave with one of those books. I’ve actually been really lucky in life when it comes to comic-related contests. When I was 12, I won a Batman watch from a Choice Hotels Batman Returns sweepstakes. When I was 13, I won some Avengers/X-Men Bloodties trading cards from a contest I’d forgotten I had even entered. And the list goes on. So, I felt like some of that magic might be in the cards for me for that Spidey comic. My friends were leaving to go to dinner, and some of the booths had even shut down, but I was determined to see this to the end.

Wayne got to the final copy, and made quite a showing about it being the final copy. He paced the floor with it. He’d stop and think about whether the time was right to give it away (he does this a LOT – pulls out an item, gauges the reaction, and then swaps it for a Human Torch backpack once the fever builds). He decided to ask a question: “What’s Wolverine’s real name?” This, my friends, is somewhat of a trick question. I didn’t know which answer he wanted. After all, everybody knows it’s “Logan”, yet this was after Origin had come out, so the real answer was “James Howlett”. Seeing as how he IS the guy from Marvel, I figured Wayne would want the Howlett answer. So, I jumped up and down, screaming “James Howlett!” I could hear a good deal of the crowd going the Logan route, while my fellow fanboys were chiming along with the Howlett chorus. I have to believe that Wayne noticed how I’d played the game. I think he knew that I was there for one thing, and he was determined to make me wait for it. Or, maybe he just noticed me at that point. Whatever it was, he was prepared to make my day. It felt like slow motion, as he walked over and handed me the book. In my haze, I shielded it until I could get out of the crowd, and I quickly put it in my sketchbook for safekeeping. Once I got to an empty corner of the Javits Center, I double-checked to make sure that it was real, and that I hadn’t imagined the whole thing. What I saw in my hands was the book that you saw above, and it’s been sitting on my makeshift mantle ever since.