Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Ape-Man Completed

Back in the early 90s, a company called NBM began the ambitious task of trying to reprint all the Tarzan comic strip work of two artist's, Hal Foster and Burne Hogarth. These were very nice books, printed in full color and in a large format to mimic the size they had been published in Sunday newspaper sections. I remember seeing the books at various bookstores and comic book shops, but at that time I was more into my crime fiction phase and no longer seriously collecting the pulp heroes of my youth. Still, my interest in Edgar Rice Burroughs' iconic jungle hero Tarzan of the Apes, if somewhat diminished, remained, so when I saw the Tarzan in Color (as they were known) books go onto the remainder tables at the late, lamented Media Play, I picked up a copy of each of the volumes that was available, ending up with eight or so of the 18 volumes that would eventually see print. (18 and a half, really, but that's another story.)
I put the Tarzan volumes on one of my bookshelves and mostly forgot about them for the next few years until a resurgence of my interest in sword & sorcery and related genres brought Tarzan back into focus. I was also gaining a growing appreciation for the artwork of Hal Foster, an artist I had been aware of for decades but never seriously studied. In any event, I decided I needed to finish up my collection of the NBM Tarzan books. I checked my friend Cliff's comic book store, Dr. No's, and he still had a few volumes that I didn't own, so I bought those, bringing the number of volumes I needed down to four. And there is where I hit a snag.
Over the years, since the completion of the publishing of the NBM Tarzan books, various other collectors had also started seeking them out. Apparently sales on the books had dropped during the project and while volumes 1-14 had print runs of 2000 copies each, Volumes 15-18 only had print runs of 500 each. Checking on Ebay and Amazon and ABE Books, I was somewhat surprised to find that the volumes I still needed were not only scarce, but extremely expensive.
And so I did what I usually do in such situations. I bided my time, checking the various online booksellers every week or so, waiting for someone who either didn't know prices a collectible book was bringing or didn't care. (I once bought a very scarce Sherlock Holmes book, valued at $300 for seven bucks.) I ended up finding one Tarzan volume on Ebay cheap and another one way under priced at Amazon.
The second of these two arrived last week. I was showing Cliff what a nice copy of the book I'd gotten and he asked which two volumes I still needed. Then he checked with some fellow comics retailers and found someone who had those two books at a very reasonable price, and just like that my collection was complete. The last two volumes arrived last night and I placed them on the bookshelf. This weekend I plan to start reading through all the volumes in order.

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