The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


There is still one more chapter to write about the early days of comic collecting fandom in Chicago, and I'm going to finally take the time to write it. This is the chapter on the stores that sold comic books in the 1950's and 60's. In these early years old comics could be found almost anywhere.

I remember going to a neighborhood confectionery store in the late 40's that sold 'used' comics for 2 cents each, bought them for a penny or traded two of yours for one of theirs. I 've heard stories of people going to junkyards that sold old comics for a penny a piece, and antique stores that sold them for a nickel in the 1950's and even the 1960's. During the 60's I found old comics for sale in gas stations, cleaning establishments, and once even in a little diner on Milwaukee Avenue. But you almost always found them in used book stores, especially book stores that carried back issue magazines as well as books There were a bunch of them just north of the downtown area, most notably on Clark Street just a block north of Grand Avenue, and these were notorious to say the least.

We'll devote our next two issues to stories about the Clark street stores, but first we'd like to cover some of the other stores on the northside of Chicago that were known to carry comics.

One of these places was a little place on Belmont Avenue a couple of blocks west of the elevated called ZOLINGER'S. Zolinger's usually had four or five stacks of comics they normally sold for a dime a piece. There was another small, long and narrow shop across from Zolinger's that sold comics and other back issue magazines there that had no real name to speak of and I remember buying a copy of LIFE magazine there with Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon on the cover.

There was a small store on Broadway just north of Montrose that sold older comics run by a bearded guy called Luther and I bought a Buck Rogers popup book there. Up the street another two book stores that carried comics, one of these was CELMER'S BOOKS, and the young Celmer was also a collector that showed up at some of our meetings at the Northwest Federal Savings and Loans. In recent years I have heard of a couple of places in the Lincoln/Irving Park area that sold old comics. One was a used furniture store that had a stack of comics piled on furniture in the back of the store, and the other was a place with stacks and stacks of old magazines on tables throughout the store including several thousand old comics from the 1940's.I had heard of a couple of places in the Maxwell Street area as well, and one collector had pulled out a couple of hundred mint 1950's science fiction comics from there along with first editions of several books by Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft.

Then there was ED'S, a trick shop on Milwaukee Avenue, where a number of collectors met for the first time- and ANDREW'S BOOK STORE which had moved to several locations around the Milwaukee/Montrose area. Ed's son Dennis was a scavenger, that often found comics, toys and Big little Books that had been thrown in the alleys. There was a little used book store on Lawrence near Damen that moved around in that area for awhile. This was also run by an older gentleman and I bought out his entire inventory of Silver Age titles when he decided to stop carrying old comics.

I've heard of a number of stores on the southside that carried comics, but I'll leave that for someone who has more experience to write about them. I've heard of a few antique stores and general junk/resale shops that carried comics off and on. But basically the ones worth mentioning are the ones that you could rely on going back to time and again and finding new items all the time, like THE BOOK BOX on Ashland Avenue. Next Week: The Notorious Clark Street Stores!

Please E-mail Joe with comments at:

Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 2 #39 September 27, 2000 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.