Beauology 101: I Have A Dream

"I Have A Dream....and you're not in it." --Beau Smith, Day Dreamer

“I Have A Dream….and you’re not in it.” –Beau Smith, Day Dreamer


by Beau Smith

Growing up in the 1960s, before the internet, direct market comic shops, and Westfield Comics, I had to hunt down my comic book fix at the supermarket, the newsstand, the drug store, and by trading with other kids in the neighborhood. I know that sounds barbaric to some of you, but in reality, there’s a big part of me that misses “The Hunt.”

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #11

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #11


Back then, The Hunt put more value on your comic books, not so much in dollar signs, but knowing that you did some pedal time on your bike, burnt some rubber in your Converse or P.F. Flyers tennis shoes, or just got lucky and hit the grocery store before some other faceless kid got there to snatch that issue of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from your hungry hands.

I’m not going to get into the cover value of comics then being 12 cents as opposed to the near $4.00 price they carry today. Trust me, in 1965, 12 cents was just as hard to come by as $4.00 is today, maybe harder. I’m sure those of you a little younger than me who grew up before the internet and comic shops, along with cover prices from 15 cents to $1.00, know what I mean as well.

Daredevil #15. (One of my all-time favorite comics.)

Daredevil #15. (One of my all-time favorite comics.)


We re-read out comics during those times. I mean REALLY re-read them. There weren’t as many comics being published. Marvel, at the time, maybe had 12 books a month, and you were very lucky if you could find three of them, let alone in any consecutive order. I would buy, say, Daredevil #15 at the drugstore. Maybe if all went perfect, I’d find issue #16 the next month. Long odds, but you played the game just the same. During those 30 days of waiting, I would read and re-read that issue until I could recite dialog better than anything my teachers would dictate in school. I would be able to pose my 12 inch G.I. Joes and Captain Action into those famous John Romita and Jack Kirby fight poses from the panels of my comics. It was a creative time to be a reader of comic books. As I mentioned before, it not only added value, it added the most important weight to those comics, memories.


I also used my comics to trace the panels into my school notebook. I would also free hand the scenes, but that lasted until about 9th grade when I finally realized my career as an artist was past its peak. I really began focusing on my writing then. I remember as Jr. High student, writing to Stan Lee at Marvel and Robert Kanigher (Sgt. Rock) at DC Comics asking them if they could please send me a copy of a comic book script so I could learn to write in that format. I didn’t get one from Stan, but he did send me a nice postcard. Kanigher on the other hand did send me a script and it has always been the basis of my script mechanics ever since. I must add that many years later in the early 1980s, Walt Simonson was kind enough to send me a copy of what a proposal looked like (Thor) and that was, and still is, my foundation for comic book pitches. During that same time period, Mike Baron sent me his thumbnail scripts for Nexus and The Badger that I also learned a lot from. Kindness like that is not forgotten, at least not by me.

Letters Column. Dignity & Civility. No Snark Allowed.

Letters Column. Dignity & Civility. No Snark Allowed.


Back in the 1960s, I used to occasionally write to other readers. Comic books had letter columns in every issues and I must say that the letters of comment then were head and shoulders above the internet postings of today. You not only learned how to write a letter of comment, but you also were taught how to write constructive criticism with civility. Because of those printed teachings, I began writing my own letters of comment in the 1970s through the 80s and had over 300 printed. It also helped me network my way into comics as a profession. Again, more added value to my comics.

Amazing Spider-Man #4

Amazing Spider-Man #4


In some ways, we as comic book readers were like the American Indians of the plains in the way that they used every bit of the buffalo that they hunted and killed. Nothing went to waste. The same with the comics that we bought. That’s why today they are so well read, creased, dog eared, and with rolled spines. To me, that comic book is worth more than one that was bought, never read, and put in a plastic bag. Yes, I understand that my issue of Amazing Spider-Man #4 would be worth a lot more if I hadn’t re-read, traced, and rolled it up in my back pocket, but how was I to know that back in the early 1960s? Knowing me, even if you would’ve come from the future and told me it would be worth thousands of dollars in 2013, I doubt if 1964 Beau Smith would’ve been able to not read that issue and put it away safely somewhere. Yeah, I’m out over $7000.00, but in other ways, I’m so much richer.

I have no idea if readers today re-read and memorize their comics. I don’t know if they memorize dialog or try and redraw what’s on those pages on their iPad, I also don’t know if they reenact the stories with their action figures, if those action figures are even out of the boxes. Part of me really hopes that somewhere there are people that still use that issue for everything that it’s worth. I pray that they get every cent out of that $4.00 cover price. It’s a daydream, but it’s MY daydream, and those daydreams have had me working in comics for 26 years.

Dreams do some true.

Always the child,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch

www.flyingfistranch.com

 

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