There’s a semi-local old school comic book store that I visit every few months just to dig through their back issues bins. A lot of comic shops have all but given up on back issues, but that’s all this one carries. They’re only open one day a week (and I’m not even sure of that anymore) and don’t carry brand new issues at all, and seem to have been in a perpetual state of going out of business for the past five years or more. I don’t want to name the store, but it’s located in the musty basement of what was once an old church, and you have to descend some questionable-looking concrete outdoor stairs to go inside. It’s pretty creepy, but the combination of the dilapidated surroundings and the smell of the store’s dusty old newsprint comics really take me back to the days when comics were the secret clubhouse of nerds, freaks, and weirdos and not the fodder of cosplay models, top-10 TV comedies, and billion-dollar blockbuster movies. I really enjoy this place because there aren’t that many stores like this left; the owner is in his 70s, I believe, and his “young” helper, who has worked there almost as long as I’ve been shopping there, is probably a just few years from turning 50 himself.
After spending a half hour or so looking for bargains in rooms full of boxes with thousands and thousands and thousands of dusty back issue comics and old magazines, I went to the counter and checked out. My back issue purchase was put in this old Justice League America/Justice League Europe promo bag from the tail end of the once-popular comics franchise. I had to laugh a little bit, because those comics were canceled over 20 years ago. Hard to believe that Justice League International, the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire series that became a fan-favorite almost as popular as Uncanny X-men, began over 25 years ago!
I posted a picture of the bag to the Back Issue Magazine Facebook group, and Gal Schwartz, a member of the group, posted that he owns the original art which was drawn by Dan Jurgens and Ron Randall. It’s a double cover for a special called Justice League Spectacular #1 that was released in 1992, cover dated April. You can view the art here on Comic Art Fans where Gal has also posted pictures of promos and of the published version. Neat!
The bag has a copyright date of 1991 and is just a white paper bag with a one color (cyan) imprint. I just love that there’s a store still using 20+ year old bags. I wonder if, when the owner bought them, he was figuring that he’d have a 20 year supply. I also wonder if anyone anywhere has saved or catalogued promotional bags. You’d think among all the old comic guys who save everything, there must be one guy somewhere that has a list or a collection of these things… if there is, I’d love to see it.
Though there can’t be much of a market, I’d guess some comic shop promo bags, which were routinely discarded in an industry that meticulously saves everything, are super rare.