When Alan Moore Talked Sixties Superman At San Diego Comic-Con

One of the earliest comic book retailers and comic historian Bob Beerbohm (author of Comic Book Store Wars) set up the Californian comic book store and the first comic book chain. He has many tales to tell, including meeting a young Alan Moore to talk Superman. Bob Beerbohm writes, with permission to republish;

During Alan Moore's first (and evidently only) San Diego Comic-Con in the mid 1980s he came up to me in my booth first buying copies of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #63 & #69 from me which led in to he and I having an intense almost hour long Superman Emergency Squad conversation replete with the bottled city of Kandor, Brainiac, Nightwing & Flamebird, etc 1961-1964. At the time I did not know/realize who he was other than I had this rather tall bearded intense Brit asking cajoling me via force of kindred soul collecting of personality to plumb the depths of every mention I knew of such Superman sub-categories listed above. A challenge I relish for decades. Pride in knowing what is inside the comic books going back decades. The wheat from the chaff.

This tall bearded Brit was remembering broken images and story lines from when he was a young guy now seeking the American color versions. We were talking the same wavelength and both having fun. Over the decades I learned the more I knew, and then I show the collector what he does not have, then the more copies build up in the potential buy stack, pending negotiations for possible bulk discount.

Comic book reading to discover the gems was "market research" long time friend Mark Stichman as once related the concept to me when I made mention he was "reading" too many comics on the job in the Berkeley comic book store back in the late 70s. We took such "research" to heart for a long time. Let it become part of one's DNA in a way. What also ensued was almost a hundred other lost comic souls crowded around listening to this tall Brit and me explore the intricacies of Kandor continuity.

A fond memory of dealing with such crowd control as there were some at both ends of this growing half circle around us as some jammed elbows in to the tops of my open comics boxes seeking to hear the words this Brit and I were bandying back and forth. And I was then still clueless why. For the longest time I thought mayhaps there were more bottled city of Kandor fans still out there than I realized. A few had begun buying dup copies I had of these "key" issues this Brit had also bought from me.

Superman Emergency Squad had always been a perennial steady seller like Bizarro World sub-set stuff does. There is much more to this memory. Will expand as the memory jogs hit me. It was quite the moment when some one told me I had been chatting with, and had been challenged by, Alan Moore this past hour. We shook hands, then bowed to our ad hoc audience. The full story is quite illuminating and at times quite funny, I think. And a slice of Alan Moore as collector which many might not be privy to up close and personal.

And given the details of the Superman comic books that Alan Moore would write, namely For The Man Who Has Everything with Dave Gibbons, and Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow with Curt Swan, it looks like a few of those discussed details with Bob Beerbohm may have made it into the published comic books themselves. And it's also remembering the Alan Moore who was, before he had to deal with DC Comics themselves.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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