Over Thanksgiving weekend this year, I finally visited the Paper Street Comic Book Company, a comic book shop in Mannheim, Germany that I’d been wanting to checkout since I arrived here. Although it was supposed to be open, I had to wait an additional twenty minutes. I was half tempted to just leave, but I had already driven about sixty minutes. Also, there were stacks of short boxes containing American comics along the back wall that could be seen through the glass door. Once I saw those short boxes, I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere.
Once the shop opened, I was surprised to see an entire section of well-organized American comics already on the sales floor. Also, the layout was very open and the clerk was very helpful. Even though my German is basic, the clerk spoke very good English and we were able to communicate.
As I was going through the tables, I ran into some decent modern comics. For example, I found copies of Amazing Spider-Man #654 and #655. Unfortunately, they were priced according to current market values, so I passed. Nonetheless, I decided to continue going through all of the bins. Once I arrived to the independent section, my heart skipped a beat when I found a copy of Akira #34 for just a few euros. I continued to dig, but there was no copy of #38 to be found. Just as l was losing hope of finding a gem, I found a copy of Evil Ernie #1. It was priced at 48€ ($52.89 in today’s conversion rate). There was also a copy of issue #4 that was priced at 45€, but I decided to pass on it.
After I finished picking out a few other comics, I made it to the counter to pay. My initial fear was that the clerk would start looking up prices. Unfortunately, I’ve been a victim of pricing at the counter in the past. Nothing burns me more than thinking I’ve scored a great deal on a bargain bin find and then having a store clerk reprice an item at the counter. I’ve literally walked away from sales in the past because of store owners repricing comics at the point of sale. Thankfully, my comics all had prices and the clerk rang them up as indicated by the stickers. When I paid, I happened to have nice stack of cash in my wallet. The clerk undoubtedly took notice. I decided to ask him about the comics stacked along the back wall. He said it would be at least another month before he would get to them. He thought about it for a few seconds, and then offered to let me dig through the boxes to see if there was something else that I might be interested in. The only condition was that he would have to price anything I found. I was more than okay with this arrangement. Unfortunately, the only comic I was interested in, in those boxes was a copy of Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #46, which is a cover swipe of the Apocalypse Now movie poster. It was only a few euros. Interestingly, there were what appeared to be Silver Age German reprints of Fantastic Four comics in one of the short boxes next to the American comics I was digging through. I believe that there is a market for foreign reprints of Marvel Comics, but I didn’t bother with them because its an area I’m not familiar with.
Although Evil Ernie #1 (EE) was the highlight of my hunt that day, here is what I learned after finally reading the comic. First, I never knew that EE was originally conceived to be a movie script. I can hardly imagine what the value of EE #1 would be if a movie was ever announced. Secondly, according to the letters page, advance photocopies were sent out to retailers in order to encourage them to order copies of EE #1. This is the first I’ve ever heard of these photocopies. If someone were to rediscover an actual copy, I wonder how the market would react. Would folks start to consider the photocopies EE and Lady Death’s true first appearance? Would CGC even grade them? For now, I guess I’ll never know.
Overall, I was very pleased with my visit to the Paper Street Comic Book Company. The store was clean and well organized. I plan on visiting it at least a few more times while I’m stationed here in Germany. I don’t know if I’ll sell my copy of Evil Ernie #1. In fact, I received a trade offer on one of the pickup sites I posted this find. However, I already have a copy of the comic that was offered. I do plan on sending it in for grading. I’m currently organizing another small batch of comics to send in to CGC, so I’ll be posting a future update.