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Feature: Collecting TV memorabilia

Space Collectibles!

The much-coveted very first issue of the Star Trek comic "Great shades of Pluto!" His mission: to save a Star Trek comic book from scissors-wielding relatives. Mark Phillips has experienced the gains and pains of collecting classic TV memorabilia.

I never considered myself a true memorabilia collector. I didn't keep gum cards in plastic wrappers or sequester toys in their boxes for investment purposes. My Star Trek model kits were always quickly assembled and then accidentally smashed while staging Space battles. Pieces of my Dark Shadows board game were lost, stepped on or mangled by the house cat. But comic books were a different story. They were like mini-treasures. In the early 1970s, they were the most colourful and affordable pieces of memorabilia around for kids.

DC Comics specialized in superheroes like Batman and Superman but it was the Gold Key TV comics that caught my pre-teen eye. One of their comic books was based on Star Trek, and the first nine issues featured cover photographs from the TV show. The comics ran from 1967-1979 (61 issues). Even as a kid, I realized the artwork and stories had idiosyncrasies. The landing parties wore backpacks, Scotty had blonde hair, the ship's controls were a series of wheels, gears and levers, and the Enterprise had flames spitting out of the nacelles. The primary artist for some of these issues, the talented Alberto Giolitti, lived in Italy and had never seen the show. All he had for reference were some early publicity photos.

Some of Mr Spock's dialogue also seemed out of character. In Issue #1, as plants wrapped around him, a panicked Spock screams, "They're out to destroy us! Guards! Guards!" In another issue, he furrows his brow and exclaims, "Great shades of Pluto!" Yeoman Rand's dialogue ranged from "Eeeek!" to "Sob, sob." while Captain Kirk chimed in with lines like, "Great gosh!" or "Howling comets!" and "We're sunk!"

Cousin Scissorhands
One summer, when I was 11, I visited my grandparents and cousins. I already had a burgeoning collection of TV comic books: my younger cousin Danny also collected, but for an entirely different purpose. He would return from a friend's house and dump an armful of comic books in our grandparents' living room. When reading time was over, Danny would pull out a pair of scissors and begin cutting the comics into shreds...

"What are these comics?" I asked. Danny replied, "Oh, just stupid Space stuff." He picked up a copy of The Invaders and scissored it in half. I looked down at the floor and saw scraps and ribbons. My dawning realization turned into horrified astonishment. The paper pieces were remnants of Land of the Giants and Wild, Wild West comic books. Comic books highly prized and from what I could see, issues I didn't have. But just as I made sense of all this, Danny picked up another comic book and poised his scissors to strike. "No, Wait!" I cried. In his hand was a Star Trek comic book. I could tell that it was an issue I didn't have. "What's wrong?" Danny asked, slightly annoyed. "Can I read that one first?" I sputtered, pointing to Mr Spock on the cover. He handed it over to me, but his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Okay, but I want it back!" I took the comic gingerly, and like a squirrel with a highly prized nut, I marvelled at the bizarre story of monster plants that threatened to engulf the galaxy.

I gazed at the colour photos on the cover, especially the rare shot of the Enterprise in orbit. I looked at the copyright date, 1967. Wow, so long ago. My eyes transfixed on the issue number: #1. Great flaming moons of Orion, what a priceless find! I knew two things right away: How rare it was and how I had to have it.

RRiiippppp!! I looked over to see Cousin Scissorhands tearing out a photograph of Rod Serling from a Twilight Zone cover. He plastered Rod's face onto the petal of a sunflower. I looked down at Mr Spock. Was this in store for him as well?

by Mark Phillips

Read the full six-page feature, illustrated with rare merchandise, in:
TV Zone #149

Original comic © 1967 Desilu Productions
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

Taken from
TV Zone #149, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #149
April 2002
ships from Mar 14 2002
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UK £3.40 / US $5.99

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