I firmly believe that in any situation, when you’re trying to make the best deal for yourself, you have to use all of the resources that are available to you – including the borderline flirtations of cute redhead that just so happens to be accompanying you to said situation.
Yes, in my acquisition of Amazing Spider-Man #59, better known to collectors as the first cover appearance of Mary Jane Watson, or as one comic book dealer once told me a bit creepily, “that issue where MJ looks hot in those boots on the cover,” I did what any guy looking to save a few bucks would do – I used my wife for leverage.
Before I get accused of any Indecent Proposal nonsense, let me just say that my wife was totally a willing partner-in-crime on this occasion. We were attending a relatively small monthly comic book show in New Jersey, which is run by some really great people. After finding a stack of issues that helped me plug some holes I was missing in the 100s and 400s, my wife thought it was only fitting that I end the day with a “get” – a nice issue that was a little more special than the $1 and $5 books I had been picking up from various tables throughout the afternoon.
I was initially resistant because I had dropped a decent amount of money during the day and I didn’t really set out to this show to cross something off my Silver Age wish list. But after a few minutes of coaxing, we did one last circle of the room just to see what was out there, and we came across a very nice looking copy of ASM #59, which was something I had really wanted for quite some item.
In addition to it being the first MJ appearance, overall, it’s just a really fun, quirky cover that screams Flower Power and late 1960s. Up until that point, I can’t really think of any ASM covers that date themselves quite like the way ASM #59 does. But Mary Jane here in her hypnotically-designed mini-dress and boots looks like a background character in some 1960s-era spy film (or Austin Powers for those of you who are looking for a more contemporary reference).
And let it also be said that I’ve always had an affinity for Mary Jane. What can I say? I love redheads so much, I went out and married one. And don’t you think my wife knows that? When she first saw the Spider-Man movie with me with Kirsten Dunst in 2002, she loved that MJ was a redhead. I believe that all of the redheads of the world, both real and fictitious have regular meetings to discuss new ways to charm the male population. Christina Hendricks is the current president. Ann Margaret is chairwoman emeritus. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
Point being is that once we spotted ASM #59, and once my wife was aware that it was the first cover appearance by her favorite comic book redhead, it was her mission to help me get that issue. But the asking price for the comic was a bit steep, and while it was truly in great condition, I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on something I could probably get in slightly worse condition and still be happy with the purchase since I spent less money.
I mentioned in a previous post that of the two of us, my wife is the master negotiator in the marriage. With that in mind, she was not going to be denied this comic book. But she also knew that to get a good deal for a comic book, she was going to have to take a different approach than how she would attempt to get two pairs of sunglasses for $10 from a merchant in Chinatown.
What you have to consider is at a small comic book show like the one I was at on this occasion, my wife was one of maybe three or four girls in the room. Granted, I’m biased, but I believe she was the most attractive. The vast bulk of sellers are dealers in their late 30s or older who are in all likelihood, burnt out from having arguments about various points in nerd culture with the usual lineup of dudes who walks the tables at a show. So yes, my wife was a sight for sore eyes, and she knew it.
Still, I needed to play it cool when she went up to the seller and in a somewhat giggly, girly way, asked if there was any way he’d be willing to part with ASM #59 for less than the asking price. She mentioned that it was her favorite issue because Mary Jane was on the cover, who’s “a readhead like me.” My lord was she laying it on thick, but you got to believe me that he was putty in her (our) hands.
Just to play the role of bad cop, I even mentioned that there was a date-stamp marked in pencil in the upper right hand corner of the comic. It’s a negligible flaw, and the seller reminded me of that. But it just reinforced that if we didn’t get the deal we wanted, despite my wife’s flirtations, we were going to walk away because I could just find a “better” copy elsewhere.
She argued the guy down by a third, but then in a final stroke of genius, my wife decided now was the perfect time to set-back feminism about 20 years and pulled the “math is hard. Is this the right amount?” card, naturally giving a few dollars less than the agreed upon price. And the guy took it anyway.
I was now a happy owner of ASM #59, making this particular trip to the comic book show a very, very successful one that filled some holes in my collection large and small. And in the process I learned that in specific situations, I have a very secret weapon in my wife, who said she legitimately had a great time accompanying me and working her magic on ASM #59. In subsequent comic book shopping trips, I never witnessed her working the room quite that hard again, but that’s just because we haven’t found the appropriate mark yet. So beware comic book sellers when you see a guy and his chatty redhead wife approaching your table.