The Globe Bookmart Story

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1968

One night at home in Savannah, Georgia circa 1968 my mother noticed a classified ad in the Savannah Evening News newspaper that she knew would interest me. A used bookstore, Globe Bookmart, had just opened and the ad was asking to buy old comic books. I had never found a used bookstore anywhere in Savannah that was interested in comic books so this was good news indeed. The store was way out of bicycle range so Mom drove me there. The Globe Bookmart I believe was on DeRenne Avenue very close to the landmark that gives a number of businesses in that area their names. There is large spherical gas storage tank there near the intersection of DeRenne and White Bluff Road that was built in the late 1950s by the Savannah Gas Company. I remember in the 1960s this eye-catching globe was painted like a school globe with political boundaries and each country having its own color. Today it has a natural topography paint scheme like the Earth seen from outer space. As soon as I walked into the store I noticed a large wooden display rack to my right with long shelves lined with old comic books. Yes, it looked like I had come to the right place. I was thrilled to see a pre-Marvel monster book I had never seen before, Tales Of Suspense #37 from 1963. I bought it for a dime I think. I don't remember for sure seeing any other Marvel comics I needed. I can't remember what other types of comics were there but as was always the case in any bookstore I visited in Savannah or Birmingham, there weren't a lot of Marvels. 

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Tales Of Suspense #37,

1963

The only pre-Marvel I ever found at Globe Bookmart. I need to upgrade the condition on this one day.

The owner was Mr. Jerry Williams. He was standing behind the cash register located on the left directly across from the comics. He noticed I had an interest in comics and asked if I wanted to see some older more valuable comics he had set aside in a small box with about 40 comics. I took a look and of course they were all DC superhero comics. I think most of them had 10 cent cover prices and I remember thinking something like "why can't these be Marvels with 10 cent cover prices?" The only comic in that box that I can remember was a copy of Brave And The Bold #28 from 1960 with the Justice League battling a giant starfish named Starro. I imagine some lucky DC collector came along later and bought it for a dime. Or maybe Mr. Williams was asking a quarter for these special books.

Mom and I talked for awhile with Mr. Williams and we learned that he had gotten most of his comics and other inventory from his father-in-law in Atlanta, Georgia who ran a bigger bookstore there. I was a little surprised to see Mom buy from Mr. Williams a copy of a recent bestselling but notorious paperback book, Valley Of The Dolls. I didn't think Mom would read a book like that. Actually, over 30 years later I read it myself. It was pretty good.

In addition to comic books Mr. Williams also had another favorite collectible of mine, science fiction paperback books. Near the back of his store he had a display shelf of these used paperbacks. On the reverse side of this shelf were more sci-fi paperbacks. On top of the shelf was a hand written sign that said something like "Savannah's largest selection of science fiction paperbacks." Opposite this shelf on the far back wall was a display of adult girlie magazines. It was these magazines that got Mr. Williams in trouble. I remember one night Mom read me an article from the newspaper about Mr. Williams being arrested by undercover policemen for selling pornographic magazines. Mom said she was glad Mr. Williams pleaded guilty instead of making a fuss about it. Nothing much came of it however as on subsequent trips I noticed the magazines were still in his store. These magazines also got me in trouble later, with Mr. Williams.

I made a few more trips to Globe Bookmart over the next few weeks. On one trip Mr. Williams had just acquired a large collection of a several hundred mostly DC war comic books like Our Fighting Forces and Our Army At war and so on. Many of these were from the 1950s or early 1960s as I remember they had 10 cent cover prices. He wanted to sort the 10 cent cover prices from the 12 cent cover prices. It was a big job and would take a few hours. He asked if I would the job for him. He said he would pay me in comic books instead of money which was ok with me. The payment would be about 30 Marvel comics that apparently came from another collection he picked up, plus any Marvels that I could cull out of the DC war comics if they were there any. The only book from the 30 or so Marvels that I couldn't have was a Amazing Spider-Man #1 in really torn up shape but I would still have been glad to get it. That may have been the first time I saw this book. The Marvels were mostly in beat up shape and I don't know if I still have any included in my collection today. I probably upgraded them with Robert Bell mail order copies. I do remember still having some of these ragged Marvels from Mr. Williams that I was keeping in a junk box. When I retired from the Air Force in 1997 and went on the collector show circuit I sold everything in that junk box. I wish now I had been smart enough to ask for some of the DC war comics as payment or bought outright but I wasn't a DC collector and wasn't thinking like a businessman or speculator in those days. I only bought what I liked.

Mr. Williams also had a back store room that had some old comics in it. He always allowed me to go back there and rummage around. I don't remember much about what comics I found or bought but I do remember he had a fairly nice copy of a Marvel comic with a cool cover, Strange Tales #103. I remember being intrigued by a 10 cent cover price DC Superman related comic book that showed Superboy playing chess or checkers with a robot on the Moon with the Earth in the background night sky. Does anybody know which issue this is? On one trip I was in the back room and I noticed a stack of Playboy magazines. I don't think I had ever seen the inside of a forbidden Playboy magazine and so out of normal curiosity I pulled one out of the stack and went into the attached bathroom and began to look through it. I heard Mr. Williams come into the back room to check on something so I calmly left the magazine in the bathroom and walked back into the room acting as innocent as I could. However luck wasn't with me. Mr. Williams went into the bathroom. He came out with the magazine. He put it back in the stack and didn't say anything or act as if anything were amiss. On my next trip I asked Mr. Williams if I could go in his back room again to look for comics. He told me he had decided he didn't want anybody going in his back room anymore. That day in 1968 was my last trip to Globe Bookmart for about 29 years.

1998

In 1998 I had been retired from the Air Force for a year and was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I was traveling around the east coast setting up at collector shows and flea markets selling comic books and magazines and always looking for new inventory. I was home visiting my mother in Savannah in January and happened to be out driving around. I noticed a sign for a bookstore. I don't remember if it said Bookmart or not. I'm always interested in poking around in used bookstores so I stopped to take a look. This wasn't the location of the Globe Bookmart I knew in 1968 but it was nearby. I wasn't even thinking about the Globe Bookmart but when I walked in the store I immediately had this overpowering feeling of deja vu. There was a wooden comic book rack on my right. There was a display rack in the back with science fiction paperbacks. At the cash register on my left near the door was Mr. Williams standing where I had left him 29 years before. The second he saw me he said something like "You're the kid whose mother used to bring him here." I thought I had stepped into a time warp!

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World Storage Tank

This noted Savannah lankmark today has a natural paint scheme showing the Earth as it appears from space. In the 1960s it was painted to show the different countries.

Mr. Williams said he had moved from his original location several years ago. I thought it was nice that he set up his fixtures the same way he had them in his previous location. He said he had a bad heart condition and was going to close his store soon and move in with his son in Greenville, South Carolina. I told Mr. Williams I was in the collectibles business now and was looking for inventory. He said that was the right thing to do as "you can't sell out of an empty wagon." I looked over his comics on the rack but they were just from the last several years, nothing old. Mr. Williams said he had older comics in storage and if I came back later he would show me some.

He later brought in a box with about 150 comics. They were mostly 12 cent cover prices and even some 10 cent cover prices. He wanted .50 each which was a bargain in 1998. The best one he had was The Brave And The Bold #36 from 1961. Buying a book like that in Very Good/Fine condition for .50 was an incredible bargain. I sold all the comics on the show circuit but kept a Sgt. Fury Annual #1 and Hogan's Heroes #2 with Steve Ditko art for myself.

He also had a large collection of about 100 1960s era monster magazines like Famous Monsters Of Filmland, and many more esoteric titles. I offered him 1.00 each and when he balked I offered him 2.00 each and he accepted. I sold all those magazines on the road and later on ebay for a tidy profit.

Mr. Williams showed me a bound volume of Playboy magazine with first issue from 1953 and all of the 1954 issues that are difficult to find. The condition was about Fine overall. He said he wanted $900.00 for it. I asked if he could go a little lower and he said no and that he could wait to get his price for this bound volume since "I don't have to feed it or refrigerate it." I said I might be interested. When I back to Mom's house I called a friend in Washington D.C., Phil Bills, who was a Playboy magazine dealer. Phil said he could find me a buyer and very quickly found a buyer in Texas who would pay $1200.00 for the bound volume. The buyer mailed me a check. I cashed the check at Mom's bank and went back to pay Mr. Williams. I mailed off the volume to the buyer and sent a Phil a check for his half of the profit, $150.00. My half was the easiest $150.00 I ever made.

I asked Mr. Williams about the other comics in storage but he said he was to weak now lift heavy boxes in his storage location. I offered to do it for him but he refused. I suspected he had second thoughts about selling the rest of his comics for .50 each. I may have offered more, I don't remember. Mr. Williams also had a Fiction House collection of comics from the 1940s in better than average condition. The one sample he showed me was Very Fine. I said I would do some research and make an offer. When I got home to Virginia Beach I showed the Fiction House list to a friend, Rick Krippendorf, who knew more about those type of books than me. Rick said it would be ok if I paid up to $2,000 for the collection. I called Mr. Williams long distance and offered him $2,000 but he refused. So I missed out on the Fiction House collection and the other comics in storage but I did well on the first box of comics, the monster magazines and the Playboy bound volume. Not a bad haul from a little bookstore in Savannah.