It’s been almost exactly two years since I last ran an Unsung Heroes article (on Larry Dempsey) for my Inkblots column so I’m obviously overdue (former articles were on Michael Netzer & Bob McLeod and Serge LaPointe & PJ Magalhaes). This time I wanted to give special recognition to our retailer associates who we never want to take for granted. They have assisted us in two crucial programs, the COMPliments Program and Fundraising. Early on Bob Shaw helped establish our general fundraising system where we not only acquire donations from artists at conventions to auction off on eBay but to purchase at cost the blank cover variant comics that suddenly became the rage at Marvel soon after we started up. We received these from a number of retailers at the time but most-notably Larry Harrison of Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture, Ernie Pelletier Jr. of Friendly Neighborhood Comics, Jay Pillarella of Rubber Chicken Comics, and Nate Machado from New England Comics.
I soon developed the COMPliments Program after Joe Sinnott‘s son Mark told me how when Marvel Comics changed their policy about sending comps to their talent. Joe used to receive Marvel Masterworks hardcover comps of his work, especially of the Fantastic Four volumes. When they inexplicably stopped arriving Joe called up and spoke to an assistant editor who told him that the inkers were not considered as important as the writers and pencilers. I vowed that Joe and any Sinnott Hall of Fame recipients could receive a free comp of their work in HC from any publisher if the publisher offered them to other talent but precluded the ink artist. Upon request Larry Harrison and Ernie Pelletier volunteered to participate in and launch this program, offering free MMW and other hardcovers to these artists (mostly Joe and for a time Terry Austin) for some time. But as time passed the cost of the retailer absorbing these expenses became a hardship and some changes were made. We decided to pay for the HCs at wholesale cost and give them free to the Hall of Famers whose art was collected within. This put no additional strain on our retailers. Jay Pillarella of Rubber Chicken took on the primary role for the COMPs Program with the other retailers acting as back-up.
Jay also became the primary supplier of blank cover variant comics and became a senior contributor. Recently I discovered that Jay was not able to order many of the Marvel variants because the recently-established Marvel quantity requirements to order them was not conducive for his store (blanks had subsequently started up at DC and other publishers but they didn’t have these extra ordering hurdles). So while Jay ordered all non-Marvel blanks with no problem, Nate Machado took on the primary role of ordering many of the Marvel blanks we wanted since the New England Comics franchise of stores allowed them the opportunity of placing the kind of orders necessary in most cases to get them. Ernie and Larry continue to be the rare back-up stores should a challenge arise. But we certainly wouldn’t be where we are without our retailers! BRAVO FOR YOUR SUPPORT, GENTS, AND TAKE A BOW! WE SALUTE YOU!