Florida SuperCon

Time for another convention in Miami. Same deal, just me and my son. And like I promised myself, a better hotel. Or so I thought. We picked a boutique hotel (I guess that’s what those damn things are called) about two blocks from the Miami Beach convention center. Seemed like a nice place, and then the music started blasting up and down the street.

BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP!

Midnight passed.

BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP!

2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. …

BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP!

Finally at 5 a.m. it shut down. Until 9 a.m.

BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP!

So I was freaking exhausted when we went over to the con. At least the night after the con (and 11 miles of walking according to my phone, including treks to lunch and dinner and a boatload of late-night panels while my kid went to a dance) I was tired enough to sleep through it all.

hardcaseThere were a couple of dozen comic dealers at the show, but not a lot of Ultraverse. I scraped a few out of some cheap bins, including four Ultraverse Premiere 0s and some UPC variants (although not nearly as many as the last time I was in Miami).

But I did bring a few things for Mike Zeck to sign, including a full run of Eliminator and a couple of Hardcase cards. Then someone in his booth told me he was charging $5 a signature. I have no problem at all with that, but I decided to just get a couple … Eliminator 0 and a Hardcase card. Really nice guy.

I actually would recommend this convention to anyone who can deal with South Florida in July. The guest list was great, it was never that crowded and there was a really diverse set of dealers on the floor. I’ll probably go back next year, and just stay in a bigger hotel.


Retailer kit

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This is a package I picked up off eBay a while back. Apparently these kits were put together in the Malibu offices as something of a “thank you” to retailers who went above and beyond promoting the brand.

There are some nice touches, including a Rune Ultra 5000, some pins, stickers, cards, posters and a copy of the Jumpstart Effect ashcan (which is really hard to find).

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I’m glad I was able to get this in its original state. And I’m not sure, but I think this might have been the only way the Jumpstart Effect book was distributed. Even though it has a 99-cent cover price, I can’t remember ever seeing one in a store.


Malibu Flipside

Marvel used to offer up these black and white preview books to retailers called Sales to Astonish. At some point after Marvel bought Malibu, they used the back half of one of these to give the Ultraverse some love. At least that’s what I think happened. I’ve seen a bunch of different copies of Sales to Astonish but this is the only one with a Malibu Flipside. And that’s all I know about this, but at least I have a couple of pictures.

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Double Prime

Primedouble Remember those books that were polybagged with a random Ultraverse Series I card? One of those was Prime 4 (I am still trying to verify that the polybagged Prototype variant cover for that book actually exists … I’ve never actually seen one although I know someone who has).

I actually spent five bucks on this book since it had an extra card in the polybag. Why? I’m not sure.

Edit: Fixed the post to point out that the polybagged variant is the one I haven’t seen (it would have a UPC symbol on the front and come bagged with a random card).


Magic City Comic Con

So my kid wanted to go to a comic convention down in Miami, which is about five hours south from here. It wasn’t very hard to convince me! So off we went last weekend to Magic City Comic Convention, which is a smaller event (compared to, say, MegaCon in Orlando) at a convention center next to a hotel over by the airport.

I decided to go cheap on the hotel to leave us more money for the con by staying at a Motel 6. Next time, there will be less scrimping, I assure you.

uvbooksmantraAnyway, we got to the con pretty early. There were a lot of actors, wrestlers, voice actors, etc. And about 20 comic book creators,including Mantra writer Mike W. Barr. I stopped by his booth and got a couple of things signed. I’m not sure if he had ever seen one of the holographic covers before. Mainly people were bringing him Batman books to sign; I saw one dude give him a couple of Break-Thru books.

So that’s Ultraverse Note No. 1. It’s 20 years later but there are still signs!

Ultraverse Note No. 2: One of the comic book dealers (there were about 10 total) actually had several quarter bins. I love quarter bins! So I dove in and found he had a number of Ultraverse books that had the UPC codes on the cover (follow this link for that nerdiness). And when I say “a number,” I actually mean “80.” To me that was 20 bucks well spent.


The UPC codes

I think I have most of this figured out. For about the first year-and-a-half, all Ultraverse comics had a regular cover and a UPC cover, almost always identical except for the UPC box (there are some variant covers but I think we figured those out a long time ago).

m15m16In fall 1994 they changed the box at the top left of the cover from a big Malibu logo to a smaller logo with a head shot. Mantra 15 and 16 is an example.

I think that change marks the end of the UPC variants … a few months later all Ultraverse books had UPC boxes no matter where they were sold. I have visually verified this with almost all of the UPC books.

Anyway, here is what I came up with:

UPC list
Break-Thru: 1, 2
Elven: 0
Exiles: 1, 2, 3, 4
Firearm: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Freex: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (14 unverified), Giant Size 1
Hardcase: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 (17 unverified)
Lord Pumpkin: 0 (maybe)
Mantra: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, Giant Size 1
Night Man: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Prime: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 (16 unverified), Annual 1
Prototype: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, Giant Size 1
Rune: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (6 unverified)
Sludge: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 (11-12 unverified)
Solitaire: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Solution: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (13-14 unverified)
Strangers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Ultraforce: 0, 1, 2
Ultraverse Origins: 1
Warstrike: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Wrath: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Giant Size 1

Those unverified ones, I’m not even certain they exist because another potential reason is that this might have been a timed change (around September-October 1994). If you have actually seen one of those, let me know!


Valentines Day cards

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I never would have known this existed until I saw it on another web site, so at least one other person has a set of them. It took a couple of months searching on eBay to turn up (can’t remember the exact price, it was maybe a buck or two) although I have not seen any since, and that was more than a year ago.

The other guy’s cards say they were for discounts around Ohio; these are from California. There’s no real way to tell how rare they are, so let’s just say they are “pretty cool” and leave it there.

uvv1a uvv1g uvv1f uvv1e uvv1d uvv1c uvv1b

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Well, this is rare …

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I have thought for years that the Mantra Ultra-Limited Archive Edition is one of the tougher Ultraverse books to find. You just rarely see one for sale, even though the COA says that there were 500 of them. And 500 of something is rare but not, uh, Ultra-rare.

photo (3)Anyway, I found a copy on eBay last week and punched a BIN for $13. That’s more than I like to spend, but like I said, you hardly ever see this book. It arrived safe and sound and I put a couple of pictures up on the Ultraverse Facebook group, which led to some background information being posted.

This book was the brainchild of then-Malibu Marketing Manager Ross Richie. His idea was “to give retailers something super-rare and extra special they couldn’t get anywhere else. It was like a customer loyalty program — you supported Malibu, now we’re supporting you and appreciate you. My job was to handle retailer relationships, so I’d talk to them and put together a care package of posters and buttons and add that or some other curio and ship it out.”

Head of marketing Tom Mason (who also was an Ultraverse co-founder and wrote Dinosaurs for Hire and co-wrote Prototype) gave him the okay, so Richie ordered the stamp, created the certificates and got Chris Ulm and Mike Barr to autograph them. When he wanted to send one out he would stamp the book and put a package together. But he says he did this less than 30 times.

Then Marvel bought Malibu. Richie left Malibu shortly after, followed by Mason. The Ultra Archive project shut down when Richie left and the remaining certificates, as far as he knows, were tossed in recycling bins like so many other incentive books when the Malibu offices closed.

So good luck finding one of these! There are definitely some hard-to-find books from the early days of the Ultraverse … this might be the toughest of all.

Richie went on to become the CEO and Founder of BOOM! Studios, which is hitting a 10-year milestone for publishing comics in 2015.


Malibu Catalog

photoThis is one of those things they used to stick in with the box of comics from the distributor every week. Most comic shops got this kind of solicitation catalog. Most went into the trash, I’m sure. I don’t even think this is particularly collectible but it did have some interesting info.

I know there were 5,000 of each of the holographic covers for the first seven Ultraverse titles. Back in the day these books were hard to find, and when you saw one it was extremely expensive. Seems like I remember some with $100 price tags, and this was back when you could get a pretty good stack of Silver Age Marvel comics for that kind of money.

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But I never understood the process. This catalog explains a bit of that: For every 100 copies of an Ultraverse launch title, retailers could buy a holographic cover comic for $4.25. You better have had a pretty healthy comic shop if you were planning on ordering 100 of anything, although this was just before the big comic crash of the 1990s.


Prime sketch

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This falls into the Cheep category. I got this for a buck, plus another $2 for shipping. It’s a quickie convention sketch of Prime on a comic book backing board. It looks as if it was done by Norm Breyfogle in 1993, which was Prime Time for this character.

Prime12zzIt came with a Malibu Signature Series book that had a few signatures in it. I am actually thinking of taking this to a few cons and getting some more signatures in it. Not because that would make it valuable, it just sounds kind of fun to do.

A side note: When you pay $2 for shipping, you get $2 worth of shipping. This came in an envelope with no support and somewhere along the way it suffered some indignities. That sounds like life, you know?