If you are like me, you've despaired of ever getting the classic Golden Age Aquaman stories. DC is unlikely to ever reprint them, and the price for those old books is astronomical. Brave heart, Tegan, there is a way to get them after all.
How can I get Golden Age Aquaman stories?
On microfiche. MicroColour reprints are full-color microfiche versions of full Golden Age comic book issues, including quite a few with Aquaman!
MicroColour? What's that?
MicroColour International is a company that produces and sells microfiche of various types. Among their stock is a good selection of Golden Age comic books from all the big companies of the time, including DC and Marvel.
Are they legal?
Yes. They have agreements with many comic companies to produce microfiche only reprints of comic books. They also reprint a handful of comics on CD-Rom, but none from the big companies.
What good is microfiche to me? I don't have a reader.
Microfiche readers are widely available for public use at libraries. Some libraries also have microfiche printers, and you can print out B&W copies of any fiche you bring in. In addition, MicroColour also sells microfiche readers, and it's not too difficult to find second-hand microfiche readers at surplus stores or in various auctions for less than $50.
Won't librarians confiscate my microfiche if I take them to a public library?
No. If you're truly worried about that, bring your receipt along to prove they are yours. But I've never had a problem.
Why don't they reprint everything on CD-Rom?
Legal reasons, mostly. And also because microfiche is still the archive method of choice, even in the digital age. Microfiche are easy to store, easy to view on low-tech readers, and will last your entire lifetime (and then some, estimates are 500 years versus 10-20 years for digital media).
Ok, so how much does it cost?
MicroColour microfiche are generally sold in sets of 5 for about $36: Five issues of the comic book on five individual microfiche. They do sell individual issues at a minimum of $7.50 a fiche, with a minimum order of $25. Each MicroColour microfiche contains one full-color issue of a comic book. The quality of the books is not always near mint, but every page is readable. All ads are included.
That's too much money to spend! 36 bucks on 5 issues! That's crazy!
It's not crazy if you want to read the story. The cheapest comic on my list of Aquaman reprints to get in its original format, Adventure Comics #127, will cost you around $50 in good condition (29th edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide). The whole lot of issues (that include Aquaman) that MicroColour offers, buying at guide prices in good condition, would set you back about $5400, assuming you could even find them. For contrast, if you want to buy all those issues, in their sets, from Microcolour, it would only cost you $431.40 ($686.40 with a microfiche reader), and that's not counting any specials or sales MicroColour offers (you can get a deal on a reader with some sets of fiche).
Ok, you've convinced me to look. Where can I find more information?
If you want to check it out, visit their website at http://www.microcolour.com. But be warned, the website doesn't seem to be updated very frequently, so use the e-mail provided on the site to request a catalog. If you are too impatient to wait for a catalog, call them direct at 201-445-3450 and request a catalog. They will also accept orders at this number (have a credit card handy).
What Golden Age Aquaman is available?
Sets that include Aquaman stories as of January 2000, prices are $35.95 per set:
MicroColour currently does not reprint six Aquaman stories (of the sixty-one existing) in the range of books they have available (Nov 1941 - Apr 1948). Those stories appeared in More Fun Comics #73, 79, 80, 81, 83, and 107. They do not reprint these stories because they cannot find copies of the issues of those books to use to make microfiche with. If you have information on copies of these books they could use, call them (201-445-3450).
What other comics does MicroColour reprint?
Their list is HUGE. I'd be crazy to try to list them all. So here's just a few (some issues in these ranges may be missing): Action Comics 1-100 (Jun 38 to Sep 46), Adventure Comics 13-127 (Feb 37 to Apr 48), All Star 1-57 (Summer 41 to Feb 51), Green Lantern 1-25 (Fall 41 to Apr/May 47), Batman 1-100 (Spring 40 to Jun 56), Detective Comics (Mar 37 to Jun 45), Flash 1-25 (Jan 40 to Jan 42), Leading Comics 1-10 (Winter 41-42 to Spring 44), Superman 1-100 (Summer 39 to Sep 55), Whiz Comics 1-50 (Feb 40 to Jan 44), Wonder Woman 1-30 (Summer 42 to Jul/Aug 48) and a bunch more. And that's just from DC. They also carry some early Archie Comics, various other companies I haven't heard of, and a few titles from Marvel Comics: All Winners, Captain America, Human Torch, Marvel Mystery, Submariner, Strange Tales, and more.
Have you bought any, Tegan?
Yes. I'm currently the proud owner of four sets, and World's Finest #6. My first order took exactly one week after I ordered it to arrive, the second a few days longer, and the service so far has been wonderful. I was skeptical of microfiche at first, because I thought it would be a pain to read them, but I asked for and received a fiche reader for Christmas (bought at Boeing Surplus for $30). I also took my fiche down to the local library to print out the splash pages for my reviews, and had no problems. Also, while I bought the fiche mostly for the Aquaman stories, I really enjoy almost every story (and many of the ads) in every issue. I feel like I've gotten my money's worth.
I intend to buy more as soon as I have money for them.
Wouldn't you prefer hardcopies?
Yes. So keep writing DC and asking for reprints!