I don’t have many free flat surfaces in my studio. I have a lot of counters and tables with things on them. My drawing table is mostly free but that’s where I work on my drawings and paintings. I have a big counter on the left of my studio that holds my computer, monitor, scanners, and printer. The only free spot there is on top of my printer. It’s a 13×19 inch tabloid printer so it has a pretty big flat surface on top. So I put things on top of it. Comic books mostly.

Actually I don’t put the comic books right on top. A few years ago the fella who runs my local comic shop asked me if I wanted a free Monopoly game. It was the Jay and Silent Bob Edition. I’m not much of a Monopoly player but I thought it looked cool. When I got it home I noticed it was about the same size as the top of my printer. So that’s where it has sat for years.

Why the Monopoly game sits there is a matter of practicality. Shortly before I got the game I started keeping a few comics on top of the printer. My “To be read” pile of comics is in a magazine holder atop a end table to the right of my chair. They sit there until I read them but they’re tucked away and unseen. But I wanted to keep a few comics where I could see them and admire them on a whim. That is the top of the printer.

Once a week I take a comic out of my collection and set it on top of the printer. I call it “My museum spot” because I can pick up and look at that comic book cover as I go by. Besides that museum comic I sometimes have another four or five comics on top of the printer for various reasons. The Monopoly game makes them easy to move. I use my printer a lot. If not at least once a day then five days out of the week. It’s easier to pick up the Monopoly box with the comics on top of it than it is to pick up six individual comics.

Only one of the comic books on top of the printer has been there for over a year. I can’t seem to put it away because of nostalgia. That comic, well it’s not actually a comic book, is Marvel Age #111. Marvel Age was Marvel Comics’ publication about Marvel Comics. These days it’s the equivalent of Marvel’s web page. It has all sorts of news, art, and articles about Marvel Comics. This issue came out in 1992 when I was working in the Marvel Comics’ Bullpen. There is the nostalgia angle.

It’s the cover that I really enjoy. The cover was drawn by Spider-Man artist and Marvel Art Director at the time John Romita. Also appearing on the cover is John’s wife Virginia Romita who also worked at Marvel Comics back then. She was the Traffic Manager as well as being in charge of the Bullpen and my boss.

On the cover Virginia is opening the door to John’s office and in her role as Traffic Manager asking John where the cover to Marvel Age is. As that is happening we see a self portrait of John with his eyes closed and his hands behind his head in a daydreaming pose. Surrounding John are eight different women he has drawn for Marvel. We have: Crystal the Inhuman, a Femizon, Medusa the Inhuman, Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, the Black Widow, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson. It’s a cute gag.

There is one other woman in the drawing. On the door that Virginia is opening is a poster of a woman in a cape and smoking a cigarette in a holder. This is the Dragon Lady for Milton Caniff’s “Terry and the Pirates.” That comic strip was a favorite of John’s from his youth and Milton Caniff’s art was a big influence on John’s own art. So he was paying tribute to Caniff by putting the Dragon Lady in this drawing.

Not only is this a nice cover but there is a lot of nostalgia in it for me. Double nostalgia even. First of all I grew up reading Marvel comics in the 1970s so I was very familiar with John Romita art. From a young age I enjoyed his work and knew all the women he drew on this cover well before I ever met and worked with him. Then of course there is the fact that I was working at Marvel when this issue of Marvel Age come out. You can even find my name on the inside front cover in the “Production” section. Just seeing the drawings of John and Virginia make me nostalgic.

Just writing this was making me so nostalgic that I decided to look up how much a copy goes for on eBay right now. For a brief moment I was thinking about buying another copy for no reason but the fact that this copy makes me happy. A copy is only about ten bucks with shipping and tax but I really don’t need another copy. But then I ran across a $500 copy.

That super expensive copy is a slabbed CBG 9.6 Marvel Age 111 autographed by both John and Virginia Romita. There is absolutely no way I would ever pay that much for it but for a nanosecond it tempted me. Lots of nostalgia can do that. I don’t own any slabbed comic books nor am I interested in autographs but I still think that one is pretty cool.

The top of the printer has about six comics on it but only two fit on it side by side. That means that sometimes this cover is not on top and is out of sight. The rest of the comics in those two small piles have rotated off the printer and back into their usual place in my collection to be replaced by other comics but not Marvel Age 111. I have at times contemplated putting it away somewhere (since it’s been sitting there since I bought it a year ago it never actually found its “Away spot”) but have always elected to instead put it at the bottom of the pile. That way I could rediscover it in a week or two. It can make me happy all over again.