Advertisement
 

Tag Archives: Rocket Blast Comic Collector

Bud Plant Biographical Interview with Bud Plant and Alex Grand

Read Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books published by McFarland Books in 2023 with Foreword by Jim Steranko with editorial reviews by comic book professionals, Jim Shooter, Tom Palmer, Tom DeFalco, Danny Fingeroth, Alex Segura, Carl Potts, Guy Dorian Sr. and more.

In the meantime enjoy the show:

Bud Plant was a wholesale comics distributor active in the 1970s and 1980s during the growth of the direct market. He also published a selection of comics and zines during the same period. Starting in 1970 as a mail-order distributor specializing in underground comix, Plant absorbed some of his smaller rivals in the 1980s, and then sold his business to Diamond Comics Distributors in 1988. He still, as Bud Plant’s Art Books (https://www.budsartbooks.com/ ) sells quality reprints and graphic novels.

Bud Plant is one of the first comic book shop owners, former West Coast Comic Book Distributor, former co-owner of Comics and Comix, the largest comic book franchise in the United States, and owner-operator of Bud’s Art books.

A sit down chat between Alex Grand and Bud Plant discussing his early years in 1960s fandom, Rocket Blast Comic Collector, Golden Age Timely, Quality and Fiction House comics, EC Comics, Carl Barks, Julius Schwartz comics, Jules Fei¦er’s Great Comic Book Heroes, business in the first comic book shops, Sci-Fi Bay Con 1968, 1960s Fanzines, meeting Steranko at New York Comic Con 1970, starting Bud’s Mail order, co-founding Comics and Comix and its various stages, finding the Tom Reilly Collection at 1973 Bay Area Comics Convention, from meeting Phil Seuling, starting the direct market, New Media/Irjax lawsuit, Seuling’s death, encountering Gary Groth at Fantagraphics, business with Kirby and Eisner, getting into the comic direct distribution business from 1982-1988, publishing Alfredo Alcala and Jack Katz, encountering Steve Geppi at Diamond which decided the course of comic history, getting the inkpot award in the 1990s, and phasing out of San Diego Comic-Con.

🎬 Edited & Produced by Alex Grand. Thumbnail Artwork, CBH Podcast ©2021 Comic Book Historians.

Sound FX -Standard License. Images used in artwork ©Their Respective Copyright holders including but not limited to Dan Gearino. Images used for academic purposes only.

Bud Plant Biographical Interview by Alex Grand

📜 Video chapters
00:00 Welcoming Bud Planet
00:53 Family background
02:43 My childhood comics
05:35 My go-to for comics
07:10 Became Marvel maniac
08:30 Fantastic Four
10:05 The Jules Fei¦er Article
11:25 Early Batman, Superman
13:27 Met other fans through a bookstore ~1965
17:26 Michelle Nolan
18:44 Ads for old comics
19:45 Fanzine? | Rocket Blast ComicCollector
22:54 Written letters to Marvel -DareDevil 16
24:01 Collecting old comics
25:58 Julius Schwartz wrote for an older audience
27:38 Favorite artists by this time, 1966?
29:26 Pulp magazine reprints?
30:53 Favorite EC comics story
32:42 Favorite golden age comic book company
35:28 The best golden age years from 1940-42, why?
37:18 Fiction House
39:11 Selling and dealing comics ~1967
40:29 Other fanzines you were into
42:38 Star-Studded Comics
43:59 Science Fiction Convention, Bay-Con 1968
45:48 Seven Sons Comic BookStore
48:44 Is this the first comic book store?
51:38 Comic World book store ~1969
53:03 Why ended in 1970
54:21 Bud Plant mail order,… finally Bud’s Art Books
57:00 Dealing Underground Comix, Gary Arlington
59:01 Promethean Enterprises 1969-75
01:01:19 New York Comic Con, Phil Sulling ~1970
01:07:15 Wholesale business with Phil Sulling
01:09:46 Anomaly Fanzine, Underground Comix
01:11:10 When Kirby left Marvel in 1970?
01:12:33 Overstreet Comics Price Guide ~1970
01:15:06 First San Diego Comic-Con
01:17:42 Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko
01:22:13 Will Eisner
01:26:14 Comics & ComiX ~1972 | John Barrett
01:33:35 Berkeley Con ~1973
01:38:06 Tom Riley collection, John Campbell
01:40:46 Van accident and chaos ~1973
01:46:55 Start of direct market ~1973 | Phil Sulling
01:51:07 Losing the market, Phil Sulling disappointed?
01:53:37 Sparta, Illinois
01:55:37 Phill offered you distribute for west coast?
01:57:09 Barbarian Killer Funnies, First Kingdom
01:58:40 Magic Carpet, Alfredo Alcalá ~1977
02:01:05 Partnership splinter ~1975
02:06:09 Comics Journal, Fantagraphics -Gary Groth
02:09:03 Comics Trade Journal, Telegraph Wire
02:10:47 Charles Abar’s Distribution, 1982
02:13:27 Bud’s van issues
02:15:38 Did you enjoy the distribution business?
02:17:32 Acquiring Pacific Comics, ~1984
02:22:37 Alternate Realities ~1987
02:24:54 “Fifty who made DC great” ~1985
02:26:06 Separating retail from wholesale 1988
02:28:32 Selling distribution business to Steve Geppi
02:34:07 Inkpot Award ~1994
02:34:51 Ross Rojek
02:35:29 End of SDCC for us
02:38:35 Being guest for SDCC 2019
02:39:58 Bud’s Art Books, warehouse
02:43:27 Wrapping Up

#BudPlant #ComicsAndComix #ComicBookHistorians #ComicBookStore
#ComicsDistributor #ComicBooks #ComicHistorian #CBHInterviews #CBHPodcast #CBH

transcript (edit in progress):

Alex Grand:
Well, welcome back to Comic Book Historians. I’m Alex Grand. Today we have a very special guest, Mr. Bud Plant. Bud Plant was owner of one of the, if not the largest, comic bookstore franchise in the United States at one time. He was also distributor of comics for large geographic region of the United States at one point, and also is a comic art and book dealer of Bud’s Art Books, and that’s been going on for decades. He is actually also very well-read, a comic book historian, and a historian of many things, including pulps, books, and all sorts of paraphernalia. He has an incredible library. Bud, thank you so much for joining us today.

Bud Plant:
Thanks, Alex. That was a good intro. I can’t think of any flaws in that one, so we can move on.

Alex Grand:
Exactly. Basically, Bud and I have been friends for a few years now. We met through a mutual friend, someone who used to work at Comics & Comix, which Bud co-founded in the early seventies. Nicely enough, we’ve hung out every few months for a few years and had a lot of fun discussions, looked at a lot of old comics, so we’re very familiar with each other. Bud, if you could let the audience know, you were born in 1952 in San Jose. What did your parents do?

Bud Plant:
My dad was kind of a maintenance engineer, with no degree behind him, but he worked at a big company that had about 500 employees. They manufactured electronic equipment and he was the go-to guy for keeping things maintained and running, and my mom was a registered nurse. Then they actually, the interesting story about them, the most interesting part I think, is that they met on a troopship going to North Africa in World War II, in 1942. They were both first lieutenants. My mom was in the Nurse Corps and my dad was in the Signal Corps. Signal Corps was going to North Africa to establish radio stations in preparation for the invasion of Europe, which was going to come up and go up through Italy, starting in North Africa. Anyway, they met on a troopship and got married in Cairo, Egypt in 1943. So I’m a war baby, I guess.

Alex Grand:
Now, did that Cairo origin, did that kind of give you an international perspective just from the beginning of having more of a global look at the world?

Bud Plant:
Whether or not it’s influenced by that, I think I’ve always had a fascination with World War II and I think a lot of us in the comic world have that, because comics sort of came into their own in World War II. We all look back on that and so boy, that was a different time and everybody was pulling together and yeah, here’s my parents as they were actively part of that right through the war.

Alex Grand:
Your dad read some comics too, some comic strips, is that right?

Bud Plant:
I wouldn’t say he was a comic fan. I could never identify any particular comics that he read, but he definitely read the funny pages when I was a kid ever since I can remember. He’d buy an occasional collection of comic strips. Back in the late fifties, early sixties there was Peanuts and there was Pogo and Blondie, strips like that, Barnaby, I think would get collected into little paperbacks and stuff, and somehow my dad would end up with those every once in a while, so we had a few of those kicking around the house. Then of course the big thing for me was they got a subscription to Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories for the family. I have two older sisters, four years older and six years older, and so our big event was rummaging through the mailbox every month and getting an issue of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, the one comic that my parents subscribed to.

Alex Grand:
They subscribed to that for you to read it, basically, right?

Bud Plant:
For us to read? Yeah, I think, and my dad certainly read it. I don’t think my mom cared and my mom was never really into… She had better things to do, like cook dinner, and take care of the house. But yeah, my sisters and I used to fight over who got to read the latest issue first.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. So could you tell that there was a good duck artist at that point?

Bud Plant:
I don’t know if I could say he was the good duck artist, but I know that I really enjoy the Donald Duck stories a lot more than the rest of the issues. I mean, they’ve always meant more to me, so even as a little kid, but I just know that the stories were a lot of fun. As I grew up, I kept reading Carl Barks’ stuff. I don’t know quite how soon I got into Uncle Scrooge and all that, but I definitely enjoyed them. I mean, I remember those long, full-length stories to this day of Scrooge and the kids going out on adventures. Those are just wonderful.

Alex Grand:
My generation grew up on that DuckTales show, which is basically based on the comics that Barks did, for the most part.

Bud Plant:
Oh yeah. Okay. Sure. Which I’ve never watched. Oh well.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. It’s basically they’re just kind of rehashing Carl Barks for most of that. In one episode, I think they actually credit him and I was like, oh wow, okay. I noticed that later.

Bud Plant:
When I first got into comics, there was already a coterie, a group of people collecting Carl Barks stuff. But it was so plentiful back in say 1965, 1966, ’67 that you could get just about any of the comics except the super rare early ones. You could get them for a quarter apiece or 50 cents apiece. I mean, they were all over the place, but there was hardcore guys saying, “Yeah, I’m really into ducks.” So it was. I mean, me and my buddies all sort of collected those, but they weren’t the sexy stuff like the ECs or the Frazetta books, but still, we all had our little modest Barks collection going back to the early fifties or something like that.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. You develop a taste for comics with the Walt Disney comics. Then where did you start looking to get more comics from? Was there a local store in the late fifties that you were getting more comics from?

Bud Plant:
Well, the big event for me happened in ’61 and there was a couple stores, couple drug stores fairly close by to my house. I could walk or ride my bike to two of them. Probably in ’61, I wasn’t big enough to go to the big liquor store that was about three miles away. That was probably a little too much, so say the two local stores. I somehow got a batch of comics in late ’61, and I remember every one of them super well and I’ve recollected them and stuff. They included Brave and the Bold 34 with Hawkman by Kubert, a copy of one of the Strange Adventures with a guy with a machine on his head on the cover. It’s supposed to be a bomb that’s going to go off if he doesn’t solve the problem. Yeah, let’s see, there was a Sergeant Rock. I think that it was a nurse in the story, so that was like, oh yeah, that’s like my mom in the war.

Bud Plant:
But the big one was Fantastic Four 1. Somehow I picked up Fantastic Four 1 at the same time. There was also Tales to Astonish 22. It’s like I can really remember all these comics. My folks must have given me a dollar or something or a dollar and a half, and I went and bought all these 10 cent comics. I might’ve bought a few after that, but I didn’t get into collecting. I have really strong memories of those comics. Then the next thing I really remember is I got hooked on Sergeant Rock and I even had a subscription to Sgt. Rock, and then all of a sudden, boom, I discovered Marvels. But this was not until… Let’s see, I bought FF 18, but I didn’t start clicking FF until about 31, would have been the spring, I think, of 1964, and I would have been 12.

Bud Plant:
All of a sudden, boom, I somehow discovered, I must have wandered by the drug store and picked up a… Like Spider-Man 13 would have been my first Spider-Man. I must’ve picked up one or two of them and started reading them going, “Oh, shit, these things are great.” They’re still only 12 cents so it was all eminently affordable at that point. So you could buy every Marvel comic for the month for what? 12 times, what, eight or 10 titles? That’s all they had right then. So for a buck 20, which is a lot of bottles you could pick up along the roadside and turn in for deposits, which, it’s what a lot of kids did plus yard work and stuff, I could have every Marvel that came out. That’s when I got thoroughly hooked and became like a Marvel maniac.

Alex Grand:
Marvel maniac. That’s cool. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed to be getting Sgt. Rock. I was reading all those Stan Lee Soapboxes and going, “Oh, shit, I’ve got a subscription to Sergeant Rock and that’s brand EC and that’s bad stuff. What was I thinking? These are so much better than Sgt. Rock is.” So, yeah.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. So there was like, you saw the Fantastic Four 1 in ’61, but it wasn’t till a few years later till you really jumped on that bandwagon. Did that first issue not really get your attention that much yet as a nine-year-old?

Bud Plant:
I tell you, I got great memories of those comics, but I guess there was other things going on in my world, and going out and finding comics did not immediately become a part of it. I mean, I got into a little baseball cards and I was… I don’t know if I was collecting. Was I collecting anything else? Not necessarily. I mean, collecting didn’t really run in my family. Though it’s weird that I would have picked up FF 18. So there was something going on that that one issue… because I found the FF 18. When I started, like I say, the story of collecting comics starting in ’64, I went back and said, “Wait a minute. I remember reading these and they look different. I remember the Fantastic Four looked different.”

Bud Plant:
I searched the whole house and I found a copy of number 18, but I never found that number one. The number one was gone. So there was a little bit of something going on there, but it was like just an occasional thing, like going to the movies or going to a swimming pool. I mean, it hadn’t really grabbed me and said, oh, you can now go out and buy these things for yourself.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. And I think by 18 it was really well-defined the flavor that they were going for. I think that first issue was still somewhat amorphous. I think once you see the cool costumes and the Fantasticar and all that stuff in full swing, I think that’ll grab kids way more effectively probably. You also got introduced to some Golden Age comics and that was by reading… Was that through the Jules Feiffer article in Playboy because your dad had a collection of those?

Bud Plant:
Exactly, I’m not sure which came first, the article or the book. It might’ve been the article. I might’ve somehow gotten… I used to steal the Playboys out of my dad’s bottom drawer, classic story that he never showed them to me, but I’d quietly pull that drawer open when nobody was around and check out the Playboys, and I saw that. I think my mom actually bought me a copy of the book, because the book was four bucks or five bucks, it wasn’t cheap. But I think I got it for a Christmas present. That was a huge eye-opener because up until that point, the only thing you knew about Golden Age was if Marvel mentioned something about it, mentioned about Captain America being around since the forties or something, but the knowledge was that thin. But all of a sudden, boom, the Feiffer book opens this all up and you go, “Whoa, who’s this guy, The Spirit, and look at that, Superman looks really different and Batman looks really different, and that was a big deal.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s interesting, because it’s not like there was Google to search for that stuff. So it was that article or that book, and then that opens all these kids’ eyes to what went on 20 years ago. That’s huge.

Bud Plant:
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, I mean DC was doing the 80 page giants and trying to think if I bought any of the 80 page giants. Oh, I think I bought a Batman. I think I bought one of the early Batmans and that was sort of interesting because it was these old Batman stories. But of course they still didn’t measure up. They didn’t usually measure up to anything Marvel was doing at the time. But I do have sort of fond memories of that sort of weird nostalgic thing looking at these old Batman stories. But-

Alex Grand:
Yeah. And that Jack Schiff Batman from the early sixties, before that new look happened, they weren’t that-

Bud Plant:
Yeah. They were horrible comics, but actually the 80 page giants, they did go back a little further and they got some more decent stuff. I mean, the Batman in the fifties, early fifties, mid-fifties, those were okay. I mean, the Batman just went steadily downhill. By the late fifties, early sixties, they were just horrible. I mean, they were everything a comic fan of Marvel would say, “That is horrible stuff.” Superman, I don’t know, it wasn’t much better. I’ve learned to appreciate Superman a lot more from the Silver Age, and I liked the whole Superman family thing. Weisinger was doing a nice job. But by 1964, ’65, yeah, still Superman didn’t measure up Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and stuff.

Bud Plant:
Curt Swan was doing okay stuff, I have to say that, but the stories had sort of pooped out. I like reading the Superman stories all the way up to sometime in the late fifties and early sixties, they’re still pretty good. That whole family thing is sort of fun with Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane and all that. I got all the Lois Lanes. They’re beautifully drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Just don’t read too many of them at one time, because you go, “Whoa, I think I’ve already heard this plot before.” It’s Lois Lane wanting to get married to Superman, again. But they’re okay, and they’re cheap, too. You could collect all the Lois Lanes for next to nothing.

Alex Grand:
So by 1965, you’re really into the Marvel vibe. You had then learned about how Captain America and the Sub-Mariner had a Golden Age history with the Feiffer article. So then what I had read about you was that there’s a story about a local kind of bookstore… they had dollar comics, and you got introduced through other fans through that. Can you tell us about that?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, there was a store called Twice Read Bookstore in downtown San Jose and they were the place you’d go to for used books and if I was looking for Lone Ranger books, the little hardcover Lone Ranger books and Gene Autrys or something like that, you could go there and find them. And I think as a kid… Like Bomba, the Jungle Boy, I was into Bomba, the Jungle Boy, I was into Tarzan. My sisters might take me down there because it was about six miles from my parents’ house. So that’s a long ways when you’re a kid of 12. But we’d go down there and scope out the place. Anyway, they had in the front of the store, real typical, they had a counter right next to the guy that ran the store and it had a couple stacks of comic books there.

Bud Plant:
They even had coverless comics that the guy would carefully put plastic around. He’d glue the plastic to the back cover and put a little plastic cover on, just to somehow preserve it, make it look like it’s worth more money or something. But all the comics, I think, at the time were essentially, they probably were either a nickel or a dime a piece for a used comic. So this would be say 1965, mid-1965, so new comics were 12 cents. They probably were a nickel. I don’t think they were even 10 cents. They probably were a nickel. At the flea market, which I got into around the same time, any comic of the flea market was a nickel, no matter what it was, unless somebody was like crazy, thinking, oh yeah, well, this older, should be worth a little bit more. But nickel was the going price for a used comic.

Bud Plant:
So anyway, I go down there and I’m going through their comics and looking for whatever. You could sometimes get coverless Atlas. You’d recognize it and go, “Eh, that sort of looks like an old Stan Lee comic somehow. It’s a monster and stuff.” But it wasn’t terribly old comics. You’re talking about stuff from the mid-fifties. That was only 10 years old at that point. But anyway, some kid comes in and asked the proprietor to see the dollar comics, and this is a memory of a memory at this point. So all I can say, my memory of a memory is a big light bulb goes off above my head and I go, “What dollar comics? What is a dollar comic?” And the guy gets out a little stack of comics and shows them to him and the guy doesn’t buy a comic. I go, “Can I look at the dollar comics?” In my little Charlie brown attitude. Yeah, Okay. Wow. And I go through them, I found a Thrills of Tomorrow, number 18, which reprinted Stuntman, you know?

Alex Grand:
Oh yeah.

Bud Plant:
Not the most spectacular book in the world, but it’s frigging Simon and Kirby. Kirby, I certainly know who Kirby is and I’m going, “Whoa, this is old Jack Kirby doing this really wild stuff. Stuntman was a good strip. It was a great comic that never really went anywhere.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah, I liked it a lot. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, yeah. Anyway, so I buy this one comic, so I walk out the door and this kid goes, “Hey, are you into comics?” I go, “Yeah. I am.” So he goes, “Hey, well, I know all these guys that are into comics, and they’re doing a little fanzine and they dah, dah, dah.” I go, “Well, cool. Well, so we’ll have to get together.” So we exchange addresses or phone numbers or something, and eventually my mom takes me across town because this guy is way the hell and gone. It’s like 15, 18 miles across town, which again, when you’re a kid, that’s a long, long ways. But my mom took me over there and through him, I met John Barrett who became my partner in Comics & Comix, Jim Buser, who also became a one of the partners and who I know to this day. Unfortunately, John is gone. He passed away. I met all these guys. There was this other contingent of people in San Jose.

Alex Grand:
And Michelle Nolan also, right, who was the-

Bud Plant:
Yeah, absolutely, Michelle Nolan. Michelle Nolan has a great story. What she did, she was going to the flea market, looking for comics before she had met me, and I’m not sure if she had met John and Jim or not. Maybe, maybe not. Because we were living a little bit apart. She was partly up the peninsula, so she was a little more removed from us. Anyway, she goes to the flea market and she runs into some kid, and the kid says, “Hey, I know other people that have comics. Are you looking for comics?” This kid’s just a hustler. He’s just this young hustler. He says, “Oh, for five… ” I think it was five bucks, might’ve been less, might’ve been a couple bucks. “For five bucks, I’ll take you to this guy’s house and introduce you to him.”

Bud Plant:
So somehow she pays his kid money to somehow come over to my house, and because everybody’s looking for old comics, of course, we’re all trying to get out there and score the good stuff before somebody else does. So she ends up coming over my house. I remember very little detail about that whole shenanigans. But anyway, that’s how I met Michelle. I don’t know, did I sell or some comics? Who knows. Actually a lot of that stuff I can document because I kept these rather loose funky journals all the way through this period. So I do have documentation on what I picked up at the flea market, and when I first met Jim and Buser and those guys and that sort of thing.

Alex Grand:
Now there was also the San Jose Mercury ads, classifieds, and was it through there that you met Jim Vadeboncoeur? Is that right?

Bud Plant:
You could advertise in, yeah, the Mercury, there was some kind of swapper thing. I don’t think I ever advertised through there, but one or two of the other guys did. It could be Michelle did. You may know more about the story than I do at this point because I’ve forgotten the details, but there was somebody. Vadeboncoeur could have been advertising, “Hey, looking for old comics, give me a call.” Because boy, those were the days, because people didn’t think comics were worth anything. So you put a little ad in there and some kid goes, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a stack of comics. Wow, maybe I can sell them.” And boom, all of a sudden you’ve got a little comic collection put together. So the slightly older guys that had a car that could get somewhere and had a little tiny bit of money could go out and score stuff. I don’t know how much of that really went on, but that was another way people started getting together and meeting each other.

Alex Grand:
Now did y’all make any fanzine of any kind together?

Bud Plant:
Well, yes and no. When I first met John and Jim in 1965, in late ’65, they were working on a magazine called Eccentric. I think it was Eccentric. Yeah, it was Eccentric, and it was a ditto magazine. John actually had a ditto machine in his garage that he was running, and Jim Buser I know was doing stencil artwork. Jim was never an artist, but hey, he was doing it. I think Michelle got involved. Well, I could be wrong. Michelle may not have gotten involved that quickly. But anyway, they were doing this fanzine. They did a couple issues, boom, sort of end of that story. But once I got involved with fandom and discovered that the big dig was the Rocket’s Blast. The big deal was these guys go, “Hey, did you know that there’s a comics fandom?”

Bud Plant:
Well, of course I don’t. I never heard of any of that stuff. They go, “Well, here, you need to get this Rocket’s Blast, it’s all full of comics for sale and there’s articles and there’s other fanzines, and that opened up this blossoming giant world to me as a 12 year old. I contributed, I wrote an article on Mystery in Space for one of the fanzines. The publisher was Don Dagenais. I think it was called Comic Scene, very forgettable, hardcore mystery in space. But now this would have been, by this time had to be a year or two later. So this has to be ’66, ’67. I got turned on back to DCs again by John and Jim and those guys because they’re going, “Oh, you only collect Marvels. Well, what about Adam Strange, and The Atom and The Flash and Green Lantern? Those are good comics. Those aren’t Superman and Batman. This is good stuff.” So I got all turned on to them and discovered Mystery in Space, which I love.

Alex Grand:
The Julius Schwartz comics.

Bud Plant:
The Julius Schwartz stuff, yeah, all the Schwartz stuff. That was the best DC stuff that was coming out.

Alex Grand:
Do you remember which issue of Rocket Blast comic collector that you first read?

Bud Plant:
Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was number 43. Yeah, everybody dates their beginning to thinking of fandom with the… Back in those days, it was, “What issue of Rocket’s Blast did you get?” Mine was number 43. I know Jim Buser, he’s my age, but he got into fandom much earlier, and I think his first issue was something like 20-something. I mean, he was really in early. Jim’s big claim to fame is that he sent a letter… and he was one of these letter writers like I was. I got a few public published letters in the Marvels in ’65, ’66, something like that. Jim counted every panel that every member of the Justice League appeared in, in the first whatever it was, 20 issues or 25 issues, and sent this letter in and said, “Okay, you guys are not doing justice to so-and-so because he only appeared in this many panels, but here’s the panel countdown for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and Superman. I think they made some funny comment about it. “Boy, you’re a really dedicated fan there, buddy.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Tracking him down. We were looking at a page from Daredevil 16, but you had written letters to Marvel, right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I don’t know how many letters I sent them, but they published… I think I had maybe three or four letters published. No big deal. I remember the Daredevil 16 of course, because that was one of the longer letters. I had read a letter to one of the cowboy comics, Kid Colt or Two-Gun Kid. There might’ve been a letter in Sgt. Fury.

Alex Grand:
But it was pretty cool, because especially Daredevil 16, because that’s Romita doing Daredevil, and I think that’s celebrated stuff before he really took off on Spider-Man. So that’s pretty cool that you’re in that issue.

Bud Plant:
That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. The big deal back then was also joining the Merry Marvel Marching Society, the MMMS and they were publishing everybody’s names in there, so my big deal was FF 40 my name’s the very bottom, Bud Plant in San Jose, California. I got my name in a Fantastic Four, which was to me probably a much bigger deal than just getting a letter in some stray issue of Kid Colt.

Alex Grand:
So you’re also then looking for back issues, but they weren’t called back issues back then. They were just older comics, I guess. But how were you getting those? Were they from trading from friends? How was that working?

Bud Plant:
Well, before the Rocket’s Blast, yeah, it would have just been friends. I mean, I was going to school and I had two or three buddies that collected comics too. Even as early as then or shortly thereafter, my buddies sometimes would give up collecting comics and move on, so all of a sudden I might buy a bunch of their comics from them. Didn’t happen a lot, but it happened a little bit. The big deal for me was, like I mentioned, the flea market. I was three miles away from one of the best flea markets on the West Coast, the San Jose Flea Market was sort of… There was also a pretty good one in Oakland, but I never got up there. But San Jose Flea Market was a really good flea market. I could ride my bike down to the flea market and take maybe four or five bucks, that’s all I would have in my pocket, and buy comics for a nickel apiece.

Bud Plant:
So I started… I discovered that’s where I could get old comics more than at the old bookstore. They didn’t have a whole big selection of it, but you could get fresh fodder at the flea market. I’m starting to collect comics in ’64. Well, I can get comics from ’63, ’62 that are a year or two old that I didn’t already have, Tales to Astonish with Giant-Man and Ant-Man and Tales of Suspense and just whatever would come up. I think I got into Magnus Robot Fighter and I found some back issues of that. There was a lot of comics floating around at the flea market, and of course I’m being picky at five cents. I mean, I should have been buying everything, and once I got into our first store, that’s what I would do is go down and buy everything that I thought I could get more than a nickel for. But in the early days I was just going for my own back issues.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s interesting. So you also mentioned that you liked the new look Batman, as well as Atom and Green Lantern and Flash. What do you think it is that Julius Schwartz offered to readers at the time that let’s say Weisinger and some of the other editors didn’t?

Bud Plant:
Schwartz didn’t write down to people. Even Weisinger pulled together really good Superman mythos that was interesting, but it was still being written for 12 year olds or something. Schwartz wrote for an older audience. I mean, Schwartz came out of science fiction fandom and he did fanzines when he was a kid and stuff. I think he appreciated the fact that there’s an older audience for comics, I think he wrote to that audience. I had friends that were already… that I met at that point that were older than me. Like Michelle was three, four years older than me. Tom Tallmon was another good buddy. He had a job at the post office. He was a little older. Those guys loved Carl Barks and they loved the Schwartz DC books, the Adam Strange and Green Lantern. I mean, they were just written, I think, to an older audience, just like EC had done in the fifties.

Bud Plant:
DC was doing that. They were just elevating the quality of the material. Adam Strange is full of good scientific stuff, good solid science fiction that it wasn’t people just punching each other, like they still do today in comics. I mean, Adam Strange would solve problems scientifically by using his head and being smart. I think the guys that were a little bit older than that, that’s what really appealed to them.

Alex Grand:
Who were your favorite comic artists by this point? Let’s say 1966?

Bud Plant:
Kirby, Steve Ditko. I think Infantino and Anderson over at DC. I don’t know if I could say Kubert at this point. I think Kubert I learned to appreciate sort of later on. I mean, I loved that those early Hawkmans, but Kubert has sort of a different style. If you throw Steranko into the mix, all of a sudden, whoa. Steranko was like the man, representing a new younger generation of artists. This is pre Neal Adams. Adams didn’t come into the story at that point. Yeah, so Steranko was a big deal. I mean, everybody was really excited to see Steranko start to develop in Strange Tales. And then when The Shield started coming out, it was like… that was the equivalent of Frazetta showing up in comics. Now of course, and that brings in for Frazetta and all that.

Bud Plant:
I mean, we very soon in ’65, ’66, ’67, we all started collecting the good artists, which could be Carl Barks. That’s fine. But they’re also Frazetta, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Roy Krenkel, all the guys that had been doing EC Comics and had been doing Atlas stuff for Stan after EC went belly up. There was no price guide and no internet or anything at that point, so what you did is when you found a stack of old comics you’d just start filing through them and going, “Oh, there’s a story by Angelo Torres,” or, “Oh, there’s a Wally Woods story in this Atlas comic. That’s weird.” Or you’d find some other off-brand thing and go, “Oh, there’s a story by Frazetta or something. He was doing those silly little funny animal things, little one-pagers. So we’d started looking for that kind of thing too.

Alex Grand:
That’s cool. So those names guided the back issue collecting basically. Yeah. Were are you looking at pulp magazine reprint books as well at this point?

Bud Plant:
As soon as one of the first books on pulps came out, I know I picked it up and got sort of interested in pulps, but we didn’t see… As a kid, I didn’t see much as far as pulps go. I came across one batch at the flea market, a big stack of Planet stories, which was still… I still love Planet, and I’ve got them all. I got all of them now. That was the first time I’d actually bought a bunch of pulps. I think they were… The guys wanted… they were two for a quarter or something like that, but they were from the forties, and so that was ancient history in 19 say 66 or something when I pick those up. But other than that, my pulp experience didn’t start until we got into the store, and when we opened the store in ’68, and people would bring pulps into us.

Bud Plant:
They’d would bring you a big box of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures and the common pulps. I don’t remember getting a big stack of Shadows, any other really Weird Tales. You didn’t get the really sexy pulps. I mean, think of the more common science-fiction pulps in various conditions. I mean, it could be in anything, we’d buy them for whatever, a nickel or a dime apiece. And then whatever we did, we charged… We’d split up the ones we wanted amongst the guys in the store and then sell the rest of them. So it means most of the good stuff just got split up and went in our collections. “Oh boy, I’ve got another copy of Weird Tales. That’s cool.” Take it home.

Alex Grand:
What was your favorite DC Comics story?

Bud Plant:
Wow, my favorite story. Definitely-

Alex Grand:
What, My World?

Bud Plant:
No, no, no. When you say my favorite, it should be, it ought to be, and it ought to be one of the science fiction stories. But when you say my favorite story, what always comes up for me, I think it’s a Tale From the Crypt story drawn by think it’s George Evans, but it could be Jack Davis. It’s about an old fat guy that has a care home for old people, and he’s pocketing all the money from the government to take care of the old people and then giving them dregs and abusing them, and he has this really nasty dog that he’s sics on them and stuff.

Alex Grand:
Oh, how horrible.

Bud Plant:
One day they overpower this guy and shoved them into a closet or something. Then he hears all this construction going on outside and he goes, “What the hell are these guys doing? I mean, this is crazy.” And he gets outside and he goes, “Oh, there’s a maze. They built this maze. That’s really weird. Okay. Well, I can get out of this maze.” So the first thing that happens is he hears his dog who’s been starving to death for the last two or three days while they’ve been building this maze. He goes, “Oh, shit, the dogs out. Oh.” And it’s a really ferocious dog. He goes, “Oh shit.” And he starts running through there. And then he starts getting scraped. He goes, “Oh shit. They put razorblades in the walls of this maze.” And then all of a sudden the lights go out and that’s one of my favorite horror stories anyway. It’s like, this guy, he got his comeuppance.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, he did. And what a cool ending too. I think my favorite is the Tainted Meat, butcher, and I don’t know why, but-

Bud Plant:
Taint the Meat, but it’s the motion or something like that?

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I can’t get that last panel out of my head with the wife and like the guy’s ears are being sold. So what was your favorite Golden Age comic book company of stuff you like looking back at?

Bud Plant:
Well, I’d have to say Quality. I would have loved to have been collecting all the Timely comics, but number one, they were scarce and number two, they were expensive. So sure, I would love to have gotten Captain America 1 through 10 was Simon and Kirby, but they were-

Bud Plant:
… gotten Captain America one through 10 was Simon and Kirby, but they were almost impossible to come across and they were already priced up. So when I got into comics, the cool thing for me was Quality. I considered Quality to have some of the superior artists, actually better than a lot of Timely’s and a lot of DC’s. Busy Arnold, the guy that ran Quality, really cared about getting decent artists, reasonably good material. And so you got Jack Cole doing Plastic Man, you got Gustafson doing whatever the hell Gustafson did, a lot of odd strips. You had Reed Crandall doing Blackhawk and Firebrand and bunch of forgettable characters, but it was Reed Crandall. And there was just really good material in the Quality comics and they were affordable. You could collect Police Comics and Plastic Man, they had Hit and Smash and stuff and Blackhawk, especially, I loved Blackhawk.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
Each of us, this little group that I keep talking about, we all had our little specialty and mine was Quality. John Barret’s was MLJ’s, Michelle’s was Nedor or Standard, which we all gave her a really hard time about because Standard has the crappiest artists in the Golden Age, but they had Schomburg covers. So you got to give her that. And Jim Buser, I think, was into DC’s, again, little tougher to collect. It’s tough to get those More Funs and those Adventures and stuff. And boy, I think there’s a lot of DC’s that are not very exciting. All Flash, Flash in general, in the 40s until Infantino and some of the good guys started doing it, Flash was not a very good comic. It had a lot of humor in it, they didn’t take it very seriously. Whereas in Quality, I mean the superheroes pretty much, they took them seriously.

Bud Plant:
So Quality was my company, along with collecting the art, the Frazetta stuff, the Williams and stuff. And then, all of a sudden, a light went off and said, “I should collect ECs.” I’m going after all these Frazetta comics in other places, Williamson and stuff, I should collect all the ECs. By, I don’t know, ’67 or something, I was thoroughly into collecting ECs and trying to put together all of those, which I did eventually. I had a ascending and descending list of all the EC comics that I keep track of how many I had, how many I still had to go, up to, I think there’s 302, if I remember right, there’s 302 ECs. If you don’t count the old, the pre-trend stuff.

Alex Grand:
You consider the best Golden Age years from 1940 to 1942. What is it about those years that are so precious, as far as comics books go?

Bud Plant:
Well, for one thing, all the artists were still there before the war took them away. Most of those guys went off to fight in World War II. And so guys like Bill Everett, he’s doing stuff in Marvel Mystery, up to Marvel Mystery 32, 33, then he’s gone. Boom. And he comes back after the war. Jack Cole, he might’ve gotten a deferral. He might’ve worked through the whole war time. Reed Crandall might’ve worked through it too, but a lot of guys left.

Bud Plant:
And also there’s just the whole early comics, the big logo thing when they still had the giant like DC had big, they call them the big logo issues of Adventure and Batman and stuff, when they had bigger logos and everything was 64 pages. And there was a lot of all those startup companies. Centaur was even still around in ’41, the only comic book company that managed to go out of business when everybody else is making money, hand over fist, Centaur couldn’t cut it. I don’t know what their problem was. It probably was distribution. They probably had bad distribution. They weren’t getting across the country.

Bud Plant:
That’s the Primo period. I’d say, ’39 to ’42. You look at Timely just by itself, by 1943, ’44, Timely is a shadow of itself, they’ve still got the heroes, but they don’t have very good artists. They’ve got these second-tier artists that are doing Human Torch and Sub-Mariner and stuff. And they’re not very good.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bud Plant:
Even captain America is, eh, got Schomburg, but after you get past the cover, sometimes that interior stuff is pretty bland.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. You were also into Fiction House, is that right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. I just liked the whole adventure strip thing and maybe, Fiction House relates to the pulps pretty closely. And maybe that’s part of why I really liked Fiction House because there’s Planet Comics and there’s Planet Stories. They’re directly related to each other, they’re by the same company. Again, they were affordable. In fact, in Fiction House, when I first started going to conventions in New York ’70, there was a guy back there that had a basement full of Fiction House and he would bring a ton of them to the show and sell them for, I think, two bucks a piece or 2.50 a piece for just about anything, Jungles, Jumbos. They were a little dry and sometimes even to the brittle point. So they evidently had been stored in a hot area, but he just had tons of these things.

Bud Plant:
And so what I would do at the end of the show, I was already a dealer at that point. I was always a dealer. I mean, even in ’70, we had a table. So I was never approaching it quite from the fan standpoint, I was a dealer and a collector at the same time, because that’s what you had to do. If you’re going to make money and sell comics and you don’t have a job, you better be dealing in comics.

Bud Plant:
But anyway, at the end of this show, this guy would sell me his table for, I don’t know what it was, 75 cents a piece or a buck a piece. And I’d haul all these Fiction House back to California. And, of course, I’d go, “Oh no, you should actually keep that one and that one and that one,” and I slowly started building up a Fiction House collection. Plus…

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
… you got Will Eisner and Lou Fine in the very earliest ones. And so that’s the beginning of a couple more of the great people in comics. So those are really fun.

Alex Grand:
And Sheena’s, it’s really beautifully done.

Bud Plant:
They’re consistent and it’s good girl stuff. And, as a teenager, all that good girl stuff appeals to you. Now, these girls swinging on vines through the jungle. Whatever that-

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Can’t lose…

Bud Plant:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
… not with the adolescent boys on that one.

Bud Plant:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
Hey, Steranko liked it, so it must be good, right?

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bud Plant:
He’s the man with good taste.

Alex Grand:
You started selling comics around 1967 and you’re also dealing comics at the Rocket’s Blast Comicollectors, is that correct?

Bud Plant:
John and Jim and I, we were all doing the same thing. We’d started putting ads into the Rocket’s Blast and trying to get things for ourselves. Sometimes we’d put a want list in there, other times we’d just be selling duplicates, I picked up some early comic at the flea market and I’ve already got a copy of it. Well, I’ll put it in an in the Rocket’s Blast and…

Alex Grand:
Oh.

Bud Plant:
… see if I can flip it and buy something else. And the ads were super cheap. We’re not talking about full-page ads. We’re talking about two inches or three inch-ad in there.

Alex Grand:
How much would that cost?

Bud Plant:
I don’t think a page cost you more than 10, 12 bucks. But 10, 12 bucks is a lot of money back then. So you could get a portion of a page probably for a buck and a half or two bucks.

Alex Grand:
Oh, I see. And then you can put various things, you would be selling multiple items on that space.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, yeah, exactly. That was the way the business was done back at that time, everything was through the Rocket’s Blast, or maybe a couple of other fanzines, but the Rocket’s Blast was the main source and people would just put in little ads and start getting to know other people and people would put out little lists and you’d get the list from the guy and buy some stuff. There was all the old dealers, Bill Thailing and-

Alex Grand:
Now what other fanzines were you into at the time that were going around fandom, besides Rocket Blast Comicollector? I read Yancy Street Journal was one of them, but there were a few, right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Well the Yancy Street Journal came out of San Francisco. So those were almost local guys. That was Bill DuBay who ends up an editor at Warren at some point, Marty Arbunich, Rudy Franke. Rudy Franke was a teacher art teacher, I think in San Jose. And he was involved with Voice of Comicdom, which those guys also may have been involved with. And Voice a Comicdom quickly developed and got to be a good fanzine. They started doing Corben stuff and doing interviews.

Bud Plant:
The best one has got to be Graphic Story Magazine.

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
Started out as Fantasy Illustrated, I think for the first issue or two.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
And that’s Richard Kyle. Graphic Story was the magazine. That’s where the absolute best material was coming out of. They did a little bit of amateur strips. They had George Metzger in there, who was actually a local in San Jose. We all grew up knowing George. And then, of course, George went on to do Underground Comics. And Landon Chesney, who pretty much stayed as a fan artist, but then they started getting these really good articles, on Wolverton. They did two issues on Wolverton. They did an issue on Red Barry, who’s still obscured, even to this day, but Red Barry was a really good strip back in the ’40s. And there was Graphic Story World that Kyle was also involved in and that was more news and stuff.

Alex Grand:
And then also Comic Reader, Squa Tront, Spa Fon, right?

Bud Plant:
Squa Tront and Spa Fon, yeah, those were also the giant ones. Yeah. Jerry Weist and those guys putting out Squa Tront. Yeah. Mean for EC fans, it didn’t get any better than those things.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
We didn’t get them very often, but when we got them, they were great. And by the time, when Squa Tront Three came out in ’69, early ’70, I was already dealing stuff. So I was buying copies of that from Jerry Weist and reselling them. And that’s how I started my fanzine business. That’s what I wanted to carry in my fanzine business was beautiful fanzines like that. But instead, mostly what I was carrying is underground comics like Zap and that sort of thing.

Alex Grand:
Robert Crumb, yeah. And then also, Star-Studded, and I have some copies of it, and it’s a fanzine, I had read that it wasn’t as celebrated as some of those other ones, because it was more their own characters.

Bud Plant:
I can’t speak to how popular Stars-Studded was in general and it may have been more popular in general, but my memory of it back in those early days, we’re talking about back in the, because it had been around, it probably started before I ever got into fandom, probably started in ’63, ’64…

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
… but Star-Studded was not particularly cheap. At that point, I think it cost 75 cents, which was a significant amount of money when comics are 12 cents a piece or even 20 cents a piece. And it was amateur strips. It was only for the well-heeled amongst collectors. So I think I got an issue or two and said, “Nah, I’d rather spend my money on something else.” And so I never became a big, hardcore Star-Studded fan, although now I’m finally filling in my collection. And of course I know Buddy Saunders really well. And he’s part of that Texas Trio that put those out and I appreciate them much more now, in retrospect, looking at what they were doing at the time. But at the time, I wasn’t a big fan of amateur strips.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bud Plant:
I’d rather learn about the history of comics, I’d rather see more of the guys. I liked, the Frazettas the Williamsons, those guys.

Alex Grand:
And now what was the first convention that you went to? Because it wasn’t a comic convention, right? It was a science fiction convention in ’68?

Bud Plant:
It was the World Science Fiction Convention. It was in Berkeley at the Claremont Hotel in 1968. And a whole bunch of us went up there and my oft-repeated story about that, is that we took our bedrolls with us and we slept on the lawn because we were 16, we didn’t stay in hotels, we didn’t have that kind of money and that sort of thing.

Bud Plant:
But it was 50 miles from San Jose and we wanted to be there for the three days. And the Claremont didn’t shut us down. I don’t know how we managed to do that. We must have quietly gotten behind some bushes where nobody noticed us. Even in science fiction fandom, they do tend to look down and comic fans. So we probably were an embarrassment, wandering around the show.

Bud Plant:
I was with a buddy from Gilroy that was more into science fiction then I was. Although again, there was a lot of overlap into science fiction fandom. I read all the Tarzans years before that and all the Burroughs Books and I was reading Asimov, and Ray Bradbury and the science fiction paperbacks you could buy at the flea market or you could buy anywhere. We were there for the science fiction part of the show, too. But again, we had a table, four of us split an eight-foot table. So we all had a little two-by-two section of the table and we’re selling, I think we were mostly selling comics. I don’t think we were selling any science fiction stuff. All I remember, visually, is just stacks of comics. And usually we’d wander off and leave the table to whoever drew the short straw, I guess. We’d be looking for stuff, because there was overlap between science fiction fandom and comics.

Alex Grand:
Where there’s some comics dealing going on, was money from that part of what started your Seven Sons first comic book shop?

Bud Plant:
The store would have been opened by then…

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
… because the World Science Fiction Con would be Labor Day…

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
… of ’68 and the store opened in March. So we were already established in the store and doing our thing. So we’d probably just pulled some of our stuff out of the store and took it up there and we’re hustling it and looking for more stuff. And like I say, we all were also science fiction fans. Not as much as comic fans, but we all read our favorite science fiction people and were looking for stuff. So I would have been looking for Burroughs things for one thing. I love the old hard covers with Grosset Dunlap had done hard covers with jackets and the Tarzans and the Mars books and all that. And so we would have been happily trying to find things like that at the show.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And so tell us about starting the, it’s Seven Sons, not Seventh Sons, right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Seven Sons, the count, S E V E N.

Alex Grand:
Yes.

Bud Plant:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
And tell us about starting that and who were the Seven Sons that-

Bud Plant:
So there was Michelle, Tom Tallman and John Barrett, Jim Buser, me, Al Castle was our honorary member he never actually worked in the store, but he was our honorary Seventh Son. The joke about him was that he’d steal office supplies from the place he worked and give us office supplies. And seven was Frank Scadina. You could practically write a novella about the Seven Sons. Technically there was six of us, but seven sounded better than six.

Bud Plant:
We only pitched in, as I remember, 35 bucks a piece, we only had to cover two months of rent. And I think the rent was 75 bucks a month. So we’re talking about 150 bucks plus some minor deposit. It was a storefront in downtown San Jose that nobody cared much about. It was off on the side street, same street as the bookstore that I talked about earlier, just a block away from the bookstore and only a couple of blocks away from the San Jose, the campus which is now San Jose State University, which back then was San Jose State.

Bud Plant:
But downtown San Jose was at a low ebb, just like a lot of downtown urban areas back in the 60s. And so, somehow we were able to walk in and rent this place and get a business permit. So all we were selling was used comics, not new comics, but used comics, used science fiction paperbacks. We might’ve done a little bit with records.

Alex Grand:
Basically, you’d go to the flea market, get some stuff, take it back to the store and sell it there, right?

Bud Plant:
Exactly. That was my deal. Yeah. Yeah. And the other guys did a little bit of that, but I still had the advantage of being closer to the flea market.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
But we all had duplicates. And then stuff started coming in the door. People would bring in comics and go, “Wow, these are worth money?” And we’d go, “Yeah, we’ll give you 10 cents a piece for them.”

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
“Sure.” And so stuff started coming in that way.

Bud Plant:
But that store, technically, for all the hoopla that we do about that store and the fact that we opened up a little earlier than Gary Arlington did-

Alex Grand:
Is Seven Sons considered the first comic book store?

Bud Plant:
No, no. The guy that wrote the book, Dan-

Alex Grand:
Dan Guarino.

Bud Plant:
Guarino, yeah. He really tried to pin down what the first comic book store was. And we’re early. We’re not the first. Depends on how you define a comic book store. To me, at least in my knowledge of just the West Coast, Cherokee Books where Burt Blum was selling back issues of comics, Cherokee Book Store was a used bookstore, but they had a mezzanine and Burt was selling back issue comics out of the mezzanine. It was a place as big as any of our early stores, just happened to be within a bookstore.

Bud Plant:
But that predates anything we did. To me…

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
… that’s one of the first comic bookstores. I can’t can’t claim any fame. The only thing that we had different was we weren’t trying to sell anything else. We were a pure comic book store, but Burt had much better comics than we ever could approach in either of our stores. He had tons of wonderful stuff and we’d drive down there, the six hour drive from San Jose and go to Burt’s store. Back East, I think Bob Bell may have credit with maybe having the first store. Again, it might’ve been a thrift store that morphed into a comics and popular culture store. So anyway, no claim on that. The only thing we can claim is that we were the first store, maybe in the Bay Area…

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
… and Arlington opened a month later.

Bud Plant:
And of course, Arlington kept his store open. Well, financially, Arlington was never really together. He had all kinds of benefactors that would try to bail him out and help him, and.

Bud Plant:
write checks for him and stuff. But he ran that store for what, decades, whereas our little store came and went pretty fast.

Bud Plant:
I’m always careful to give plenty of credit to all the rest of the guys.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
Our timing was just, early, bur that’s it.

Bud Plant:
For us, the store only lasted for a few months because Frank’s Scadina was this real case. He was an older guy, he was 24 or so. He’d had polio when he was a kid, very active physically. He was overweight. His mom really took care of him and he had never gotten a career, gotten an education or anything. And he was one of the guys involved in this. In fact, he was the oldest guy of any of us. Nobody else was approaching 24. I was 16.

Bud Plant:
His mom said, here’s a good thing, my son get suddenly involved with this store and he could sell stuff and he likes comics. He was a big Western fan. He’d read comics in the 50s and he liked the serials and stuff. And so his mom basically bought the rest of us out…

Alex Grand:
Wow.

Bud Plant:
… which was probably the stupidest thing we might’ve been doing. But she offered us more money than we could imagine. We all got a few hundred bucks out of this store. So we said, “Sure, okay. Yeah, we’ll sell the store to Frank and go off and do our thing.” But then we turned around the next year in ’69, the four of us went to Houston. Jim Buser, again, John Barrett, Dick Swan who had come into our group and myself, we went to Houston for the first comic book show that we’d ever been to.

Bud Plant:
And we came back from Houston, we bought out a couple guys’ tables at the end of the show. Remember, this is still pre-Price Guide. So everybody’s playing fast and loose on what comics are worth. So we come back with a carload of comics. We go, “Oh, what are we going to do? Let’s open another store.” There was no agreement with Frank, never to open another store.

Bud Plant:
So boom, all of a sudden, we open another store in the early summer of ’69 and that was called Comic World. And that was a tiny, tiny little place. It was actually an old staircase for a hotel just around the corner from our old store. And you could not put your hands out and point your fingers. You had to cup one of your hands. It was that wide. We’re talking, what’s that, five feet?

Alex Grand:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
It was tiny. It was tiny. But the price was right. It had formerly been a place called Bead World. And we were so cheap and unimagined, we said, “Well, okay, we’ll just paint out Bead and put Comic, so there’s Comic World.

Alex Grand:
Less work, yeah.

Bud Plant:
And Bead World had moved next door. So we got to be friends with those guys. And so, bingo, we got a new store with four partners instead of six or seven partners.

Alex Grand:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
We ran that for about a year and a half, something like that.

Alex Grand:
Why did Comic World end in 1970?

Bud Plant:
I was starting college at San Jose State, which is what, three blocks away from the store? And like a fool, I signed up for 18 units. So I thought I probably wouldn’t have time to be running a store and taking 18 units, majoring in physics in college. And John Barrett was in his second year. Of the two of us, John and I had bought out the other two partners by then. So it was just the two of us. Things happened fast. Dick Swan and Jim Buser decided that they didn’t want to be working in the store. They wanted to be doing other stuff. Jim was going off to Stanford, he’d gotten a scholarship, a sports scholarship to Stanford. And so he wasn’t going to be close enough to be commuting down and running this little dinky winky store.

Bud Plant:
We didn’t make a lot of money. We’d have days that we’d make 20 bucks, 25 bucks. It was grim. We were still not even selling new comics then, this was really primitive.

Bud Plant:
So anyway, we just arbitrarily said, “Yeah, let’s close the store.” I’m going to be busy with college. John’s busy with, he’s majoring in photojournalism and stuff. So we just shut it down when I started college in the fall.

Alex Grand:
What was your major in college?

Bud Plant:
Well, it started out as physics, but I learned my lesson really quickly on that and said, “There’s way too much math involved in physics.” And then I fell in love with English, but I figured out, I didn’t know what I could do with English. I didn’t want to be an English teacher. I didn’t fancy I could be a writer. So I just kept going to college and taking courses and finally said, “Well, I guess I should-”

Bud Plant:
I had already started my business at almost exactly the same time and that the reason I started my mail order business was because, all of a sudden, I had no money. Starting in ’68, I was this little kid with a pocket full of money. We had a store that brought in just enough to keep us buying comics and stuff. And all of a sudden I had no income and no job. So I said, “Well, I’ll start selling fanzines and underground comics and stuff.” And so I did that parallel to going to college. Eventually I just said, “Maybe I should take business. that’s what I’m doing,” right? And so I got in, I ended up getting a degree in business administration, marketing.

Alex Grand:
Was this the beginning of the Bud Plant Mail Order?

Bud Plant:
Yeah, exactly.

Alex Grand:
And that’s had different names throughout the years. But that’s basically the beginning of Bud’s Art Books, right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah, it’s all the same business.

Alex Grand:
It’s all the same business.

Bud Plant:
It just changed names a few times, but it started out with ads in the Rocket’s Blast. And then when the Comic Buyer’s Guide came along, I started advertising very regularly in Comic Buyer’s Guide. And I started putting out little eight-and-a-half by 11 piece of paper with all the new releases on it. And then I started putting in a little catalog with a couple of pages and stapled, and then the catalogs got a little bit bigger and it just… First it was just me, because nobody had made-up names back then. You sold a few comics through the mail. You were Bud Plant selling a few comics through the mail or Terry Stroud or Dave Alexander or anything.

Bud Plant:
And by the time I thought about actually putting a name on the business, I said, “Well, I’m getting kind of known.” I was going to shows, meeting a lot of people, buying a lot of fanzines, selling a lot of stuff. And everybody in this little world of comics, everybody was starting to get to know who I was. And I said, “I can’t change my name now. I don’t want to be the comic shop or something. I’m just going to be Bud Plant.”

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
It started out just my name. I incorporated it at one point and it was Bud Plant Incorporated. And then it was Bud Plant Comic Art Company. And then, another story, but we finally made it Bud’s Art Books, trying to break out of the comic book mode and…

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bud Plant:
… appeal to people that might also want art books and not want to deal with comic book stuff.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
Little did I know.

Alex Grand:
So you got some stuff from the flea market to sell through this, but how did you get also the supply for the underground comics, like the Crumb books and Zap and all that and selling it through the mail order like this?

Bud Plant:
Well, the underground comics started with Gary Arlington because, by that point, Gary had been in business for a couple of years. I think I went up and talked to him and he said, “Yeah, I’ll sell you a comics that X discount.” Comics were, I think 50 cents, average underground…

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
… was a 50 cent book. I think he sold them to me for like 27 or 26 cents a piece. It’s like, “Okay, fine.” So I bought a whole bunch of underground comics, started listing them on my list and started taking them to shows. In ’70, I took them to, well in ’69, in Houston, I don’t think I was dealing. I don’t think I was dealing underground comics yet or fanzines. I think it all started in ’70. But by ’70, when I went to Oklahoma City and on to New York, I was selling underground and comic fanzines.

Bud Plant:
So I bought a bunch from Gary, came back. The next natural thing was just to go to the comic book companies, all the underground comics were in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
Print Mint was in Berkeley. Last Gasp didn’t exist quite yet. They came along later. Captain and Company was an early company, they did the Dan O’Neill books. And then Rip Off Press was the big one.

Bud Plant:
I’d drive up there once a month or something, all through my college years and pick up restocks of the comics and all the new comics and bring them home and type them out and make out a catalog or a list and get them out to people.

Bud Plant:
And then the fanzine and stuff came naturally from going to the shows. You go to the shows, guys bring their fanzines to the show, their new fanzine that they just did. So I’d meet Jerry Weist and I started buying Squa Tront and Voice of Comicdom, I mentioned, that was out of San Jose. So that was easy. And all these other fanzines, you’d pick them up at the show, because that would be their big way of selling them. And all of a sudden I have a contact and I slowly built up those contacts and kept carrying issues of fanzines.

Alex Grand:
Now, you also publish your magazine, Promethean Enterprises…

Bud Plant:
Right.

Alex Grand:
… around this time, because that went from 1969 to 1975.

Bud Plant:
Right.

Bud Plant:
And that was with Jim Vadeboncoeur and Al Davoren. How was that distributed and printed and how did you guys do that?

Bud Plant:
Initially, it was through the back door of a print shop. Jim Vadeboncoeur, he might’ve been out of college by then. And he had majored in business management and decided he hated it. It gave him migraine headaches to manage people. So he went back and started working in a print shop. Boom, all of a sudden we got a back door into a print shop. And so we go in and we pay some guy, off hours, legal, but the guy would come in off hours and print the magazine for us, the pages, and we’d do it ourselves. We run it through the folder, we’d staple them, we cut them. Jim would paste them up and make the plates, back when they made plates from things. And so we did it through the back door and that kept our expenses down.

Bud Plant:
It wasn’t until the fifth issue in 1974 that we actually did it officially through the front door…

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
… and just had them do the whole job. Because we’d printed 5,000 of those. That was beyond our capabilities. But before that, we were collating them and stapling them and doing all the stuff ourselves.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
And we were only bringing out one issue a year, basically.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Bud Plant:
So it wasn’t a tremendous job.

Bud Plant:
That was the same way I was doing my early catalog is I just print them up, fold them, collate them, staple them with a little hand stapler and keep it cheap.

Bud Plant:
Also I got to mention, in the first issue, there was another guy, Patrick Price. He dropped out after the first or second issue, but there was another editor. Al Davoren was our key to the underground people because he was a big comics fan, but he also had gotten Crumb and Spain and he knew Robert Williams really well.

Bud Plant:
And he was a slightly older guy, had a family, had a car and he’d drive to LA and see Robert Williams and go to these shows they’d put on once in a while,., the Zap shows and he introduced me to Crumb. So he was our in with all the underground stuff. Whereas Jim Vadeboncoeur and I were more the straighter guys that were more into Frazetta and Krenkel and all that kind of thing.

Alex Grand:
Mm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bud Plant:
So that’s why Promethean ended up being this hodgepodge of underground and overground stuff that we put together.

Alex Grand:
What year did you first go to the New York Comic Con and meet Phil Seuling?

Bud Plant:
That was 1970. So it would have been summer of 1970. In ’69, we had driven John’s father’s Ford LTD, which we really abused. We drove it too fast and we spilled stuff inside it and really made a mess of it. So his father said, “I’m not loaning another car to go to shows.” So we didn’t have a car. And Michelle had started going to the Seuling Con’s in ’68 and she was driving her own car. But for some reason in ’70, she didn’t have a car available or something, or she didn’t want to use her car or something.

Bud Plant:
So I bought, my first car was a van. I went down to a used car lot with my Dad and he backed up the loan for 2,000 bucks and I bought a van and we packed it all full of comics and stuff. It was either four or five of us. We were really overloaded already. And set out for Oklahoma City. July, would have been late June, early July, all determined we were going to have tables and we were going to sell stuff at the show.

Alex Grand:
Right when you met Phil Seuling, what were some of the discussions? What was your impression of him when you met him?

Bud Plant:
Michelle had been back there two years before. And so she had gotten to know Phil and she had slept on his apartment floor. He had a apartment for his family. He had two daughters and his wife. And he lived in a place called Luna Park, which was right off of Coney Island. And so Michelle introduced us.

Bud Plant:
So in ’70, we actually had, the story is, we dropped off Michelle somewhere because she wanted to go through Arkansas or something like that. She was trying to make sure she went through every States in the United States or something. And so we said, Okay, we’ll meet you back in New York.” I think she was going to take a bus back from where she was. It was myself, I think, and John Barrett and Jim Buser.

Bud Plant:
Anyway, we ended up at Phil’s apartment. We had no place to stay in New York and we don’t get into New York until like 10:30 or 11:00 that night. And we go, “Well, maybe he’s up.” So we go up to his apartment on the 13th floor and we can hear a TV going. We go, “Well, maybe he’s up. Maybe he’ll put us up.” Because again, we stayed in rest areas and stuff. We didn’t have money to stay in hotels across the US. All the money was going into gas and buying a table to show. So anyway, we knock on the door and Phil comes to the door in his underwear. He’s got long johns on and that’s it, big hulking guy, a little overweight, real imposing. And, he goes, “I know who you guys are, you’re the San Jose guys. Okay. Come on in.”

Bud Plant:
And, and that was our introduction to him. He put us up, fed us, took care of us. And then we helped him. We helped him with his convention cause he didn’t have a vehicle then. And so it was real handy to use our van and drive stuff into the city and drive the stuff back home again. And also we ended up doing security at the show. Once the show opened, he didn’t have an armed guard or anything fancy like that, but you hire a couple guys to spend the night in the dealer room and sleep on the floor. Well, that’s what we did. It’s like, “Okay.” And he probably paid for a night of our hotel, something like that to pay us back. Because most of his help was volunteer. It was mostly his students because he was a high school teacher. That was our introduction to dealing with Phil.

Bud Plant:
But Phil became a mentor to me. He was an older guy. He was really smart, really outgoing, life of the party. He knew all the stories and he knew all the players. He already was friends with Steranko and Gray Morrow and a lot of the early artists be`cause he met them all putting on shows. He started putting on the New York show in either ’67 or ’68. Took it over from Dave Kaler and some of the other guys who had done it, Bernie Bubnis, I think.

Alex Grand:
That was the first one, yeah.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. And Phil, the show kept growing by leaps and bounds, but it was still a relatively small show in ’69, ’70.

Bud Plant:
You’ve got Hal Foster in there, I think in what, ’69

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I think Gary Groth went with his dad and Hal Foster was there and I think-

Bud Plant:
Yeah, you got that famous picture of the banquet.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That was a year before I think. Huh? Yeah.

Bud Plant:
That was, I think that was ’69. So I missed that one. But everybody and their brother was there. Jeff Jones…

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
… Al Williamson, Gray Morrow, they were all there. That was the big event. That was the San Diego equivalent, but back then and a bit of a smaller scale.

Alex Grand:
Paul Levitz said that Phil came up with the ideas of panels and programming and structure within a convention. When you went to that in 1971, was there a sense that it was more advanced and put together than other conventions?

Alex Grand:
Was there a sense that it was more advanced and put together than other conventions you had seen?

Bud Plant:
Well, we didn’t have much experience with other conventions. We had only been to a couple really. We’d been to Houston in ’69 and Oklahoma City in ’70. I think the main thing about it was New York was just so much more of a Mecca for the professionals. I mean, there was professionals running around and yeah, Phil definitely, I think, developed more events going on at the show, but we weren’t as conscious of that. I mean, I spent so much time in the dealer’s room. That’s mostly what I was doing was either standing behind a table or out talking to friends and looking for comics. I was not a big guy into going to panels to be honest. And so, I missed out on a certain aspect of those early shows because of that. It was a step up. I didn’t really recognize that, I guess at the time, except I knew that it was the show that we wanted to go to because we were willing to drive 3,000 miles to go to it and that was early time and there weren’t other people driving in from the West Coast.

Bud Plant:
That’s why we got to stay with Phil and we got sort of treated a little bit better, I think, because nobody else was coming from that far away.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. There’s a connection for him too, it sounds like.

Bud Plant:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
So, then did you buy product from Phil as well? Did he start distributing toward your Bud’s Art mail order? Was there a financial connection also made?

Bud Plant:
Phil and I both got into wholesale in parallel about the same time. So, in ’70, Phil might’ve been doing Wit’s End. He might’ve taken over the distribution for Wit’s End at that point. And he did publish Dark Domain, which was the gray moral book, but he wasn’t really doing much as far as general wholesale. I mean, it was just this little fledgling business, just like mine was. And we both started, people started coming to us. I mean, guys that had stores and stuff and said, “Hey, can I buy copies of fanzine at a discount?” And that’s how we both sort of slipped into wholesale. Phil. I would buy Wit’s Ends from him because he was the guy that was handling the grunt work for Wit’s End, after Wally Wood had turned it over to John Benson and John Benson didn’t want to be filling orders, so he turned it over to Phil.

Bud Plant:
So this is all pre direct market. So I have to say that Phil and I sort of grew together and we started working together and we started going in on fanzines where somebody would come out with, say, the latest issue of a Squad Tron, Vincent would do it. We’d say, okay, we’ll take 1500 copies between the two of us and we’ll just split them. Ship half to Phil and have to me. Funny World was that way, I think. We co-distributed Funny World and there was a number of fanzines that were coming out like that. And then when Phil got into the direct market, that was a whole nother scene. And that was one I wasn’t really part of because I was not buying regular comic books and wholesaling them.

Bud Plant:
I tried really hard to stay out of that business. I didn’t make it. I still got sucked into it by 1982, but for the first 11, 12 years of my business, I was just doing the fanzine and the underground comics, and that was it. But I was wholesaling them, just like Phil was and also alternative comics. When the PDs came out with Elf Quest, they had a really bad distributor at the beginning that totally screwed them over. And they came to me and wanted me to start distributing it. I had already started publishing undergrounds at that point. I was already doing the First Kingdom and I said, I already got a sword and sorcery book, I don’t need another sword and sorcery comic. And I didn’t really fancy myself a publisher anyway. I just had sort of fallen into doing a few underground comics. I did anomaly, Richard Corbin thing.

Alex Grand:
And that was taken over by Jan Strnad, right? Anomaly.

Bud Plant:
No, Jan started it. Jan started Anomaly as a fanzine and did it as a fanzine for the first two or three issues. And then he comes to me and says, I want to do it as an underground. We could do a lot more copies, it would be a lot cheaper, and you’ve got the underground connection. Can we do it together? I said, sure. Yeah. Because what I would do is gang print it with Last Gasp. At that point, I could walk into a Last Gasp and say, I got an underground comic I want to do, so the next time you do one, they’re going to print the covers for a big giant sheet. Well, one of those covers is going to be mine. And then they print the guts separately, slam them together and you have an underground comic and it costs you like nothing. It was like 12 cents a piece or something.

Bud Plant:
It was really cheap to do. And I could do 10,000 or 20,000 copies of an underground, say 10,000 copies would be 1200 bucks. It wasn’t a gigantic investment and I could pull it off if I could take those and trade them to the other people, to Last Gasp and Print Mint and Rip Off, I’d trade them for the other underground comics I was selling.

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bud Plant:
And all of a sudden I have all these underground comics, the price it costs me to print mine. That’s how I got sort of into that part of the business. You don’t understand what dredging up 50 year old memories is like.

Alex Grand:
That’s true. Because for me that’d be negative seven.

Bud Plant:
That’s right. Yeah. Not much there.

Alex Grand:
And that’s a vacuum at this point. How did you feel when Jack Kirby left Marvel in 1970?

Bud Plant:
Probably in some ways my interest in the contemporary comics was not probably as great by 1970 as it was back in 64, 65. I was going to college. I was in the underground. I was smoking dope. I mean, there’s all this other stuff going on. And of course Jack Kirby just immediately goes over to DC. So it’s like, well, okay, that’s cool. I mean, what kind of interesting stuff is he going to, we didn’t know what he was going to do at DC.

Bud Plant:
Now, from my perspective, I’m not nearly as big a fan of the Kirby stuff at DC as the Kirby stuff at Marvel. I know a lot of people love the fourth world stuff and Mr. Miracle and all that. And I can appreciate it, but I don’t have the love and fondness of it that I do of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee doing the Fantastic Four and doing the Hulk and doing all their groovy stuff back in the sixties. But I didn’t know that at the time. In 1970 it was just, oh, Jack’s going to work for another company. Well, that happens. The guys at DC all went over and went to work for other companies. I mean, it happens and you just move on. And so it wasn’t a momentous occasion, I guess.

Alex Grand:
Right, it was more like turnover. It happens.

Bud Plant:
It happens, and hey, that’s going to be exciting. There’s going to be Kirby doing number one comics at DC. That’s kind of cool.

Alex Grand:
From a dealer point of view. It’s like, you got to get those number ones. Yeah. That’s true. What was your impression of the Overstreet comics price guide when that came out in 1970? Did you use it much?

Bud Plant:
Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that was really crude back then, but still, it was almost the first time anybody put together a guide. I think Argosy bookstore, I think, had put together something or maybe a Passaic bookstore, there was a couple of funky guides before that. So it was a help, especially gathering some of the information together. Back on the fanzine thing, Michelle Nolan had put together those indexes, she did a timely index and a need or index and God knows what else. And that was where a lot of information would come from. And then the rockets blast put together specials about timely. I love the timely one. I read it over and over and over again, talking about who was in what issues of what, when all these odd ball heroes and stuff. And that was where we got our information. But now the price guide started to put that kind of information in. You suddenly find out the first appearance of oh, Green Lantern first appearance was an All-American 16. Before that it was all word of mouth. There wasn’t any real documentation.

Alex Grand:
I see. So it was also good to find, what was the collector’s item too? What’s identified as this.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. But the early price guide was still pretty crude. I don’t know. I’m not sure technically how much we used it. I mean, everybody bought every one of them as they came out and eventually, we used it more and more. And of course back then, it was probably, in some ways, a lot more accurate than it is now. I mean, now the market is crazed. There’s still people, our mutual friend, Jeff Kaplan. He talks to me about guide value on something. And I go, well, when I buy comics now, I do it from my gut. I just sort of go what feels like a comfortable price to me. And I don’t really look it up in the guide and go, oh geez. That’s not the guide price because the guide price has become less and less important, at least for the kind of stuff that I’m interested in. The tougher golden age for one thing, the pre-code comics and stuff like that.

Bud Plant:
I mean, I do use it as a basis for pricing stuff, but if something’s a guide and a half and I want it, I’m going to buy it. I don’t care. And evidently there’s a lot of other people out there like that because stuff’s going for crazy money right now. And the guide has become, it could be a general help, I think on more common comics, but it’s become less and less important on the really rare stuff and the real key stuff, and the really old comics.

Alex Grand:
So tell us about when you went to the first San Diego Comic Con, because Kirby was there. Tell us about that.

Bud Plant:
Another thing I have very little memory of. All of the San Diego Comic Cons have fleshed together. And when I think of an old San Diego Comic Con, I think of the, what’s the hotel, the hotel up in the hill with a swimming pool that…

Alex Grand:
El Cortez or something.

Bud Plant:
El Cortez, I think of the El Cortez. But of course the very first one, it was in the basement of the hotel. There was only a couple hundred people there. There was like one or two girls. I think Bruce Hamilton’s daughter was there. She was like 12 or 13. I mean, it was all guys, all geeky guys with a bunch of tables and it was real dark. There might’ve been panels and stuff, but I kind of doubt it. I think the first one was a little spring show. It was like a one day show or something. It was mostly just a big room with a bunch of guys selling comics, which is closer to what the early Houston and Oklahoma City shows and Dallas shows were. They were mostly based around the dealer’s room and they might’ve had some films going on in another room running the serials or movies or something.

Bud Plant:
So it was pretty basic. There was a few other shows in Southern California. There was a sword and sorcery show put on by Bill Crawford and it was a Disney show. They had one at Disneyland and the guy actually never paid the Disneyland people for the show. He supposedly ran off with the proceeds and disappeared. So San Diego, the first or second San Diego show, wasn’t all that unique. It just happened to be in San Diego. They happened to put on this little show. We had no idea what it was going to develop into. And like I say, there was these other shows that were popping up here and there. There was a show in Phoenix that we went down to that Bruce Hamilton was involved with. So it was one of several shows, we’d go to anything we could get our hands on.

Bud Plant:
And there was a show in Portland. Schomburg was a guest at the show in Portland, in 73.

Alex Grand:
Oh, cool.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. And that was cool. I just picked up a copy of his poster that he did for those, for that show. He did the cover of the program book and a nice little poster. He drew and original piece for it. Nice little Portland show and I’m sure Dave Stevens was there as a kid doing his thing. So yeah. And that didn’t involve a trip across the country. Those cross country trips were sort of epic.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s a big thing to do, but when it’s local, it’s way easier. And so since they’re kind of fused, can you tell the audience, maybe one story or interaction with a couple of names before we go into the Comics & Comix kind of vacuum. Jack Kirby, did you have any interactions with him?

Bud Plant:
My main interaction with Jack Kirby, of my memory, would be when he did a signing at my table. And that would have been much later. I don’t remember interactions with those guys at the beginning of the early shows.

Alex Grand:
Do you remember any early stories with Jim Steranko? Like from the seventies or so?

Bud Plant:
Steranko was basically, back then he was another hustler. He wasn’t that much different from the rest of us. He was older, he was smarter, and more handsome and a great artist, but he was also a convention hustler at that point. He’d have a table and he’d be trying to make money selling his history of the comics and anything else he had done. And so Steranko and I got together sort of like Seuling and I got together and we’d sell each other’s stuff. I mean, sensuous Rosetta rip offs, we’d sell that to each other. And we were doing business together.

Bud Plant:
Anything Steranko did, I was suddenly a customer of his and buying them for my business. And he would buy, he probably didn’t buy very much from me, probably mostly what I did was buy from him. That’s sort of how we got to know each other. Almost as peers in that little convention world of doing shows, because Steranko was really approachable. You know that, he’s really an easy guy to get along with stuff. And he was good friends with Phil Seuling. He had done pictures in Phil’s daughter’s rooms. He did them a couple of drawings that were always on the wall of their bedroom. I remember those.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. He described Phil as a force of nature. And I remember when I interviewed Steranko, he said that he was going to the Kaler convention as a dealer actually. So that’s true, you’re right. I almost kind of forget that aspect of him.

Bud Plant:
He was imitating, the captain company with the Warren in the Warren magazines with all those ads in the back. Steranko was doing the same thing in comic scene, and then in previews. He was, get copies of all the really groovy books, doing really nice display ads. If the cover wasn’t very good, he’d pick a picture inside and put the sexy girl on the cover and he was selling that stuff. And so he was, not to compare myself with him, but we were doing, Seuling and I and Steranko were doing a similar thing. We were all hustling that stuff.Selling that stuff to an ever growing fandom.

Alex Grand:
I never quite thought of him like that, but that totally makes sense. It’s clicking now. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
His advice for selling the most material at a show was to have a girl with lots of cleavage working for you behind the booth. And that gets the fan boys to come over and buy stuff. And he’s right, back in those days, I mean, now San Diego, you can’t turn around without bumping into a girl with hardly any clothing on, but back in those days, girls were few and far between at the shows and he’d bring these cute girls with lots of cleavage and he’d be at his table selling fanzines for them, the other Steranko story, I guess, well, there’s a couple. In Detroit, we had a great birthday party for a guy named Chester Grabowski, otherwise known as the Polish prick. And Chester Grabowski grew up with, he grew up in Brooklyn with Phil Seuling and those hardcore New York guys. I think Seuling must’ve known Steranko for a long time I think.

Bud Plant:
Because they all were really tight, Steranko knew Grabowski really well. Grabowski was just an old short feisty guy, sort of like you’d imagine Jack Kirby to be. Short and feisty and he would carry a pipe with him when he’d walk down in his neighborhood when he was a kid in case a gang attacked him, he’d have this pipe to defend himself. And you can just, it sounds like a Jack Kirby story. So anyway, Chester Grabowski’s birthday was in Detroit where we were having this show, at the Detroit triple fanfare and Steranko is one of the guests and stuff. And so after they shut down the convention room, somehow we get back into the convention room, which they shouldn’t have let us do. And Steranko made up this great sign that said happy birthday to the Polish prick. And we had this surprise birthday party for Chester Grabowski. And it was Seuling and Steranko and Russ Cochran. And I don’t know who else, you know, Barry Bauman probably because he was part of that group and a few other guys, but that’s the guys I remember. And then afterward I think they all went upstairs and were gambling, like playing poker or blackjack or well, poker, it was always poker. Card games in one of the hotel rooms.

Alex Grand:
Any stories or interactions with Will Eisner?

Bud Plant:
Well, the first time I met Will Eisner was in the bathroom at San Diego. He had supposedly come by my table looking for me. And that would have been the first time we met, I don’t know how I never saw him in New York, but somehow we didn’t pop in and get together. But we ran into each other in the bathroom in San Diego. That was probably later on. I don’t know if he was going to Seuling conventions probably in the early seventies. He might not have been because this has got to be later. This could be late seventies or early eighties or something.

Alex Grand:
I read that it was a Seuling that invited Eisner to the New York Comic Conventions.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Yeah. He may have been at the convention, but I never got the opportunity to meet him. So it was at later on when I become better known, I was the guy putting out the big fancy catalogs and I was carrying all of Eisner’s publications, his first graphic novel from Baronet, stuff like that. And so at that point, I was higher on Eisner’s radar.

Alex Grand:
As a business associate actually.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, exactly. In fact, I mean, I’m always sort of proud of it that when I was talking to him, I told him that, he’d done a couple of good books on how to draw comics, but I said, nobody’s done a book on narrating comics, on storytelling comics. He said, that’s a really good idea. And he ended up doing a book called comic narrative, narrating, whatever the title was. And I helped him. I also helped him get in with the publisher. He was doing his own how-to books. Self publishing them. And I was doing a lot of business with Watson Guptill and there’s another publisher that does a lot of how-to books or an imprint of Watson Guptill’s actually, I think, Northlight books. And I said, Hey, I know these guys at Northlight. They do all these, how-to books, why don’t you get them to distribute your book? And lo and behold, he ends up distributing his books and he didn’t have to. Him and his brother were handling it, his brother was part of the business. We did business stuff together, besides the fact that I love his work. I mean, I’m a huge spirit fan. For me, it was all mixed together, the business part and the…

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s cool that you’re actually able to connect the love of the form with these people and then as a business venture as well. That’s awesome.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Seuling and I did the Spirit coloring book back in ’74. The story on that is sort of funny. I had not done anything with Eisner at all, but Seuling came up with this idea of taking splash pages from spirit sections from the forties and doing it as coloring book, taking the black and white originals and stuff. And so Seuling came to me and said, do you want to go in with me on it? We’ll co-publish it. And I said, sure, yeah, we can do that. Little did I know that coloring books are crap and nobody wants it. Most comic book fans do not want coloring books. I learned that the hard way by doing the Spirit coloring book, but anyway, Seuling and I, supposedly we’re publishing that, but Eisner put it together with, I guess, with his printer or something and it comes out and it says published by Courthouse Press, which is him.

Bud Plant:
There’s no mention of Seuling or I, but we’re the guys that put the money up and came up with the idea. Seuling says, Hey, Bill, this isn’t right. We should be listed in here. So Will prints up these little labels that we’re supposed to peel and stick. And we’re supposed to put in every copy of the, it was like 3,500 copies or something. And of course we never did it. I don’t know what happened to all those peel and stick things. But that’s the part of the story I remember the most was like, okay, now we’re going to have to open every one of these up and carefully put in the stick thing that says distributed in the east coast by Phil Seuling and on the west coast by Bud Plant. So anyway, the thing was a disaster anyway. Over 50 years, you can find and sell just about anything, just like the last issue of Promethian. We printed 5,000, I had those forever and I had Spirit coloring books forever.

Alex Grand:
You were still in college at the time when Comics & Comix started in 1972 in Berkeley. Can you tell me about the circumstances and the formation of Comics & Comix?

Bud Plant:
John Barrett, like I said, I mentioned he was going to school and was a year older than I was. So he had started photo journalism in college. And what happened with me is that I was still going to the conventions in the summer. Whereas John, I think had stopped doing that. And I needed somebody to run my mail order business in the summertime when I’d go off for two to three weeks and go to all these conventions because you’ve got to get the orders out. You know, got to keep things going. And so I hired John to do that for me. I think the first summer in, whatever, it would have been ’71 maybe. When I came back, John says, Hey, you’ve got kind of a good little thing going to here. People are sending you money and we send them comics and stuff like that.

Bud Plant:
Why don’t we be partners? I don’t know if I want to really go into the photo journalism thing. I’m not that enamored with college. It’d be fun to do something like this. And my attitude was, I’d already been through a couple of partnerships, for better, for worse. I’d been through Seven Sons for a very short time. And then the other store with the four partners down to two partners and John of course had been partners in both both of those enterprises. But I sort of said, well, I sort of got a good gig going. What do I need a partner for? I sort of like running it myself, which could have been a mistake. I mean, maybe things could have been totally different if I had done that. But instead I said, look, I’m happy doing the mail order business and I can handle it the way it is now by myself, but why don’t we open a store again, but open a real store, a serious store, where we need one.

Bud Plant:
Instead of opening another store in San Jose, where they already had now, they had Frank Scadina down there and they had Bob Sidebottom comic collector shop was there. San Jose really didn’t need another store. We ended up opening up there anyway, but that’s later on. But I said where could we open a store that would be groovy? And we said, well, Berkeley. Berkeley is a natural it’s Telegraph Avenue. It’s where all the stuff’s going on. There’s good bookstores up there. It’s a commute from San Jose, but it’s an untapped area. Arlington’s over in San Francisco. There’s nobody selling comics in the Berkeley area. We said, okay, let’s open up a store in Berkeley. We went up there and checked it out.

Bud Plant:
In fact, when we were walking around, they had just had some kind of protest or something. There was tear gas floating around. And John got dosed with tear gas, not directly, but it was just floating around. And we were on a side street somewhere. We never saw the protest, but he gets hit by tear gas in his eyes. And his eyes are watering and stuff. So anyway, we scout out a location, right on Telegraph avenue, right in front of a bus stop and say, okay, basically I was going to be the money guy. I was somehow making enough money in the mail order business and I had stock to sell because I had the underground comics, I had the fanzines. And John may have contributed some money to, I don’t know exactly what the situation was on that, but I was going to be the silent backer basically because I couldn’t work in Berkeley and go to San Jose State at the same time. That would have been impossible. That’d be a two hour commute every day.

Bud Plant:
So John said, I’ll run the store. You help with the money and the fanzines and stuff like that. So that’s what we did. And then we’d met Bob Beerbohm at the shows when we were going back to Oklahoma and Texas and probably New York. I think Bob was back in New York too. And he was another youngster like us, same age, same interests and stuff like that. And so we actually came out to California with Bob because he came out to visit us, but we’d drag guys out, we dragged out Bruce Hershenson, he was from New York. We dragged him out to California. And maybe it was after San Diego Con I’m not sure, it’s very possible. It might’ve been after San Diego.

Bud Plant:
And we were saying, Hey Bob, why don’t you move out here from Nebraska? And work with us in Comics & Comix, be a partner. Bob said nah, I got to go back to school and you know, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, he drives back and he makes it into the Salt Lake Desert, blows his car up, blows his engine out. And the story is that he gets his engine rebuilt from some funky gas station there. And he says, oh, well, that’s my tuition money. So I guess I’m not, now he may have a totally different version of this. He doesn’t usually talk about this part of it. But anyway, so he turns around and comes back to California. His car blows up again in Sacramento. I’m still living in San Jose at this point.

Bud Plant:
So I go up and I tow him back to San Jose and his car sits in front of my house for the next six months or something. And he moves in with me and he gets a regular job. And then he also starts working in Comics & Comix and buys in as a partner. I think it was going to be like 3000 bucks was going to be his contribution to buy into Comics & Comix. So he became the third partner of Comics & Comix at that point. One of the big bones of contention is, Bob likes to give himself credit for starting Comics & Comix. Well, it just depends on what perspective you’re looking at. Yes, he was there at the beginning. Yes. He started it in a general sense, but no, it wasn’t his idea. It started with John and I, and started with the story I just told you and we brought Bob in.

Alex Grand:
And it started, it sounds like, as an extension, so to speak, of the mail order business that you already had going.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Although, I mean, we immediately started selling new comics, which was a step above what I was doing. By this point, we were smart enough to go to the distributor because this is still probably pre direct market.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. ’72 yeah.

Bud Plant:
We went to the distributor up in the Oakland area and said, we want to buy comics from you. And we started buying comics at some horrible discount, 25 or 30% off. But we stocked it with new comics and with the underground comics. And of course they were super popular with the campus being up there with 25,000, 30,000 students. I mean, it was a great place to open a store, and that was always our flagship store. That was a store, if no other store made money, Berkeley probably always made money.

Bud Plant:
And John was a really good partner. He was a really hard worker. I mean he hustled his butt and initially he drove from San Jose to Berkeley to run the store. And eventually he moves up there and gets married and continues to do that whole thing. But one of the running jokes was, because I had, by that point, even in ’72, ’73, I was somewhat known in the comic book field. And people would come in and say, where’s Bud Plant? Are you Bud Plant to anybody that were working behind the counter.

Bud Plant:
So Jim finally got a little button that said, I am not Bud Plant. And all the guys would wear it, a little button saying, I am not Bud Plant because as more and more customers came in and my mail order business grew, I was getting international, well, let’s not overblow it, but I was getting a reputation. I was one of the better known people in the comic book field as I was pumping out catalogs and doing ads and getting all the publications. So I was really well known and I’d advertise Comics & Comix. So people kept coming and expecting to see me behind the counter. Never. I could barely run the cash register.

Alex Grand:
That’s cool. You guys hosted the 1973 first bay area comics convention. The Berkeley Con is that right?

Bud Plant:
Well, the underground, the first underground convention, we like to call it the under… It was called Berkeley Con, but it was primarily an underground comics convention and it really was started by, you know Mike Manyak, it was started by Mike Manyak. But anyway, Mike and this other guy, they were a couple of Timely fans and they were not business people at all, but they just wanted to put on a convention. I think they wanted to do it as an underground convention. I think that was their concept. At some point they came to us in Comics & Comix and said, this is the way I remember it, you should get Mike’s version of this, but they felt like they were over their head. They didn’t really know exactly how to continue, to proceed to put on this convention.

Bud Plant:
And of course, hey, we’re the pros. We’ve been going to New York for what, two years. So we know all about conventions. We got involved in it. And again, so it was their idea and everything. We just sort of came on board and said, yeah, we could help you guys do that. We could help publicize it. Somebody went up to the campus, to UC Berkeley, and talked them into doing it and said, we’ll rent the poly ballroom. It’s one of their facilities up there. It’s really close, again, it’s really close to Telegraph Avenue. So you could just walk up there from the store and we’d rented the poly ballroom when we had to hand construct the art show the night before the art show. So we had to go out and buy plywood and two by fours and put the damn thing together through half the night.

Bud Plant:
That was one reason I don’t remember much about that convention because I was on the inside. I was handling the administrative stuff, letting people in, oh, that guy’s an artist. Okay. He can come in for free. This guy, I don’t know who this guy is, make him pay. And we had to put together the art show, which was nice. John Campbell had become a partner by that point. And Campbell had fallen into a batch of really nice original art. And so we had Hal Foster Prince Valiants, and Tarzan pages and stuff on display, but we also had lots of underground stuff and all the underground artists were really, really happy to contribute. There’s a nice little program book. You’ve seen that little Berkeley program book. Vada Bunker put that together. That was a Vada Bunker’s design and the underground artists all contributed artwork and stuff. And so we did this nice little show. One-off show. There was another show the next year, but I don’t think we had anything to do with it. I don’t know exactly who put that thing on.

Alex Grand:
Steve Engelhart was at that convention right? The ’73 one.

Bud Plant:
I think so. Like I say, that thing is a blur. I mean, when you’re on the inside trying to put on a show, I never wanted to put on another show because I said, man, I really did not enjoy the show because I was trying to run things, keep the trains going. And it was hard. That’s it, I’m done. I mean, it’s bad enough just to be a dealer and be stuck behind a table, but you’re not even behind a table anymore. You’re out there trying to fix problems. You know, we went out at one point and there was some belly dancers doing their thing right on the campus there. And we said, hey, you guys want to, we’re doing a comic book show, you want to come in and do your belly dancing in the show? Oh yeah, sure. So all of a sudden we have these belly dancers wandering around at the show. Because we didn’t have a costume show or anything like that. We were not that sophisticated,

Alex Grand:
But that’s the next best thing.

Bud Plant:
Well, everybody had a good time I think. And it was a great chance for the underground artists to get a little…

Alex Grand:
Exposure.

Bud Plant:
A little something because this was still the early days of undergrounds. And there wasn’t any kind of cohesive thing going on with the undergrounds at all. It was just a bunch of publishers putting out a bunch of comics.

Alex Grand:
Interesting.

Bud Plant:
And Crumb. We still think that we did the first interview with Crumb in ’75 or ’74 in Promethian Enterprises, in the fifth issue. Nobody else had done any kind of lengthy interview with Crumb at that point, he was still just some weird guy doing weird comics and undergrounds and he was not being recognized at all in the real world.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. You brought a spotlight or helped put a spotlight on it.

Bud Plant:
We may have helped put a spotlight. I don’t know. You were asking about distribution on the Prometheans and that was me. We’d take them into local stores and give them five copies on consignment or 10 copies on consignment or something. And I was selling them through the business and wholesaling them, but that’s it. We didn’t have any kind of distributor or anything. That’s why the early issues are all little tiny print runs, thousand copies, 1500 copies.

Alex Grand:
Was it at this convention that the Tom Riley collection came through?

Bud Plant:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand:
Two to 4,000 golden age comics, a lot of Timely stuff that someone had. Tell us about that situation

Bud Plant:
That happened at that show but I was back behind the scenes doing my thing. So I was not there when it actually happened. Everything I know is hearsay, but again, it was Mike Manyak and his buddy, I think they ran into the people first. The people came in with a bunch of comics. They may have come into the front of the dealer’s room and Mike and his buddy sort of corralled them and may have gotten them upstairs or something, gotten them out of the way of the dealers because that’s like, it’s honey to bees, man. I mean, the dealers are going to descend all over these guys bringing in a fresh collection of Timelys and stuff. I think they got them up to a room and they bought some of the stuff. Then involved in this at some point, some of the other dealers were buying some stuff and then these people started to freak out because they started to realize, oh…

Bud Plant:
… and then these people started to freak out because they started to realize, I mean, the dealers couldn’t hide it. I mean, this was exciting shit, and they were selling this… I don’t know what they were selling the books for. It was next to nothing, probably five bucks a comic, or two bucks a comic it was probably something like that, something really cheap for all this fresh stuff. They supposedly started to freak out. And somehow John Campbell, who was a really good smart guy, and he was, at the point, a small partner in Comics & Comix, he talked to them and said, “Look, you guys should pack these things up. I’ll come over to your house and we’ll make a deal. You don’t want to be dealing with this buying frenzy that’s going on here.”

Bud Plant:
And so that’s what they did. They went back home and John ended up making the deal for Comics & Comix. I don’t know all the dollars or anything about the deal. And of course, nobody knew what a pedigree collection was at that point. The term hadn’t even been invented yet. But John got the deal, bought the stuff for Comics & Comix. Of course, we sold them as if they were any other comic book, even though they were really, really super nice condition and stuff. But back then the value between a good copy and a very good copy and a very fine copy, this spread was tiny.

Bud Plant:
It’s a Marvel Mystery from the Tom Riley Collection, so it was nothing because this is ’73, price guy don’t even out for three years, but supposedly we made good money on the thing, and that was considered the reason we were able to open up two more stores. We opened up the second store-

Alex Grand:
San Francisco?

Bud Plant:
By ’74, by a year later, we had four stores. We had one in San Francisco, one in San Jose, and one in Sacramento that Scott Maple went up and opened after he had started out in Berkeley. So all of a sudden we doubled the number of stores we had. Not that that was a good thing, but at the time we thought it was.

Alex Grand:
But tell me about this van accident. It was from Houston to New Orleans. What year was it, and what exactly happened? What was all the chaos that issued?

Bud Plant:
This is ’73. The bottom line is, it was just a car accident. The chaos that ensued seems to be good old Bob Beerbohm and his rewriting of history and holding the van accident responsible for a lot that’s come along since then.

Bud Plant:
But basically I had blown my engine up in my old van and I replaced it with a new van, so I had a nice, fancy, new Dodge van that only had about 7,000 miles on it. We’d driven it to a couple other conventions, I think, and we had gone to Houston and done the Houston show. Sunday night, we packed up and we were going to drive down to Six Flags Over Texas, I think, to check it out. I’d never been there. And I think we were going to continue on to New Orleans and then come back to Dallas, which was the next week.

Bud Plant:
We had an opening of two or three days there, four days, before the next show in Dallas, and then I think New York probably was after the Dallas show. So it would have been the next show. So three shows in a row. It started raining. I was taking an off ramp from one highway to another and basically I hydroplaned off the off ramp as I took it and the van ran into a big concrete pylon that was holding up the freeway.

Bud Plant:
Terry Stroud, Dick Swan, Beerbohm, and I were in the van. Bruce Hershenson was supposed to be with us, but he decided to hang out with Russ Cochran, and Bruce actually married Russ Cochran’s daughter, so who knows, maybe that was a good thing.

Bud Plant:
But anyway, Dick’s got a whole story which I am not conscious of because I was unconscious. But I was just talking to Dick Swan recently, and ended up going over to a farmhouse that was nearby, because I guess it was kind of in the boonies, and he got them to call the… he said he called the fire department. So the fire department came out. I always thought it was police rather than the fire department people, but I don’t know.

Bud Plant:
What I did is, I broke my nose. I think I hit the steering wheel in my face and I was unconscious for some time or I had a whatever, and when I came to, I was wandering around outside the van. But anyway, Dick had called what I thought was police, and then they came and they basically got us down to the hospital, get us checked in.

Bud Plant:
So I broke my nose and I had cut my chin up and I broke my kneecap, fractured my kneecap, and Dick had cut himself getting out the window. He says he had to push out the front window to get out the front window and get outside the van. It was pretty good. We must have been going 40 miles an hour or something, and so we impacted the front engine, then front engine just pushed right back into the transmission, into the van. The whole van had a sort of a big curve in the front where it wrapped itself around this pile on head on to the pile on.

Bud Plant:
Dick says Beerbohm was laying on the ground screaming. Or no, I guess it’s Beerbohm that says that. I’m not sure whose story that is.

Alex Grand:
I heard that there was some laying on the ground screaming. I read that somewhere.

Bud Plant:
But it was funny, because my memory of it was that I don’t remember having much impression that Bob was really hurt. He wasn’t physically outwardly hurt compared to Dick and to me, and I don’t remember exactly what went on in the hospital other than we had to call Dick’s parents because Dick was under age and we had to get permission to check him into the hospital. And I got my little cast on my leg.

Alex Grand:
The funniest line from that book you showed me talking about this, that someone ran to a nearby farm and knocking, like, “Help. We need help.” There’s chaos everywhere. And the funniest line in, and it was that Texas Chainsaw Massacre luckily wasn’t home that day or some horrible thing.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, no, that was definitely Dick. I mean, he has a very clear memory. He said he stepped on a nail, because he was barefoot, because he was basically about to go take a nap in the back of the van because it was late, it had been a long day and we were driving in the dark, and so typically the guys in the back… we didn’t have seats, because we took the seats out. We’d have a load of boxes, usually at least two layers of boxes, then we’d put a four by eight piece of plywood in and people could put a bed roll up or lay down and sleep.

Bud Plant:
It was a funky arrangement, but I was driving so I didn’t give a shit, you know what I mean? I was happy. And Beerbohm was in the passenger seat. Anyway, so that’s what happened. We got ahold of Russ Cochran and he came and bailed us out of the hospital, took us to a hotel and got us a bunch of milkshakes. I remember drinking a lot of milkshakes. And we rented a U-Haul, went down to the junkyard, because the van was totaled, unloaded all the stuff in the van and put it in the U-Haul. The U-Haul was a stick-shift and Bruce, now Bruce Hershenson becomes part of the story, Bruce has never driven a stick shift. So I’m trying to teach him how to drive a stick shift in this big honking 26 foot U-Haul, because I can’t drive, because I can’t drive a stick shift because my left leg is in a cast and you don’t operate a clutch very well with a cast on.

Alex Grand:
That’s true.

Bud Plant:
So we drive up to Dallas, and by that point Beerbohm’s gotten himself a cane. And again, I don’t know if we were just being assholes or what, but we were sort of going, “What’s wrong with Bob? I thought Bob didn’t get hurt?” But now, 50 years later, Bob is still attributing everything that’s gone wrong with him to this accident in 1973. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But we we all hobbled our way into the Dallas show, and these guys are going, “What happened to you guys?” Because we look pretty messed up, I think, at that point.

Bud Plant:
The classic line for me was that, I don’t know, I think it was me that said it, the guys were saying, “What are you guys going to do after the show on Sunday night in Houston?” And I said, “Well, we’re going to drive a little ways and crash.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah, you literally did crash. So then in late ’73, the direct distribution kind of starts. The narrative is that Phil Seuling made a deal with some of the bigger companies, Archie, DC, Marvel, and Morin to ship comics from Sparta, Illinois. And was it the start of that direct market for the mainstream comic books?

Bud Plant:
Well, yeah, absolutely, it’s the start of the direct market. Berenbaum likes to go back and say the direct market started with underground comics, with people like me or Seuling or the underground companies selling to head shops and the few comic book shops that were around in ’70, ’71, ’72. There weren’t a lot of comic book shops the, there was that many. It was few and far between.

Bud Plant:
I disagree. I think that the direct market was absolutely because Seuling went to… generally, I think of it as Marvel and DC, but he must have gone to Archie at some point. He already knew Warren. He introduced me to Warren early on, maybe ’70 or ’71, and I went over to Warren’s and I started buying Vampirella six foot posters and some back issues and some other Warren stuff, so I was dealing with Warren already.

Bud Plant:
The Warren thing was easy for him, but that wasn’t… the direct market was the comic books, Marvel and DC. It could be that the initial shipments may have all gone to him and they may not have been doing any dropshipping. Eventually it became a gigantic operation and they dropshipped the comics directly to the bigger stores, or what they called sub-distributors then. But initially they may have all gone to Phil and Phil may have shipped them out. I couldn’t tell you exactly how that was handled. But basically comics were not in really good shape at that point in ’72, ’73. The sales were going down, other forms of entertainment, I think, we’re taking away money from the comic book market. So they were willing to listen and they didn’t take it too seriously, but they figured it was another way of making some money, just like selling foreign rights. Hey, the British will pay you X amount of money to reprint your books. Sure. It’s free money.

Bud Plant:
Old Phil would buy little tiny quantity of comics, but he’s going to buy them non-returnable and non-returnable is a big thing because the whole returns deal, especially with affidavit returns, was a mess. I mean, it was a money pit. It starts out as a little tiny operation, and Phil initially, this is a more of a business thing, but Phil was making people pay upfront. So you got a list from Phil what’s coming out in 60 to 90 days, and you had to pay for them in front, which is pretty difficult for little fledgling businesses.

Bud Plant:
That’s where Phil and I would have arguments because I believed in giving credit, but I wasn’t on the scale that Phil quickly became in the direct market. I was on a little tiny scale, and so I would deal with people. I told Benedikt Taschen, the big publisher, he had a comic bookstore and I’d send stuff to him on credit and he’d pay me 30 days later, and that’s the way the world kind of works, but that’s where Phil and I would differ because Phil said, “No, I want the money up front.”

Bud Plant:
Well, that’s fine except when all the stores are cash poor and have no capital, they can’t afford to put much money up front, and so it kind of really restricts the growth of the market.

Bud Plant:
Phil started the direct market selling that stuff, and then the whole thing blew completely open, inadvertently, because New Media came along, they sued Seuling for whatever it is, monopolistic market or something. All of a sudden Marvel and DC started selling to multiple people besides Seuling. And as much as I love Phil, he was doing a really good thing for himself for making lots of money, but he wasn’t doing a really good thing for expanding the market and making comic shops more viable, giving terms, getting more books out there to people, getting all these distributors competing against each other.

Bud Plant:
By the time I got out of the distribution business, this is 15 years later, it was like 14, 15, 16 distributors, and then sub-distributors on top of that. That’s healthy for the market to have all those people getting books out and getting books out into the marketplace.

Alex Grand:
So because his sub-distributors went off and became their own distributors and then that’s why there were so many, or one of the reasons. We’re going to go back to ’74, but quick thing on Phil that I was going to ask later is, do you think him losing that market the way he did affected him psychologically? Was he disappointed or angry about it?

Bud Plant:
Oh yeah. He was real angry about it. Well, for one thing, the New Media people were total sleazebags. What they did was a good thing for the world in general, but the people that did it were scum. The guy that ran New Media was not a nice guy. I never got along with them, and they were known for pulling shenanigans with people and saying one thing and doing another, whereas the rest of us all dealt on all handshake basis. There weren’t contracts between us and stuff, we just would say, “My word is good that this is what we’re going to do, and I’m going to owe you” and blah, blah, blah. But New Media was something else.

Bud Plant:
So yeah, Phil was understandably upset about it, but he learned to live with it. I mean he continued to run Seagate and he was one of a number of distributors at that point. And then unfortunately he got sick. He died in ’84. He had a rare liver problem that came along in ’83, maybe. It looked like he was getting through it, he wasn’t. It was a lot like having cancer. When you get a cancer operation, then it comes back and does you in, He thought he was dealing with it and then it got him.

Bud Plant:
He died the day before my daughter was born, because I went to call him, I may have told you this story before, but I went to call him because we were still really tight. I had my firstborn daughter had been born August 20th, and Johnny answers the phone and says, “Phil can’t come to the phone right now. I’ll call you as soon as I can.” The next day she calls me and says, “Phil’s dead.” And he did.

Bud Plant:
I went back to his funeral, and Alison had just been born, and that was the week she was… I think she was born on Monday and I went to his funeral on Wednesday or Thursday, and my ex never forgave me for flying to New York when she was still recovering from a C-section.

Alex Grand:
Exactly. He was your friend, he died.

Bud Plant:
I felt like I had to do it, because, I mean, the guy was like a father to me, you know? I mean, I loved him and all the people around him that he introduced me to and stuff, so I had to go. And I was really glad I did. We had a really nice little wake and stuff. It was nothing official, but we had a nice little wake and all his friends got together and swapped stories and stuff. So it was cool.

Alex Grand:
Sparta, Illinois, was that location basically picked because it’s in the middle of the country and you can ship equally to all the places? Is that the idea behind Sparta, Illinois?

Bud Plant:
Probably that is true. But this is long before comics. Sparta was probably a printing plant before comics were even starting to be produced, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. It just happened that they had old cheap presses they could run comics on, and so they became the defacto place where you’d print the comics.

Bud Plant:
To be honest, Alex, Eastern Color, which was Dell, I don’t think those… Those we not printed in Sparta. I think Eastern Color was its own printing company in the East Coast somewhere. So in the golden age, those were being printed by Eastern Color. And probably the comics were being printed in these other places, and I’m speculating now, but I think that it slowly consolidated and ended up in Sparta because they needed to keep the costs really low and they could run them on these really old presses they’d already written off all the costs on, and they couldn’t print sophisticated stuff. They did Time Magazine and stuff there, but they’re not going to print that on this piece of crap press.

Bud Plant:
When we went down there and visited them, I remember Chuck Rozanski made a big deal out of it because he’s going, “Well, what if these presses break? Who’s going to be doing the comics?” There’s no fallback at that point. And then when they started doing the direct market only comics and doing them all glossy paper and stuff like that, they started coming out of Canada from a second printer.

Bud Plant:
But anyway, I think it just happened that as comics got consolidated and there was only Marvel and DC and Archie and a couple other, Charlton, a couple other comic companies in the late 50s, early 60s, it all got consolidated down to Sparta, which sort of made it easy for Phil because it’s all coming out of the same place and basically he just makes the deal with DC and Marvel and they tell Sparta what to do.

Alex Grand:
I’ve read that when he had gotten this distribution set up that he had offered you to be a distributor for the West Coast, is that correct?

Bud Plant:
No. Phil, he never pursued me handling comics. I mean, he had the exclusive in the early days, then it got broken open and I still had no interest in carrying new comics. My shops were, and they were buying from Phil Seuling. And of course, John was after me for a long time. John Barrett was the instigator of trying to get me into the direct market and distribute comics, because he ended up getting a better deal for Comics & Comix if I was the distributor. But I held out for a long time because I just enjoyed what I was doing. It was more of a hands-on operation. I liked the fanzines. I liked the undergrounds. I liked the books. I was carrying a lot more books at that point. I was doing a nice catalog. I had a nice wholesale operation. I didn’t really need to be carrying new comics because with new comics comes along a whole other set of problems.

Bud Plant:
Making all the comic shops happy, ending up with shortages, with damages. The time factor is a whole other thing. You got to get those comics turned and out to the store super past. And then of course there was air wars. I mean, they had the whole air freight thing that started up, where one of the distributors in the Midwest started air shipping comics and he got a piece of the market just because he could get the comics to you faster before everybody else reacted.

Alex Grand:
In 1974, a couple of things. You published Barbarian Killer Funnies and Jack Katz’s First Kingdom in that same year. This was kind of toward the end of Promethean Enterprises. But how did those get started?

Bud Plant:
I can’t take credit for First Kingdom, at least in the beginning, because that was actually Comics & Comix. Beerbohm was part of Comics & Comix at that point, and actually Comics & Comix was trying to do distribution on undergrounds. Once again, John was thinking, well, this is a way, if we could publish some stuff, we could trade with the publishers, get comics cheaper, make more money on them. And so Comics & Comix said, “We’re going to publish.” And they talked to Jack Katz, who had become a customer of the Berkeley store. I didn’t know Jack from anybody.

Bud Plant:
They did a Dan O’Neill. We did, I think, two issues of Dan O’Neill. I’m saying we, I’m sort of differentiating myself from Comics & Comix because this was really more their deal than mine. But the Jack Katz thing and the First Kingdom was a long-term project, and they actually did that for the first six issues.

Bud Plant:
Meanwhile, I had done… barbarian Killer was my little puppy. That was a guy down in Santa Cruz, so I would go over and see him and we were going to do… it’s a Conan parody, so I thought we’d do that. And I did Anomaly. And then we had one of the guys in the store that was managing our store, Jim Pinkowski, he wanted to do a comic called Spaced or Spaced Out, and so we were the imprint on it basically and provided the distribution, but I think it was his money to do that. And then Comics & Comix also did Magic Carpet.

Alex Grand:
That’s Alfredo Alcala, right?

Bud Plant:
Alcala, Yeah.

Alex Grand:
And that was from ’77 to ’78 or so. Did you interact with him much?

Bud Plant:
Moderately, yeah, because we had a close friend, a mutual friend, Manuel Auad, A-U-A-D, who’s now an art book publisher in San Francisco. Manuel is Filipino and he was a big comic book fan, he is a big comic book fan, and he knew Alfredo from the Philippines. And so Alfredo needed a place to live when he came over to the US to start doing comics, and Manuel put him up in his basement for a couple years. And so I got to know, moderately well, I got to know Alfredo through that.

Bud Plant:
Alfredo was a big fan of the classic illustrators, like Frank Brangwyn, and he used to buy comics from Vadeboncoeur and I when we were dealing in antiquarian books with Frank Brangwyn and some Dean Cornwell, some of the classic illustrators. A lot of the artists had studied those guys, including Steranko. If you talk to him about those guys, he’ll probably name them all off to you too.

Alex Grand:
I see. So, Alcala had kind of known you guys already from other things.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. And I forget exactly how that comic came together, but probably Manuel had something to do with that too. He wanted to do a comic, he figured there was some good money in it. Because comics were making money. We could do 20,000 copies, front somebody, I don’t know, 1000 or 2000 bucks for it, which was good money back in those days, especially for comic book artists, and basically pay them a royalty on the sales.

Bud Plant:
First Kingdom was done a little differently, but First Kingdom we basically gave Jack $100 a week for like 11 years. His wife was really supporting him, but he was able to do this thing and have a regular small income from it. Because he was only doing one comic every six months, so that was the big problem with the First Kingdom, by the time a new issue would come out, everybody’s forgotten what was in the last issue.

Bud Plant:
I finally talked him into starting to have a synopsis and we’d have a guy write a synopsis for us in each issue, so the poor readers could get brought up to data after five, six, seven years of this story.

Bud Plant:
I took it over from Comics & Comix basically when they finally decided that publishing comics was not their gig and distributing stuff was not their gig, and so I said, “Well, that’s fine. I’m already sort of in the business, I’ll take it over and distribute it.”

Alex Grand:
In 1975, the partnership kind of splintered a little bit, because Beerbohm left and started Best of Two Worlds, I think in San Francisco or so. What was the circumstances of this partner splinter?

Bud Plant:
That’s complicated too, and there’s different versions of that. Basically at the time there was irregularities coming along in the Berkeley store where John, Barrett, and Beerbohm worked, as far as there was money occasionally disappearing out of our safety deposit box that we couldn’t account for.

Bud Plant:
We had a store within a store. We had the old comics within a store that we had built within the new store, the big store, and so all our antiquarian stuff was there. It was good, because it was easy to police it. There was always a guy behind the counter there, so that was two people at the counter.

Bud Plant:
It was irregularities going on. Beyond that, I can’t tell you too much detail because, again, I wasn’t working in the stores. But at one point John Barrett comes to me, says, “It’s either Bob or me. I cannot work with this guy anymore. I mean, there’s just too much weird shit coming down. He’s doing trades for stuff he says is good for the store, but nobody else is there privy to the store. He trades some stuff of his own for stuff that he wants from the store for himself.” And there was the cash discrepancies.

Bud Plant:
When John says, “It’s either him or me,” I said, well, it’s got to be John, because I’ve known John for much longer and I trust John and, okay, that’s it. John’s my guy. So we had this very acrimonious split up.

Bud Plant:
At that point, we had another partner, this guy, John Campbell, he was working in San Francisco running the San Francisco store. So we had this acronymous split up and it got so nasty that Bob was trying to force us to go into every store and split up every piece of property in every store, which would have been insane. It was four stores to go through and say, “Okay, you get this book and we get this book and you get this book.” Because we were trying to work out something much more smoother.”Bob, how much money you want? We’ll buy you out. You leave. We’re done.”

Bud Plant:
So we started actually splitting the stuff up, and then we finally said, “This is not working. This is ridiculous.” And we pushed them out of the business however We did that. He was a minority stockholder, so basically do what you wanted to, I guess. And we gave him money. I think we gave him, I don’t know what, I don’t know how many thousand dollars, but we forced him out, bought him out.

Bud Plant:
Then later on, the story comes out this John Campbell had developed a cocaine habit and he ended up ripping off his folks who had a chain of medical chain they were involved with and he was ripping them off. He admitted to staging a robbery in one of the San Francisco stores, at least one, maybe two, break ins that we thought was a Chinese gang. They came in and broke the windows, snatched and grabbed a bunch of comics and left. He admitted to doing that because he was going through at this point a AA thing where you own up to what you did and come back and admit it.

Bud Plant:
At that point Beerbohm says, “It was all John Campbell. You guys threw me out of the store and it was all John Campbell’s fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.” Well, you can see where the problem is. I mean, John Campbell is now dead. John Barrett is now dead. You got Beerbohm and you got me with our two different stories.

Bud Plant:
I still insist that there was more to it than Campbell. I don’t think Campbell set Bob up for the fall or anything. I think there was still… I know Bob well enough, I’m afraid, and Bob has screwed people over over the years, he’s done a lot of shady stuff, and I think that he was doing shady stuff. I’m not saying he did one thing in particular, but he did enough to make John Barrett say, “I don’t want to work with him anymore,” and John was my guy, so we had to make a decision and that’s what pushed Bob out. And so there was a very acrimonious competition going on between us for years after that.

Bud Plant:
Bob proceeded to open up more than one store. He opened up in San Francisco and then he came back to Berkeley and opened up a Berkeley store, which eventually, I think, became Rory Root’s Comic Relief. Or maybe Comic Relief may have came along, because Rory Root didn’t work for Beerbohm, he was Beerbohm’s guy.

Bud Plant:
When Beerbohm went bankrupt on me, and he still owes me a whole bunch of money, which I’ll never get, but he blamed it on Rory Root. He said, “Rory was buying too many comics.” “Well, Bob, my deal’s with you. I’m not dealing with your manager, I’m dealing with you. You owe me money.” But he goes bankrupt.

Bud Plant:
I stayed friends with him as much as I could up to a point, and then I finally gave it up.

Alex Grand:
The interesting thing is how you guys talk about a lot of the same comics and historical perspectives and history of books in general, not just comic books, and artists and there’s such an interesting overlap, but there’s still a certain basic nature that seems to have caused a divergence and such a fascinating thing, actually.

Alex Grand:
So then Groth had started Fantagraphics, The Comics Journal, and there was a time in, I think, the later 70s, they were kind of low on money and that you may have bought in at some point. What was that story?

Bud Plant:
Yeah, actually I think Comic’s Journal started out as Nostalgia Journal.

Alex Grand:
That’s right.

Bud Plant:
I think that was started by some guys in Texas or something.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, he took over.

Bud Plant:
Then he took it over and turned it into Comics Journal. I mean, what a great publication. It was as important to fandom back in those days as to me as the Buyer’s Guide might’ve been, or the Rocket Blast might’ve been. I mean, it was a real center point of interviews with people and trying to elevate comics to a higher level, doing serious criticism and stuff like that.

Bud Plant:
Anyway, he was doing a good thing and doing a good magazine, but he really had run into financial trouble and he came to me, and it was so much like John Barrett when he came to me in 1971, “Hey, do you want to go into partnership? I mean, do you want to work together?” And once again, somehow I begged off and said, “No, I don’t want to really want to be a partner in Fantagraphics. I mean, that’s a little beyond me. But look, how about if Seuling And I start guaranteeing to take your print runs?”

Bud Plant:
At the same time, I think he was switching… He might’ve been switching to a new format, because I think he might’ve had the first color cover on the next one he was going to put out. It was a Gil Kane or a Star Wars cover, something like that. I think it was Comics Journal, I think it was 37. I think it was 37.

Bud Plant:
Up until this point, Seuling and I were getting away with buying big chunks of print runs and eventually we’d sell them, so even if we couldn’t sell the comics really fast, as long as it didn’t financially screw us up, we could say, “Okay, we’ll both take…” I think we both took like 1500 copies or something, so we basically gave him the money for 3000 copies and said, “We’ll take them no matter what, you get the money, and you can keep publishing, and you don’t have to try to figure out how to sell these things and how to get paid by all these people and stuff. We’ll take them.”

Bud Plant:
And so we just started buying, splitting his print run, like we had done on Squa Tront and some of these other fanzines. I don’t know how long that went on. It got him through his rough patch, basically. So that’s basically the story. But Gary has been real nice about it. He said at one point that we sort of saved his bacon, because I know he’s gotten into financial trouble a couple of times. They had to do a GoFundMe.

Alex Grand:
I asked him about that, but luckily the community and the readers, he’s developed such goodwill with everybody that people would come in at these times to help him out, which is awesome because we all benefit from what he produces.

Bud Plant:
True. Absolutely. So we just sort of did our bit to help him out then and it worked out fine. We didn’t have to become partners. Who knows how that would’ve gone.

Alex Grand:
1980 to 1985, Comics & Comix published Comics Trade Journal, Telegraph Wire. What were these about exactly?

Bud Plant:
Well, The Telegraph Wire was an in-house publication that we’d give away to customers. And of course, Diana Schutz was the editor for a longest time. And because we had… At that point, I don’t know how many stores we had, six, seven. We had enough stores that we could get away with doing something like that and it was a good promotional vehicle for saying there’s going to be an event in this store, an event in that store, there’s going to be a signing hear. We’re going to have discount days here, and we could distribute it through all the stores, and we could print it. It was just a little newsprint thing. In fact, I just came across a batch of them. I didn’t know if I still had a good collection of them, but I know I’ve got a good little stack of them from somebody.

Bud Plant:
I think Diana, I mean, well, she’d go to a show and go to a convention and then talk about it and just stuff like that. I mean, she was the best thing that happened to it. That was great. But yeah, so we did this little in-house publication. Diana’s from Canada and she, again, keeps going back to me refusing to have people work for me, Diana wanted to get a job with me, or something, or wanted to get a job in comics. I think she corresponded with me. I don’t know if she wanted to work in my warehouse. That may not have been the case. But anyway, she needed a green card. So basically we did what we needed to do, sent the Canadian government some kind of note and said, “Yes, we’ll provide her with a job in Berkeley,” and we got her a green card so she could come down and work in the shop in Berkeley.

Bud Plant:
She was a real asset to Comics & Comix for a long time, and then went to work for Dark Horse and became a well-known editor.

Alex Grand:
In 1982, so this is the distribution stuff starts off now. In 1982, Charles Abar’s distribution, this was in the West Coast. And did you buy his distribution or did he owe you money and then just gave you the business? How’d that work?

Bud Plant:
No, no, I bought it. You really did your homework, Alex. You got this stuff down pretty good.

Alex Grand:
Well, good. Thanks. I try.

Bud Plant:
What happened with Abar is he was a small distributor in the Bay Area at that point, mostly distributing, I think, in the Bay Area, down to Santa Cruz and stuff like that. At the same time, he had a full-time job, he was running a delivery truck for either the San Francisco Chronicle or the Examiner. Working like crazy because he’s a workaholic. The story is, his wife put down her foot one day and said, “Charles, you got to choose. Do you want to be a comic distributor or do you want to work at your mail delivery job?” Because he loved that job. He’d get up early in the morning and he was the guy that was throwing the papers to the paper boys. Back in those days when they had paper boys and liquor stores, we’d get the delivery of the paper early in the morning and stuff, and he said he really liked it. He still drives a big truck like that. Well, he just retired, but he had a supplies distribution business up until recently. So anyway, his wife gave him an ultimatum because he was just…

Bud Plant:
So anyway, his wife gave an ultimatum because he was just not at home enough. And so he said “Well, okay, I’ll get rid of the distribution business.” And Charles, he’s not a guy that’s really motivated highly by money. He’s motivated more by loyalty to customers. And he really felt strongly that he wanted to protect his comic book stores that have been dealing with him for years and make sure they were taken care of properly. For what it’s worth, he chose me to be the recipient of the business.

Bud Plant:
So I bought the business from him for a nominal amount. I think it was 5,000 bucks or something. It wasn’t very much. It bought me all those customers that he had because he had faith that I would take care of his customers properly and not screw them over, raise prices, do a bad distribution job, whatever can happen to a distributor.

Bud Plant:
So I sort of got handpicked and that put me into the distribution business, which I had tried really hard not to get into for all those years. As I told you, John was pushing me to get into it.

Bud Plant:
And yeah, all of a sudden we started getting semi-loads of comics up in Grass Valley and breaking them down, and we started running a van route with my old white van. The van I bought after the accident in Dallas, Texas, that was now running a van route down to the Bay Area all the way down to San Jose, I think. It was a 14-hour route, it was just terrible.

Alex Grand:
The van that crashed, was that the one that you drove to the East Coast then?

Bud Plant:
The van that crashed was totaled. I had to buy a new van in Dallas.

Alex Grand:
After. Sure. But before the crash, when you went in 1970 to New York, you were in a van then. Was that the one that ended up crashing?

Bud Plant:
No, the ’70 was my first van. It was an old used Tradesman van. The engine blew up twice. The first time the engine blew up, my dad and I fixed it. My dad’s a mechanic, right? So he teaches me how to rebuild an engine.

Bud Plant:
Engine blows up, something blew up the second time coming home from the San Diego Con. We’d break down in Thousand Oaks, we’d get towed to a Dodge dealership. And while I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with the van and what it’s going to cost and I need to get back to school the next day, John Barrett is out talking to the guy selling a new vans saying, “Yeah, we need a new van.” So they ended up buying my whatever they gave me for my old van. And I ended up once again, my parents backed me for 4,500 bucks and I bought a new van that we totaled in Houston. We had a lot of car issues.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’d be an interesting comic strip, Bud’s Vans, just kind of the different adventures.

Bud Plant:
They’re more memorable, a lot of times, than stuff that was going on at shows. When you’re out in the middle of the night, you just had a tire cut it’s way off the rim and you’re going, “Okay, how are we going to keep going?”

Bud Plant:
We had one trip, we had to get from New York. We’d stayed too long in New York after the show and we were driving to Dallas, 36 hours straight. We drove right through the night for 36 hours. And by the time we were at the end of that, I was taking NoDoz, which I don’t recommend. We didn’t have any whites, I would have taken whites if we had them, but all I had was NoDoz. That may have been the trip that we lost four tires and two rims in one trip. Unbelievable.

Alex Grand:
Okay.

Bud Plant:
And then I ran the van into a curb and lost a rim and a tire. Almost in Dallas for the show and I ended up, “Here we go again, there’s another tire shot.”

Alex Grand:
But this crash was really a sequence of van misadventures, it sounds. Now we have a context here. 1984 then, so first, did you enjoy the distribution business as you were getting those routes going?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. I suppose I did. It was fun getting the new comics, setting up the accounts. I already was dealing with a lot of these guys. I was dealing with the same guys I knew, just for more stuff. So it was exciting in that way.

Bud Plant:
I mean, as I said, the semi would drive into Grass Valley and we’d break down the comics right in the parking lot and figure out… All the stores and put their orders together, package them up and send off… It was Paul, this guy that worked for me, in my van and he’d drive this really long route and we’d hand deliver the stuff to every store.

Bud Plant:
I mean, that’s what I say about service. I mean, look at what goes on now. Diamond’s back in Mississippi and you pay for the freight and you get lousy packaging and you get damage and you get shortages and stuff.

Bud Plant:
Back in those days, we were hand delivering the stuff to these people, and then to be competitive with Capital, Capital decided to open a warehouse. They had distribution in the Bay Area. In fact, they were using Bob, I think for part of it. Bob was a sub-distributor.

Alex Grand:
Sub-distributor Yeah, that’s right.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. They decided to open their own warehouse in the Bay Area. And at that point, from a business standpoint, I said, “I have to do the same thing. I can’t continue to service guys from Grass Valley. I’m too far away.” So both of us opened up warehouses within 15 miles of each other.

Bud Plant:
But then we also had a warehouse where stores could come in and restock stuff. You know, we had these beautiful displays of fanzines and books and overstocks on comics. We’d buy extra comics all the time, which can be good or bad depending on how good a job you do, but we’d have all that stuff available so stores could come in and restock themselves. And there were two stores in the Bay Area. Now there’s Diamond and Mississippi. So I mean, things have changed dramatically.

Alex Grand:
The landscape’s different.

Bud Plant:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
And now just some background on 1984. So Pacific Comics started as a mail order retailer and it got into West Coast distribution and publishing and the publishing end was doing pretty good. A lot of people know about Pacific Comics and Jack Kirby and the stuff that they were putting out, but the distribution end lost too much money and they owed several hundreds of thousands of dollars. So how did you acquire them in 1984?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. One Bill Shanus calls me up. Now he was a sub-distributor at that point for me, for DC. DC did not want to set up accounts with everybody and their brother. They only wanted a hand-picked selection of people that they really felt confident in to sell DCs to.

Bud Plant:
So as a result, somebody like me would sell them to Pacific and we’d sell them to… There was an outfit up in Seattle. I think Second Genesis may have been direct with DC, but we’d have what they called sub-distributors. Alternate Realities, which was Chuck Rozanski, I sold him as DCs. DC didn’t want it to set up Chuck Rozanski for some reason.

Bud Plant:
They just wanted to keep this little… They believed in having a really close knit group of distributors. And then we’d we could have meetings together and it wasn’t like 14 guys there, half of whom they might not like, I guess, or something.

Bud Plant:
So anyway, Pacific is buying my DCs from me, so they’re building up deals, many on DCs. And anyway, Bill calls me up, they owed me $26,000, which doesn’t sound like a lot right now. But in 1980… What was that? ’84?

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That was a lot of money then.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. In 1984, $26,000 was a lot of money. Yeah. And he says, “We’re going bankrupt. We can’t pay you. But come down and you can have the business basically. You can step into the warehouse and you can have all the accounts.” And that was his way of taking care of me because Bill and I were friends, it was all a handshake business. And we trusted each other and nobody wanted to screw the other guy. We were decent people.

Bud Plant:
I went down there. Bill introduces me to the accounts. I mean, he shows me the warehouse. He turns over the keys to me and says, “You need a manager down here, because I’m leaving and you should go get Ken Krueger.”

Bud Plant:
Ken Krueger, meanwhile, they had sent him back to Sparta and they had a warehouse in Sparta, in an old firehouse. And poor Ken, all the comics they got, they had to go up something like 42 steps, upstairs into this firehouse and break all the comics down and then get them back downstairs. Ken said it was a horrible setup. He doesn’t know why they ever bought the stupid firehouse, but that’s what they did.

Bud Plant:
So anyway, Ken’s the guy from LA. Ken was involved at the beginning was San Diego Comic Con. I mean, Ken goes back into science fiction fandom. He knows all the players. He knew all the accounts in LA because he’d worked with them before for Pacific, before they sent him to Sparta.

Bud Plant:
So I called up Ken and say, “Here’s the deal. And I just inherited Pacific’s distribution business in Southern California. Will you come out and and manage it? Do you want to move back to California with your wife and the two boys?

Bud Plant:
And he says, “Oh yeah, I don’t want to live in Sparta anymore.” So he had bought a big house. It was supposed to have 13 rooms or something and three stories. And he had filled it all full of all his sludge, because he just loves to accumulate stuff. And he got in his car, drove out, took over my warehouse and made the boys and his wife, Penny, pack up everything in a semi and have this stuff brought out in a semi-trailer.

Bud Plant:
They all ended up working for me. He worked for me in accounting and the two boys helped in distribution. Plus we had a bunch of other guys there. It was a big warehouse. So it was a lot of distribution going on there.

Bud Plant:
So I owe Bill Shanus a lot actually, because that really increased the size of my distribution business, which eventually resulted in me being able to sell to Diamond. And by that time, Bill Shanus is working for Diamond.

Bud Plant:
So again, who am I going to sell to? I’m going to sell, you know… And Bill Shanus basically handled the negotiations between Diamond and me up to a certain point.

Bud Plant:
And again, I trust Bill. He took care of me when times got tough. He introduced me to driving the route down to San Diego and they’d break up the comics in LA and then somebody would have to drive to San Diego. We’d hand deliver them to everybody down in the San Diego area, which was another, I mean it was a lot of work.

Alex Grand:
Did you also inherit the debt that he had, too?

Bud Plant:
No, no, no. I didn’t get the debt. In fact, they had a liquidation sale and I went down and we would bid on stuff and I bought a whole load of stuff from there when they did liquidation.

Bud Plant:
And in fact, the interesting thing was, as far as the bankruptcy went, technically, they never went into bankruptcy. They couldn’t pay their debts, but to go into bankruptcy, usually somebody has to force you into bankruptcy through the courts.

Bud Plant:
Marvel just wrote it off. DC wasn’t distributing to them anyway. They owed Marvel I think, if I have the number, right, I might’ve been 400,000 bucks, but I could have the number wrong. So don’t count on that. But Marvel just wrote it off. The cost of doing business.

Bud Plant:
Same thing happened with Alternate Realities. Alternate Realities, when they went down, they owed Marvel a shitload of money. Marvel didn’t pursue it again. They just figured it wasn’t… I mean, it’s like getting blood out of a stone. They figured the guys are going bankrupt anyway. Why hire a bunch of expensive lawyers to get nothing?

Alex Grand:
That’s interesting. That’s cool.

Bud Plant:
Alternate Realities did the same thing. They just liquidated their stock. Chuck Rozanski tried to take care of me as much as he could. He owed me a lot more money than Pacific did, but all of a sudden, when I inherited Alternate Realities, I was already in the process of selling to Diamond. So it was like, I don’t really want Alternate Realities, but he calls me up and says, “I owe you a shitload of money and I can’t pay you.” “Okay, I guess I’ll take over your warehouses.”

Alex Grand:
That was in 1987. So when you acquired Rozanski’s Denver-based Alternate Realities, how much money did they owe you at that time?

Bud Plant:
They owed me 180,000 bucks.

Alex Grand:
So that was more than the $26,000 from Pacific. And also alternative Alternate Realities is listed as Nanette Rozanski’s.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand:
But it was actually Chuck’s, huh?

Bud Plant:
Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Chuck claimed it was Nanette’s company, but I think Chuck nearly did like a lot of corporations do. They tried to decrease their-

Alex Grand:
Income.

Bud Plant:
I hadn’t thought about that, but liability.

Alex Grand:
Okay.

Bud Plant:
Like the comic book companies used to have all these different imprints. Theoretically, if one went out of business, then that’s gone.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, that’s how Timely was, like a lot of different companies.

Bud Plant:
Flagship, you know? And so for Chuck, I mean, I guess he didn’t want to risk Alternate Realities bringing down Mile High Comics, and so he establishes Nanette as a separate corporation. And if anything happens to her, it doesn’t affect Mile High Comics. They don’t have to end up paying off the debt.

Alex Grand:
You and Midwest distributor, Capital City, used Seagate’s old space in Sparta, Illinois, right? When you took over Pacific, right?

Bud Plant:
No.

Alex Grand:
Okay, because I read that somewhere. So that’s false?

Bud Plant:
No, no. The warehouse that I just mentioned, the fireman’s place, that was in Sparta and that was purely Pacific’s warehouse. That had nothing to do with Capital City.

Alex Grand:
Now, also in 1985, you were named by DC Comics in the company’s 50 Who Made DC Great. Is that right?

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Grand:
What was that credit for? Was that because you were distributing DC comics?

Bud Plant:
To my mind, I think what they were doing is they were trying to include somebody that represented comic bookstores, the fans-turned-dealer or the new way of selling comics. They had Souling in there, the direct market guy. And I was the the next step out between the direct market and the customer. I was the guy with a bunch of stores and getting comics out.

Alex Grand:
I see.

Bud Plant:
Because I think we may have had the largest chain store operation at that point, since we had six or seven stores and plus I was a distributor and everything. So I was high on their radar, I guess.

Alex Grand:
You have great reputation. I think everyone who’s dealt with you, it’s always been that you were a straight shooter.

Bud Plant:
Except for Beerbohm.

Alex Grand:
There’s always been a commentary that you were always honest in the dealings and that you were always fair. Everyone that I’ve asked about, minus one person, has said that.

Bud Plant:
Thanks. Thanks. I appreciate that.

Alex Grand:
In 1987… Now I read this, that when you look up WonderCon it says that it was conceived by John Barrett around 1987. Do you know anything about that backstory?

Bud Plant:
No. I don’t know a lot about it. I know John was definitely involved heavily with it in the beginning. I think was Mike Friedrich also involved? The guy from Star Reach?

Alex Grand:
The Star Reach guy. Yeah. I’m not sure.

Bud Plant:
I know John was involved… In ’87, he was still a part of Comics and Comix, but the stores weren’t really involved with the convention itself.

Alex Grand:
And by 1988, which we’re going to talk about two main events here, Bud’s Art mail order was still its own separate thing this whole time?

Bud Plant:
No. Up until ’88, they were blended together. I was still doing the mail order retail business, but also was doing distributor business.

Alex Grand:
Oh, okay.

Bud Plant:
It got to be a problem because when you’re wholesaling and retailing, a wholesaler can come in or a customer that I’m selling wholesale to could come in and want to buy all the copies. And it’s like, the one business kind of stealing from the others. If sell all those 10 copies to this store, that means I’ve got some retail customers that won’t get it. So there was a little bit of an issue there.

Bud Plant:
Honestly, you may have read this, that the retail business, by that point, by ’88 was about 3% of my sales. I was doing $12.5 million a year. You can see that retail was that big and the wholesale was that big.

Bud Plant:
So the retail had gotten sort of neglected because I had to deal with the business that was bringing in all the money, which was the wholesale business and deal with all those issues. And I wasn’t spending the time on the retail business, like I used to.

Bud Plant:
So what we did in preparation for selling to Diamond, we broke the two businesses off and actually physically separated the retail business into another location just for an interim period so that it was a nice clean separation. So I could sell the wholesale business to Diamond, but I still got this little retail business that I’m going to fall back on and continue to operate.

Bud Plant:
Eventually we moved that business back into our primary location because Diamond didn’t need a warehouse in Grass Valley. They just operated it for a few months when they had to, and then they bailed out on the location and I moved back into it. I was actually a Diamond employee for a few months.

Alex Grand:
In 1988, you sold your distribution business, which we’ve alluded to a bit already to Steve Geppi.

Bud Plant:
At one time. Let’s see. Yeah, this was once I was a distributor, Capital Distribution and I were the two distributors in the Bay Area and we had an agreement we wouldn’t bring in air freight comics because it was going to cost more money. It was going to cost a lot more to air freight stuff than stick it on the back of a truck and bring it out on a semi.

Bud Plant:
What happened was Capital got a really good deal from TWA or one of the airlines, and overnight they broke our agreement and started air freighting stuff in; which in the long run was not a big deal, but in the short run, it was a huge deal because all of a sudden the stores that buy from them were getting the books a week earlier than my stores are. And so I had to go into the air freight business.

Bud Plant:
That’s the reason that I sold my business to Diamond and not to Capitol because I didn’t trust Capital. Nice guys, I’m friends with both of them. But when they broke that agreement, that was a red line for me. So when it came time to sell the business I said, “Can I trust these guys?” No. You know, they broke this agreement that we had just to get a little bit of a foot up on some of the Bay Area business. So I went to Geppi because I trusted Geppi to come through on what we were talking about and to keep it quiet.

Bud Plant:
When you’re selling a distributorship, you don’t want all your accounts know you’re selling the distributorship because then another distributor comes along and says, “Oh, well, you don’t want to deal with Geppi or he’s not going to carry adult stuff anymore, because he’s not into that kind of stuff. You better deal with us.”

Bud Plant:
There’s a lot of competition. There’s a lot competition, from a discount standpoint and a time standpoint and everything. You really have to be careful because the negotiations took a long time to sell. I had to sell seven warehouses to Geppi, so it was a big deal.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah. You basically decided who was going to win in the end.

Bud Plant:
I didn’t know that.

Alex Grand:
Not at the time. That’s basically what you did. You chose who gets to win.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. Little did I know. Yeah. If I’d sold to Capital, things might’ve ended up differently. I’m not trying to give myself credit, but I was the third largest distributor at that point.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
So I don’t know. Yeah. I think Geppi was number two and Capital was number one and that put Geppi into the number one spot.

Alex Grand:
That’s right.

Bud Plant:
It still might’ve ended up the same. Who knows?

Alex Grand:
Geppi when I asked him, he said there was a dinner that you guys were at together discussing this. Do you remember the details of this dinner?

Bud Plant:
Was that in Chicago?

Alex Grand:
Maybe. I don’t know the city. I don’t remember that part.

Bud Plant:
We might’ve started that in a discussion at Chicago. So it might’ve been during the Chicago Con when we went out to dinner together and we were talking about it. I don’t have a real clear memory of it. I know at some point I got Steve Geppi out and he came to a Rough and Ready (name of tiny town down highway 20) where I was living at the time and visited the farm and everything, and that was sort of fun.

Alex Grand:
Why did you sell?

Bud Plant:
I was basically headed downhill on the business at that point. Comics and Comix had been poorly run, whether you can blame me or blame John Barrett and the guys that were running it, Comics and Comix at that point had a negative net worth. And they owed me well over $200,000.

Bud Plant:
Pacific wasn’t so much a problem. That was earlier. But Alternate Realities goes down owing me $180,000. Now Comics and Comix is in very bad shape and they only a couple hundred thousand dollars that’s all basically overdue. You can see what that was doing to my cashflow.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Bud Plant:
Regardless of any other customers I have, that might be stretching the 30-day boundaries on paying bills.

Bud Plant:
So basically I was in really, really bad financial shape. I don’t think Diamond realized how bad of shape I was in. They might’ve chosen just to sit back and watch me go belly up and just move in afterwards.

Alex Grand:
Geppi mentioned that he was somewhat aware, but that he still liked you and still wanted to make it a good deal for everybody. That’s what he had told me.

Bud Plant:
That makes some sense. It was not a golden parachute for me. I came out okay on the whole thing. But at one point, I was almost really ready to walk away from the deal because Diamond did not offer me anywhere near what I thought they should be. But I got some things out of it that added up. I mean, they gave me X amount of money. I won’t go into that.

Bud Plant:
But they also didn’t want my inventory, but they were willing to sell it on consignment. So I said, “Well, okay, we can do that.” And it turned out to be a great deal for me because I got 70 cents on the dollar of everything that they sold for me. They would have been much better off just buying it.

Bud Plant:
They didn’t take the money that was owed to me. That I pretty much got screwed on because once I was no longer a distributor, nobody had any reason to pay me unless they were honest people. But the guys that were slightly less than honest, just go, “We will just stiff him. Don’t pay him.” So I lost a chunk of money that way. When all was said and done, I came out of it okay, and I hadn’t gone belly up.

Alex Grand:
Right. That’s important.

Bud Plant:
I also basically almost gave away Comics and Comix. Like I said, they had a negative net worth. Basically I gave Comics and Comix to my financial controller for a token payment of 25,000 bucks, and he walked off with seven stores.

Alex Grand:
What was his name?

Bud Plant:
Mark Crittendon.

Alex Grand:
Mark Crittendon.

Bud Plant:
He ran Comics and Comix for 10 years, but he ran it with an iron fist. He really had to crank down on the expenses and turn it from a money-losing operation into a money-making operation.

Alex Grand:
You got an Inkpot in 1994. What was that for?

Bud Plant:
Oh God, what do they call that? A friend of fandom, I think?

Alex Grand:
Oh, okay. I got you.

Bud Plant:
Yeah, probably for the same thing that I got into Fifty Who Made DC Great. I mean, somehow I guess I represented somebody that was providing a good service for fans and had been around for a long time. I don’t know. Nobody ever quite explained to me-

Alex Grand:
What the reason was. But whatever the reason, it’s well-deserved, from my perspective.

Bud Plant:
I got it. It was nice. And also I got it from Denis Kitchen, which was really very cool because I really like Dennis a lot. He’s a really, really great guy. So that was a real honor to get it from him.

Alex Grand:
And then Ross Rojek bought it. It was a Comics and Comix in 1996. And then in 2004, that’s when the last two stores, Berkeley and Sacramento, closed and he actually was arrested for fraud or something. Right?

Bud Plant:
The story is, it’s all hearsay, but he was trying to sell facial recognition… He was trying to sell stock in a proposed facial recognition company that actually there was nothing behind it or something. And I think the SEC came in and just shut him down. And he went to jail, I believe, for awhile. So that was the bitter end of Comics and Comix.

Alex Grand:
Kind of going now toward the present time, you continued dealing comics at San Diego Comic Con all the way up through 2018, which was the 48th convention. I think from the way you explained it to me, when I asked you at the time, was that you didn’t sell at the 49th or 50th, because you were just kind of tired and it was a big rigmarole and the money output wasn’t that great to warrant all that. Is that correct?

Bud Plant:
I mean, there was a time in San Diego, we were the biggest players on the block. I mean, we had 10 booths before Marvel and DC and Paramount and the movie companies all came in, back the ’90s, the late ’80s. The late ’80s, early ’90s. I mean, I was a big player down there and everybody came to get their books before the internet.

Bud Plant:
We continued to do real well, but 2008 was the the beginning of the end for San Diego for us. When the stock market crashed, suddenly our sales went way down in San Diego, which was not good when you got 10 booths and 11 employees. And you’re hiring a tractor-trailer to bring the stock down, because we’d bring 30,000 to 35,000 pounds of stuff down there. It was a big operation. From 2008 onward, it just sort of got worse and worse every year.

Bud Plant:
There was more internet out there, more discounting of material, more people selling the kind of stuff we were selling. And I went from 10 booths to six booths to three booths to whatever. No matter how fast I got smaller, the business dropped off faster and it wasn’t really as worthwhile to be down there.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. I finally just decided… We got all the way down. It was embarrassing. I shouldn’t have got down to one table. I should have just given it up. But we went down there with one eight foot table one year just to sort of have a presence. We took old material and we were selling old material and stuff, but it was just, we should have given up before that.

Bud Plant:
The big thing was, you touched on it. It’s the logistics of doing San Diego. It’s a really, really long show. It’s Wednesday through Sunday, Wednesday night through Sunday. So you have to set up on Tuesday.

Bud Plant:
Getting in and out of the show is really a burden with the Teamsters. They’re perfectly nice guys, but they don’t operate very efficiently. I mean, you could be in a truck line for two hours to get into the show. And then I’ve got to go find a place to park the truck, which there are no places in San Diego to park a big truck when you need to park it in a hurry.

Bud Plant:
It’s a marathon. You’re down there from eight o’clock in the morning until maybe seven o’clock at night talking to all kinds of wonderful people. But you know, it’s exhausting, it’s draining.

Bud Plant:
So when it started to go south financially, it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it had been. You know? And I figured, “Well, why keep doing it? I could come down here and buy old comics and make myself happy. I don’t need to be here just to make other people happy.” Everybody was happy to have us down there, but not enough people were buying material from us to make it continue to pay off.

Alex Grand:
And then you were a guest for the 2019 San Diego Comic Con. That was the 50-year anniversary. They put you up in a hotel, you did a couple of panels. How was that experience?

Bud Plant:
I felt really taken care of. I mean, they really gave me first-class treatment as good as any famous artist would have gotten. I mean, they flew us down there and they paid our parking at the airport. They put us up in a nice hotel. Anne and I had been staying at her friend’s house in San Diego and having commute in on the light rail system the last few years to keep our expenses down. And here we were staying at the Marriott and had all the time in the world and we got to do a couple of panels that were fun. So I had a lot of fun. It was really great. I’d go every year if they invited me like that.

Alex Grand:
Of course.

Bud Plant:
I had lots of time to go scout for old comics, which is still my thing. I piled up a big stack of acquisitions at the end of the show, you know? And it was cool to walk out… I think I walked out of there Sunday around noon or something, which if you were set up there, we wouldn’t get out of there until 11:30 or midnight on Sunday night.

Alex Grand:
Packing up. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
After five days of doing a show, and you’re still, I’m wheeling around pallets in the back of a truck. Walking out to the hotel and just kicking back with a drink and calling a couple of people on my cell phone and midday Sunday, I thought it was nothing better than that. “This is the way I should be doing this. This is pretty cool.”

Alex Grand:
But the Bud’s Art Books, that’s basically what you’ve been doing since 1988 officially. And then you would go to conventions and deal and things like that, all through Bud’s Art Books basically. Right?

Bud Plant:
Right, right. Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That’s where things are at now. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
What I sold out to Diamond, I was Bud Plant Incorporated and I had to officially dissolve that corporation. So that changed the name to Bud Plant Comic Art. And then in 2006 or seven, we got together with a consulting company to try to market our stuff better and try to reach out and get more people because we were doing pretty good. I think at that point… I don’t know if the numbers matter or not, but we were doing about $4.5 million a year, which was a good chunk of money for a little retail business.

Bud Plant:
So we were trying to make it more successful and everything and continue to grow. And we went to this consulting company and they sort of talked us into changing our… One consultant at the company, talked us into changing our name, which we proceeded to do.

Bud Plant:
And then the boss that originally got the account with us comes along and says, “Why’d you change your name? Your name was kind of cool. You know? I mean, why did you change it to Bud’s Art Books?” “Because your consultant convinced us to do it.” Because we were going to go out and compete with Amazon and compete in the real world, which was totally bullshit. We should have never tried to do that. We should have just stayed with our niche market. You know?

Alex Grand:
So that’s what happened with the name? Okay.

Bud Plant:
Yeah. And so unfortunately, the business went downhill from there until through 2011. And then I did this major downsizing and rebuilt the business again into what it is today.

Alex Grand:
Ah, okay. Yeah. That’s great. That’s great insight. Because you know, I’ve been to your house and then you have a lot of just comics just there anyway, but I know that you also have a warehouse from which you do things. Do you still go to that place to sell some books a few days a week? A commune?

Bud Plant:
Oh no. Co-op. The co-op. Actually, when COVID came along, I bailed out of there. That was called Booktown. It’s a little co-op of eight or nine booksellers. Yeah, I had a place in there for almost 20 years and I was the comic book guy. I had a little comic book room. We called it Bud Plant’s Amazing Fantasy Room trying to capitalize on my name because it’s been out there for 50 years.

Alex Grand:
Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I would have liked to have seen that before that went, but that’s okay. Maybe you can show me pictures or something. So co-op, for some reason, I don’t know why I was thinking commune and people swapping wives and things. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Bud Plant:
So you’ve never been to my warehouse, my actual warehouse?

Alex Grand:
I don’t think I’ve actually been to the actual Bud’s Art Books warehouse.

Bud Plant:
Okay. Yeah. Well, you definitely have to come up there. I don’t have any plans to close it, so there’s no deadline for you. Do you know how long we’ve been in there? We’ve been in there for something like 35 years. I should have bought that building decades ago.

Alex Grand:
Because you would have already kind of made money off that. Yeah.

Bud Plant:
I would have owned it. Yeah. Yeah. But the problem is we built a mezzanine into it. And so that halved our rent. It doubled our space and halved our rent. And so I just can’t move out of there because it’s such a good deal. I mean, I’m paying basically on what… 5,000 feet on the floor, but I’ve got a whole mezzanine I built myself with my money and we use it all. I mean, we’re at 2,500 feet on the ground and 2,500 feet above. So we’ve got 5,000 square feet and it’s getting full. It’s getting fuller and fuller as we speak.

Alex Grand:
I bet it is. Yeah. This was a really great retrospective experience for me, looking back at your life with you.

Alex Grand:
I know we’ve talked about a lot of this stuff, but it was always like pieces here and there. It was never from A to Z like the way we did today. So thank you so much for spending the time with me today here at the Comic Book Historians Channel.

Bud Plant:
Oh, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. It’s been a lot of fun.

 

Join us for more discussion at our Facebook group

check out our CBH documentary videos on our CBH Youtube Channel

get some historic comic book shirts, pillows, etc at CBH Merchandise

check out our CBH Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Google PlayerFM and Stitcher.

Use of images are not intended to infringe on copyright, but merely used for academic purpose.

Images used ©Their Respective Copyright Holders

Interview © 2021 Comic Book Historians

Advertisement

Listen and Subscribe to the Podcast...

©