Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Justice Ink

Most of the toys and games of my childhood were given away, thrown away, or sold when my parents moved out of our old house. But I held on to a couple of boxes filled with memorable junk, most of which is, of course, comics-related. I'll probably write about most of it in future posts. But I was sorting through one of the boxes last weekend, and made a pleasant discovery that I want to tell you about right now.

One item that I knew was in the box was this Batman utility belt from 1966. A mere 25 inches long (though the still-stretchy elastic band extends it up to 30 inches), it fit around my waist comfortably when I was in second grade. It's in amazingly good condition, considering that I remember wearing it while running around playing Batman in the backyard. It's well-constructed, made from yellow vinyl with metal snaps on the buckle and two of the pouches. There's no company logo or trademark notice on it anywhere, which pleased me as a child (after all, the real Batman didn't have trademark notices on his equipment) but surprises me as an adult.

But what surprised me most is what I found in one of the pouches: a bunch of Fleer bubblegum tattoos of the Justice League of America, circa 1969. I remember buying these from a vending machine at the supermarket, but I had no idea that I still had them. The colors are still bright and vivid. Most of them are reproductions of artwork from the actual Justice League comic book, by Dick Dillin, Joe Giella, and Sid Greene.

Some online investigation revealed that there were twenty-seven rub-on tattoos in the series, depicting the entire pre-1969 JLA except for Aquaman. In total, there were six images of Batman, five of Superman, three each of Flash and Green Arrow, and rwo each of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman, and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. I have twelve (plus two duplicates of Batman and Green Lantern). You can see the whole set if you click here, then scroll down to the "1969" section.

I found some online auction sites that suggest there is a collectors' market for these, although most of the ones I've seen for sale include the wrappers and the gum. I didn't save the wrappers, and I never even thought about saving the gum. In fact, I still don'r want to think about it. Forty-year-old bubblegum?



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