Enter, the paperback-sized Pocket Comics by Pocket Books.
Each $1.95 issue contained exact reprints of the six issues of the glorious beginnings of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Captain America and others.
I read these treasures over and over and over again until the spines cracked and the pages fell out. I practically memorized the first appearances of The FF, Spider-Man, Doctor Doom, Submariner and the Sandman to name a few.
The seeds of the obsession from which I suffer today were sown in 1977 when my eager hands clutched the first Pocket Comics.
At the time, the books reprinted in these volumes seemed like an impossibility... treasures that I would certainly never be able to afford. My God, at the time, the first issue of Fantastic Four probably would have cost more than $100. An incomprehensible sum to someone whose allowance was probably 50 cents a week.
Here we are, almost 30 years later, and I have every issue ever printed of the Fantastic Four. I liked Spider-Man, but for whatever reason, the FF resonated more with me and that's the series I slowly collected, issue by issue.
By the time I finished my Fantastic Four run, Spider-Man was the most popular comic on the planet and collecting the run -- in any sort of decent condition -- wasn't financially realistic.
(Of course, with my completionist nature, the notion of collecting only **some** issues never entered my mind.)
But, I have adapted my collecting and decided that if I couldn't have every issue of Spider-Man, I could get a few that I really wanted.
Of issues 1- 6, issue number 6 was always my favorite read... and I've always had an itch to have a decent copy of this issue.
The cover trumpets, Half-Man, Half-Reptile... The Lizard Will Take Over All Of The Earth Unless Spider-Man Alone Can Stop Him! And, The Marvel Age Of Comics Is Here!
How exciting it must have been to pick up one of these fresh off a news stand in 1963!
Well, recently I finally picked up my copy. Forty three years after it was on a newsstand and 29 years after I first read my Pocket Comic which contained every wonderful page of Face-To-Face With The Lizard!