By St. Paco
The "Say No to Racism" sign in the window of R-Galaxy, a comic book shop located a few blocks away from the University of Arizona, should have been the first tip-off that something good was waiting inside for me among the store's numerous back issue boxes. But it would take some time for me to realize what was really 'in store' for me there.
The sign, by the way, is one of two at the shop which makes plain the proprietor's view on SB1070, the apartheid-like law that targets Arizona's Latino population. Knowing first-hand how often Arizonans say "yes" to racism (there're still lots of backwards idiots here who yell racial slurs from passing cars), the signs are a bold step for any business owner, and I applaud them.
When I first moved to Tucson back in January of 2000, R-Galaxy was located two miles west of where I lived on Broadway. At that time, I would visit the store at least twice a month. But after they moved, two other comic book shops opened on my side of town and I saw no need to travel to central Tucson to visit the store's present location.
Well, a few days ago I was on that side of town taking care of some business. R-Galaxy is only half a block away from where I was handling my affairs, so when things were finished, I stopped in to check out the store. And – for more than just political reasons – I'm really glad that I did.
I'm not sure of exactly how many back issue boxes are inside R-Galaxy, but if there's one hundred, then I went through all one hundred. I mean, nothing sucks like walking out of a comic book store empty-handed because you were simply too lazy to "let your fingers do the walking." So, I always make sure that my digits get the full back-issue-box-work-out.
Side note: My record collectin' homies tend to consider themselves masters of the exquisite art of "digging," but I tend to think that it was comic book collector's who first studied and perfected this ancient shopping discipline. As for me, I have mastered the Iron Fist, the Snake in Eagle's Claw and the Dim Mak (death touch) digging techniques.
For some months I had been waiting for a copy of Fast Willie Jackson #1 to pop up on Ebay that fit my buying criteria, in terms of both condition and price. I had seen some low-grade copies going for surprisingly high prices, and high-grade copies going for as much as $50 bucks– which is much more than I wanted to spend on a high-grade copy.
Well, it was near the end of my search through the last of the back issue boxes when my fingers flexed and flicked up a copy of Fast Willie Jackson #1– in surprisingly good condition, too! Almost near mint, but not quite due to some wrinkling at the cover's top right corner. But it was better than most of the copies I've seen posted on Ebay and priced to sell at $11.95!
Now, you'll just have to forgive me for the forthcoming allusion to the 1960s civil rights struggles (I mean, R-Galaxy has two "Say No to Racism" signs), but I still had to chuckle at the seeming irony of it all when I found the book and then thought to myself in the most sarcastic tone: I would find a book like this at the very back of one of the last back issue boxes.
Moving back the same way I came, I strolled in reverse through the isles to make sure that I didn't miss out on any other old school coolness. But I couldn't find anything else like what I'd come up with. When I walked up to the counter to pay for my find, even the cashier (and part-owner?) had to make an expression of surprise when she saw the book's badness for herself.
Published in 1976 by Fitzgerald publications (in the virtually line-for-line art style of Archie Comics), Fast Willie Jackson only ran for seven issues. As such, I didn't know anything about the title's existence until about a year ago, and had been periodically on the hunt for the first issue ever since. Now the hunt – for this one particular book, at least – is over.
Sock it to me, mami.