As I grew up a bit and got a better paying job(from ten until sixteen I delivered newspapers on my bicycle), I began to get out and started that process of assembling my own library.
I used to haunt the drug stores and loved those spinner racks for paperbacks and comic books. One drugstore I visited had two for books and I was such a regular there that I knew what day the deliveries were made. The folks that ran it were indulgent and left the boxes alone until I had gone through them each week.
Some of you might recognize the joy I felt to get my hands on the newest in a favorite series. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. books were a particular favorite, as were such things as I Spy, Mission: Impossible, and The Rat Patrol. I was big on Science fiction and I loved those Ace Doubles. Somewhere along here(I don’t remember exact dates), I discovered the Conan books being edited by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter and fell in love. I didn’t realize at that early time that they were a sort of “watered” down version of Howard’s work. That’s probably not fair because they did begin my love affair with Robert E, Howard’s work.
Some of the earliest comic books I bought were Spider-Man # 3 and Fantastic Four # 5. I would buy every Marvel superhero book that hit the stands(back then I wasn’t much of a DC fan; their characters just didn’t seem serious enough). Another drug store was my “treasure” trove for those. Every Monday after my book buying store I hit that one.
I met an older gentleman there that was a comic fan. He seemed to be there every week like me and we had long conversations while we looked over the latest deliveries.
I didn’t neglect the public libraries though. It was there that I discovered Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe, Simon Templar, and Perry Mason(though I was already a fan of the TV series, a favorite of my Mother’s). I was a few years away from Chandler and Hammett yet.
Like most of us bookaholics, I’ve amassed a way too large collection of books(the comics on a regular basis stopped years ago and the biggest portion of those early books are gone(sigh). When I look at what Conan The Barbarian # 1 goes for(double sigh).