I’ve been reading random issues of Savage Sword of Conan and Conan Saga (the latter of which I fully realize is simply a reprint series, but there’s something to be said for the black & white magazine format all the same). Conan is awesome.
True fact: the first theatrical release that my parents took me to was Conan the Barbarian. I was an infant. I apparently cried a lot. So I guess that means my parents were those jerks we all hate at the movie theater. I’m sorry. I’ll go contemplate it on the Tree of Woe.
Another True Fact: John Buscema, even for all the recognition and accolades he may have received while he was alive, was still under-appreciated. Seek out his work, even the comics that sound like garbage, because every single panel of every single page that John Buscema drew was a lesson in nearly perfect comic book storytelling and design. Even the pages featuring Dr. Druid.
“What’s in the bag????”
Like Brad Pitt in the climax of Seven, I howled those words while sitting in the passenger seat of the Lady’s Honda. It is with the same anticipation that I sit down to write this.
Let’s go back. We’ll go back to where it starts, as I stand in line at the local Dollar Tree with a stack of comic book “value packs” in hand (we’ll be visiting those in later posts). I gaze out at the store at the various racks near the registers. The one nearest is loaded with various trading cards and stickers, most of them outdated (which sometimes makes them awesome, like when I picked up some 1989 Donruss baseball cards, packs filled with Will Clarks and Ricky Hendersons), which at this point have little of interest aside from Dinosaur King cards (dude, a card game devoted to making dinosaurs fight? If I were still 9 and had friends that were into that thing I’d be all over that; hell, I will occasionally buy them just to have cool spinosaurus bookmarks). But I look further down the row and that’s when my eyes meet with the mystery. There they sit, in neat little rows: brown paper bags emblazoned with “GRAB BAG” and announcing on their fronts, “A Surprise for a BOY.”
I’m cheap. This is something you will learn about me, despite how much of a snob I may seem to be. I love a good deal, even if that good deal isn’t so good in the end. I could make an off-color remark about how it’s from my Hebrew blood, but in reality it’s because I’ve spent most of my adult life dirt poor. But I like treating myself, perhaps a little too much.
But they grab me, these “grab bags.” At just a dollar apiece, I can’t help but wonder what may lie within their brown paper wombs. What surprise might I, a BOY, find inside? Could it be baseball cards? A Batman hand towel? Plastic ninja stars? Cheaply made luchadores? For only a dollar, I could learn the secrets of the ominous GRAB BAG!
At this point the bag is krackling with mysterious Kirby energy for me. I step out of line and pick up the first one on the rack, front and center, and toss it on the conveyer belt with my sure-to-be-disappointing polybags of 90s Superman and 80s Justice Machine comics.
When I get back home, the Lady begs me to open the mysterious bag. She knows I plan to write about it, so she apologizes for her impatience, but I can’t blame her. The BAG has me in its MYSTERO-GRIP! I must discover its contents! For the sake of all mankind!
Funnily enough, the bag is only “sealed” with three measly strips of scotch tape. A poor seal for a man such as I (and I can only imagine the animalistic little boys that I’m sure run around the store on any other day easily busting this open and throwing their unearned prizes all over the shop).
But I open it. I peer in. What do I find? It’s hard to tell at first. I see an open blister card…
I reach in and find these items:
First, a whoopee cushion. Not too bad, right? I’m a jokester like any good manchild, so this could be of use, especially in the office. But then, upon closer inspection, I discover…
A HOLE IN THE WHOOPEE CUSHION.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Okay, okay, okay… perhaps this first prize is about as bad as we all imagined getting coal in our stockings would be when we were kids. I’m sure Prize #2 will be better.
Second item: a plastic periscope. Ripped from its package, but still in one piece and functional. I’m sure I’d at least have gotten a good afternoon of fun out of this when I was kid, before dropping it on the cement in our back yard and shattering it, cheap plastic strewn about the patio.
And it works, to some extent. It’s not particularly great (as you can see from the view through the scope, it’s a little distorted and limited in its scale, barely giving a full view of the official Mustachiosaurus Mascot, Prof. Redford von Puggins). But hey, it’s at least not broken.
And what else? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Honestly, I did end up with two $1 dollar items for the price of one, but both items were unpackaged, and furthermore, one of those two items was of no use since IT HAD A HOLE IN IT.
Now I wonder if all the “mysterious” grab bags at Dollar Tree are like this. I know, I know, what should I expect from a dollar store? Well, you know, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect toys that aren’t ruined already. Call me crazy!
Imagine if you’re a kid. Imagine you’re at the Dollar Tree with your mom, and this is your special treat for being a good boy or girl. And then you get a useless whoopee cushion. This is a crime against not just childhood, but THE ART OF COMEDY.
Alright. That’s all I got. I am going to fight the urge to go back to the store and buy ALL of the grab bags to see if they all suck. And you know, I’ll be okay, because ONE, I’ve got plenty of comic book “value packs” to sort through (for entertainment purposes, and I don’t mean enjoying some good comics), and TWO, because, well, it’s a fucking dollar store. What should I expect?
Keep on mustachin’