Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

The Lucky 10,000

Old stuff that made me what I am today....
Old stuff that made me what I am today….

It’s been sort of hinted at that Atomic Junk Shop is a little different from other comics sites; we may have accidentally conveyed the impression that we’re a bunch of grumpy old guys (except Spencer), and that we’re going to sit around grouching about new fans, new characters, and change in general.

This is the point where I object to that characterization.

Sure, you’re going to hear stories about the old days, but that’s not to imply or declare that the old days were better. Let me tell you a story, and maybe it will clear up the situation a bit.

© 2013 Jim MacQuarrie

When I was a kid, I had a friend named Glen. He was kind of weird, as kids can be. His parents were at least 15 years older than mine. His dad was a WWII veteran while mine served in Korea. “Wild Bill” was what they used to call “a character”; a cranky-but-funny old guy who always had time to teach neighborhood kids something cool. He provided me with old comedy albums, a small bottle of mercury, a deck of cards featuring 1950s pin-up girls, and access to his encyclopedic knowledge of old radio shows, books, and movies, particularly comedy. He taught me how to bind books and repair shoes, among other skills. I spent most afternoons at their house, soaking in pop culture history and creative projects. He introduced me to Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Victor Borge, and a bunch of other very funny people.

He never complained about “these kids today,” He was actually interested in what kids were into, and he’d use it as a springboard to tell us about long-forgotten shows and stories that were reminiscent of the new things. He’d say “that sounds pretty good; have you ever heard of _____?” and then he’d be off, digging up old reel-to-reel tapes, LPs, books or magazines, or just telling us in vivid detail about The Whistler or “Captain Video” or Kay Kyser, making us almost see and hear it.

Now it’s our turn to be like Wild Bill.

A while back, the brilliant stick-figure web-comic XKCD did a strip about making fun of people who don’t know things. Here it is:

“Saying ‘what kind of an idiot doesn’t know about the Yellowstone supervolcano’ is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.” – Randall Munroe, XKCD

As we move forward, try to remember this. When you see a post from one of us about some 1960s movie or Silver Age comic, please understand that we’re not just wallowing in nostalgia or complaining about how things have changed. We’re sharing stuff we like, and if it’s something that’s new to you, you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000. If, at the end, you walk away thinking about how great Plop!, Doc Savage, the Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band, Ghastly Engels, or Howard Hawks were, we’ll have done our job. It’s what we’re here for.

In return, we hope you’ll comment with your own favorite finds and tell us what you’re excited about. The key point is, it’s possible to say “X is awesome” without adding “Y sucks.” Kicking over the other guy’s sand castle doesn’t make yours any better. It’s not a contest.

Which brings me to another point. There are people out there who think every conversation has to be an argument and every discussion has to have a winner. We say nope to that. We’ve been around long enough to know better. Some of us have been moderators at message forums, and we know all the different species of troll. We know when to engage and when to just hit the delete button. If you want to discuss the topics we bring up, you’re welcome. We’re excited by the prospect of intelligent discussion of our favorite comics, movies, TV shows, cartoons, music, comedians, toys and whatever else floats your boat. If you want to have a fight about it, we don’t have to attend every fight we’re invited to. If you want to be a frothing-at-the-mouth all-caps-typing abuse-hurler, well, that’s what the comment section at YouTube is for. We hope to have standards a bit higher than that, and we hope you do too. We’re big fans of people sharing their passions and promoting the things they’re interested in, unless what they’re interested in is starting a fight with strangers on the internet.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying welcome to the Atomic Junk Shop. I hope you find some things to enjoy.


  1. Fraser

    Sounds good.

    My own method for resisting crotchetiness is acknowledging I have lots of comics in my collection that are just as crappy as whatever new thing I may be finding annoying.

    1. Jeff Nettleton

      Yeah; but we walked through 20 miles of snow, 14 feet deep, fighting off wolves and polar bears, with 110 degree fevers to buy that crap. These kids today have it easy!

        1. Jeff Nettleton

          We used to dream of fighting polar weasels! Best we could manage was rolling up dirt and leaves around a stick and poke each other with it, making growling noises, while eating a handful of cold manure, after which our dads would thrash us to bed with their belts. If we were lucky!

          1. Le Messor

            Sheer luxury!

            We couldn’t even afford a real stick. Or leaves.
            Or dirt!

            We had to roll a lolly wrapper around a toothpick. Then our dads would beat us into our graves with the sharpened end of a toothbrush.

  2. Simon

    (I thought it would be about Herschell Gordon Lewis. Oh, well.)

    I hear comics paper was so much better in the old days, they had to use computer trickery to emulate WATCHMEN’s original colors on what passes for paper nowadays? Not unlike the repros of LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND. Kids today have it rough!

    – “we’re a bunch of grumpy old guys”


    – a frothing-at-the-mouth all-caps-typing abuse-hurler

    Like certain Marvel fan hounding Burgas at CBR?

  3. Le Messor

    The XKCD strip: I figured out a long time ago (by being on the wrong side of it) that one of the reasons people don’t know things that ‘everybody knows’ is because the only answer they can get is ‘don’t you know?’.
    Which is why there’s a saying ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’. (There is, but only if it’s based on a false assumption.)

    You should include the mouse-over text; maybe as a caption? Really drove the point home. (I had to look it up.)

    “The key point is, it’s possible to say “X is awesome” without adding “Y sucks.””
    Quiet, you! Are you trying to destroy the entire basis of the internet?!?
    Let alone the entire basis for telling people what to enjoy? (That new thing you like is entirely derivative of that old thing I like. Yeah. That’ll make you like my thing.)

          1. Simon

            For the Yellowstone supervolcano as a comic-book character of sorts, there’s the 3-volume pre-apocalyptic survival thriller SHELTERED, by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas. (Maybe a little plot-based compared to Fialkov’s similar ELK’S RUN, but nice to read at least once.)

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