FW Presents – Tales of the Spinner Rack

FW PRESENTS – TALES OF THE SPINNER RACK

Rob and fellow podcaster Derek William Crabbe talk about one of their favorite geek possessions–their vintage comic book spinner racks!

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26 responses to “FW Presents – Tales of the Spinner Rack

  1. Fun discussion fellas! I had a magazine rack at one point, bought from the local Rite-Aid my mother-in-law worked at for decades. The only really comic connection was space for digests, with no logos, or cool graphics, so for space considerations, I eventually let it go. Ladies Home Journal and Us Magazine don’t have quite the appeal of Superman, Spidey, Archie or Richie Rich. And that thing was a huge MONSTER.

    There was only one comic venue in my town that had a spinner rack, Lee’s Drug downtown. It was an occasional place to go look for comics I was missing, and often had some weird comics, like those Modern Comics reprints of Charlon Action Heroes issues, which I ate up.

    Now that I have my collectibles room FINALLY back in full, presentable shape, I would love to have a spinner rack! If I ever run into one in the wild, I know I will have to get it, if the price isn’t too steep.

    I do have the full-size, Alex Ross Superman standee display, released in conjunction with the Superman Forever book, when Clark went back to the traditional look after the Electric Supes saga. Right now I don’t have the cardboard trays in place that slot into his billowing cape, but I could set him up in that way, and display some comics, I suppose. Right now he’s standing guard next to my Super Powers Collection case.

    Chris

  2. Excellent discussion, gentlemen. I’ve never owned a spinner rack, and wouldn’t have room to display one if I did, but I do have fond memories of the racks at our local Waldenbooks. That’s where I first started to collect comics.

  3. Oh, what another delightful discussion! I am, like most of your listeners I’m sure, very envious of your spinny possessions! Derek mentioned his college quandary regarding comics storage, and I recalled what I did in college! I had a long, tall, blank wall in my room Sophomore year. So, I decided to display my comics there. As I purchased new ones those two semesters, I would put them in a bag,backward, but not seal the flap. In this way the cover of the comic was showing through the “back” side of the bag. Then I would tape the bags to the wall by there flaps. I must have had at least five rows, and maybe five or six (or more?) columns. My roommate was a great sport about it!

  4. Thank you for this show. There was one local grocery called Yonder’s Blossom that was unique to our town and had a spinner rack. I remembered three of the pictures were Superman, Spider-Man and Archie and, for the life of me, I could not remember who that fourth character was.

    The other grocery stores in town all just had the generic “Hey, kids, comics” spinner racks…except Winn Dixie who didn’t carry comics. I hated to shop there!

    Piggly Wiggly is a grocery chain all through the Southeast, and, yes, I did buy comics there in my younger days. Second and Charles is a national chain. There is one in Birmingham, Alabama, but most of the back issues at mine are within the last few years except for a few high dollar ones that are behind the counter. The last time I shopped there, the TPB section looked like it was getting sparse. I think the best thing I’ve bought there was an Elvis Presley vinyl album/picture disc.

      1. Hi Rob,

        It was exactly the one you have and the other character was Richie Rich. That’s what I meant to thank you for. You finally solved that mystery for me. Again, thanks for the show.

        1. Wait a minute….did you have a picture of your spinner rack posted somewhere? I saw one (if not yours, maybe on eBay) that I recognized as the Yonder’s Blossom one. Bad that I can remember comics from 40 years ago and can’t remember what I saw in the last few days.

  5. Still listening to the episode (it jumped up my queue after hearing a *gasp* non-FW podcast while driving.) For whatever reason, comic book spinner racks weren’t as much of a thing when I was growing up in Houston. They had a tall one at Gemco (already an oddity, since department stores almost exclusively sold 3-packs or nothing.) They would sometimes have spinners at flea market booths, but they were often rusted out and near always gratingly noisy (like Freddy Krueger scraping his knives in a bad dream.) My access to comic shops was spotty until the boom, and in those years, breadth of display and condition were more important. Spinner racks were more likely to turn up at candle-store-type oddities when every rando was dealing in the fad. I think I recall a stationary wire rack at the local video store, but I think they had spinners at Blockbuster and the custom trophy engraver.

    My primary childhood comics haunt, the neighborhood 7-11, was just a waist-high (for adults) white shelf, to the bottom right of the cashier. I used to sit Indian-style in front of it, tossing through books until I figured which I wanted to buy. There was a young Latina cashier there for several years that took a shine to me. She once talked to my parents about how she would often be surprise to find me there, quietly “reading.” I protested that I wouldn’t read a comic that I hadn’t properly paid for, but I guess I did scrutinize the selection to pay my precious quarters with confidence. She seemed to take it a bit hard when she found out I was moving out-of-state, and even though I was only gone a year, I never did see her again. Thanks for bringing a sweet memory to mind.

    They had a spinner rack at the convenience store I frequented while in Nevada. I was introduced to it just ahead of getting hit by a truck, having bought a copy of Sledge Hammer! #1 and a two-liter soda. Both were lost in the confusion, along with one of my shoes, but I got a replacement copy later. In fact, I got a complete run of Sledge Hammer! there (or, y’know, both,) and I most vividly remember picking up Byrne period Superman there for the duration of my brief fixation on that run.

    Neither of my comic shops had spinners, and I had no say in the matter. Both were “inherited” as-is and downsized. Again, locally it seems like the preference is stationary wooden stands, which have reigned since the ’90s, at least. We used those for 6ish month displays before going into the bins, with brand new comics landing in stacks on folding tables (low rent but common for smaller shops in the boom/bust years.)

    For a few years, I seriously considered getting a spinner rack for easy access to frequently referenced floppies and trades. Last year, I finally invested in decent quality bookshelves, rather than the cheap jobs from Target that wouldn’t support books past the third shelf from bottom. This “library” format has helped me tidy up, especially since I kept the flimsy ones to stack floppies in the back room while they wait (often years) to get sorted out. Coupled with a proper desk after the better part of a decade trying underwhelming substitutes, I dearly love my “library” setting, so my modest interest in a spinner has faded. That said, I really loved the ones at Waldenbooks and/or B. Dalton that had the semi-translucent “smoky” plastic faces and slid the books in from the side rather than the top. Traditional wire racks torture the spines of comics, so I always found the bookstore variants classier and more “ergonomic” and less destructive. Given eBay numbers seem to start at $250 with shipping (with vintage going for thousands,) I don’t anticipate catching an attractive deal on the more niche bookstore ones I’d be most inclined to purchase. I did note an auction for a signed copy of Rob’s book while I was there, though…

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hey-Kids-Comics-True-Life-Tales-from-the-Spinner-Rack-pb-book-pin-Rob-Kelly/353027984054?hash=item52321b8ab6:g:QaEAAOSw6N9egXQ~

  6. Great idea to decorate the spinner rack with comics appropriate to the season! I would totally be into that if I had a spinner rack.

    Most of my first 7 years of collecting came from spinner racks. The Astral Smokeshop, the Jean Coutu pharmacy, and the two Book Marts (in two different malls) had spinner racks. The Apollo Newstand and Jack and Jill convenience store just had the wall one-sider. There was also a newstand that put the comics in the same way modern comic book stores do, on a shelf with the magazines. Nevertheless, Astral my very first purchase point, and the Book Marts certainly carried the lion’s share of what I was buying regularly.

  7. Top discussion. In the UK we called them ‘carousels’ and they looked great but, boy, did the comics get crushed due to overstuffing, plus, they were always tough to turn because they were stuffed into a corner where they’d inevitably bash into other products. Much nicer to have them in a living room.

    Now, who is this Justin mention much by Derek?

    1. They might also be close to food machines. I have a couple of comics that have pink stains on them that I got in a 7-11 in the states, the spinner rack obviously had an encounter with a slurpee.

  8. I know I’m late on this, but I just listened to this episode and loved it. I too have a hard-won spinner rack. Found in an antique shop in Vermont. For yearly visits, the owner repeatedly refused my inquiries. It took my elderly mother going to him near my birthday to seal the deal.

    My stocking approach vastly differs from yours. I’ve got it covered with titles cover dated July and August of 1977. A particularly comic-rich period of my childhood.

    1. I like the commitment. After all, in real life, a couple months is about all you could expect on a rack.

      Except the Pope John Paul II comic, that one was at the top of spinner in my town for the better part of a year.

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