Monday, March 29, 2010

HEY KIDS! A COMIC BOOK VENDING MACHINE


Over the weekend I attended Planet Comicon and one of the coolest things I saw was this comic book vending machine from the 1960's. Oh man, did my jaw hit the floor when I saw this.

As I was gazing upon this amazing funny book dispensing machine, a fellow standing next to me said, "I can't believe it, I haven't seen one of these since I was a kid." For him it was a special moment, as he told me back when he was a kid he purchased comics from a comic book vending machine just like this one at the United Super supermarket in Independence, Missouri.

The dealer who owns the machine said it came from an ice cream shop somewhere in Kansas City.

If anyone has any memories of this machine please share them in the comments.

Update - Devlin Thompson found the patent for this and posted it on his swell blog, The Home of the Bippy. Visit his post here. Also, be sure to read the comments as some Neato Readers have added some great memories of the Comic Book Vending Machine.

22 comments:

Rick said...

this is the first I EVER HEARD OF a comic book vending machie. i am old enough to have seen them but never did in my area. wish they did have them.

John Rozum said...

That's really cool. I want one in my living room.

prof. grewbeard said...

i thought my spinner rack was cool, but this!...

Mike Middleton said...

I remember standing next to a local politician from the namesake shire of this blog and being amazed at what the dealer was asking for this fine vending machine of four color wonder.

Richard Prosch said...

I bought Avengers #186 from a vending machine just like this one in Washington, DC. I had never seen one before. Within a week, I bought ANOTHER comic --Captain Canuck #4 from a similar machine in Quebec.

Devlin Thompson said...

I did a little investigation and found the patent drawing for this thing:

http://bizarrowuxtry.blogspot.com/2010/03/comic-book-vending-machines.html

Anonymous said...

There were two near where I lived as a kid; one was in a Zayre department store and another was in ouor local Jewel Food Store. I remember getting my first Spider-Man, No. 37, from that machine, among many others. You would put a dime and two pennies in a tray, shove it into the machine and back out, and the machine would dispense the comic like you would see a candy bar dispensed today. Sometimes the comic would get stuck near the bottom and left there, if you bought another near the top, the top one would drop down and knock the bottom one loose, and you would get two for the price of one! I would live to have one of those machines now!!!

Steve Pick said...

I bought hundreds of comics from these machines - as I understand it, they didn't get very far outside of Missouri, but they were all over the place here in St. Louis. You could see all the sides of comics under the ones on top - one scam I would use would be to put money in an empty slot, go tell the manager that my comic didn't come out, and then ask him to give me one lower down that I really wanted.

They got upgraded to the 15 cents price, but couldn't survive the crazy price switching in 1970, when DC went to 25 cents and Marvel went to 20 for different sizes.

DwWashburn said...

Sorry this is so late. I found your blog via a google search for comic book vending machine.

I grew up in Tennessee and visited my relatives in Illinois every other year. In the late sixties, I saw one of these machines in a supermarket in East St Louis. I bought a copy of World's Finest (can't remember the issue number but it had Batman strapped to the back of a train boxcar loaded with Krytonite and the boxcar was falling off a cliff with Superman trying to figure out how to save him). I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. Never saw another one.

Anonymous said...

About the Comic Book Vending Machine:
There was a 'hidden' space in the bottom in which MORE COMICS were stored flat and used to refill the empty spaces.
It was below the lowest rack and behind the panel w/ the arrow that says "RETRIEVE COMICS HERE".
If you got right up against the glass & looked down, you could see the comic on the top of the 'hidden' stack. This was sometimes frustrating because you couldn't select THAT comic.
If you were very persuasive, you could get the store manager to open up the machine and let you get one from the bottom stack.
That's how I got my copy of Conan the Barbarian #1 in the Summer of 1970.

Jim Leonard said...

I live in St. Louis, and back in the 1970's, I remember when the Book Rack book store at the Town & Country Mall stopped selling comics and a vending machine appeared in the Kroger store. I hated these because you couldn't flip through the comic to see if you really wanted to buy it. Also, I would always pick the wrong slot to put my money in and I would end up with a Casper comic instead of the Superman or Justice League comic I really wanted. I never even thought about asking the store owner for an exchange. I would just walk off forlorn, having spent my last 15 or 20 cents.

Tim said...

SEE! I knew I wasn't crazy! I've been telling my Fiance and Daughter that in the late 60's in Detroit (where i was raised) there was a comic book vending machine at Cunningham's drug store on the corner of Trumbell & Forrest. Like this one, the price was 12 cents. I loved getting Marvel comics from it, Thor, Fantastic Four...thanks for having this up it brings back loads of memories.

Anonymous said...

I remmeber this machine from the mid to late 1960s. There was one in the entrance lobby of the Piggly-Wiggly in Rockford, IL (near the Wisconsin border). I purchased many DC comics from this. I still have all the comics and would love to have this machine. What fond memories.

Anonymous said...

I remember this machine very well too. It was at the IGA store in Edwardsville, IL. I lived in Collinsville, IL and my Dad had a best friend that owned a pizza place called Pizza King in Edwardsville. Rich the owner would let us go in the back and make pizza's and my dad would bull with him then we would all sit down to dinner and listen to the jukebox. Then as a treat they would let us run to the IGA store and buy a comic book from the machine.
There was also one at the grocery store in Collinsville but the one I remember most was the one in Edwardsville...

Keith W.

Anonymous said...

These machines were sooooo cool!!! I remember my dad lifting me up so I could put the money in the top slots to get the comics! I still have all of those comics! The machine I remember the most was in a dimestore at Randhurst Mall in IL.

Anonymous said...

KeithW, that story is absolutely AMAZING to me because I grew up in Edwardsville and the only comic book vending machine I remember was at the Piggly Wiggly in Collinsville! Suspect the Edwardsville IGA one may have gone away by the time I was shopping there? I remember buying AMazing Spider-Man #100 (the six-arm saga) there, so must have been in '71. ronb.temp1 at gmail dot com if you want to chat more :-)

Kirk G said...

I'll bet there's a market for a re-furbished working model! We should all write to Rick Dale of American Restorations on the History Channel to urge him to hunt one down and repair it for us baby-boomers to enjoy!

One thing I'll say for them, this would have kept kids from reading the issues before buying them. "Hey, Kids, this aint no library!"

Kirk G said...

Here are two email addresses for the History Channel's "American Restorations" TV Show regarding a comic book vending machine. Please write to express your interst in their locating and restoring such a machine, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE ONE or know of one to be worked on.
Americanrestorationtv@gmail.com
Ricksestimates@gmail.com

Thank you for your support of this effort to publicize our interest.
Any info on the manufacture, distribution, or geographic area of these vending machines would be much appreciated. Thanks, guys!

alxjhnsn said...

I bought my first comic JLA 29 from a comic vending machine at a Howard Johnson's in Brownsville, TX as we returned to Houston from Mexico on a driving vacation.

Later, I bought DD #1 at a similar machine at a different HoJo on the way from Houston to Knoxville, TN.

Mine looked different and they were $0.15 for a $0.12 comic, but definitely a comic vending machine.

Here's a link to a page from the original art from my first comic JLA 29.

NightRelic said...

I bought my first comic book from a machine just like this. It was Beep Beep The Road Runner #7 from Gold Key. I was 5 years old and loved it to death. I used silly putty on it to transfer the pics onto the silly putty and stretch them around. I completely demolished it and later sold it at a tag sale. I recently purchased a copy of it on EBay. It we the only comic I bought from one of these machines, it was gone by the time my real comic buying started. I lived in Basking Ridge, NJ and the machine was in a grocery store, I'm guessing one we didn't usually frequent because there's no way I wouldn't have bought more from it.

Bill Sammon said...

In the mid-late 60's, there was one in the GC Murphy store in Havertown PA, near Philadelphia. I bought at least 2 comics from it everytime my Mom would take me there. Then one day, it was gone. haven't seen one since. Thanks for the photo.

Dusty Rhodes said...

I know exactly where this machine came from it was Christie's Ice cream treats on So 55th St in Kansas City Kansas. I went to the high school across the street and tried to buy this machine for 3 years. Then it was gone, I think the store original owner quit and someone took over and sold this...oh well amybe someday i'll find another