Wednesday, May 18, 2016


This is a lot of pressure to lay on a seven year-old with a pencil.

Marvel's long-ago activity book comic Fun&Games has always been something of a paradox, to my mind. A lifetime involved in the fandom has made me aware of an entire category of collectors whose entire remit is "rarity," and another (of which I'm a member) focusing on "oddity," of which Fun&Games is a fine example of both -- and yet you never really hear of anyone slabbing their collection, or crowing about finding a VF+/NM- copy of the one where Willie Lumpkin's head was a terrifying maze.

Hell's gates are swung wide today.

In the magazine's favor as a desirable collectible is that, surely, so few issues abound in an enviable Mint or Near Mint state, being as it was an activity book for pen-wielding kiddiewinks intent on identifying all the words you can make out of "Hulk" (hint: one). So much as a single completed puzzle, even in puzzle, should be sufficient to drag a book down to - at best - "Fine" status, the speculator's equivalent to "toilet paper."

This also seems like a tall order for a seven year-old with a pencil, unless he's at a boarding school in Edwardian England.

Working against the title is that it's not a comic book in any sense except that it was made to fit on the comic rack and used the same paper. Published in the late Seventies and early Eighties and overseen by unsung Canadian comics mastermind Owen McCarron, Fun&Games was an in-house spinoff of Marvel's fairly successful Activity Books and featured the usual collection of word jumbles, crosswords, trivia, find-the-difference and what-have-you. Its mandate was the Marvel Universe -- sometimes the most obscure corners of it -- and sometimes it created its own characters.

Crosswordo III: Master Race

Making me all the more confused about Fun&Games' lack of demand on the collectors market -- riddled as it is with nostalgia for useless shit, providing the target of acquisition had at least been pre-owned in one's shortpants days -- is that you absolutely can find near-mint copies all over the place. I walked away from a recent convention with ten unmarred issues, untouched by human hands (mine included; I had that "baboon hand" surgery you might've read about in the papers) for five clams.

Still, the appeal of this particular series might simply be middling at best. The corniness factor is high, but the payoff isn't particularly toothy. There's a lot of potential in completing the limericks presented to the reader* or drawing the "other half" of Spider-Woman on assorted activity pages, but even the thrill of making your childhood favorites particularly dirty can't carry you for long.

* to wit:
This is Reed, the man who can stretch
Most anything he's able to fetch
When there's nothing to do
And he's at home with Sue

It took Fun&Games to find an uglier superhero costume than Captain Britain's original...


neofishboy said...

Captain Japan looks like he's eating an apple.

John said...

Until today, I did not know what the flag of Panama looks like. I guess these things really are educational.

neofishboy said...

Sort of like how Cheers taught us all that Albania borders on the Adriatic, is mostly mountainous, and that its chief export is* chrome.

*Or was anyway. Apparently now it's third, behind crude petroleum and shoes.

Anonymous said...

started going through the flag men thinking "hey this is eaiser than I thought!"
Then by the next page I'm like...Spainsh guy...Austria?

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