How Marvel Convinced Us to Cut Up Our Comics
Below we've provided excerpts from Marvel Bullpen Bulletins (or, often, the Bullpen Bonus Page), which promoted the Marvel Value Stamp program in comics books with cover dates from February 1974 through July 1976. Apparently, the hype was quite compelling (if you were eight years old at the time).
We also have a few other items on this page -- such as a Marvel Convention guide showing fans who completed the stamp book, and a partial checklist that appeared in a 1987 issue of Amazing Heroes.
February 1974 -- The first teaser.
March 1974 -- The month it all began.
April 1974 -- An explanation of the program and Stamp #100.
May 1974 -- A short teaser discussing the popularity of the stamps.
July 1974 -- The stamp book & comic convention discounts.
August 1974 -- A teaser for more bargains on the horizon.
September 1974 -- Hyping the appearance of Stamp #100.
November 1974 -- A short follow-up promo for the Stamp Book itself.
March 1975 -- A "cataclysmic clarification" on where the stamps were appearing.
March 1975 (2) -- A picture of the Marvel 100 Club, from a Marvel convention program.
April 1975 -- An explanation of merchandise discounts.
December 1975 -- "Official" announcement of the Series B promotion.
April 1976 -- Info for ordering the Series B Stamp Book, and a teaser for the "secret" puzzle.
May 1976 -- Announcement that Series B #100 would only appear in one issue.
July 1976 -- More on #100, and kudos to Paty!
March 15, 1987 -- An article on the stamps from Amazing Heroes #113.
February 1974 -- [See Actual Scan of Page]
(Text excerpted from Astonishing Tales #22, p.28)
ITEM! All right, sahib -- it's teaser time! See if you can guess just what this thing is, smack dab in the middle of our bombastic Bulletin Page (besides a picture of the ever-incredible Hulk, that is) -- and why we stuck it there, anyhow!
Sorry, we can't let the cat (or ol' Greenskin) out of the bag till next issue -- but at that time, we promise you a zingier bargain than you ever saw on "Let's Make a Deal"! And while you're waiting, why not send us your guesses as to what it is! Who knows? Even if you don't figure out quite what we're planning to lay on you come Christmas-time, you're just liable to give us some far-out new ideas we never thought of!
Editor's Note: The unnumbered stamp, featuring the Hulk, which appeared on the bullpen page, was never used in the actual stamp program.
March 1974 -- [See Actual Scan of Page]
This is the first month in which stamps begin appearing in issues.
(Text excerpted from Marvel Two-in-One #2, p.28)
MARVEL'S MERRY CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO YOU!Editor's Note: This page contains the same Incredible Hulk stamp as the previous month, but this time the number "5" appears in the upper right-hand corner. This stamp was never part of the actual MVS program.
You know it, neighbor! In our regular Bulletins section, elsewhere in this issue, we promised you a whole 'nother page of Marvel madness and munificence. And here it is!
From now on, we'll be using this space to herald the latest developments (both personal and professional) in our giant-sized 75¢ line, which is taking comicdom by storm -- in our cockeyed CRAZY Magazine, which is gonna give the Humor Establishment a run for its money -- in our far-out FOOM Club, which is already one of our biggest smashes ever (but you ain't seen nuthin' yet, folks) -- in short, in just about every field of Marvel endeavor that we think would move and shake you!
Meanwhile, for our very first Bullpen Bonus Page:
Remember how, last month, we promised to reveal unto you the Senses-Shattering Secret behind the pic of the Incredible Hulk that appears below? Well, Marvel always keeps its word -- when we remember what we said, anyhow.
What it is, friends, is a stamp.
And not just any run-of-the-mill, lick-it-and-stick-it-on-a-postcard stamp, but the fabulous forerunner of a whole herd of -- are you ready for this? --
MARVEL VALUE STAMPS!
That's right! From now on, one of these glitzy mini-posters -- each featuring a different Marvel star or starlet -- will appear in virtually every one of our mixed-up original-material mags -- and in many of our collectors'-item reprints, to boot!
Now, we don't want to reveal everything about these way-out stamps right off the bat.
For instance, we'll keep you on pins and needles a few weeks longer about what those nutty numbers mean in the upper corner of each stamp -- or why you ought to keep 'em safe and secure, like the family jewels. Just rest assured that it'll be worth your while -- and a heaping handful of fun, besides!
Oh, and before you ask -- from our earliest mail-samples, it seems that just about everybody on the planet guessed that our perforated-edged portrait was meant to be a stamp of some kind. Inscrutable we'll never be!
Anyway, to see if the mag you're now reading contains a stamp to match the one on this page, why not flip over to the letters section! If the mag doesn't have a letters section, then maybe it'll be squirreled away somewhere else in the issue -- or maybe this is one of the very few mags we haven't got around to yet! (But by next month, just watch our smoke, O frantic follower of foolishness and frivolity!)
April 1974 -- [See Actual Scan of Page]
(Text excerpted from Avengers #121, p.28)Last time around, we first introduced our might MARVEL VALUE STAMPS to a breathlessly waiting world.Editor's Note: This page featured a teaser stamp numbered "100" with a large red question mark where the character would normally appear. Regarding the reference to the future value of an MVS collection, see our Auctions page. And, for the impact of the stamps on your comic collection's value, see "Ouch! - The Price You Paid for Clipping."
Now this month, it's finally time to explain the furshlugginer things!
What it is: We're now including one of these colorful MVS goodies in virtually every one of our multitudinous mags that has a letters page. There'll be an even hundred of them in Series "A," which covers calendar year 1974, starting with #1 (your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, who else?) and winding up with #100, which sports a dynamic likeness of none other than--well, we'll let you guess till next time just whose mug will replace that mystery-shrouded question mark when the coveted #100 Stamp finally appears!
All we can tell you about it right now is that, although some of our Stamps will appear much more often than others, MVS #100 will be absolutely, positively the rarest one of 'em all, popping up in only one Marvel title during the whole blamed year!
(No, no, Suspicious One--it won't be sneaked into one of our western re-runs or any of our rhapsodic reprints, but will be featured prominently in one of our awesome all-original epics over the next few months. If you miss it, or one of the others which you need to complete your collecton [sic]--you can always do a bit of swapping and trading with your fellow Marvel madmen who might have been luckier, right?)
And now the $64,000 question: Once you've got all 100 Stamps, what do you do with them? We call 'em MARVEL VALUE STAMPS, after--so where's the value?
Well, part of the future value of the whole collection is obvious. For instance, in the next month or three, we'll be offering you an MVS Stamp Album virtually at cost, so that you can paste in all of them and have a complete set--which is bound to become a real collector's item in the years to come. (After all, didja know that FANTASTIC FOUR #1 is now selling for up to $50 in many back-issue comic-book stores across the nation, and that SPIDEY #1 isn't far behind?)
But, that's only a long-range forecast. For those of you who'd like to see some benefits before you grow a long white beard, we can't say any more just now--but we solemnly promise that, even as these words are written, we're already in the process of lining up some immediate rewards you can reap when you've amassed a complete set. So, you'll not only have the frolic and fun of collecting the full 100 MVS mini-masterpieces, but--at least for many of you--it'll mean money in your pocket, to boot!
How's that for a grabber?
We also pledge a fuller explanation of this all-important point over the next few issues--verily, we swear and affirm it by the mile-long Adam's-apple of Reed Richards!
So keep on clippin' and collectin', pilgrim!
By the time summer rolls around, virtually all 100 MARVEL VALUE STAMPS will have appeared in our liltin' letters pages, or in some other designated spot --
--And that's when the fun really begins!
P.S.: Special thanks to Jazzy Johnny Romita, Mirthful Marie Severin, and Titantic Tony Mortellaro for digging up the spiffiest bunch of superhero drawings since George Washington first said "Cheese!"
(Text excerpted from Defenders #13, p.20)ITEM! Just a brief aside to thank those of you who rushed us the first Brobdingnagian batch of mail we've received on our mighty MARVEL VALUE STAMPS! It seems that, without really knowing it, half of Marveldom Assembled has been just waiting for something like this! And, by next month, we promise to clue you in on the first (but not the last) of several Bonus Benefits you can obtain once you've amassed a full collection of the first hundred stamps! Till then--keep those scissors well-oiled, effendi!Editor's Note: Despite our feelings of nostalgia for Marvel Value Stamps, the reference to well-oiled scissors makes us cringe.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #125, p.28)
All right, long-suffering ones--this is it! The month when we finally start to unravel, before your wondering eyes, just a few of the groovy goodies which can be yours once you've amassed a complete set of all 100 MARVEL VALUE STAMPS.
As everybody this side of Irv Forbush knows by now, one of these mighty mini-masterpieces appears in virtually each of our original-material mags, usually in our new two-page letters sections. Most MVS Stamps will pop up several times over the coming months--and, just to top it off, there's our mystery-shrouded MVS #100, which hasn't appeared yet and which'll be featured once and once only, in a mag we can't announce in advance.
We'll get around in a second to telling you what special benefits will soon be yours. But first--
Suppose for a moment you've already collected all one hundred MVS Stamps, okay? Now, you need something to put 'em in, right? Well, don't worry your tousled head, faithful one--'cause miraculous Marvel will provide.
Fact is, we've already designed a super-spectacular MARVEL VALUE STAMPBOOK, which includes a separate space for each and every MVS Stamp, as well as selected illoes of some of Marvel's greatest heroes and villains. To receive your copy of this invaluable, irreplaceable Stampbook, simply fill out the coupon at the bottom of the page and send 50 CENTS for postage and handling, and it'll be winging its way to you by return mail.
What's more, each and every Stampbook will have its own special number--which'll be of ever increasing importance as the weeks go by! Why? Don't ask--not yet, anyway. After all, we've gotta keep a few secrets for a while, don't we?
And that's not all: Just to make sure you feel you're getting your money's worth we're tossing in a SPECIAL BONUS POSTER, in full color, with each and every order! We can't tell you just what Marvel super-star it features, but take it from us--this is an offer you can't refuse!
* * *
Okay, so suppose it's a few short months from now, and you've got your Stampbook with precisely one hundred MVS mini-posters pasted neatly into place. Now, besides just looking at it, and saving it for future generations to extol and admire, what else'll it get you?
Well, over the months to come, we've got a bunch of surprises up our sleeves, which we're just waiting to spring on you. But, here's the first benefit you may accrue, just to whet your appetite:
As you may already know, for the past nigh-decade, there have been colorful Comic-Book Conventions held all over the U.S.A.--as well as in Canada, England, and elsewhere--in, fact, just about everywhere that the comic-mag itself is in vogue.
These fan-oriented conclaves--which feature panel-discussions on the comics, big-name guest stars, back-issue comics for sale, etc., etc., etc.--are generally held at fine hotels and over a several-day period, and thus usually cost several dollars for admission alone.
Well, just for starters, two of the largest and finest of these conventions (often called "cons," for short), both of which have been going concerns for some years now, have cheerfully volunteered to give special discounts on admission to every person who shows up with a completely-filled MVS Stampbook!
Don't worry, though--you won't have to surrender the prized Stampbook itself, after all your hard work. The friendly toll-takers at each con will simply stamp a pre-marked place in the book and you'll be able to keep the book itself--so that you can use it another day, another way.
Here are the first two comicons to make this offer:
(1) Easily the number-one, most prestigious, most star-spangled of all is the New York Comic Art Convention, hosted each year by fearless Phil Seuling at a major hotel in Manhattan itself. As you doubtless know from past Bullpen Bulletins Pages, this New York con attracts many of the most talented titans of the comic-book (and comic-strip) field; in fact, it's safe to say that at least half of Marvel's editors, writers, and artists will turn up sooner or later at this con, which is held each year over the weekend closest to July 4. In '74 a couple of guys named Rascally ROY THOMAS and Jazzy JOHNNY ROMITA--ever hear of 'em?--will be among this convention's major guests, hosting panels and answering questions about everything in sight.
For fuller info about this con, including the amount of the special MVS DISCOUNT, just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
Phil SeulingAnd that brings us to--
Coney Island Station
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11224
(2) The star-studded San Diego Comics Convention, to be held in sunny Southern California later this summer. (See? Just 'cause Marvel's editorial offices are on the East Coast, that doesn't mean we've forgotten the rest of the county!) In addition to those Bullpenners and other comics pros who inhabit the western half of our fair land--including, for instance, Stainless STEVE ENGLEHART, Mischievous MIKE FRIEDRICH, Far-Out FRANK BRUNNER, and others--one of the San Diego Con's several Special Guests this year will be the selfsame ROY THOMAS listed above. Again, for the full scoop on this convention, including the MVS DISCOUNT and other dynamic details, just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
Mr. Shel DorfGot it? And, even as we pen these perishable words, we're busily lining up other cons, all across the nation, which in the coming year or so will offer MVS Discounts to everyone who presents a full MVS STAMPBOOK at the door.
P.O. Box 7531
San Diego, CA 92107
* * *
Now, aside from those of you who can't attend any comic-book conventions, either on the coasts or in between:
Next Bullpen Bonus Page, we'll be cluing you in on still another amazing extra that'll be yours when that spectacular Stampbook is full to overflowing. And we're racking our brains, every day, to dream up even more sensational surprises.
What's more, since you may have a few ideas and suggestions about things that Marvel could offer you without making you send in your treasured Stampbooks themselves (which we know you'll want to keep and collect), we'd like to know about 'em. Just add your comments when you fill out the coupon below, all right?
Just one final reminder: Don't delay in sending for your Stampbook, if you're gonna take advantage of the conventions or the other dazzling discounts we'll be offering this summer and beyond. After all, it takes a short time to process your orders and for your specially-numbered copy to reach you by mail--and you don't wanna have to wait till '75 to jump on the bandwagon, do you?
We'll leave you with this deathless thought:
MARVEL VALUE STAMPS! Now, more than ever, "Value" is our middle name! End of plug!
Editor's Note: This page included the following small, yellow order form for the Marvel Value Stamp Book:
(Text excerpted from Avengers #126, p.20)ITEM THE LAST! Next time around, we'll mention several more block-bustin' bargains you can get once you've amassed a complete set of our much-praised, much-clipped MARVEL VALUE STAMPS! But, for now, we've just got room enough left to mention a few of our mammoth-sized mags. So, till then--Save Energy! Subscribe Already!
(Text excerpted from Avengers #127, p.28)AND, SPEAKING OF ITEMS: This last little tidbit isn't exactly chicken-fat, either! Yep, this is the month when the awesome, ultimate MARVEL VALUE STAMP will appear somewhere--sometime--in one (count 'em, one) of our colorful classics! Nope, we still won't tell you just which of our world-famous super-stars it features; we'll leave you the fun of finding that out for yourself, when you discover it starin' back at you from one of our liltin' letters pages! Don't miss it, though, 'cause it'll be featured once and once only all this year--and, next month (after a delay or twain), we'll be telling you a whole long list of comic-book stores, all across the land, where presenting your MARVEL VALUE STAMPBOOK chockful of all 100 Stamps will get you a galvanizin' FREE GIFT! We said it before, we'll say it again, and it's no hype: VALUE is Marvel's middle name!Editor's Note: The "ultimate" stamp in question, #100, featured Galactus, and appeared in Sub-Mariner #72, the last issue of that series. Also, the list of comic book stores mentioned above apparently was not published in October 1974 issues.
Till next time, amigo--peace!
(Text excerpted from Avengers #128, p.28)ITEM! First off, we've gotta thank you for your wildly enthusiastic response to our mighty MARVEL VALUE STAMPS! Already, literally thousands of you have sent for and received your specially-numbered Stampbooks! (And, when you learn why we numbered 'em, just a few short weeks from now, you're gonna flip!) That free full-color Bonus Poster you get with your Stampbook would be well worth any true Marvelite's four bits, all by itself! So get your Stampbook while they last--and before the second series of stamps begins, not many moons from now--'cause we're now in the final stages of preparing a list of dozens of comic-book stores and conventions all over the U.S. and Canada where you can use your filled-up Stampbook to get free Marvel mags at a special MVS Discount! And you ain't seen nothin' yet!Editor's Note: The second set of Marvel Value Stamps was known as "Series B," and featured "puzzle-piece" stamps which could be placed together to form larger images. See our Series B page for more information.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #133, p.28)ITEM! Looks like it's cataclysmic clarification time again, Pilgrims. Seems your beleaguered Bullpen has been bombarded lately by letters wondering why one or two of our mildly magnificent color mags haven't carried the mighty MARVEL VALUE STAMPS we've been telling you so much about, so now's as good a time as any to set the record straight. If you're eagerly looking for our vital VALUE STAMPS each and every month (and if you're not, you don't know the adventure you're missing), you'll find 'em on the liltin' letters pages of any and all of our mags that have letters pages. The reasons behind excluding the MVS's from non-letters paged mags is far too complicated to go into here, but trust us when we say it's a condition we just can't avoid right now. In the meantime, keep your eagle eyes peeled for the startling second series of VALUE STAMPS coming to you soon. Believe us, if ya thought the first series was enough to knock you out of your proverbial tree, the second set'll floor you.
Editor's Note: Moving for a moment outside the confines of the Bullpen Bulletin pages, the Mighty Marvel Comic Convention program (March 1975, p.37) contained a picture of "A portion of the hardy souls who managed to clip and paste all 100 Marvel Value Stamps!"
Were you among them?
Although the picture appeared in the New York-based Marvel convention's program, the photograph of these die-hard fans was taken at the 1974 San Diego Comic Convention.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #134, p.28)ITEM! Looks like just about the hottest thing in town is still our mighty MARVEL VALUE STAMPS! Seems your batty Bullpen is constantly being deluged with letters wondering just what sort'a goodies you can get by being the proud possessor of a completely-filled Stamp Book. Well, just catch this, Faithful One: a completed MVS book will entitle you to a whoopin' ten percent discount on any of the matchless merchandise now being offered to you by your big-hearted House of Ideas. Just send your completed stamp book, along with a large-sized, stamped, self-addressed envelope, to MERCHANDISING, c/o MARVEL COMICS GROUP, 9th Floor, 575 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022, and your MVS book will be winging its way back to you, complete with dazzling discount coupon, faster than you can say "Quicksilver"! Of course, if you're just itching to get your hands on our marvelous merchandies now, just clip the coupon on this issue's merchandise page, and send your order along with your completed Stamp Book. We'll give you your first ten percent discount immediately--just because we love ya. We'll also send you another discount coupon for your next order, and we'll keep sending coupons as long as you keep sending orders. In other words, all holders of completed MARVEL VALUE STAMP books are eligible for a perpetual ten percent discount--besides having your name inscribed on our great, golden Honor Roll here in the hallowed halls of Marvel. And if you haven't completed your Stamp Book yet, don't fret, Effendi. We're gonna keep printing our MVStamps in our liltin' letters pages till each and every trusty True Believer has a chance to join the club. (Of course, if you never even heard of our much-vaunted VALUE STAMPS till you read this blazing Bulletin--and if you haven't, you must have been livin' in Lower Slobbovia--you can still lay your mitts on a sparkling Stamp Book by sending us a paltry fifty cents.) Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Mind-bending Bargains?Editor's Note: In the above column, the Bullpen began printing the word "Stampbook" as two words. We have used "Stamp Book" elsewhere on this site, to match the title portion of the Stamp Book itself, as well as most auctions which appear on eBay.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #142, p.28)ITEM! You've been breaking down our door for them, you've demanded them, nay, you've verily threatened to storm our hallowed halls for them, and now, at last, they're here! What's here, we hear a voice pipe up from the Peanut Gallery? Why, nothing less than the scintillating second series of our merely magnificent Marvel Value Stamps! After facing every pothole and pitfall imaginable, your batty Bullpen has managed to put together the greatest, grandest, and goofiest grab-bag goodie ever offered for a mere handful of sheckles. Featuring the wildest stamps since Galactus sent the Silver Surfer by air-mail express to Hoboken, our latest and looniest stamp book contains ten superbly super and sensational jigsaw puzzles, featuring the finest artwork that money and discarded back-date issues of NOT BRAND ECCH can buy! Each minuscule and perforated piece of pictorial splendor represents just one-tenth of a pulsating pin-up, so when your Marvel Value Stampbook is complete, you'll have a regular portfolio of Marvel's Greatest Comic Heroes. (Hey, that's not a bad name for a new book, Stan.) How and where to order this spanking-new stamp book? Well, keep your eyes peeled for these pages, 'cause in a month or two we'll spring the all important info on ya. Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Special Surprises?
(Text excerpted from Avengers #146, p.28)ITEM! And, while you're looking through the galavantin' goodies we're always tossin' at you, you've probably seen the Mighty Marvel Value Stamps sensational second series that have been appearing these past weeks. Okay then, if you'd like to cut out those sultry stamps and place them in the absolutely new, specially-designed-for-you, stamp book (which is also redeemable for a gigantic grab-bag of goodies), now's the time to take advantage of our omnipresent offer. For just a mere half buck (that's 50¢ to all you Asgardians), we can wing our 16-page booklet-bonanza to you, featuring room for all your prize-winning stamps, and a special secret super-stamp of a shocking Marvel star! If you don't want to be left out in the hinterlands, send your check or money order to: MARVEL STAMP-BOOK, SUPERHERO MERCHANDISE, PO BOX 777, DOVER, NEW JERSEY, 07801.
Editor's Note: The "shocking Marvel star," referred to above, was revealed to be Stan "the Man" Lee, the last puzzle in the Series B Stamp Book.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #147, p.28)ITEM! Just a quick word or three about the greatest stamp sensations this side of the Asgard Post Office. Our second sensational set of value stamps has proven the instant success we hoped it'd be, even though we forgot to tell you that there is a special, super-secret stamp number 100 that we're waiting to spring on you unannounced one of these days. It'll only appear in one mag, and the only thing we promise you is that it will not be in a rollickin' reprint title, but in an all-original regular-size comic. It's up to you Faithful Ones to keep an eagle-eye out for number 100. You have been warned.
Editor's Note: The Series B stamp #100 was the upper-right corner piece of the Stan "the Man" Lee puzzle, which revealed the identity of the "character" featured on the "special secret super-stamp." The stamp appeared in Omega #3 (July 1976), as shown on our Series B page.
(Text excerpted from Avengers #149, p.28)ITEM! This is the month, True Believer -- the month that our secret number 100 Value Stamp makes its appreciative appearance in one and only one Marvel mag. Natch, we're not going to tell you which mag, which means you'll probably have to buy 'em all (sneaky us, but what the hey -- ! Is there any better way to cash in a couple of sheckles--?), but we kinda' think you'll find the Value Stamp Book worth the trouble you've taken to fill it. And maybe it's now time to thank Marvel's own PATY for conceiving the idea for our second stupendous set of stamps. Take a bow, Paty -- you deserve it! And, in case you're straining your brain wondering why we picked this month to release our special stamp, let the truth be told now, or we shall forever hold our breath: Yea, verily, this is also the month of the Second Annual Marvelcon, and we sorta figured we'd celebrate that monumentous occasion with our bonus number 100.
March 15, 1987
(Scanned pages from Amazing Heroes #113, pp. 81-82.)
Editor's Note: In 1987, the comic magazine Amazing Heroes #113 contained a checklist/article on the Marvel Value Stamps, Series A program. The column, Don Rosa's Information Center, was written in response to a question from a fan who was interested in tracking down stamps.
As the column itself states, the list is not complete, and from our own comparison it appears there may be a few discrepancies -- however, we still think MVS fans will enjoy seeing this. Kudos to Don Rosa for publishing perhaps the only checklist ever put into print!
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