The News Blog of Comics Culture
Cherokee Book Shop on Hollywood Blvd., 1965.
Via the UCLA photo archives.
Check the Action Comics 1 on the left of the desk.
Very interesting photo. Does that mean that specialized comic book store did exist in 1965 or is this a (huge) comic book section in a regular book store ?
A stunning piece of history. As noted above, the books on the front desk alone . . .
When I see things like this, it reminds me of how environment shapes perception. The books featured in the store were around 10 to 28 years old, and they were widely seen as ancient history–the shop stood out as a nostalgic retrieval of bygone ephemera. You can still sense what it felt like then by reading Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes, published the same year, or just by looking at the cover to All in Color for a Dime: http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/102/. Today, books from 1980 or 1998 don’t have the same resonance, though the actual time passed may be the same.
Re: David Blot’s question, this was a small walk-up room inside the regular Cherokee Book Shop. One could go through the boxes and stacks and find things like Stan Lee’s booklet on how to write for comics, or books like FF#1, which were way too expensive for me ($7.50) at the time
Yes, that’s Burt Blum, who had his own store within a store (I think his brother owned Cherokee proper). Cherokee Bookstore was a huge bookstore on Hollywood Blvd., and Burt’s inner sanctum was at the far back and up some stairs.
For a while he had a bins right outside his door filled with “25 cents each, 5 for a dollar” comics. Davey Estrada and I got lots of Little Lulus and Barks Disney comics from those bins. I did an article on Burt for, believe it or not, “GRIT the Family Newspaper” in around 1967 when I was in college. I still have the photos I took for the article somewhere around here.
Is this the shop that Bill Mumy sings about in his song “Cherokee Books”?
Isn’t it possible though that there was a reprint edition of Action Comics #1 by that point?
You know, every so often, I have this dream of walking into a used bookstore and finding usual graphic novels that never existed.
Who cares if Action #1 is a reprint or not? Look at all the pre-code EC on the wall!
That is what I want my reference library to look like when I’m 75! (But filled with all sorts of cool stuff from the 80s and 90s!)
There was a place like this in Omaha… a small corner in the basement of the Antiquarium bookstore, in the Old Market neighborhood. Curiously, the comics were right next to the Playboys (unsealed), so I …um… cherrypicked the best issues, looking for Little Annie Fanny and anything else that caught my eye. The comics? Not so great. (This was the late 80s) Better selection at the Dragon’s Lair. But the graphic novel/comic strip section? There was good stuff there, before eBay. It was also a nice counterculture haven in a very conservative city.
In my German hometown of Hannover, there’s a comicbook warehouse out on the outskirts of town. (The streetcar ends, and then I had to walk some more, but the place is HUGE.) German comics going back to the 1950s, American comics, some adult magazines… Well worth the trek!
Can someone find the original article from the LA Times? Circa June 7, 1965?
Get a load of all those Big Little Books sitting out in the open. Cool.
There were a whole bunch of comic stores in Hollywood in those days; Cherokee, Collector’s, one off a side street a little further East. It was always a tremendous treat for me to go to Cherokee in the late 60s — and even into the 70s, when I could drive myself.
For me, the coolest thing about Cherokee was the pulps for sale and the custom-made superhero models, which at the time went for $40, a king’s ransom. I made a list of figures I wanted that ran into the dozens.
Oh, well . . .
Driving up from San Diego on a Saturday, we would make the rounds of Cherokee, Collectors, Pickwick Books, Larry Ednumds (for movie stills), and all the great used bookstores all within a few blocks of Hollywood and Vine.
Ah yes, fond memories… I was going to college in the late 60s-early 70s and usually couldn’t afford to buy much there; did get a Slave Girl #2 with no back cover for 50 cents. I was totally unknowledgeable about weird old comics at the time and couldn’t turn that one down. It began my long standing collection of what later became generally known as “esoteric” comics.
What was that book store that was off Hollywood on a side street? Was it Bond Street Books (or something like that)? I remember getting a big stack of the old Classics Illustrated that had the bright covers there. Fun!
I used to love that shop. I visited once a week or so in the summer of 1974. I was particularly attracted to the back issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Cherokee was one of the stops I’d make on my way up to Collector’s further down the boulevard. A different world.
Anybody talked to Mark Evanier about this place yet? This was his stomping grounds at the time if I recall correctly.
There’s not just an Action #1 on that table, but also a Detective #27 and a Whiz #2.
There’s a Batman #1 on the top of the stack next the man in the suit’s right elbow, too.
I had been a longtime reader/collector of comics but didn’t get serious until meeting friends Mike and John around 1967 who each had impressive collections. I joined them on several trips to Cherokee meeting Burt in the process. He could be intimidating at times, but it was facinating to listen to my friends and him discuss the merits of writers, artists and current books. DC Comics had been the industry leader but Marvel surpassed them in popularity by this time. I remember twisting through what seemed like a maze of passage ways lined with boxes of comics leading up to Burt’s office. Another Hollywood source was Bond Street Books near Ivar and Hollywood Blvd, as I recall, run by a man named Steve. He was much more approachable and although I purchased from both locations, Steve got the bulk of my business.
Burt was rough and gruff until he fucked you over by being an hour late for something then it was discount time. I got most of my Ditko and Kirby FF’s there. I went there the early seventies his ( hippy ) years. I remember a full page Captain America splash from Tales of Suspense thumb tacked to the wall for $20– an unfathomable price at the time.
My friend Michael Cohen and I worked for Burt about the time this picture was taken, which I recall was printed in one of the LA papers with an article describing Burt’s comic business. We were fourteen and used to sort through boxes of comics he bought from kids and ex-collectors to find the valuable ones; we were paid in comics. Burt had a metal, locked, two-door cabinet which housed his most valuable books–miniminum price was $5. Action #1, Detective 27, and Captain America 1-10 were in there, along with JSA’s, Captain Marvel, etc.
My favorite item was a full-page original artwork of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday strip from 1938, I believe, in which the bad guys were dropping “atomic bombs” on the locals–for which, Burt told me, Raymond was investigated by the FBI–
Burt loved to share his passion with us kids and was a great, if eccentric, guy–a real icon.
Lived in L.A. county for decades until 1990, and visited Cherokee often during the summers. Saw very early Spider-Mans and FFs there on sale for ungodly sums like 10 and 15 bucks, which none of us kids could ever afford. Also saw tons of silver and golden age stuff selling for what we’d blow on a meal nowadays.
They tore down Cherokee in the late ’90s (or early ’00s), I think. They shot part of The Howling there (the scene with Dick Smith, where Forey Ackerman does a walk on).
I recall one of my final visits there, after years of scampering up that zig-zaggy old dark stairway, and wrangling some great deals on early Marvels (I already had a decent DC collection before I started going to Cherokee). I had just come down the stairs to the main level that housed the “normal” books. There in front of me on a mid-level shelf was one of Hemingway’s very earliest masterpieces, signed by him, and tagged at 100 bucks even.
But I sneered at it like it was an over-priced hunk of junk, and went home. Why? Because it was only a dumb old regular book – and not a COMIC book!
R.I.P., Cherokee. There was only one like you.
I began buying from Bert’s Cherokee comic room (upstairs in the back of the store) in 1963 after I noticed a teaser in a-then current issue of ‘Famous Monsters’ magazine about how a Hollywood Blvd. bookstore was selling Famous Monsters’s first six out-of print issues. The teaser did NOT give the name of the bookstore. So my step dad took me up to the famous boulevard in June of 1963 and we discovered that H’Wood Blvd. was LOADED with bookstores. We finally tracked down the right bookstore and I was thrilled beyond belief that the young Bert Blum had in fact those rare issues I wanted. I continually went up there (to Cherokee) thru the ’60s before I went into the service. Fast forward to June 1990 and I accidentally discover Bert’s bookstore in Santa Monica. He didn’t remember me but what happened was I made the best purchase from him in a lifetime–a MINT unread copy of the First Issue of Famous Monsters–WOW!
I remember Cherokee Books when it was in the Cherokee Building at Hollywood and Cherokee on Hollywood Boulevard. Harry and Gene ran the place and used comics were five cents. They let me in the backroom once to go through their older comics from the 1940’s. I was about 13 years old at the time, and I bought a number of early Batman, World’s Finest and Detective Comics (all in good condition) for fifteen cents each. In the late 1960’s, after they moved across the street, when Burt was in charge of the store, I sold them back for quite a bit more.
I still have my first edition of Tender is the Night by Scott Fitzgerald, which Burt sold me for 15 dollars.
I also remember Larson’s Books on Hollywood Boulevard near Western. I bought a copy of Detective Comics #21 for 75 cents.
Just read the above article/comments. Burt is alive and well here with me in the Michigan woods and if I can drag him to the computer, he will get a bang out of reading about the old days at Cherokee.
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