I was reading the letters page in the back of some Marvel comic book back in 1984. It’s a weird thing to do in general, and it was an even weirder thing for me to do. The letters on these pages usually referred to events that occurred in comics I neither had nor read, and so I rarely if ever understood the references and discussions. Nonetheless, I read this page anyway. As I did, I caught something in an editor’s comment that caught my attention. It was the phrase, “You get a No-Prize.” The letter writer had pointed out a discrepancy in a recent comic and suggested a resolution to that discrepancy, and in reply the editor had said, “You get a No-Prize.”
This was the first time I had ever heard of the Marvel No-Prize, but it would not be the last. I kept reading these letter pages for whatever reason and kept running across that phrase, “You get a no-prize.” According to Wikipedia, the No-Prize was created by Stan Lee as a response to actual prizes offered by other comics companies to readers who found continuity errors in comics. The No-Prize was literally no prize: no cash, no plaque, no trophy, just recognition in the letters page (you can read the Wikipedia of the No-Prize here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-Prize). It was never intended to be a physical prize. The name itself indicated this: no prize.
As a kid, I did not catch the subtle humor. I thought intrepid readers were actually winning prizes. And I wanted to be such an intrepid reader. Unfortunately, I was so open-minded and impressionable at that age that I couldn’t find any discrepancies in Marvel comics. I’m sure every comic is filled with continuity errors and other gaffes, but I was oblivious to them. The best I could do was find one panel where a superhero’s costume seemed to change color and come up with some sort of explanation for it (I can’t remember today what that explanation was, but it probably wasn’t good). And I didn’t even bother to write that down and send it it. So there was no No-Prize for me. That’s right. I got no No-Prize. Which, if you think about it, means I did get a No-Prize, right?