Thursday, December 15, 2011

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix... What am I going to do with you?

Let me confess something right here and now... I'm a Netflix addict. I stream when I work out... just about anytime I can, I DO. I love catching up on stuff I missed the 1st time around. Farscape, Firefly, Breaking Bad... TONS of stuff. Netflix has allowed me to be well-viewed.

I find it especially enticing when noise about Firefly being resurrected is mainstream here and here. (Great little show! Cant recommend it more highly.)

But Netflix pissed off a lot of people by jacking their rates for DVD's and streaming. (I do streaming only so I was unaffected but that fiasco.) But I did watch it unfold with a curious eye. Folks cried foul, Netflix launched a spin-off venture, only to fold it less than a month later. Content providers are letting Netflix deals expire and they have their delusions cast on launching their own streaming ventures/deals, envious of Netflix recent success.

The drive to produce their own content is a big gamble but one worth taking to retain viewers. If the stuff is GOOD they will gain viewers. But,to me this is like the cherry and whipped creme on the sundae. These are the last bits you add AFTER you build a tasty treat.

Really, the end-game for Netflix is this:
They need to reach deals with the NFL Network, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA and ESPN and carry streaming sports LIVE. They need to do this TODAY. 2 min delay, let those networks/groups show their nationally sold ads via the stream, give them a % per view, whatever it takes to get them on the bus. If this were in place I would cut my cable TO-Fucking-DAY.

Then what are all of those content providers (STARS, HBO, Showtime) who fancy their own distribution channel gonna do? They will practically be paying Netflix to give them bandwidth, begging to stay relevant.

I'm old school. Al Gore says he built the internet... we unless he posted the 1st dirty picture, he didn't give it the right fertilizer to grow. Porn built the internet. Nerds wanting to look at hi-res boobies made dial-up modems obsolete. (Smile if you know I'm right!)

Game set and match to Netflix.
IF they can pull off the double play of live streaming Sports AND Adult content. They would practically be a content distribution monopoly. And Stock-type people love to print money with a monopoly. Netflix previous missteps will be forgiven and forgotten.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

C'mon Marvel, pick something and stick with it.

Back in the fast-paced 90's, Marvel developed a marketing strategy that nearly put them out of business. They relied on short-term flashiness, like crossovers and shiny covers with metallic ink to attract buyers, and wound up with a lot of product nobody wanted. Now they're doing it again.

Case in Point: there used to be a series called Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins, a spinoff from Avengers storylines concerning the dreaded return of the Elder god Chthon. Chthon wrote the Darkhold book himself, infusing the pages with all sorts of nasty evilness designed to corrupt and destroy mankind so that he could return to a nice homey apocalyptic world. He must not have used the right glue to bind the pages together, as they got lost and scattered. A mysterious demented dwarf came into possession of some of the pages, and started passing them around like candy to unsuspecting marks. They read the sinister scripture, thinking their dreams would come true, but of course they don't. They turn to soul-destroying shit.

Enter the Darkhold Redeemers. Victoria Montesi is the reluctant descendant of a long line of Darkhold guardians. She is given the task to recover the pages, and receives help from occult expert Louise Hastings, Interpol agent Sam Buchanan, and Mordred the Mystic. The series used similar formulas to the Friday the 13th and Warehouse 13 TV series, where occult investigators recover bad mojo that drives people insanely and murderously evil, and lock it safely away to never trouble mankind again. The occult was big at the time, as DC had Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer flying off the shelves.

So, how did Marvel screw it up? They made it crossover central, guest starring the Midnight Sons, Ghost Rider wannabes who rode demonic motorcycles with lots of skulls and sulfurous flames of hell spouting out of their exhaust pipes. Doctor Strange also crossed over, as well as Punisher and any other oh-so-hard-edged "dark" trope they could push down readers' throats.

As the Darkhold Redeemers were being overshadowed by these frequent guest stars, Marvel obviously decided the real stars of the series weren't enough of a sell. So, they killed off the dumpy professor, made Victoria a lesbian, and transformed Buchanan from a middle-aged pot bellied detective to a steroid muscle monster with BFGs. (Big Fucking Guns) Those short-term solutions didn't work of course, and the book died a quiet death.

Nowadays, it's Thor that's getting the constant redesigns. Again, Marvel thinks the way to sell the book is to introduce major Earth-shattering events during every story arc, totally scrap any continuity they've established, and bait potential new readers into buying flashy shiny crap.

To wit: Thor rebuilds Asgard. Asgard gets destroyed. It gets rebuilt. It gets destroyed again, and gets rebuilt, only this time it's now a multi-cultural commune overlooked by three goddesses.

Odin had been exiled to eternal battle with Surtur. Thor brings him back. Odin takes over Asgard, acting like Odin always does, bellowing "Never question me" at the Asgardians, and Thor gets pissed. Odin fights Galactus over a seed, then goes back into exile. Oh yes, Galactus lets Silver Surfer go and replaces him with a small-town preacher. Isn't that just so monumental and earth-shattering? I bet they kill off the new herald before New Year's.

Loki comes back as a woman when Thor rebuilds Asgard the first time. Then he becomes a man again. Then he becomes a child and is spun off into another series. He is barely given any time to establish an identity before the MONUMENTAL EARTH-SHATTERING MARVEL ROD changes everything.

Oh yes, Thor dies off-screen, Beta Ray Bill's cousin takes his place, and now Thor's a child trying to escape the afterlife.

Marvel can't be bothered with developing personalities. They'd rather change environments instead, because they can market it as monumental, rules-breaking, unconventional shit that nobody else dares to do. That drove them nearly bankrupt before, but apparently they haven't learned their lesson. As the Thing used to say, "What a revoltin' development!" Thing knows. Thing knows.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The best little Comicon you've never heard of Is the NC Comicon.

The stars have aligned and this past year has manged to be my year of conventions. For the 1st time I managed to go to the Heros Convention in Charlotte and had a great time. Bought a few things,no real noteworthy books, hole fillers for my Tomb of Dracula run. I met Neal Adams and had him sign my Green Lantern #76. Had a delightful experience there and hope to return.

(FWIW - Sheldon Drum, the guy that puts that on does a fab job and hes super to talk to. In fact he sold me my Minty X-men 94 for $60 back when this book guided for about $50. I still have it!!)

I was also devious enough to plan our Family Summer trip to Chicago to coincide with the BIG Comicon they have there every year. That was too big for my tastes. SO overwhelming, it almost leaves you numb afterward. THAT was too much. I'm a simple country boy; wall to wall people creeped me out. When it was time to leave, I was kinda glad. (more on that)

By far, the Best Con experience of 2011 was the NC Comicon. It was close enough to the center of my universe that I could drive to it and not have to stay overnight in a hotel. (MONDO appealing) And Cons seem to be somewhat regionally priced, so things were more inline with my budget. Being in the South, things just felt cheaper closer to home. (Another BIG plus)

Upon arrival  took a general walk around to get the "lay o the land". There was something here for everyone. 1st stop: Men's room. While washing my hands I struck up a conversation with a dude who drove his son 150 miles from SC to attend this event. He was tired and cranky but overall being a good sport about it for his kid. Good for them. Good for them for making the trip that's nice to see.

What's that you don't like comics but like games? They had that. Check.

Artists Alley.
They had some notables there hawking their wares. But I'm an old school guy and this is the headliner and the guy I came to see. Howard Chaykin in the house..
Whats Shakin Chaykin?

While hard at work making sketches he had plenty of time to talk to fans and answer Questions. I asked him "When he watches "Mad Men" does he look at it and say: "Thats #$!!#@ American Century"! And he was like "You know, there's a story there...." he ALMOST wound up making an adaptation for the TV show.

He was good to talk to and graciously signed my Star Wars # 1 thru 4 and an Extra Star Wars #1 I had picked up for a very good friends birthday. My friend is into Star Wars more than comics. He recently showed me his Death Star play-set and Han Solo blaster from when he was a kid.
(Ladies this friend IS single for a nominal fee I can hook you up)

Signed I tell you..

They had more than you can stand. More than I could possibly describe. Golden, Silver Bronze and Modern. I picked up the following books here. I bought all of these from the fine folks at Tomorrows Treasures who made the trip down from NY to the show. I ran into them in Chicago and Charlotte and again here in Raleigh. I gave them a plug from the ChicagoCon. Richie and his wife are great folks to deal with. I couldn't recommend them more highly. You wont be sorry.

Unlike The Chicago Comicon, the NC Comicon did not rely on "Star Power" from Hollywood for a draw. The comics were front and center. The books are the main attraction and I found I liked that much better.

There were folks in costume and that's a kick for the kids and the casual Con 'goer. But It strikes me as just a tad creepy. Even if a lady can pull off a Ms Marvel costume, I'm disinclined to take a picture. If she happens to be 17, I don't need a hassle from the sheriff over a misunderstanding.

This Con had several interesting ones. I wish I had time to check the History and the intro to comics and grading.

Way back machine
I ran into a dude as a vendor that I had done some comics trading close to 20 years ago.
We reconnected and he introduced me to a couple of guys at the show who were local and interested to trade and swap. Score!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I look for in a comic shop..

This entry was inspired by a recent post from: @TheNerdyBird

I have had some mixed results in finding a "Good" comic shop that has real satisfying staying power. Some of it is my own fault, I guess. I'm a bit of a flake.

I like a knowledgeable and friendly staff. I really dig being made to feel like my business matters. Being welcomed is an important feeling. 

I've been a regular customer in a shop where the clerk wouldn't have 3 words to say to me (a regular customer for YEARS) and was breaking his neck to talk to some other kid who just wandered in the shop. Like what I had to say didn't matter. Like he had me and didn't have to bother to try to keep me engaged and interested in trading with him. Very. Not. Cool. Left those guys and haven't looked back.

Then I moved around the country a bit; well, Southeast - and it seemed that when I would find a shop I liked, it would close or I would move again. Bad luck I reckon.

For that reason I had a hard time connecting with any shop. Afraid my business would be the Kiss Of Death and as soon as I let myself like them something would pull the rug out.

It took a while for me to get over this odd phobia. I found a place I could let myself like. They gave a nice discount on the new books. They were friendly personable and acted generally interested to have me around. The problem for me with them, was that I was into the OLD stuff. The new stuff was to read and have my finger on the pulse of what back issues might become the "hotness" dujour. To get any discount, price break or otherwise have some wiggle room to negotiate was completely out of the question unless the owner was there. Which didn't synch up with my schedule. Lost my mojo and willingness for dealing with them.

Then I found a new outfit. A bit of a further drive for me from the house but they offered a better discount level and someone was AROUND who could wheel and deal on the old stuff. I dint have to wait, rearrange my schedule or make a 2nd trip on a different day. Plus it was closer to work so I could drop in mid-week over lunch.

I liked this store MUCH better for a long while. They turned me on to new stuff I would not have otherwise tried. I bought tons of stuff from them OLD and new. The friction came when they found success and started opening other locations. They eventually designated a different store location in their Empire (further away from me) to be their "Back Issue" hub location.

I complained. Alot. I got mouthy. The owner finally had enough of it once I escalted it. I got tired of the lip service they they would "bring some stuff over soon". The owner told me that I didn't do enough business with them to be worth their hassle to continue to deal with and they booted me. Their right to do of course... but bad form.

At that time I was having a fair amount of success on ebay so it was no great loss. I culled my collection to only focus on the old stuff. All told, I feel better off and happier.

I do still have a serious Jones for back-issues that is unsatisfied. Ebay has gotten a little outrageous lately so I've cooled it on that front.

Moral of the story:
If you are a shop owner, have an accessible location (close proximity to me),  sell desirable Silver and Bronze Age material at a fair price, you cant help but have a customer for life.

Is that too much to ask? So far that would appear to be the case....

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hi Funny book fans.. Its been a while since my last post. Life gets busy and I haven't scored any major coup on books lately; despite my best efforts to the contrary. While MY search has come up empty.. at least I was able to enable a young kid getting started on his collection via my yard-sale.

The kid was out with his Dad doing yard sales. I had a buck-box. This kid started asking me all kinds of questions about mastheads, publications, numbering, and storage bags. It felt kinda cool being the expert and giving advice. He bought a hammered bronze age Flash 189 or thereabouts.

I hope we have added a new collector to our ranks!

Its been a while since I have done this; but I was considering going with some comics instead for candy for Halloween. Has anyone else done that? In years past when I had done this; the reaction is somewhat mixed. Just curious what results others have had.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I love finding deals.

There are several comic vendors that I enjoy doing business with and have referenced them from time to time in different blog posts.

This is a little different. I check this site a couple of times a week. I have found some outrageous deals on some surprising stuff. This site has led to some terrific finds. If you stop and think about it, who else has a never ending supply of stuff? It makes perfect sense for them to have their own ebay knockoff auction site.

I found a Lego Death Star here at a price I could live with. I found a "Paul is Dead" Beatles magazine from 1966. I found a few Star Wars 12' inch figures that I used to have as a kid and repurchased dirt cheap. I was able to score a Luke Skywalker in near perfect shape with all of his accessories. A C-3PO, a Stormtrooper and a Darth Vader.

I was able to find a few pottery things my wife had been looking for.

But I cant figure comics out on this site...
The strangest stuff sells. What I would consider complete and utter garbage goes for more than it should. The quality stuff that does come in and that should go for a lot does, but truthfully, I think you could find the same stuff at the the same price at a comic shop or convention for about the same costs... perhaps even a little less.

My guess is folks here really don't know comics all that well. A "Nam", "GI-Joe" or Transformer type title will command some cash. I once noticed an early Star wars set 1-4 (with the 35 cent covers, yup REPRINTS) go for close to a bill. 

If its a 12 or 15 cent cover price book then its going for close to guide value just on principle not taking into account grading type defects. I have seen an absolutely hammered FF #1 pass thru, handfuls of ASM 300 that appear decent enuff and almost priced low enough to tempt me but having 2 copies already, I leave that to someone else's delight. I have seen a a few golden age books come thru as well ... A very nice looking copy of Marvel Comics but it went for more than I wanted to spend.

The BEST deal on comics I have gotten from this site was a lot of New Teen Titans. It had a DC presents #26, 2 copies of #1, a copy of #2 (Terminator 1st app.) and #4 (always a hard one for me to find).

I wish you luck making sense of this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Advertising in comics

It saddens me to think that Comics may be dying as an artform. I'm afraid that unless something changes they will go the way of the Beta-max and rotary phone.

I used to think that comics could be saved with better more focused advertising. It alwasy galled me that an automotive or bridal magazine cram packed STUFFED with ads to the point where there were 3 and 4 hundred pages... for 4 bucks. A comic is about the same price and you are lucky if you get 30 pages.

I found that annoying and thought that comic publishers were out of touch with their advertisers. That still may be true, but the future does not live here. 

naively thought that "saving" comics would be found in modifying this dynamic. I thought cross promotions with other products that tapping into the comic buyers demographic would pay dividends. Premium issues, chase covers all that jazz to spur new interest by reaching folks outside of the box.

Engage in promotions - buy/test drive a car, get comic. Eat 4 cerals send in a 4 upc's and get a comic. That kind of thing....

None of that now matters.
Digital comics are that MUCH of a game changer. I realize that nowI posted on this a while back. 

Now for me, Digital comics has none of the appeal rooted in an ACTUAL comic in the physical world. I stare at a computer all day and LIKE to hold paper. I miss the smell of newsprint. I like playing with bags and boards. How can I sell or trade a pdf (or whatever format) of a comic?

I don't know what the hell to do with a digital comic once its read.
This is sad. BUT it beats comics disappearing!!

It doesn't seem long before the 32 page serial magazines are replaced by digital entirely and then the more superior examples the digital output find their way to a Trade Paper Back. 

I'm for comics sticking around... This seems to be the next phase just as shifting away from spinner racks and newsstands once happened.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chee cah go

I recently went to the Chicago Comic Con.

I didn't post about this before now, because I don't need my door kicked in while I'm away. I'm just paranoid that way. I haven't posted about it since because I needed some time to put things in perspective.

I've never been to one of the MAJOR Cons before. Now, I can say I've been.

I didn't quite know what to expect. Saw TONS of folks. THIS line was just folks waiting to get in the main door.

Some in costume most not... Met 2 nice Asian women who came up from St Louis. Also found some loud obnoxious motor mouth in line behind me. At 1st he was funny. Then it became apparent he was a blowhard borderline bully and that unfortunately set my mentality in a negative way going in.

I hate people. Don't get me wrong I'm a friendly person. But I like to walk w/o tripping over folks and I don't like to wait. The lines were absolute mayhem and creeped me out a couple of times. Too many too close. A fire or earthquake would have defined the world tragic. 

Lots to see...
If you wanted it, thought you might like it, were curious about it, or hated it, it was there. Something for everyone.

I didn't notice too many things that I'm actively hunting that were a "deal". 
This pic was taken from behind a glass case. The guy behind the case was in a suit. I wasn't the guy he needed to talk to about these books. He's looking for an "investor" not a collector.

I'm looking to buy this kind of stuff from the guy that stole it and needs gas money to get home.

Stuff I did buy.
I found one very nice fellow and bought a hand-full of things from him. 2 issues of Witching Hour (numbers 8 and 10) and 7 Tomb of Dracula issues that were random non-keys.  

Shameless plug for a future discount.
I found these guys at Chicago again: Tomorrows Treasures, I'd recommend them to anyone to do business with. They have a bit of a different approach. They have an incredible selection of prime desirable books. Their money books are fairly priced for what they are... I just wish I was the guy that could by them. My wallet is too small. As it is they have stacks and boxes of mid-grade random non-key bronze and silver books that go from 5-10 dollars. Great way to fill in holes. Unfortunately they didn't have anything I couldn't live w/o or was actively seeking THIS trip. Luck of the draw I guess.

If/when I am in a position to buy a money book, I'm going to make them my 1st call to see if they have it, can get it, and what they gotta get out of it.

This is my 3rd time running into TT at a convention. I bought a lot (at least for MY cheapskate ass) from them earlier this year in Charlotte. 

Chicago Con Summary.
I was glad I went. Would I go again?, prolly not. This was more of an event; a spectacle of celebrity. I too old to be impressed by that. I don't need it. I just want good books cheap. For that, I liked the Charlotte show better. Things were regionally priced. Meaning simply that the prices reflected what the Chicago market would bear. Its a bit higher than I would prefer overall. I need the Con across the street from a trailer park. I'm glad I did, now I have something to compare to, it was good for that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So what is up with the SyFy Channel?

Why do they bother to generate new shows if all they are going to do is cancel them once they find their legs and have a nice tight cast with good chemistry.

Exhibit 1.
FarScape - Sadly, I missed the train on this one the 1st time around, but thanks to the wonder of Netflix, I'm all caught up now. I thought the 1st season was hit or miss. Decent, but slow to develop.. Very good characterization but shallow on action and an overall sense of purpose. Once Scorpius was introduced that complaint went away in a big damn hurry.. You want action - This show is a Big Boy roller-coaster with huge drops, speed and fast turns even when you know they are coming ... they get ya. This was an explosion of creativity. Cancelled far too soon.

Exhibit 2.
Eureka - What a great little show. Charming, simple.. Well acted characters that draw you in and give you a reason to care about them. Its Mayberry on nanite steroids. (I live in NC so a positive reference to the Andy Griffith show is serious Bid'ness, make no mistake.) Unlike shows of the 50s 60's and 70's where each show is stand-alone in nature. These days TV shows are more often than not sequential; meaning that you need to know what went before so that "now" makes sense. Its essentially a serial and I'm fine with that. While they are still airing episodes and working to finish the series, it will not be renewed. This saddens me. Its the only SciFi show my wife can tolerate.

Alternate Proposal or -
Maybe as a weigh station for shows on the cancellation block in the future networks can make webisodes (a'la The Guild) to see what the interest level actually is among the fans. If a site sets X amount of traction via being streamed on the web... then perhaps it can be saved.. since we now build on stories in a serial format, it would be quite possible to continue that as part of the ongoing plot should it be brought back to prime-time.

What speaks loudest? Volume? big mouths?
Shit no - No big wallets. How about a telethon to save a show? Proceeds could go to a charity as a BIG PR win for the network or it could be a tip for the cast and crew to continue.

So with all of the above in mind.
I am extremely hesitant to even consider recommending SyFy's "Alphas".
But it is that good and intriguing even if it is derivative.

Alphas Summary:
If you have ever read an X-men comic, then you get the basic idea. But its more BSG than Stan Lee. Edgy. No alliterative code names,  just people who do interesting stuff. The Big picture and the groups place in it has yet to be defined. I await that development eagerly.

Dr. Lee Rosen played by David Strathairn
Rosen is more reminiscent of a Robert Young type from Father knows best. While decidedly not Professor X, Rosen would relate and build trust and friendships by a fishing trip or some other deeply personal connection. He has a frail control over the group. It may better to say he is an influencer that appeals to their inner nature. For now they look to him as a kindly uncle or surrogate father. Should the other characters have doubts about the direction they could easily overpower him and go their own way.

Bill Harken played by Malik Yoba
This one doesn't fit for me. If you could push a car you could push a lineman or be an un-tackle-able fullback. While every group needs a "Strongman" we have not see ONE superhero get their origin from a sports notice. This seems absurd. Every Sunday when we watch football we see freakish people do freakish things. Gimme 1 sports star please. The Bill character is mature, experienced, professional and conflicted about his Alpha situation. Evidently it was a late in life surprise and hes learning how to cope.

Cameron Hicks played by Warren Christie
So far this is Bullseye. Only instead of a murdering psychopath, this guy is more of a tortured soul (a'la Wolverine) trying to find his way in life and finally makes the right kind of friends to challenge him to be a better man. His military training gives him advantage.

Nina Theroux played by Laura Mennell
This character Reminds me of Garth Ennis' Preacher. The Preacher and Nina Both have the influence of "the Spoken word. When they chose to use it that is. In Nina's case she is a manipulator. Maybe its her "look" but she strikes me as a kept woman who has was gotten what she wants and at times has danced on the edge... and that edge brought her to Rosen. She is basically good and is striving to be better but has a tragic past she is running from, based on her previous actions and abusing her gift. I'd be curious to see how it works on someone who is deaf, or speaks another language. It would be also interesting to see if she can do this on a crowd as opposed to 1:1 interaction making her a foolproof interrogator.

Gary Bell played by Ryan Cartwright
Easily the most original and flawed character of the group. The actor is very good. I believe he is autistic. I think this character could be the most powerful, but his flaw keeps him in check and human. I'll be curious to see if Rosen can help him progress and become even higher functioning as he better copes with his gifts. Its entirely possible Gary autism is induced BY his gift as a governor or regulator type of coping mechanism. If this is removed even temporarily and for short bursts it would make for some interesting stories

Rachel Pirzad played by Azita Ghanizada
She is Daredevil, but without the radar thing and martial arts stuff. They use her as a human blood hound right now but this can be pushed A LOT farther than it currently is... I hope they don't write her into a box and let her grow and develop her powers to detect lies, act as lookout and all sorts of other goodies.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Women in comics.. I love cheesecake.

I recently stumbled on this blog. After I bandaged my toe... I decided this was a really good thing.

I was having a conversation earlier this weeks that comics needed to diversify and break up the monotony of guys doing stories about guys in tights. It needs to be more than that. I worry that comics will go the way of the video laser-disc, beta-max and rotary phone. A sure fire way to keep that from happening is to bring new people into the hobby

When I go to a comic store.. everyone else I see... Its like fun-house mirrors.. I just see a distorted version of myself or someone I used to be or someone I'm afraid to become.

Back in the 40's and 50's there used to be lots of "girl comics" Just check out the variety in Overstreet's title listings. Romance, fashion, love stories gone wrong. There were ONCE upon a time comics for girls. I don't see why there cant be comics for girls again. That's where Womanthology comes in.

The Womanthology is seemingly a single edition heralding female comic creators. I love the idea. I wish it was more than that. I'd like to see a kind of "Image" imprint publishing clone where the primary creative forces were women. That would be neat.

I'm all for anything that brings new people into the hobby. Why cant it be girls making comics for people? I wish them well and respect them for having the moxie and resource to make it happen.

I'll keep an eye out. You have my attention. Please knock my socks off with good stuff and don't rest on a gimmick.

Response to Crimson Monkey Blog: Are Comics Only For Rich People Now?

For those that missed the initial Crimson Monkey Blog post, here it is...

It asks an interesting Question. Are comics for Rich people now? During the late 30's and early 40's was when the Superhero wave 1st gained traction with Superman, Batman, Wonder woman, Captain America, Captain Marvel ect. Those books were 10 cents. What could a dime buy you during the depression Coffee and a donut? A plate full of chicken wings? A gallon of gas. I have no real idea of a dimes value relative to the time.

My counter point is maybe that has always been the case. Comics are for rich people... How many pictures of shanty's do you see with a robust golden age comic book collection inside?

However the larger point the author makes is well taken. 
Why the glut of 'NEW" material?

Maybe it has more to do with shopping scripts as the next "BIG" movie project and keeping trademarks current as viable marketable properties as much as anything else. I'm lost just like the author. However, it is a curious observation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The State of Collecting..

My Uncle, (my wife's' uncle to be more correct) is big into Breweriana. (Beer related collectables) He has openers, posters, advertising pieces, pre-prohibition, post prohibition, steins, mugs, match strikers.

Some phenomenal interesting 1 of a kind type stuff..

So I asked him who gets into this kind of stuff? What does the average collector look like and who are they. Most typically they are men in their 30's - 40's who have never married with extra cash to spend.

Not many kids or women - price points of desirable items were becoming a barrier to entry. This felt really familiar to me. I think it will resonate with most of you that read this..

Are there any collecting hobbies where this isn't the case.. but rather is growing, appealing to a diverse audience that has material relatively inexpensive? 

I'd be curious to know if such a thing exists.

I sometimes worry that comics will become obsolete and about as meaningful as a phonograph cylinder.

Hey, don't forget the POINT of the blog..

I know I can be long winded and a bit of an opinionated blowhard and ruthless cheapskate on some things..
However, aside from listening to the walls echo from the sound of my own voice I wanted to generate some interest to trade some.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comics and literacy

Comic books taught me how to read. They inspired an interest with a compelling story and character. My dad used to read comics to me. I had a spinner rack close by at an early age to look at what ever I wanted.

Teachers used to commandeer comics for being a distractions in class. So why not have some cooperation with providers of education materials to have Reed Richards teach math? Spider-man for some science. Ant-man for some entomology? You get the idea. Why not use these great characters to set the stage for learning past reading? I use the Marvel one because that's what I'm most familiar with. If DC or Dark Horse figure it out there is a tremendous opportunity for whom ever gets there and makes it work first.

I guess the 1st challenge is to get comic publishers to see the benefits of reaching an audience while they are young. This is a great opportunity to bring in new readers... not just the boys but GIRLS too

Check this write up about a movie that explores the topic. I cant wait to see it on Netflix when its available.

I hope publishers can rise to the challenge to take advantage of the opportunity to find new enthusiasts and give a shot in the arm to beleaguered school systems. Another opportunity to take bold action.

If this is going on and you know more than I do please share!

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to grade comics

I got no stone tablets from the mountain to impart absolute wisdom to you on this topic. Nor does anyone else; or they are selling you something. (see my CGC rant)

Comic grading is a learned art. Its a highly subjective skill that's a perpetually moving target. Ultimately, its in the eye of the beholder. There are plenty of online resources to help identify a given books grade. Here is one I found doing a quick google search. There many others, from ebay, and various comic sellers. They are all pretty close.. There are even inconsistencies within CGC.

Corner here, spine nic there, someone is fishing for a deal. And why shouldn't they? It is just a comic after all. It cant take you to a store, keep you warm and dry or stop your stomach from rumbling when its empty or tell you it loves you when you skin your knee - It isn't one of life's necessities is the point. Its just another commodity.

Don't believe me, take your favorite books in their best grade from your collection and try to sell them. Someone is going to try and beat you up over grade to get a better deal on price point. Nature of the beast. Retailers know what its worth, what they can get for it, and what price range they need to buy it at to make money to flip it. The history and sentiment are stripped away.

Grading is the great equalizer to make everything "more negotiable".

I am of the belief there is no "true" Mint condition. Only shades of grey as to what you will accept for your collection.

To me it boils down to: "What kind of condition issues are present and the number of defects you can live with versus the asking price."

For my personal tastes - I hate date stamps. That always knocks them down a few notches in my book.  However, I can live with a subscription crease. For key books, I can live with more condition issues. I'm OK with restored books, UK copies, some tape here and there - IF it gets a book at a price point I can afford. I recently bought a JIM 83. A book I've always wanted from my bucket list. Its not perfect. It has flaws, but it was affordable enough given the going rate for this book. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to pay a used car price for something I cannot drive. Its is after all just paper.

So to me, its a matter of taste and allowable budget. 

Wouldn't ya know it, I have more thoughts on how to buy within a budget.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Confessions of a Comic Book Junkie Part II

Fast forward thru several years of general childhood contentment to when My folks get divorced. 

I became interested in comics again with a new fervor. Hero type stuff. I learned that My Dad had collected when he was a boy and one of our routines to spend time together took us by the local comic shop. I developed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the 1st issues, 1st appearances, guest artists (you name it!) for the things that interested me.

At the time X-men was a HUGE deal. As was the New teen Titans. Both were like gateway drugs into other comics.

I wind up at a new school trying to blend in and find my way. A guy in homeroom had some books he was going to sell to another guy that I only knew a little bit. I had always been aware of him thru a common friend but never hung out with him much. So I made the guy in homeroom a better offer. The only book I remember in the lot was an X-men 102.

So this "other guy" finds me and chat me up. He wasn't happy I broke up his deal but it was friendly and we started talking. And kept talking. It turned out that he had a Hulk 181. I wanted it. I recognized it as a key immediately. To him it was just another book. (To be fair at THAT time the book was a 20 - 25 dollar book or thereabouts) We made a trade. I have no idea what it was I gave up but it made him happy THAT day. I felt like I made out like a bandit. My encyclopedic knowledge paid off.

About a week later he realized the significance of the book. And he found another copy in BETTER condition than the we traded for.

One thing you should know about this guy, I'll call him BA -short for "Belly Aching".  His mother is a lovely petite Southern Baptist woman. She was a book-keeper by tade. And apparently a damned fine one as she worked for a group of Jewish business folks. 

Let me say that again for the proper effect: The Southern Baptist woman worked for the Jews as a book keeper.. I don't mean to pander to stereotypes. I am only trying to emphasize the fact that this woman was GOOD at what she did, and its relevant here only because cuz in the case of this son, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. 

BA was a shrewd negotiator and had to win the transaction.
In short, a really really good guy to pair with a guy who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship that lasts to this day. 
Comics not only is a hobby I enjoy, it gave me my best friend as well. Ain't I the lucky one?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My personal approach to buying Comics

I figure that I'm probably pretty much like you. I don't have unlimited resources to devote to my collection. I collect on a budget. Between the mortgage, food, utilities, insurance and whatever crisis du jour my kids present, I do what can within my means. I doubt most of you are much different. 

ON the off chance you ARE unlike me and have lots of extra money, I'll forward you my fantasy draft comic want list. Just drop me a line. I connect with you, I promise....

For me, its more than simply finding a book I want.  I have to find the book I want at the price I want it at.  That "Thrill of the Hunt" is part of the kick for me. It HAS to be.

One of the areas of focus for my collection has been the Incredible Hulk. I have assembled a contiguous run of Tales To Astonish from 59 to 101 and then Hulk 102... until whenever they cancelled the run after Joe Casey left. A massive undertaking for me that's taken years to complete.

I already had a copy of #181 and decided to put together the run since I had the BIG Bronze age key already. If I had access to a bottomless checkbook it wouldn't have been nearly to complete or been nearly as much fun working to completing the run. I set a mental guideline of a max cap to spend per issue and stuck to it, unless it was a Key issue or very close to my limit.

I could have done it a hell of a lot faster just buying books and throwing money at it, but I would have missed out on the "Thrill of the Hunt". That part matters to me. 

When at a Con or a shop (assuming you are talking to someone in charge) Dealers will generally negotiate if you have cash in hand. I keep waiting for that miracle Estate sale/yard sale where some goodies just drop into my lap. I'll let you know if it ever happens. I've even posted on craigslist as a buyer trying to encourage scorned/jealous/angry wives and girlfriends to exact revenge and sell me their husbands/BF's comics on the cheap. No takers, dang it...

I use ebay and have had some good luck in the past on their site. Picked up some real gems at a relative bargain. When using ebay, I'll watch several items. Typically I filter out the "Buy it now" items and just look for actual auctions. Some dealers / individuals will tack on an exorbitant shipping and handling fee to make up on the back end. I factor these costs in on high to go. Rarely do these books fall to me. And that's OK. After reading the item description and viewing the available pics, I establish a mental range of what I'm willing to pay for it, very rarely do I exceed it.

Then over the course of the week - I'll see how they are progressing and check if their price is over my price tolerance threshold. If an item has had a slow but steady trickle of bidders pushing the bid ever upward, I know its unlikely to fall to me. That item is likely being watched by a lot of folks and they are probing trying to figure out where the high water mark is at the current moment.

I like the auctions that look like there is no movement. Perhaps I searched on a vague description, or found it mis-categorized and the book is missing potential customers. These I watch like a hawk. Most of the times I lose because I am a low-baller. (I had a question exchange where a seller told me no to low-ball him... I replied "Why the hell shouldn't I?" I'm not in the habit of giving money away after all.) 

BUT using this strategy I have secured some real gems for my collection.

If I miss on an item in an auction, or a dealer says "Yeah I had (whatever I happen to be asking about) but I sold it last week... I don't get bent out of shape... another one will be along shortly, just like a bus. 

After doing this for over 30 yrs, I'm not in a rush. 

Just be patient and don't fall prey to the "heat of the moment". 
Buy it cheap and stay on budget. Don't cave on your principles.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Comic paper stock

This seems like a no brainer to keeping costs in check. I don't understand the drive to have everything on high quality paper. I don't think you can even find newsprint anymore in comics if you tried..

I was at HerosCon and kinda had this same conversation with Neal Adam. I was getting nostalgic and told him that I missed the smell of news print... "We called that stuff toilet paper..." I went on to tell him that I grew up in Durham, then a cigarette making titan... the smell of tobacco curing in the Summer... It has a sticky, sweet, musky scent that clings to the humidity so you breathe it in and it becomes a part of you" Adams went on to say  "Ah no wonder, you cant smell anything any way.." Both smell take me back to my youth.

Not everything needs to be on cover stock quality. Its OK to cheap out once in a while.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On-line comics?...

Well... I'm not sure what to think of this new development....

Its great for reading and buying direct from the Publisher or even individual artist.... This could very well change the publishing dynamic and eliminate all of hands in the distribution pie. (Paging Steve Geppi) As far as manufacturing the end product, the overhead for paper and inks fall thru the floor by removing the physical element of printing the product.

I can see why the publishers would HAVE to consider this route... If they can sell this they would rake it in..

But what does the collector get out of this? A full hard drive?
I cant put it in a bag... I cant smell it - cant trade it...
There's no "Thrill of the Hunt"  - WFT do I do with it?

Other than the reading element (which should be your Top choice, in a purchase decision, really)- None of the OTHER kicks I associate to comic collecting as fun and enjoyable in the tangible world are present. 

Am I missing something? Please,  clue me in!

Stupid chase covers.. AND the re-numbering you rode in on..

I'm not really a fan of all these variant, incentive or gimmick covers to get retailers to order more books. The reason is really quite simple. 

My brain is too-small to follow all of the moving parts from version to version of alternate covers of the same book. It confuses the royal snot out of me I cant remember if I have all the SEQUENTIAL issues for the STORY. It throws off my mental check list.

Also highly annoying adding to my frustration level and general lethargy are the series re-numberings. I don't want to bother with expending the effort to follow this anymore. I know that low numbers sell more and that a long running series might be overly intimidating for new readers to jump in at issue #786. But really...

The SEQUENCE is part of the point to collecting. Otherwise why bother with individual comics? You may as well just make everything a Trade Paper Back focused on the title of the story arc du jour if the numbering doesn't make a damn. 

And to that end? Are comics the comics themselves essentially just a loss leader to keep the character property viable in games, tv, film, pajamas, toys and other licensed bits? Is that what it has come down to?

Well OK, we've heard all this before but it bitching about it doesn't change anything.

Flip the script.
It strikes me however, that the variants could be a lot of fun and imminently more useful if they were drawing NEW people into the hobby. As is it, selling variant covers to OCD collectors is preaching to the converted.

IF the variants were cross marketed with business partners and advertisers to create some buzz and put a interesting if not somewhat desirable comic in the hands of folks who wouldn't ordinarily consider stopping in at a comic shop, how could that NOT be a win?

I think some of you will recall the promotions that Image and Valiant ran a few years back with coupons redeemable for a "Special Issue" of some book. 

Why not extent that to Advertisers? Test drive a Jeep Liberty or Dodge Neon, or Kia Cube. Get a coupon to mail in for special promo issue. The got milks ads? Buy 8 milks and with proof of purchase get some limited edition whatever it is. Buy 2 new x-box games same premise. SOMETHING. People love the value add freebie. 

Now will all the people who test drive cars, drink milk and play games care, no. Will some of them care, sure. Will comic buyers rush out and soak them up. I expect some of them will try. But not everyone will have the time or money do EVERYTHING to get every cross promotion premium book. I expect that these will wind up in more than a few consumers hands. They will save them for their kids, give it to a friend or find a comic shop to sell it to.. 

Remember NFL Superpro? What if in conjunction with the Yankees Marvel did a Story with Spider-man to Find Derek Jeeter. He is missing or his 3k hit ball is stolen and has to be solved. Give that away or postcard to redeem for that issue.. So if the seating capacity of Yankee stadium is 57545 the for the 14 home games July alone would be: 805630. That's not counting the Met's or the cubs... you get the idea.

I don't know if any of these things is the right thing.... but something IS better than nothing. 

Give people a reason to think about and re-consider/ rekindle their interest in comics. 

I think the industry could do more instead of escalating prices to the captive audience they currently have.  C'mon guys take a risk; be bold.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Nice Saturday.

So this am, I did a little work on the deck. Then I dropped the top and took off for a ride to go go scrounging for comics. 

My favorite pastime. I went to the Raleigh Flea Market. I generally have decent luck there tho its hit or miss.

Lots of people and lots of vendors! One guy I saw named "Rick" was there. I've dealt with him before on a few things. He treats his regulars pretty well. Generally his mdse is Mid to low grade - usually fairly priced to turn it over quickly. I got a JIM  #108 and Witching Hour #1 from him. Along with a beater copy of  Tales of Suspense 72 for 2 bucks. He can work a deal on most things if you buy in volume. I once got a TOD # 10 in F+  from him for 5 bucks.

Then I stopped by to see my man Howard. 
Howard is a kind soul. A gentle bear of a man. He is gracious to me and my boys when they are with me and occasionally gives them some type of freebie. I don't like to take advantage of his generous nature, (and I want my boys to learn not to expect handouts at ever turn.) He is good with his prices and treats people (his regulars) fairly. 

He has some of the most obscure stuff. Check his site. Generally I haggle, wheel and deal and stretch a penny into copper wire before I pull the trigger on a deal, but not with Howard. I give him what he says he wants when I Do buy from him. I say he's a 4 star recommended dealer.

Like take these 3 Wonder Women. Tho they are marked 8 per; I got them for 20. At a Show in this grade, I couldn't buy 1 of these books for less than 20, much less 3. What is there to haggle over?... either you want these books or you don't. I had these already, but they were significantly upgraded copies over what I had at a good price, so I snatched them.

If there is a negative to dealing with Howard would have to be his organization or lack thereof. If you were to ask him: "Do you have x, y and z?" point blank; he would have difficulty saying Yes or No... It'll be something like "check back"... Small price to pay.. Also, A fair chunk (maybe 20-25%) of his mdse does have some type of water damage. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

How I became addicted to newsprint or Confessions of a Comic Book Junkie - Part 1

Hello, my name is Will and I'm a newsprint junkie.
The other day one of my friends from work dropped by my office. I gave him a high level tour of the CSS Blog you are reading. He asked genuinely (as opposed to condescendingly) How did I get started and whats the kick? He had had a few as a kid but it was a phase that had a beginning, middle and end for him. He moved on..

I told him that I had been to the HerosCon in Charlotte earlier this year, and I had a chance to get my Green Lantern #76 autographed by the Artist Neal Adams (as if you didnt know). Explained that the book was key issue. That it was the 1st comic with a social conscience and that many consider this book tied with House of Secrets #92 as the start of the Bronze age. I like the history (niche' as it may be). I like the smell of newsprint and the texture. I like that it is a "right sized" distraction. After work and getting the kids fed and in bed, a comic is a great way to find a calm place for me and unwind. I like something to hold in my hand. As an older reader, I've been around the block a few times and I've seen cycles of similar stories advance and retreat. I try to imagine what I would do if I were writing and the changes I would make. That seemed to abate his question. He was satisfied.

But it got me thinking, where DID it all start....

I cant really remember a time before comics. When I was very young like 3 or 5, a friend of my Mom's whose name was Ray? gave me stack of comics as he was headed off to the Navy. I remember my Dad reading them to me... One, I think, was some flavor of  X-men #2 where Iceman makes a bowl of ice-cream. I remember THAT distinctly. Could have been some flavor of reprint or the genuine book who knows.. I remember Spider-man fighting Doc Ock in some warehouse. I remember Spider-man fighting some girl with red hair that could grapple. most likely the Inhumans Medusa. I remember my Dad reading about the orange "Rock-man" to me. I wish  I could say these were lost to time - but I know exactly what happened to them. I burned them. If they were simply "lost" I may have forgotten them. But NO, I torched them in the fireplace one winter cuz I like the way the newspaper burned. Pyro-boy strikes! I abused them. I immediately felt bad knew I had done something wrong and had remorse. It was under supervision, but I the same I wish my folks had just stopped me and put them to the side. Lets call this Tip for the Comic Collecting novice#2: Fire is bad for your comics.

My parents owned and operated a store. An honest to God Mom and Pop convenience shop. It had a comic spinner. I could always grab one and read. I remember Cain and Abel. DC horror comics REALLY creep-ed me out. So much so that I bypassed heroes and fled to the peaceful oblivion of Riverdale and Richie Rich's where I hid for years.

Ultimately, the folks got rid of the spinner in their store. I remember going somewhere with my Dad to meet one of his colleagues, another store owner, and whining when he wouldn't buy me a comic as we were leaving. It was a Giant Size X-men 1. Yeah that one... on a spinner. I remember it!

Well by now I had about 7 milk crates FULL of comics.  That was my starter set.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Books I'll ALWAYS buy out of the dollar bin.

I don't know if you think like I do. And I hope for your sake you don't or at the very least you do so in moderation. 

Every bargain bin or dollar box I pass, if there is a decent copy of New Teen Titians #39 or Tales of the Titians #44. I am compelled, compelled I tell you to pick it up. 

If its in decent shape I have to buy it. I cannot resist the last Dick Grayson/Robin and Wally West/Kid Flash. 

In ish #39. A seminal character to the DCU walks away from his Golden Age identity. No more "Batman AND Robin". Grayson says "Ef it, I wanna go in a different direction." Robin had outgrown Batman. A pivotal moment in time.

In ish #44 he re-emerges to claim a new identity. He becomes "Nightwing". Hes not too far off maintaining being Nightwing for 30 yrs. Hard to believe its been that long. 

Seems like a MAJOR change that has flown under he radar. I must have 7 or 8 copies of each book.

While not a dollar book per se'  i'm always on the look out for this item as well.
An under-valued Copper Key.

Narrowminded thoughts on B&W art...

I know I'm in the minority here. I know lots of folks love B&W art. And I'm not saying they are wrong to like it and I'm not bad mouthing any particular artists... specifically... but I cant stand it. Back in the day I practically devoured MAD. It helped flesh out my sense of humor. I loved that stuff. 

So I'm not sure you can say I've never been exposed to it enough to appreciate it.

But by and large if they don't care enough to color it, why should I care enough to buy it? It ain't like its cheaper or anything.. I fully realize I'm shutting myself off to some fantastic stuff from some dynamite people, but generally, I can live w/o it if the book is not containing pigment.

However nothing is absolute. There are 2 notable exceptions to my being a neanderthal on this subject.

Sin City (or FM B&W's) - 
His art has a positive/negative space dynamic that makes it hard to tell if you are being pushed or pulled to something. The net effect is something beautiful that I don't think you can really reproduce in color. Its unique.
While not lush, it has unmistakable texture. ANY color use is minimized and well intended for effect.

The Walking Dead -
I think if this book had color it would veer irredeemably to the gross out shock value factor and lose its way or its readers. I love the juxtaposition of who is more horrific? The remaining humans or the "monsters"... at least the monsters are defined and predicable. Color would be a gratuitous distraction from the story, which is like "Comicbook-Crack" for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dont wipe that on your sleeve... or how to store your comics.

Tip for the Comic Collecting novice#1
Nothing can make an old book look better than putting it in a new bag and board.

I have gone thru and completed re-bagging, boarded and boxed about 90% of my collection. The older stuff mainly. The cheap polybags start to look dingy after a few years, and if not stored in a consistent climate they turn yellow fast. All of my existing ones were different sizes (heights and widths) from a variety of manufacturer's and that annoyed my overly anal self. I just wanted consistency and uniformity;not irregularity in the box. Plus, they just looked funny to me.

So after checking and conferring around I made the leap to Mylar storage
I haven't looked back. 

My preference is to use the silver/golden age size (775M2) because it will fit anything I'm likely to encounter. Doing that gives me the clean uniformity I like in my short boxes. This stuff ain't cheap. 

Combine it with the acid free board (so the book doesn't digest itself in the bag) plus the acid free box (overkill, but it fits the bag and boards stunningly well). 

These will be last bags and boards I ever need to buy. No more switching them out ever so often because these wont degrade. Here is a nice little guide to help you decide which size(s) are best for your collection.

My initial rule of thumb was to use it for any book worth over 20 bucks.. this worked nicely with random key issues... but not so hot for a run of modern books. Luckily for me, most of my contiguous my runs ARE Silver and Bronze age comics, so for the most part I can adhere to the 20 dollar rule of thumb pretty easily. 

My one notable exception to this rule in my collection is: 
Walt Simonsons' run of Thor that Starts at issue 337 and ends at 477(?) 

I bought these when they came off the rack as I was working my 1st job in High School at a comic shop. Simonsons Thor; THIS is a prime example of the reason to collect comics in the 1st place. I bagged those in Mylar out of Sheer sentiment. 

The size of my collection has ebbed and flowed over the years. I even sold some x-men while in college to fund a spring break trip. But I always held onto those Thor's.

I spend so much time hunting for treasure, that it just doesn't make sense not to preserve it when I find it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Boo Hiss ...

There is a worrisome trend in comics over the past few years that I think is to the detriment of the Hobby. Its not good for the collector and its not good for the comics themselves. This trend is CGC

What CGC does.
They are an "independent" comic grading service. They take submissions from dealers and individuals and have a process and criteria to access a numeric grade for 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The rise in popularity of this service was borne out of unscrupulous e-bay vendors taking advantage of the purchaser having to take a leap of faith in making a purchase. A CGC book has been "Big Mac-itized" so that an 8 is an 8 across the board, thus giving the buyer peace of mind. Sounds good in theory so far, right?

That peace of mind comes at a tremendous cost. To have a book graded is approximately 20 dollars. If it was simply a 20 dollar net increase to a books cost, then for certain books, it might be worth while for that peace of mind depending on the book.. but that has not been my experience.  Books at the higher end of of the numeric grading scale demand a premium. It has always been that way.  Robert Overstreet has published a yearly guide of comic price values for 40+ years. His book is the gold standard despite what anyone else may try to tell you.

However, CGC gives a certain additional presumed rarity and therefore a graded book commands (falsely) a higher premium outside of the Overstreet pricing guide. I disagree with this. If anything, it should cost only 20 dollars over the Overstreet. Greed has overtaken this notion. Books are falsely inflated. CGC doesn't make a book more rare or any more in demand just because it has been graded. 

Now this greed thing isn't necessarily CGC's fault, not directly anyway. And I cant fault capitalism and dealers trying to get what they can for their wares.. However, I can blame dumb-asses that are willing to overpay and drive the market up because they don't know any better. They don't trust themselves to grade or they don't know anything about comics and have been seduced into thinking whatever they just bought is the next Amazing Fantasy 15. Its getting harder and harder to find nice material that isn't graded sadly. OR the price is 3x's what it should be with some clown telling ME to get it graded.... 

Then there is this notion of "independent grading". As with any customer relationship, you tend to take better care of the customers that take care of you. I have heard that smaller dealers that send less volume to CGC tend to get grades back that are LOWER on their books than the grades given to to HIGH volume dealers that send more items to be graded for seemingly equivalent books. Could be carping, but I'm inclined to believe it.

Then there's the OTHER little problem. When CGC completes grading, they slab it and encase it in a plastic tomb. You can no longer read it or smell it... it just sits there. I'm not sure what plastic compound they use, but I'm pretty sure its not Mylar. If Mylar is good enough for the the National Archives, its good enough for me. So far no one has been able to tell me that the comics are very well protected. I'm not sure these "slabs" are not doing more harm than good to the books in the long run.

I was in attendance at the Chicago Comic Con. I stopped by the CGC booth and tried to talk to one of the staffers on site. I asked a young lady (Once I got her attention) "if their cases were better than Mylar?" She replied that they were "because they were bigger and offer more protection."  

While I'm not detective or anything, I quickly deduced that Ms Obvious was not the right person to sell me on their seeming polypropylene product vs mylar.

I am still left unsatisfied on this point. Overall my opinion has not changed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interesting reading

A friend and colleague from work gave me this book to me to read titled: The Double Eagle. Its about the history of an ultra rare 1933 gold piece. 

Now I'm not a coin guy - even tho I like money as much as the next guy (or gal). This book is about the history of the coins. How the coins came into being. The political and economic factors that started the design process, the Presidents role in them, the US Mints role in the design and manufacture, the artists role, and the politicking and bickering and infighting of all parties along the way. Add in the intrigue of a few corrupt low level Mint personnel, a Middle-Eastern Prince and you have a real mystery to sort out. It becomes less about the coins and more about how things played out.

Jim Shooters blog is much the same; its lends its insights directly from the guiding force responsible for making Marvel Comics a juggernaut in Comics Publishing. Its a peek behind the curtain at Marvel. It looks at a broad range of topics: the publishing industry, how comics are made, how creative types interact and disagree. At times it offers "How to" information for the budding writer and artist - to take direction and criticism for the goal of telling a story.

Not selling a comic, but telling a story...

As an added bonus, I enjoy the comments from informed readers. Jim is generous guy with his time - he interacts and responds to comments and questions daily.. sometimes hourly - even.

And that's what this blog does. In a non-linear format it tells a story.

If you like comics only a little, and appreciate a good read, you should give this a look.