A Lifetime Ago

Next week I’ll take pics of the two warehouses! We’re right in the middle of the move and things are starting a little thinned out at the old warehouse; I can see some daylight. It’s truly amazing how much stuff can accumulate over just a few years. We had our 27th Annual Sale at Big B Comics this weekend, where the hell has the time gone! The busiest area was the discount comics out under the tent: we had a half dozen guys going hard building full boxes to earn extra savings. We let all of them know that there will be 400 to 500 more long boxes available in the next few weeks, I swear I saw boners! Here’s a pic of us setting up the tent for the sale.

This week I sifted through a very interesting “headed for the icecollectibles weekly eBay auction” pile. The first book that provoked some thought was this Marvel Zombies #1 signed by Arthur Suydam. This book popping up begs the question, what’s up in the pop culture world of Zombies these days? Things seem quiet. Is it that Walking Dead had come and gone, both as a comic and then as a TV show? Did it all start with Romero and Night of the Living Dead? Did it all apex with Walking Dead? I’m wondering where the next big Zombie franchise will come from and what media will deliver it to us?

This gorgeous copy of Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars #8 begged another question, when do you slab a book. In a situation like this you need a good eye, you need to be good at math and you need to shell out a monthly fee to GPAnalysis. I was going to throw this up raw but after having a closer look I might have to consider pressing and grading. Sometimes the economics favor running raw, even in high grade. Consider a book that gets $150 at CGC 9.8, when selling it you have to cost out pressing fees, shipping cost to CGC, grading fees, shipping costs for the return and finally eBay fees. Selling it raw might get you $60 or $70, which may be $20 to $30 less than if you ran the gauntlet but you get the money within a few weeks and you don’t run the risk of it coming back a CGC 9.6 or if pre-screening, it getting rejected at a $9 cost. And let’s not forget the slowly sliding market, $150 today may be $125 in 3 months when the book comes back.

If I was 10 years older I would have jumped all over these Poems Wanted for the music industry ads. These ads were in Fantastic Four #46 from January 1966, so just at the cusp of the music revolution. Maybe some of these submissions helps lead the charge? I don’t think any of mine would have made the cut, if you’ve listened to any of our Valentines Day poem readings on Comic Culture (poems start 20 minutes into the show), you know I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Shekky on the other hand…

This incident incited an observation. I was leafing through Daredevil #111, featuring the first Appearance of the Silver Samurai, when I came across the cut-out coupon page. My observation is that quick moment of panic/disappointment/anger/sadness/adrenaline that rushes through you the millisecond you realize the coupon is out. Some books of course jolt you more than others and I find I never look to the page right away; my routine is I start counting from the back towards the centerspread and it’s a bit of a lead up then can end in joy or sorrow.

Daredevil #111 actually let me down twice. Bob Brown is a fine artist but I was underwhelmed when I got to his splash page for DD #111; it’s like the four principal figures on the page came from separate art, they don’t tie together at all. I think a larger image of the girl with the black panther would have done the trick.

Our icecollectibles weekly eBay auction ended last night and I was left wondering about this result. Our Camera Comics #1 sold for $169.16 USD and I’m not sure if that was a strong result or a weak one. Yes, it is a Golden Age book but sometimes these obscure comics can be tough sells, it seems you have to have some dynamic cover and/or some name brand characters on it to garner some demand. My instincts tell me it was a good deal and the book went cheap but I’m a sucker for this old stuff.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1805
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris Meli
Chris Meli
9 months ago

Watch out Walt, all that talk about economics will get you downvoted. Oh wait – you _can’t_ get downvoted.

I am angling for the downvote record, so I will comment away.

Would love to pick your long boxes, but in a purely platonic way.

My son and his buddy were playing Call of Duty Zombies all weekend long, so I think zombies are dead and well in the video game arena.

—–

While others may deride your comments on slabbing economics, I think it’s a very interesting problem. I think it very much depends on the type of book. Take Camera Comics #1 as an example. I’m betting that would do much better slabbed at Heritage than it did on eBay raw. However, just last night a bunch of raw Detectives sold at very high prices (I think), possibly because the buyers thought they were better than Heritage’s assigned grades – if they had been slabbed, maybe people would have accepted the grades and not bid them up. The difference in these two examples is the desirability of the book – there is a lot more demand for those Detectives than Camera #1. My supposition is that weird old mid/low-grade low-demand books benefit from slabbing, while desirable old mid/low-grade high-demand books can go either way. I think it is a no-brainer that old high-grade high-demand books benefit from slabbing.

Then there is your ultra-high-grade high-demand common book above. For these kinds of books I think you can be methodical:

I think you have to opt for pre-screen to some level (maybe 9.6) and estimate some percentage won’t pass the pre-screen. That percentage depends on how good you are at predicting CGC grading – let’s say 50% success on pre-screen for good graders. If you ship in a batch, estimate $2/book on the way out, $5/book back for fails, $10/book back for success, plus $9/book fails (screening), $25/book success (graded). Then the time and effort to grade/select, pack and ship. Per book I guess it depends on volume, but say minimum $2. Everything is lost on the fails, so you need to make this up on the successes. So per success you need to make:

($2 + $2 + $5 + $9) + ($2 + $2 + $10 + $25) = $57

For me personally this would be a very liberal estimate, given that I am no good at grading. You can adjust for this by using a proportionality constant on the first term – if I estimate only 20% of my books would pass the screen, the result would go from 1:1 to 4:1, and then I would need to make $111 more on the graded book.

(Importantly, I haven’t costed in the grading training. This is actually a very high cost, but usually borne by the individual because they enjoy looking at comics. I don’t think you can predict the market, so I would leave aside your “might sell for lower later” concern.)

So: THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD PAY UP FOR COMMON 9.8s! Someone else has done this work for you and paid this cost. Over and over I see raw high grade copies on eBay for $40, while you can buy the graded 9.8 for $100. NOBODY should be buying that raw copy. AND – even if that raw copy is a 9.8 – you will take the risk of damage in transit. So add the protection of the slab to the value of buying the graded copy.

Of course the flipside is you should think twice about submitting your common books unless there is a big upside. Secret Wars #1 is now about $575 in 9.8 (there are currently 6516 of these including signature books), $250 in 9.6. Say 25/75 you will get either of these, or $331 weighted average, and a 50% chance of a fail. Per above the average cost of submitting that you need to recoup is $57, netting to $274. A “NM” raw goes for about $175. So ON AVERAGE this looks like a book to submit, a) taking into account that your grading will pass the bar ~50% of the time, and b) understanding that some of the costs going into the estimate are liberally low.

The point of “ON AVERAGE” is that you need a lot of books and stable percentages to make this work. An individual submitting a handful of books could just end up with no graded books and $18/book (at least) out of pocket. So the numbers should be adjusted based on utility – up that cost number further to adjust for the pain of such bad outcomes.

—–

I love those poem ads – either a total scam like Famous Artists’ School, or a sincere attempt to totally rip off young artists. Either way fine companions to that piece of film you put on your b&w TV to make it “color”.

Agreed that that Bob Brown splash is disjointed and static. DD looks like he is about to slug the girl.

Usually I would say “my lens is bigger”, but in this case I have to admit that I’ve met my match.

Spider
Spider
9 months ago

ya see what I mean Walt about those DD’s in-between Colan and Miller!!! Bloody Dangerous!

It’s just all over the place; Bob’s not great, then Klaus comes in and it improves it IMHO…Jim Shooter scripts a few issues with Gil Kane on pencils, good stuff..and then there’s a hidden bombshell of #155, a Gene Colan cover with Black Widow…but when you turn over the cover…Frank Robbins doing things to Matt’s face that you can’t ever unsee. Ever.

You’ve learnt a hard but valuable lesson Walt, be careful opening up those DDs. When in doubt Walt, just fire off a quick message to Mel Taylor, he’ll steer you straight and keep you safe. That bloke Hike Muddleston sounds like he knows a thing or two about a thing or two as well and with stuff like Robbins pencils in there you can’t just blindly open those books or you’ll go blind opening those books, yeah?

activejim
activejim
9 months ago

I think I’ll pass on collecting this blind superhero.
The risk is too high and I just can’t see myself navigating my way to a profit.

I do wish I saw that Camera Comic before it sold, although, I prefer a #4 if someone has one.