A New Beginning

Happy New Year. I hope 2024 brings everyone health and happiness… and a few comics off the want list.

I’m getting the feeling that the comic book collecting hobby is at some sort of crossroads, some junction that offers multiple directions forward. We’ve arrived at this junction through a combination of good governance and negligence. These options are still open to us going forward, good governance and negligence, and what happens next is up to us both as individuals and as a collective.

We need to tighten things up a bit, and what better time to do it than after a very major and very needed market correction of comic book values. Let’s start with the news of some CGC case tampering that is making headlines in our hobby: let’s get that fixed ASAP. There needs to be some urgency from CGC to close this potentially disruptive hack, and CGC has come out with a statement that they are addressing the issue.

While we’re closing the CGC loophole let’s keep going and close a few others. Let’s get GPA and eBay itself to remove or identify cancelled eBay sales data. I’m not sure if Go Collect or any other value tracking sites have a provision to negate cancelled eBay sales but the market needs to eliminate the temptation to manipulate prices that appear on sites like GPA and on the eBay Sold Items page. I recently sold a book on our ICE Collectibles eBay auction, the order ended up being cancelled, the sale still shows on GPA and if you look up Completed Sales on eBay for the books the sale appears there too in green text, it’s only when you click into the actual sale that you see that payment has been cancelled. With today’s technology this should be a quick algorithm tweak away from happening.

We need to take some responsibility ourselves: let’s get into the habit of doing a bit more research before committing to a big purchase. When tracking GPA don’t be lazy, you know the left column of values captures the price surges of 2020, take the time and click into that grade’s sales history to see where the book was in 2019, 2018 etc., and with eBay, take the time to click on that Completed Sale link, double check that the sale went through. There is more than enough data out there to arm yourself with good information, commit to learning how to gather that into.

Prices for collectible comics have dropped so much so that it has chased away many speculators and day traders, at least for now. Most of what’s left is the hard-core market that existed say a decade ago. These people are staying and these people are the path back to some sort of sustainable, heaven forbid, future growth. For all of us still in the game, and there are more than enough of us, we need tighter systems and more reliable data, we’ll take care of the rest.

I’ve been too busy socializing and lollygagging during this New Year’s weekend, and during last weekend’s Christmas festivities for that matter, to put together any kind of coherent weekly post so I’ll save that for next week.

Some good news: Chris and I just recorded a Comic Culture podcast. We should have it posted for Wednesday January 3rd.

Some more good news: I have two Undervalued Spotlight posts from Spider that I’ve been saving for the new year. You’ll see those up soon as well.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

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Chris Meli
Chris Meli
1 month ago

I read some of the CGC board conversations about the tampering. The one that resonated was how difficult it is to make this work – you have to have a similar book and invest a lot of time and effort. This only works for $5k+ books basically. The seller was “Comic Selects” aka briva3, and you can see that the throughput was suspicious – one after the other modern 9.8 grails. The moral aligns with my general approach, which is to avoid super high cost modern books – even without tampering, there are so many more of these out there. (I just sorted my collection by issue date, and aside from one 10, the first high dollar modern book I have is from 1976 – and is that still Bronze Age?)

Apparently some guy bought multiple tampered books from that seller. If you are buying black costume Secret Wars books for $20k, I think you had better be a millionaire to begin with, that is some gamble even if legit.

Re canceled sales, I doubt you will get traction with eBay, but GPA should see if they can address. They seem to be able to see “best offer accepted” prices that you can’t see via eBay directly, so it seems likely their feed should include canceled sale designations as well. I will raise this with them directly – the more people who do so, the more likely they will address.

I think you are a little too pessimistic about current prices. Yes there are books like Eternals #1 that it seems people are using to vent their MCU spleen, but otherwise levels are early 2021 or 2018 (recall that 2019 into 2020 was not good) for most >$100 books. Most GA books didn’t spike but have continued marching upward. The holiday period seems to me to have been stronger than most of 2023, which is not at all what I would expect. The market environment seems favorable right now – as a physical asset (albeit not a necessary good) inflation will lift prices, and the economy seems strong (against many predictions otherwise). As long as this environment holds, I think most of the correction is over, and it is a good time to consider buying.

As another data tool in line with your urging, I think people should be looking at CGCdata.com. This is a great resource for graded books, which if combined with GPA (which is tedious, but neither CGC nor GPA are going to give us direct query access to their databases) provides useful pictures of books’ popularity over years. A great example is Batman Adventures #12 – while the price appreciation has been reasonable, many more 9.8s, 9.6s, etc. have emerged, so the “overall net value” of the book has actually really soared. If no more had emerged after 2015, I think in 9.8 it would now be a $10k book. In contrast, if few graded copies of a $1k+ book have emerged in years, that suggests any upward move in the price per copy will be proportionately more. This kind of information can help you decide which books you want to pay up for to add to your collection.

David Mackay
David Mackay
1 month ago

Walt and Chris,CGC says it impacts 325 books from this seller alone. Nor did CGC discover this. They don’t want the scrutiny. How could resubmitted books not be checked? obvious fraud opportunity. Obvious failure by CGC. There could be 10 bad actors. There could be 1000. Who has access to the holders? can anyone buy theme? or can they be stolen from the manufacturers warehouse? from the Dumpsters? Is it an inside job? or all of the above. Anything is possible, and with millions to be made by fraudsters and billions by CGC, Id suggest both are likely. Most are running away from this CGC mess, and it’s too bad, as the frauds will continue. I told you 20 years ago, and here years later that this was happening…and it will continue.

David Mackay
David Mackay
1 month ago

When I think of the less ethical comic dealers selling items without MVS, buying collection that were mailed to them, but not paying, amateau restoration not noted…CGC was a golden opportunity. in 2002 I sent an Amazing Spider Man 1st Lizard to CGC through a dealer. it was an easy 8 to 8.5. WE both inspected it and it was fine. It came back a 4.5 and a huge thumb tear on the back cover, as a lazy CGC’er pulled it out and tore it. They denied all responsibility. Crooked then, crooked now

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