Back to Work!

Did that ever go by quick, like a blink. Back to work gang.

I received an email from Gemstone Publishing celebrating the Overstreet Price Guide finally going digital. Part of the press release reads:

Gemstone Publishing Launches Overstreet Access, an online Collection Management Platform with valuations from The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide

Overstreet Access is the ultimate evolution of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Part price guide, part collection management platform, and 100% online, Overstreet Access marries the best of all worlds to provide subscribers with Price Guide values, personalized collection management, extensive search capabilities, a robust comic database, and more. As subscribers catalog their collections, they can leverage the Overstreet Access one-of-a-kind gap list technology to identify missing issues, create want lists, and match their lists with stock at local comic bookstores to complete their collection. The extensive search capabilities allow users to search by story arc, characters, publishers, contributors, titles and more.

So it’s not a sales tracking system like GPA, it looks to be focusing on collection management and then extending that into helping you source the issues needed in the collection. I think some services are filling in this need at the moment, but if Overstreet were to use their database and get this fulfilment search thing working, I can see that segment of the market using this product. I was still hoping for a GPA type of Guide that taps into realized sales from reporting sites, if they could throw this into the mix I’d be in too.

I was getting a pile of those Bizarre Adventure magazines ready for auction last week when I noticed a familiar name on the back cover ads. Bud Plant Inc. was a prolific advertiser on the back covers and every month different messages, products and features were highlighted. I have two questions (for now) for Bud. The first is How did the Asterix stuff sell? I’m still a big fan, I even took my kids to the Asterix Theme park outside Paris back in 2009. The second question for Bud is, how difficult was it to produce so many different ads? I think I had 8 consecutive issues and each had a different back cover ad. A quick third question, did these ads work back in the day? Were you getting good orders from these ads?

Next week I’m auctioning the complete set of Marvel’s Fun and Games from 1979. These books were so much fun to look through, I just love the god-awful puns they were using to match heroes with music. They forgot Tony Stark: I am Iron Man, Tiger Shark: Eye of the Tiger (Shark) – these were tougher t come up with than I thought, I’ll leave it to you to add more. By the way, Spidey is beating up on the alphabet soup because the letters spell out Kraven, Kingpin, Lizard and a few more of his rogues’ gallery.

We’ve been adding a different Wolverine Weapon X #1 signed and sketched from the Hero Initiative every week to our eBay auction and the results have been great. Artists take a blank sketch cover and do their take of Wolverine on it. Next week we’re putting up my favourite of the lot, this Joe Benitez signed and sketched copy leaves a very strong impression.

Speaking of eBay auctions, our weekly internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction ended last night and I really liked the finish to Detective Comics #100; this raw copy we graded a 3.5 and it fetched a healthy $609 USD. Ever notice that Action #100 and Detective #100 came with no fanfare but Superman #100 and Batman #100 were celebrated as anniversary issues with special covers.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1662

14 Comments

  1. I have no interest in the Overstreet product. The valuations are meaningless and I don’t want to tell them what I have in my collection. I hope they don’t compete with GPA because I am on a first-name basis with those guys and they are great – rather I would like them to get a serious money backer to give them resources to improve their product.

    Can’t get interested in the Fun and Games but the Benitez is fantastic. I find the grades on these things to be very questionable – do you tell the guy “Do a big sketch, but don’t damage the comic in any way!” Come on – not believable. I feel the same way about the 9.8s that are signed by ten people.

    The #100 thing I think shows the evolution of the culture. For Action and Detective, there was scant precedent for celebrating a long-running comic book, and for Detective it wasn’t really the 100th Batman anyway. The characters were still maybe transitory, and the issue number was more to follow publishing rules than establish any kind of continuity. By Batman and Superman #100, there had been a big dust-up over the influence of comic books, which although negatively couched, established them as meaningful cultural forces. Both Batman and Superman #100 were Code books – maybe DC was partly using the event to pitch the (mostly) wholesome history of Batman and Superman in popular culture by that time.

  2. Sounds like Overstreet is promising a lot…coming from an outfit that ignores corrections sent to them and is obviously WAY out of touch with the market; not just due to publication delays but just ignoring reality. Most Centaurs and pre-hero DCs for example, should be 2x or 3x guide right off the bat. You guys will have LOTS more examples. I find it hard to believe they are suddenly going to be IT experts. I think I’ll finally buy a downloadable copy to go along with my regular copy and my Big Big book, for quick reference…and for finding that occasional book that eludes me.

    Ok, Walter, since you asked: The hardest thing about doing those Marvel Magazine ads was coming up with good material every 30 days. We ran those for a good two or three years, so look at a run of any of the b&w Marvel magazines and you’ll find a lot more of our ads. We’d be lucky to do well with one or two of the five or seven items we’d offer each month. But enough would hit ok, like Cerebus in your example above, Elfquest, Star Reach, early Graphic Novels….

    Whatever Marvel was publishing in their b&w magazine line, the ad would run across all the titles…Savage Sword and Bizarre Adventures are the two that come to mind, but I think there were a couple others.

    Ken Pierce, a long time publisher of strip collections (Modesty Blaise, James Bond, Axa, The Spirit, Lady Luck) once told me the best sellers are something people can READ. He never dealt in art books, or how to, or most comic history books…just books with good adventure stories you could read and enjoy. That applied to those b&w magazine ads: The best sellers were always the comics sets or Graphic Novels, not fancy dancy art books or offbeat stuff that I kept trying. I don’t really expect Asterix did too well…a little bit of a strech for Marvel adventure fans.

    But Asterix was a steady seller for many years for me, both to fans and to comic book stores. However, as time has gone on, now people today seem far more interested in Tintin—the OTHER big legendary series from overseas. I think that because those are adventures and a bit more serious; Asterix depends on humor and that sometimes is lost in translation (it was from Belgium, I think, and full of puns that were hard to pull off in English). But both the Tintin and Asterix series were translated into dozens of languages over the decades and sold tens of millions of copies.

    The amazing thing about those ads was the cost. $250 per month for any mags published, not per magazine. The company handling the ads just loved to have one advertiser all set every month, so we’d contract for a year at a time. Talk about great promotion…even without every ad paying off, and many items fell flat on their face as I kept pushing the envelope…the national advertising was incredible. I’m sure it helped my business grow by getting my name out there. Of course any new customer got sent monthly catalogs for a year or so even if an ad didn’t pay off, if a few each month became regular customers the long term upside was great.

    We’d get pretty good orders in general, more than enough to pay the so-reasonable cost. Advertising across the Marvel comic book line, since the print runs were so high, was incredibly expensive in comparison. I think a tiny 1 or 2” one column wide ad was $1200 or $1500. Again,you could not put an ad in just one comic…it ran in EVERY title for the month, from Millie the Model to Conan. A full page was unimaginable, $10K or $12K or something. That’s why so many comic dealers had tiny ads in those yellow tinted classified sections…except of course good old Chuck at Mile High, who made some kind of good deal and went for full page ads for a while.

    I already had a three person production department doing monthly catalogs for retail customers. These topped out at 240 pages per issue for a while, albeit in black and white with a color cover. And we did separate wholesale catalogs listing the new comics and backlist books and fanzines for the comic shops and book stores, so it was nothing to knock out an extra ad page here and there. We also advertised in various sci fi magazines and comics publications. And we’d rent or trade for mailing lists…all of which is long dead history now. We do NO print advertising any more, and neither do we do mailing list stuff except to our own house list. All the mailing lists finally died out. Heavy Metal’s list NEVER paid off, but Fantagraphics and some other specialty publishers were very good, and they liked getting our names too.

    We mailed out just under 400,000 catalogs in one year when we hit our peak…and were running 50,000 of each one every month, plus another “Incorrigible” catalog 3 or 4 times a year. Now, sigh we print about 3000 copies bi-monthly.

    I had the page facing the inside back cover of the Overstreet Price Guide for a decade or two…I figured if you flip from the back, like so many of us do, you’d hit my ad first. But we kept offering special deals that we could track, as well as coding our address “Box 1886A” for example…and I found actual response to the ad was practically nothing. It was mostly ego-boost to be in Overstreet; I think that a lot of those ads right up to today, are still that. Looks nice, but does it really pay off? Obviously it’s important for the big comics dealers to be there, to show the flag. But we were selling everything BUT comics prior to 1982 when I got into distribution. We even used that as a theme sometimes, “But NO Comics!” Books, fanzines, posters, all related stuff. So not exactly the material guys buying a price guide cared so much about. Some, sure, but not the ideal venue. So we finally dropped the ad. Due to the special placement it cost $1000 or $1200 a year. Doesn’t sound like so much now, but 30-35 years ago that was a big invoice.

    Our most successful in-print promotion was a free ad in the Potpourri section in Playboy Magazine. Someone there liked us,they got turned on to The First Kingdom comic which I was publishing.

    It made for good copy, old time comics artist devotes ten years to his magnum opus. When we’d done ten issues Playboy plugged it for free, listing a set of 8 or 10 issues for $10. We got a zillion orders. But there was never a follow up and we could not afford to run a PAID ad in Playboy.

  3. I think you are right on the 100s Chris, it just wasn’t a thing at that point. You diappoint me though, I thought you’de have at least one hero/song combo. I think the Overstreet tool can help that end of the market that still hunts and collects runs.

    Bud, a wealth of info as always, thanks. That pic was acctually from the back of a Howard the Duck Mag to your point about publisher wide ads. It also makes sense that some of the featured items hit while the others fell flat, so often it comes down to timing. I carried Asterix and Tintin albums in my shops in the 90s and early 2000s, I heven had that tall red Tintin Rocket to display them on, sales were ho hum. The volumes you guys were doing in those peak years is just mind boggling, that must have been an atrocious amount of work.

  4. I still find Overstreet good as a reference to issues although I only buy one every few years. I usually feel if I can get something at Overstreet or less it means I did well. I have found amusement in both Asterix and Tintin these days… but I may have more of an infinity towards Tintin purely because my aged white hair resembles his own cut…

  5. As much as I see faults in Overstreet, I am with Gerald. It is still a wealth of information and I use it a lot. Even if the prices are not right on, it gives me a starting point. And for a lot of the low-condition Golden Age or run of the mill Silver or Bronze, is not worth consigning to MyComicShop (under $50), I usually keep my prices at guide or 10% or 20% above…just to help cover me at a show where everyone always wants a discount anyway.

    The guide is a big help on first appearances and other information.When I list new Omnibus, Masterworks or Archives volumes on my website, I use both Overstreet and GCD to get more information than the publishers provides. Important stories, SOTI issues, any kind of weirdness that Overstreet loves to point oult. Artists especially.

    Especially with the PS Art Books line, they don’t seem very knowledgeable about the very stores they are collecting. So I flesh their minimum descriptions with some real details about why someone would want this run of five issues or a with an Omnibus a run of 50….Overstreet helps me date issues also, often sadly lacking on publisher descriptions and sometimes even hidden in the indicia of the book itself. DC generally does a fine job on this documentation but not so some others. I look up most start and end runs on GCD to get dates. I like to include these, allowing for no confusion in these days of Series 1 and Series 2 and a zillion first issues and short runs. The habit of publishers saying Fantastic Four (1961) #217-242 we have to explain to customers. So I drop tend toi drop the 1961 which is pretty self evident, and add the dates of actual issues #217 and 242, i.e. 1972-74 as a totally inaccurate example, so customers know exactly when these issues came out.

  6. There was an open one at the LCS, and I really liked the fact that Overstreet decided to make all the pictures throughout the guide.in colour.

  7. Klaus, I caught that also, all the pictures in Overstreet, the ones on the pricing pages, are now in color. I saw NO PROMOTION of that at all, and we always begin our description editing with Overstreet’s own copy. Maybe it was in one of thei Gemstone Previews ads, but I sure think they downplayed it. I think it’s a cool plus, those b&w pictures at the top of page after page of pricing were always pretty lame. Better than nothing, but I made no point of looking at them at all. Now I think I might. They really pop out now.

    Speaking of…one of the great undone projects left is to do a Photo-Journal version for Pulp Covers. Small pieces have been done here and there, a LOT of them, but never an inclusive project like Gerber put together or like Grand Comics Database has done online.

    I think pulps are once again poised for a jump in interest and value, as they begin to start encapsulating them. Apparently the last Heritage pulp auction set new records, expecially for the first Shadow. Meanwhile, the one and only pulp priceguide has gone out of print again. Strangely neglected, but then these are labors of love and both the price guide and a photo-journal would be BIG undertakings to do them both right.

    Unabashed plug but it ties in: a new book we are handling called Pulp Power is a history of Street & Smith, who created (with Walter Gibson) and published The Shadow and Doc Savage. It once again (and maybe even better this time) points out how the “hero” pulps were a huge influence on the creation of Superman and thus all the super hero comics from 1938 on. There is feature on the direct-tie in to Bob Kane’s Batman, which has been well documented before by Will Murray and Anthony Tollin. The Shadow came out in 1931, for pete’s sake, seven years before Superman. Doc Savage began just a year or two later, still at least 5 or 6 years before Bob Kane “created” Batman…Doc is so totally Batman, body trained to perfection and all that, master of sciences…

    Street & Smith was at leader in creating “hero” pulps in the 1930s and 40s. The lastest issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego also has a feature on exactly the same subject, behind the scenes at Street and Smith’s pulp (and comics) empire.

  8. There already is an extensive website devoted to pulp magazines, along the lines of Grand Comics Database, complete with cover images & story contents. It is primarily focused on the stories themselves, not the art, thus interior illustrations are not mentioned. It displays the cover art of EVERY major pulp, the only covers missing [ like Gerber white spaces ] are general fiction pulps that are so scarce that no-one has found a copy to scan for this site. I am surprised that nobody has as yet mentioned this site’s existence on CBD .Is it possible that you guys don’t know about it ?!?!

    I will be happy to shell out the dough for a hardcover Gerber book on the pulps, but when you see just how many different issues were published in so many genres [& for up to sixty years for some pulps !], you will see that such a publication would be a lifetime’s work, probably incomplete due to many, many missing issues & several volumes deep !!! Also, do you really want to pay for a series of books that shows you all 2118 covers for WILD WEST WEEKLY or all 929 covers for DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY ??!! How about all 884++ covers of RANCH ROMANCES ??! This would be ONE HELL of a project !!

  9. I did not even mention ARGOSY, ALL-STORY or BLUE BOOK which would add several volumes to this Gerber style masterwork ! I don’t think ANYONE has compiled a complete collection of any of these titles, but STERANKO certainly amassed the bulk of the BLUE BOOK run. I know of a collector who is missing maybe 10 issues of the entire WILD WEST WEEKLY run. That is a HELL of an undertaking!!!

  10. Klaus- I am not referring to ‘pulpcovers.com’. That is a great blog but hardly a reference site. I am referring to- http://www.philsp.com/

    which is a reference site attempting to document all known fiction magazines, pulp or otherwise. It lists every known pulp, most with images & 99% are fully documented as to their contents [ sans interior illustrations ]. You will notice that every hero, horror, spicy & SF pulp cover is pictured, because…..most are obtainable, very few are actually rare. The rare pieces are generally certain fiction mags that were popular in their day but somehow have not survived in great numbers to the present. Stuff like ‘Red-Blooded Stories’, ‘Three Star Magazine’ or ‘Triple-X Western’ just do not show up for sale very often yet they lasted for years ! It is this material which gives you the most ‘white spaces’. Various nasty crime pulps from the late 1920’s-early 1930’s are also very tough to locate. ‘Black Mask’ is the king of crime & I know of maybe two collectors who managed to complete their sets [ but this was way back in the 1970’s & 1980’s, a different world from today ! ]. Just look at all the ‘white spaces’ in that listing for ‘Black Mask’ !!! Good luck finding those issues!!! Rare comics ??? Pffffft, amateur hour !!!!

    philsp.com is a reference site for collectors & enthusiasts. It does not give price data & never will. Just like GRAND COMICS DATABASE, you have to learn how to use it. If I can figure it out, so can you.
    Just try to imagine this entire pulp database in a set of hardcover books, complete with illustrations !!! How big would your book case need to be ???

    OH YES- I CAN HEAR IT ALL NOW !!! ALL THE INVESTORS ARE FREAKING OUT !!! ” We only want a Gerber book for the pulps that are worth investing in ! We don’t need all the Argosy, Adventure or Western crap. WE JUST WANT A PICTURE BOOK OF SHADOW, WEIRD TALES & SPICY COVERS- everything else is rubbish !”- Oh, these little wee-wee men make me so angry !!!!!

    Don’t get me started about slabbed pulps………aaaarghhhhhhh !!!!!!!!

  11. Klaus- if you like ‘pulpcovers.com’, you will thus likely enjoy https://www.pulpmags.org/index.htm which has more features than just a cover gallery, including full magazines that you can read online or download.

    There is also https://pulpflakes.blogspot.com/ which appears to have been stopped by it’s author, but remains online to enjoy. This is a true pulp enthusiast’s resource & the contents will give any comic-book investor a solid headache if he were to attempt reading it ! This site offers such powerful, arcane pulp knowledge that it can crack open the skull of any lowly Spider-Man collector with it’s sheer mental force !!!

    And then.. there is the king of crime & mystery fiction blogs- https://mysteryfile.com/blog/ Read this regularly & you may give up comic books forever !!!

    Investment tip, from me- the anti-investor ! …… if you think pulps are too hot….then get into digests BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE !!! Some of these things are harder to get than the pulps !!! Just try to get a complete set of MANHUNT right now !!! C’mon… DO IT !!! DO IT NOW !!!! You have been warned…..

  12. I have 70-80 pulps in my collection and some of those Adventure pulps I purchased just for the covers… they were great especially the earlier ones! I also have a few Romance pulps that include a couple by Modest Stein who apparently shed his youthful life as an anarchist and produces some fantastic pulp covers!

Please: keep it clean, keep it civil. Comments with links are held for moderation.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: