Beware the Slides of March

Last week I touched on how the CGC 9.6s were performing so well; this week we have to talk about the overall soft March sales. It seems like almost every book I look up on the GPA is getting a little haircut. We’ve seen this before and the market has always bounced back and shot past the point of concern. Us old-timers keep asking how long can it keep shooting past the last highs. I’m still confident in the quality characters, in the quality titles with the quality covers, and the quality grades and the quality pages: books like that can weather the big storms.

This week marks my first “cover of the week”, picked from the books I’m processing for next week’s eBay auction. What a classic from Dave Stevens, makes me want to bid on the whole run just so I can get this book!

Don’t yell but I’ve never been a huge fan of Barry Windsor-Smith’s art in Conan #1-24 and I think it’s because I’ve been so brainwashed with Frazetta’s Conan and Schwarzenegger’s Conan. Smith’s Conan seemed too frail and skinny for my liking. Because my exposure to smith came mostly through the Conan run I must have mentally shut him out as an artist to admire; I was too busy looking at Conan and not all the other wonderful things going on in his art. I’m leafing through X-Men #53 doing a page count to check for completeness and I come across page after page of magical pencils from Mr. Smith; there’s this undeniable elegance and simplicity busting through these busy pages. It took me 10 minutes to count these 16 pages! This Barry Windsor-Smith page from X-Men #53 is an original art page I’d love to own.

My ad of the week has to be this gem from Tales of Suspense #47. So did you old-timers actually try to hypnotize girls with these? Did it work? Did she do your bidding? Those old comic book ads just stank of hucksters; those really were the days of buyer beware. I tried to ignore the bottom ad, the one for the accordions, but it’s obvious with my continued typing that I couldn’t. Accordions are the real deal where I come from: the guy that could play and sing did not need any Hypno-Coin, I can tell you that.

There is a low-grade copy of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 going to auction next week as well and as I did my page count I had to stop and re-read the classic three-page bit on how Stan and Steve came up with Spider-Man. The ball-busting is awesome! And I’m sure someone will take exception to all those creations hovering over on the Stan Lee side of Page 1.

Last night our internationalcollectiblesexchange weekly eBay auction ended with some amazing results. Our raw offerings were getting great prices. I was impressed with the nice little run of Atom #16 to 20 fetching #173. These early to mid-run issues of the secondary titles like Metal Men, Atom, Hawkman etc can disappoint but I thought these did fine.

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Walter Durajlija

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

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23 Comments

  1. That X-men page is obviously from Smith’s earliest, most Kirby-influenced period, as were many of the early Conans. This one even has a ton of the famous Kirby crackle! But Walt, I urge you to take another look at Conan #24, that famous Red Sonja issue. It’s just bursting with energy. Also, have a look at Red Nails, still some of Smith’s finest Conan work. There is a lot to love about his art as soon as he actually emerged from Kirby’s shadow. Steranko had the same problem to a certain extent. It took him a while to stretch beyond being a Kirby clone and find his own style, which, when he finally did, was outstanding!

  2. My Brother ordered that coin Walt. Us Farm kids were riveted when it arrived to our rural address. It was a thing of amazement. It stood up for years to rough house play and such.
    Couldn’t hypnotize a damn thing, but was a sharp looking object with amazing hypno effects

  3. I’m with Mel on the Barry Windsor-Smith. I find your X-Men example, Walter, to be weak. But the Conan Red Sonja…when BWS got going, his work was amazing. But you are right, the early Conans are nothing at all to write home about…bad Kirby influence.

    I never paid attention to the Hyno-coin ads, but funny to hear you had one, Dave. On the other hands, we all knew the X-Ray Specs ads (Walter, you must have one kicking around). Of course, I think we knew it wouldn’t work, but just the thought of being able to see through girl’s clothes kept us tintillated every time we saw one of those ads. Of course, if they worked all the way through the skin to the skeleton, ugh, TMI no thank you.

    Now Dave Stevens….he couldn’t draw a bad piece. Like Steranko and a few other artists, Dave worked slowly but was an absolute perfectionist.

    It’s funny, I’ve just been dealing with something of Dave’s in a collection I bought. Back when he was around 14 or 15 and he lived in Portland, Oregon, Dave did two canvas paintings, remakes of Frazetta Edgar Rice Burroughs book covers…he traded them to two older collectors for older illustrated books is the story I have. One of the collectors is still with us and still owns the knock-off…He’s a good friend. I took the other piece on consignment from the family (of my other good friend) . I was all ready this week to send it to Heritage on consignment… But then showed this great picture of Dave, the two paintings, and my two buddies circa 1970s, to artist Dan Brereton. Now he’s all excited to get a good scan of it, so I’ve deferred sending it yet. It’s early, early work…not the Dave we all know and love. But Dan is a traditional painter, so I suppose he wants to see Dave’s technique. But this is all long before Dave was doing his best work…

  4. To each their own, folks- I grew up on the Barry Smith Conan’s & think he did a brilliant job. Watching him evolve his art from the Kirby cloning that Marvel requested to his own natural style in issue #24 was breathtaking. ‘Red Nails’ in Savage Tales magazine is simply jaw-dropping – a masterpiece ! I had discovered Conan first in paperback form & had read many of the original Robert E. Howard stories before I found the comics. I thought Roy Thomas & BWS captured the spirit of the original stories very well. Conan was never a thug or a moron in the original REH stories, but this is what the idiotic Schwarzenegger movie would have you believe. That movie pissed me off so much when it came out- what a piece of drekk ! A classic piece of 1980’s Hollywood junk ! I think Schwarzenegger would play a better Groo the Wanderer, rather than Conan !!
    John Buscema’s version of Conan is more recognizable, right down to the clothing that he wore in virtually every issue. I guess Marvel wanted a very definite character that they could trademark or copyright & the BWS rendition was too ‘loose’. Yet, when you read the original REH stories, Conan is a lean, mean fighting machine & his adventures take him all over his world, enabling him to wear different gear and of course, since the stories take place at different times of his life, he is either a young thief or an old king. Hard to trademark such an image.

    Everybody maligns the poor accordion ! What has it ever done to you ?? Stan & Yosh Shmenge carried one around like a Badge of Honour & BOY, were they ever the ladies’ men !!!

  5. Sorry LF, I’ve been a musician most of my life, and I still think the best definition of “perfect pitch” is when you toss an accordion into a dumpster and hit a set of bagpipes. But that’s another story. It’s great to hear you enthuse about the BSW Conans, and, Red Nails is even beyond jaw-dropping! It’s gob-smacking!!! And those lovely REH paperbacks with Frank Frazetta covers are even beyond gob-smacking!!! I can’t even think of a word, but, if your jaw was dropped and your gob was smacked, it might be something like that!

  6. BWS in his prime was very distinctive and talented, but his work never appealed to me, for a reason I can easily put my finger on: his faces. His faces were both generic and inexpressive. Reading a BWS book was for me like watching one of Gerry Anderson’s puppet shows. For this reason I am much more interested in the Gil Kane early Conan covers – these have a life in them that is leagues away from BWS’s mannequins. BWS’s talent was such that I bought Machine Man, Weapon X, etc. & etc., but nothing of his would every make my desert island list.

  7. OK- since we are discussing BWS, can someone explain to me why CGC 9.8 copies of Marvel Comics Presents # 72 and # 79 are going through the roof all of a sudden ?!? Yeah, it’s the origin of Wolverine, but we have known this since they were issued. Is someone putting this story into a movie ?? Whassup ?? I bought the entire series in duplicate back ‘in the day’ because I was so thrilled to see BWS back in comics after a long absence thus am happy to not have to buy them now. This frenzy seems to be a very recent development. What did I miss ??

  8. I hate puppets. Back when I lived in England, I used to watch the opening credits of Gerry Anderson’s THUNDERBIRDS just to see all the nifty rockets & vehicles do their stuff, but as soon as those damned puppets toddled on screen like giant bobble-heads, I would change the channel & watch cartoons on BBC instead !

    I hate puppets ! I think most of them are possessed by ghosts or demons & will kill you in your sleep !!! Evil things !!!
    Just try to watch an episode of Howdy Doody on youtube- I DARE YOU !!!!! It’s creepy and very disturbing !!! Those poor kids……

  9. What issue of Savage Tales was Red Nails in?

    Stan Schmenge played that accordion, just like my cousin Milivoj (J pronounced like a Y). Milivoj would get $50 bills slapped on to his sweaty forhead when he played Serbian weddings, when his forhead ran out of room they would put the bills in the accordian creases, good times.

  10. ‘Red Nails’ ran in Savage Tales #2 and #3. These are still fairly inexpensive & quite common, so no need to grind your teeth. Savage Tales #1 is having a renaissance lately- that issue contains ‘The Frost Giant’s Daughter’ by BWS, which was censored & coloured when reprinted in Conan #16 with an extra page added. “Red Nails’ has been reprinted a bunch of times. Classic !

  11. I played the accordion too when I was a kid. I never got a cent, let alone $50.00 !

  12. Milivoj was getting $50 and the gals. Your Dad Walt, must have been shaking his head as you took up comics…..

  13. Livefrog, the YouTubers must constantly be making up rumours in order to talk about something….rumours then get treated as ‘reports’ (as in ‘it has been leaked in a report’), suddenly a Wolverine Origin series was a project, suddenly #72 boomed…a few months late and a YouTuber may have actually read a book and #79. They are actually settling down again and the spike is over. Wolverine #1 (Vol.1) went from a $50 book to a $100 book…’it has been reported that the show may centre around Patches time in Madripoor’.

    The kids are now churning Spectacular Spider-Man #112 – and i certainly don’t need to tell you the massive importance of this tome…1st appearance of Foreigner!!! Rumours are someone, somewhere just got cast in something. $50 and you could own this vital part of history!!!

  14. Thanks Spider. Just a rumour, nothing definite…but it’s enough to drive speculators crazy !!
    Using Heritage Auctions archive as a reference, a CGC 9.8 copy of MCP #72 sold for $720.00 US back in September 2021, but most other copies have ‘settled’ at $360.00 to $500.00…that is still WAY too much for this book !! A copy just sold on March 28 for $432.00……ridiculous !!! This book is not at all rare…even in 9.8 !

  15. Hey Spider- are you sure it’s Spectacular Spider-Man #112 ??? I am thinking it is #116 where Foreigner makes his first full appearance [ the storyline starts in #115 ]. Foreigners voice is ‘heard’ in Web of Spider-Man #15 , but this does not constitute an appearance. I am not seeing anything of importance in #112. Pls check your sources & let me know ASAP. HURRY MAN! – a fortune is at stake !!!!

  16. The only Foreigner I know was the cheesy 70’s band some of my friends were into…

  17. Gerald, love a bit of of Foreigner…and yes LF, #116, I have my NM copy on ebay as we speak. Sell, son, sell!!!

  18. I knew it ! I knew it ! I have a short box full of #116 somewhere- I need to get it slabbed pronto !!!

    Hey Walt- how many copies of Spectacular Spider-Man #116 do you have in your warehouse ? I may need to top up !!!!

  19. Live Frog, you’re gonna need a bigger stubby!

    Thar second wave of rock bands just don’t get the gredit thise first wavers of the 60s get, I’m talking Foreigner, April Wine, Triumph, Lover Boy, Prism, Trooper et al

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