Giving it a Good Kick

I read over on CBR that Kickstarter broke a record in 2022 for the number of successful comic projects launched: the numbers were 2,205 successfully funded projects out of 2,805 submissions, a 78% success rate. I also read that this was not an anomaly: this was the sixth year-over-year record-setting for comic projects, meaning this trend started well before the pandemic hit. The article noted that the comic category was the most successful in terms of the percentage of projects making their goals.

A lot of the more successful projects were launched by established creative teams; artists already in the industry that are looking to launch new ideas but don’t want to go through the Marvel and DC route. Intellectual property control is the name of the game here.

I’m trying to figure out what this 6-year trend means, say, another 6 years from now. My first thoughts were the Kickstarter comic ecosystem is very niche and the projects that come out of it are not mass appeal, will not reach casual readers and will not have an industry mechanism behind them to propel the more successful characters to an even wider audience through other media like film and TV.

The fact that more and more fans and more and more funds are backing these projects must mean the current comic shop model via the big publishers is not delivering enough innovation and variety to the fans. Then again it may not mean that, it may just mean that this is another developing vein of the industry and can co-exist with a thriving traditional model. I’m leaning more toward the first scenario, though I’ll admit I’m not well-versed enough in either to make the call. If this trend creates more fans that enjoy comics medium then it’s a good thing and that’s what I hope is happening here.

Has anyone here ever helped finance one of these projects? Has a Kickstarter project from years past ever broken through into pop culture past the point where just the people funding it reaped the sequential art rewards? I think this is an interesting topic as it is showing what comic book consumers are doing, and where they are moving the industry too. This has to have longer-term implications for the collecting and investing community I’m just not sure yet how it will all tie in.

I’m finding the darndest things in my pile of comics that are destined for weekly eBay auctions. This copy of Jumbo #98 jumped right out at me with its nice high grade and high gloss; I’ve decided to send it down to get graded as the price on these things is so dependent on grade. Still, it was nice to hold and leaf through and it easily wins cover of the week. has question marks beside the Artist tab: can anyone guess who drew this?

I remember as a young teen discovering the Savage Sword of Conan magazine and being instantly enthralled. This memory was sparked by my leafing through Marvel Preview #3, the Blade issue, and seeing this great Tony DeZuniga splash page, which is way better than the lame cover in my view. Discovering these Curtis magazines in the mid-70s was an important part of my comic journey. I remember feeling “more adult” as I consumed the stories which were always edgier and more graphic than the comics, for me the black and white just added to that more “mature’ material. Thanks for the memories splash page of the week.

I love these old back-issue comics lists, lots of companies ran these ads of which I think Mile High is the most famous. It’s human nature for the eye and the mind to immediately go and see that a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #50 was $4 and an FF #52 was $8. Keep looking though, and you soon realize that you’ve been looking through rose-coloured glasses, all the Conan’s above #25, the later Avengers, the later FF, the Super Special Magazines, the later Hulks etc, most of these are worth the same now as they were selling for then. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but the reality is a lot of us were buying stuff that the passing decades did nothing for in terms of collecting value.

Our weekly icecollectibles eBay auction had another strong finish last night with raw books continuing to earn healthy prices, with our copy of X-Men #101, featuring the first appearance of Phoenix, exceeding expectations and finishing up at a final price of $480.98. I’ll say this, the market seems to love these key issues being offered up on auction in their raw ungraded form, combine that with a seller that has earned a rep for fair grading and strong results ensue.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1712


  1. That Jumbo 98 has three Kamen stories and a Matt Baker story. The inside must be seen to be believed. These issues should be worth much more than what I usually see.
    Walter, I should have something to you shortly. My email is messed up.

  2. It’s hard for me to see a Jumbo or Jungle I don’t like (although I try to stay before 1944 when buying), and the Blade splash is cool, but I’m a numbers guy, so I love that ad. I remember that name, Moondance Productions, but I never bought anything from them.

    Your point about Monday morning quarterbacking is so key. In those days it was all about #1s, scarce books for completing runs, and blue chip titles. I liked nice-looking books, but who would pay 10x the price to avoid a tiny crease? (“Comics are in fine to mint condition”!)

    So “don’t be that guy” and not realize that the same thing is going on today. Those Jumbos, Jungles, Tarzans and Koraks might be The Thing, with everyone in 2035 saying “of course those cool scarce books were a screaming bargain”.

    The other cool thing about the ad is how little the hobby has changed. Pull up and you see something very similar to this in spirit, and as you point out, even in price (even without adjusting for inflation). Maybe you can’t put together a run of FF at these prices, but Red Sonja? Maybe not too much more. Bad for the investor in these titles, but good for the hobby in that even a newbie can put together a collection of some pretty ancient books. This accessibility is key to keeping people interested and moving some of them to higher tiers, keeping the hobby dynamic as their differing tastes come in.

  3. Mel, I don’t see Jack Kamen on that cover. In fact, I was not aware Jack was being used for Fiction House covers in general. Joe Doolin is credited on GCD ( with many covers around the #70s and my money is on him. At first I thought it was Dan Zolnerwich, who was doing covers back in the #40s, but it seems to polished now that I look again at his covers.

    I bet Trina knows who it is. It seems obvious that the same artist was doing all the covers from around the #80s up until about #125, but NONE have anything but ??? on GCD. With #125 the style changes.

    But sorry, I don’t buy Kamen. With his being around to be interviewed after EC (I assume), and his family’s involvement in collecting his original artwork (they bought much of his stuff in the old Russ Cochran auctions), and especially all the EC experts out there (Roger Hill, where are you?), it is hard for me to believe that if Kamen was doing these Jumbo covers we would not have it documented by now.

    Interesting take on Kickstarter. It sure has changed the business, also for art books. Flesk Publishing does most of their books now with Kickstarter, but that does not preclude them also getting out to the larger world. I handle each of their books also, and they use a distributor, Ingrams, to get the regular editions out into bookstores. The Publisher Exclusives and signed editions remain exclusive to Kickstarter and sometimes myself. But then Diamond handles the regular editions also. Flesk gets their starter money (and a lot of it, these are very successful offerings) for each project in advance from Kickstarter, thus financing big overseas printings. Those initial Kickstarter customers do get all the extras for that, prints and signatures and all the bonus stuff. That’s wise mining all worlds (aka multi-channel distribution) for the greatest possible circulation.

    The comics guys can’t get into Ingrams, not unless they are doing trade paperbacks and also have a regular output of product. PGW, Simon and Shuster, Ingrams, Random House (now Hachette) and other publisher/distributors don’t mess with one-off projects, they want REAL publishers who keeping books flowing into their system.

    But these small publishers can (and sometimes do) still get out through Diamond into the comic stores on top of their Kickstarter sales.

    In fact, I handle quite a number of Kickstarter projects. So doing it as a Kickstarter does not preclude greater distribution. I wonder how many projects have been picked up by larger publishers? The next step DOWN the ladder of self-publishing is Lulu and Print on Demand. We also handle a lot of these, but the rub on these is that POD is very expensive and often the publisher has no margin left to discount the books to myself, or Diamond, or to any of the afore-mentioned book distributors. Still, its a way to get more books and products out there and as readers we all benefit.

  4. Hey Bud
    A quick check of Jack Kamen covers on Google came up with at least 18 Jumbo covers by Kamen, one of which is the issue right before this one. I’m almost certain that is a Kamen leg (and doesn’t that sound just silly?!). He also did some other “good girl” covers on titles like Rulah and Jo Jo which show similar attention to anatomical detail. But I think the proof is in that leg.

  5. Well Bud, the more I dig around the more I can see your point about Joe Doolin, although he is also credited with the cover of #97, which is credited to Jack Kamen in Google’s list of Kamen covers. It’s a mystery wrapped in and enigma with a conundrum sleeve!

  6. An article on books that have cooled/stagnated over the long term would be great!!!

    Let’s take one of the mainstays of collecting: Bronze age X-Men, the most popular Marvel book of it’s era:

    Wolverine #10 – Sabretooth. That thing was hot!!! I paid more for it 25 years ago than I did a #1. It cost about a few dollars more in vf/nm than my mid grade Hulk#180.

    Iron Fist #15 – Claremont & Byrne doing the X-Men, that issue was big as their run on X-Men became a classic, so their first time writing/penciling together…

    X-Men #101/129 – contentious pick, I’d need a GPA user to do research, however I remember back in pre-GFC days and those books seem about the same value these days, 15 years later. I’m seeing #129 going for $300us in 9.2 lately, seems very cheap lately. Compare these 2 bronze age classics to a ASM#300 and Hulk#180/181.

    I’m sure there are tonnes of ‘once famous’ issues that have cooled! Are there lessons to be learned?

  7. Also, a personal update: The Japanese Giant Squid aka The Kraken of Komics (that Walt and Chris alluded to in their last podcast), has graciously released the shipping vessel from it’s diabolical grip of a thousand suckers, therefore allowing transportation of my comic package to resume!

    My reading pile has blossomed! Also noted: I cracked 3 books from their slabs, the GSX#1 looked so much brighter out of the decade out case and I noted that it didn’t contain a single page of microchamber paper to contain the offgasing. I’m a fan of slabs for their ability to offer a 3rd party opinion on book grade, but I’m still not sold on the idea of them being ‘protective’ in any meaningful way. The only thing they protect the book from is me giving it a damn good reading!

    LiveFrog; there were some MTU’s in there too, I finished off my John Byrne run, good solid reading ahead!

    Walter: thank you for the ASM#101, lovely book!

  8. Spider: buy another GSXM #1 and keep it in its case. Take that one and your presumably bagged/boarded one and poke (~20lbs pressure) with a ballpoint pen. Compare.

    Next, take a razor blade and draw it across the face of each. Compare.

    Protective. (Additionally protective of relatively short-term (days/weeks/more?) humidity changes, short exposure to flame, etc.)


    Wolverine #10 9.8 $85/$150 (+76%)
    Iron Fist #15 9.8 $1000/$700 (-30%)
    X-Men #101 9.6 $750/$1800 (+140%)
    X-Men #129 9.6 $135/$750 (+455%)
    ASM #300 9.6 $225/$1300 (+478%)
    Hulk #180 8.5 $150/$1350 (+800%)
    Hulk #181 7.5 $650/$5250 (+708%)

    This is raw price appreciation, so there is a consistent inflation component for all (in the U.S. 37%), but from a demand perspective the population change should also be taken into account. The more modern the book and the cheaper in 2008, the more I would expect the population to change. So the ASM #300 appreciation is that much more impressive given how modern the book is.

    As a new X-Men fan, I always loved Iron Fist #15. I still have my copy I bought on the newsstand – maybe a 6.0 from decent care but many readings. I think that book and Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 have been terribly undervalued, although the last MTU Annual #1 9.8 sale last May was 2x the highest prior to that date.

  9. Chris, if you’re poking your comics with ballpoint pens and running razor blades randomly around and exposure to flame (???)…I think we need to look at how you’re living mate, cause that doesn’t sound like a suitable reading environment at all…sounds like you’re stuck in some weird Loonie Tunes home of death. And that’s coming from a man who lives in the land of Mad Max.

    Thanks for the data. I bought a ASM#300 25 years ago when a niece was born as a future gift and put it away…I watched that thing barely move in value for the majority of that 25 years…and then it feels like the past 5 years in exploded. I’m seeing them get sold now (huge population, requires huge demand to keep the price high) at very discounted rates at the moment on IG.

    MTU Annual – thank you Walter again – it was WD that highlighted that one, back in the day, people used to think that Power-Man #57 was the big book of early X-Men (add that to the above list, that thing is unknown these days!), I hunted down a few nice copies of that bad boy!!!

    Speaking of Power-Man, #54 used to be $3 a few years and then someone realised it was the first ‘Heroes For Hire’…there’s still great little books out there for readers who care about the characters!

    Perhaps the point is that 1st Appearances are safe & easy to invest in, which is why they’ve gone crazy over the past 2 years with all the new collectors coming into the hobby, it’s easy to look up wikipedia and see ‘ah, I need a X-men #129 for Emma Frost’…whilst books with other reasons (such as first work by a writer/artist) may suffer as their popularity fades?

  10. Spider-take heed! Chris Meli speaks the truth!! If you are prone to stabbing your books with ballpoint pens or slashing them with razor-blades, you’d better get them slabbed! I have all my really good books DOUBLE-SLABBED because I like to run around my basement with a German WW1 field artillery sword or 1864 dated musket with bayonet [ it’s about 7 feet long!!] & if I get too frisky WHO KNOWS what could happen to my books!??

    Gentlemen- let me please remind you one more time, that all of the LEGENDARY Pedigree collections that we fawn over- from Edgar Church to The Promise Collection- ALL SURVIVED FOR DECADES WITHOUT ANY FORM OF SLABBING !! Most of these books were not even bagged and yet, they they remain in pristine condition! This fetish for slabbing things is just another business venture designed to suck money away from the collector. Comic book collectors are not the only ones affected- card, coin & stamp AND Video game & VHS tape collectors have all been affected by the disease. Thank Heavens that I have not seen any slabbed pulps yet……

    Chris- thanks for reminding me how much my books have appreciated over the years. I cannot meaningfully collect comics any more at these prices, but I sure as HELL will benefit when I sell off my collection !! Rebel Yell !!

    Re: Jumbo #98- great book- shame that you feel the need to slab it. If I win it from you, I will have to crack that slab open- what a wasted effort. I am surprised that some smart aleck has not yet invented a slab-opening device. It would make life easier for us, as now we have to use chisels or screw-drivers to crack those stupid things open. If somebody could invent a device that could open up the slabs CLEANLY, without leaving a mark or any evidence that the slab was opened, such that it could be resealed without a whisker of suspicion- this device could completely undermine this market & slabbing [ & investment!] could stop. Oh, I’m dreaming, I know- people are just too stupid to stop investing in comics! In the event of a crisis, CGC will just weld the slabs shut PERMANENTLY & nobody will ever be able to open these things!

    Take note- fake coins in fake holders have already infiltrated the coin market- from China, where else?? How long do you think it will be before some tomfoolery happens with the comic book world ?? Wasn’t the whole Jason Ewert micro-trimming operation discovered through a slabbed copy of Fantastic Four #3? Why didn’t CGC catch that?- what are you paying them to do??? To sleep on the job, obviously!

    I don’t see much Jack Kamen on that Jumbo cover myself, but I am not an authority on Kamen, especially at this stage of his career. I am more accustomed to his work on the EC books & the FOX GGA titles such as All-Top or Blue Beetle etc where his style is screechingly obvious. Regardless, it is still a very nice cover and a decent book. Fiction House was overlooked for many years, but those years are dead & buried now.

    Spider- glad you finished off your Byrne run. He was consistently entertaining throughout the 1970’s & 1980’s and his work did not begin to wane until the 1990’s [ in my opinion]. The MTU’s are all decent books- I have most of the issues I want in decent shape, bought many years ago for pocket change. I was able to upgrade quite a few earlier copies over the last few years through ebay, but this is now becoming a fool’s game- it was ok to get raw VF/VFNM copies for $7.00 to $20.00 each a couple years ago, but now they are fetching four or five times that much, with slabbed copies getting hundreds $$$. Just silly. I have gotten off the bus.

  11. LIVE FROG, no wonder you keep playing a broken record, all of your records must be broken due to all of that horseplay. My records are slabbed and in great condition, but of course I can’t listen to them.

  12. Chris!- Wow! I did not know that they were slabbing records! Where do you keep them? They must take up a lot of space!

    Do you have anything at your house that isn’t slabbed?? It must be pretty dull to have everything that you love encased in plastic, untouchable- with your only outlet for fun being watching the auctions & studying hammer prices ! You wild & crazy guy !!! I’ll bet you’re fun at parties!

    I have some Edison wax cylinders in my collection- can they be slabbed ??? How do I find out??
    Why are CD’s not being slabbed ??? I have most of Frank Zappa’s stuff on CD [ & vinyl]. I’ll bet it’s worth a fortune slabbed !!

  13. I have just stabbed my slabbed CGC 4.5 Hit Comics #51 with a M1907 British bayonet. Now I have a crack in the case!- NOW what am I supposed to do ???

  14. The beast with a thousand suckers relents so the port with a thousand suckers can take in its cargo…

    Sombody say Zappa ? He’s one of my mixed tapes when I sit down to write these things on a Sunday light, the instrumentals only, I find it hard to write when someone is throwing words at me. Lately I’ve been loving the “two hours of film noir background music” as well.

  15. I like all kinds of music….particularly love extreme metal…..but spend most of my days listening to Zappa & Captain Beefheart! I have spent the ENTIRE day today listening to Zappa…on youtube…no commercials….just freaking awesome!!

  16. LF
    Love to get a look at that 1864 musket! The only gun I have ever fired in my life was the India Pattern musket I used when I was an historical animator at Fort George. Those things weigh a ton, especially when you are holding them up straight at arm’s length to fire. Quite a kick too! The most fun I had was dismantling and cleaning my musket at the end of each day, then reassembling the whole thing. They really are beautiful, if somewhat deadly, machines! One of the guys found out very early in the season what sideburns are for!

  17. Mel- lucky guy! I would love to fire a musket, ANY musket [& take care of a few pesky squirrels in my back yard!]. I have a Canadian Snider which is a pattern 1853 rifled musket but with a breech loading mechanism [ named after it’s inventor-Jacob Snider]. My rifle works, the action appears fine- but it will not fire. It needs serious restoration to become ‘live’, maybe more than it is worth. I am happy to have it ‘as is’ as a display piece. I don’t collect firearms, this is the only one I own & at the prices I am seeing currently, it is doubtful if I ever buy another. Lots of cheap muskets in the USA though- if I were to start collecting, I would have to move!
    I began collecting militaria thirty years ago, starting with Canadian WW1 cap badges [ many of these are things of beauty!] at $15.00-$20.00 each, then moving into bayonets & swords at $100.00-$300.00 each, then helmets at $200.00-$500.00 each & finally a single musket at $500.00! I now mostly focus on military mail [fieldpost] as most of it is inexpensive, beautiful & loaded with history.

  18. Hmmm… I am imagining Mr Meli polishing his plastic boxes to such a reflective sheen you can barely see the contents and gripping them in his cotton gloved hands whispering over and over “ My precious……..”

  19. Lf
    There are few things in my life that I have enjoyed more than playing soldier with a real live gun. Beats the sticks and twigs we used when we were kids! We even had the opportunity to fire off their mortar cannon! Now, there was a big bang! I had the chance in Vermont years ago of buying a working flintlock pistol, but my parents were not too thrilled about the idea, nor did they like the idea of tsmuggling it back across the border! I was absolutely crushed. Thankfully, they never gave me a hard time about all the comics I hauled home with me, and I found other antiques more to my folks liking to collect, although my mother would constantly look at my tintype collection and exclaim, “But you don’t even know any of these people!!!” Of course, this is the same woman who, behind my back, threw out both sets of Civil War Cards, a full set of Outer Limits cards, all three Batman sets (black, red and blue!), a nice pile of original Mars Attacks cards, and my ENTIRE fossil collection!!! Growing up during the Depression, she had no idea why anybody would want to collect anything, largely I guess because she had so little. We collectors really are quite a privileged lot when you truly think about it!

  20. Mel- I got to play soldier too- but I did it ‘real-time’ with the Lorne Scots ‘A’ Company in Oakville. Luckily, there were no wars raging in the mid-eighties [ for Canada ] so we only got as far as Petawawa, where I got to live-fire the FNC-1, the FNC-2 [machine gun], the 81mm mortar [ now THAT is a tongue of fire] & chuck a few real hand grenades. I regret not joining the regular forces [ The Lorne Scots were an Army Reserve unit ]- I chose to become an animator & that is why I am now working retail !!! Pffffft!
    Yep, my parents threw away all my comics too when I was a kid, but the most expensive thing I had was a Werewolf by Night #8 so I can’t bitch. I have since bought back all the US books that I lost, but the British comics that I had are probably not easily recoverable- I had so many of them, I don’t even know what I had! The war comics that I had were printed in the 1970’s, but you could swear that they were from WW2- calling them racist would be an understatement !! Reading that stuff, I felt that we were still in the thick of war & that the Luftwaffe would be bombing us any minute! Ah, Happy days….

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