I’m Slippin’

Last week I tried to pin my ineptitude on the long weekend, this week I don’t have that luxury. I had a nice batch of old comics, all heading into our weekly icecollectibles eBay auction, ready to take home with me to use in this post and for some reason I forgot to bring them. I think I’m slippin’. No fear though as we were lucky enough to get a visit from everybody’s favorite ridiculous books collector, Ron Hobbs. Ron gave me this Voodoo #10 from 1953 to run in an upcoming auction. Pre-Code Horror is hot and great covers like this Voodoo cover are hotter still. There were a few books Ron was not willing to part with, he only brought them so he could watch me drool. He’s like that. I’ve added all the eye candy below, enjoy.

I knew a couple of guys setting up at the Ottawa Comic con this weekend. Initial reports are not good, my guys did about half the business they were hoping to do, graded comics were not in favor in Ottawa. What I didn’t ask is if they were discounting to match the current market prices. You’d be surprised at how many dealers are trying to hold the line on their prices, not a good idea if you want sales.

We also had an intrepid reporter down at the Baltimore Comic Con. He reports that he thought the show was roughly on par with last year’s show, which is good. He said there were people at dealer booths so it sounds to me like the dealers that adjusted to the times, those with more selection of cheaper books, those willing to adjust to the falling prices of the bigger books, those are the dealers that probably did better than others.

Spider’s comments from down under mirror the conditions faced by the guys I know that were active on Instagram, Facebook etc., things are definitely slower on those platforms. I think the distribution model for collectible comics may be shifting, I think the buyers might be consolidating their buying to fewer, more established, better priced sources, the practice of us using these platforms to make quick flips or to shed unwanted stock is meeting some resistance.

On to more cool books from Ron’s visit. Tormented #2, Sterling, September 1954.

Journey into Fear #3, Superior, September 1951. I’m bugging Ron to throw this one in the upcoming Canadiana eBay Auction scheduled for October… would be a nice addition.

Teen-Age Romances #13, St. John, September 1949. I think a copy of this book sold for over $10,000 recently, crazy!

Mysterious Adventures #5, Story Comics, December 1951. I wonder it it’s just a coincidence the artist put her facing us?

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
8 months ago

Having also been in Baltimore (hats off to that intrepid reporter of yours, I’m sure he is a first rate chap), I think maybe the experience with respect to graded books might not have been that different from Ottawa. While people definitely were looking at these, I have to say that I don’t recall seeing an actual transaction.

I think the reason is similar to your experience with selling raw books on eBay, but magnified. Only the very confident buy raw books online, while even my lily-livered self will buy raw books at a show. Being able to touch/feel/smell and look at the book in the exact way you want adds tremendous comfort to the decision. You can’t do any of this with a slabbed book anywhere – it has become commoditized and the “expert” has defined its condition/desirability. You have a decent chance of a real deal in a raw book, but that’s more unlikely with a graded book – obviously somebody already determined it was desirable to grade it.

Some more practical aspects: I lugged a short box of about forty CGC-graded books from my hotel to the Convention Center to consign with CC and CL. I was sweating like a pig when I got there. I told the CC and CL guys that in twenty years we will be thanking CGC for extending our lives through forced exercise. Carrying slabbed books around a show is no fun. Also you can flip through a lot more raw books in a given amount of time, and they take up less space on the table.

I think the market has bifurcated and dealers going to cons should understand this. Take your raw books to the cons and haggle over them. Sell your slabbed books online as known quantities with fairly solid pricing determined by market data. The words of the prophet were written on the studio wall – and the most desirable books are slabbed and in the vault. Concert hall echoes with the sounds of salesman – and so does the convention hall.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
8 months ago

Ha! Even Mr. Meli has put in an argument against encapsulation! Thanks Chris!

8 months ago

Further to my previous comments:

Customer-centric: Are we seeing the return of ‘the comic reader’ – between my tales of raw comics becoming more popular, lower grade keys being snapped up I’d also like to add that ‘filler’ run issues are selling and seem popular. This all seems like great, positive changes to our hobby. The boastful wall of 9.8 slabs is a very sad thing to me; all those unread tomes…it’s more like a desperate attempt to signal wealth or some pitiful striving for an position in a self-fabricated collecting hierarchy. Sales of ‘fillers’ (I hate that word) and low grade books to read seems like a healthy sign instead of the greed of the comic-boom.

Commercial-centric: I have a few friends who work in retail stores; the fabled ‘time to sell’ collections flooding the market may be upon us; both gentlemen talk of being barraged by calls from people liquidating – the storage fees have become excessive is a common reason. The LCSs have gone from buying anything they could 2 years ago (desperate for stock) to spending large amounts of time looking through collections before deciding to buy or not. 

Walter, care to comment? is liquidity increasing in the market as collectors decide to leave?

(oh, did you guys just hear that? an idea…Spider interviewing Walter – I think we have a podcast in the making!! Hard hitting, no holds barred, cutting questions…we’ll call it Spider Vs. The Big D)