Improvise

Comic guy – “Walt, what books should I invest in”

Walt – “Beats me”

A variation of this exchange happens often, especially lately. The smart ones go undeterred by my rebuff, they realize that the wheels have to be greased and bring me a hot black coffee the next time they come in to broach the subject. After a few sips, I perk up and start singing them a tune. The tune I’ve been singing lately goes something like this, scarcity is the key but alone it is not enough. Scarcity can take on many forms, a book itself can be very scarce, grades of say, 8.0 or better could be very scarce for a book, a book may hardly ever come up with White Pages, and so on. The market likes to manufacture scarcity through things like price variants, cover variants, later printings etc. Not all scarcity is created equal so pick wisely. Also, watch for false scarcity, just because there are only 18 Daredevil #309s in 9.8 does not mean it is scarce in that grade. As I mentioned above, scarcity alone will not do, scarcity is more a supply factor, we have to look at some positive demand factors in the books we are choosing. There are many of those and I won’t start into them in this post.

There are still plenty of eras, genres, and even specific issues we should be buying with confidence, the comic book hobby is too strong and to inviting to new collectors and investors, I’m going to be as active in it as I can be in 2023.

I’m back to the weekly sift through of the comic piles destined for the weekly icecollectibles eBay auctions, this week’s stack was fun and included this great John Severin cover for Where Monsters Dwell #14. Inside are old Atlas reprints with Kirby and Ditko stories but Marvel treats us to a new cover, I liked it so much that I chose it as the cover of the week. Those picture frame 20-cent Marvels of 1972 always get me but the ones with the deep black covers leave me defenceless.

The ad of the week comes from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #9, the one with that great Spider-Man and Green Gobling cover that is a riff of ASM #39. Inside I found this ad for gainful employment. I think this ad would be a big hit even today, who wouldn’t want to go live and work in “ManCountry” and look at those patches you get to wear on your uniform, and look at that hat, heck I even like the short sleeve shirt, and the cut of those slacks – come on. I like how one of the inticers is civic duty.

From Kamandi #2 we get this DC in-house ad for their upcoming Shadow series, I know it’s an ad but I’m going to also call it my Splash of the week. I believe that is Mike Kaluta as it was Kaluta who drew the series (edit – Scott has corrected me in the comments field, that Wrightson art in the ad – even better!). That half splash at the bottom… strong piece!

Our second weekly icecollectibles eBay auction of 2023 ended last night and I must say the buy of the night has to go to the lucky duck who picked up the Cheryl Blossom lot. These books are the type of books you had no idea you needed in your collection until this week when you saw them for the first time. Picked up for a song at $23 USD.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1702

14 Comments

  1. Thanks Scott,

    Also, apologies but I made some edits to the opening paragraph at 10 AM post day, article was up for 2 hours before the edit, the jist is the same but I just worded it differently.

  2. Hey Walt
    Well, Nonce Verification just kicked me out twice from the previous post. I would love to get hold of Spider’s Email so I could cut out the middle man when I am trying to give him recommendations for further reading! Now, let’s see if this worked!

  3. Okay, I’m gonna try again!

    Hey Spider
    Once you’ve enjoyed the Reckless series (and, trust me, you will) don’t forget to delve into the rest of Brubaker’s stuff. I highly recommend The Fade Out, all about Hollywood corruption, and, an all-time favourite of mine, Bad Weekend, about a washed up comic artist raising hell and drinking his way through a convention he has been invited to to receive a lifteime achievement award! Darkly hilarious!! And, one of my favourite Brubaker fixes is his collaboration with artist Steve Epting, Velvet, which is simply one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. I was also lucky enough this year to be gifted the first two issues of Lowlife from Caliber Comics, Brubaker’s first published work, a slice-of-life book in the same vein as Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. Brubaker is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, of the same calibre as Alan Moore!

  4. Mel/Spider- Brubaker & Phillips are very good ! I have read their graphic novel ‘Pulp’ & thought it was excellent. I have most of the IMAGE run of CRIMINAL to enjoy & need to find time to suck all of that goodness in! Although I cannot continue bidding on over-priced vintage books in this still over-heated market, I may actually attempt to track down some more recent gems such as these works by Brubaker & Phillips from my LCS’s before they become over-priced & vintage! Who knows- you may catch me lurking around Big B Comics one of these days flipping through the IMAGE section, hoping not to be recognized !! Back in the 1990’s, I swore that no IMAGE comic would ever be found in my collection…but that was when Youngblood, Spawn & Savage Dragon were all the rage!!! Things have changed since then…and IMAGE has actually published some good books in recent years !!!

    Yowza! Check out Ed Brubaker’s bibliography on wikipedia- that is a heck of a lot of stuff to collect and enjoy! I can see it now- I ditch collecting old comics & start collecting ultra-moderns!! What a turnaround !!!

  5. The very first time I saw that Severin cover I was hooked. A throwaway reprint book back in the day, and now try to find a perfect copy. Very cool.

    The Shadow ad is amazing. I do have to say that I feel a bit sorry for you if you can look at the faces in that first panel and not know “Wrightson” right off the bat. The best artists generally have very distinctive ways of drawing faces. I like how Adams seemed to push himself in the late sixties to draw many different types of faces – the poster child for this is Strange Adventures #207 – but they still are all very distinctive “Adams faces”.

  6. LF
    Image has certainly come a long way since Spawn and its ilk, although Spawn still darkens the shelves at your LCS. But Image has also spawned the likes of Walking Dead, Saga, Lazarus, Paper Girls, Velvet and Echolands, to name just a few great titles, which will eventually become the “over-priced vintage books” of the future. Get ’em now, while you can! Walking Dead and Saga have already begun their ascent! And, you might still be able to find back issues of Negative Burn with those great short stories by Mel Taylor! : )

  7. LF
    While we were on the subject of Image Comics, I forgot to mention one of my all-time favourite individual Image issues: Ha Ha #5 from W. Maxwell Prince (of Ice Cream Man fame) with art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Ha Ha is a series of one-shot stories about the lives and times of various clowns. But #5 is something very special, the story of an old and somewhat disillusioned clown named Pound Foolish, on her way home to make her signature cauliflower casserole (there is even a two page demonstration within of how to make it!). Unfortunately her neighbourhood is home to a clubhouse of kids who take turns pulling pranks, and one of them has been chosen to break into her house and steal one of her creepy old keepsakes. The story is pure nostalgia on many levels and simply a very sweet tale of young meeting old, and finding out that they’re not all old curmudgeons…and cauliflower is really very tasty! This is one that will surely appeal to anyone with a heart! Truly, a little masterpiece!

    And Walt, if Meli ever kicks you out of the club (like that’s ever gonna happen), you can always join The Mid-yard Mischief Club, or run away and join R.K. Chesterfield’s Itinerant Bazaar!

  8. Mel- Image has come a long way! They have actually published a number of books that I can consider pursuing [ with intent to read, NOT invest !]. I maintained a pull list with my LCS for a few years, ending just recently, & discovered in that time that Image had actually matured and published a decent number of very interesting books. I am happy to see that they have not remained ‘stuck’ in the superhero rut & have expanded their offerings to include just about every theme a reader could want. Good for them! Thanks to their efforts, I discovered Ed Brubaker & ‘Criminal’ and will now pursue his work in my travels through the back-issue bins of my local comic book shops.

    Although I have been so focused on collecting vintage material for most of my collecting life, I have to admit that I could never ignore the work being published currently. There was a lot of really good new material being offered every given month, but sometimes it had to slap you in the face in order for you to notice it! I was always a Marvel Zombie, growing up on Sub-Mariner [ the Everett issues !], Daredevil, Thor, Iron Man & Werewolf by Night, but had the common sense NOT to ignore DC, Charlton or any other publisher in operation at the time. I have always enjoyed the work of many independent publishers & thoroughly enjoyed myself in the 1980’s when they boomed- Pacific [PC] Comics, Eclipse, Kitchen Sink, Caliber, Apple, First Comics, Dark Horse & many others filled my reading hours with joy! It may surprise you to hear this- but I have several issues of Negative Burn in my collection- there is such an amazing roster of talent in this title that it could not be ignored [Brian Bolland, P.Craig Russell, Paul Gulacy, David Mazzuccheli, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mel Taylor etc etc ]. I am on Grand Comics Database right now, looking at some of the covers. I have some of this stuff- it is entombed in my basement! I have to do an ‘archeological dig’ & unearth this material so I can read it again. Some of these books I have never read. What a shame!

  9. Mel !- ya fooled me! I don’t have any issues of Negative Burn published by Image- all my copies are original Caliber publications! Wow!- I forgot that Wayne Vansant did some really nice work for this title! Vootie !!

  10. So.. we all agree that we all feel sorry for Walter because he accidentally mis-identified the artist of an ad in a comic 50 years ago???

    GOOD! because I don’t want to belong in a club where the judgement of others isn’t swift and merciless. By the way…do we get airline food up here whilst we’re looking down on all the others???

  11. LF
    Yeah, Volume One of Negative Brun was a Claiber series, but Joe Pruett revived it several years later, and Volume Two starts under the Image/Desperado imprint and then becomes just a Desperado title for the last few issues. Like Caliber Presents it was one of very few anthology titles where new creators could try out ideas, and a lot of well-known creators also jumped on board for the ride. It’s too bad there isn’t something like them today. When I published a large volume of Bootleg Comics and Stories (formerly a mini), I was later thrilled when Joe decided to reprint all of my stories in Negative Burn. One of those stories proved to be a springboard for other writers to tell their tales of growing up with comics, and, evntually, there were enough stories for Desperado to reprint the lot in a collection called Growing Up With Comics (2008), featuring stories by a number of comic industry folks with all of them illustrated by my cousin Rick. It’s a nice nostalgic piece of personal comic history that also includes stories written by Mark Askwith, Ron Kasman, Rob Walton, Paul McCusker, and more. Even though it is now out of print, you can still find copies on Ebay and other sites.

    cheers, mel

  12. Here’s an interesting story about Growing Up With Comics: The comic shop pictured behind my cousin Rick on the cover ordered just two copies of the book when it came out! My good buddy Andy Brast at Carry On Comics in Waterloo sold more than 80 copies! Now how’s that for boosterism?! Each writer took comps instead of cash for our contributions, but, a few months later, I contacted Joe Pruett about getting extra copies. It turned out all he wanted was the postage, so I ended up getting an additional 100 copies at about a buck a piece. I think, because of this, I may be the only contirutor who made any money on the project! You really have to push your own stuff out there in the marketplace. That was always true of my mini comics, and it turns out to be true for the mainstream as well!

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