Let Me In!!

Ontario, Canada is still in lockdown, I’m hoping we’re back open on May 20th like they said. I can almost feel the pent-up demand, just in my casual conversations with curbside customers waiting around in the parking lot I can tell they are all chomping at the bit to get back into the shop.

Here’s the thing, comic shops have those old dusty bargain bins that haven’t been rummaged through in months. In today’s market months is an eternity, I can barely recognize the January market, that’s four months ago, it seems so old, so dated, so cheap, like it was four years ago.

You and I both know that very very few shops are spending these lockdown days combing through their back stock checking to see if there is anything that has popped. To do so would take a combination of time, energy and up to the minute knowledge. Most shop keeps would be lucky to qualify for two of those three conditions, I know we at Big B Comics are not going to venture down into our 100 plus long boxes of $2 bins to try and look for winners. No wonder guys are eager to get in.

What this means is that there are a lot of $20 + comics sitting in $2 bins at shuttered comic shops, in today’s quick flip market place the light, agile social media dealers are moving into books fast and moving out of them even faster.

This built-up energy has little to do with collecting and lots to do with making a quick buck, that’s not to say that these books won’t end up in the hands of collectors it’s just that they will get to the collectors via the higher-priced sellers as the nature of a collector is not to beat the door down looking for mispriced items, collectors tend to come in when they have time and spend quality time with the bins looking for the issues they need.

I’m not knocking any of this, in a fluid and diverse marketplace, there are lots of pecking orders, lots of slots where players can nestle in and take a position. What I am doing is encouraging the collectors out there to try and be first in, get there before that young Instagrammer gets in there!

Another week and another big fat finish for our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auctions. Today I want to highlight DCs Shadow #1 from October 1973. I’m highlighting this book to show that there are still great bargains out there, look at that Mike Kaluta cover. Shadow #1 features the first DC appearance of the Shadow and is an early Bronze Age book with great cover appeal. We sold it for $49.88. Advantage buyer, he or she is obviously aware that DCs are the deals right now.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1702


  1. Went on a book scouting trip to LA a week ago (actually mostly to get 11 lawyer bookcases for my buddy Ken Sanders, who’s moving his story in Salt Lake City, which we trailered home). And we found the same issue Walter is talking about, but in “real” book stores for “real” books.

    Turned into a real old school on the road book scouting trip, like the old days!

    One place in Covina, Calif that has been closed to the public but still buying collections for A YEAR, including a huge sci fi collection. Got a nice bunch of inexpensive art books, and an original book cover art from 1930s Lakeside Press, and proof copy of a book where Alfred Lord Tennyson hand-wrote in the captions for the illustrations—plus a letter of explanation from him—from 1873–for $120.

    Then another place in Santa Barbara that has been open but it felt like very few people had been thru, especially dealers. Got some lovely illustrated books by Lynd Ward, Willy Pogany, Rackham, and Satan’s Tears signed/limited by Alex Nino—a legendary rarity some of you might relate to.

    Last, we hit a retired bookseller in Paso Robeles and I scored a wonderful batch of 1930s Fu Manchu books—for myself—in cool illustrated jackets, from the 1st British publisher. Treasures!

    Ok, its not comics, but point made, with everyone staying home, the first folks back out there, as Walter says, will score!

  2. I don’t even think it’s the first folks back there. It has more to with who wants quality material that they can actually read and that will be part of their personal collection as opposed to part of their portfolio. The Shadow issue that Walter referenced is a fabulous bronze age book but without a movie pushing it up the market will continue to undervalue it. As I sell off my collection I will probably hold on to the Kaluta issues of the Shadow long after Ghost Rider is gone. And Bud, some of the items you mentioned would probably have a place on my shelf long after Ghost Rider is gone too. Collectors these days have a different set of values. And little sense of history.

  3. Impressive picture of long boxes, but one question, Walt, why is a sex change internationally collectable?

  4. I remember when that Shadow hit the stands! I am a big Shadow fan and thought hit it out of the park! It may not be an expensive book, but I’m with Robin… would hang onto it longer the Ghost Rider!

  5. Some nice finds there Bud and you are right, this is happening across all types of collectibles. These past four months have seen very large value increases in almost all collectibles and as places reopen there will be people seizing the opportunity. That Tennyson piece sounds like a true treasure, congrats.

    Robin, the portfolio builders are ruling the market right now to the detriment of the collectors but as you reaffirm, there are still great values out there like that Shadow.

    Klaus, if you have to ask….

  6. From my perspective, I’m not surprised The Shadow #1 is still relatively inexpensive. In 1973 comic book stores were beginning to appear (my Comics & Comix store in Berkeley had been open for a year; Gary Arlington in San Francisco had been open since 1968, and this is only two local examples). Comics fandom was well developed by then, it’d been around for a solid 10 years, fanzines were all over, Conventions were being held regularly. Bags and boards were commonly available to protect our new acquisitions.

    The Rocket’s Blast (still monthly) now had company from The Buyer’s Guide to Comics Fandom, a second (and even better) vehicle for buying and selling comics. TBG (later CBG, The Comics’ Buyer’s Guide) had started in Spring 1971, was twice-monthly by 1972 and weekly by 1975…Nostalgia Journal and other start-ups were also advertising comcis and brining fans together as the hobby grew.

    Stan and his Marvel Age in the sixties had brought into comics older, more serious collectors (including me) and we were growing up. The point is that there were not only more collectors, but more of them were able to find comics they wanted, more were taking better care of them by bagging them. However, many collectors were yet using backing boards on new books, only on older ones. Many, myself included, still stored new comics raw, without bags or boards. So I admit that is one reason a few less high grade copies might show up…”new” meant “mint” to us, regardless of a tiny stress crease or two.

    Gerald, I remember The Shadow hitting the stands also, and I’m quite sure most of my buddies—I know I did—bought extra copies and put them aside. We got even more carried away with Shazam #1. Everybody and their brother speculated on extra copies, cover date Feb 1973, packing them away. That book should never get particularly valuable…the story is that collectors and early stores and dealers grabbed up so many copies, some newstands never saw any for normal distribution.

    So I think high grade copies of books from around this time onward should NOT be all that scarce, unless virtually no one cared about them. Its the even larger size of our hobby today that has driven up prices on those key issues. Books like Hulk #181 will never have the scarcity of books from the mid-1960s and backwards; its only the super high DEMAND that pushes it up along with other key books.

    As far as unwanted books…that might cover the last of the romance and westerns from Marvel, Charlton and DC, which extended into the very early 1970s. And they were not much wanted in the late 1960s either, as fandom was getting started it was much more about superheroes than Kid Colt and The Rawhide Kid. Most collectors still don’t care about them. It was only a few years ago, after 40 years of collecting Kirby, that I turned on to his work in the final issues of Love Romances and a couple other Marvel romance titles, as they expired in 1963. Even today, who cares about Millie the Model from the sixties, after Dan DeCarlo had left the title? (Whereas the DeCarlo issues of this and other Atlas teen titles are HOT in case you haven’t noticed—sadly, I’m still a novice collector on these and didn’t get in early enough).

    On the other hand, I love the Joe Maneely/Kirby/John Severin/Russ Heath Atlas & Marvel westerns that ran from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, and I’m so glad they are still undervalued as I upgrade my copies and fill in final issues on my runs. Okay, Jack Keller was not so great and he aldo did many of these..but the others are often gems.

  7. Shadow #1 is one of my all time favourite comics. But as Bud pointed out, it wasn’t very hard to get in the day. I think I sent away for twenty copies of #1 at about a quarter each. I still have six copies – and four copies of Shazam #1. The rest were useful in trades, but always hard to sell individually. Nonetheless, I recommend that all collectors have at least one copy in their collection!

  8. Hey Bud
    That Tennyson sounds wonderful and Rackham and Ward are two old faves of mine. It’s interesting to note how many comic collectors don’t simply collect comics. Many are pop culture vultures in general. My library includes, not just Kirby and his compadres, but also Rackham, C.W. Jeffries, Herriman (The Life and Times of Archie and Mehitabel), Ernest Shepard and more. All of the greatest comic book artists took their inspiration first, not just from the comic strips, but also from the great book illustrators of the past. If you comic freaks (myself included of course) are looking for something else to sink your teeth into, why not look to the past for the roots of all your favourite artists’ work?

    A few years ago I had run out of things I wanted to collect (beyond the comics, vinyl, coins, tintypes, Canadian first editions, and stereoscope cards) and my wife suggested to me that, since I had once worked for Caliber Comics, maybe I should collect some books by the other Caliber creators. I dove into Daredevil with work by Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. This led to an infatuation with Lark’s art and got me hooked on Lazarus. David Mack got me into his own Kabuki. Guy Davis (Baker Street) got me hooked on Sandman Mystery Theatre, and it just goes on and on. It’s like Caliber was the farm team for Marvel and DC! Don’t get me started on Image!

    I guess, what I’m trying to say (in a very roundabout fashion, pardon me) is that inspiration for a collector can come from any angle at all and sometimes quite out of the blue. So guys, just run with it and follow your heart.

    cheers, mel

  9. David, you are one patient guy, still with copies for trade of both 1970s books. Amazing.

    Mel, great point about Caliber as the farm team, it seems obvious now that you bring it up, many of the independents recruited artists who moved onto the big boys. Eclipse might be another, I always liked cat yronwode and Dean little empire back in the 80s. When things fell apart for them in the 1990s, I bought a ton of their books cheap and cataloged them at sale prices.

    Glad to hear you mention Ed Brubaker…it was only recently I turned onto him and now I really enjoy reading anything he does. During the covid shut down, Brubaker put together three original graphic novels, Reckless, as a homage to Parker and other offbeat detective heroes/series. The first two have come out, I read both in the last week and really enjoyed them.

    Also loved Brubaker’s Pulp, which is actually a western of sorts, and turned a couple buddies onto it. It’s gone through a HC and now into a SC edition, and it’s silly cheap. And Scene of the Crime is a great one-off too. I need to tackle Brubaker’s opus, Criminal, next up.

    I really have gotten into graphic novels in the last few years, I like to get the story all at once and with a beginning and end. It’s a bit of an uphill battle to turn my customers on to them, my guys are more into art and mature stuff than GNs, particular by new talent…but I keep bringing the best of them in anyway, since I enjoy them so much. Every so often one catches on.

    There’s many Young Adult GNs out there that can be good also, I try and pick up the most interesting sounding ones for my catalogs (and my grandchildren). Charles De Lint and Charles Vess did two YA illustrated fantasy novellas which are not a GN proper but darned close…a profusely illustrated all-ages fairy tale-like modern day fantasy… it’s been hugely successful outside the comics market, and gone into many printings now: Cats of Tanglwood Forest and Seven Wild Sisters. Perfect books for kids maybe eight years old and up, plus all you young at heart folks.

  10. Here’s an interesting collecting strain story. A few years back a guy phoned me and asked me if I was the Mel Taylor who wrote short stories in Negative Burn from Image. Yep, says I. He then asked me if I had one particular issue and, of course, I told him I have multiple copies of everything I have ever written. He asked if he could buy a copy. I asked him if he was just a Negative Burn fan or an Image fan in general. He then informed me that I had the only comic he needed to complete his collection of every issue of every Image title ever published!!! Complete runs of things like Walking Dead and Saga and all the way back to the founding of Image. Needless to say, I was so impressed, I met him and just gave it to him. Now there is a diehard collector. That has got to be thousands of books!!! I was just so happy for the guy. I can’t imagine that kind of dedication and determination.

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