Lets Take Care Of Our Planet

I’m hearing lots of doom and gloom out there, the inflation is starting to bite, the interest rates are starting to bite, the equities markets are already taking big bites and some of the books people are putting up for sale are getting no bites. In situations like this you will find more sellers as they try to shore up their finances, sometimes they’ll sell their collectibles to help the situation out. I’m seeing a lot of comics being offered up for sale locally but unfortunately a lot of them are comics people purchased over the last few years and people being people they are optimistically posting the books at prices that will leave them a sliver of profit, thus no bites.

I don’t know where its all headed but I do know that if you’ve been an active buyer and seller over the past few years there will be very few books you’ll make anything on, on most you’ll be getting haircuts.

The good news is that the collecting community seems to be thriving, at least as I’ve been observing it through our eBay auctions. These mostly raw offerings don’t seem to be softening, if anything we are getting more bids for our lots. Perhaps its because our auction’s have lower price points and are more geared to those collecting rather than investing or flipping.

We’ve signed up two more large consignor accounts with a third even larger account close to joining in the fun, it’s going to be a busy summer.

I was going through this week’s auction pile and just fell in love with the cover to Planet Comics #18. It was actually the whole book I took a liking too so the book is going to hog a few of my paragraphs this week. Cover art credits go to Dan Zolnerowich who did both pencils and inks. This is a great Sci Fi damsel in distress bondage cover from May of 1942. Let’s remember that at this time this beauty was trying to fight off the hoard of new superhero comics that seemed to be springing up monthly. This cover offers up a lot of adventure and I love the bit of left over 1930s deco.

Its easy counting the pages to Planet Comics #18, the page numbers are so clearly printed on each page all I had to do was count the counted pages so I really didn’t have to count the pages, if you know what I mean. On Page 49 I found this fantastic Star Pirate splash page by George Appel.

I was going to stop at the splash above but instead decided to include this Flint Baker splash as well. The reason I’m adding it in is to tell you that the first thing I thought of when I saw it was NetFlix. Why NetFlix? I watch NetFlix and seem to gravitate towards Scandinavian and Northern British police series and while I enjoy all of them I do understand that I’m getting the same thing over and over again but just repackaged into some different cold bleak place. When I saw Flink Baker I thought of all the people that were looking forward to reading what amounts to be another action strip depending on the same themes as always, it seems we are creatures of habit that enjoy familiarity.

On to my thesis for tonight. In Son of Satan #1 there is this inhouse Marvel ad for their Treasury Editions. I’d still love to get my hands on a raw 9.4ish copy of that red Spider-Man edition! Somehow I started thinking about how these Treasury Editions seem to have a hard cap on their value. That Superman Versus Ali with the Neal Adams wraparound cover should be worth way more than it is, and the same goes for Superman Versus Spider-Man that signifies the 1st Marvel and DC collaboration, even that red Spider-Man, which is Marvel’s 1st Treasury, has that beyond Iconic rendering of Spider-Man and yet can get maybe a few hundred dollars.

One can say the same thing about magazines I guess and I think it all comes down to the size. With comics size seems to matter, standardized size I mean.

For some reason I though of art, paintings and thought of all the various sizes of paintings that could be displayed on walls. The size of the painting has no bearing on the value of it and size does not seem to matter because the way they are displayed is not really affected by size.

We store our comics and do not display them, that is the problem, we like to standardize our boxes and our storage space and that is why we hate magazines and dispise treasury editions.

Perhaps with so any comics being worth so much money these days a collector can live with a collection of only hundreds of books or maybe even only dozens of books. If we were prone to display these treasures on say, walls, then maybe the treasury editions and magazines would find wider demand.

Our weekly internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction notched another week Sunday night with some nifty results. In a way I wish I listed this Detective Comics #52 to end next Sunday as it would put it in the week of the summer solstice. If the book looks familiar its should, we sold this book through our auction on March 20th, the spring equinox. Last time around the winner did not pay so we set it aside to run it again. The first time around the book earned $630 and this time around it fetched $650. Getting a bit more is a great result as far as I’m concerned, often a book hat has its price run up by an non serious bidder does not do as well the next time around, it was nice to see this one buck that trend.

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. Nice Planet, Walter. Another fine FICTION HOUSE product- nice art, fun stories, eye-catching package. I’ve always been amused by how much the prices differ between the Planet pulp & the Planet comic. The pulp came first and was quickly accepted by sci-fi fans & enjoyed a long run, but not a single issue can be considered rare, unlike some issues of the comic which do not turn up all that often. I am sure the comic sold well, but kids must have destroyed them en-masse, unlike the pulps that appealed to an older age group and were preserved.

    I am glad that you are noticing that some of the ‘flippers’ who actively bought books at extravagant prices over the last few years are getting no bites on their books when they try to sell. This needs to happen more often to these amateur-investors & maybe then they will see the error of their ways. The more ‘investors’ that get burned, or are left ‘holding the bag’, the better for all of us true collectors. Just as there now seems to be a correction happening in the real estate market, so it needs to happen to the comic book market. I am still seeing idiotic prices being paid for many books though, as many of these so-called ‘investors’ are still living in their parent’s basements & have no connection to reality! No bills to pay, no responsibilities- they can sit & throw stupid money at books that simply do not deserve such prices.

    Non-paying bidders or non-serious bidders are a blight upon the auction scene ! What do you do to such a person?? Hopefully you have banned him from all of your future sales, Walter! Please explain what you do in such a situation. Can you not force him to pay??? Is his bid not a binding contract to purchase?? This really sucks ! This is not just limited to ebay, but other venues too. I was able to buy a complete eight page Spirit of ’76 original art story by Bob Powell many years ago as the guy who beat me [ during a Heritage Auctions Signature event ] refused to pay. Heritage told me that he was wailing that he was balancing a small child or animal on his lap & said creature placed the bid ! I won the lot for my second place bid & asked Heritage what they intended to do to the sulk who refused to pay. I believe they reprimanded him rather than banned him outright, at least that is the feeling I got from their response to me ! I ended up winning this lot of art for a fair price, yet about $300.00 higher than what similar Bob Powell art lots had sold for at the time. I I formally protested that his actions had forced me to pay higher for this lot than had he not engaged me in bidding. Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears & I paid my winning bid price.
    Hey!- how do you guys feel after you’ve won something at auction, especially after a long drawn out bidding process ??!! Do you feel euphoric that you’ve won one of your holy grails or do you feel that you’ve been had?? How many non-serious bidders are out there simply throwing bids to be a jackass with no intention to pay ?? You’ve just won that rare copy of ‘TALES OF THE GREEN GOBLINS TOENAILS #2’ for $1000.00, yet every other copy that has sold recently was only $500.00- are you euphoric or do you feel that you’ve been led down the garden path ?? Non-serious bidders are a blight, upon the auction scene, like dandelions infesting a lawn, but shill bidding , which is another problem altogether, should be considered equivalent to poison ivy !!

  2. It’s hard not to feel doom and gloom. The pandemic led to numerous asset bubbles, from crypto and nfts to equities to housing. All of it is going down the tubes. Inflation is insane and we are heading towards a recession as interest rates and bond yields rise. People can’t afford food or gas. Something has to give and the economy feels a bit like the Titanic right now. Small business owners know things are slowing down because we live it every day. The recession is likely already here. Realize that the definition of two quarters of negative growth is itself a lagging indicator.

    The pandemic led to huge gains in collectibles markets. Comics, video games, vintage toys, vinyl records and so on saw incredible growth over the past two years. Much of this is a speculator bubble like what we are currently seeing in the world of finance. Too many wannabee dealers looking to pump and dump who are about to be caught holding the bag. The “greater fool theory” applies to collectibles too and I think we are about to see a big correction in some of these collectibles markets. We are already receiving calls from collectors and investors looking to offload their collections, but expecting eBay prices. Call me a permabear, but I think we are about to see comics, video games and collectible toys take a big hit and we have decided to really slow down our buying as we wait to see if the collectibles markets (and prices) continue to decline.

  3. Live Frog, your comments are so far off base that you need to be taken to school. So forthwith:

    “The more ‘investors’ that get burned, or are left ‘holding the bag’, the better for all of us true collectors.” First off, what is a “true collector”? Somebody who won’t pay for anything they collect? Otherwise, how do you distinguish? But in any case the statement is both mean-spirited and wrong. You really think prices going down is good for a hobby? The secondary market is full of offerings precisely because prices are rising. Sure this attracts what you might call “non-collectors”, but they are paying “collectors” for what they buy, and those collectors can turn around and buy more undervalued/underappreciated comics, etc. This is just sour grapes – you are angry because people are paying “stupid” prices, i.e. making books you want unaffordable. I am happy with the “stupid” prices, they make my collection more valuable.

    “I formally protested that his actions had forced me to pay higher for this lot than had he not engaged me in bidding.” Huh what? You BID. That means you offer to pay that price for the item. All of the other maneuvering is your problem. What if the bids were sealed, then one was retracted – it would be the same situation – yet you wouldn’t even know about the other bidder/retraction – why do you think this situation should be any different?

    “shill bidding , which is another problem altogether, should be considered equivalent to poison ivy” – I can’t fathom what people see wrong with shill bidding. Sure it is a technique to raise prices, but to me that’s just like advertising – which everybody seems fine with. It’s very similar to above – the shill bidder runs the risk of buying his own item at all times. In this way it is the same as a reserve price. But people avoid reserve prices (irrationally), so by shill bidding you provide the illusion that you “could win at any price”, but in fact you can’t. It frees the animal spirits and (might) push the price above the reserve price that the seller would have liked to have set, if people wouldn’t avoid the auction knowing there’s a reserve. I bring it back to above – you BID – you decide what price you are willing to pay – if this is under the shill’s price (the reserve), you weren’t going to get the item anyway, and if it is above their price, by bidding you are indicating you are willing to pay that price.

    All of these points share a common thread, which is not taking responsibility for your own valuations. If you didn’t buy a book when it sold for $100, why are you complaining if it now sells for $1000? The only reason I can see for this is you regret not buying it for $100. Similarly if you make a BID, that is your value judgment – don’t point at the behavior of others for somehow influencing that. Tune out this noise, make your own decisions, and honestly count your winners and losers.

  4. Chris- I have no interest in engaging you in a discussion about the state of the market. We are not on the same wavelength

    But I will say this…

    I have no problem paying fair market value for a book & continue to do so to this day. Many collectors are not paying fair market value- they are losing their minds! Let’s hope they lose their shirts too!
    Both Walter & Brian have mentioned that collector/investors are trying to unload their recent purchases with limited success. You choose to ignore their comments.
    I will be watching with great interest as to how our beloved comic book market fares over the next year or two. Things could get interesting.

    Yes, I do miss the ‘good old days’ when prices were fair. Today’s prices are not fair & may serve to permanently discourage future generations of collectors from getting involved in the hobby.

    I DID pay for the art in my example. I thought it was a reasonable price, but since Heritage had informed me of what had happened, I felt that I should register a complaint about the bidder who failed to live up to his expectations. It didn’t change anything.

    The fact that you can defend shill bidding speaks volumes about your understanding of ‘value’- if a $50 book is bid up to $1000 by shill bidders, what is it’s real value ???
    Your collection is like a balloon. You pump it up full of air & it gets bigger. But if you pump too hard, the balloon POPS!!! What is the value of the burst balloon, hmmm ???

    Please continue to live in your fantasy world where books continue to rise in ‘value’ exponentially until Kingdom Come . Excelsior !

  5. Shill bidding is fraud, plain and simple. It negatively affects honest buyers and sellers in all collectibles markets by artificially inflating prices. It should not be condoned under any circumstance.

  6. I don’t think they guys caught with books made an error, they just got caught by the market. These guys have probably had dozens if nut hundreds of successful flips over the past two years and unless they’re snorting their winnings most should be able to weather the hit they are taking now.

    I agree that a correction in the marketplace is needed simply because the rates of appreciation were unsustainable, lets just hope the retreat is milder that brain’s predicttion.

    We block non payers from bidding on future auctions but somethimes they change their eBay handles!!

    Thats an old school hard knocks take on shill bidding from Meli and I agree with it in principle, I’m always happy with my auction winnings because I bid to what I’m willing to pay and the upside of that is I’m happy when I win at my top price and I’m elated when I win for 70% of what I bid up to!

    We’ve discussed before that its impossible to seperate collector from investor these days, we do both even when we think we are only doing one. When the market is hot these market manipulators can lull us into accepting new benchmark prices. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shocked at how high a book that I want has risen, there’s no way I would have paid that, only to be seduced into buying it months later after multiple sales have established a new higher floor for the book.

  7. I hope that my prediction is wrong too, Walt, at least concerning the collectibles market in general. That said, a minor correction may be healthy for the state of the market when it comes to comic books (and especially video games). The current market for 21st century minor “keys” seems to be alienating a certain segment of collectors who feel priced out. Lately it has felt like there is more sizzle than steak in some corners of the market. Anecdotally, collectors seem to be more interested in raw books over slabbed in some cases, which feels like a shift in sentiment. Time will tell where things are heading, but we are being cautious and pivoting a bit regarding the kinds of things we are buying for our business.

  8. Ahem… just for the record… I am not flipping…other then flipping out over the prices I am getting. Most of my books I paid between .10 snd $2.00… just an old collector jumping ship.

  9. Hey Gerald- what’s your handle ? Maybe Meli & I can do some shill bidding for you ?! Lemme know!

  10. I have only the Christmas and Archie treasury in about fair to good condition.

    As for my comics, I have two and a quarter long boxes filled. I may have to soon switch everything to short boxes as the long ones seem to get heavier as I grow older. Sigh. I am now 74.

    About 20 years ago, a old book store locally, not comic shop, bought a huge collection of pulps in really nice shape. There were about three thousand altogether, and he was selling them for a buck a piece, so he must have paid almost nothing for them. I never really looked at the titles as I wasn’t interested in pulps.

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