Nonaligned

There were a couple of one day comic cons happening yesterday and I was getting sporadic reports. One show was in Ottawa and another in Toronto. According to the reports coming in the shows were similar in these ways: bins book activity was the only real activity and very few CGC graded comics came down off the wall and far fewer were actually bought and taken away from the booth. I think this is a temporary thing. It’s been going on for the past few shows and I have a feeling it will go on for a couple more, then we’ll see some changes. The back issue comic book market is in a slide: dealers that priced their books last year or the year before are literally being ignored, they’re not even being asked to take these books down. Dealers that priced their stull this summer are still too high for the current market but these are tough old hombres, these boys feel they’ve come down quite a bit already when they repriced their books. One guy I knew wanted to buy a Golden Age book and asked the dealer what was best price, dealer went to $300, problem is the book was a 4.0 and there were recent sales of a 4.5 and a 5.0 that were still below his “best price”. My guy didn’t have the energy or the fight in him to try and get the book at even close to market value, and my guy is one of those thick-skinned aggressive types, he loves to haggle. Buyers have data tools, be it Go Collect, GPA or eBay Sold Items, buyers don’t want to pay double last sale and dealers don’t want to discount these graded books to 10% below last sale, not yet at least. This standoff, which makes everyone in the room miserable because the dealers don’t even make enough to cover their cost of goods and expenses and buyers go home with a bag full of $5 book, will end when buyers see and believe that recent sales are at least holding and when sellers bite the bullet and admit that this is where we are right now.

My cover of the week is a rescue. It was in the “going to eBay auction“, and now it’s not, but I thought I’d share it with you. Dan DeCarlo at his finest and the ‘boys mesmerized by girls’ trope also at its finest. I think Chris Owen once said that these Archie books go for way more money if Betty or Veronica are in bikinis on the cover. I bet this one would have sold for a pretty penny, but still, nowhere near enough for me to let it go.

Our ad of the week comes from Super Richie #7 and the reason it caught my eye was because I recently read one of those humanoid robot progress reports, pretty soon this ad will be the real thing.

No, this isn’t an image from our Parliament building (couldn’t resist), it’s a splash from Shazam #34 drawn by Alan Weiss and Joe Rubinstein. Marvel Comics spent most of the war fighting Nazis; characters like Captain America, Sub-Mariner and Human Torch were full time combatants in the war and the American public ate it up. Did the war make those heroes? Obviously, it made Captain America but how about Torch and Subby? Would they have become the iconic heroes they are today fighting crooks and each other?

Our weekly icecollectibles eBay auction closed last night with some strong results. I had my eye on that Amazing Spider-Man #59 graded CGC 9.6, the book had slid down to $1,140 USD in early October and for a while I was worried our offering would continue the trend. Happily, I can report a strong rebound sale of $1,276.99 USD. We’ll take that as a good sign.

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
7 months ago

I just don’t think cons are the place for graded books. Most dealers start at very high price points and expect haggling. I think a lot of buyers like myself don’t even try, because you are going to have to waste time to get to a price you could get online. Then there is the heft of carrying around the slabs. I think dealers should have $1-$50 boxes and $50-$500 wall books, all raw. Above $500 raw is dicey, and you are taking a risk just in having them there and transporting them back and forth. Also you can list thousands online but you can only put ~100 on the wall, so I would steer towards common books. I came back from Baltimore with a lot of $1-$25 books, and that was exactly what I was looking for, so I don’t think those buyers that you are talking about are necessarily unhappy.

It is still a buyer’s market – if the dealers can’t bring themselves to transact at market levels, buyers will find a different seller or target book. Sellers should also remember that an active market makes buyers more comfortable, and all else held equal, strong activity should mean higher prices.

In Baltimore I was in a booth where a guy was haggling with a dealer over Transformers #1 CGC 9.4. The prospective buyer said “this just sold at X”, and the dealer said “probably on eBay on a Tuesday at 10am”. I was with the dealer on this – people who list for weird closing times on eBay are hurting themselves and market stats – but it is what it is. No sale. I think that “weird sale” argument is about the best one – just because there was a sale at that level doesn’t mean that’s what most people would transact at now. (Reminds me of that stupid low MyComicShop sale for Detective #26 because the book was mispriced and sold in a second to the first person who could afford it.) “I can’t cover my costs” is the worst argument.

The Archie is great but those creepy guys are too much for me.

The Bionic Woman ad is one of the best so far. There was something similar for Steve Austin, but spinning it as a Beauty Salon is really a crazy stretch.

I always loved Rubenstein’s inks. He inked some Byrne work and that was really different, but I thought it worked. Rubenstein could make bad pencilers look good (like above).

I can’t believe you are even asking about Subby and the Human Torch. It is a third the war, a third Simon/Kirby and Schomburg, and a third hanging with Captain America. I guess the Torch could have made it because he has cool powers, but a fish-man is always a hard sell. The problem with the Torch is he has no face. (Unless you have a genius like Lee Inhyuk drawing him – FF v.6 #14.)

I saw that Spidey on eBay – not for me, but it really is an almost perfect book. I don’t think the price is reflective of a ‘normal” 9.6 price, so maybe don’t celebrate yet. I still observe the market bifurcated, with great books like this one outperforming, while mid-high grade keys or semi-keys continue to underperform. Overall I think this is healthy, sending the message that the quality of the particular item is paramount – comics aren’t commodities.