Say it ain’t so Joe

In 2019 I was presented with a plaque by the folks that put on Fan Expo, Canada’s biggest comic con. Big B Comics had set up at all 25 Fan Expos, I think we were one of 3 such comic vendors. Last year, in 2020 there was no Fan Expo and this year, in 2021 they were able to get a show in by pushing the date back from the normal late August time slot to late October.

Last week I got a call from my pal and inside man George who works with the vendors, he was asking me how many tables I wanted for the show and I had to break it to him that I was not setting up. Just like Mr. DiMaggio’s, all good streaks come to an end. I’ve explained before that I was probably not going to do a show this year but the actual act of saying no and making it official is more jarring than I thought it would be. I’ve been questioning myself galore since that call with George. To be fair to myself we have nothing but new people at the shop and preparing for cons is a difficult task learned over years. I think I’ve made the right call in terms of not bringing a big truck full of retail items to fill up the 13 booths that I used to have. Where I’m conflicted is whether I should have taken 1 or 2 booths to set up with ICE (International Collectibles Exchange). At ICE we’ve been so busy gearing up our weekly eBay auctions and we’ve been even busier with a nice influx of consignments and we’ll be busy for the next couple of years going through that big warehouse purchase I did last year. All these things I just mentioned would have suffered had we had to prepare for a show so I guess it wasn’t that hard a decision after all. Still, next year I will have to attend these big shows, at a bare minimum with the ICE set up.

It will be a weird feeling knowing that all the Ontario and Quebec shop keeps I’ve become close with over the years will be there slugging it out while I’m lollygagging back in Hamilton. I’ve learned over the years that change can either be a good thing or a bad thing and which of the two it turns out to be depends on me, I’m excited by this newfound “freedom” and I plan to make the best of it.

Speaking of making the best of it, we certainly did with our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction that ended Sunday night. We had some great results including setting a new price record for our CGC 8.5 White Pages X-Men #9 featuring the first meeting of the X-Men and the Avengers. The book sold for $2002 and its White Pages and high gloss make it an advantage buyer book, this one still has lots of room to grow.

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

  1. I completely understand what goes into setting up at a show albeit on a smaller scale! I had a fused glass craft business 30 years ago and did shows… and logistics could be a pain! Gave up after breaking even after a few years!

  2. I think its a mistake not making an appearance Walt. Big B will be missed.
    I recall in the 1990’s an Asian family use to set up a table and sell raw Harvey books from the 1960’s. These books were all high grade, unusual as they were not super hero centric, and the family ,very nice. Conventions were never the same for me, after they quit appearing. Your absence will also be a loss for many Walt. Your 50% off bins were to die for.
    I guess nothing stays the same forever.

  3. Popular legend had it that the Asian family ran a distributorship & retained many unsold books in a warehouse. They began selling these books years after they closed the distributorship down. They had LOTS of superhero books, but when word got our a few big US dealers swooped in for the kill ! I can name at least one dealer that cleaned up at that warehouse ! All we ever saw was the leftovers- the Harveys & Gold Keys, Archies & Scooby Doos in real nice shape, but she/they were asking at least triple mint guide for them & there were not too many takers. I don’t think they had too much from the early 1960’s in that warehouse, but lots from mid-1960’s on into the 1970’s. So I have been told……

  4. Thank you Live frog. I bought a handful of high grade harveys evey time I saw them. They were piled in stacks a foot deep on tables, instead of boxes. Just bags, no boards. Good times.

  5. Yes Sir, Dave- those were good days & I really miss them. I was in the thick of it then, collecting was great- prices were cheap & the selection of material was vast !!! It was just awesome ! I still think of some of the dealers I used to buy from back then- what happened to them, are they still ‘in the game’ ? Harley Yee was/is omnipresent & Motor City Comics certainly put a dent in my wallet several times. I even bought some nice books from two kids called Moe & Wally from Hamilton, but I don’t think they’re around anymore. I am sure most of the dealers I used to buy from have long since faded away, but many of them made an impression & flavoured ‘the hunt’ for me. I can still recall specific sales with great fondness ! The Asian gal who sold those high grade funny books has vanished, she was not a professional dealer. As I think more about her collection, I am remembering that it was put forward to me back then that her family actually ran a variety shop, or chain of shops & that someone in the family retained copies of the comics they loved. As I paw through her collection in my mind, I do not recall seeing too many duplicates, rather lots & lots of single issues. It would make sense then that she was liquidating someone’s personal collection, because if she was truly a distributor at some time, she would have had stacks of multiple copies of certain books available. Will we ever find out ? Does it really matter ? Nope, it is just a memory for some of us old time GTA collectors.

  6. I bought a collection of 1980s to 1990s stuff from Wild Big Bill Hillock in Barrie. Ten cents a book, and sold them at a dollar a piece at these same conventions. I always tried to have a lovely lady at my booth, to assist in sales, and also bring a little feminine charms to the convention. Not much female scenery in those days pre costumed comic cons. I think I impressed Moe and Walt and others with my presentation. Id love to hear Walt’s or Moe’s or anyone’s recollection of this?
    Now a days, I think there as many costumed gals as their are collectors. Perhaps these are the golden times Live Frog

  7. Awww, I don’t know if we should be allowing girls into a serious comic book convention Dave ! How the heck are we supposed to analyze the books that we want to buy or even make sure that all the pages are present if some scantily costumed babes are wandering around the hall ! I’ll probably forget how to count if I see some hot chick walking by dressed up as Wonder Woman or Scarlet Witch anywhere within 10 feet of me !!! Just what I need- more distractions!- I’ll probably come home with a bunch of books missing centrefolds or with heavy crayon colour touch that I failed to notice. No Sir- If I wanna see chicks, I’ll buy me a comic with an Adam Hughes cover ! Woop !

  8. I went to FanExpo on Friday, had to endure the endless lineup that went from Bremner/Lower Simcoe to the Truck loading entrance at Lakeshore Blvd, up the spiral ramp, across the park just until we were getting close to the familiar South Entrance at Bremner Blvd , BEFORE the line turned back on itself, across the park again south to Lakeshore Blvd , down the spiral ramp again ,interrogated for our vaccine proof documents just after we were handed those flimsy wrist bands to put on while we were started walking into the downward truck ramp entrance which made it difficult to peel off the adhesive part and try to attach it to the other end of the wrist band while juggling a phone and getting our documents available where finally the line broadened so as were able to catch our breaths and rest for a few minutes before displaying our (e)documents and getting our coveted Fan Expo 2021: Limited Edition Badges(sans lanyards ) . . . . . . . . .
    If you just thought you saw a run on sentence then you just shared my line up experience.
    Was it worth it?
    Hell yea! Get out there and support the local shows to help ensure they come back bigger and better than ever in the long run.

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