The Great Re-set

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2023 brings you health, happiness and prosperity.

Will we be able to achieve our prosperity through rising comic book values this coming year? Good question, and one I don’t have the answer for. As I alluded to last post, I think we’re in a kind of great re-set where for the most parts comic values settle back to around their 2019 and 2020 levels. Perhaps in five years, we’ll learn to convince ourselves that the pandemic bubble never really happened. Perhaps we can convince ourselves it was all a dream? This will probably be easier to imagine for those that sold in 2021 than for those of us that bought during that time; those monthly payments to try and catch up to those overdrawn credit cards have a way of presenting the reality of the way things are quite clearly.

I’ve started back into my big pile of comics destined for the weekly ice collectibles eBay auction. There was a cute pile of Little Lulu comics with Little Lulu Annual #2 sitting right at the top. It’s funny how such a cute, harmless cover from back in the day can take on so much more weight and added meaning in the years that have passed since this was printed. A well-deserved cover of the week.

I found a bag full of cut-out Batman splash pages from the Golden Age; I’ll be throwing them up as a lot next week. The standout for me was this splash from Batman #25 by Jack Burnley. Joker was not on the cover of #25 but he did contribute to this nice splash page. Comics.org is such a valuable resource. I typed “Knights of Knavery” into their search bar and under the tab “Stories” they list a selection of publications that ran this story; most were later reprints but amongst the 12 selections I easily found Batman 325 as the original source for this story. Comics.org allows you to search out by character, series, story, issue plus a few other categories. Hop onto the site here and have a poke around.

There was a run of Spawn in the eBay pile. I had a peek through #91 and found it interesting that all the internal ads were McFarlane House ads; most were promoting McFarlane Toys like this Death Row Marv toy from the Sin City franchise. The only ad in the whole book not used up by McFarlane was the back cover which was taken by NBC I believe. I also liked that all the ads were squished to the back: once you opened to the splash page all you got was story page after story page until the end, which allowed for a nice rhythm.

I also found this! I remember when McFarlane bought this ball, it was big news at the time. It was the late 90s and I’m pretty sure the steroid scandal had not yet rocked the baseball world. I’m wondering what this ball would sell for today. Another steroid user, Barry Bonds broke this Home Run mark a couple of years later anyway but the whole era has been tarnished by the steroid use and I wonder if the value of this ball is anywhere near the $3 million he paid for it.

Our last weekly icecollectibles eBay auction of 2022 ended last night. It was Christmas so we worried about the results but it looks like most things performed very well. Raw items were strong with our 3.5 X-Men #14 closing at $330.00 USD, around what graded copies get. I’d say this is a healthy result.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1701

16 Comments

  1. Happy New Year, folks! I hope everybody has had a great Christmas!

    Is it too early to talk about New Year’s resolutions ?? My resolution is to stop buying comics once and for all. I have tried to do this for a few years now, but keep getting sucked back in. Yes, I am weak- I still enjoy my comics, but looking at my last invoice from ebay a couple months ago [ from one of my favourite sellers ] finally broke my resolve to continue. You guys keep talking about price corrections, and are probably correct when that talk refers to over-inflated high grade SA & newer key books, but that is not correct when you are at the bottom of the ladder, buying low grade GA up to high grade, non-key 1970’s comics. This market is still hyper & I am sick and tired of spending most of my free time jumping from auction to ebay to auction trying to win something. Bidding is still strong and there are no deals. Factor in shipping & taxes and it becomes a nightmare. The amount of time, energy & money required to win a few Marvel Team-Ups or Atlas War comics every now and then no longer works for me. This stuff is not an investment, not in my eyes, & I cannot waste my life endlessly pressing my face against a computer screen trying to win some more of them.

    I have spent too much time buying stuff, far too little time enjoying what I have. I have FORTY YEARS’ WORTH of accumulation in my basement, most items unread. Why am I looking for more comics, when I have not enjoyed the ones that I already have. I have fallen into a rut of buying & not enjoying. I am constantly on the hunt for more stuff. That hunt MUST come to an end now! With all the model kits & military books that I have, militaria, railroad, movie posters & my extensive VHS & DVD collection, it has become very difficult to move around in my basement. Something has to give- I have run out of space & the will to spend more money. I am through.

    Your X-Men #12 & that pile of loose splash pages sums up the state of our hobby quite well. When common, low grade generic comics are so over-priced, somebody will actually consider bidding on those worthless loose pages. This is where our ‘hobby’ has arrived.

    My resolve is to pay down my debts & enjoy what I have. I have enough stuff to last me until the end of my life. Enough is enough.

  2. Hey, Live Frog, it’s liberating to stop being a “Chaser.” I’ve been a Chaser for over 50 and not only with comics, but with vinyl as well, combing through stacks, long boxes, and milk crates at cons, flea markets, second-hand book stores, charity shops, and garage sales; trawling ebay and online auctions sites, and haunting the local comic book store. When I reached my 70s a couple of years ago, I decided to let go–it was a necessity with too many long boxes in the basement and the attic. I figure this gives me just enough time to divest myself of the products of my half-century plus of chasing in a proper and profitable manner and to cherish and appreciate those books that are the most treasured to me. I don’t need to fill another hole in a specific run. I don’t need another trophy to put up on my den wall or to show off on my phone. I’ve enjoyed the books I have and feel saturated by the hobby (I do still treat it as a “hobby” rather than an investment enterprise). My hope is that I can recycle the books back into the hobby for other collectors to appreciate and maybe the rarer ones to an archive so researchers and the public can appreciate and make use of them.

  3. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Ivan! I have been a chaser too long and now need to chill. It was fun when books were cheap, or at least fairly priced, but now it is just a fool’s game. I will be slowly disposing of some of my stuff too & have already contacted Heritage to begin the process.

    Collecting is fun when your treasures are within reach; most of what I want is no longer in reach & I am forced to buy items from my ‘B’ or ‘C’ list if I am to continue in the hobby. This leaves me with buying VFNM Marvel Team-Ups at triple guide or low grade Atlas war comics for 5-10 times guide ! Can’t do this. It’s game over for me. I have other hobbies to enjoy that do not require this massive outlay of time, energy or money.

    I am so soured by what has happened to comics that it is affecting my enjoyment of the books that I have. I judge them more harshly, cannot understand why some of them or valued so highly & simply do not derive much happiness from reading them. This is very true with certain books from the silver age through 1980’s- so many of these books are generic in every sense of the word, they are neither art nor literature and are barely worth their cover price! I briefly collected modern comics but have stopped when I tried to read them. Most are incoherent babble, meaningless, no attempt to tell a story or even provide an entry point for new readers. I have collected comics for forty years & have no idea what is happening in the current Marvel Universe & could care less for DC.

    As a final thought- I collected Militaria for a while, but have not been active for the last few years . Prices have gone up shockingly [ prices rose exponentially after SAVING PRIVATE RYAN & BAND OF BROTHERS were shown ] & unlike comics, there is no easy way for you to sell these items when the time comes. The market is brimming with fakes & forgeries of a very high caliber and even the ‘experts’ struggle to figure out what is real. It also becomes a problem when some ‘experts’ are caught red-handed peddling in fakes if not actually creating them ! It is not just the nazi stuff being copied, but even cheap, common British & Commonwealth items that are being faked too !! There is no limit to what is being forged it seems. I am telling you this because there is a YouTube channel called MILITARIA REVIEW that you should watch [ before it is forced to close down by enraged militaria dealers who have invested heavily in questionable material! ] as this guy exposes frauds AND talks to many dealers in the hobby about the status of the militaria collecting hobby right now & going forward. They have much the same concerns as comic collectors have, with outrageous prices and no entry point for young collectors to get into the hobby. The amount of fakes & forgeries is a major problem, one we do not see in our hobby, but lots of pointless restoration, trimming, pressing & cleaning is reducing the number of untouched vintage comics for us to enjoy in the future. Collectors are always trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, regardless of the hobby. There is a fear that the next generation of collectors will not appear, put off by high prices, questionable goods and of course, the swastika. Take a look at the kids around you right now- are they collecting anything ?? Will anyone care about a nazi Iron Cross or an old Wolverine comic in a decade or three???

  4. We tend to think the items of our times not worthy of the items of the times before us, this is a never ending cycle and, I believe, this has always been the way. Contemporaries would be mortified at what Manet pieces are getting as would Superman collectors of the 1950s and 60s be mortified at what Action Comics #1s are getting. To a young 30 something a book like X-Men #14 is an impressive item, dating back to those ancient times of the mid 1960s, back when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were a creative team, the book features the 1st appearance of some pretty major X-Men villains and it had a cover price of 12 cents! Again, none of these features would likely impress someone a solar cycle older than me but take a guy two solar cycles younger and their jaw drops.

  5. Sounds like somebody is suffering from acquisition burnout! About thirty years ago, I had an absurd amount of long boxes full of goodies, but I hardly got to enjoy them all, there were just so damned many comics! I pared all of that down and now have seven (yep, that’s all) “stubbies.” I now have a rule that I can have no more than that amount, and, if they are full and I want more, I have to pare down to make room. Of course, I keep the cream of the crop each time, and, of course, I do occasionally have seller’s remorse, but I never let my collection get out of hand to the point where I cannot enjoy it anymore. It’s a tough rule to adhere to, but I seem to get a lot more enjoyment out of what I have left. This also leaves me more money for my other interests like rare books, coins, tintypes, vinyl, and art. I should probably ‘fess up though, that I do have one other special archival box for my Canadian Golden Age books. But, seriously, unless you want to start a business, there is really no good reason to overaccumulate. I know mine sounds liek a drastic measure, but, sometimes, drastic measures are in order.

  6. As I sell, my boxes become fewer ( I think) but I still have a bit of chase left in me too… I just picked up two more issues of Ziff-Davis G. I. Joe. I sold a copy of X-Men 14 earlier this year with cover cutouts and it still sold for about a hundred. People are hanging onto their money at the years end however as I only had one sale last week. I’ll probably post some nice stuff in January hoping for people to use some of that Christmas money! Oh, and Happy New Year to everyone! Always an interesting read here!

  7. Yep- I admit it, I have spent most of the last decade hunting for more stuff to buy. My hobby has mutated from actually reading & enjoying my books to actively hunting for more stuff to put into my basement. Chasing down my next kill, not even looking at what I have just purchased/arrived in the mail. I am not alone in this- I know many hobbyists [ not necessarily comic book collectors ] for whom the chase is more important than the catch! I recognized this failing many years ago, but went merrily on my way looking for more stuff to win at auction. It was a drug- the internet made it so easy to succumb to this way of life !!! Before the internet, you had to travel to a store or convention & exert physical effort to find your books and the act had meaning! Substance! A memory of the deed remained etched in your brain- with the internet, you can sit in your shorts by your tablet, phone or PC, unshaven and unwashed, bidding 24/7 all year round !!! Mindlessly buying, buying without thought. Too easy ! Way too easy !!

    It has finally dawned on me that I am wasting my time. I am putting in a ton of effort & spending way too much money on books that don’t deserve such exertion. I have been priced out of the books that I really want & am forced to scrabble at the bottom of the barrel trying to upgrade my copies of such lofty titles as Marvel Team-Up or Marvel 2-in-1, or fill some holes in my Atlas war comic collection with fair-good copies of Battle, War or any of the myriad other titles that they issued. Yet even these books are being hard fought for & I am winning less and less of them with each and every auction. The prices other collectors are willing to pay for these things far exceed my comfort zone & I respectfully throw in the towel. This is no longer collecting, it is an exercise in throwing away good money. These things are not investments, they are not even great art or literature, so why do I bother?

    I gave up once before, around 1995 & did not return to the hobby until 2009 when the market crashed due to the massive economic downturn that the world suffered at that time. For several years, prices were reasonable & I was able to glut myself with comics, pulps & art- my constant victories inspiring me to keep on bidding like a machine. The market corrected in 2019, exploded during covid & has not really come down much since. You keep yammering about a correction in certain over-hyped books, but that correction has not manifested itself at the bottom of the barrel, where I live.

    As you all know, the act of getting a new item to add to your collection is a big deal, it is a thrill & it keeps your interest active in that field. The comic book market has bludgeoned the thrill of acquisition of these items out of my system and I cannot continue. I am beginning to look at my collection & see what items I can sell in retaliation for this attack upon one of my sacred pastimes. I am so pissed off, that I want to sell stuff- comics are beginning to look repulsive to me! I have other hobbies in which I can thrive & will go in those directions.

    I am not some cheap old fart that does not want to spend money. In the last five months alone, I have spent a couple thousand dollars on stamps [ I primarily collect military mail, letters sent by soldiers on active service ] & vintage movie posters [pre-1960]. I have picked up unique & historic items from as far back as the seventeenth century that will fill me with wonder for as long as I own those items. ALL of these items cost me about the same price as a single high grade copy [9.0-9.2] of Amazing Spider-Man #101 !!! Some of those items include letters sent by ANZAC troops actually [!!] at Gallipoli, soldiers in the Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler, a Hitler propaganda post card that I have NEVER seen, letters sent by Ukrainian & Polish troops in the Austro-Hungarian army & a LIFETIME collection of letters/postcards sent by German troops on military bases scattered throughout Germany & Belgium during the First World War [this collection contains HUNDREDS of items precisely catalogued by base!]!!! In comparison to the other collectibles that interest me, comic books are over-priced, over-hyped & over-cooked! It is time to turn the oven off. I am outta here !!

    Take heart, guys- the militaria market is in far worse shape than the comic book market. At least we do not have to put up with all the fakes & forgeries that they have to deal with plus the downright cock-eyed fantasy nazi items that they keep dreaming up !! Good Lord, choke !!!

  8. Another tactic I have to reduce my comic purchasing to a reasonable level is to never go on the Internet to buy anything. In all my years of collecting I have broken this rule just twice: I once got my friend Mike to bid on a Canadian Golden Age book (Unusual Comics #1) for me, and won, and, one other time, I bought a first edition of Robert Nathan’s The Enchanted Voyage, inscribed by the author, and that’s it! Every other comic purchase, I have made at one of Waterloo Region’s four comic shops, flea markets and thrift shops, or through trades with friends and acquaintances. Sure, I might miss out on a lot of stuff, but there is just so much out there, who cares?! I still end up with a nice selection to satisfy my urge and keep within my budget.

    By the way, your militaria collection sounds way more fascinating than a lot of comics I’ve read! As far back as the 17th century? Holy spit! I love old correspondence. I recently had the fun of reading the love letters of my wife’s father and mother from the ’50s. Then I stumbled across the journal her father had kept on a journey he and his brother took to Mexico. It’s something I could really get my head around, but, with the comics, coins, vinyl, rare books, art and who knows what all, I think I’ll try not to take on any more collections!.It sounds to me like you should just take a brief hiatus from buying new stuff and dive into the fascinating hoard you already have! But, even if you do stop collecting, I hope you’ll continue to join us on CBD just for laughs and giggles. I always enjoy your input here.Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs. That’s the best advice I can give you.

    cheers, mel

    cheers, mel

  9. That is my world- the internet is my prime way of obtaining vintage comics, pulps, movie posters & stamps. There are not too many venues out there for me to obtain the things that I love outside of the internet. Back in the day, I would travel to shows/conventions & various brick & mortar stores to root around & I would always get my fix. Nowadays, outside of a few stamp or militaria shows, I have not travelled because I do not expect to find anything I want at any of my local stores. Most of the stuff that I want has simply gone online. There are not too many stores in my area selling stamps or movie posters anyway & their stock pales to what can be found on the internet. Sad but true, some of these guys price their goods into the stratosphere & simply drive you online to find other venues by which to buy this material. The internet works fine & has led me to many fine auctions & websites through which I can expand my collection. It is not responsible for what has happened to the comic book market- that is strictly the fault of the creatures that populate that field of interest!

    I do have a small militaria collection- I have a healthy interest in the field but am also very wary of it. The market is RIFE with fakes & forgeries & you really need to know your stuff in order to participate in this area of interest. The more knowledge you obtain through studying reference books & talking to experienced collectors, the more you realize how messed up this market really is. I hesitate to buy vintage militaria online for this reason & my resulting lack of trust. Much of my purchasing was made through a favourite local military antiques store, now long gone. It was gold to be able to walk into such a store & actually fondle & study original [ & fake ] material in person & learn from a dealer who had been in the field for several decades. Now, all we have are the occasional militaria show where you are truly on your own. Good luck!

    In my previous post, I mentioned a number of military letters that I had recently obtained primarily as a comparison in value against a single high grade Spider-Man comic [#101]. It boggles my brain that common, everyday & generic comic books are worth so much, but rare items of sincere historical importance can be had for pocket money! I can buy letters sent by inmates in nazi concentration camps for as little as $20.00, but a f*cking generic 1970’s Marvel comic can sell for HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS of dollars!! I am asking people to think before they bid, but I don’t think that this will happen, thus I am leaving this idiotic market & will let the mouth-breathers rule supreme.

    Mel- yep, I have some really old letters in my collection, some reaching into the seventeenth century. I could have had some from the sixteenth century recently, but chose to bid on some WW1 Austro-Hungarian field-posts instead. Age alone does not make something valuable- it needs more in order to make it special. Some of these very old letters are very generic & have no postal markings on them whatsoever- thus they can be bought quite cheaply. If you haunt philatelic auctions regularly, particularly in Europe, you will be able to get some of these things quite cheaply too. They are very nice items to have, the paper is usually hand-made y’know & looks very cool [& smells awesome!]- but is worth next to nothing !

    I enjoy CBD as there is some truly good stuff going on here ! There are some truly fine people making some very important contributions to our enjoyment and understanding of this hobby! The only things that I do not enjoy are comments regarding investing & selling, what is under-valued and was has ‘room to grow’- this stupidity has destroyed our hobby and needs to be stamped out! Will I live long enough to see this market collapse ??? I will no longer purchase comics at these absurd prices, but will certainly participate in the gainful enjoyment of this hobby with raucous discourse !!!

  10. Live Frog
    You might want to consider joining the Ephemera Society of America with your ephemera military interests.

    I have been a member for 30+ years and once served on the board in the early 90s There are maybe 50 Canadians in this group of collectors, writers, researchers, who have rescued odd bits and made sense of them.

    March is when we gather in Greenwich CN. And papers are given sales made and dinners enjoyed. In a former Nabisco Box Factory now a hotel.

    But I do want to alert you to an important publication Souvenirs of Conflict by Heather Smith when she directed the Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Musuem. This was about the crafts made by injured members of various forces as a rehabilitory effort. Think Vet-Craft etc.

    Heather is now working on a PhD at Western U on this same subject.

    On my own front i am curious if you have material with cartoons in the local publications you mentions.

  11. I don’t know if they are still active, but there used to be a Canadian Ephemera Society (affiliated with the ephemera Society of America) run by Barbara Rusch in Toronto. I was a member for a number of years before my interest wandered elsewhere. They had a decent newsletter with some great feature articles, and it was a wondeful way to connect with like-minded collectors. Barbara Rusch was a collector of Victoriana, and her prized piece was a pair of Queen Victoria’s knickers! How’s that for a slice of history?!

  12. Mel:

    Alas, Barbara did not understand the idea of a constitution, a board, a mandate or members let alone Roberts Rules of Order. She ran a club out of her house and we were all fooled by it. Her husband, lawyer seemed not to advise her of the necessary legalities of such an organization.

  13. Many years ago I did some self analysis & arrived at the conclusion that I am not a comic book collector- I am actually a PAPER collector and comics are just one large part of a whole that makes up my collection. I have actually enjoyed pulp conventions more than I have enjoyed comic conventions [!] & went to many old paper & rare book shows in downtown Toronto from the late eighties & well into the nineties. I love old movies and have no problem chasing down wonderful pieces of movie paper [ posters, lobby cards, heralds & of course original movie stills!!!] even from movies that I have never heard of! Most of my militaria collection is paper, mail & documents and even though these items are cheaper than badges, helmets or uniforms, they tell a far more complete story than those three dimensional objects. Comic collecting has been a huge part of my life for about 25 years and I’ve allowed the act of hunting down new books for my collection to become the dominant part of my collecting, rather than actually sitting down and reading what I have. With competition constantly driving comic prices ever upwards [ in spite of your essays regarding a correction ] it is time for me to stop hunting and start enjoying. If I get the bug to add something to my collection, I can always chase down some WW1 mail or an old movie poster for a few bucks, that WILL satisfy me quite nicely for a while.

    I have always mused about joining some kind of stamp club or ephemera society, and may do this after I retire [ if I retire!!] as I am so busy right now with family and work. I kinda work in one of my major hobbies, so I continue to work at home on projects for my store.

    Wayne- I don’t have any ‘material with cartoons in .. local publications’ – I’m not sure which items you are referring to here. I don’t have too many local publications, period- Oakville & Mississauga haven’t really printed anything ever that I need to have in my collection! I almost bought an old letter mailed from Oakville around 1857 a little while ago, but did not want to spend $150.00-$200.00 on a rather ‘generic’ looking letter [ boy, I use the term ‘generic’ a lot!]. I bought an original Hitler postcard instead.

  14. Gee Wayne, now I feel like a criminal for ever having belonged to such an organization. I just assumed she had good relations with the American Ephemera Society, since we all got the same membership listings in a lovely magazine format, which helpêd me contact many like-minded collectors. Sounds like I fell in with the wrong crowd!

  15. Mel and Live Frog:

    Well, she got a Rickerds Award from ES of A and goes down every year. John Sayers of NOTL (current Treasurer) is speaking in March on his cruise line ephmera now at the Bodleain Library in the UK.

    Sorry on the confusion about cartoon question. I meant within your militiaria collection. I realized after several chats with Ivan over his WECA work that there was to be found in for example British Commonwealth Air Training Plan bases across the prairies (where I am from) station newsletters. All with cartoons by local guys about life in the forces. With a long standing self taught/folk art interest this seemed a side of comic history not researched. Thus my awkward question of you.

    Lastly, I have always said that the membership price is worth the directory even if you never attend anything.

    But if you wish to write about what you have collected they are a great forum. My first paper on Palmer Cox (a Grandfather of the Comics I maintain) was peer reviewed by them and presented in Ann Arbour in 1994.

    Happy New Year !

    M.

  16. Wayne- Ahh, I understand your question now. I have seen a number of such publications in my travels but never actually picked any up. Probably a mistake on my part, but will be vigilant & maybe snap one up the next time one crosses my path. I have various publications in my collection, both allied & axis that were published during both world wars, but only two or three that are distinctly Canadian. I really do need to inventory my stuff!

    I do have a bound set of WW2 Dehavilland Canada magazines that were published ‘in house’ & made available only to the employees. These magazines specifically deal with the manufacture of the DeHavilland Mosquito and do not appear to have any cartoons. I have barely looked at this item since I obtained it- just one of the many fine pieces that I have in my collection that I ignore by wasting all my time bidding on yet more comics! That is now coming to a stop!

    Not Canadian, but I am sure you have heard of Bruce Bairnsfather who pretty well made a career drawing cartoons for British military publications throughout WW1. I have a number of his books, including one signed, plus a very scarce, very large magazine devoted to his work published during the WW1 period. This stuff and more could be found at the old paper & rare book shows that I used to attend back in the eighties & nineties. I have not been to one since & would love to see how they have changed, if they have changed, due to the influence of the internet.

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