The Time Has Come

The moment of truth is close at hand for our Canadiana pop-culture auction: all lots end this Wednesday, June 8th on our eBay auction page. As of this post, the top book is Better Comics #1, which we all expected. I’m excited to see these results come in; let’s hope Canadiana pop culture has some high demand and produces some great results.

Our good pal Chris sent me this via email and I have to tell you I don’t like it. So this snippet from CGC says that since the person sending the book down gets free graders’ notes CGC will no longer be putting some of the defects present on the label. I’ve always been a vocal fan of CGC: they’ve helped enrich comic book collectors these past two decades and they’ve done it through a level of transparency and consistency that was good enough for the marketplace to buy into. This though smells bad. CGC of all people should know the aftermarket that exists past the graders themselves; heck most people grade books so they can sell them. So here you have a situation where the grading house, CGC, was in a strong market position to protect future buyers of their service and by extension protect the health of the whole market by making it mandatory that defect information was available on the label for all prospective buyers to see. Now we must rely on the reseller to share that info when posting a book for sale. Never mind the shady types that CGC helped push to the fringes, now we have to worry about guys like me who may not be malicious but may be a bit unorganized. We now have to rely on guys like me to dig out their graders’ notes when posting something for sale. If anything I think more defects should be added to the label, better yet, selling houses like eBay, Heritage, ComicLink, ICE etc should make it mandatory that an image of the actual graders’ notes be posted and available with each of their listings. Then of course we have to educate and encourage the buyers read these damn notes.

The ad of the week is this great in-house Marvel ad from 1982 pitching their Inferno cross-over event. There are 9 comics in this lot and I can’t recall seeing a lot like this head to an eBay auction. Crossover events like Inferno and Fall of the Mutants are deceptively hard to put together as single issues and I have a feeling they would do well on auction. I’m going to try to build one of these sets and offer it up on auction just to see if my hunch is right. From Silver Surfer #1, 1982.

For the second week in a row, I’m going with an old Four Color as my cover of the week. Paul Norris’ Flash Gordon cover on Four Color #173 has great colours and composition and just screams “open me up, there’s adventure inside”.

When I found the above ad page for the Inferno arc I also came across this most Moebius of Moebius splashes. It’s hard to explain the draw of Moebius’ work: look at this page, you can’t stop looking at it yet there isn’t much to look at – yet there is… I’m no student of art but this is a very interesting piece.

We just closed off another internationalcollectiblesexchange weekly eBay auction last night and like every week there were more than a few highlights and surprises. I was impressed with this Witching Hour lot that went for $220.39 USD. These are later issues that were missing any big iconic covers and yet I thought they did well. I think these mid-1970s DC horror titles are strong right now and will continue to gain fans and collectors in the years to come.

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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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  1. Hmmm… I am surprised CGC isn’t charging extra to view the grading notes online. To me the boils down to a price increase without charging more, like when comics reduced pages but maintained the same price. That book however is a humdinger!
    Always loved Mobius’ work! His work always had great detail and minimalism in a perfect balance!
    Update on my selling. I think I sold myself into a higher tax bracket. I can hear Charlie saying “I told you so!”

  2. While I am flattered to be known as a good pal, after getting this shout out I looked a bit more into the grader notes thing and I guess it isn’t quite as bad as I thought. All paid CGC members now have free access to all graders’ notes for all books. So as long as you are willing to shell out $25 to CGC per year (for now), you can look all of these defect notes up if you want. At first all graders’ notes cost money to everyone, something like $5 per pop, which was crazy. Later they went to making them free to whoever submitted the book, otherwise paid per pop. But a $25 flat fee doesn’t strike me as awful, and it gets CGC both a steady income, and probably more importantly, names of all players who are willing to spend $25 per year for these notes. While I continue to see taking the notes off the labels as a move in the wrong direction, at least having access to these for a nominal fee is much better than $5 for any prospective purchase. Cynically I guess CGC figures almost nobody will open up the slabs, so notes like “name written in pen on first page” just serve to dirty up the holder, and it won’t do much to their reputation to suppress these. In the world of NFTs, a lot more goes than used to. If CBCS had been embraced wholeheartedly, maybe the lack of monopoly would have dissuaded CGC from making such moves.

    I’m betting against the set idea. Regardless of the connection, I think people will discount lots.

    I agree on the Moebius splash – very distinctive and representative of his style. If it wasn’t for his cachet, I am sure the editors wouldn’t have accepted this most standing around of standing around splashes.

    I probably wouldn’t buy those Witching Hours, but I can understand the motivation. Those “run-of-the-mill” DC books from the 70s are now very hard to find in really good shape – they weren’t big sellers at the time, they didn’t have big Adams covers or anything, and people didn’t take care of them. My concern is that the unwashed won’t distinguish 9.0s from 6.0s in these titles/issues, and there are tons of 6.0s out there. I would rather pay $100 for one graded 9.6 issue from this era (which I know will continue to be really scarce) than $200 for fifteen or so raw books that might look like a 9.2 or maybe even better. So I can’t get a run and I can’t read the run, but for that $200 I can get 200 books from the dollar bins and read those…

  3. That Flash Gordon cover is wonderful! I wasn’t too familiar with the work of Paul Norris, so looked him up in Maurice Horn’s the World Encyclopedia of Comics. Sadly, this is the quote that stuck out, and I was surprised that a scholar like Maurice Horn could be so nasty and judgemental. Here’s some of what he wrote: “A cartoonist of limited artistic range, Paul Norris is one of the most glaring examples of the kind of second-rate workhorses KFS [King Features Syndicate] keeps throwing at an unwary public.” Hunh?! To me his work looks like a lovely mash-up of Doug Wildey and Al Williamson, which is far from second-rate! I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more of his work now.

    And, what can you say about Moebius? It just doesn’t get much better than that Silver Surfer book. It’s simply a masterpiece right up there with Buscema’s Silver Surfer #3

  4. Mel, your are right, Horn did a disservice to Norris. He’s not a standout, but his work was solid and like that cover, at times quite good.

    Chris, glad to hear your more detailed take on CGC’s new line. I agree with you and Walter, however, there should be more on the label, not less. This new policy essentially hides interior defects from the potential purchaser. I’ve have NEVER looked up grader notes so far; I have up until now expected even those small notes to make things clear if I buy a CGC or CBCS books. It seems a very cynical way to make people subscribe, albeit $25 is cheap, but think of all the people like me who will never look up a book. They’re not each one a diamond, for god’s sake, they are just comic books!

    It already pissed me off to see NG, no grade, a total cop-out. What is anyone paying for then? Even a coverless book should have a grade, coverlress but otherwise VG or GD or fair, for pete’s sake. The fact that Heritage (and others) still don’t ever mention paper quality, that already is a hidden defect no one knows until they get the book. Is it off-white, or cream, or tan? That makes a major difference, so I don’t understand why they leave it up strictly to CGC and CBCS to grade paper quality.

    Mel, wowee, I would think you guys are happy to see the price (so far) on Better #1. That is truely impressive. Will it raise all the boats? I hope not, since I still want to find things for myself. WECA books aren’t cheap already, except the later full color Anglo-American books (Grand Slam/Three Aces, Freelance Robin Hood), which often go VERY inexpensively (I have personal experience with this, both finding surprising bargains for myself, and selling my old copies on MyComicShop after I’ve upgraded, which I have to steadly drop my prices on and still they mostly sit unsold).

  5. Apropos of little… I looked again at those Witching Hours, and you can see the emergence of the UPC. There’s a collecting strain for you – first UPC issues of every title. What’s the most valuable first UPC issue?

  6. Chris, don’t give people any stupid ideas!

    Bud, I’m like you, I look for warning signs on the label if I’m buying a slab, I’ve never looked up notes before hand. I’m hoping that Better #1 has a couple of more jumps in her!!

    Gerald, don’t encourage Charlie…

    Mel, glad you liked that Norris cover

  7. I don’t know who donated their extremely rare copy of Better #1 but their generosity obviously knows no limit; especially since they were anonymous..

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