Blood Money

A few days ago I ran into the landlord at the warehouse: he asked me if I’d be renewing in November when my lease was up, I said most likely and that I’d be letting him know very soon. When he left it dawned on me just how quick those two years have gone by and it also dawned on me just how full and cluttered the warehouse has become. I have close to two thousand comic boxes scattered everywhere, I also have something close to one thousand toy and card boxes crammed in there as well. I quickly realized that as a shop we’ve done a good job buying collectibles these past two years and we’ve done a terrible job of establishing a sales outlet with enough flow to at least keep the warehouse stack levels down to a more civilized and manageable point. It looks like job one going forward will be to throw some resources at getting this massive inventory to market. I’ve reversed the old saying of how an army is only as strong as its supply lines: I’m loaded up, I just have to start firing these things off into the marketplace. I’ll touch back every now and again with a quick progress report.

Next week I’ll be putting a Marvel Treasury Edition #1 onto the icecollectibles eBay auctions. For me, this is one of the most iconic images of Spider-Man, ever. For me this Romita rendering is the definitive Spidey look; I used this image for my outside sign at the Niagara Falls Big B Comics shop. All that aside, this has to be in the top two treasury editions? The Superman Ali and this one, which is the more sought-after? I’ve seen way more of the Superman versus Ali’s up for sale these past couple of years so it will be interesting to see how this does.

I’m going to add another great cover because I can’t not put this one up! Marvel Comics Super Special #1 from 1977 featuring the wraparound cover with Doctor Doom on the back. This is the famous issue that has drops of all the bandmembers’ blood mixed into the ink. Cool!

So it’s 1970 and you’re a kid reading comics, you just finished reading DC’s new launch, From Beyond the Unknown #1. You get to the last page to see which cool gadgets you can buy and which great contests you can send in to in hopes of winning a new bike, some binoculars and maybe even a … college scholarship. Obviously aimed at mom and dad, I can’t see any self-respecting kid thinking that far ahead and the very few that did are most likely retired CEOs at the moment. I always hated those kids.

I doubled up the covers so why not double up the ads! This time it’s an in-house Marvel ad from Fantastic Four #13. By March 1963 Fantastic Four had caught some good traction and was quickly establishing itself as the flagship title of the Marvel Comics Revolution but inside there was an ad promoting two of the most important comic books ever published, Amazing Spider-Man #1 and Tales of Suspense #39, the later introducing Iron Man who later became the catalyst and central figure of Marvel’s cinematic universe of 2008 to 2019 and the former launching the most important title that exists in the comic book collecting community. I wonder if the kid looking at that ad could even fathom how bright the future was for those two heroes.

Last night’s icecollectibles weekly eBay auction produced some big sales. One smaller sale that impressed me though was this raw low-grade Hero for Hire #1 selling for $177.50 USD; the book boasts the first appearance of Luke Cage and by the looks of this result people are still trying to land themselves a copy.

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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  1. I think you have stars in your eyes about the Spidey. First, the Superman vs. Spiderman may be more sought-after than Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, with this at best a distant third. Second, only a very select few of modern total reprint books will ever be worth anything (except maybe 9.8s). Third, these sizes are killers for storage and maintaining condition. Finally, you are not the only Spidey fanboy who loves this one, so I think there are a lot out there.

    Re college – that is a DC thing for the computer nerds (yes even in 1970) who were reading Beyond the Unknown instead of Thor. No way they would bother to put that in a Marvel book – those readers only looked at the pictures.

    I was shocked by the CGC 9.8 Hero for Hire #1 (12 universal, 2 signature) going for $102k this past week. Somebody with a very strong view or too much money to care – a pristine copy but this price is way out of line with that for lower grades. Find a nice 9.4 white for $4k if you want to get something that looks nearly the same and still has some investment potential.

  2. One day I be able to tipe pretty, butt I like the picters in the Marvel bokes…Chris tels me that if I reed DC I will get there and be much smarter than I am now. He reely nice guy.

  3. You stick with me Spider and I will help you. Send me your collection for evaluation. I will send back the books you should keep and dispose of the rest at no charge to you. Your friend, – Chris

  4. Yeah, Chris, not so subtle! I started college right around there, in Sept 1970 at San Jose State, which eventually became San Jose University. Tuition was a whopping $72 a semester, and kids were picketing at THAT high cost. Books were the bigger expense, several hundred dollars each semester, but you could buy them used and if lucky, sell them back at the end of the semester. So $1000? Not at my lame little school, who needs it? I guess that was more like the cost at the back east, Ivy League schools.

    The fun thing was, San Jose State was only four blocks from where we’d opened our first comic shops in downtown San Jose (in ‘68, the 2nd in ‘69); the guy we sold the first one to, Frank Scadina, now called it Marvel Galaxy, and by 1970 Bob Sidebottom had opened his Comic Collector shop, which advertised regularly in all the early Comics Buyer’s Guides (like I was also doing). So at breaks and after school, I’d walk downtown and hang out, trade comics, meet by comic buddies, keep in touch.

    We didn’t open Comics & Comix until Sept ‘72, two years later. I kept going to school, helping find and set up the store, but never working behind the counter. My founding partner John Barrett and eventually Bob Beerbohm kept the the first shop running, 60 miles away up in Berkeley on Telegraph Avenue. A very long commute from the south bay; John finally moved up that way, and Bob too, after he lived with me and another friend or two in our first house we rented.

    It took me five years to get through college (I finally majored in Business, seemed like the right major at last after Physics and dabbling in English). I was balancing the mail order business and being in the background at Comics & Comix as it expanded to five stories by 1975.

    I immediately moved to Grass Valley, where I still live, with my then-first-wife and my best friend, who was also my first employee, and I rented my first warehouse. Before that everything happened from the two houses I’d been renting in San Jose, slowly filling up the extra rooms and garage with stuff. Bruce Hershenson used me for the address of East Coast Comics, publishing those 12 issues of EC replica comics and also Avenging World and the Ditko comics he did. Jim Warren helped him in the back door at Sparta so print the comics with all the Marvel and DC titles (Russ Cochran may have helped, too). So I had that baggage to shuffle around for a while (speaking of filling up spaces!). Bruce made a living gambling in Las Vegas for ten years after he’d moved from Great Neck out to live with us in San Jose. He married Russ Cochran’s daughter and still lives in West Plains, Russ’s home town. He does tons of movie poster business on Ebay and has five kids!

  5. I likes Marvle comicses ! They have pretty pitchers. Everybody in tha Marvle Yuniverse goes around punching stuff. I like it when the Hulk punches stuff- he punches real good!

    DC comicses have too many words- they makes my head hurt ! And nobody punches anything ! I want to see tha Hulk punching Sandman. That wuld be good!!

  6. I used to hang around with Dave Darrigo. I really liked his WORDSMITH comics. I told Dave that if he wanted to be more successful, he should make his characters in Wordsmith go around punching stuff like they do in the Marvel comics…but he did not listen to me! That is why we don’t have a Wordsmith vs Wolverine mini-series !!!

  7. The total reprints are not worth much to collectors? I was at a random auction pre Covid and on the block was a Famous First Edition Action Comics 1. I opened it and some of the pages were torn in half. Very long tears for a book this big. I figured $5 at the most. It went for $50. Which means someone would pay $45 and someone paid $50. Need to find the right audience.

  8. Now, now!- I think Hero for Hire has room to grow ! It’s a Marvel comic ,so the sky’s the limit !! I have three NM copies stored away for a rainy day. Maybe I’ll sell them & pay off my mortgage. I store them in a box next to my leaky hot water heater, along with some pages of original art from Action #1……

  9. Thanks Bud. I wuz gonna ask you if those five stories had been reprinted anywhere….but now it doesn’t matter.

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