We Are Open!

Happy Solstice everyone.

It’s nice to report that the Big B Comic shops are now open, albeit at 15% capacity, but capacity is only an issue at a few peak times during the week and people have been more than understanding and patient. We enjoyed some very strong pent-up demand this first week of being open and we expect the summer to be a good one for us as a local retailer. I just hope things stay open.

We’ve really ramped up the online business over these past 16 months of intermittent lockdowns and our success online is now causing a human resource crunch. We’re grading tons, we’re listing tons be it raw on bigbcomics.com, slabs on I.C.E. or all of the above on eBay, we’re also shipping tons and now the stores are open. Gah. We are hiring three new people at the Hamilton shop to help with the load. They can’t start soon enough.

We’re trying hard to figure out how to go ahead with our Comic For Grades program. Our Comics For Grades program happens twice a year, with mid-term report cards in February and year-end report cards at the end of June. Kids are encouraged to bring in their report cards and are given a free comic for every A they earn and a free comic for any improvement in grade from mid-term. We give out 7,000-8,000 free comics a year through the program. We’ve even convinced a few other comic shops in Ontario to do the same; see the link.

Capacity and crowds will be an issue so I was thinking of renting one of those huge 10 Metre tents and take 40 or 50 long boxes of comics outside. We’d space the boxes out and we’d have people out there making sure the tent never gets too crowded. I’m hoping to pull this off the weekend of July 2nd as that is the date of the tentative reopening further into phase 2 with its increased capacities.

I.C.E.’s (International Collectibles Exchange) first annual Canadiana auction is live. Please click here and scroll down to the items ending Monday, June 28. There are some very unique items listed and the auction is off to a great start.

Our regular weekly eBay auction that ended last night had some strong finishes, the one that I really liked was Timely’s Marvel Mystery Comics #61 at a CGC 2.0. Those Alex Schomburg covers are always so epic and the winning bidder who snagged that copy for $495 definitely gets the advantage.

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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. Question: why is Teen Town Comics going for $355. USD already? Not far behind is 4 Most at $280. USD. Why are these two FECAs so in demand?

  2. Walt, so what happens if a kid has a drop in their marks between terms; do you ask for the comics back?

    Don’t laugh; my folks always used to blame my bad marks on my comics; refusing to believe that the fruit of their loins was just plain stupid.

  3. Klaus, I was talking with Ivan today and he noticed the FECA stuff is hot too. I have no idea why.

    If a kid’s grade goes down and the book we gave him or her in February has become a hot book and gone up in value then we’ll ask for it back.

    Oh, and I refuse to believe it as well.

  4. I have some problems accepting Schomburg as the cover artist of Marvel Mystery #61. It looks very sloppy & I am not seeing any of his talent on display here. The hooded/cowled figures look like nothing Schomburg ever drew ! [ Even GCD questions his work on this cover ]

    On a positive note, the Canadiana auction looks very nice, particularly the Fred Kelly original art ! I will watch the proceedings with interest !

    Canadian Whites are very nice books and well worth pursuing. My feelings about the post-war reprints however, are mixed as many of them are quite shoddy. Not only is the interior print quality inferior to their US counterparts, but most of them only gave you 36 pages when the US editions that they reprinted gave you 52! The Canadian EC reprints are among the worst comics ever to have been printed & I avoid them like the plague. Too many of them suffer from poor print quality & some that I have handled have had entire panels or even pages printed so poorly that they could not be viewed. I owned a Canadian Frontline Combat #1 that was so washed out inside that NOT ONE PAGE WAS LEGIBLE ! I was surprised that it had survived not being thrown away as trash as every page was a mess of mouse-grey smudge ! These things were printed from asbestos or aluminum plates copied from the original steel US plates & it is not surprising that the results were awful. I guess if you manage to find a book that was among the first to be printed, while the plates were still fresh, it could be ok- but as the plates wore down they would leave an increasingly poorer impression.and the last copies to roll off the printer would be disastrous. Imagine being a kid who got that Frontline Combat #1 back in 1951 that I just mentioned above- how would you feel about comics then ???

    I am curious as to what drives people to collect these FECA ‘Frankenstein’ books with such passion ? [ Some of these things are composites of material from two or three different US books]. I suppose their rarity factor drives some collectors & I can see how studying how they were put together can be another draw, but the resulting package is hardly that interesting. Add to this some truly poor colour registration [ I have some books where the colour plates have ‘slipped’ so horribly that I would need 3-D glasses to view the pages properly ! ] and you have some real winners to collect. Are collectors aware of what they are getting or are they just following the herd ?

  5. I even heard that the Canadian E.C.s were always out of season, so the editors would switch covers on the interiors, and there were runs of the comics with the interiors completely out of order.

  6. Klaus- Yep, that is true, but that is also true for just about every Canadian reprint of any US publication-whether it be comic, pulp or slick. It took time for the material to be reprinted to be delivered from US to Canada and to be prepared for publication, thus the differences in date & contents.

    I have what I believe is a near complete run of Canadian ADVENTURE pulps from the WECA period & it has been a fascinating study for me to compare them against copies of the original US editions to see how they were put together. There is also a ton of valuable information on the Galactic Central website that has helped me to clearly see the differences in their contents & the sequence of their publication compared to the US issues. Unlike the Canadian Shadow & Doc Savage pulps from this time period, the Adventure covers are very good, ranging from excellent re-paints of the original US covers to totally new compositions.

    Not only is the colour registration off on many of the FECA books that I own or have seen, but the colours themselves appear garish & look blotchy and puddled, as though someone applied them by hand using watercolour paint ! I could buy some of these things for their novelty value back in the 1980s when they were selling for about $2-$4 each [ nobody really wanted Canadian reprints back then ] and would spend not a penny more on them even now!

  7. To add even more confusing info, a local store, back in the 80s, had three of the same FECA comic, each with a different interior.

  8. Looking at the auctions, it’s a wonder there are any copies of Triumph #23 left around. There is a large cut out face mask on the inside of the front and cover. I’m surprised more kids weren’t running around playing White Mask, with a mask cut from Triumph #23. Every now and then, you see a coupon cut out from the center of the cover.

  9. Kids have ruined so many great comics over the last few decades. Kids should not be allowed to buy comics ! Comics should only be sold to guys in their thirties who still live at home with their parents !!! Let the kids play video games!!!!!

  10. I’m very happy to hear your shops are open again. Here in California we are fully open, though most/many stores are still requiring masks, social distancing, etc. We do for any public visiting my warehouse. till closed except for outdoor dining. I think you Canadians are smart to be more cautious, the U.S. has been one huge mess with politics getting in the way of good science. Nuff said.

    Your comics for grades program, that is so great. I hope there are shops south of the border adapting this also, it sounds like a wonderful program.

    I’ll be participating in the Whites auction on ICE. Need to dust off my old esnipe program and make sure everything works, it takes a big deal to get me onto Ebay–been a LONG time. I know early bids might be more supportive for you, seeing early action on items. However, the sniping program served me pretty well back when my buddy Jim Vadeboncoeur’s Atlas romance comics were coming up, a few years back, and I don’t expect too many bargains when we are talking WECA books. I just want to get some, no bargains expected.

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