When It Rains

That’s a nice-looking stack of X-Men Annual #14s but alas it is the rejects pile. Luckily I was able to section 9 candidates for a CGC 9.8. Most of these had silly little storage damage but that’s the way it goes when comics are stored for years unbagged. I have noticed that a simple bag protects them so much versus unbagged. I’ll still consider this little pile a solid victory as X-Men Annual #14 does great in the shop and should be well received on the Big B Comics Vintage page.

Unfortunately, it was not all good news at the warehouse this week, it seems we had a little flood that affected about 20 long boxes. I have not had the time or energy to dig those boxes out to see what’s in them but I sure hope the comics in those boxes were bagged! At first, I thought it was snow melting near the back door but it turns out the water was coming through the partition wall dividing me and my neighbor. I’ll talk to him today to see what they were doing to cause the water to run under the wall and into my unit and of course, I’ll politely ask them not to do what they were doing anymore.

I’ll update everybody next week on what got damaged, hopefully, nothing too important and again, I hope the books are in bags.

Has anybody lost some really important books to a flood in the basement? Bad memories I’m sure you’d like to forget, we, on the other hand, would love for you to relive those moments by sharing them with us. I mentioned on a past Comic Culture podcast that I had flood damage in my Niagara Falls store but thankfully they were just overstock comics with little value. Those were the ones where a guy found them at the dump and brought them back to us to try to sell (not knowing we were the ones that threw them away).

Back Issue Comic Book Market Update

The back issue market continues to defy the logic of a veteran comic guy like myself. I read that a CGC 9.8 Giant-Size X-Men #1 got $40,000. I could name other sales but all these prices may seem low by next week’s post.

Actually, I had a guy say something to me that I’ve never heard before, he’s a reseller and needs to sell stuff to pay the bills and keep his enterprise going. He said something along the lines of “I know that every time I sell something I lose money”. That struck me as funny but with the market the way it is he is right. You almost have to buy something first before you sell the thing you were going to sell to be able to buy the thing that you now have to buy in advance! Confusing? The new market sure is.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1600

13 Comments

  1. The simplicity of using a bag and a board to preserve condition. And with value tied to condition, it’s sometimes baffling to me that many back-issue dealers don’t bother using a backing board to prevent those terrible spine creases (and I’m not saying you). It appears that many times it could have been easily prevented – TLC goes a long way. To me as a buyer and collector, a common Daredevil comic from the 1990s, for instance, in NM+ for $5 is much more appealing than one in FN/VF for 50¢. But hey, this is just the perspective of one buyer.

  2. Get those boxes up on skids or some sort of plastic platform (milk crates) or tables. All the long boxes in my basement are off the floor just in case. I hope you don’t lose too many.
    Also, happy birthday, Walt. You do so much good in this hobby of ours. You don’t need something like this as a birthday present.
    Thanks for helping me with the sale of some of my Marvel keys recently. I was very happy with the results.

  3. Ivan beat me to it. Pallets, Walter, my friend. Everything in that warehouse should be on a pallet. It’s so easy to get careless. Some of my original sixties (bought in the sixties as back issues, before the guide) comics got water damage once in a brand new basement that began leaking through the walls. And some original art from obscure children’s books and Norman Lindsay prints just got trashed. It sure hurts. I slowly replaced the comics…They included my Showcase Challengers of the Unknown, my Fighting American set, aughh. Fortunately I can’t remember any others. But at least they were just average books, since back then VG to FN was more than satisfactory for myself and my buddies.

    But at my warehouse, most everything is on metal racks with bottom shelf 3” off the ground. Full box storage is all upstairs, pretty safe there. No floods yet, knock on wood, after 35 years. In my garage (3 car, but with room for only 1), everything goes on a pallet (Ivan’s “skid”) unless its real sludge books, never comics, Duplicate pulps might be on the floor, but all are bagged. I keep spare pallets of every size around the side of the garage, use then all the time for stacking up firewood. They are plentiful and free around here.

    Had a bathroom shower start leaking in the wall, in my present house…it came into my closet with comics on the floor, but all were in mag boxes and in bags. Left some NASTY black fungus though, had to rip out the wall. A similar event, on a corner of this house again, (on a hill with lower level partly below ground), water seaped in through the corner joint of the concrete slab/walls intersection. Rotted the bottoms of two or three oak bookcases, which were sitting on carpet, before we discovered it, but only discolored a couple real (hardcover) books, which of course are never bagged.

    It’s certainly a lesson, to keep an eye on all of the house, accidents do happen when you least expect them. Who would think a shower pipe would start leaking inside a wall?

    My buddy in Portland, Oregon had the nastiest expererience…he was off in Europe with the family. The 1/4 aluminum line to the ice & water dispenser on the refrigerator had a bend in it that finally developed a crack, and it proceeded to leak for several weeks down into his collectibles room below. Vintage pulps and sci fi books, really got hit hard. They put them into freezing storage when they came home, then dehumidified them, I think they saved some of it. Fortunately his comics were across the room and safe in drawers.

    Another buddy, only recently, had his hot water heater line break under the house…but no sign of it until the electric bill went up. Then found it’d been leaking for weeks, and had gone up in the drywall of the walls, including in a bathroom remodel just completed. I don’t think he lost any collectibles, but he had to pack everything up, put fans all over the house, and move out while things dried out and got rebuilt.

    No floods in my warehouse in 35 years, though the toilet got stuck open and flowed over once and got into the carpet, but we were there at the time and two of use immediately vacumned it up. I still have some underground comics, Zap #4 for instance, that got water damage…either in my van crash in Houston in ‘73 (it was raining), or some other event I’ve put out of my mind. Any damaged fanzines or UG comics back then (when I was still a disgtributor, until 1988) were usually. usually damagedinn bulk but in shipping, but sometimes wet too), these just went into boxes and into deep storage for literally decades, until we started digging them out as “hurts” and “warehouse finds” a few years ago…

    Hoping for those comics of yours being in bags. They don’t look good.

  4. I am glad to read that the back issue market baffles even someone with your experience. I dont understand whats happening and I wonder If some books I had on my list are going to be way above my reach. Or if they will come back to a un-inflated point…. It appears last week a New Mutants 98 CGC 9.9 sold for 42,000 US dollars……………………………….. WTH

  5. I have always worried about water issues even when there were no pipes near, so I have always put boxes at floor level on some fabricated platform! Hopefully nothing important got wet!

  6. Walter, please find draft of my 1st US article:

    My Undervalued Spotlight article:

    Amazing Spider-Man #209, Marvel Comics, October 1980

    Kraven’s place in the Amazing Spider-man history cannot be understated; whilst for a generation of readers the death of Gwen Stacy ushered in a more adult, serious content into the most collectable tome in comic culture, it also arguably brought in an entire comic age.

    However for the next generation or readers the book had returned to it’s adolescent roots; Peter Parker suffering the decisions of young adulthood (university vs employment, the redhead vs. the blonde vs. the brunette), Then the villains started to increase in violence and madness – culminating in the joint symbiotes of Venom & Carnage – however the first villain to spike was Kraven, his last hunt represents a major milestone, a darker tone, the torture, the madness & suicide it was impactful.

    and so this week I present you with #209, Kraven’s lover Calypso is introduced; their relationship mirrors that of Walter’s and Chris; manipulation, condensation, a lot of wild animals endangered solely for entertainment.

    Strengths that make this comic a good long-term investment are:

    First appearance of Calypso – love interest

    MCU/Disney+ potential Kraven The Hunter show

    Denny O’neil scripted, falls in a fantastic, highly-collectable Spider-man run

    Further story on one of Spider-man’s most popular foes

    available at your finest comic book store:

    https://bigbcomics.com/collections/comics

  7. Don’t ever go to College/University or move out and not visit your parents house much for more than a decade.
    They will move your comics and magazines no matter how deep you bury them in a closet,basement or spare room.
    Next thing you know they have been in the garage, both bagged and unbagged, when you make a Christmas visit, and your brother has been using said garage as a club house for car enthusiasts and copious vehicle exhaust that goes with a place where everyone had their oil changed on a regular basis.
    I had my books safe , so I thought, while I hit the books but I was wrong.

  8. Letsgrunble, thanks for posting. I think for the old shops finding someone to sit in the back and bag thousands and thousands of comics was an issue, still no excuse as it lead to damaged books!!

    Ivan, thanks for the kind words and I think some calendar glitch happened on your end – I’m an April 13th boy.

    Bud, you and Ivan are right, I think for now skids/pallets are the cheapest and most effective way to go. Boy it sounds like you’ve had a quite a history with water, as a west coast boy living next to the biggest body of water should be. I’m glad there were no real serious casualties.

    Ariosto, thanks for posting and if you figure this whole thing out please chime in and let us all know – insane stuff right now.

    Gerald, I’m trying to find the time to move those boxes around and have a peek, I also hope those had at least bags on them.

    Spider – You are hired. I could not have sold it better and a worth Undervalued Spotlight that you so rightfully noted is available at bigb.com. Oh and I found you a very minty Star Wars #40 – perhaps your next US?

    ActiveJim, parents have been the bane of comic collectors since the beginning. I think the best revenge is to show them a recent auction result of a book they threw away or moved into harms way.

  9. To add to ActiveJim’s thread, my buddy in Seattle, born in the late 40s, Judd Lawson, was walking home from school one day to see smoke, from a block away, that turned out to be from the burn barrel (remember those? We had one) in his back yard. His Mom was tossing in his comic collection. He’s obviously been deeply effected, Judd is a uber-collector, with every possible premium, plastic figure, cereal box, comics, arcade machines, vintage paperbacks….you name it. Hardcore. Maybe if parents were more understanding, we wouldn’t end up just short of the psychotic spectrum, overcompensating for those losses during our impressionable years.

    My folks didn’t do anything nasty to my stuff, but I didn’t leave anything but my newspaper strips with them (which were in the attic, duhh, never a good place to store paper even in a moderate climate such as San Jose). I kept everything else with me, since I always rented houses in those early days, with buddies, never an apartment or dorm room through the five years of college.

    I needed the extra room for my fledgling business, in any case. East Coast Comics, aka Bruce Hershenson, had his entire print run of several EC Reprints shipping straight to me in the early 1970s. He or I would do order fulfillment for them and I stored several pallets in my garage until he relocated to Las Vegas. My San Jose address, after I moved out of my folks house, was in the indicia on several issues.

    Bruce got Jim Warren to arrange for him to print those EC Reprints in Sparta, perhaps he was the earliest “independent” to use the same printing presses where Marvel and DCs were being done. Pacific Comics was a pioneer in this, too, but several years later with their “Direct Only” books like Rocketter and Kirby’s Silver Star. Bruce was living in Great Neck NY before he moved to San Jose (for a short time, to share my place), so he’d gotten to know Warren at the NY Comic Cons, circa 1969-70s.

    But to relate back to ActiveJim’s story…my story is when I moved out, during my freshman year in college, in 1970-71, my Mom told me I was always welcome back home…but not to bring “the business” with me. I’d started it out of my bedroom at home, when I started college, and one day she came to me with a Zap or a one of Crumb’s comics like Big Ass or Motor City. one of the underground comics titles I specialized in…and she asked me what this all about. She was pretty understanding for a church-going Methodist, and my Dad read Playboy so he was pretty liberal, but neither was comfortable with the early Underground Comics. No surprise. I tried explaining the social satire and relevance of Crumb and crew, but that’s tough to swallow for oldsters. I don’t think they looked close enough to find S. Clay Wilson and the worse stuff, thank goodness. Even I was not particularly comfortable with Wilson’s demented work. Being the youngest of three kids, and the last to leave home, may have had its advantages.

  10. That’s the advantage of living in a second floor apartment – no leaky basement to worry about. However, I’ve bought a few water damaged comics that still look pretty good.

  11. Great stories Bud, and goodness I can just feel your pal Judd’s pain but if he kept all his stuff since then his parents ended up doing him a favor in a weird way.

  12. Yes, Walter, I think he may have done that. So I see your point!

    Klaus, I’m with you, I’ve bought my share of water marked books. In general, they don’t bother me if it’s a minor issue. But I know with some people, it’s the kiss of death. It’s funny how sometimes it looks like books got so damp it actually “cleaned” the pages, leaving them more white. I’ve never understood that. Then again, offsetting colors on the covers, often from dampness, sometimes doesn’t even rate a mention when I think it should. Circa 1964-69, I used to buy comics at the Flea Market, and those damp early mornings can’t have done them much good. San Jose was only 30 miles from the coast and fog will roll in in the early mornings, and of course none of the comics were in bags, just stacked up raw. But for 5 cents each, who could complain about ANY condition issues.

  13. Not comics but a roll of Frazetta film posters and some of his limited portfolios – massive leaking water heater – : ( : ( 🙁

    Re first appearance – possibly the first appearance of the sound effect “BAM!” illustrated on a comic cover, Captain Marvel Adventures #137, though still looking to see if there are any earlier. : ) $1.5 M… : ) Predates the Batman TV show “Bams!”

    Re storage and weather – even though we have marshy areas and grasslands, until they get bulldozed for townhomes and condos, we’re mostly cold & dry in winter, hot & dry in summer but it’s changeable on a dime. We have no other seasons so who knows what’ll happen to my comics.

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