900 Things: Halfway, but with an Expo hangover

 *Note: this is the lost entry of 900 Things that was written but not posted in May. I have not re-read it before posting so I honestly don’t remember why I didn’t put it up then.DSCF0170

May 11, 2013

I got a significant amount of teasing for the Calgary Expo purchasing spree I went on. I had always intended the Expo to be my 2nd reward point for this project and I had a wonderful time.

I did find that I was less inclined to get figures, prints or “reader” comics having done six months of this project. Most of the trades I bought was on my shopping list, primarily my big list of Post-Crisis DC event books. The only singles I picked up were directly from creators including my pals Ryan Ferrier and Grace Randolph.

IMG_1126Enhancing the pride of place that Booster has in my revamped mancave (now dubbed the Booster Cave) are two commissions and a quick sketch. Calgary artist and friend of the show Scott Kowalchuk did an amazing Booster commission for me.

My next reward point is August and I`ve just booked myself to go to Wizard World Chicago. I had intended the Before Watchmen hardcovers to be my reward so either I will pick some up in Chicago or hold them to be my final prize in Novemember.

It has been a bit difficult getting off the purchasing train after 3 days of opening that up again. I splurged on myself, but going into a comic shop a week later was challenging. Thankfully my birthday was my commerce methadone.

My 40th birthday.

Yes, I’m 40 now. It feels a lot like 39 only without the dread of 40 approaching. I had a terrific birthday celebration day that happily co-incided with Free Comic Book Day and Iron Man 3. I had sushi dinner with my podcast co-hosts Mo and Brett and a couple of other friends. Mo and Brett enabled my Booster obsession by getting me the Booster Gold fanclub t-shirt.

It was a really great day. Free Comic Day at Alpha Comics in Calgary was really fun and festive. A line-up to get in and comic signing going on. My wife treated me to a comic. I laughed that it was like I was a kid again, “I’ll buy you one comic so pick out the one you want most.” It was the New 52 JLI vol 2 (of course the one Booster Gold trade in the store).

My old friend Rad commissioned a painting for me which is amazing. It’s a local painter who does pop culture pieces and it’s of a jawa. The curated Booster Cave is really focusing down. Add together the blu-rays my wife gave me and my gifts were narrowed to Booster, Jawas, Batman and James Bond. That’s a pretty narrow focus from 4 people.

That pile of comics

I went through a community garage sale today and was amazed at some of the things people are still trying to offload that fall into the category of “let it go.” Outside of the usual stuff, the number of vhs tapes was quite staggering.

In conversation with Mo a few days ago, I was compelled to accept that despite my dreams that the pile of Supreme Power comics that are in my 900 Things pile are never going to go to a good home. Off to the recycling bin with them and a few other odds and ends.

The collector market is in many ways the worst thing that happened to comics. Readers and civilians stopped thinking of them as magazines – diposable, equal value in swaps – and started thinking of them as objects with the capacity to increase in value (however unlikely the odds in most cases). As soon as folks started putting comics in bags we were going down a dangerous road. I’m hopeful that digital and trades will get us out of this hole.

I laugh whole heartedly when I hear the cry of the anti-digital that a digital comic has no resale value. I always offer to sell my Ambush Bug collection for only 20% over cover to reinforce the self-disception intrinsic to their argument. For three decades I’ve had friends in comic stores, if they aren’t rich, why do you think your “investments” are going to work any better?

The outside impression that comics, all comics, have resale value is the biggest and most widespread lie in the industry. Why is a copy of Extreme Justice more likely to retain value than, say, a February 1995 issue of Time Magazine? They are both similar formats but one is in landfill and the other is in a plastic bag in the collection of a hopeful seller who drags it from show to show looking for the next sucker.

I’ve heard of friends trying to rid themselves of print collections who literally can’t give them away. When Brett and I liquidated ours we got rid of the last by selling them for about $10-$30 per box! Imagine if we went to comic shows and everything was a flat 50 cents instead of boxes of nonsense and the same $500 Amazing Spider-man #300 that has been carried from show to show for a decade? I had a good condition copy of that book and I sold it for a quarter. But I knew that I was the only seller at that show who didn’t leave with the copy he came in with.

George Carlin said words that have echoed for me as I’ve gone through the 900 Things project. “Your shit is stuff and everyone else stuff is shit.” Ultimately a comic is only different from a magazine if we pretend it is. I have no problem dropping a $5.99 copy of Esquire into the bin, but I found myself about to put the Free Comic Day Infinity into a bag!

We are programmed by our own hobby to put value to every comic that crosses our threshold. Just once I’d like to buy an old Spider-man at a show for $50 and immediately fold it and put it in my back pocket. Perhaps set up a friend with a video camera to capture the horror of those around me. Would anyone try to stop me? It’s a distinct possibility.

I read an op-ed years ago that pleaded with mothers to throw out their children’s comics. It was the only way to have anything published after the 1970s have real value. Basic supply and demand. Any comic that a high selling price now (as opposed to “asking price” which is a decidedly different animal) is by its nature a bubble. Ask anyone who “invested” in the first appearance of Lobo or Thundercats #1 and you’ll see the tears of someone who bought into the big lie.

And so a pile of stuff goes into the blue bin. If you have trouble with this image, you can at least feel the reassurance that your copies of Supreme Power have now an incremental greater demand because I have reduce the supply by one.

Bonus tip:

Single bagging and boarding every comic is a waste of your hobby dollar and boards exist purely to reinforce the myth of retained value.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your comics in good shape for yourself. But you can do that by putting them 2 or 3 to a bag and skipping the board. Reverse every second issue and the spines will do the work for you.

This also saves you at least 1 bag and 2 boards per two comics. It also reduces your storage area because more comics fit in every box. All told you are getting 1 free comic for every 30 you buy.

You are welcome.

Cost of bagging and boarding 1 comic:

Bag $.06

Board $.06

Box 1/250th of $10= $.04

Cost for 100 comics= $16

My method:

Bag $.03 (1 per 2 comics)

Box 1/350th (results may vary) of $10= $.03

Cost for 100 comics= $6

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