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Sunday, 24 August 2014

I'm A Comic Dealer. You Are Comic Geek Chic. I Want To Rob You Blind -Okay?

Firstly, VERY angry email from the blogger regarding yesterdays post in which I revealed that he and others were told by a Marvel movies man that there will be no Sub-Mariner movie.  Tough. By allowing the rumour that there is such a movie in production you allow the quick-buck people to start ripping off ...well, they aren't fans. Let me explain.

I have seen posting after posting and video after video on You Tube of people who have been buying any comic mentioning The Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Avengers and even Howard The Duck now.  These are some of the comments from said buyers:

1.  "Cover looks good and it was bagged and boarded so that goes straight into a comic box I bought"

Yes, no joke.  He bought a comic box to hold the one book he has and, apparently, any new movie Guardians comics he likes the look of.

2. "This is the first appearance of Rocket Raccoon, right? Got it off a guy last week. Anyone know what the story's like?"

Yes, he HAS the actual comic in a bag in his hand and he has had that comic for over a week and he has: a) not even bothered looking on the internet to check the significance of the book he bought. b) Has not even taken it out of the bag and, c) the feck-wit has not even read the book (I guess he can read?)

3. "Cus there's a movie and this is the comic based on the movie it's gonna be worth a lot a dough"

Prick.  I'll go into more critique in a while.

4.  "Here it is! Yeah, I got me the first ever issue of Guardians of the Galaxy from DC comics -this baby'll see my old age is covered!"

I refer you to my previous response.  Oh, and the BIG company credits on the cover ought to have told him it was a Marvel comic.

5.  "Holy shit! I got ripped off! I got my money back, though but don't get boned -this is a fake! (holds up a scanned copy of the cover).

 Firstly, no. 3....oh. I must try not to be abusive.  How many copies of this comic do you think were printed -100????  No. This comic will not get you enough cash to live happily off  in retirement. A comic killing super bug from the future needs to destroy many thousands of copies leaving only 2-3 in existence THEN you'll have something of value. Maybe if he stopped masturbating to internet porn he might  realise that.  Ditto no. 4 and to show how savvy he is....he gets the publisher wrong -in fact, he says "DC comics" three times. I don't think 3 and 4 will live to see old age as I suspect both will die from asphyxiation having wondered why the plastic bag has "Do not place over your head" printed on them.

Marvel Super Heroes no. 18 with the original Guardians.  This is the scanned cover of the comic no.5 thought he got ripped off on.  He later admitted in the video he had only made $50 from re-selling so lost $25 on what he had paid for it.  sigh

I have seen the same thing with 'collectors' who bought the Avengers Now #1 (Marvel called it Marvel "Now" so you would not get confused by all the previous volumes which is now ridiculous. I suspect that this was a Joe Quesada idea because "Joe Dollar" never realised that "Now" only applies to the present. Next year the re-boot will be "Now". "Now" applies only to the present and---oh, someone tried explaining this to Joe and he had a seizure while screaming "NO! IT'S ALL A PLOT BY KANG I TELL YOU!!"

ahem. Abusing brown-nosers can be so relaxing.

Now let me explain to all those sudden "comic geek chic" morons out there how it works.

During the US Golden Age of comics millions of comics were printed.  However -look, if you never heard of this event (it WAS mentioned in comics) google it- World War II/The Second World War/WW2  saw many millions of these comics trashed in a patriotic war effort.

Then, in the 1950s,  a person with a mental health issue out seeking publicity found that "the Red Menace" (no, NOT the Red Skull) was already covered.  What could he do?  oooh-ooh! Kids read comics. Scare parents -make 'em think they are bad parents rearing juvenile delinquents, killers. HOMOSEXUAL ("Oh, if only lil Jimmy had been a murderer instead. The shame!") or...or...lesbians!!!  Far better to take the kids out to the barn and put 'em down than buy them deviant comics.

There were mass burnings of printed literature that were televised and filmed -no, no, no. Not the 1930s. You are thinking of the Nazi book burnings which....ah. Right.  Same sort of insane, fanatical ideology.  But these burnings were in the US of A so they "were for the better good" hehehehesure

So, millions of comics were destroyed then, in the late 1970s, some comic people with a vested interest decided that those comics still in existence ought to be sold for a very high price.  Millionaires could now spend huge amounts on comics that would be stored in bank vaults never to be read -spare cash that any decent US citizen could have used to help the poor and needy.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA a little carried away there.

Anyhow, although the first Superman or Bat-Man appearance might fetch millions Guardians of the Galaxy, Howard The Duck, Fantastic Four, Avengers #1 (take your choice there are so many) are not -are not going to earn you hundreds of thousands or millions.  

So why do these people think their books -one in many thousands- is going to be valuable? The comic publishers promote the first collectors issue and promo like crazy how great this is going to be. But the real greed starts at ground level -with the comic store owners.  Yes, they run a business and need to make money but I've gone to comic shops since the 1970s, I've seen store owners at work and on You Tube promoting new books or talking to news programmes.

I generally end up muttering "lying scum".  They talk about the "big sellers" the "collectors market" and "the investment potential" and they have it all down to a fine art.  I seriously believe that some of them actually DO believe this! Question anything they say and be prepared for the outrage! 

I have seen people who are regulars in comic shops and have been regular customers for years, grabbing a handful of copies of a title that the store guy tells them are going to be "hot" (not as hot as the place the store owner ought to go).  So, any other customer coming in for that particular issue loses out. "Sold out -they are going that fast!"- and then there is the hope that customer might pay a bit extra for all the 'work' the store guy does to get them a copy.  I've been there and seen it. I've seen the open anger when after weeks of being told "the distributor is being awkward" and "Don't hold your breath -I doubt it will show" I tell them "I got a copy off ebay".  But, apparently, I was a pain because "If you only ordered Marvel or DC there would  be no problem". 

I always -ALWAYS- use by customer right of buying elsewhere and threats to cancel my standing order? Okay, cancel it. Problem solved.

Look, The Avengers movie comes out and everyone wants copies -many not realising that a comic from the 1960s is NOT based on the 21st century movie...yeah, I worry some times especially when someone online brags that they got the "first ever appearance of the Vision in the Avengers from the 1950s -bagged, boarded and ready to earn me bucks!" "50s"?  Avengers #57 was published in 1968. I loved the tag onto this which was "Now I need to find the one with the first appearance of Ultron in it"....which was Avengers #55 by the way.

I have to say that the oft mis-attributed words of P. T. Barnum, possibly one of the greatest flim-flam men ever, applies to comic buyers: "There's a sucker born every minute!"

I have nothing against the true comic buying fan. You can be a mad, crazy loony bunch but I love you all!! And when you start a conversation with a group of people by saying "Hell there" and ten minutes later you are discussing comic characters, their history and much more so intensely that you find yourself thinking "oh crap. My life!" -you'll know what I mean.  Sadly these folk tend to be in smaller numbers at events now. And I do mean "sadly".

I have no problem with a comic fan who is a nutty collector and must get every issue of a specific series. Why not -people collect stamps, fossils and much more. But you have the absolute hoarder who calls himself a "collector" and explains how he just got "reading copies" of a certain comic, though he'll probably not read them (HOW many copies do you need before you can read it???) -"Hey, I got seven other copies of this issue in various grades!"  And not just that particular comic but MANY. That is a "problem" they cannot help -some do not even know what's in the issues they show or that "one of my favourite creators" has been dead for years -they even wonder aloud  "what he's doing now?"  Rotten in the ground, mate.

Oh, and those people who are earning big money by, uh, "grading" your comic (they do this with action figures,too!) and sealing it in plastic...don't get me started.  WHY? Only a moron is going to say "Oh, it's in plastic and graded at 7.5. Hmm. Must get that one..$200? Well, it is graded!" Arse-wipes.  Look, you pay expensive postage because you have secured your comic beyond getting damage even by nuclear explosion to get it to someone who gives it a cursory examination seals it in a "slab" and you pay money for that, and more postage and..."hmm. I'd have graded it a Very Fine 8.0 myself..."  and graders often differ wildly. One grader checked a collector's comic and said it was 7,0 so he was unhappy (meh) and sent it to another grading company explaining all of this.  They graded it as 8.5...

If you pay for all of this and do not read the comic what do you think it will do?  You are in your 40s, 50s or even will be dead for decades before the comics are worth anything.

"What the---what is grading?"  Well, "A Remark" on ebay wrote this guide

"It's easy to get confused about all the different graded comics out there, so I'm writing this guide to help out anyone who is as confused as I was when I first started collecting comic books.

To start with, there are two main comic book grading companies, PGX (Professional Grading eXperts) and CGC (Comics Guarnaty, LLC). Also, PGX used to be PGA (they had to change the name for legal reasons) and CGC used to be CGG, so you might see some PGA or CGG comics floating around from time to time.  They both use the same grading standards, but CGC is more well established so you're likely to see a lot more CGC graded comics out there. I'm not saying that makes them better (that is an on going debate amongst comic collectors), just more plentiful.

Both companies use the same grading scale and it is as follows:

10.0-Mint grade
9.8-Near Mint/Mint
9.6-Near Mint +
9.4-Near Mint
9.2-Near Mint-
9.0-Very Fine/Near Mint
8.5-Very Fine +
8.0-Very Fine
7.5-Very Fine-
7.0 Fine/Very Fine
6.5-Fine +
5.0-Very Good/Fine
4.5-Very Good +
4.0-Very Good
3.5-Very Good-
3.0-Good/Very Good
2.5-Good +

Many listings will use the abreviations for the grades (ex. Mine=M, Near Mint=NM, Very Fine=VF, etc.)
Comics graded 9.9 or 10.0 are extremely rare for either company.  You can literally take a comic book straight from the printing press and have it graded and it still probably wouldn't grade a 9.9 or 10.0.

A label is divided into two sections.  The left hand section is used to tell you the grade of the comic, the name of the comic, any grading notes, and the serial number given to the comic (ex. Tomb or Dracula, Mile High Pedigree, off white pages, and the serial number).  On the right hand side of the label are any notes of significance.  This might include something like "the first appearance of Wolverine", "1st edition", or who the art work was by.

Now then, both companies also use different colored labels to denote characteristics of the comic.  The colors for both companies and what they represent are as follows:

Blue Label-Both companies use a blue label if there is nothing wrong with the comic book (ex. no resoration, signatures, etc.).

Yellow Label-CGC uses a yellow label if they witnessed a comic book being signed and then graded it.  It is important to note that CGC actually witnessed the comic book being signed and therefore such books are considered authentic by collectors (usually making them more valuable). These comics are usually referred to as Signature Series comics.

PGX Signature Series-PGX uses the same blue label on their signature series comics.  This can make it hard to notice.  Look in the bottom right hand corner of any PGX blue label comics where they note anything significant about the comic.  If it is a PGX Signature Series, it will say "signature witnessed by PGX".  PGX does not use a different colored label for comics with signatures they did not witness.  They use the same blue label and note that there is a signature on it, but do not say "signature witnessed by PGX" on it.

Restored Grade-This means that someone tried to repair the comic.  A repair can be anything from taping it up to applying a microscopic amount of color to the cover to make the cover look better (this is usually done to help the comic recieve a higher grade).  No matter how large or small the restoration, if CGC or PGX graders notice something, it will recieve a restored grade.  CGC gives such comics a purple label and PGX gives such comics a green label.  Restored comics almost always sell for less than normal or signature series comics.  Most collectors will not buy restored comics unless it is a rare comic (ex. first appearance of Iron Man).

Qualified Label- CGC uses a green label to denote a qualified grade.  A qualified grade is given to comics with a series defect (such as a 4 inch rip in the back cover) or a signature that was not witnessed by CGC.  It will say in the description why it was given a qualified label.  Comics with a qualified label can vary widely in price depending on why they recieved the grade.  PGX does not use a qualified grade.

Modern Label-Modern labels are no longer used by CGC, but they used to use a red modern label to denote any comic printed from 1980 to the present.  Since this label is no longer used (all modern comics recieve universal blue labels now) such comics are rare.  There is nothing wrong with these comics, it is just an outdated grading label.  If you purchase a modern label comic, you can send it into CGC for an updated universal holder.

I hope that helps you with all of your comic book purchases.  Good luck and happy bidding."

You can just see the greed going on here.  Give me a real -a real- comic reader/geek any day.  Comics are to be read and enjoyed and, yes, at one time I used to make sure every comic I had was kept unscathed.  Then I realised "One day I'll be dead and they'll (family) will either sell or chuck out my comics"  -enjoy  reading and looking at your comics.

You want to spend money and buy something that a lot of people do not? Go for Independent comics and zines (NOT Image or Dark Horse because they aint Indies).  Black Tower.  Browner Knowle. Dilworth. Merv Grist.  Comics with no major print runs that will be scarcer in future.  Someone bought a Black Tower book -Adventure no. 1 for £5.00 and a year later sold it on ebay for £20...that is ridiculous because the buyer had to just search and buy that book from me or online!  But it has happened a few times with my old zines and comics.

Indie comics and zines is where the collector looking for investment should go. £180, £200 and even £480 (I think that's well over $1000 US) for a first issue Silver Age Sub-Mariner #1 all because they think there is a movie on the way. My copy recently cost me £5.00 ($10).

EVERYONE buys Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and they miss out on the real collectibles sold at events up-and-down the country each year.  Short print runs, usually dumped in bins by buyers when they get bored with zines.  A nudge folks -look around.


  1. An enjoyable read there - and a lot of the reasons why I'll NEVER get "into" superhero comics (apart from the fact that they generally just don't entertain me).

    And this whole "grading" thing - you know people even do that with video games? It's bloody crazy is what it is. Start it on rare breeds of animals too, why not?

  2. Hi. Do you know, I never even realised that they were sending BRAND NEW action figures to be graded and put in a slab of plastic. WTF???? Toys are for playing with and enjoying and comics to read and enjoy. And they grade video games?? All fed by greed or some mental abberation no doubt. Incredible. And thanks for the comment -I think the article was so long and wordy that comic people shied away!!

  3. Didn't shy away - just shook my head with sadness. Comics are to be read and enjoyed. They were
    ( and still are in many ways ) a representative slice of the culture of the time. 'Judge Dredd' was perfect for the late 70's and 80's. Captain America for the late 50's 60's - Spiderman late 60's 70's. Independents and zines even more so fit the times they were made in and for - Robert Crumb's thumb....'keep on truckin' hit the zeitgeist head on for instance. For many people these comics have a value. OK. Just perfect. We stick them in plastic sleeves and grade them in retrospect ; OK... but now we grade them in ADVANCE to anticipate potential INCREASES in VALUE ? Ahhh....although 'nostalgia' is a beautiful thing - when it gets twisted into a form of stamp collectors mania akin to stocks and shares - the point of comic books has just gone.

  4. Adventure vol. 2 no. 1 -£200. Go on....nah, forgot..."There's no colour...bwaaaaah!" Its these people ruining thingsfor everyone else. Some are, obviously, "ill" but the majority just greedy and they think A comic is going to make them a fortune. See the TV series Toy Hunter for someone who "loves" toys -fat faced, greedy ****** who loves the MONEY they make.