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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Let's Talk About Comics

We are in a messed up (comics) 'industry'/fandom.

Really.  First of all we have the collectors who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and stand in the comic shop checking the staples, corners and spines of covers and then each and every page to make sure they are "perfect" before buying. I have seen this and it just is not rational.

Then poly bags for comic collectors must be Mylar bags! They make the books look even better when they are Mylar.  Backing board...uh, acid free and whatever else they have to be to be acceptable. And you you have to have the professional choice (?) of long or short box to put your books in.

Put that into perspective: you have to pay for the comic which costs waaay too much these days anyway -then you have to pay for the Mylar bags -check online and you'll see how much those cost! You get far more standard comic book poly bags for your $/£/Euro.  Or you could do what I do, just buy online from a stationary supplier a couple hundred punched document pockets.  They'll keep your comics clean and dry.  I use them to hold 10 comics each.  Sealed they then go back in the archive box.

OCDs may now need oxygen.  Yes, ten per bag -US comics and the old UK weekly comics that fit will be 1 per bag (there is no uniform size to old UK comics and even the same title could vary from week-to-week based on what the publisher wanted to spend and if the printer had a cheaper paper stock in.

Yeah, I wrote archive box...not a long box or short box.  One of these:

And the only reason the comics are in these boxes is because I have no space.  This old post (2015) goes into all of this and you can see some of my collection but things have changed drastically since then!

In fact, volume 1 of both The Avengers and Fantastic Four and some other lower run titles are in bags on my shelves.  I'm "re-organising" at the moment so if you can look over the bald head at the crappy reverse laptop image of the shelves -top shelf is Avengers vol. 1 and Masterworks Avengers, etc.. Next shelf down Avengers vols. 3-5 and the shelving to the right is Fantastic Four Vol. 1 and other short run books.

Card under the books to protect them from the wooden shelves but other than any that came with backing boards -none. Last time I showed my books someone had the audacity (there were two people) to criticise me for how I kept my books.  Back then I was polite but now I'll just say "**** off" because these are my books.  I read them -and I do not put gloves on when I read them!!! I am 61 years old this year and one day I'll be dead and my books that can't be sold will be dumped in a bin or burnt (I'm informed burning is the favourite choice at the moment).

Now, those brand new comics the OCD collectors buy.  The ones that they have inspected straight from the shelf and -believe it or not- give their own grades for (most seem to think books straight off the shelf are between 9.4 to 9.6 on their imaginary scale.  They are brand new undamaged books for **** sake!

But it gets worse.  How can you make your comic book collecting an even bigger rip-off and more expensive? oh..."Slabbing"!  Your special book posting boxes and padding (extra money) and then pay for the fastest and safest (I laugh at that one)  mail to a grading service you like which is even more expense. Someone there looks at your book (well you hope they do because they could just be taking your money and giving whatever grade they want) and then decides your grade.  The book is then put in a sealed plastic slab with grade and any notes on it  -these things:

I have watched a large number of videos from these collectors and very few agree with the grade their book is given.  Some will even disagree: "A 9.0...that's over generous I'd have said 8.2!"  But here is the thing -who really gives a flying **** if you have 8.0, 9.9 or 5.5?  You need another OCD who really believes that having a graded comic in a plastic case is going to be a great investment and some will greedily discuss on video how they treble the price when they put it on Ebay or "flip it" (re-sell).

There were a few videos on You Tube of collectors who disagreed with grades and videoed themselves phoning up the service they used and being outright rude and offensive as soon as they heard "Hello. Good morning" -one proudly noted that the service he used had banned him (from paying them more money?  That is serious!).

Similar videos as the collector verbally abuses a woman at a comic sales company over their "**** quality books".  This is not normal and I am glad to say I have only seen this behaviour with American collectors -and every other American collector is then tarnished as far as people are concerned.  There are some very polite, nice collectors who discuss any problem (and they tend to get better after care service!).

The funniest thing is when you see these people and their plastic slabbed, air tight comic and they put it in a Mylar bag -what the feck is wrong with you people: that is a mental condition.  No one appears to have pointed out that the very fact that the slabs are plastic will not preserve the comic for eternity and there are factors that may make the comic deteriorate faster.

Some "crack the slab" with the intention of sending it to another grading service that might give the grade they are satisfied with.  Then come the excuses as to why the straight from shelf book got a lower grade than expected: "It's my fault. I knew I should have had the book pressed!"  I've heard that one a few times. Yes, another way for a fool and his money to be parted.  People have set up services to do this and they do not disclose fees charged until you sign up and some have found it so lucrative that they are "forced to increase prices due to workload and maintaining quality".  Pressing as most services seem to definite it:

  • Pressing - Removal of small defects using non-restorative techniques that can help raise the grade of a comic.
  • Free Pre-Screening - Minimize cost on grading fee's for books that might not achieve the grades you were looking for.
  • Grading Submission - Submission of your books to CBCS or CGC with all necessary paperwork.
  • Online Ordering - Simple online management of the books you want to submit to us.
  • Signature Series - All inclusive press and prep service for Signature Series books.

Pressing companies seem to not offer explanations for what some of these services are or mean but it will cost you money.  You see, even the minutest "buckle" seen with a magnifying glass can lose you points.  And you want the highest points, right?

Below: If -if- you are going to read your comics then dress appropriately!!

So, a $5.99 comic you select will cost you extra for the special backing boards -and clear/see through (expensive) backing boards that are now the thing- and the Mylar and even the archive sheets you put inside a book that is designed to stop moisture.  You then want it pressed, which is extra money for the service as well as the postage and special posting box.  Then there is more postage and costs in getting the book graded and slabbed before you put the slab in a large Mylar bag for some strange reason.  But if the grade is not what you want then crack open the slab, maybe get it pressed again and then send to another grader and....and you could have donated that money to the sick or homeless and done some real good because unless you find another sap you ain't getting your money back.

Oh!  I almost forgot to include the "disposable reading gloves" and, because your breath is moist, the "comic reading masks".  Now that is just getting plain kinky!

It's a fecking comic -buy it. Read it. Enjoy it!  Read it again. Oh...I forgot this: some of these people will buy an extra "good grade copy" to bag and board in their collection and then buy up to 3-5 extra "reading copies in various grades". In one case a collector notes in one of his videos: "I picked this decent 7.5 reading copy up but I have 12 other reading copies  of different grades in the box".

Right, now, this is a psychological problem and I am not making fun of anyone because of that. Nothing can really be done and that's an end to it.

If you are a serious collector and you have the money and truly believe that any comic from the 1970s up to 2018 is going to be a major investment for your future then that is plain dumb but it's your money.

Watch people on video as they un-box or show off their slabbed comics and talk about how its worth even more now.  "Having it pressed was a good idea and it's gone from a 7.5 to 8.0 so its value is up!" It is pure greed and to be honest I can only watch so much of that before I feel nausea. It's the EGG (Ebay Greed Generation) at work.

I have pristine first issues of many 1970s, 1980s and even some 1960s comic series and having been in the situation where I needed the money guess what I found?  They don't sell unless you want to give them away.  And I am one amongst, probably, many thousands who have found this out.  The difference, however,  is that I never believed comics were "going to make you rich!"

Now, books from the US Golden Age are fairly rare -in fact, it seems that research shows this might be a false belief-  because the War effort wanted paper to recycle.  Then Wertham's insane campaign to ban comics resulted in mass comic burnings.  So slabbing to protect such a book makes sense but only to sell because otherwise what's the point -it should be read by the owner.

Comics in the United States never had the severe rationing that the UK had -paper and inks were all rationed and I have examples of 1940s British comics that I do go through from time-to-time and wonder just how they survived as the paper quality is poor. The Americans printed millions of comics and many thousands were burnt or recycled. However, researchers have pointed out that there should still be millions of Golden Age books out there.  There are.  Several TV shows have found boxes of GA comics, people still turn up to sell GA comics they have -in fact thousands have been scanned and are available online which does not seem to indicate that 1940s comics were "decimated".

Below: how you SHOULD read comic books -you even get a handy book rest!

Look, a comic book is supposed to be a cheap form of entertainment.  Well, it isn't cheap any more. But you want to bag and board your comics because you want to keep enjoying reading them then fair enough. You want a long or short box to keep them in -why not.  But have some sense and also remember that comics printed between the 1960s and 2000 were printed in their many thousands (160, 000 +).  I just purchased Charlton Comic's Blue Beetle #3 and #4 (1967)  for a total of £8.00 -already bagged and boarded.  There is nothing "Rare!!!" or "Extremely rare"/"Extremely scare" about them -that is what the dealers tell you to hook you and make you buy (try selling back to them quoting what you paid them!)

Not all of my comics are pristine -I've been around a good while and move after move (my current address is the place I have been the longest in my entire life -15 years!).  But I have no self deceit that I am eternal and that a bagged and boarded collection will still be read by me in 30 years let alone 150!

Enjoy comics -let your kids read the ones that are safe enough for them.  Draw your own comics and self publish as an Independent or Small Presser but for goodness sake remember these are just comics and we fans of 5 plus decades have more invested in them than Marvel Comics as a company!

Remember that there are more comics out there than DC, Marvel, Dark Horse or Image.

With stiff and glossy covers Black Tower Comics are the perfect books to read naked and covers can be wiped clean (I'm told...?)

Now, having alienated what is left of my American readership, I need to point out that I still have no idea why the number of views from the United States have dropped so drastically.  Certainly my Google+ page is hitting high numbers and I know people from the US are visiting. One of the net's little mysteries.

However, All Time Views do change by the week (obviously) and I wondered which were the countries providing the most views -very light/light green denotes countries/regions viewing CBO while darker greens indicates countries providing the highest number of views:

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom

I really do miss our Chinese visitors!  But looking at these stats what becomes clear is that the main views are from non-English speaking countries -I have to include Americans as speaking a form of English (there go more views!). But joking aside, you might expect Canada (a bilingual country speaking English and French), Australia or New Zealand to be providing a lot of views other than the UK and (yes, I apologise) America.

And, wow, I know that, since January, France has been providing daily views of 1,500-2,000+ and that the country is always in the top 5 for views but never realised just how many views France has provided!

The countries show are always somewhere in the top ten each day with Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany and the UK and United States always present (even if the UK slips to place #10).  But there are many countries providing lower views -basically world-wide.  Take the stats up to Mid-day:

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United Kingdom
United States

Compare it to views at this very moment 16:00 hrs:

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom

France is a constant dark green throughout. I think that there are four countries in Africa and three in South America that do not register as viewing CBO though I know Australia and New Zealand hardly ever register and yet there are people from those countries who get in touch via my Yahoo groups or email. The green is there but just very light in shade.  Papua New Guinea, Antarctica, Ethiopia I tick them all off when I see them register and to me this is almost unbelievable yet there it all is in black and white.

Of course, this world-wide audience (if you hear a low grinding noise that's the sound of certain other UK comic bloggers) presents other problems.  For instance, I know that some bloggers are in countries where certain images are not allowed and there can be consequences.  Hence my always trying to "keep it safe" -the fact that I want to encourage youngsters is another factor involved in content choice.

I try to, and succeed these days, steer clear of politics. This is a comic blog and meant to be enjoyed and not bring the nasty outside world in.  There are certain countries providing lots of page views that are in conflict with one another so I avoid mentioning this and if you cannot accept that the guy/lady in the next country likes comics -close the door as you leave.

Yes, I have personal views on matters but unless that's about comics who cares on a comic blog? I want to spread the word and get people to enjoy Manhua, Manhwa,  Comic-Bücher, bandes dessinées, stripovi, комиксы, cărți de benzi desenate, комікси -yes, comics!

I am hoping that the translate feature on this blog does a good job.

This is the place to get your comic or zine seen!  And if you produce action figures or anything else associated with comics get in touch.  CBO is open for business!

I may sound too up-beat there....ah. It's because I have not taken my 17:00 hrs meds!

* I have had it pointed out to me that I may still be getting a very large number of views from the Peoples Republic of China but they would not be registered due to various systems and what seem to be a very complicated number of other reasons.  So if you are in the PRC, Hong Kong, etc., my apologies for writing that you do not visit any more!

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