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Archive for January, 2012

I dropped Grifter.

Holding issue #4 of Grifter in my hands, I started to have doubts. Flipping through each page beautifully (and I mean beautifully) illustrated by CAFU, my heart slowly broke, like seeing your boss avoid you all day right before getting fired. The story wasn’t dragging me in or holding my interest. The $2.99 per issue price just wasn’t going to work out for a “wait and see” strategy.  I was already $9 invested in the title, and we all know the comic companies love to issue trade paperbacks after a handful of newstand issues are in the can.


“I’m breaking up with Grifter.”

With my head hanging low, I pulled my coat closed in front of me and placed the issue carefully back on the shelf. Grifter, one of my favorite characters, was ruined by the New 52.

In DC’s relaunch/reboot of all its characters, Grifter was the one I was most worried about. This poor guy has been a member of the ill-fated Team 7 from Image Comics, the “origin” point for many of the Wildstorm Universe characters. Then his WildCats squad was tossed around the galaxy as well as the Image comics buyout by DC and rebooted so many times that the title began to use “2.0” and “3.0” in the actual cover title. Cole Cash (his real name for those who don’t follow embedded links) was getting flatter and flatter as a character, going from loner dual pistol wielding John-Woo-esque anti-hero to… a dude in a wheelchair.

DC’s reboot at least kept the black tee-shirt and the mask. But not much else.

In an attempt to make him “gritty”, Grifter was put on the run with some thin amnesia and a plotline of “is it alien abduction/invasion” that mixed together the worst parts of They Live and Mac and Me. I was embarrassed to be caught reading this crap. Dang it, I’m one of the last 3 people with all 3 Grifter action figures (well, the 2 and the PVC molded statue) and they didn’t care about ME.

DC dropped the ball.

(I’ll skip the hyperlinks in the next section, but google/wiki the titles for more info…)

I had already dropped BatWing, JLA, Stormwatch, I Vampire, and any Green Lantern or Legion of Superheoes titles from the New 52. All I had left was Batman, Detective, Batman & Robin… and the 3 titles of New 52 that I love, Batgirl, Animal Man, and Batwoman.

Batgirl

You’ve got to read these titles. Batgirl is the best take I’ve yet to read on the character. She’s the perfect mix of aspirational hero, coming of age young adult, and insecure abandoned child. New 52 claimed Barbara Gordon’s back was fixed by some gene-therapy/stem-cell/BS spinal fix, but that’s a detail worth tucking away. Being an 18-25 year old woman is hard enough, let alone the fear of her body giving out, the distance she is forced to keep from her father to hide her secret, and the uncontrolled distance between her and her estranged mother. Batman, the mentor, is also an incomplete father figure, and at the end of the day, Barbara can only trust herself, since no one can ever know “the real her”. Sound familiar to anyone who’s been through puberty? Batgirl is awesome. The art is great and yes, there’s tons of action. Her fight against the villain named Mirror was a brutal beating that she lost… at first.

Animal Man

Animal Man is hard to describe. I’m going to assign you some homework and tell you to find an issue from the new series online, check out the dark inky artwork, and tell me you’re not intrigued. Being a “less than cool” superhero is tough enough, but finding out that your daughter in the private sector is your superpower heir as well as part of a larger cosmic apocalypse involving the primal forces of nature can be… well… “daunting” is an understatement. I pray the SyFy network doesn’t make a bad TV series out of this, but it would fit well on a station where Warehouse 13 and Sharktopus go hand-in-hand.

Batwoman

Lesbians, ghosts, and death. You in? JH Williams takes your breath away with his art. Kate Kane is an artist’s dream, a woman who is part goth, part glamour, part soldier, part martial artist. Being able to portray so many types of body language in a single character leads to endless possibilities, and every issue has a couple new panels where I shake my head and say “why didn’t anyone draw THAT pose before?” The story is an intertwined cat-and-mouse where our heroine (who likes girls) deals with chasing a girlfriend, chasing a ghost, and chasing criminals while being chased herself by the government.  I wish Grifter was able to pull off this kind of complexity while retaining the personality of a strong-willed superhero.

Sitting back and looking at my New 52 issues, I’ve got to pose the obvious question: was it a success for me, the long-term fan? Like most things in life, the answer is a shade of gray when we wish for black and white answers.  I’ll always read Batman & Detective. I picked up some new titles that I love for characters I didn’t usually follow. I dropped some old friends. That’s life, though. We don’t always get what we want, but we still get something. Nothing’s perfect. But life goes on, and so does the New 52.

Looking forward to the next wave… cautiously.

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Two weeks until the Philadelphia Comic-Con.

I’ve been stewing in my own juices and number hell trying to figure out how to get the most money while offloading the most comics. I’d LOVE to be able to clear out at least one full long box of 300 books to make some space in my comic cave closet, but I’d also like to make a decent profit at the show without undercutting myself.  I’m bringing six boxes, but it’s highly unlikely I’ll move half of those books unless I give them away…

I have a couple of boxes that are bargain books; lovely modern era books from the 1990s through literally this year that have very low collector value, but are in excellent condition and great ways for someone to backfill their runs. I don’t mind getting $1 for a $2.99-3.99 cover priced book. These are effectively magazines, if you really want to get zen about comic book purchasing decisions. These were meant to be disposable reading once upon a time.

At the last show, I saw a couple of guys with 25 cent book boxes. They had lots of traffic, and people went nuts buying armloads of comics. Many, I noticed, were kind of beat up but good stories and characters. My $1 books were lightly picked at by the discerning collector.

Hmm.

(I love a well placed ‘hmm’ in a story.)

Should I choose to stay the course and stick with $1 books? Or should I go dirt cheap and 25 cent them? Or should I go middle ground and get rich or die tryin’ i.e. go the 50 cent route?

300 comics @ $1.00 = $300
300 @ $0.50 = $150
300 @ $0.25 = $75

In addition, I’m bringing some graded books that should be a decent higher value, from $30-150 each. I’ll be lucky to sell 4 or 5 of them, as graded books really need to be matched with a perspective buyer. It is tough to push a CGC slab at someone as an impulse buy, like trying to sell a manual transmission sports car to a quadriplegic; it’s nice to look at and park it in front of your house, but you can’t open it up and really get the full thrill.  It will be tough to get the “exact” graded value, but I can at least put these at a flat discount on the graded guide price; a CGC grade is what it is, there’s nothing subjective about a book being in “fine to very fine”. It’s a 6, 7,  or 8. Period.

My third tier is my ungraded X-Men. I have about 100 or so bronze to copper age X-Men that are ungraded, bagged and boarded, and in the Fine to Near Mint range, 6.0-9.4. I’ll most likely never get the true value for these, so I’ve put together a spreadsheet checklist for my books with the approximate CPG prices for 6.5 and 9.4 copies. Here’s an example using the first appearance of Kitty Pride, X-Men 129:

X-Men 129 @ 6.5 = $20.00
X-Men 129 @ 9.4 = $100.00

Averaging the prices together gives me $60. (I’ve added a column on the sheet for the average of the range).

Hmm.

Looking at the book’s condition, it’s probably an 8.0-8.5. The books in the 1970s/early 1980s are highly sought after in near mint condition, and due to the collecting boom and abundance of issues, it’s tough to get $60 for it.

Let’s add another column, a 25% discount of the average of the ranges. X-Men 129 is now $45.

A scan of ungraded eBay copies shows completed sales in the $10-20 range, so maybe using the 6.5 price is a good idea, right?

Now let’s look at X-Men 175, a double sized anniversary issue.

6.5 = $2.40
9.4 = $12.00
Average = $7.20
25% discount = $5.40

Really not sure this issue should go into the bargain range and be $2, but $5.40, let’s call it $5, seems more “right”. Single copies have sold for $4-5 on eBay, but they’ve also been sold in combined lots of 2-5 comics for $10.

So I’m thinking a variable pricing plan may be in order, with earlier issues holding at the discount while later ones will keep a floor value of some sort. I’ll have to tinker further, but looking at the overall strategy across the three types of books I’m selling, the compromises may be the best way to get books moved. Maybe some of those X-Men go into the dollar bin, and maybe I make a 25 cent box or two. 

Get rich, or die tryin’ sounds much better than shooting yourself in the foot for the sake of a buck.

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