Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Under Lock And Key

Let's take a look at comic book collecting.  Specifically, collecting comics in the expectation that you'll be able to flip them later for beauceaux bucks.

Now, full disclosure, just to keep myself from coming off as some holier-than-thou asshole.  There was a point in my life where I was bitten by the speculator bug.  Around the time of the Image launch, I bought titles I liked and also kept on the lookout for comic I could collect to flip later.  Trust me, I didn't keep Youngblood #1 for so long because Hank Kanalz wrote such a compelling story.  Everyone is at least a little intrigued at the prospect of their collections going up in value, no one is immune to that.  But I was specifically targeting books to make it go up.  I fell out after a while, when I not only realized how much money I was spending on books that I not only wasn't reading but still had to take care of, but I was finding these books at the same condition quality in the quarter boxes.  I learned an important truth -- it's not what something is worth, and it's not what something is worth to you, but what it's worth to the person you are hoping will buy it.  And if they just don't think that Superman #75 is worth the $200 Wizard said it was worth, you're stuck, buddy.

Now, like I said, there is always at least a little notion of the value of books.  It keeps things interesting, another yardstick to measure what you have.  I brag quite openly about the first prints of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I have (yes, I verified that they weren't counterfeits).  Although good luck getting me to part with them.  I've had people offering me $200 for my #2 first print (value at the time?  $85) and I said no because I love the books and am keeping them.  I'm aware of the value, but I'm not holding on to them hoping to buy a yacht with them.

So when people like my cousin who only collects Silver Age comics because "They go up $100 in value every year", I just smile quietly.  And when he looks at all the indie comics I have and says my collection is worthless, I just shrug.  (He made sure to take a couple of cheap swipes at my complete run of Sound Waves, wondering why in the world I was collecting something so crude.  Oh, is HE ever in for a surprise.)

The conventional wisdom is the opposite of the lesson I learned all those years ago.  Supposedly, rarity dictates how collectible something is.  No, demand dictates collectibility.  When I was swapping video tapes years ago, I made sure to record shows to use as trade bait (got pretty good at it, too).  The stuff I was looking for and had for trade, no one wanted, and it made trading almost impossible.  But get your mitts on something they really want, and you can find aaaaaaaall kinds of cool stuff.

Which brings us to the Comic Guarantee Company, which slabs comic books and artificially jacks up the value.  The same book on eBay, one slabbed and one just in a bag and board so you can open it and read it, usually results in a price delta of $50, typically $100.  You have people that are bound and determined to make sure modern comics can be bragged about financially just like Silver and Golden Age comics, and they hit on this.  They are artificially creating rarity in comics.  Here's proof -- the death of Captain America goes for three figures.  There are hundreds of these slabbed.  If I get a copy of Sound Waves #1 slabbed, it will be rarer than the death of Cap, because there are only about thirty copies of Sound Waves #1 in circulation.  But I guarantee you the comic will not be valued at more than a few cents, even though the basic logic of the culture, that rarity dictates price, says it should be the other way around.

Boom! Studios is launching a new series, Valen The Outcast.  The first issue, they decided to do a special cheap publicity stunt alternate gimmick cover.  Joe Jusko drew it, a 1 to 200.  To get it, stores had to order 200 copies of the regular release ($1 cover price = about $133 going to Diamond to get it), and Boom! printed up 500 copies.

I want you to pay attention to that number:  500.

The copies of the bonus were slabbed by CGC, rated 9.8 (each one of them?  That is a remarkable coincidence), and readied for release.  Right, the comic shops were getting a comic that may well have had blank pages inside, they'd never know because they couldn't crack open the slab.  Like I said, they got a glorified baseball card.  Well, release came and went.  Only 25 comic shops actually ordered enough copies of the regular book to get the variant cover.  Boom! wound up burning the vast majority of the comics, hundreds of them.  (Note: they actually did it, they posted the video of them doing so to YouTube.)

Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

Now, let's go to the CGC web site, where they track the books they have graded.  Do a search for the Joe Jusko variant cover, and you'll get this:


With reports that only 25 of them made it into the wild, what is this?  Bleeding Cool asked for a breakdown, and here's what Boom! said:

25 — original Diamond order
11 — this week’s Diamond reorder
15 — comps for staff
8 — copies for BOOM! archive
10 — overage in case of shipping damages, either from CGC to Diamond, or from Diamond breaking ones themselves
6 — creator comps
75 — TOTAL

75.  75 potentially out in the wild.  Not the full 500.  And definitely not the 226 CGC is saying.  Boom! says it's just a glitch on CGC's part and will be fixed next week.  Unless this is one of those little slips that reveals there is more going on and they are hoping no one looks too deeply.  Can you guess which one I'd put my money on?

What's the difference between a porn star and the comic book industry?  It's FUN being screwed by a porn star, and you know when it's happened to you.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, did not do the research, don't try this at home, important life lessons, infernal gall, stupidity, technology is a beautiful thing, things that make you go hmm, this ought to be interesting
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