I am long overdue for a post… so here we go. Last Fall my father in law fell, which is bad enough however he has Parkinson’s. He fell in his home among the hoard and my mother in law couldn’t help him up. This incident spiraled into 10 months (and going) of eldercare. I’ve not had much energy to do anything besides help take care of two people who thought they would never get old (man these folks are 86, I have no idea what they are thinking); and work as a woman of color in a stressful role managing a team of people while keeping leadership at bay. It’s a lot. I miss weekly comic shop visits and I believe that would relieve some of my stress, just that I don’t have a shop and I don’t have the energy. Since October of 2021, there have been 8 emergency room visits, 4 rehabs, 3 hospital stays and countless social workers, doctors and shitty caregivers. What’s hardest for me is that these are not my parents, they aren’t nurturing or warm, makes giving them my time even more difficult.
To salve my comic soul I troll Instagram and try to catch cool variant covers. Mind you beautiful variants are addicting and expensive but I try not to deny myself if I really want something because i really love this hobby so much. Not to mention life has thrown come crappy situations my way, comics are one of the few things that bring me joy. I was in Lincoln Nebraska for work recently, as such took the opportunity to visit a local shop. I was on the hunt for 8 Billions Genies (late to the game after the Amazon Prime announcement, thus couldn’t find a copy in any local shops). I looked for a copy, instead of doing the sensible thing and asking when I walked into the store. Someone else at the store with me, saw the last copy and picked it up. Ahhh such is life. I did eventually find a copy in the wild, paid more than I should for it but oh was it worth the read. It’s been a while since I said, ‘damn’ out loud on every page. It’s a really good story, pick up the reprints or a digital copy if you can.
I subscribe to CovrPrice, it is an online price guide that uses past sales of comics as a marker for value. I’ve been slowly trying to add my 7000 plus collection to this site to get up to date market values for collectible insurance. I have a number of comics that I’d like to have cracked (unslabbed), pressed and resubmitted. That will come down the road. But for now I’ve been scouring my collection for hidden gems worth pressing and grading.
I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering Arena like an addict. Because it’s free to play and online, I can play whenever I want, day or night. I dont know why I’m so addicted as I loose all the time, tons and tons of games. Every now and then, I have an epic win and those are the screenshots I take.
What’s the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”? This year has just zoomed by for me. My last blog was in June, I had hoped to write more often but well, life you know. My comic collecting has really taken a back seat to other things. I know that this is largely due to not visiting a local comic shop for New Comic Book Day each week. I’d tried several mailing services but the books arrive really late and often I didn’t track what I was ordering very well and ended up with duplicates. Which is frustrating because I rarely had duplicates of a hot or rare book, just the regular stuff and I couldn’t exactly return those.
I haven’t stopped collecting completely, just it’s not nearly as often. For my birthday this year I visited a slew of comic shops in Eastern PA. I filled in the gaps of some series I was missing and bought some variants I wanted. Since the cancer, I’ve made an effort to treat myself on my birthday, the logic being I made it to another one. 😉
Though I can’t visit a new shop every week, when possible I go on an adventure. I visited Fat Moose Comics in Whippany New Jersey. The shop was clean and well organized. I found plenty I wanted for my collection. I didn’t take pictures once inside because I’m rusty and forgot (next time y’all). My purchasing experiencing will likely keep me from returning to this store; here’s what happened. I picked up two Funko Pop figures, the same figure but with two different prices. After making my final selection of comics, I approached the person behind the registered and asked about the price on the Funkos. He offered to charge me the cheaper of the two prices, I agreed. What I didn’t realize is that he rang me up for both, only after paying him and he was bagging both did I say, ‘hey I didn’t want both figures just wanted to know which price I was to pay.’
The Funko was $7 versus $12, that it would not break my bank but again, conflicting prices. So the gent behind the counter says ‘oh’ when I said I didn’t want two of the same thing. He looked dumbfound as to what to do, he didn’t offer a refund or anything; so I suggested, “no worries I’ll pick out something else and pay you the difference”. He agreed. Now I just counted about $200 in cash for the initial purchases (variants, man, I’m addicted). I just picked something he had on the shelf – an Amazing Spider-man he had marked for $25. I said I’ll pay you the difference on this book. I had a $7 credit, I was expecting something like $18 or $20s, instead homie said the book was $25 no tax. I should have bulked but I didn’t, I paid. Seven dollars really isn’t a lot of money, but when this guy messed up the original sell, I didn’t demand my money back, I picked something else to buy. He didn’t ask me if I wanted both Pop figures, he assumed, and when he realized a mistake was made, he didn’t attempt to fix it. There are so many awesome shops out there still to see, I see no need to ever return to Fat Moose Comics.
Anyway, here is a pic of me in the front of the store. Here’s a pic of the comics I purchased (yay I now have a complete set of the John Christopher Tyler’s Phoenix Negative Space covers).
I have to keep myself off WhatNot!!! I bought these convention exclusives during C2E2; that app has me spending money (fortunately it’s money I have but still). I can’t wait to go to comic con again.
Lastly, I have recently watched Demon Slayer on Netflix. OMG!!! I am in love with this anime. I considered buying the manga but can’t find a complete set other than on Amazon and I loathe that company’s business model so I have been trying to find an actually shop to purchase the set from. In the mean time. Here are my latest Funko Pops!
I can’t believe how much time has passed since my last blog. I’m grossly overdue. It’s June 2021 and this time last year I was finishing my last round of chemo. In July, I go for my one year checkup and expect that I will still be cancer free so yay!
My job is still good, I’m still working from home and most recently leadership has decided that we can treat work with a hybrid approach. Basically what this means is we won’t be returning to the daily commute, we are not required to return to the office, if we want to work from home we can, if we want to work in an office, we can. I’m surprised and happy a this decision and hope all US companies consider it from now going forward. Work is good, feels so different when you have a choice.
I’ve had some thoughts on comics, it’s been a great time for speculators and flippers as more comic stories find their way to a screen whether large or small. As a collector it’s felt very much like the 90s when the market was flooded with tons of variant covers (no expense spared $$$) and print runs are huge. It gives me pause, I feel there’s no way this hyped atmosphere can hold over time. Also I’ve noticed a sad trend, new series start with a bang, solid good stories and as issues come out, they fizzle until the series just stops abruptly. Or the other trend has been a glut of limited series and issue 1s (for the money of course, who wants quality); series last about 8-12 issues and then start all over again with issue 1. What a racket? I’m a bit soured on this. Still I admit there are some amazing comic artists are there and I love collecting my favorites. Here are my latest additions, many from my personal collection that I had pressed and graded. This blog post feels like a contradiction = ‘what a time to be a collector (yay, great pressing companies, competitive grading market, gorgeous variants to your hearts content)’ versus ‘what a time to be a collector (boo, tons of reboots, tons of variants, a ridiculous speculator/flipping marketplace)’.
I considered leaving the hobby all together but got immersed in it on social media and decided against leaving it. I would miss it, feels like a part of me would be missing. I still find joy in these floppy books, I love owning them, collecting them, hunting for missing issues, all of it.
While I’ve cut back on comics, I’ve really been roped in by Magic the Gathering. Wizards of the Coast put out these limited edition cards called Secret Lair and man do they have my money on their latest drop. Look at these awesome cards depicting Saturday Morning Cartoon – Dungeon and Dragons. I loved this show as a kid. Also have I mentioned how big of a fan I am for Fiona Staples artwork? She draws one my absolute favorite comic books called Saga. She also happens to be a guest artist for one of the secret lair drop sets, see pic. Yeah, my wallet wept.
I’ve been working for a new company since November 2020 and it has been unlike any work experience I’ve ever had. My immediate manager is actually a nice person, something I’m not used to. My day ranges from 6:30am EST phone conferences to 10pm debrief sessions and some of everything in between. I never would have worked hours like this before, I always left work promptly after to putting in 8 hours.
Because I’m working from home, hanging out in my comic cave all day, taking phone calls, addressing issues and proofreading documents; I feel like I’m not working at all. I sincerely hope to have the choice to telecommute for the rest of my working life. I take breaks, read comics and/or post on social media. It’s just so relaxing, so cathartic to be among my “calming” things while still earning a paycheck.
Plus I actually take a lunch break, sometimes to unplug and sometimes to switch to my person computer for a quick game or two of Magic the Gathering Arena. I recently purchased this MTG Kaldheim Bundle because I wanted the oversized life dial and landed this fantastic Vorinclex mythic as well.
Okay enough of that, let’s talk comics. I was thrilled to learn that Netflix picked up Sweet Tooth for production. Jeff Lemire paints a bleak picture of the future in this scifi story about a hybrid deer boy named Gus.
Until the age of nine, Gus lives a sheltered life on a wild life preserve with his father. A plague has wiped out most of humankind and those are left range from jaded to the truly demented. Poor Gus just isn’t prepared for the world but he has to grow up fast.
Assisting Gus in his life journey is Jeppard, a harden survivor who offered to take Gus to a paradise like preserve where other hybrids like him live peacefully. The two set out on a lengthy journey and run afoul of all manner of low life individuals to boot. Sweet Tooth is a dark tale of friendship, innocence, coming of age and redemption.
What if conspiracy theories start off as fiction but gain enough belief to become real, imagine the horrors. That is the premise of The Truth Department, a comic book published by Image Comics. James Tynion introduces us to Connor, a guy who has studies and investigated conspiracy theories his whole life because of a childhood incident. Connor soon learns there are forces at work that not only have him questioning his sanity, he is also presented with moral dilemmas. Fair warning, the artwork take a bit to get used to but the script is pure gold.
Both of these comics are wonderful to read, Sweet Tooth is a 40 issue series that was published under Vertigo. It is available in digital and trade paperback, thus you can read the entire series now. The Truth Department is a new release, we are up to issue 6, I believe and who knows how long the series will last. It doesn’t matter, I’m a long for the ride.
I recently enjoyed Skybound Virtual Expo and picked up these gems (now I’m sitting by the front door waiting on the mail carrier).
I’m not upset to see 2020 ending. It’s been quite the year and I hope we never see another year like it. I started the year with cancer, going to the hospital for daily chemo. Because of my weakened immune system, I had to wear a mask all the time. I had every kind of complication there was on my chemo cocktail mix including the presentation pseudo-tumors (the most excruciating headaches I’ve ever experienced) that caused a hearing and equilibrium problem. Covid hit the USA and by April the country was on a semi shelter in place. For people like me, seen as high risk, it meant even more isolation. I lost my job, stopped going to my local comic book store (see previous blog post) and struggled to pay COBRA on a monthly basis so that I could continue cancer treatment. I won’t even get into the social and political unrest we as a country experienced during this year.
I was out of work for 4 months, which I admit felt like eternity and short period all at once. Fortunately, I found a job that was a higher level and pays more than the position I was fired from. I’m not complaining. It’s been such an interesting experience, job hunting, interviewing and on-boarding in the time of covid. I am enjoying my work days, so happy to not have a daily commute. I can’t imagine going back to the grind of driving into the office each day. The only drawback I see it the lack of an official workday. My organization is global which means I have conference calls at 6:30am and 8:00pm on a regular basis. I miss having resources like supply cabinets and printers at my fingertips but I’m super happy to not have to share air with people I know don’t wash their hands after using the toilet.
I’ve transitioned from buying comics weekly on #NewComicBookDay to buying limited editions and variant cover comics online. I’ve yet to find an online subscription service that works as well at the weekly trip to a brick and mortar. It’s frustrating but I’m hoping to find the right fit at some point. Still I have some gorgeous new variant covers that thrill me to still be in this wonderful hobby. And, if I’m not too fatigued at the end of the day, I still play a couple of games of Magic the Gathering. Here are some recently won screenshots.
Please wear a mask, please. If covid isn’t motivation enough for you, look at mask wearing as a way to stick it to the government’s facial recognition software.
I’m trying not to dwell on the negative things that have happened to me. I try to focus on what could be… on the positive. Some days I’m more success than others. When I’m least successful, I find that I am angry, frustrated and crying. There’s depression as well. I feel like I’ve lost a lot because of cancer. I hate my physical appearance. I don’t trust my body. I’m fearful when my doctor calls and because I’m not working, I can’t focus on something that might be normalizing. Who knows how long it will take me to find another job with so many other people being out of work as well.
One of my biggest frustrations is my termination. I wasn’t a bad employee, I was sick, literally dying. I feel thrown away. Like I was defective. I know that this isn’t the truth, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling this way. Add to that, due to the loss of my employment, I will loose my home in NY. I can’t afford to keep it. This makes me so very sad, it gave me such career flexibility.
I am in need of a new local comic book store to feed my comic addiction (when I have a job again). Here’s why.
Just after completing chemo treatment, I started going back to my local shop for weekly comic pickups. The shop is full of shelving and displays, there aren’t marked spaces for social distancing and the aisles are a bit narrow. Two weeks ago, while there, a guy came into the store absolutely filthy, no shirt but wearing a mask. He was dirty all over and sweaty too. I asked him, where is your shirt, he just looked at me and kept shopping for comics. The manager of the store (not the owner, but someone I’ve known for at least 18 years) said nothing. So I half joked, “look dude you should wear a shirt. You don’t see me walking around here letting my boobs hang out.” The guy said his shirt was wet from working so he took it off. I said “you should keep you shirt on, it’s a health thing seriously.” He didn’t say much, he bought his comics and then left. After he left, I asked the manager, “man what is the deal? It’s the law, no shirt no service.” The manager said, “that guy spends about $600 a week here and he’s our handyman, I don’t want to piss him off.” I said so we all get exposed to his germs instead?! No response.
Well last Wednesday, while in the shop to pick up my comics, a guy walked in with no mask. Mind you we have a state mandate right now, masks must be worn in public. The manager stood behind the counter saying nothing… I just couldn’t let it go so I said, “Where is your mask?” to which this dude says to me “shut up I don’t need a mask”. I said a mask protects you and me, you should have one on. He said, “I don’t need a mask because I don’t live in fear like you do.” I said, “I don’t live in fear, I live with cancer and you should wear a mask.” His come back was “that sounds like a ‘you’ problem, I don’t have cancer and I don’t wear a mask, this all fake.” I made my purchases and left the store. Later I called the store, I told the manager I would not apologize for having words with that guy for not wearing a mask but I would apologize for making him (the manager) uncomfortable. Because it was obvious that he was.
The manager’s response to me? “Thanks, you should apologize, that guys spends about $600 a week in here.” I said he exposes you and me while he’s in the store with no mask on. Is his money worth that risk? Your mom has a preexisting condition, you could take it home to her unintentionally. The manager said that because he wears a mask and stands behind a plexiglass barrier, he’s safe. Which means the rest of us can suck #covid. I came home really angry. I took out all the receipts I could find from my purchases there and tallied them up. My approximate purchases were $7,176 from 2017 – 2020. There are no transactions from September through November 2019 while I was in the hospital.
I have been a customer at the shop since 2002. Over the years, I would take food orders, small gifts and even con swag to the manager of that shop. We of course knew each other on a first name basis and had each other personal cell phone numbers. When my employment took me out of state, I passed up the opportunities to shift my subscriptions to bigger shops in New York. I stayed with my local shop, visiting every weekend to clean out my pull box. It’s obvious I mistook his friendliness for friendship. It’s even more obvious that money means more to him than customer safety. Do I really think there are two people spending $600 a week at that comic shop? I couldn’t say with certainty but doubtful considering the lack of inventory movement. It’s fine though, the shop is theirs now. I’ll eventually find a good place to order comics online because anti-maskers could kill me.
I’ve recently figured out how to play Magic the Gathering Arena. It’s been really great at taking my mind off of things. I play for free and though I loose a lot, it’s good mind stretching. Here’s a screenshot, my opponent destroyed all my creatures, enchantments and artifacts, I had nothing and was about to loose. Then I got one card draw from my deck, the only card I needed and game over. Not going to lie it was so satisfying.
Between that and taking CPEs to keep my professional certifications, I’m doing my best to stay busy. I keep looking at my windows thinking “I should wash those (inside and out)”, but I only managed a couple before I got discouraged and stopped. I know this is depression from the cancer and job loss. I hope to start daily walks, though I fear that because so many people are in public spaces (parks and such) who aren’t social distancing or wearing masks. Still, I want to and will give it a try. At this point, all I have is time.