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’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 had been trudging along, daily chemo (and all it’s side effects), checking in with my employer benefits people and filling out/completing a plethora of documentation needed for disability when I was blindsided. Here’s a bit of what happened. My oncologist had just confirmed I … Continue reading Low Point
A work colleague once told me getting fired was one of the best things to happen to her. At the time I was working at a toxic place and just couldn’t see losing my job as a good thing even though I was unhappy. I did eventually lose my job in 2016 and it was a hard pill to swallow.
Fast forward to 2017, I had a new job in a new state. Things changed for the better, then my cancer diagnosed in 2019. Since being in treatment and going for daily chemo infusions each day, I’m learning that getting fire may have just saved my life. In PA, employers are allowed to fire anyone who uses short term disability for whatever reason. If I were still working in PA, I would have been fired from my job, lost healthcare, had to figure out Cobra (which isn’t cheap) and apply for the Affordable Care Aid benefits. My cancer is fast acting, any unscheduled breaks in treatment due to say, lack of coverage would have been a death sentence.
New York state has laws that protect employees in these situations so while I’m dealing with cancer, I’m not also stressed over my income and benefits. So yeah, it can be said that getting fired was one of the best things to happen to me, it saved my life.
Now let’s talk about some comics:
Three of my favorite comic book series ended recently and though I am sad to see them go; I’m happy to have had the experience. The stories were original, not like the typical superhero genre but new and more engaging than the norm in my opinion. The artwork was breathtaking, unique and all together spellbinding. I really didn’t want to see the end of any of them but I understand all good things come to an end nonetheless.
The Walking Dead (October 2003 – July 2019)
I admit this isn’t an recent end, happening some eight months ago, it’s still a shocker for me. I remember walking into a comic shop on South Street in downtown Philly and seeing issue 1 on the shelf. Robert Kirkman didn’t stand out as a writer to me at the time and I’d never heard of Tony Moore. Still the cover was compelling and I love(d) anything zombies so I purchased a copy. I bought every issue afterward and when possible the variants as well. There were so many pivotal moments in that 193 issue run that I feel like the ones I mention may not do the series justice, yet I want to share so here we go.
Carl kills Shane. Shane and Rick argue over Lori and Carl. At one point Shane concludes everything would have been find for him if Rick was not around (as in dead) and he turn a gun on his ‘friend’. Young Carl, newly gifted with his own hand gun for zombie shooting, shows up and fires a round to protect his father. Some serious shock factor here and I was not prepared at the time. Little did I know Carl was soon going to be my favorite character of the series out pacing even Rick for that spotlight. The boy is badass.
Rick looses a hand. I was sure after witnessing the outright savage cruelty of the governor, by crippling Rick the main character of the series, I was done with this comic. Ha! I couldn’t stop reading just to see how the loss of a hand would effect Rick’s survival. I think it made him more badass then ever. Further in the series, Rick opens a can of stump whoop-ass on some would be hillbillies that planned to use Carl as a sex doll.
Michonne pays a visit to the Governor. The gory details of Michonne’s torture at the hands of the governor are not for the faint of heart. Because of it, one can’t help but root for her when she pays him a vengeful visit to return in kind. It looked as though she did a little Home Depot shopping while explains every torturous tool at her disposal.
Carl kills Ben. Ben guts his twin brother Billy like a fish and doesn’t even bat an eye. He even confesses he left his brother’s brain in tack so he will come back, no harm done. While the adults stand around arguing over what to do with the little murderer, Carl steps ups and addresses the issue.
Death of Glenn Rhee. One of the most likable characters in the series and someone who appears as early as issue 2 of the series is Glenn. He saves Rick from a zombie swarm in Atlanta and is instrumental in Rick being reunited with his Lori and Carl. Glenn is a steady staple throughout the series until issue 100 when he dies a very horrific death in front of friends, family and his wife.
There are so many more decisive moments in The Walking Dead that I could easily go on for months. Around issue 7, Charlie Adlard picks up artist responsibilities from Tony Moore but Kirkman never misses a beat. The series is heart-pounding in it’s intensity and finishes like a fine aged wine such that my head is still spinning.
Black Science (November 2013 – October 2019)
When this comic series came out, I just started at the cover in awe. I’d never seen anything like it. I began to read the issue and was just blown way by the fantastical sci-fi. It’s the tale of a brilliant scientist and inter-dimensional travel, Lost in Space on steroids. I loved every issue and the artwork from Mattero Scalera was heart pounding to say the lest. Rick Rememder’s writing spun a web of super natural wonderment, something I don’t think comics will ever see again.
East of West (March 2014 – December 2019)
I remember seeing the advertisement for this comic in Previews way back when. I was mesmerized by Nick Dragotta’s brilliant artwork and wanted to read the series just because of it. I was pleasantly surprised when Jonathan Hickman rocked my world with his amazing composition of the mythical world in East of West. I absolutely loved the Nation and the depiction of the four horsemen felt spot on.
And now… they are all gone. I don’t think there will ever be another book like The Walking Dead and I’m certain Black Science and East of West can not be duplicated. I will miss reading new issues of these series but, well, good things and come to an end, you know.
It is difficult to express the feeling one has; what goes through one’s mind when a doctor calls to say you have leukemia. There’s really no preparing for it. Further, the disbelief that suddenly your life has a serious end date, something unexpected. Mid 2019, as I tried to visit a new comic book shop a month I started to feel really tired. I was so tired that after work each day, all I wanted to do was sit or sleep. Being an overweight person, I worried that I was getting too many carbs or too much sugar, so I scrutinized what I ate consistently. My diet consisted of chicken, turkey, fish and veggies, still I felt heavy and tired.
In the fall, I noticed something unusual, I had a huge bruise on my knee but I couldn’t remember hurting myself. I assumed, I must have bumped it at some point and just didn’t remember. Only, to discover that more bruises were appearing on my arms and on legs and I knew I wasn’t doing anything to cause them. I should have known there was something wrong because these bruises didn’t hurt. They were big, but they didn’t hurt and that seemed odd to me. I had a doctor’s appointment coming up and figured, I would wait and mention the bruise then. I got a blood test and received the typical message, ‘we will call you if something it wrong.’ I shrugged it off and figured my tiredness was because of my weight (trust me, the medical community is prejudice against fat people, any problem you have its cause you are fat, oh wait, I’ll use the medical term = because you are obese). So I really thought my problem was weight related and I just needed to keep using the stairs even though my fatigue was just shy of debilitating.
So yeah I got that call, that one I mention above; the cancer diagnosis. My life has been interrupted by “the cancer” and I’ve been learning to deal with it. First I should note that the rare form of cancer I have is curable, but only if my body doesn’t reject that treatment. I will spare the statistics of people who don’t survive and just say that I’m going to live. I spent over 30 days in the hospital, which was a horrible experience and not something I wish on people I mildly like. My enemies, yes I wish they had to spend a month in a filthy, dated and cramped hospital room in Bronx New York. Ok but back to the cancer.
When friends and family found out, I received mix responses, some were heart felt and made me feel loved and some were plastic and I really could do without. What do I mean about plastic? People who say ignorant stuff like, “you just have to stay positive” and “look on the bright side”. I can’t tell you how insensitive those words are. No one, not even other cancer patients or survivors should say you have to be positive about having fucking cancer. Its not helpful and further its invalidating. Going through this experience, there are ups and downs. My spouse and I try to keep our senses of humor about the whole thing. That is how we chose to deal with it, it’s not how others have to deal with cancer. Every person is different and that means how they approach their cancer is going to be unique. I wish people respected that and if they can’t think of something supportive to say, just don’t say anything at all.
My diagnosis was in September 2019, I haven’t been back to work since that time. Its been about 5 ½ months and I still have another 6 months of treatment to go. Most days, I’m tired but that’s from the poison on my body fighting the cancer. I take a serious cocktail of prescription meds and have to ask permission to take something over the counter for a headache. Everyday I go to the hospital to get stuck with a needle for my infusion. I thought being home would be ok, good even as I’d fill my time catching up on comic book reading, writing new blogs, cooking, grilling and watching Netflix. None of that has happened. I’ve been depressed and lost interest in most things that used to bring me joy; comics being one of those things. My hair hasn’t completely fallen out and I kind of wish that it had, instead it super thin and balding in weird patches around my temples. I have dark spots on my face and I look like I have two black eyes which are all side effects of the chemo. I mentioned said discoloration to the dermatologist who shrugged it off as me being black. Even when I said I didn’t have these before the chemo, he argued all my issues were either related to me being overweight or because I am black.
I just feel empty while I try and fight this stupid disease. I worry about getting back to life after cancer. I worry about returning to work, will I still be tired? Was all the tiredness the cancer? I worry about my hair growing back and no longer being thin. I worry that my skin will not return to its natural color but will have discoloration in odd shapes and in odd places permanently. I worry that my chemo brain won’t keep up with the fast pace of my demanding job. I don’t know what day of the week it is sometimes unless I look at my pill pack.
The entire time I was away from my local comic shop, the guys were kind enough to keep my comics instead of demanding I send someone to pick them up. This is what 3 months of comics looks like. That awesome person standing over my should, is Doug, he’s such a great guy. We practiced posing for the picture until you couldn’t quite see either of our faces.
Here are some pictures of all the comics I have yet to read. The books in the box that are not bagged and boarded and all the books on the table still in bags. I’ve been reviewing my pull list and cutting back. I fear my interest in this hobby is not long lived and that saddens me even more.
I have been adding to my graded comics collection, this is a small stack I’m considering for my next submission. I love this Mark Brooks variant cover of Uncanny X-men issue 522, the return of Kitty Pryde. Underneath that is a first print of Once and Future; my goodness what a great comic. The first issue made me think of the first episode of the television show Grimm, really good stuff.
I was a bit emotional as I wrote this blog so please forgive the typos. I hope to do better next time and as far as I can tell, there will be a next time.
If you’ve been reading my blog, I’ve been trying to visit a new comic book shop in New York each month. Seems like an easy task until you take into consideration the sheer number of shops there. Seriously, the east coast is a comic book fan’s smorgasbord. Just because I missed blogging in May doesn’t mean I didn’t get to a shop. I love visiting new comic shops, it’s like discovery a new story (comic book that is). And from my experience, every shop is unique, what’s not to love.
First up, Galaxy Comics! This place was amazing especially that front window display. Mind you I would look my mind if I exposed my collectible to those UV rays but for a shop? Well this works out great. Check it.
Great window display…
The inside of the shop was just as fantastic. I, of course stood around with my mouth open in aw for all the cool things here.
I love $1 bins and there was plenty to look through. Plus some delicious Funko Pops, my latest addiction.
Next up was a wonderful shop that I want to give kudos for holding a weekly comic swap where anyone can participate. Plus if you are a fan of the mystery/block figures and you purchase a duplication, you can leave said dup behind the counter in hopes someone will trade for a figure you are looking for. Okay not sure that makes sense but, I’m going with it. Anyone Comics, isn’t huge but it’s just right. (I didn’t take any inside shots)
Are you ready? I was not prepared for the plethora of comic righteousness that I discovered at Bullet Proof Comics in Brooklyn. Not going to lie, this shops name made me think of Bullet Proof Monk, but I digress. Okay so first, yes there are comics, tons and tons of lovely comics. But then my eye catches on something in the display cabinet, yep videos games. I look up and there’s some rad skateboards. So now, I’m realizing this shop has split personalies and is in the truest sense, a pop culture mecca.
Comics piles for days in this shop and I was happy to look my fill. Spot the games in the display?
I have to be careful when visiting a new shop or I’ll throw my credit card on the counter trying to buy up the place.
I’m convinced that this shop had as many skateboards as it did comics. I spent the most money at this shop by the way cause I couldn’t pass up some sweet, sweet variants.
I may be late in wrting this blog, but I did meet my commitment to visiting a new comic book store in February. I had the pleasure of stopping in to peruse Mysterious Time Machine.
WOW, what an amazing place in a tiny space. If you don’t mind rubbing elbows with your fellow comic fan, dig right into one of many comic boxes housing a plethora of back issues. The owner, Roger was super friendly and willing to help if needed.
While visiting this shop, I overheard two young men talking about life, “I grew up in the Bronx but look at me now. I have a job, my bike, I workout everyday and life is good,” to which his companion nodded his head in agreement.
Mind you, I didn’t catch the beginning of this discussion, so who knows what was said. I don’t think it matters really anyway, as it was evident to me that Mysterious Time Machine is this cool little shop where people come to enjoy good comics, music, and conversation.
Oh and did I mention, there are vintage photos for sale? I’m pretty sure I also saw some old magazines… what a mecca. For the record, the CC machine was down so it was a cash-only trip.
Fun history fact Mysterious Time Machine is on the lower level of Co Bigalow’s, the oldest pharmacy in the United States.
On a comic reading note, I’ve really been enjoying Black Badge, Unnatural and ExorSisters. A good friend recommended Grumble and it has been a fun little independent. Scoping out my next New York City shop as of the posting of this blog. Cheers!
I’ve made it a year and some change in New York. It’s been a fun and interesting ride. As I get over my culture shock of moving to one of the most crowded cities in the US; I am happy to say there are comic shops galore to talk about. In an effort to get back into my blog I plan to visit one new comic shop a month and write about my experience. If I can do more, I certainly will, but at the moment, I am committing to one each month.
One of the folks I follow on Instagram posted about this awesome comic book store in Queens, New York. He posted a couple (and I really mean just 2) of pictures and I was sold. After work today, I gassed up my Jeep and plugged Royal Collectibles into my GPS. It took me about an hour to get to the location but no complaints as this city has plenty to look at. I arrived at and immediately liked the shop even before entering.
Check out the eye-grabbing paint job that graces the front walls of the store. I love seeing comics advertised in this manner, better than billboards in my opinion. Once I entered the store, there was so much too look at that my head was spinning. I’m just going to post some pics now and cause damn what an awesome shop.
Cool manga for all, if only my wallet had more monies!!!
Seriously, I was in heaven checking out all this comic goodness. So many delicious toys…
Did I mention Funko Pops? There was a mother lode; check it!
I only took pics of the pops in the case. There were tons more, mostly commons on the wall next to the glass case.
Seeing old toys take me back to my childhood for sure.
Okay, I’ve stalled enough. Next, please enjoy the comic goodness that is available for sale at Royal Collectibles.
There were some serious keys in that store and I know I will go back when I’m ready to add one or two to my collection. Now a couple words about their staff…what a great group of folks. They were super helpful, allowed me to wonder the shop without assumption and even offer me a discount when I finally made my purchase. In my opinion, this is a top notch store that should be on your local comic shop bucket list.
I’ve started a new blog so many times this year that it’s laughable. In the end, I don’t complete it, I don’t follow through and I regret letting another week, month go by without posting. I hope to change that today. I have been recovering from the mental abuse at the hands of a former employer. One of the most damaging things that happened to me during that time (2016) was an attack on my love for comics, comic cons and pop culture.
I was so damaged and depressed from the whole thing that I considered walking away from comics all together. That though, is in the past. I had a transition year in 2017, I got a new job, a new car, changed states and have been in therapy. It’s 2018, I’m doing way better and I’m finding my old self; more importantly though, thanks to encouragement from my spouse and my doctor, I kept collecting comics. As things improved for me mentally, the joy I got from comic books returned. I decided to skip attending a comic con this year, instead focusing on my collection, my new job and my new home in New York.
So what have I been reading? Lots of stuff, though I’m still behind in my reading by about 2 months…it happens. I loved the crazy over the top fun of Shirtless Bear Fighter, from his love of pancakes and syrup to his weakness of having clothing put on this comic tale had me laughing and ready to read more. What could go wrong with wrestling bears, family drama and a tragic love story? Plenty of puns and laughs galore, Shirtless Bear Fighter remained on my pull list until the end of its limited run.
Rock Candy Mountain; man I did not see this intriguing, hilarious and action packed comic coming at all. Since my move to NY, I have yet to find a good comic book shop to call my own, for me this means new comic book day waits until I travel back to PA to visit my old faithful comic store. If a comic sells out and I neglected to put it on my pull list, I’m out of luck. The first issue of Rock Candy Mountain sold out at my shop, however thanks to one of my Twitter comic bros, I have a copy; signed by Kyle Starks no less. Imagine never losing a fight, any fight but specifically hand to hand combat. Imagine having this unique talent during World War II. Imagine what kind of deal was made to gain said talent. The devil has arrived to collect, can he take on the world’s toughest hobo? So many great one liners and just down right entertaining, Rock Candy Mountain rocked my world. There are tons of new books out that I am looking forward to reading here are a few on my pull list. Mark Millar moved his wildly popular franchise to Image Comics and I have to say Patience Lee looks fantastic in Kick-Ass. Definitely #BlackGirlMagic! I’m not sure that Robert Kirkman will ever be able to repeat his success from the Walking Dead however he is writing a new series called Oblivion Song. It’s on my list of books to read and I’m hopeful that it’s just a good comic. I tend not to pass up anything with Jeff Lemire’s name on it so Gideon Falls is in my read stack as well. Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl release the most amazingly stunning book I’ve seen since Monstress. Isola is a visual masterpiece that I felt compelled to own once Image Comics recommended it for Studio Ghibli fans. I have yet to be disappointed in any comic book written and drawn by Terry Moore (my hope is, I never will). A new chapter in Strangers in Paradise; I’m on board for that. I’m still reading and enjoying these old faithfuls: Monstress, Descender, Harrow County, East of West, Saga and of course The Walking Dead.
Back in the day, liking an artist’s style of drawing meant asking said artist to either sketch something over top of a comic cover or to create something on poster board. In the early 2000s, Dynamic Forces, a company who bills itself as the top producer of limited editions and autograph memorabilia; used to offer something called “remarked”covers. These were comic books with small sketches from a significant artist. Said covers could range in price from $50 through $100, depending of course on the artist and popularity of the character.
In 2009, The Marvels Project issue one was published. With this book Marvel introduced a card stock semi-blank cover. We collectors snatched them up. The potential was limitless, with the open space on the cover, one could get their very own commission piece. Add CGC‘s offering to authenticate the artist signature/drawing and a whole to market of original art is born. Marvel seized on the popularity of the blank covers and began issuing them whenever a significant issue number came up. DC moved a bit slower but eventually they too offered card stock blank cover to their comic lines. Today, most of the comic publishers offer a blank cover to entice collectors during a relaunch or exception comic book issue.
What does this do for us collectors? It gives us the opportunity to get awesome customized covers by our favorite artists. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and negotiating with several of my favorite artist for blank cover commissions. The covers end of being some of the best pieces in my collection and I proudly display them in my comic cave. Here are some words of wisdom based on my experience soliciting artists for commissions.
Not all artists are the same. Some artists are very careful with comics and attempt to give
the requester an amazing piece. The artist offers several options for the commission and has reasonable pricing. Whats more, these artist truly enjoy what they do and love sharing that enthusiasm with their fans. Matt Kindt, Terry Moore, Nick Dragota, Charles P. Wilson III and Matteo Scalera are names that easily come to mind. They were great people to talk with and to request commissions from. There are more out there like these guys and it makes this hobby all the more enjoyable with each experience.
Some artist are jaded and believe anything they sign or draw will end up on eBay for an exorbitant
amount of money. Because of this mindset said artists charge a large fee for anything requested. Some artist just don’t care about their fans and care even less about the art you just commissioned. These artists are wrapped up in their own world (in some cases with good reason cause they can f-ing draw amazing things but still…) which mean you get what you get good/bad or indifferent. I once prepaid an artist for a full body sketch commission of Superman. The sketch didn’t arrive until six months after the con. Even more insulting, it wasn’t the commission I requested. So, I shifted my preference to sketch covers instead.
One time prior to a con I planned to attend, I worked with an artist for a commission. We discussed pricing and pose type for the blank cover, I was excited. He let me know that he wanted payment prior to starting the commission. I agreed. This was months before the comic con where we would meet so I wasn’t too worried about the timing, however that artist sent me daily email reminders for payment. I paid a month in advance and provided one of my favorite blank covers (to my regret I only had the one). Immediately after paying the artist, I stopped hearing from him. I priority mailed the blank cover we had discussed and asked the artist to let me know when he received it. I heard nothing from him. I sent one additional follow up message, hoping the book arrived on time and in good condition. I didn’t get a response from the artist until a week out from the con. He said he finished the commission but that he lost the blank cover I provided so he used something he had laying around. Needless to say, the blank he provided was not the limited edition I sent. Lesson learned; only provided a collectible to an artist you’ve worked with in the past and trust or you risk getting burned. I intentionally don’t mention names of the folks I’ve had bad experiences with on purpose. I admit however that I praise those with whom I’ve had good experiences because they were really nice to me and as it turned out great people to meet. Win/Win
Some artist have brokers who do the negotiating for them. These middlemen provide the basic information needed, such as cost of commission, method of commission and wait list is there is one. The plus side to this is you know whether or not you are you are the commission list, you know the cost of said commission and there’s some guarantee that the commission will be done in a timely manner (usually during the con) so you get your piece right away.
The drawback to the middle man is you don’t usually get to build a rapport with the artist you admire. Too the middle man doesn’t give a crap about you or your admiration at the fan, he or she see you as a number, a customer someone they have to deal with on behalf of someone else.
Okay all that said and done, let’s talk about blank covers and commissioned art. I try to keep a variety of blank covers on hand so that when an opportunity presents itself, I’m ready. Most of the character’s I like are creator owned, but that doesn’t stop me from using any of the big two’s covers for my commissions.
Oh and I should also note that thanks to CBCS, there is a way to get a commission cover drawn and certified outside of attending a con. The lovely folks at CBCS offer a service whereby the artist signs a statement and mails the comic directly to the CBCS office.
I’ve used this service for Charles P Wilson and Janet Lee, it was a godsend and my comics arrived to CBCS in good condition. It is a good idea to check with both the potential artist and CBCS for instructions on how to use this method.
Additionally, CBCS has added to the services they offer for authentication, you can have your comic signature authenticated or certified as original “art”. The difference here is the comic isn’t graded, it is authenticated, encapsulated and labeled ‘original art’. Good stuff in my opinion.