Tag: comics

Trying to Persevere

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.

Have I mentioned my adoration for Janet Lee’s artwork?

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.

Please wear a mask.

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.

I love Zoe! Terry Moore’s Five Years

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.

Zoe gave him a butt full of lead later in this comic. Terry Moore’s Five Years

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.

Dec, 18, I spent $999.56 in one trip. The pic above was $353 Nov, 19.

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.

Magic The Gathering Arena

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.

This is the first Planeswalker I’ve ever pulled from a pack.

Low Point

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

Cool little lower level comic shop in the Village

IMG_0529I 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.IMG_0531

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.IMG_0532

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.IMG_0537

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 finally wrote a blog but can’t think of a title so… Comics!

IMG_7269I’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.

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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.
IMG_7273So 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. IMG_7292If 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. IMG_7290There 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. IMG_7291It’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.

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Comic Diva’s Favorite New Comics from 2015

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I love comics. I’m down with the reading, with the collecting, and sometimes the speculating. I’m reflecting on comics that I really enjoyed in 2015. Oh, there were “tons” of them, and I can’t write about every one of them, so I narrowed the list to share the best. These were my guidelines:

I have 119 books on my 2015 “Pull List”; the majority of them are NOT DC or Marvel. The 2015 “Pull List” includes books from Boom Studios, Valiant, Image, Vertigo and Dark Horse. There are some smaller press books on the 2015 “Pull List”, though I admit the spectrum isn’t very broad. The books on this list have a release date within the year of 2015, despite the printed cover date. Also, I don’t include re-launched titles that start over with issue 1, because this is too gimmicky for me.  That’s it.  Ready?

IMG_2632Giant Days
I have really enjoyed some titles from Boom Studios. Their IMG_2347solicitations are truly unique, ranging from kid-friendly to mature, and much between. I really love the YA drama of Giant Days, and–honestly– some of the funny antics showcased in the book truly remind me of my college youth. Dating, roommates, drama IMG_2433fields, lost love, and secret crushes are all tackled in this engaging, ongoing series by John Allison and Lissa Treiman. IMG_2346Included in the mix are strong young women who push at social stereotypes, acknowledge self-doubt, and develop strong personal character. Initially solicited as a six-part mini series, Giant Days’ success was rewarded when the creative team was asked to extend the series to 12 issues. The comic was so popular that it’s now an on-going series with an updated creative team. I’m in it for the long haul as I find Giant Days too much fun to pass up.

 

IMG_2633Harrow County
When I first read about Harrow County in Previews, I immediately added it to my regular pull list. IMG_1623I instantly recognized this comic book was going to be something I’d love to read. Young Miss Emmy has a mind of her own and a soft heart for the dark souls that inhabit the creepy places of Harrow County. She can speak to the haints (haunts), and what she says to them is typically motivating, if not compassionate. Have a ghoul IMG_1626kicking up a fuss in your attic? Emmy will gladly quell the behavior. Just know, she’ll do it by letting the ghoul know it’s welcome, and by inviting it to stay put. Emmy has a strong streak of “right” versus “wrong”, and she condemns those that would use her for something evil. She adheres to the “live and let live” motto, even if it does not always work out for her. The writer, Cullen Bunn solidified his space on my “read everything” list when he penned “The Sixth Gun.” IMG_1399He truly is a fantastic writer and I’m a happy fan. I first came across the artist, Tyler Crook, while reading WitchFinder (another Dark Horse favorite). Tyler’s drawing style and color blends match so perfectly with Cullen’s words that their joint work has uncanny flow. They’re a creative combination paired in heaven, I say.

IMG_2634Postal
Eden, Wyoming is an intriguing place. It’s a layover town full of criminals. IMG_0515Throw in several random acts of violence, a dirty FBI agent, a postman with Asperger’s, and dark family secrets, and you have the backdrop for the comic Postal, written by Matt Hawkins & Bryan Hill, drawn by Isaac Goodhart. Mark is IMG_0516the local postman with Asperger’s. Actually, he’s the only postman in town. Mark pays attention to who gets what in the mail, and reports this information to the mayor, who “just happens to be” his mother. By way of post, the mayor collects the town secrets and uses what she knows to keep everyone in line. When things don’t go her way, the mayor calls in the sheriff. Can you guess with whom the mayor’s having an affair? Postal is more than family drama though,IMG_0835 the series is on issue… and so far what readers have learned about the townspeople is: there’s a former meth dealer in residence, a cheating federal agent on-site, the murderer of Mark’s sister on the loose, and a suspected child molester in hiding. Oh yeah! There’s so much going on, so many sub-plots in this comic, I can’t help but keep reading it.

Coming in Part 2: Head Lopper, Chrononauts, and Descender. (By the way, feel free to leave me a comment or drop me a line about your favorite comic book from 2015. I welcome the discussion.) ****Update****

I would have loved to continue this discussion but truth is, I let the time slip past me. With that understanding, here are the books I really enjoyed in 2015:

  • Descender
  • Chrononauts
  • Head Lopper
  • We Stand on Guard
  • Dark Corridor
  • Paper Girls
  • Clean Room
  • Black Magick
  • Monstress
  • The Goddamed
  • Toyko Ghost

Leaving Megalopolis

IMG_2452Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writers: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Calafiore

Super heroes no longer fight crime, protect the public or seek justice. Instead, all the super-beings in this world have been infected with a virus. A virus that turns them against the people they once protected, and whom they now hunt for sport. Carnage and death ensue.IMG_2453

The story starts with a lone police officer walking cautiously down a deserted city street, chaos and destruction is all around her. What follows sets the tone for the story: a human body falls from the sky and splatters on the ground in the officer’s vicinity. Leaving Megalopolis is a tale of survival in modern America. A small band of people attempt escape the city limits while being dogged, if not herded, by murderous capes and tights.

Leaving Megalopolis focuses the human mind and how it behaves under extreme duress, and that is exactly what you get in this dark tale written by the illustrious Gail Simone. IMG_2456The story is jammed packed with all kinds of delicious details. All the action takes place within the city limits, and there’s a hidden twist at the end. (No spoilers!) Plus, we learn about human will, self-sacrifice, personal loss, treachery and redemption.

Cool Factor:
Can you speak, move, or breath quietly enough so as not to attract the attention of a killer with super-hearing?IMG_2455

Format:
Hardcover, Trade paperback

Villains…Villains are cool!

Villain: a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime (source Dictionary.com). To me, a strong hero is only as good as his/her villain. In my opinion, weak bad guys can only promote weak good guys. So, I say, bring on the baddies! I’ve read comics depicting bad guys as morons or buffoons, which makes me wonder why any hero would waste his or her time. However, I’ve read some hardcore bad guys, the likes of which demand a reader keep lights on and have some form of weapon in hand while reading. Strong villains help shape strong hero characters. The adversity should be difficult and require Superhuman will to overcome. Here are some the villains I admire, yet fear:

Favorite Villain 1 – Red Skull from Old Man Logan (Marvel)

In the future, the bad guys win; Red Skull opens a can of whoop-ass on the Avengers and doesn’t stop until Captain America is dead. Then he and the rest of the baddies parcel out parts of North America like they are slicing a fresh made apple pie. Defining moment: Red Skull putting his fingers through Captain America’s eye sockets. Years later, this certified villain walks around wearing Caps uniform with Caps dried blood still on it.

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Favorite Villain 2 – Traveling Salesman from Severed (Image)

The villain of this story comes in the form of an elderly traveling salesman. This man has an unusual taste for human flesh and particularly enjoys victimizing fatherless boys who seek direction and the American Dream in 1916. Defining moment: it’s not unusual to see an older person remove their false teeth. What a reader might not expect is sharper and more deadly teeth to appear in the place of said removed false teeth.

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Favorite Villain 3 – Boogie Man from Stuff of Legend (Th3rd World Studios)

Some villains use physical strength or special powers to overwhelm their prey/victims. In the case of the Boogieman, though, it is a victim’s personal weakness that is used against him or her. If there’s a secret on the team, the Boogieman finds it and exploits it with deadly force. Defining moment: the Boogieman uses Percy the Pig’s cowardice to kill the Colonel by tearing him in half.

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Favorite Villain 4 – The Governor from The Walking Dead (Image)

It is the end of the world, and civilized life is a thing of the past. So, it’s easy to see how a psychotic narcissist ends up as the leader of a group of weakened survivors, desperate for a sense of belonging and some stability. When the Governor is first introduced, it is obvious his smile is nothing by which to take comfort. He very plainly explains to Rick, Glenn, and Michonne that he feeds town trespassers to walkers for entertainment. Defining moment: within moments of meeting, the Governor demonstrates his sadism by cutting off Rick’s hand.

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Favorite Villain 5 – Nixon Nun from Fell (Image)

Detective Richard Fell has his hands full dealing with cases of all sorts in Snowtown. But, what really has him spooked in his new town is the “Nixon Nun”; named so for the Richard Nixon mask she wears on top of her religious habit. Without muttering a single word, Nixon Nun causes Fell’s skin to crawl, and rightly so, as she always appears on the scenes of heinous crimes. Defining moment: as police look on, Nixon Nun solicits a prostitute for nefarious means.

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Favorite Villain 6 – Rat Creatures from Bone (Cartoon Books)

It would be easy to dismiss the Rat Creatures in Bone as brainless lemmings doing the bidding of an ineffective king. And, that would be a mistake. Though they have limited thinking capacity, what the Rat Creatures lack in brains, they make in sheer numbers and teeth/claw size. In large packs, Rat Creatures are quite deadly, destroying everything in their path as they carry out orders from their leader. Defining moment: Kingdok makes easy work of Gran’ma Ben, tossing her around like a rag doll. This is noteworthy as Gran’ma Ben withstood battles with Dragons much more daunting and seemingly treacherous than a pack of rats.

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Favorite Villain 7 – General Clarkson from Think Tank (Top Cow)

The military is no stranger to collateral damage and sacrifice. So, what is a general to do when a Colonel does not obey orders? When a Colonel gets wind of a clandestine operation not approved by the President, he attempts to blow the whistle and is met with a bullet from General Clarkson. Defining moment: General Clarkson issues punishment for disloyalty with extreme prejudice, spraying the Colonel’s brain matter all over the resident genius Dr. Loren.

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Favorite Villain 8 – The Purple Man from Alias (Marvel)

No need for subtly, Zebediah Killgrave, known as the Purple Man, emits a pheromone that allows him to verbally control anyone, including superheroes. In the Marvel Max universe, the Purple Man presents a formidable foe for Jessica Jones (a.k.a. Jewel), and toys with her for several weeks before he is apprehended. Defining moment: Killgrave initially suggests Jessica take her clothes off, using her nakedness as a way to humiliate her. However, upon learning the Avengers are in the area, Killgrave orders her to attack her teammates instead, with devastating results.

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Favorite Villain 9 – Doomsday from Superman (DC)

Possessing enough strength to gut punch Superman, Doomsday entered the DC universe with a vengeance. Arriving on the outskirts of Metropolis, he proceeds on a warpath to the city and destroys any superhero attempting to stop him. Defining moment: with a mighty blow Doomsday kills the Man of Steel, something that has never before happened.

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Favorite Villain 10 – Alien Invader from Wild’s End (Boom Studios)

An unrelenting machine with a single objective, to Kill! That is the villain of Wild’s End. Aliens land in the sleepy countryside and wreck havoc on occupants. There are no requests or demands, simply the burning of all organic matter (people) that interacts with the alien. Defining moment: villain issues a resident’s death with a full facial blast of fire. Ouch!

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This list is by no means all inclusive, there are tons of great villains out there. Have one you want to share? Leave me a comment.

Stumptown

Stumptown

Publisher: Oni PressIMG_0882

Writers: Greg Rucka

Artist: Matthew Southworth

In the span of 24 hours, Dex pisses off two rednecks, makes a reluctant deal with a local crime boss, gets shot point blank… several times, and ends up arrested. That’s quite an accomplishment for a moonlighting private investigator with a gambling problem. Dex is in the hole for about eighteen-grand, so when her credit is no longer good, casino management pulls her card. To pay off her debt, Dex agrees to honor a request by a casino manager, and sets course to find a missing person. The tale is gritty, dark, moody, and enjoyable. What appears to be a straight-forward missing person case morphs into gang wars, illegal drugs, and murder. Within the first few pages of Stumptown, Dex is shot and left for dead in a river. Quite the opener. From White Out to Lazarus, Greg Rucka consistently narrates a spectacular female tale. He creates strong female protagonists who do not lean on conventional stereotypes, and Dex is no exception.

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Cool Factor: Dex has a nonchalant attitude about everything, which may give the impression she is not interested or paying attention to people talking at her. Truth is, she is way more astute than the bad guys realize, and–nine times out of ten–she is 3 steps ahead of her enemies.

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Format: Floppies, Trade paperback

We Likes the Comics, We likes the Grading

There are two “camps” of comic book collecting:  those who slab and those who don’t. I readily admit, I am in the first group and I’m perfectly happy to stay put. “Slab” or “slabbing” is collector slang for “comic encapsulation,” otherwise known as “grading.” Since 2000, impartial thirty-party comic book grading has been available thanks to Certified Guaranty Company, known in the industry as CGC. IMG_1232Several knock-off/bootleg grading companies have emerged, but none of the CGC quality… until last year. More recently, Comic Book Certification Services (CBCS) launched, and CGC finally as a worthy competitor. I have used both grading companies and, to be honest, I like them equally. CGC corners the market; they have been around for 15 years and are an industry icon/standard. CBCS IMG_0530was founded by some of the folks who started CGC. They have a similar business model and offer competitive services to CGC, except they offer less expensive service. One last plus to CBCS is the general public can submit comics to them directly, whereas CGC requires either a paid membership or submission through a third-party.

Okay enough about that. So you have decided you want to submit your books to CGC or CBCS. You believe you have a rough idea regarding the potential grade your comic(s) will earn, so you pack up your book(s), ship to one of the graders, and wait the 6-8 months it takes for your submission to go through the grading cycle.

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Screenshot from ComicsPriceGuide.com

Why have your comic book graded? Because it increases the value of your comic and thus increases the value of your collection. Here’s an example:

In 2003 The Walking Dead sold for $2.95. By 2015, the inaugural issue is worth $1,600 raw (not slabbed). A 9.8 (near mint, slabbed and graded) copy of The Walking Dead Issue 1 is valued at $4,300. I say no more.

You have submitted what you believe to be near mint books expecting a grade between 9.6 to 9.8. Low and behold your book(s) returns to you and–to your surprise– with a lower grade than you anticipated.

IMG_1732As I’ve mentioned in my “about me” post, I am a collector/hobbyist. Therefore, the joy of the hobby comes first. Value or speculations of “it might be worth something/it’s a good investment” comes in a limp second. I like slabs. I think slabs look awesome on display, and I do like that graded comics add value to my collection. Feels like a win-win. I preface the following with “I am not a professional comic book grader,” I am offering my advice on the topic just to share.

I have self-submitted over 100 comics (okay that’s not a lot, but still). I have received grades that range from 9.6 to 9.9. During my early submitting days, 9.6 appears to be my average. Over time, however, I have learned to really pay attention to the physical details of the books I submit and have improved my average to 9.8. Though, admittedly, I have seen a lot more 9.9 than I expected (let’s hope that trend continues).

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Okay let’s grade some comics – amateur style. Dirt and oil from your fingertips can cost you grading points in the end. I recommend using gloves while you assess your book. I have experience with cotton and latex. Both types of glove seem fine, though I recommend staying away from latex gloves that have powder in them, as this substance can be introduced to your comic and it will cause damage. IMG_1744To properly assess your comic, you must be able to view the front and back of the book. If bagged and boarded, remove your book (be gentle). Good maneuverable lighting helps with assessment, as changing light angle can show defects or discrepancies. Have a clean work area to perform your assessment, and get right to it. First, look at the corners of your comics. Are the corners crisp or blunted? If one or more of the corners is blunted, not at a point, points are deducted from the grade. Be very critical. It is better to assess your book lower than to assume a higher grade. Next, look at the spine, and pay attention to the staples. Are there any creases in the spine? What about staple tears, including those from the printer? Again, small dents and dings cost points, and any blemish can make the difference between 9.8 and 9.4. Okay, so you’ve looked at the corners, reviewed the spine. Now, lay the book flat and determine if there are any scuff marks on the cover. IMG_1745Once you assess the outward condition of your book, give the pages a flip, and do so from cover to cover. Here you are looking for folded page corners or manufacturer defects. If the book looks sharp and clean, give it your best grading guess. Remember, be critical. If you think it is a 9.8, consider 9.6. If you think it is a 9.9, consider 9.8.

What’s the point to all this? Having an idea of the potential grade of your comic should assist you in making the decision to invest in grading your comic book.

I applied this assessment method to this reprint of The Walking Dead. I’ll post a follow up in about 6 months as to the grade it received. IMG_1746

*** UPDATE *** January 2016 ***
The above comic has just arrived from CBCS. It was graded 9.8 and I am quite pleased. And for the record it took a little over 4 months, that some great turn around time I say!

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My Love Hate Relationship with Variant Cover Comics (more like love)

IMG_1464As a modern comic collector, I am bombarded with new and fresh comics each week. The conundrum in collecting is deciding what I want while trying to maintain a budget. Then, some hot, new, creative team introduces a “must have” book, and–just to spice things up–the publisher offers a kazillion variants. The completest in me wants very badly to have every issue of the new Archie relaunch AND every one of those awesome Star Wars covers issued by Marvel. Some books are issued as “1 in 10” variants or “1 in 25.” There are “1 in 50,” too, and so forth and so on. Add to these “1 in…” are special interests variants like Ghost Variant, Phantom Variant, Loot Crate Variant and Hastings Variant. Sometimes, to encourage high order numbers, publishers allow retailers their very own special variant unique to their store!

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Publishers aren’t just issuing variants for comic release dates. They are also doing special limited (debatable) print runs for specific comic conventions, such as San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, or any of those Wizard World conventions. This means the market is duly flooded with variant cover comic books as far as the eye can see. Some variants really are extremely rare; like those 1:100 and 1:200, and especially those 1:300. Some variants are limited by print run, as only 500 copies are made. That’s it. Five-hundred. All these different approaches to printing a comic book means a collector has the potential to be inundated with… too much. And, can you imagine what it must be like for the retailers? What about all the stock that doesn’t sell?

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So here’s my love/hate: I like variety and I enjoy having the opportunity to see artistic vision, one artist versus another. And, I–like many other collectors–want that rare book that might be worth money many months (years) from now. But, I realize there is a down side to this hype. Variants cause an extra layer of speculation in this hobby, and that speculation can turn some collectors off. What’s hot now may fizzle out later, and what I paid a premium for today may not be worth cover a few months from now. This means if I don’t want to get burned I have to be discerning.

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I recently stumbled on to this website and found myself wishing I had more money. I am a sucker for really unique variants. I mean, I want something more than just the black and white variant. I will pursue variants by specific artists, people I like, such as: Charles P. Wilson III or Fiona Staples and I’ll pay whatever is the asking price. Honestly, if I didn’t impose my own restriction on variant purchases I would go broke trying to own them all. As I recall, the Archie relaunch had about 20 different covers. Some were amazing and some, well acquired taste. If you are a Godzilla fan, there were over 100 variants issued by IDW. That’s like a short box of comics all for one issue.

Update just before posting, the awesome variant subscription service Four Color Grails has closed. This saddens me as I really enjoyed their enthusiasm for the hobby. I feel lucky enough to have gotten some of their books. RIP 4colorGrails.