Shiny, Shiny Books. Weather.
ITEM: So, was FF 16 some kind of propaganda towards The Reasons Why The Only Acceptable Reaction To Sociopaths Is Killing Them All And Letting God Sort It Out, then? Blimey.
Look, I think we’re reasonably clear on my stance on variant & prestige type covers now. For those of you late to the party, I have no problem with publishers knocking out books with die-cut, holographic, glow in the dark covers, I don’t mind if you decide that as your anniversary issue is due, you want to print that book on 300 gsm* or toliet paper. Maybe you’re going to turn your comic into an origami project that can be read several different ways depending on how it’s folded. That’s all fine and buster. It’s your work, and you’re entitled to do what you like with it.
It’s just not the customer’s job to pay for your experiments. You don’t get to bitch that nobody’s picking up your $8 comic when Sex Crimnals costs $4. You decided that you would do this thing. Talk about ‘aiming for different markets all you like’. It’s still just a fat Batman comic in the end, isn’t it?
Anyways, this springs to mind because, unsurprisingly, the Great Refurb carries on. Whilst the construction is done out the back, I’ve been bequeathed the utter joy of sorting out ten long boxes of 90’s comics. And I’ve made an interesting discovery whilst wading through Force Works, Night Man, Deathrace 2020, Warriors Of Plasm and the like. Also, if anyone has copies of Rock N Roll Comix (The one adapting the movie scored by Phil Spector and starring The Ramones, but The Melvins play the part of The Ramones in the comic because Reasons), get in touch.
They’re not so frequent anymore, but there was a period where Marvel, Image, DC, Valiant (and quite possibly Continuity, who apparently published an issue of Valeria The She-Bat with a scratch and sniff cover. Anyone knowing more on this is asked to get in touch posthaste.) would put out comics with Chronimum covers. Beyond my initial twenty minutes of ‘Ooh, SHINY!’ I noticed an odd thing about Bloodshot 1, Turok 1, Superman 82, Sabretooth Special 1** X-O Manowar 0, etc.
They’re all in perfect shape.
I mean, as if I’d just opened the Ronald’s box in 1996 perfect. No dints, no spine curl, no scratches (which, I have to say, is much easier to detect if your comic has an all black cover, as it really highlights all those defects under a decent light, so thank you Amazing Spidey 36, Ghost Rider 40, Solar: Man of The Atom 10. Saved me loads of time on grading.) Just perfect condition comics, all Near Mint or 9.8 if you’re some kind of CGC pervert. At first I thought this was some kind of freak occurrence from the collection. Except there was a lot of stuff in those boxes that have led me to want to submit a NEW Grade to Bob Overstreet:
DogBitten: (DB)/( -9.8)
A comic so beyond redemption that questions must be asked as to what actually happened to this comic between being sent to the retailer who ordered it and said comic being sold on as part of a collection (It couldn’t possibly be sold as a single item) Defects will include urine (and/or other) stains, chunks missing from story or ad pages, shopping lists written on front or back covers, profanities scribbled across Stan’s Soapbox or such (More frequent during the Shooter regime, I’ve noticed.) and huge bite marks combined with loose canine hair, which can only lead Retailer to assume that the final fate of this much abused issue of Spitfire & the Troubleshooters was to be used as a chew toy by a Poodle loaded with Dexedrine before slung into the bottom of a box, hopefully to be unnoticed by Retailer buying in said collection.
Anyway, given the less than minty sheen of some of the comics, I was curious to see if this was an across the board occurrence or I’d just happened upon some really nice copies of X-Men AOA: Alpha. It could happen, after all. But, nope, I dug out our copies of Avengers 360, Ninjak 1 and Lady Death 1. People, all of these things are in incredible condition. Beyond the old retailer thing of ‘These comics are in really nice shape, it’s just a shame that they’re issues of Prudence & Caution as someone might care, otherwise.” I think I might have happened upon a thing, here.
You see, while physical copies of comics are still a thing, then there’ll be a second hand market for them. One of the primary considerations of the price I’ll pay you for your copy of Iron Fist 14, Incredible Hulk 181, Amazing Spider-Man 238 is the condition of the comic. Much as you might think it’s a case of seeing what you have, checking it against eBay and the Overstreet Price Guide and having a rough idea of what money to expect when you pop along to your retailer, someone still has to sit down with the more desirable books from your collection and work out what kind of shape they’re in, independent from your, erm, uninformed grading abilities.
BUT! What if ALL new comics were printed with chromium wraparound covers? Sure, for the most part, this year’s issue of Uncanny X-Men is as undesirable as one from 2004, and there’s little that has been published this century that’s going to be worth anything in the future, but for a year’s worth of interchangeable DC back issue bin filler, it could be that we get another Walking Dead 1. How much easier would it be to sell them on for the full asking price, knowing that they’d be in as close to perfect grade as is possible?
Sure, the asking price for a new comic would be a bit more than usual, but comics are stupidly expensive anyway. If a regular Avengers comic isn’t $5 by Christmas 2015, I’ll happily shave off my hair and donate the proceeds to The Hero Initaive. Keeping up with The Marvel Universe must be upwards of a $100 a month as it is. Why not at least chuck in the chance of being able to sell these things without the worry of their losing their value for the sake of how they’ve been passed on from printer to distributor to retailer before actually getting to the shelves? (Trust me, if you’d seen the horror of how shipments of comics were delivered to shops around the turn of the century, you’d be incredibly wary of believing the letters ‘NM’ on any comic from that period. You’d think writing the word ‘FRAGILE’ in big red letters on the side of a box would be clue enough on how to handle these things. You’d be wrong.)
**(Which is really rather good, considering it’s an X-Men comic published after Chris Claremont ‘left under interesting circumstances’. Gary Frank pencils the tale of Creed explaining to The X-Men that no amount of dreams will override someone’s true nature whilst running through New York twitting people. In a time encapsulating the noise of the X-Traitor, Onslaught, The Age Of Apocalypse, Zero Tolerance and such, it’s a quiet character piece that tells a complete and interesting story in one go. Worth hunting down, even if probably has no bearing on current X-Continuity.)
You know where it normally says ‘You know where to find me’ at the end of these things? Forget it. I decided last week I was just done with Social Media after realising I was having an opinion on Justin Bieber’s Drag Racing incident. The comment suggesting that I was on meds, drinking vodka whilst writing (Because unverified assumptions about someone’s mental health in response to somebody pointing out the flaw in a publishing schedule is totally appropriate) didn’t help. So, I’m done talking online at all beyond this column. I’m sure you can forward any mail to the good people here at Bleeding Cool or come and say what you have to say in person. i’m easy enough to find. Funny how the harshest online critics suddenly become incredibly polite and backtracking when they don’t have the option of hiding behind the internet, though.