Getting Your Book Signed: Good Move or Bad Idea?

Collecting comics can be a pretty fun, if not costly hobby. It requires keeping up with current market prices as well as the know-how of what makes a quality book.

A lot of that weighs heavily on the cover. Having an original, un-restored version of the book cover is important, along with it having vibrant colours. Also having a cover fully intact improves the overall price of a book.

But what about when a creator signs a book? What happens then?

Surely if you have a copy of Jack Kirby and Captain America #1, you’d be sitting on a goldmine, right? What about a copy of Showcase #22 featuring a signature from Gil Kane?

Chances are actually, the book would be worth less.

Before you start shouting at the screen or balling your eyes out, let’s find out why – and see if you can do anything about it.

A lot of this hooplah about the quality of the book degrading over a signature can be somewhat blamed on the company, the Certified Grading Company, or the CGC. For a more in depth synopsis of the CGC, check out what I wrote about them in the past.

CGC Hulk 340

But if you wish to keep reading, I’ll make it simple: the CGC is considered the best of the best when it comes to grading comic books, magazines, cards, and many other types of relatively-flat, printed collectibles. If you get your book graded by the CGC, chances are the price of your book can increase by a small or large margin.

Considering there are a lot of scams within the comic book collecting hobby, the CGC are considered the best place to go to get the “truth” behind a comic book. Through their grading process, they have experts in restoration check to make sure the book is in its original form. From there, they will go through the entire book to guarantee the book is up to par and not missing any pages. At the end of the evaluation, they assign a grade on the book from .5 (Poor), to 10 (Gen Mint).

The CGC will then put the book in a transparent case along with a coloured label to tell the viewer what kind of book they are looking at. Blues are the most common as they represent basic, graded books. A Purple banner means the book has been restored, while a Gold banner means it has an authentic signature.

While I could write different stories about the other banners (which you can read in the blog I made about them), it is the Gold banner we’ll be focusing on. The Gold banner stands for the “Signature Series.”

Because the CGC has become a staple in the grading process, the general comic collecting community has agreed (somewhat – but that’s also a whole other article for another day) that what the CGC says is authentic, and so the books should be sold as such.

For example, if you have a non-CGC graded book (or an “unslabbed” book), it may only be worth $50. However, if you get your book slabbed, it may suddenly be seen as $100, or even more. That’s great news, no?

But with signatures, it gets tricky.

If you say, have a copy of Captain America #1 signed by Jack Kirby before his death in 1994, you cannot submit it for a Gold banner to the CGC. Even if you have photos or video of the event happening, they will not consider it for the Signature Series. This is because a CGC representative was not present at the time of the signing.

I hope you see where I’m going with this.

To receive a Gold banner for the Signature Series, a CGC representative must be present to witness the signature. Nowadays, CGC goes to just about every major comic book convention. It’s great money for them to do it. If you get a book signed by Neal Adams or Stan Lee with CGC present, they’ll grant you the Signature Series banner. But CGC only began in 2000, with their Signature Series starting in 2001.

Any books prior to 2001 cannot be submitted for the Signature Series as a CGC representative would not have been present – let alone the company was even around then.

That being said, you can set up a CGC-approved witness for a signing by contacting the company.

CGC Buffy

So let’s get back to the slabbing of the book.

For unslabbed books with a signature, the books are considered – to many collectors – not valuable, solely because there is no guarantee who signed it. Even if you have videos, pictures, and a great story to go along with it, CGC set the standard to signature books. A collector may be hesitant to purchase a book even if you provide the proof. This is only because in their minds, they may be aware of the CGC “standards” of the comic collecting industry.

So if an unslabbed book is worth $50, and slabbed it’s $100, surely a Signature Series book will increase the value even more, right?

Yet again, I’m poised to say the answer is both yes and no.

Why it may increase in value: a signed book that is authenticated by the CGC is considered more valuable than a signed book that is not authenticated. The reason is that CGC guarantees the book was signed by the signer. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. They guarantee the collector (or buyer) that the signature is real, and thus it would not depreciate the price of the book. They guarantee the signature is not just a “scribble.” It’s actually proven to be signed by Jim Lee!

On why it’s not increased in value: sometimes you get buyers who do not want a signature on a book – that it “ruins” the artwork on the cover. Even if CGC authorized the signature, it still may not be what the buyer wants. Effectively, that signature may have just shunned away a potential buyer.

Keep this all in mind if you’re a collector and are considering having someone sign your comic book.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Sound off below! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! And indeed, keep on Space Truckin’!

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Comic Collecting and Price Jumps!

I was visiting one of my local flea markets recently and stumbled across a copy of X-Factor #6 from 1986. This book has some significance as it is the first full appearance of Apocalypse.

I saw it bagged and boarded on the wall at this particular flea market without a price. It had a sticker on the bag stating the comic was “NM.” (For those unfamiliar with the grading system, NM stands for “Near Mint” and represents a 9.4/10 when it comes to grading quality).

I asked the gentleman who ran the booth what he was asking for it. He had the price tucked in-behind the book because, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If regular people around here saw what these books went for, they’d get stolen from me.”

He lifted the book from the wall and revealed the price.

$120 (Canadian, by the way).

I was a bit shocked at the price. But before I move on, let’s backtrack a bit here.

XFactor 6

If it wasn’t obvious from this website already: I collect old comics. It’s a serious hobby of mine, and yes, it’s an expensive one. I love to go to shows and seek out the best deals on books: to compare prices, grades, quality, and experiences with other collectors.

While I’m big on finding old Horror and/or Atomic Age books, I have a particularly personal investment with Marvel books – especially the X-Men related books.

So when I see something X-related and the price surprises me, flags go off in my head. Why is the price the way it is? Why would someone charge so much for this book? I knew the NM price from the Comic Book Price Guide: around $50. Why was this price so inflated?

Of course, there’s the newest X-Men movie: X-Men: Apocalypse. But does that mean the price can fluctuate that high?

Well, yes and no.

Demand for the book would dictate the price. While I’m not at every convention or following all of the prices for every book out there, it seems as if recent demand has suggested the price of X-Factor #6 to inflate to a surprisingly high price.

However, the book’s sudden inflation is solely based around the movie. The book is actually quite common and may only be “up” for the short people that the movie is around.

It’s not as if movies transform viewers into readers either.

I remember when Iron Man 2 was released in theaters, I saw these numbers on The Beat:

02/10 Invincible Iron Man #23 – 50,027
03/10 Invincible Iron Man #24 – 49,239 ( -1.6%)
04/10 Invincible Iron Man #25 – 73,694 (+49.7%)
Iron Man 2 is released.
05/10 Invincible Iron Man #26 – 53,625 (-27.2%)
06/10 Invincible Iron Man #27 – 52,268 ( -2.5%)
07/10 Invincible Iron Man #28 – 48,690 ( -6.8%)
08/10 Invincible Iron Man #29 – 49,012 ( +0.7%)

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster

Now I had blogged based on these numbers when the movie came out all those years ago. But as you can see, there was no major influx of readers because of the movie.

That all being said, Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket Raccoon are friggen’ rock stars now, so who knows?

What I do know from collecting comics is that prices can be quite drastic when they rise and fall. While X-Factor #6 may even be considered a “steal” at $120, I personally do not think it would be a great investment for down the line.

But don’t take my word for it. Am I the be-all to end-all dictator of comic pricing?

Not yet.

Questions? Concerns? More questions? Ask away! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!

Six Tips to Buying Comics at a Comic Book Convention

Comic collecting can be a very demanding hobby. Not only is it difficult to keep up with prices and to find the best deal, but it’s important to know that you’re not getting ripped off. When in a comic book convention especially, things can seem hectic and you can feel pressured into something you did not feel comfortable with in the first place. Here’s a personal, if not, embarrassing story that happened to me when I first started collecting.

I saw X-Men #66 – the last issue of the series before it went into reprints – for a meager $20 at a local Comic Convention. The Comic Book Price Guide suggested a near mint (graded at a 9.2) copy of the book would go for $240.

I asked the retailer to take the book down and give it to me. I looked over the cover in the bag and couldn’t believe the price. The quality of the book was pristine. But there was no mistaking it as there was a big two inch by two inch $20 sticker right on the front of the bag the book was in.

X-Men 66

Realizing the great deal I was getting, I paid the man for the book and went on my way. It wasn’t until I got home did I see what had happened.

Had I opened the bag and pulled the book out I would have noticed that behind the large $20 sticker was a corner of the book that was obviously torn off and taped back on by the retailer. The sticker was covering up the defect! I was had! Or was I?

Let’s just say I had learned my lesson. As the years went on, I picked up on some other tricks about collecting comics at conventions. Here’s how you can guarantee to not fall under the same trap I fell into.

Open the Bag

Reading my story, it’s obvious that opening the bag should be the number one thing you do when you’re checking a book for quality. Whether it’s in a bargain bin or on the retailer’s wall, open the bag up and look at the cover. Check for defects and make sure the cover is all in one piece. Look at the staples, look at the vibrancy of the cover, and check for creases, tears, or touch ups. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, ask the retailer to open the bag for you for you to look at.

They’re trying to make a sale, so they are more than willing to let you nitpick over the book. You want to make sure that you’re paying for what you’re getting. Even ask them questions about that book’s history: who owned it beforehand? Was it touched up? Are all of the pages intact?

Open the Book

Another early collecting story of mine is when I picked up a copy of Fantastic Four #45 – the first appearance of the Inhumans and Black Bolt. While the cover was alright, I purchased the book and went through it later when I was at home. As I looked inside, there were clippings from the mail-away advertisements missing. So while the cover makes up the majority of the price, the interior of the book must also be in good condition to make the value. While you have the book out of the bag, by all means, flip through the pages of your potential investment.

House of Secrets 92

Don’t be a Booth Bum

Most Comic Conventions have more than one retailer. By all means, look at them all before you purchase your book. You can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by being vigilant and checking/comparing prices from the various vendors.

Know What You’re Looking For

Go to these conventions with a goal in mind. If you’re looking for House of Secrets #92 featuring the first appearance of Swamp-Thing, know what the general prices are before going into the convention. Check out the Comic Book Price Guide and try to memorize the numbers. The book is often considered as the Bible to what book prices should be. You should never aim to pay more than what the book is asking.

Alternatively, you can use it as a reference guide to pricing and to help you find the version of the book in your budget. A good quality (CGC 2.0) version of House of Secrets #92 goes for around $50 according to the Guide. However, a near mint copy can start around $1200. However, you may find a vendor only asking $1000 for a 9.2 graded copy of the book – or maybe they’re asking $1300. The purchase is your call.

The Guide is NOT the Bible

Allow me to be contradictory for a moment. According to the Comic Book Price Guide, a near mint version of The Walking Dead #1 should be $800. However, it has been recorded beyond the Guide that the book can easily sell for $1500 or more.

While the Guide offers a great reference point to both retailers and collectors, the market can fluctuate the prices of books dramatically. For example: if someone wanted to pay $1500 for that quality copy of The Walking Dead, chances are the next book will sell for $1600, or $1700! Maybe even $2000! It’s important to do some additional research before you jump into the thick of collecting. You may just be in for a surprise when the book you want is surprisingly out of reach.

Iron Man 55

Plan Ahead

Think about a book and WHY it should increase in value. For example, we’re already two Thor movies in with a third one on the way. While a villain for the third film hasn’t been announced yet, it’s been heavily rumoured for years that The Enchantress will be making an appearance in the Thor series.

It’s probably best to buy Journey Into Mystery #103 where she makes her first appearance BEFORE she gets put into a movie. What if she never gets put into the film? The book will rarely ever depreciate in value, so it’s best to get a head start before everyone else.

I’ve always wanted to buy Iron Man #55 as I love Thanos. Iron Man #55 has his first appearance and before The Avengers movie hit theaters, it was heavily rumoured that Thanos was going to appear.

I’ve always stalled on buying the book – where a near mint copy would go anywhere from $20-$75 before the film was released. Once it came out, the book skyrocketed to over $800 at some conventions. A missed opportunity there.

Lessons Learned

You’ll never be 100% flawless from buying comics at conventions. There will be some point where you’ll get burned on price or realize the book you should’ve bought was at another vendor: it’s part of the comic collecting experience! It’s important to learn from your past mistakes, much like I have and blogged about that X-Men #66 experience before.

Nowadays, I do my best to stay vigilant and look for certain opportunities when they arrive! I once grabbed a near mint copy of Uncanny X-Men #266 – the first appearance of Gambit – in a dollar bin. The book could’ve easily went for $60+. But I knew what I was looking for and knew the prices. Not all vendors are perfect, you know! However, if it seems like too good of a deal – it may just be that price for a reason (but that Uncanny X-Men #266 went to me for $5 and it was sincerely in near mint condition – the retailer’s fault)!

So the moral of the story is to be prepared when going to a Comic Convention! If you do have any questions about collecting, ask away or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! And keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic Book Blockbuster Blunders

After getting over a very nasty virus (who am I kidding – I’m still coughing from it), I had a really good laugh at my local comic store the other day.

Every Wednesday when the new comics arrive, I get there shortly after opening as I have a busy day ahead of me usually. In fact, Wednesday’s are my only day off from my real-life job.

That’s beside the point.

There are regulars that come in every Wednesday like myself. A lot of the folks who come in are your typical comic nerds, while a few of them are the ones who are the stereotypical “living in your mothers basement and only come out on Wednesdays” kind of fans. I guess you could dub them the “social rejects” solely because their entire lives are based around comics. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – the people who talk and argue totally for the sake of hearing their own voice; the people who are socially inept to have any conversation outside of comics; the type of person who will walk up to you while you’re minding your own business and say something out loud in hopes that you respond to it.

Yeah, those people.

Usually when those folks come into my LCS on Wednesday’s, everyone goes running and just tries to avoid them at all costs.

Well this past Wednesday, one of them actually said something worth-while. The conversation goes as follows:

LSC Owner: “So who do you think is going to win Avengers versus X-Men?”

Customer in a loud, boisterous voice: “I don’t know. But I can tell you who is going to lose. The fans, that’s who!”

The entire store erupted in laughter. Every week this customer comes in and just babbles on nonsense about comics which we all hear day-in and day-out. However this one comment really struck a chord with everyone.

I’ve been left thinking about it since Wednesday. Why, out of everything this customer said in the past, have they finally said something worth-while laughing to?

I think the answer is simple: He’s right.

Marvel’s big push with this whole AvX event is great for business, I’m sure, but also leaving a sour taste in comic fan’s mouths. How many more “life altering” or “status quo changing” events can we get each year? Last year’s Fear Itself was a major flop, while DC’s Brightest Day dragged on for so long that they rebooted their franchise! (And yes, I know that’s not why they started the New 52.)

How many more of these events can fans take until they realize that they’re being toyed with year in and year out?

The irony to this little discussion is that I’m currently collecting the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Not to mention, I also have the terrible Fear Itself that happened last year – the Siege that happened before it, Secret Invasion, Civil War, House of M, Avengers Disassembled, World War Hulk, and so on.

The core fans will still collect – regardless of how they’re treated because. . . I don’t know why.

After Fear Itself’s terrible story and The Avengers/New Avengers re-hashing the Siege’s “Dark Avengers,” I literally almost dropped comics all together. If it weren’t for my faith in a few titles for me – Uncanny X-Force, X-Factor, Swamp Thing, plus a few more, I wouldn’t have kept reading.

I collect most X-books now because of continuity, the sense of family, plus the history I have had with the comics.

Since Fear Itself hit me, I’ve branched out to many smaller comic companies and started reading things I never would have before, just so I could finally see what else was out there.

For example, I turned to Swamp Thing with DC’s new 52. (I’m aware that’s not a smaller company). But I’ve also picked up newer stories like Saucer Country, and am getting back in to The Walking Dead. I’ve picked up old trades of The Tick, and recently found the entire omnibus of Too Much Coffee Man. I’m on the look-out for newer horror series, and also some fun science-fiction plots. I’ve bought my first Star Wars comic (despite being a huge fan in real life) with Dark Horse’s “Dawn of the Jedi” series. Had I still been collecting the amount of Marvel books in the past, I never would’ve budgeted for anything outside of superhero books.

So let’s go back to the answer the customer at my LCS said: “But I can’t tell you who is going to lose. The fans, that’s who!”

Well I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. Although I “lost” because of some terrible story-crossovers, I’ve “won” by finding new stories and gems to now call my own.

If anything, the major crossovers make the major comic companies lose because their faithful ones like me start to drop particular books.

Thoughts?

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Power Girl And Her New Costume

I didn’t see this one coming.

After years and years of Power Girl’s infamous “boob window” being open for all, DC has finally decided close the draft.

Let’s see the new costume, shall we?

Power Girl

No, wait. Sorry. That was the old costume.

Here’s the new one:

Power Girl

Can you even recognize her in this new drawing? Done by the legendary George Perez, it’s definitely a shocker!

What’s even more mind-boggling is how DC is doing such a drastic overhaul to one character while Catwoman still gets the short end of the stick.

This is definitely a lot more tasteful than most comics out there. Psylocke in X-Men still runs around with her ninja thong on, while Starfire is putting DC in hot water. But Power Girl, DC’s stereotypical and clichéd “big breasted hero” is actually getting toned down. It’s not only incredible to hear, but it’s a major step in the right direction in terms of finally making comics more – what’s the word? Oh yeah! Appropriate!

Now I will admit, Power Girl’s “window” defined the character as a sex object to the point where she even would admit to the ridiculousness of her clothing in the comics. It gave her sass – that’s for sure.

Power Girl

But it’s become some what of a joke within comics. The impracticality of the character and her physique – she wasn’t considered so much sexy, as she was more of a joke for the writers and artists to play along with.

And everyone seem to be okay with this?

I think the even bigger joke is, however, the amount of people arguing against the costume. While I won’t reveal who said what, allow me to post some comments against this overhaul with Power Girl’s costume that I’ve read:

“Wow this new costume sucks, as does most of the new DC costumes for the female characters at least, in an effort to pander to feminists they have basically butchered the classic looks of a lot of characters that had been the way they were for decades.”

“I can feel my Inner Feminist crying for what I’m gonna say, but I like PG classic look, it’s you know [. . .] Power Girl looks like a character who likes to be sexy for the hell of it. [This new] one… is not an example.
But at least the new costume is kinda boring and I can just hate it for that. And Heck, this might mean that DC is finally paying attention to criticisms! (I can Dream)”

“She needs the window. That’s one of her signature characteristics, like Superman’s s-shield.

“Hate. I loved her boob window and all the jokes that came with it.”

“P.G.’s too P.C. for me now.”

And yes, some of those comments are from women too. Regardless of their opinions, my opinion says Power Girl’s old costume was objectifying.

Now, I’ll also go to say that there are a ton of people out there who are for the closing of the window, but simply hate the costume. So be it. Personally, I don’t care for the costume either. For example, it took me a few minutes to realize there was a “P” around her neck.

But that really wasn’t the problem to begin with, was it?

Here’s to a small step forward!

Dear Catwoman: When Did You Become a Sleaze Bag?

When the movie The Dark Knight came out, sure people were going to get hurt. Sure, maybe no one expected the “gore” that was with Two-Face, but it was still somewhat age-appropriate. A ten-year-old could watch the movie and grasp what happened in it. He could tell Two Face was burned badly and – although scary – would know he became a bad guy.

What I mean by that is people can tell the difference between right and wrong. If Batman hurts the Joker, it’s because the Joker hurt others. Although I don’t necessarily agree with that theory, it’s understood and is considered acceptable to a good majority of people. Bad people are bad.

A young person can watch that film, see what is happening, understand why it’s happening, and then do whatever they want with that knowledge.

Catwoman: Superheroine or Sleaze Bag?

So enter DC’s newest animated flick, Batman: Year One. It too, is rated PG-13 for the same reasons The Dark Knight was. But for the most part, arguably, parents will see an animated Batman flick and figure that it’s safe for kids.

As I watched Batman: The Animated Series as a child, I knew the difference between right and wrong. Violence was bad, bad guys get punished, Catwoman liked Batman (ew, cooties), etc.

But despite my understanding of right and wrong, or that Catwoman had a crush on Batman, as a child, I would not have known what to think of this:


Catwoman

Not too long ago, I mentioned the ridiculously over-sexualized characters in Superman/Batman Apocalypse movie – which was also rated PG-13. Evidently, who cares what our youth are watching, eh?

While I haven’t seen the movie (because it hasn’t been released yet), I have to ask: What the HELL is DC doing to Catwoman?

Here is Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City

Catwoman Clevage

Well that’s unnecessary.

And let us not forget the bondage concept art for the game!


Catwoman Bondage

So what we’re getting here is something entirely different from what I grew up with.


Catwoman Animated Series

So She’s A Sleaze Bag Now?

Oh, Catwoman. What has happened to you? You were so innocent-looking (for a villain) and you were so. . . clothed. What made you turn into such a sleaze bag? I wish I could narrow down the time where DC decided, “Marvel has the Black Cat, so we need Catwoman to mimic her.” I’m not saying Black Cat is any better than Catwoman, either. I’m just picking on Catwoman now because, unlike the Black Cat, Catwoman is a lot more popular and has gone under such a radical change in very little time. Why is that? When did she become such a sex-fiend? Since when did she start wearing sexy lingerie under her costume?

Catwoman Comic

. . .

Time for Some Major Damage Control

What I’m trying to get at is, as a child, I could understand right and wrong. It was given to me in the stories. Batman was a good guy fighting the bad guys. He wore a suit to protect him and had weapons to fight the bad guys.

As Catwoman – I have nothing. She’s unnaturally clothed for NO explanation, and is treated solely as a sex object. There is no purpose to why she dresses the way she does, nor is it explained.

So as a child, I can tell right from wrong, but here, the “issue” is not addressed. Therefore, naturally, I would have to assume Catwoman dressed as the way she is would be acceptable, right?

This is me, as a man speaking. I have problems with this because I just think it’s inappropriate to degrade any human to this level.

If I were a woman – if I had a daughter – what sort of implications would this have on me? As a boy, I know right from wrong. I would see Batman as a bad-ass and not know what to think of Catwoman. As a girl, I would know right from wrong, would see Batman as a bad-ass, then see Catwoman as what? A model? A skank? A villain? A good girl? A body? A pair of breasts? Is it acceptable then to dress as her? No one else seems to have a problem with it, right?

When the conversations about this are not being had, it is more damaging than just watching the cartoon and assuming it doesn’t affect anyone.

So now we have Catwoman in our cartoons, video games, movies and comics looking like this. If it’s acceptable for her in all of those mediums, surely it must be acceptable for other women in other mediums to be degraded too, right?

See?

This is conversation which needs to be had.

What do you all think?

Holy Crap, DC! One Million?

First things first: Despite being all-settled and moved in, my internet has been ridiculously jittery for the past week. I’m going to have it looked at. It just means delays in updates. How exciting is that? Ughughughughughugh.

Meanwhile. . .

Over One Million Sold

Way to go DC.

Over one million comics were sold by DC alone in the month of September. This number includes preorders, and second and third printings too. Isn’t that incredible? For the first time since 2006, DC also won in dollar shares. DC was at 35.74% versus Marvel at 35.37%.

Now while that’s a miniscule margin, that is also because most of DC’s titles are at $2.99, meaning volume doesn’t necessarily mean more dollars.

But Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 have both sold over 200,000 issues each thus far, while many comics, like Green Lantern, Flash and Superman have all sold over the 100,000 mark.

For the top 10 comics in the month of September, Marvel held 8th and 9th place, while DC ate up the rest of the slots!

I really hope this momentum keeps up because it would ultimately mean that comics are not a dying breed.

The Avengers Teaser Trailer

Now where are the Skrulls?

This is why I hate teaser trailers.

Keep on Space Truckin’!