Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Secret Behind The Secret

It's almost as if one was a hermit if one hasn't heard of "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne which provides a wonderful starting point for The Law Of Attraction. Now, if you don't know what The Law Of Attraction is, here is a Wikipedia article to help get you started. It is controversial - half of my family thinks it is great and half of them do not.

I only know one thing: It works for me.

Since I started using The Law Of Attraction in February 2007, I have found the love of my life and obtained 15 pounds towards my perfect weight (we don't say "lose weight" with the Law Of Attraction as "lose" is negative). I am also doing what I love and that is selling comic books on the internet and at comic conventions. I'm now back to living in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. All that has happened in less than 2 years. Thing is, I'm not even trying very hard. Maybe The Law Of Attraction is nothing more than just being more focused in getting what you want..... I think it is a lot more than that.

I'm not going to deliver a sales pitch but if any of you out there want to get into The Law Of Attraction, here is the way I would do it if I were to do it again (I left out #2 below in my Law Of Attraction familiarization process).

1. Watch "The Secret" video - this is the best place to start and it's fairly entertaining to boot.

2. Check out some of the free stuff on the web like these Law Of Attraction videos by Michael Losier on YouTube or go to The Secret website and click on "Gifts For You" for a number of free Law Of Attraction goodies. A couple of really great PDF files there...all for free!

3. Listen to The Law Of Attraction CD by Esther and Jerry Hicks. This is a deeper treatment of The Law of Attraction and also includes The Law of Deliberate Creation and The Law of Allowing. My sister turned me on to this one.

4. Read Dr. Eric Amidi's The Secret Behind The Secret. This is a nut and bolts method for learning how to properly manifest your desires. This takes all the concepts used above and boils it down to practical application. Not only that but Dr. Amidi sends out a weekly newsletter with practical manifestation examples, affirmations and more.

There is so much more to The Law Of Attraction than can be put in a single blog entry but the resources are there.... all it takes is a little of your time and - if you get into deeply - very little of your money.

As usual, comments are welcome and solicited.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Normally I Don't Do This But....

Regardless of which side your on, this is a great campaign video...

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inflation and CGC - CGC 9.8 vs. 9.6

CGC Expert Greg Buls is again our guest columnist and today's topics are on Inflation and CGC and CGC 9.8 vs. 9.6. Greg Buls has been a dealer-collector for more than 20 years. He found the pedigree Circle 8 collection in 1991. Greg operates S&V Collectibles on Comiclink - some really nice stuff you gotta check out!


Inflation and CGC - The commodity markets are driving inflation, and it seems to be seeping into everything. But the recent spike in collectible bronze and silver age CGC books can't be accounted for by looking at any other market. Almost across the board, consistently higher prices are being fetched for desirable items. This effect is most likely due to collectors viewing CGC books as a good store of value. As the dollar is devalued, quality CGC books look like a reasonable place to put those dollars, there's now an eight year established marketplace for these books, and with few exceptions, books fetch a decent percentage of market value unless presented very poorly. So sellers now have some confidence that they will be able to get a decent price on the quality CGC books they buy. Unless the stress on the credit and mortgage markets brings a lot of quality collections to market in a short period of time, I expect these price increases to continue.

9.8 vs 9.6 - One of my collecting interests is DC 100 page giants. I collect them in 9.6 only, oww pages or better. I only have a dozen or so, but hope to eventually have the entire set. I've passed on white page 9.8s that I've had graded because keeping them would have been too expensive - by selling the one 9.8 I could purchase 3 9.6s. This is my collecting philosophy on these because most in this grade fall into the $100-$400 price range, making them the targets of interest for most high grade collectors. Once you've seen thousands of 9.6s and 9.8s, the only really meaningful difference is scarcity. That doesn't mean that 9.8s and 9.6s are indistinguishable, but that they are close enough that the price spreads aren't as meaningful: though 9.8s will almost always sell for some significant percentage more than 9.6s, the number of collectors willing to pony up for them is more limited. Assuming a rocky economy in the future, the broadest base of collector support will likely be for the 9.6s.

Comiclink - If you're interested in vintage books, both raw and CGC, you can't find a better marketplace than Comiclink. Both their exchange and their auctions are full of amazing material. Comiclink acts as an agent between seller and buyer. Buyers pay CL, and sellers ship the books to CL. When the book and payment are both received, CL takes their flat 10% and completes the transaction. Considering listing, selling, and Paypal fees, it's probably a cheaper platform than Ebay, and yields more on the average book. I'm selling most of our premium material through CL now, so if anyone has a want list you'd like us to keep on file, please send it so we can intercept books for you before they go to CL.


Thanks again Greg! Again remember to check out Greg on Comiclink.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Walkin' Willie's Comix Big Fat Sale Now at 35% OFF!

That's right - Walkin' Willie's Comix Big Fat Sale is now at 35% OFF!

The prices are still set at retail but when you add comics to your shopping cart, you will see the 35% discount.

Also, please remember that you acrue even more discounts the more you buy - check this out:

$10.00 or more: 10% additional OFF!
$35.00 or more: 15% additional OFF!
$75.00 or more: 20% additional OFF!

If you win one of my eBay items (more to go up there very, very soon), you get 30% additional OFF! In fact, if you bought an eBay item from us during the last 12 months, you should have received your discount coupon. If you didn't, just e-mail us and we will get it to you pronto!

Finally, you might want to check out our eCrater Store - lots of tradepaperbacks, hardcovers and graphic novels at insane discounts.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's Dragon*Con Time, Baby!

Very short post to let you know that Walkin' Willie's Comix will be at the 2008 Dragon*Con in Atlanta Georgia - which starts on Friday, August 29, 2008 and ends on Monday, September 1, 2008 (Labor Day).

This mega con covers 3 gigantic hotels and gets more than 40,000 visitors each year. I truly believe that every mortal soul should go to Dragon*Con at least one time in their life. There is art, film, music, comics, movies, contests, panels - well, 32 programming tracks in all (maybe more). Absolutely the best media convention in the world!

Walkin' Willie's Comix is bringing over 50 boxes of trade paperbacks and graphic novels - something for everyone!

C'mon down - it's one helluva party!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You Just Never Know......

Awhile back I discussed eCrater in a somewhat recent blog article and thought I would share an experience that absolutely floored me!

We recently received an order on eCrater for three bargain bin books - each going for 50 cents apiece. In other words, a small order. Now we would hope and strive to treat each order as if it totaled a grand or better so our main focus was to ship the order promptly making sure that the books were packed properly to avoid damage. OK, we got that done and case closed, right?

Well, as Lee Corso says on ESPN's College Gameday, "Not so fast, my friend"....

I happened to check my Google Analytics to see what kind of traffic my blog and my eCrater store were getting and noticed that one of the referrals was from a website called Auction Insights. As I had not heard of the site, I wanted to check it out to see how someone would get from their site to my site. I figured there would be a list of links somewhere or something like that - no biggie.

Well, I just about passed out when I got there because there was a three-part review of eCrater with the second part dealing with eCrater from the buyer's perspective. The reason that I was reaching for the smelling salts is that the buyer's perspective review was done using the small order from my eCrater website described above. It had screen shots from my site and everything! While the article is still on the homepage as of the date of this article, it will eventually go into archive mode so here is a direct link to the article.

WOW! You just can't buy - at least not cheaply - this type of internet marketing. And to think that it came from a small order, one that I really hadn't thought about after it was shipped. Not only that but the article on Auction Insights caused me to look at the rest of their articles - some really helpful stuff on there for those of you in the online selling biz, particularly if you are using eBay or some other web based store.

While I felt that I had already learned the lesson of treating every single order as if it was the most important one, this experience just reaffirmed that lesson to me.

Why? Because you just never know.....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marvel Masterworks Variant Editions

Over the next few weeks, we will be auctioning Marvel Masterworks early first print variant editions. The first lot which is on eBay right now has Marvel Masterworks #4 through #8.

When Marvel started these variants they didn't let us know how many would be printed like they did in later editions. Originally, these variants would be knockoffs of the original editions but soon, they started changing the colors of the dust jackets and such.

There is no doubt that the original Masterworks published in 1992 & 1993 are probably the most valuable but these early variants clearly have the lowest print runs and are hard to find, especially in the shrink wrap. While we do not have exact figures for all editions, the print run for these early variants was about 350 to 620 - i.e. not a whole lot of them to go around.

Here are a couple of good resources to check out:

Marvel Masterworks Library - A great resource which lists almost all the editions for each Marvel Masterwork - a few holes that need to be filled but a great resource.

Marvel Masterworks - Wikipedia - another great resource, especially for newbies.

We have about 15 more early edition first print variants to go up on eBay so bid early and often!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

HOORAY! Our First eCrater Order!

Walkin' Willie's Comix is proud to announce that we received our first eCrater order this month. Just in case you were living on some remote island or just completely out of touch with reality, you can get to our eCrater store just by cruising to this URL:

The Walkin' Willie's Comix eCrater Store mainly will serve up trade paperbacks, graphic novels, hardcovers and bargin bin comics from Silver Age to present. Almost all of the trades, graphic novels and hardcovers are at least 35% off and all of the DC and Marvel books are 38% off of the normal retail price - and they are brand spanking new to boot!

The single issues are WELL below guide, most of the time at 30% of graded guide or less!

The bad news is that it will take awhile to build traffic. eCrater was started in 2004 and while that is a million lifetimes internet-wise, it is still young. Most folks that sell on eBay stay in a tunnel vision mode - i.e. they just don't look around for other venues to sell their stuff. Walkin' Willie's Comix has been on eBay since 1997 and we only found out about eCrater this year - so we were in tunnel vision mode ourselves. Here is an interesting article called "eBay's Death By A Thousand Cuts" which provides a few alternatives to eBay.

The good news is that eCrater is totally FREE for buyers AND sellers!! The only fees a seller will incur are PayPal fees and/or Google Checkout fees. eCrater makes money two ways: 1) If you want preferred placement for your products, you can do so for modest fees and 2) eCrater gets a kickback from Google Checkout.

The other good news is that sellers can offer products at a substantial discount as there are no listing fees or final value fees. THAT in and of itself is wonderful!

Finally, the eCrater forums harken back to the early days of eBay when there was a much more communal feel. There are several posts where one eCrater store will advertise for links for other eCrater stores to include on their own store website (not eCrater). We will be doing that type of cross linking soon. In fact, our first eCrater order was from another eCrater seller - living in Japan no less. Sure, eBay still has the most eyeballs but selling there is becoming a drag - in fact the next article on our blog will focus on our problems with selling on eBay and we'll promise not to whine.... too much....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heroes-Con Hangover.....

Well, it has been over a week since Heroes-Con 2008 and I am still trying to get my act together. We might be in a recession but I had by far my best Heroes-Con with only one 10'x10' booth! My previous high watermark was Heroes-Con 2006 in which a) we had four 10'x10' booths and b) the comics creative community rallied behind Shelton Drum and Heroes-Con when those dillweeds from Wizard tried to put Heroes-Con out of business by trying to schedule a Wizard World convention in Atlanta the same weekend.

Now we had the usual array of trades and hardcovers but also scored a nice Marvel Silver Age lot and a really, really nice collection of high grade DC giants from the Silver and Bronze Ages. What I learned is that folks will part with their money if you have what they want. By the way, this was all cash and checks as I don't have a merchant account to take credit cards (don't want one either...). In fact, we were so busy that I really didn't get out and see the convention.

My girlfriend, Melissa, was really working the crowd. It was her first comic convention and she acted like she had done it all her life. Melissa was and is a tremendous asset not to mention fun as all get out. She was like "Hey, we gotta do more of these... you need to start scheduling some cons!!!" .... whatta gal!

All in all, it was a great show - dealers and collectors were both buying like crazy. If you want a great blow-by-blow report, check out the Heroes-Con blog. It is a fun read if nothing else - the inimitable Dusty Harbin scribes in his usual entertaining, witty style.

Can't wait until next year....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Comic Book Age Categories

Greg Buls is again our guest columnist and today's topic is on the Comic Book "Ages". Thing is, I tend to agree with Greg on this topic and it is one of the more hotley debated comic book topics (with the other two being grading and the pros/cons of CGC - sorry, we don't debate stuff like who is better: Marvel or DC anymore..... um, we don't do we?)

Greg Buls has been a dealer-collector for more than 20 years. He found the pedigree Circle 8 collection in 1991. Greg operates S&V Collectibles on eBay - some really nice stuff you gotta check out!


Presently, books are divided along age lines that don't make a lot of sense. The golden/atom age runs from the superheroes through Showcase #4, which introduces the Silver Age flash, in 1956. The silver age runs through 1969, and the bronze age begins in 1970, ending in 1980. The Showcase #4 makes some sense as a starting point for the silver age, but the rest is arbitrary. Let me suggest a better categorization. If anyone reads this who discusses these things online, please take this and run with it if you think it's a worthwhile debate.

Golden age: Through 1949 or 1950. At that point, the size of the books changed, as did the paper quality. This cutoff would also coincide with the beginning of the real world atom age, since the Soviet Union began to challenge US atomic supremacy about this time.

Atom age: 1950-1960 & Silver age: 1961-1968 - Aside from the weak argument for the Silver age beginning with Detective #225 and the introduction of Jon Jonzz, there is only one other 50s book that is ever mentioned as the best starting point for the Silver age, Showcase #4. From 1956 through FF #1 (or perhaps Tales to Astonish #27, 1st Ant Man), nothing of note happens. The marginal exceptions include the introduction of secondary characters such as Adam Strange and the Challengers of the Unknown. An argument can be made for Showcase #22, introducing the Silver age Green Lantern, but if you like that book and era, why not the #4? Both of these suffer from two of the same shortcomings: They don't introduce truly new characters and concepts - they are adaptations of existing characters. Not so Adam Strange and the Challengers, but they are not significant enough to warrant starting the Silver age with their first appearance.

Likewise Brave and the Bold #28, which simply teams up existing characters. No, the Silver age has to begin where it really begins, with FF #1. It was all new, enduring, and it signified the opening of the Lee/Kirby creative floodgates which would change comics forever. Had Marvel stayed limited to monster books and Torch/Cap stories, the face of comics would be radically different today. Marvel exists and is propelled ever onward on the strength of characters introduced from FF #1 on. DC is still largely coasting on the work of the 1940s (with hats off to Vertigo).

Bronze age: 1968-1984 (that's right, I said it! 1984!). 1968 saw the next big wave in comics: Hulk, Cap, Submariner, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man all kicked off their modern incarnations in 1968. 1968 also saw the beginning of meaningful speculation; up until about the late 1980s, it seemed like these books were a dime a dozen. One can dispute the significance of these re-launches, but this break makes more sense than 1970, which is totally arbitrary. Another change around this time is worth noting. For the bulk of the silver age, the cover paper of the books was different than they were from about 1968 on. Look at the paper and texture of a 1965 comic cover, and compare it to the paper and texture of a book like Amazing #58-64, or any of the Silver Surfers. The Surfers have what is essentially modern paper, no different than books published a decade later, while the 1965 book's cover paper is distinctly different in appearance and texture. There's little consistency to this change, some Spideys in the #60s and #70s seem to have reverted to the old paper, and this is true of other titles as well.

Modern age: 1985-present - As for the period extending through 1984, the reflects both scarcity and market realities. The direct market came into being in 1984 (and Geppi smiled, and saw that it was good). Up until that point, comic stores were newsstand distribution sites; unsold copies generally went back and were mulched. The DM both increased margins and introduced overstocks to many dealers who had not previously been in a position to purchase extras. The result is that books from 1985 and on are generally more plentiful than their earlier counterparts. And again, while there is some room for disagreement about the significance of 1984, at least there's some significance to it, 1980 as a cutoff is completely arbitrary.


Thanks again Greg! Again remember to check out Greg's offerings on eBay - great stuff every week.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is eBid Too Good To Be True?

This is the way the internet works. I get an e-mail from about how eBay is forcing our friends in Austrailia to use PayPal as the only method of payment. Obviously, the predictible righteous indignation ensues - and I agree that it is a tough tactic move by eBay - but it got me to thinking about alternatives to eBay. There are a bunch of them out there but they all seem...well.... not too professional, not enough items, etc., etc., etc.

I even looked at some of the comic book auction sites like Heritage Auctions and ComicLink and they are good but you can't brand your logo, establish your identity - i.e. everything runs through them and your only contact with the buyer is when you ship your product.

But I looked at one that really got my eye and that is eBid. You can sign up for a lifetime membership as a seller+ for only $49.99 and that is it! No more listing fees and no more final value fees. Now think about that for a moment. You pay a one time fee and you can sell as much stuff as you want. By the way, this is not some shameless plug because a) I have not signed up yet and b) eBid doesn't have an affiliate program (yet...) and so there is no kickback for ol' Willie. Believe me, I am trying to figure out what the catch is but I haven't found one yet.

What eBid reminds me of is eBay back in 1997 or so when it was pretty much undiscovered. You could get instant help on the forums from the eBay folks and it was not a public company so it was a LOT more user friendly.

Thing is, I will always have an eBay store of some sort - just too daggone many eyeballs BUT if eBid and my own website start taking off, I will severely limit my participation on eBay. I'm getting ahead of myself here... I will try eBid and see how it goes. I will post back in a month or two and describe my experience.

Update: eBid does indeed have an affiliate program - that's a good thing....

As usual, comments and questions are welcome and solicited.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Submitting Comic Books to CGC

CGC Expert Greg Buls is again our guest columnist and today's topic is on submitting comic books to CGC CGC. Greg Buls has been a dealer-collector for more than 20 years. He found the pedigree Circle 8 collection in 1991. Greg operates S&V Collectibles on eBay - some really nice stuff you gotta check out!


I thought it would be helpful to share some submission tips for those people who are interested in submitting comic books to CGC.

1. Bag the books by invoice with the invoice. Using magazine bags or even shopping bags, keep each lot together. If an invoice has more than one bag worth of books on it, write the corresponding invoice number on the bags that don't contain an invoice.

2. Make the books accessible - there's no reason to tie a bundle of books up completely with tape. If they are nestled snugly in bubble wrap, they should be fine even without tape, bubble wrap won't shift in transit. If you use peanuts, it's best to ship a box within a box, but if that's not possible just make sure the books are bagged in clumps and well settled, push the peanuts down all around, you'd be surprised how they will settle in shipping if you just float them in and close the box. Likewise, make the books accessible. CGC recommends sending books in mylars, but you can also just bag and board them. I don't think the graders' mindset is affected by whether the book is in a new bag and board or a mylar. If you do bag and board them, don't tape the individual bags closed, we never tape our bags, and I'm sure graders appreciate not having to mess around with the tape. The bags will remain sealed by virtue of being well wrapped in a larger bag.

3. Spine, spine, spine. I've seen time and again how CGC is likely to be somewhat forgiving with regard to the corners of the spine, but if you want to get 9.6-9.8s, the spine should be flawless or nearly flawless.

4. Clean your books. The best eraser is a soft white art gum eraser. I've tried them all, the softer the better, and you want white, not amber or any other color. These erasers are about 1"x2"x1/2". I like to cut the eraser in half so that I have two approximately 1"x1" squares, then in half again diagonally, so that from one eraser I get four triangular erasers. These are smaller and easier to hold and use, and are better for more delicate work because of the size, and more exacting in their application because of the sharp corners. Before you start working on a book, check the paper quality. If the cover feels somewhat stiff, or is tanning, consider skipping it, covers can be torn fairly easily if they are not supple.

Now what you're looking for is dirt, which generally shows up as greyish in color. And unless you have an expert touch, you only want dirt in white areas. It's just too easy to take color off with an eraser to ever make it worthwhile to try and clean a dirty area over color. Always go from the inside out, never from the corners in, or from the edges in. You'll find that the eraser will pick up some of the dirt, but the bulk of it will come from the eraser remnants which accumulate as you work. You don't want to brush those off until the end, they make the work much easier.
I've seen plenty of books that are high grade and are nonetheless dirty. But it can make a difference at the margins, when a grader is on the fence. And cleaner books always have more eye appeal, so at the least you're probably making the book a little easier to sell and making the eventual owner (even if that's you!) happier with the book.

5. Many defects which don't break through the paper and leave a white crease can be corrected by gentle manipulation. This is something that requires practice, be sure to practice on inexpensive books. It's a good idea to wear surgical gloves whenever you intend to do anything other than lightly hold a book, and to always wear gloves when handling expensive books.

Subtle manipulation can correct a number of problems. First, you can square off the corners more fully if they are blunted by holding the book with one hand, and with the other hand holding a piece of paper towel or toilet paper, enfold the spine between your thumb and forefinger so that you are very lightly pinching the spine, and draw the paper along the spine, from about two inches from the corner past the end of the spine. That may not sound clear, so what you are trying to accomplish is to lightly reverse the appearance of the blunting. Blunting means that the paper has been to one degree or another crushed at the corner, so you're brushing the paper the other way. Second, finger bends and corner bends that don't break color can often be mitigated or removed completely be lightly bending the paper back the other way.

Finally, a good art store will have a folding or creasing tool made of bone. If a cover has some some dents or finger bends (crescent shaped bends which are caused by gripping the cover too tightly when opening the book) you can mitigate or remove them by rubbing the bone tool over the affected area, rubbing on the inside of the cover, smoothing out the paper where there is a problem. Sometimes this can literally stretch the paper a bit, so that you have what looks like the beginnings of a bubble. With books like this it's not a bad idea to flatten them out a bit under heavy weight. When using the bone tool, be sure that the surface under the book is not hard like wood or glass, or soft like cardboard. The ideal is a backing board type paper, which offers a slight give.

6. Don't pre-screen your first submission or two. CGC allows you to tell them to send back, uncertified, any books from a particular invoice that don't meet a pre-determined grade level. By not pre-screening, you will have a better idea of how close you are to the mark. CGC charges $3 for pre-screen rejects, and that adds up if your grading is off or sloppy. If you get lower grades than you anticipated, or more pre-screen rejects, call CGC for the grading notes on any book where you think they dropped the ball, or you can't see why it's graded as it is. CGC keeps detailed grading notes on every book, even pre-screen rejects.

7. Regarding book values, err on the side of caution. For instance, if you have a nice Ghost Rider #1, you probably don't want to submit it on the express tier ($1000-$4000 value) because the book has to be a 9.6 to top $1000. If you send it in standard ($250-$1000) and it grades a 9.6, CGC may move it into the express category, or may not. The reverse is not true - if you send in an 8.5 Ghost Rider #1 that should have been on the economy tier and you send it express, they'll be glad to provide the express service.

8. Be willing to be humbled. CGC is strict and fair.


Thanks again Greg! Again remember to check out Greg's offerings on eBay - great stuff every week.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - It's Goin' NUTZ!

My primary occupation is a database driven website builder - I work as a contractor for other companies. So even though I am not in the market for new clients, I received two unsolicited phone calls the past two days about SEO.

The two individuals were practically in a panic to know more about SEO, contract some firm to do it for them, etc. The competition for eyeballs on the internet is absolutely mind boggling.

While two phone calls in three days is not exactly the basis for a trend, it is significant for a little bitty company like mine that does ZERO advertising except for the free listing in the Yellow Pages.

Unless you have EXCELLENT spam prevention for your e-mail, you probably get a bunch of offers of saying they can get you listed in the top ten on Google for your category in 48 hours - they are all a bunch of hogwash. However, there are excellent resources for SEO and I will list a few.

First of all, Search Engine Optimization For Dummies - 2nd Edition is by far the best book on SEO. I know, I know - it's a dummies book but don't let that throw you off as it is literally filled with great information. You don't have to be a geek to read it either.

Secondly is - this is a pay site but if you go to their home page and scroll down, you will see Wordtracker Academy which has a bunch of great articles on Keyword Optimization and all are FREE!

Finally, the best (free) website for all things SEO is Site Pro News. Their article archive is just immense.

Finally (part 2...), the best not-so-free website for SEO as well as affiliate marketing is Wealthy Affiliate. Not only do they have tons of tutorials but their forums are absolutely amazing.

However, if you want great search engine rankings, the #1 way to do it is to have up-to-date, original(if possible), relevant content with out overusing keywords. The resources I have listed above will provide you with all you need to know about keyword density.

The bottom line is that SEO is an acquired skill set that takes quite a bit of sweat equity to get really good at - While I still have a lot to learn, I am getting better every day - and with the resources above, you can too!

As usual comments are welcome and solicited.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Buying CGC Bronze/Silver/Gold

Time for a guest columnist and today, that guest is Greg Buls and he weighs in on buying older CGC graded books. Greg Buls has been a dealer-collector for more than 20 years. He found the pedigree Circle 8 collection in 1991. Greg operates S&V Collectibles on eBay - some really nice stuff you gotta check out!


There's more to be said about this than can easily be fit into one article, so I'll make a hodge-podge of notes, hopefully you'll find something useful. We'll define bronze age in the traditional way, 1970-1980.

As always, what you buy will depend on your goals. Do you want a complete run of Iron Man in nice condition? Then a nice 7.0 #1 and 8.0s on most of the rest of the 12-20 centers is probably great – many 7.0s and most 8.0s have nice eye appeal, and a full run in these kinds of grades and up would be formidable, and would make a nice looking collection. But many 12 and most 15-20 cent Iron Mans are abundant in 8.0, so unless you find them cheap or want them just to have them, turnover (and thus investment potential) is limited in these kinds of grades. One month you may find someone willing to pay $40 for an Iron Man #11 in 8.0, other months the same book will sell for $20 (not enough to cover encapsulation).

Bronze age books can be divided into two general periods in terms of scarcity, 1970-1974 (20 centers) and 1975-1980 (25-40 centers). The latter are considerably easier to find, as a rule. Really old comics are valuable because they are scarce. Most collections ended up at the dump or the recycler. That said, in the late 1960s, a degree of speculation began. It first manifest with the relaunch of the secondary Marvel characters in 1968, with Hulk 102, Cap 100, Sub-Mariner #1, Captain Marvel #1, and Iron Man #1. All of these books, and late silver/bronze age in general, are more common than issues from the 1966-1967 period. Books from 1964 and 1965 are scarcer still, and books from the early 1960s are very tough, particularly in high grade. So the minimum grade for investment depends upon the age of the books. Here's a very general guide for dates/cover prices and minimum investment grades:

1930s - late 1950s: 10 cents, 6.0. Many 6.0s (fines) are very appealing, and for many books of this era, around 6.0 is the best you can do without getting into really big money. It would seem logical that 1950s books would be easier to find in 6.0 and up than 40s books, but 50s books are often harder to find than their 1940s counterparts.

1961-1963: 10-12 cents, 6.5-7.0

1964-1965: 12 cents, 7.5

1966-1967: 12 cents, 8.0

1968-1970: 12-15 cents, 8.5

1971-1974: 20 cents, 9.0

1975-1977: 25-30 cents, 9.2-9.4

1978-1980: 35-40 cents, 9.4-9.6

Regarding page quality, Anything off white or better is generally acceptable, insofar as there is little resistance from buyers with pages in this range. Cream and worse will depend on the book. Some books, particularly from the 1950s and early 1960s, are more common with cream pages than with off white pages. In some cases, for some 50s and 60s key books, cream to off white is the best page quality available. If you're intent upon putting together a complete collection of these older books, you may wait forever for an off white to white or white book.

DC vs Marvel: Marvel has always been the big boy on the block for silver and bronze, and continues to be. Unless you branch into Timelys, you can't pursue the Marvel super heroes before 1961. While there are many more Marvel than DC collectors, there are also many more Marvel silver and bronze books than there are D.C.s. This is true in virtually all grades, so as a result, higher grades on D.C.s are scarcer than their Marvel counterparts, so there can be fierce competition for the DC plums, even if you are bidding against a smaller pool of collectors. What to buy depends largely on taste. If it's a decision based on mainly financial considerations, go with Marvels, they've always been more broadly collected than D.C.s, so are probably safer overall.

Picking an era: Again, this is a matter of taste, but there are many more collectors of silver and bronze than there are of gold. High grade mainstream gold (8s and up) will always be easy to sell because it's so scarce, but lower grades (6-7.5) may have to wait for a buyer. This isn't so true of the minimum investment grade silver age books. You may have to wait for the right buyer for an Adventure #59 in 6.0, but there's a line around the block for 1963 Ffs and Spideys in 7.0.

The census is a key determinant of good investments when you're looking at bigger books. With low census issues, if there are a few dozen or more submissions, a pattern has been set. If there's only one 9.6 among 50 submissions, a 9.8 is unlikely, and it's unlikely that there will be half a dozen 9.6s once 100 copies have been graded. Paying a premium for the sole top census copy can be worth doing when there's a decent number of submissions, otherwise it's risky on anything from the late 1960s on, and riskier the later you get into the bronze age. has valuable sales tracking data and should be used by anyone buying expensive books.

As a general rule, CGC was looser with grades and tougher with page quality in their first few years. You'll see CGC serial numbers into two ranges: those starting with 00-02, and 06 and up. These are also the ranges for the two types of holders, small print and large print. With many, many exceptions, they were generally a little harder on page quality and easier on grading in the old holder period. When sellers don't provide good scans, it's a good idea to ask for them, particularly if the book is in an old holder. I will always prefer a book in a new holder to a book in an older one. However, there are some new holders with low invoice numbers. In some cases, these are books that have been re-encapsulated because a holder was scratched or otherwise damaged, or the owner wanted a page quality check, in hopes of an upgrade. In other cases, dealers simply had an old invoice that they used for submission. The only way to know for sure is to get a good scan.

Scarcity and demand are the driving elements in the investment end of things. A good example: I was watching the sole 9.6 (no 9.8s) copy of Strange Adventures #205, 1st Deadman, 1968 (oww). I expected the book to close between $2500 and $3000. It closed just over $4000. That same month, somewhere in the world, a Hulk 181 (1974) in 9.6 was trading for around the same price. There are 117 Hulk 9.6s (and 11 9.8s and one 9.9). But there are also about 100 times as many Wolverine fans as there are Deadman fans. This is an extreme example on both ends – supply and demand. Here are three general rules that can actually be applied with some consistency: First, if a title or character has consistently been in demand, that will probably continue to be the case. Second, at least from the silver and golden age, if an issue has always been scarce it will probably continue to be scarce. Third, except perhaps in extreme cases like the one mentioned above, dollar for dollar you're probably better off investing in high demand, more common books (Amazing Spiderman) than lower demand, scarce books (Tales to Astonish).


Thanks Greg! Again remember to check out Greg's offerings on eBay - great stuff every week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where to get your Comic Book Buzz! Part 2 of 2

Yesterday's post covered the internet comic book "news" sites. Today, we will cover Magazines, e-zines and other review sites.

There are two magazines which - when put together - cover the comic spectrum fairly well.

Comic Buyer's Guide was briefly discussed yesterday but it is, in my opinion, the best comic magazine out there. This monthly has dozens of reviews, columns as well as a price guide, great letters column, convention schedules - well, it has it all. While this rag might touch on comic book movies, toys, games and such, its real focus month after month is comics. They were weekly for the majority of their existence but - thankfully - turned into a monthly book about two or so years ago.

Wizard Magazine is the ultimate fanboy repository for hot babes, hot books, hot movies, hot..... well, you get the picture. Unlike Comic Buyer's Guide, Wizard is more pop culture centered around comic books - i.e. they are very big on movies, TV, toys, games - just about everything that has to do with MODERN comics. They are pretty much clueless if it is a book published before 1980. I remember snickering at their top 50 comic book moments of all time and none of them occurred prior to 1970 - you would think that Action Comics #1 or Amazing Fantasy #15 would have made the cut. Or even their pick of X-Men 2 as the best comic book movie of all time - wierd... However, smart comic book dealers read Wizard pretty much cover to cover as when Wizard says it is "hot", then you better reorder the book because that is usually all it takes.

There are more than just two worthy comic book mazazines though - you can go to the DMOZ directory for Comic Book Magazines and find a bunch of great magazines, fanzines and e-zines. Ones I would focus on are "Alter Ego" published by TwoMorrows Publishing, "The Comics Journal" and, if still published, "Savant". The Comics Journal and Alter Ego are better if you want to delve more into yesteryear although they do touch on the modern stuff. Savant is great for you right brained, counter culture activist types that like things a little more out of the box.

Finally, if you want your online reviews from a variety of sources then once again go to DMOZ and their comic reviews directory. The only criticism I have of the DMOZ project is that it is out of date and incomplete. One of the better comic review blogs that I have stumbled upon is Steve Flanagan's "Gad, Sir! Comics!" - great writing and that droll Brit wit....

I could go on and on and on and on.... the bottom line is that there are a ton of resources if you want to find out what is good, what is bad and... well... what is "hot".

If you have a favorite comic book buzz resource, by all means let us know.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Where to get your Comic Book Buzz! Part 1 of 2

How does one find out what's going on in the comic book industry? It's a question that is easily answered as the amount of resources available on the internet are just about endless. Part 1 of this 2 part post will cover buzz sites. Part 2 will cover reviews and comic related magazines.

However, there are the really good comic book resources and there are ones that are better left alone. I'm going over just a few but these few will get you started in a big way.

Newsarama is, in my opinion, the #1 source to find out what is happening in the comic book industry. I'm not just talking about the latest comic book to hit the stands either. I'm talking about movies, toys, what creators are going to do which projects, convention news - the whole shebang! It also has some very good forums with a lot of decent information.

CAVEAT! Unlike the news articles, forums often just have the posters opinion - take forum posts with a grain of salt unless you are very familiar with the poster. As usual "Caveat emptor"....

Jonah Weiland's Comic Book Resources has been around awhile. It is very similar to Newsarama as it covers about the same topics. My opinion is that Newsarama is a little stronger as I believe they have a larger staff and can get newer "buzz" posted more promptly - both are very good though. Between the two websites, you can get the latest comic book "buzz" pretty thoroughly.

The venerable Comic Buyer's Guide is included here because unlike Newsarama and Comic Book Resources, Comic Buyer's Guide covers the old comic stuff (i.e. Bronze Age and earlier) as well as the new and their reviews are pretty good. I enjoy Peter David's "But I Digress", Craig Shutt's "Ask Mr. Silver Age" and Chuck Rozanski's "Tales From The Database" - all of these columns are consistently good but there are several others that are just as worthy - I just listed my favorites.

These are just three comic book resources - there are a ton more and we will get you hooked up with them tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have a particular comic book resource that you would like to share, please do so.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wealthy Affiliate Review - The BEST Tool for Making Money on The Internet

If you are like most wannabe internet entreprenuers, you probably have been roped into one of those "Make TONS OF MONEY on INTERNET - in JUST 30 DAYS!" type schemes. They draw you in and deliver....nothing!

I have been a member of Wealthy Affiliate for just one month and all I can say is WOW! What is overwhelming about the site is the sheer amount - and quality - of resources. They realize that it can be daunting for the newbie so they have an 8 week action plan where they go through each phase of your development as an Internet Marketer in great detail. Believe me, it takes a week to go through each segment thoroughly. One of the reasons it takes so long to go through a week's lesson is that there are several links to the resources and tutorials contained in Wealthy Affiliate website.

Think about it - all you need is a computer, an internet connection and a strong passion for "something". For me, that "something" is comics - that is what I know and that is what I write about. I know a bit about affiliate marketing as I have been a member of Commission Junction for several years. I have made around $250 a year with them WITHOUT trying. What I mean by that is that I just slapped an eBay list of my items from the Commission Junction eBay affiliate program on my Walkin' Willie's Comix website with no additional content. My website is fairly good for just modern back issues but there is no content at all on it - nothing of real value except the merchandise for sale. That's what I mean by not trying.

Well, Wealthy Affiliate has shown me several different venues for promoting my products or third party products. All I have to do is TRY --- well, that and produce some content that has some value. This blog is one example of the several FREE venues where you can write about your passion and also promote products.

Heck, if you want to make your own products like T-Shirts, Coffee Mugs, etc. with absolutley no upfront costs of your own, you can try your hand at - all you need is a computer and a graphics program and you can make your own merchandise. prints the merchandise to order on demand and ships it for you - NO inventory costs and NO minimum order size. They do have a premium program which is $6.95 per month or $59.95 per year and appears worth it BUT the basic program is FREE. Obviously, I found out about this from Wealthy Affiliate

Speaking of which, back to Wealthy Affiliate: They have a tremendous forum there. I posted asking about the best free article submission sites and I had two replies within an hour! Each reply had a lot of value and they were from veteran members. I sent an e-mail to one of the Wealthy Affiliate owners and received a reply (and not a form letter) within 12 hours - you can't beat that!

OK, it's been one month and I'm impressed. I'll write another followup article in another month and let you know how I'm doing.

It's exciting for sure!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Death of The Comic Book Single Issue....

....may be premature. However, we are certainly heading in that direction.

Why? There are many reasons why I think that comic book single issues are going the way of the dodo. First of all, comic book fans are interested in the story and art - they just want to read, dammit! Most comic book story arcs are done in six issues within a title or as a four to six issue mini-series - perfect size for a trade paperback...

The single issue is a ripoff these days. There are no more letters to the editor columns, very rarely is there a backup story, UPC codes on the cover and then there are those wonderful ads that take up a third of the book. The modern trade paperback usually has an entertaining introduction, no ads (except for other trades at the very end of the book) and very often bonus material such as scripts, character sketches, full page cover art of all the issues WITHOUT titles, UPC codes, etc. Not only that but the price is right most of the time. Besides, who wants to keep up with six individual objects (i.e. six issues that you have to bag and board if you want to keep them in good shape) when you can have one object and get the whole story.

DC's 52 - which I am going to review within a few days - gives you 13 issues per volume for a retail price of $19.99 which you can easily get for at least 30% off. The single issues cost $2.50 each. Yes, the three page backup stories are not included in the trade so even if we assume that the cost of the single issue is maybe $2.00 if you leave out the backup stories, you are still WAY ahead of the game.

The internet has made it possible through the various forums for fans to check out how a story is going - is it good or does it suck. Also, we have monthly magazines such as Comic Buyer's Guide or Wizard which provide a trove of reviews each month. There is just a wealth of information to guide one on how to efficiently spend their discretionary income. Industry buzz is the lifeblood of the comic book industry - more than ever. If the buzz is positive, sales soar - negative buzz and the book dies on the vine.

Is this just my opinion? Here is where I received my epiphany: I am a comic book dealer doing most of my stuff online on eBay or my own website, Walkin' Willie's Comix. I do a couple of big shows every year and this is where I really saw the trend. The two shows I do are Heroes-Con in Charlotte, NC and Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA. It was at Dragon*Con about five years ago when all I heard was "Got any trades" - to the point that even my feeble mind could pick up on it. I started bringing trades and found that most of my sales by a huge amount where from trade paperbacks.

However, it was comparing the 2006 and 2007 Heroes-Con where I really saw the difference. In those two years, I brought four 10' x 10' booths and brought a ton of stuff each year - trades, singles issues, old stuff, etc. Each year, I brought about 100 long boxes of modern single issues. In 2006, I moved 11 long boxes of single issues - in 2007, only 2.5 long boxes. For all intent and purposes, I bought three extra unneccessary booths for the money I brought in during the 2007 Heroes-Con.

That was it for me. While I still have my Diamond Distributor account, I now only buy trades and hardcovers with the occasional special or premium issue thrown in there.

Here's the Catch-22: If a single issue story arc does well, then the publishers will collect it in trade. If it doesn't, it won't get collected. Well, if fans continue to buy fewer and fewer single issues, then what will get collected in trade anymore? It's hard for me to feel too sorry for the publishers though as they solicit the trade paperback for a story arc or mini-series the month after the last issue has been solicited - if they wait THAT long. If they would wait a few months, maybe fans would buy more of the single issues - I dunno.

All I know is that I am through buying new comic book single issues - I'm pretty sure I am not alone on this one.

Comments are welcome and solicited...

Friday, January 18, 2008

William Anfin a.k.a. Walkin' Willie - at your service...

Good evening!

Anyone that has run into me knows that comics and comic books are my passion. I also like to do some programming (ASP.NET using VB.NET & MS SQL Server) from time to time. Well, mix the two (comics and geekin') and you have a recipe for something strange.

Currently my site at Walkin' Willie's Comix consists mainly single issue modern comics. Well, that's all gonna change. I am working on a new site using AspDotNetStorefront software and it will be only old stuff - i.e. Bronze Age and older - and trade paperbacks. I think folks know from my reputation on eBay that they can trust how I grade books as well as how they are shipped.

The site is gonna be slicker and will allow for secure credit card payment and different shipping options. Before, it was just PayPal which isn't bad but now, you won't leave the website - that is much better.

As far as how this blog is going to go, I will talk mainly about comics. But, I will comment about everything around me - if I see something I want to share, I will write about it. I grew up in Radford, VA, went to Virginia Tech and have lived in Rock Hill, SC since 1979 (whew!....). Love Rock N' Roll and I'm a Beatles freak although what I am absolutely hooked on right now is The Cranberries Greatest Hits. If you ever are interested in which "Greatest Hits" to buy, make sure it is the Stars: The Best of the Cranberries, 1992-2002 album as it has 20 songs - really the cream of the crop. It sounds good on the iPod but through my boomin' Klipsch Cornwalls, it makes it soooo much better.

I hope some of you folks stop by - please feel free to comment. More to follow.....