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.....