Monday, December 27, 2010

Marvel Masterwork Variants - Fire Sale on eBay!

UPDATE - 1/3/2011: Just put up 58 more Marvel Masterworks Variant Editions on eBay last night - auctions end on Sunday, 1/9/2011 starting at 8:36 p.m. EST until 10:58 p.m. EST. Great chance to get a lot of wonderful, limited reprints at discount prices!

Just wanted to let all you Marvel Masterworks collectors out there that Walkin' Willie's Comix is eBaying a bunch of Marvel Masterworks hardcover Variants. These books are very limited editions with most having print runs of only 1050 to 1450 copies. All of the books offered are brand new with original factory shrink wrap.

Many titles already up and many more to go - starting bids are a little over half of retail which is EXTREMELY LOW for these books as not too many of them enter the secondary market - i.e. most collectors hold on to them as long as they can.

The "Fire Sale" will be going on weekly until the end of January!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Tale Of Five One-Day Comic Book Shows

Convention season is pretty much over for Walkin' Willie's Comix for 2010 so I am going to recap the five one-day shows in which we setup as dealers. There are pros, cons and goodness knows what.

I know two things: successful one-day comic shows have two things going for them. One is a LOT of attendees (and I'll explain later just what it takes to get fans in the door). Let's face it - no butts in the door means no money on the floor. It's that simple.

Two is the merchandise for sale - you just have to have a lot of cheap stuff for sale to make any money. Sure, bring the high dollar eye candy for your display, maybe a box or two of nice, mylar encased, high grade books but make sure you bring plenty of dollar or even 3 for a dollar boxes.

First one up is the Heroes Mini-Con (hey, that's my booth shown in the photo) held early in the year on 1/23/2010 at the gorgeous Fireman's Hall in Charlotte, NC. This con is run by the same Shelton Drum who runs the annual 3-day Heroes-Con.

The ambiance for the show is just plain excellent with enough dealers to provide variety but not too many that it takes all the money off the floor. Great music was played all day and not too loud. Attendance was excellent and since we brought a bunch of blow out trades and hardcovers, we had our highest gross for a one day show in 2010. Bottom line is that this show is very well promoted, very highly attended and held at a perfect venue. Table fees are pricey at $100 per but this is a one-day show that is well worth it.

Next up is Hickory-Con which is held twice a year (spring and fall) - this one was held on 5/8/2010 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC - and is run by long time comic dealer Eddie Price. We had purchased a large 1980's/1990's collection and decided to take the books to Hickory and blow them out at a dollar apiece. Just one problem: hardly anyone showed up for the show and those that did were probably 50% gamers if not more. I know I had the right stuff because I had several dealers coming over to buy large stacks of books at my going price of a buck a book. Eddie is a great guy but does little to promote the show - heck, he didn't even have a free convention listing in Comic Buyer's Guide - not good. Won't be going back to this one - but for you fans, a good chance to pick up stuff at bargain basement prices.

The very next week was the first annual Fanticon held at the Asheville Art Museum on 10/15/2010 in Asheville, NC. You want to talk show promotion, well show promoter Chance Whitmire left NO stone unturned. Let me count the ways... First off is an EXCELLENT website - the best I have ever seen for a one day show. Secondly, Chance even had a table at the Hickory-Con to promote the next week's show. The same day as Hickory-Con, Chance had volunteers dressed as superheroes to pass out very professional flyers to everyone they could in downtown Asheville, NC. Chance even had a spot on TV on the noon news show to promote the show and show youngsters how to make a mask to wear at the show. Heck, there were even opening ceremonies in which a bagpipe band played the Star Wars theme and what not. Also, the Ghostbusters of North Carolina brought in their "souped up" Ecto 1 car for display. Chance even set up a booth at this year's Bele Chere festival in downtown Asheville to promote next year's show....

As a result, over 3200 (some reports say it was over 6000) attended the show. A good one day show in the greater Carolinas and Virginia area is very fortunate to have 400 attendees so yes, this was one heck of an event! It was our second best one-day show of the year and we brought dollar books and a few trades - they did well. Heck, I've already paid for my tables for next year's show.

Next up is the venerable Charlotte ComiCon held at the Crowne Plaza Charlotte Uptown Hotel in Charlotte, NC on 8/1/2010. This show is held three times a year and the next one is on 12/19/2010. Rick Fortenberry and Dave Hinson run this gig and do a pretty darn good job of promoting the show. The website is pretty decent for a one day show and they make sure they get the show listed in the trade publications and promotional websites. Even local comic shops in the Charlotte metro area promote the show with flyers in their stores and attendance is pretty darn good at around 400 or so. There aren't too many dealers to suck the money off the floor and the show has been around long enough that it has good word-of-mouth promotion. This was the third time I brought the "dollar" collection and it started running out of gas. I started out well in the first two hours but then it was dead after that. I believe it was my fault on this one as the value wasn't there in my merchandise... Oh, well. It's still a darn good show.

Finally is the Virgina Vintage Comics Show held on 8/21/2010 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, VA and is run by the laid back, never nervous Roger Mannon. The venue is kinda cool as it brings back childhood memories of attending basketball games and wrestling matches (those epic Johnny Weaver/George Becker vs. Rip Hawk/Swede Hanson matches to name just a few...). Of course, we are in one of the ballrooms and not the main venue floor but still a great location and Salem, VA is one very nice Blue Ridge Mountain city. A few different dealers are there from the usual ones I see in NC shows and there is a real mix of merchandise - 90% comics but some odd nostalgia stuff there as well. Roger could promote the show a little better and get somebody to spruce up the website but one thing I did notice was the "quality" of attendees was about the best I've seen all year.

Let me clarify: by "quality", I am talking fans that will not only buy the cheap stuff but will buy some of the more expensive items as well - that doesn't happen much at the other shows. Someone popping a big book at this show is not uncommon in the least. I brought my tired dollar collection again but priced it at 3 for a $1 and then also brought five longs boxes of mid-grade Silver Age, Bronze and Copper - that did well as one customer bought a huge run of John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four. That one sale made it a successful show for me. Roger's show is definitely one for both fans and dealers to come back to next year.

At the end of the day, one-day comic shows are a gamble for comic dealers - you just don't know how many fans will walk through the door, how much money they have to spend and whether or not you have the goods they want. The bottom line is to keep overhead low by only going to those shows within close proximity where you don't have to stay at a hotel. Also, only bring as much "stuff" as you can haul in an SUV or cargo van. If you rent a U-Haul trailer, you better make sure you are going to sell a LOT of stuff. Any dealers reading this: make sure you ask the one-day show promoter just exactly what he or she is doing to promote the show. Promotion is what it is all about - it's the life blood of a show and will be so a thousand years from now. Any promoters reading this: Promote, Promote, Promote and when you think you've done enough, PROMOTE SOME MORE!!!!!

That's all I've got for now - comments welcome and solicited.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Putting A Big Book On eBay....

UPDATE - 10/6/2010: Well, eBay has another special where we can list any item auction style for any listing price for only 10¢ per listing again. So we've listed Circus The Comic Riot #1 again at the low, low price of only $1550 - a cool $1000 below guide price. Auction ends this Sunday, 10/10/2010 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Here's your chance to own a scarce, milestone comic book for a fraction of guide price!

UPDATE - 8/23/2010: Well, the book didn't sell and in fact - at the time of this edit - ONLY attracted ONE WATCHER and only 27 VISITS! Gee, I thought a book as important as this one would at least attract some traffic. Wonder if it is just the low summer eBay traffic or was the price too high? Current Overstreet guide value is $2550 in 7.0 but this was a CGC 7.0 - anyway, it was a good experiment to do and might do a few more just to see what will happen.

eBay just recently announced a promotion in which sellers could post up to a 100 hundred auctions at ANY starting price......for free. The promotion runs from August 3rd to September 3rd and it is one of the very few eBay promotions that caught my eye.

Like frequent flyer miles programs, there are a ton of restrictions like you can't have an eBay Store or fixed priced listings or listings in eBay Motors, Professional Services....etc., etc.

Circus The Comic Riot #1Well....even though I have 8 fixed priced items on eBay right now, I decided to throw a big book up there and see what would happen. So to the left is a small image of Circus The Comic Riot #1 from 1938 with a CGC grade of 7.0 or FINE/VERY FINE. This book is a comic milestone as it features the early works of Will Eisner, Jack Cole (his 2nd comic work ever), Batman creator Bob Kane and Basil Wolverton - hard to imagine these four giants of the industry in one book together. It's a tough book to find and even tougher to find in mid to high grade. The book has a starting price of $2795.00 which after eBay and PayPal fees, leaves this poor ol' dealer taking less than guide for a key book (I'm sure the pity parties are starting even as this is posted....). If you want to find out a lot more about this book, Network Disclosure has a great article on it.

The neat thing is even though I have those fixed priced items up on eBay, I wasn't charged an insertion fee so I have that going for me. Anyway, take a look....even bid if you like.... Will put up some more high priced items on Sunday - might as well see if some good traffic can be generated! Again, I luv Internet Marketing....just need to know more about it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Time To Squidoo.....

Well, I'm probably the last one on the block to write a Squidoo lens. If you are living under a rock, is an article repository where anybody can write articles for free in the hope that people find them interesting, click on links, generate some modicum of revenue for the author and so on.

Blogs seem best for short articles that describe the daily experiences and happenings of the author and hopefully provide some interesting tidbits to the general public - whether it is on comics or anything else. Squidoo lenses seem better for long articles that have to do with a specific subject and - for the most part - are considered "evergreen" articles. Evergreen articles might be a "How To" article or a critique of a book - in other words, they have no expiration date.

Well, I just published a two part Squidoo "lens" titled "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection". Part 1 is here and Part 2 is there. The articles are a little long for blogging so I thought that Squidoo would be the perfect place for these little "gems of prose".

By the way, Squidoo names their articles "lenses" because they are articles that has the author's "focus". Sounds reasonable....

Anyway, comments are certainly welcome and solicited!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heroes-Con 2010 - Well.....The Good News is.....

....that it was a sensational show for the fans. I'll have to admit, going into the show, the guest list was one of the most impressive that I have ever seen. There were a ton of creators, many of whom rarely do cons - it was a feast for the fans. Creators like Mike Mignola, Bernie Wrightson and Brian Bolland - just to name a very, very few - were some of the illuminaries at Heroes-Con 2010 and believe me, there were a ton of other big names - just wanted to give you a taste.

Usually for dealers, a great guest list at a con means that one stocks up on material by these creators in the hope that fans will buy the material so they can get it signed. Well, that is what usually happens...

And, as usual, we stocked up on Hellboy, Batman: The Killing Joke, Wrightson's Frankenstein and Swamp Thing and everything else by other creators. Unfortunately, what happened is something that we did not forsee happening - the fans spent most of their money, as well as their time, at Artist's Alley.

During my three restroom breaks each day, I noticed that at least 60% to 70% of the fans at Artist's Alley and the dealer's aisles were sparsely populated. We heard that some artists were charging up to $1500 for pen and ink drawings and getting it! One dealer I spoke to said that one of his longtime regular customers who usually spends $300 to $400 dollars sheepishly went to said dealer's booth and said that he would have to wait until next time as he was out of money - he had spent his money getting sketches. The dealer told me - "What could I do - I had to congratulate the customer on their purchases - I didn't want to jeopardize a longtime relationship, that's for sure". An informal poll revealed that around 75% of the dealers had a less than adequate show and the other 25% did well by selling stuff very cheaply or doing some big dealer-to-dealer deals.

The other problem is that the room was oversold. There were dealers there that either hadn't been to Heroes-Con before or hadn't been there in a long time.

The combination of a fabulous artist's alley and an oversold dealer's room pretty much took the money off the floor. As far as your's truly is concerned, we did a little over half of what we did last year which still made us some bucks but obviously not near as much as last year.

This is not complaining in the least. Comic conventions have to have at least a "decent" guest list because that is one of the primary attractions for fans. Show organizer Shelton Drum should not have to apologize one iota for having a stellar guest list. As far as the number of dealers is concerned, it is self regulating as there won't be as many at next year's Heroes-Con. Dealers yap a lot amongst themselves and the word will get around and we'll have about three-fourths of the dealers from this year's show at next year's show. One dealer even told me that he always tells other dealers at other shows that a particular show was terrible so that they won't come to that show the next year.

Anyway, there is a silver lining to all of this. One is that we gain awareness and as one of my dearest friends and life/business coach, Harvey Smith says, "Once you become aware, you cannot become unaware". That might sound trite at first blush but take some time....a lot of time and really, really think about it.

Secondly, we have been contemplating dropping our Diamond Comics Distribitors account for sometime. If any of you folks have been to our booth at one of the big shows, you know that we concentrate on trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels. Until this past Heroes-Con, we have done very well at the shows. However, we do not do very well online even though we offer very steep discounts. We just can't compete with Amazon and eBay.

Therefore, we canceled our Diamond account last week and I feel like a ten-ton elephant is off my back. That doesn't mean the end of Walkin' Willie's Comix by a long shot! We are going to concentrate on buying collections and putting the books up on our discount site. We will continue to acquire CGC books and put them up on our main site. And of course, we will always have at least something up on eBay.

Before I close, I do want to express my appreciation to the always hard workin' and lovely Melissa who continues to make our booth one of the classiest in the room as well as her excellent demeanor with the customers, creators and other dealers - don't know what I would do without her. I also want to thank Cory and Zack - two young guys that came around at the end of the show wanting to know if they could help us load up. They were a godsend and saved this big old dumb blonde comic geek's back for sure.

Bottom Line: short term Heroes-Con 2010 was not so good - very much below average for us but long term, it might have been the best thing that ever happened to Walkin' Willie's Comix. Can't wait to see....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fanaticon Kicks Off Tomorrow!

It's time for the first annual Fanaticon and are we ever looking forward to it! Fanaticon will be held tomorrow, Saturday May 15, 2010, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in downtown Asheville, NC at the Asheville Art Museum at Pack Place.

Why are we looking so forward to Fanaticon? Glad you asked.... Mainly there are two reasons: 1) the con is local - no driving two hours or more to begin setup - forget something? Just go back and get it... 2) More importantly, show director Chance Whitmire and his staff have been promoting the show relentlessly. Examples: Several radio spots, guest spots on local TV news programs, setting up a table at Hickory-Con last week along with a Superman actor to promote the show, having folks dress up like super-heroes to distribute flyers in downtown Asheville, front page of the Mountain Express (our Creative Loafing up here - click on the the "This Week In Print" block for a fabulous Fanaticon article) and front page of the Entertainment section of the Asheville Citizen-Times...just to name a few.

There are pre-convention parties, post-convention parties and even - get this - an Opening Ceremonies Saturday morning at 9:30...luv it...

Oh, and probably the best one-day show website that we have ever seen. No stone unturned by Chance and his staff in our humble opinon.

And did we say admission is FREE! Like you folks need another excuse to come to Asheville, the freakin' Paris Of The South, daggone it...

OK, time to get back to work and figuring out what we will take to the show - We will have a post-mortem of these last two one-day shows early next week.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Comic Collection to debut at Hickory-Con!

We'll be bringing a new collection consisting of 30 long boxes - Bronze Age to present - to Hickory-Con this Saturday, May 8th, 2010 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC.

The collection is interesting for not only it's breadth but depth as well. Everything from superheroes, golden age reprints, independents - you name it, it is in there. The individual from which we purchased this collection is a finish carpenter and all of the books came in 32 boxes made of luan plywood. The boxes are even stackable with sort of a tounge-in-grove deal where the comics are not touched by the box above - very interesting but we will need to sell them as they are tough to use for transport due to the weight and no handles. But I digress...

The even better news is that ALL BOOKS ARE $1.00 - that's right - just a buck a piece and ALL of the books are freshly bagged and boarded by yours truly (not so many) and by the always able assistant Melissa (she bagged and boarded a TON of books...). Admission to Hickory-Con is just $3.00 and runs from 10:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening.

Whatever we don't sell at Hickory-Con, we will bring to a new show - Fanaticon at the Asheville Art Museum in Asheville, NC on Saturday, May 15, 2010. When it's up, they have by far the best one-day show website that I have ever seen. They are promoting this show RELENTLESSLY so I'm hoping for a great turnout.

After that, we'll be heading to Charlotte, NC on June 4 - 6 for the venerable Heroes-Con 2010. The guest list is absolutely amazing with creators like Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Brian Bolland (fabulous covers like The Killing Joke, Animal Man, Wonder Woman and a TON more), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows), Bill Willingham (Fables, Elementals) and just too many more to list. We'll be bringing a ton of trades, graphic novels, CGC books and - of course - deeply discounted comic books.

We have a few more shows to do like Charlotte Comicon on August 1st and Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend but more about those two great shows later.

Hope to see you in Hickory on Saturday - first come, first served for this fabulous comic book collection!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marvel Masterworks Variant Editions - We got 'em!

The good news started when Marvel decided to print all of their old and brand new Masterworks Editions in the original gilded gold frame and marble covers. The bad news is that they would only print to initial orders. The first 20 or so did not have the print run numbers on the back of the dust jackets - later Marvel would put the numbers on the dust jackets and they ran (approximately) from 1000 to 1600 copies with most around the 1200 number range. Yep, that's it - only around 1200 or so of each edition. You can go to the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page (well, there are SEVERAL pages...) to find out more about these editions. Particularly, go to the library page and you can find links to all the editions AND the print runs for the early editions.

What is interesting is that the variant edition of Marvel Masterworks Vol. 1 (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1) only had a print run of 520, Vol. 2 (Fantastic Four Vol. 1) only had a print run of 500 - and there are some of the early volumes that even had lesser runs. Hence, you will see some of these early volumes on eBay or Amazon at really high prices. And yes, we have a few of those expensive early editions on eBay right now.

Around Vol. 30 or so, folks began to take notice and the print runs started going up (e.g. Vol. 33 - Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 6 - had a print run of 1420). Still, the print runs are still relatively low and so continue to the present. Marvel did the unthinkable by reprinting a few of the early variants - you can identify these by a) a Roman numeral 2 (II) and b) the presence of the print run - both on the back of the dust jacket. It looks like Marvel discontinued the reprints after just a few volumes. The print runs are small so it looks like lack of sales doomed these abominations.

Starting with Vol. 43 - Golden Age Captain America Vol. 1 - and Vol. 57 - Tales To Astonish Vol. 1 - fans could now start getting Golden Age and Atlas Era reprints. Although the regular editions are mostly still in print with a very few exceptions, the variant editions still go out of print almost instantly.

Here at Walkin' Willie's Comix, we try to get as many of the variants as we can afford each month. Usually, Marvel puts out two hardcover variants and one to two trade paperback variants per month. You heard right, Marvel has started reprinting their Marvel Masterworks in a more affordable trade paperback form - and again, both in a regular edition and limited variant edition.

If you are looking for some of these variants for about as affordable as we can go, we have some of our Marvel Masterworks hardcover variants at our eCrater store and some of them at Walkin' Willie's Comix. All of our Marvel Masterworks trade paperback variant editions are at Walkin' Willie's Comix - with more to come in the very, very near future.

But whether you are into the variant editions or the regular editions, the good thing is that Marvel is printing nearly ALL of their stuff from the Golden Age through the early 1980's and while the prices are a tad steep on the hardcovers, they represent a fraction of the prices you would pay to obtain mid-grade single issues. You can get the Journey Into Mystery Vol. 1 variant hardcover (Vol. 106 of the Masterworks series) for $47.99 at Walkin' Willie's Comix. That book covers issues #1 through #10 of the series, which if you were to buy the individual issues at just VG grade, it would run you in the neighborhood of $1800.00! Now that's a bit of price delta!

Anyway, if you want to read more about 'em, again go to the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page. Until next time, 'Nuff Said!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mega-Con Day 1 & Load-In From Hell....

Usually, the Thursday load-in for a big con is uneventful but not the case for Mega-Con this year...

Not only did we have to load in our stuff in a virtual monsoon but the seals on our cart tires blew out and we had to scurry to find one. Luckily, Chad from Apocalypse Comics let us use his and we finally got the job done but not until 8:30 PM!!!! Ouch.... Nonetheless, had one really nice sale while setting up so that took the sting out of an otherwise laborious, frustrating day.

The really neat thing is that I took the cart to Riker's Automotive Tire Center over on Central Florida Parkway and they fixed the cart and didn't charge me a cent!!! Well, that sort of thing makes you stop and think - after all, these folks didn't know me from Adam's housecat -and could have easily charged me $20.00 per tire to fix the flats - I would not have complained one bit as a comic dealer's cart is a huge piece of one's convention livlihood. It's not like I live in Orlando and would be a regular customer - they just did a nice thing, simple as that. So a huge shout out to Sean Davis and his co-workers at Riker's Automotive Tire Center - what a nice bunch of folks!

As far as the show is concerned, sales were good but attendees were kicking tires and casing the joint. Did sell a Strange Worlds #1 - CGC 9.0 - poppin' a big book like that always makes the first day nice. Marvel's Kick-Ass hardcover is the hot book right now - sold four on Friday and only have three left - they will go today. In fact, Saturday at a Mega-Con is wild and is by far the biggest sales day.

Good....looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Time for Mega-Con 2010 in Orlando!

Well, Walkin' Willie's Comix is down here in beautiful - but rainy - Orlando, Florida for Mega-Con 2010. Thing is, we are chillin' in the hotel room as load-in isn't until 2:00!!!! Ouch!

No problem - we will go over early and try to bribe the dockmaster - just kiddin'... We will go over early though as you just can't tell what is going to happen - they let us in 30 minutes early last year.

Mostly, we'll have trades and graphic novels - a few boxes of old stuff too as well as some CGC books. We brought a ton of stuff - it should more than fill up our two 10 x 10 booths.

Speaking of booths, we will be located at Booth Nos. 432 & 434 - here's a link to the show floor plan so you will know right where we are....

If you haven't been to a Mega-Con, it is sort of like Heroes-Con and Dragon*Con got married and had a baby - seems like we've said this before. Anyway, if you would like to take a look at pictures of Mega-Con 2009, here's your link before we "hide" it after the con - i.e. it won't be on the Walkin' Willie's Comix website navigation but will still be around. Mouse over the thumbnails for some really stupid comments by yours truly....

We will try to blog some after each show day - thing is, we are usually too busy to get out much so we'll talk about whatever we find out, whatever we know...

Sure hope it stops raining though - load-in could be a mess. Ah, ain't nothin' but a thing...

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Walkin' Willie's Comix Forum Contest!

As we said in yesterday's post, we are trying to get a forum going at Walkin' Willie's Comix and so we are going to have a contest to see who can write the best comic book review.

We were going to say that this is a sweepstakes but sweepstakes are luck of the draw while a contest depends on skill to win.

Now all you have to do is go to the forum, register, click on "Comic Book User Reviews", click on new topic and then write away!

A comic book review is defined in this context as any review of any product and/or event relating to comic books. It can be trades, graphic novels, single issues, action figures, busts, games, movies, TV shows, comic conventions, an artist's work, a writer's work, a publishing company - you name it. It just has to be a review of something relating to comic books.

While a review is mostly an opinion, any factual references must be correct - e.g. you can't say "Amazing Spider-Man #617 published by DC Comics" because that is not correct.

The contest begins immediately and runs to midnight (EST) March 28, 2010. All work submitted must be your own - we know how to Google search too. You are permitted to edit your entry until the deadline. Contestants agree that while they retain creator's rights of the review, contestants also agree to allow Walkin' Willie's Comix to publish their review royalty free on this blog - i.e. following the contest entry deadline (3/28/2010) as well as maintain the forum entry. Walkin' Willie's Comix will agree to provide full credit to the author whenever and/or if it is published. If the entry contains foul language, it will be either edited or disqualified and the contestant notified.

How will the entries be judged? Well, first and foremost, the review has to be interesting and well written. Poor use of grammar and spelling errors will not disqualify an entry but it sure won't help. It is fine to say that XYZ trade is great but better if you say why it is great - same goes if you are not giving a rave review. In fact, whether you pan the item or sing its praises has no consequence - what counts is that the review is well thought out, well written and informative. We like humor if humor makes the review zing - we like it serious if that puts the review over the top - the main thing here is a) to have fun and b) get our forum movin'!

Now for the prizes.....

1st Prize is a CGC 9.8 copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #199 - click here for a larger image.

2nd Prize is a shrinkwrapped copy of The Walking Dead Omnibus #2 - forget the watermark, just part of the scan.
3rd Prize is a Dynamic Forces copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #600 - Alex Ross cover.

Please ask all questions on the forum by replying to the sticky post that covers the rules.

Really looking forward to seeing what you folks come up with - so get crackin' and have fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trying To Get A New Forum Going

Like every good webmaster knows, community is one of the best ways to generate traffic - it also provides a lot of useful information too.

And yes, there is a lot of junk as well. Regardless, a good, informative, well-moderated forum can provide a lot of tips, tricks, and just plain infotainment.

Well, we are starting up a forum at Walkin' Willie's Comix

Having said all the above, how in the heck are we gonna get folks to come there and provide input. Simple - we are going to do it the old fashioned way - we bribe them!

Simply put, we are going to have two sweepstakes. The first one will be for folks to come up with forum topics - or sub-forums if you will.

The second sweepstakes is for the best comic blog entry - your chance to wax eloquently - and hopefully passionately - about something comic book related.

But for "bribes" - um, sweepstakes - to work, we have to come up with some decent prizes. That will be my task and so I will go to the warehouse tomorrow morning and see what comic book baubles I have that would entice someone to write like freakin' Shakespeare.

So get your thinkin' caps on - we will be back tomorrow with the details for the first sweepstakes. This oughta be fun....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Now A Look At The New eBay Store Fees

Last month we took a look at the new eBay fees for auction style listings - that wasn't too much fun...

Now we take a look at the new eBay store fees. But before we do that, let's first get a look at what an eBay store owner currently pays in store fees:

Subscription Fees per Month

Now the only differences is increased exposure - banner ads I guess - as you go up in price level. That and you get Seller Manager Pro with the Premium and Anchor stores. However, the insertion and final value fees are the same per store level and they are:

Insertion Fees per Item
Listing Price
$0.00 - $24.99$0.03
$25.00 - $199.99$0.05
$200.00 and above$0.10

Got that - now here are the current final value fees for eBay Stores

Store Final Value Fees
Final Value Fee
$1.00 - $25.0012.00% of the closing price
$25.01 - $100.0012.00% of the initial $25.00 ($3.00), plus 8.00% of the remaining closing value balance
$100.01 - $1,000.0012.00% of the initial $25.00 ($3.00), plus 8.00% of the initial $25.01 – $100.00 ($6.00), plus 4.00% of the remaining closing value balance $100.01 – $1,000.00
Over $1,000.0112.00% of the initial $25.00 ($3.00), plus 8.00% of the initial $25.01 – $100.00 ($6.00), plus 4.00% of the initial $100.01 – $1,000.00 ($36.00), plus 2.00% of the remaining closing value balance ($1,000.01-closing value)

Believe it or not - the above is not all that confusing....(don't despair, examples coming up soon...)

Now the new fees.... First of all, the store subscription fees have not changed at all - still the same whether or not you are Basic, Premium or Anchor. But the insertion fees sure have:

New Insertion Fees per Item

If you don't have a store, the insertion fees for fixed priced items is $0.50

Well, the Final Value fees are still no picnic.....

New Store Final Value Fees
Final value fee
$0.01 – $50.0012.0% of the closing value
$50.01–$1,000.0012.0% of the initial $50.00, plus 6.0% of the remaining closing value balance ($50.01–$1,000.00)
Equal to or over $1,000.0112.0% of the initial $50.00, plus 6.0% of the next $50.01– $1,000.00, plus 2% of the remaining to closing value balance ($1,000.01–closing value)

Ok, so what's the deal? depends on how much you sell and how much carries over - i.e. if your item doesn't sell then it carries over to the next month. Remember, you are charged insertion fees for every item that does not sell on a monthly basis if you use GTC (Good Til Closing) items and just about all stores do it that way.

So if you have a Basic Store and you have around 100 items in inventory at $20.00 a piece, you will pay $15.95 + $0.20 per item so you are out $35.95 before selling your first item. Under the old system, you would be out $15.95 + $0.03 an item or $17.45 - Now if you sell 50 of those $20.00 items, your final value fee does not change. However, say you have 50 items that didn't sell so you are going to be charged $10.00 worth of insertion fees the very next month if they are GTC items. The bottom line is that if you have a small inventory and you don't turn it over regularly, you are going to be out a ton of cash over a year's time. The insertion fees will eat you up. You better have your stuff priced right - that's for sure

Here's the final breakdown:

Old System: 50 items sold at $20 per item = $1000.00 gross - ($0.03 per item listing fee = $1.50 + 12% x $20.00 x $1000 for the final value fee) - $15.95 Monthly Subscription Fee - $1.50 for 50 items carry over at $0.03 per item = Adjusted Gross Profit

$1000.00 - $1.50  - $120 - $15.95 - 1.50 = $861.05 Gross Profit not including cost of goods sold so if you bought the goods at 50% of retail (Yeah, we know you collector types would get better margins than that but for the sake of argument...), then the Net Profit would be $861.05 - $500.00 = $361.05 - not so hot but lets see what it would be under the new system.

New System: Still 50 items sold at $20.00 per item = $1000.00 grosss - ($0.20 per item listing fee = $10.00 + 12% x $1000 gross for the final value fee - $15.95 Monthly Subscription Fee - $10.00 for 50 items carry over at $0.20 per item = Adjusted Gross Profit

$1000.00 - $10.00 - $120.00 - $15.95 - 10.00 = $844.05 or $344.05 Net Profit so it costs you $17.00

I won't go through the example but if you are an Anchor Store that sell a thousand items a month that are worth $1000 each, but a) your insertion fees and store subscription fees did not change but b) your final value fees did increase.

Oh nevermind, let's do an example.....

Under the old system, if you listed a 1000 items at $1000.00 each and sold them all, you would be charged the following for Final Value Fees:

Old Fee System: 1000 items @ $1000.00 ea. x $51.00 per item or $51,000 out of a gross of $1,000,000

New Fee System: 1000 items @ $1000.00 ea. x $63.00 per item or $63,000 out of a gross of $1,000,000

So if you are a big fat anchor store, your insertion fees didn't change but you are paying an extra $12,000 for every $1,000,0000 sold under this example.

Now eBay has thrown a few bones in there by saying that fixed priced items will enjoy full search exposure - remains to be seen how all that works out.

The bottom line is that you better watch what the heck you are doing. Study the fee changes carefully and see how they will affect you.

What are we doing at Walkin' Willie's Comix? Well if you don't have a store, you are permitted up to 100 free (i.e. no insertion fee) listings a month if you start them at $0.99 or less. Almost all of our auctions start at $0.99 and - except for event tickets - usually end at less $25.00 so we really won't see much change. We use eBay to help us market our other two websites - for trades and CGC books and for discount comic books. When someone wins one of our auctions, we are permitted to contact them once after the sale to tell them things like your "payment was received" or "your item shipped" - things like that. And we also include links and descriptions of our other two websites.

A recent example: One customer from California won one of our auction items on eBay and it went for around $5.00 - we then sent him our "Your Item Has Shipped" e-mail. Well, that customer has since placed a $75.00 order and a $45.00 order from our discount site. Gotta love that....

So here is the REAL bottom line: We used to use eBay as a primary sales channel but now - because of the skyrocketing fees - we use eBay as a way to attract customers to our other websites.

We still love eBay - we just love eBay on OUR terms now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Feel Sorry For Kevin Smith? Don't Think So

One of the funniest things happened yesterday when Kevin Smith, movie director/actor/sometimes comic book writer was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was too big. Now, in no way am I making fun of overweight people as struggling with one's weight is one of the toughest challenges in almost everyone's life - and goodness knows that overweight people have been discriminated against for centuries.

No, it is because we are comic book retailers that this is so funny - i.e. at last Mr. Smith gets his comeuppance - or a partial one at least. You see, in 2002, he began writing the six issue mini-series "Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do" and the first three books were published that year. However, it wasn't until 2006 that the last three issues were published!

Kevin Smith was considered a comic book writing superstar from his stints on Green Arrow and Daredevil so like many retailers, we ordered VERY heavy on those first three issues and sold quite a few but the HUGE lag between issue #3 and issue #4 caused interest to wither and die for this mini-series. Retailers were left holding the bag on this one as so many of us had ordered hundreds of #1's and several copies of #2's and #3's that just sat in the bins because who wanted to buy the first three copies of the mini-series when absolutely no one had any idea when the last three issues were going to come out.

A search on eBay shows these issues can be had for two bucks or less - they were $2.99 cover price - and no one is really buying them. A completed auction search shows that one copy of issue #1 sold for only $0.99 and one that was signed by artist Terry Dodson with a certificate of authenticity only fetched $2.25 with a measly two bids. Bottom line is that the book is dead, dead, dead and in my humble opinion, Kevin Smith is the person to blame for it but we retailers were the ones who were punished.

Now no one wants to see anything really bad happen to Mr. Smith - e.g. like getting hurt in an accident - but to see him get a dose of humility is wonderful. The only thing we didn't like about the whole deal is that Southwest Airlines apologized and offered him a $100 voucher. Fact is, Mr. Smith had bought TWO tickets for a later flight but wanted to get on the earlier flight where only one seat was available SO it isn't like he didn't get the flight he paid for already. Well, unless he threw a temper tantrum and refused to fly on it - who knows? TMZ came out with an article on the situation and after reading it, we tend to think Southwest Airlines is the good guy in this situation and the overall tone of the article comments seem to support that.

So Mr. Smith, looks like what goes around, comes around...

(OK, OK....enough of the schadenfreude - time to sell some comic books...)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Awwwright Chiliheads - It's Super Bowl Time!

A quick timeout from comics to venture into one of my passions - cookin' up a mean bowl of red (i.e. "chili" to those not familiar with the vernacular amongst us "chiliheads"). Thing is, the only time I do it is Super Bowl Sunday - mainly because I cook so much of the stuff that we freeze it and don't get it all finished off until the spring.

Now my chili doesn't make a "statement" - i.e. it doesn't napalm your taste buds and later have you sitting on the porcelin throne grimacing in pain for hours on end, white knuckling your grip on the towel rack while contemplating selling your first born for just a nano second of blessed relief.

No, we go for taste here with just a modicum of heat. Now, if you cook your chili as per the International Chili Society Rules, you can't use beans in the chili - most of the southwestern folks have a bowl of beans to the side when they serve their bowl of red.

Now, I'm not gonna publish MY recipe - no sireee.... (as it might be that it changes a little from year to year) but I will provide a couple of tips that I've learned over the years...

First, get a coarse chili grind for the meat. Some people like to cut some round steak into very small cubes. I prefer ground chuck - again, very coarsely ground if possible.

Next, when you cook the meat - which is the first thing you do and do it in a big ol' pot - don't drain off all the fat as it adds flavor during the cooking process - you can skim it at the end if you prefer - just don't get rid of all of it.

DON'T USE COMMERCIAL CHILI POWDER!!!!! The kind you get at the big chain groceries stores has more than just ground chili - often it has oregano, cumin, salt - all kinds of stuff - and it seems a little stale to me. No, it has to be PURE ground chili.

The absolute number one place to buy pure ground chili is Pendery's World Of Chili Of Spices - not only do they have a vast selection of ground chili's and other spices but their customer service is excellent! I have been buying from them for years and they always come through in stellar fashion.

Not only do I buy ground chili but I am a whole white pepper aficionado and they sell it in bulk (as well as other whole and ground peppercorns) - so MUCH cheaper - and fresher - than getting it at a grocery store. In fact just about ALL their spices are cheaper than the grocery store because they sell in higher quantities. BUT quantities not so high that you can't use them in a timely manner - you can always freeze unused amounts for awhile.

Anyway, the two ground chilis that are my favorite are "Puebla" and "Texas Red Dog". Puebla has a rich carmel flavor and is not hot at all. Texas Red Dog is a chili blend, again not hot but really enhances the flavor of your chili. Use two tablespoons of Puebla and one tablespoon of Texas Red Dog per pound of meat.

Now, to make up for what is missing in commercial chili powder, don't forget to use liberal amounts of cumin (I dunno - 3 to 4 tablespoons), fresh chopped garlic (six to eight cloves, I guess...), oregano (four level teaspoons should do it - less if you use Mexican Oregano which Pendery's also sells), salt and pepper. Of course, cut up a couple of medium onions (I am assuming four lbs of ground beef) and a couple of green bell peppers (or Anaheim chilis if you can get them).

After you brown the beef, throw in your cut up veggies and let it simmer for awhile - say a half hour. Then throw the spices into the mix and let it get all nice and happy for another 30 minutes on medium low heat. Then you can use some canned whole or diced tomatos (do not drain), 15 oz or so of tomato paste and maybe a can or two of beef broth. Fill up with water until you are about an inch from the top. I add a few other things in there such as red mole but I can't let you know everything!

Bring the whole wretched mess to a boil, cut it back down to medium or medium-low (just enough for a mild "bubble" at the top) and let it simmer for about three to five hours - you might need to stir once in awhile and add some water for makeup due to evaporation. If you so desire, cut up a bar of chocolate - small one - Hershey's will do - near the end of the cooking process to block the tomato acidity a little.

Now if you just HAVE to add beans, the bean of choice - in my opinion - are the dark red kidney beans - in the can, not dried unless you soaked the fool out of them overnight and cooked them separately until tender. Do not add the beans until 30 minutes before serving as they will disintegrate over three to five hours of cooking and thicken up your chili - as well as affect the taste - way too much.

As far as garnishes go, I like a little ramekin of sour cream and another one of fresh pico de gallo on the side. Not much into cheese on my chili but go ahead if so inclined.

So I was a little loose on the recipe - can't believe I spilled the proverbial beans as much as I did - but if you want some really other top notch chili recipes, the International Chili Society will fix you right up.

I can hardly wait until Sunday.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Discount Comic Books - They Are Everywhere.....

Can't go to Comic-Con International in San Diego this year? No problem...

Every comic book you can think of is on the internet in one way or another. There are thousands of sites up now - some of them are comic dealer's own sites ( and to name just two...) and others are auction/store type sites like eCrater, eBid, Bonanzle, Comic Link and Comic Connect. And of course, there is the 800 lb Gorilla in the room ... eBay (which has shed a few pounds for sure...) ....I...have...only...scratched...the...surface.

Sure, we want our share of the pie too. That's why we are putting up thousands of books on our discount comic book site - We are in the middle of putting up a nice run of bronze and copper age X-Men and a huge run of DC Romance and Silver/Bronze Wonder Woman will be up in the coming weeks. We have a lot of Atomic Age Western stuff too. Don't believe we have great discounts? Here's a copy of Superman #300 in FINE condition from a reputable dealer for $8.99 - we have the same book in FINE for $1.99 - I could give a ton of examples just like that one but you get the picture.

The main message here is that great comic books can be had for ridiculously low prices if you do your due diligence. This is a buyer's market - take advantage of it!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Greenville's Peace Center - Greedy Bastards!

Lovely Melissa was kind enough to get tickets to tonight's (1/30/2010) performance of Wicked at The Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina - it was a Christmas present for the both of us and one that I was keenly looking forward to since I had already read the book.

Well, as most people who pay any attention at all to the weather will know, the Carolinas got lambasted with snow, sleet, everything else - to the point that the roads are next to impassable. Even though we have a four wheel drive vehicle, there is no way we would go down the mountain to Greenville, SC especially since the majority of Greenville's weather the past 24 hours has been ice and lots of it.

Regardless, The Peace Center is not cancelling and/or postponing tonight's performance of Wicked saying that the show is still on due to limited ticket availability. Yep, that's right - "limited ticket availability". I think what is more obvious is that The Peace Center considers ticket receipts as more important than human lives. Even the South Carolina Department of Public Safety strongly encouraged people to stay off the roads if at all possible.

One would also think that the staff of Wicked would not want any of their fans in harm's way... I dunno - they aren't saying anything.

Regardless, We have to give Hilton Hotels a lot of props because they refunded our hotel stay and it was prepaid. We were so happy with what Hilton did for us that we are staying at one of their hotels in Orlando for Mega-Con in March 2010 and that will be a seven night stay.

The bottom line is that The Peace Center can do the right thing if they want - looks to me that they are nothing but a bunch of greedy bastards....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

eBay Just Doesn't Get It

eBay just announced their new fee structure yesterday and while there is some good news (darn little of it), the bottom line is that eBay just doesn't get it.

But first the good news...

The best thing about eBay's new fee structure - which takes effect on March 30, 2010 - is that there are NO insertion fees for auction style listings if you list your item at less than $1.00 and this is good for up to 100 auctions a month. OK, I can deal with that as I put up around 80 auctions a month give or take and start them all at 99 cents.

Also, eBay has lowered the insertion fees for all tiers $1.00 and over - this is a good thing but with the free insertion listings, there is a good chance that eBay will get gummed up with a ton of $0.99 junk listings.

Now the bad news.... (Yeah, wasn't very much good news was there?)

eBay has set a flat 9% final value fee for all auction style listings instead of the current tiered approach. Sounds simple and it is....but it means a huge fee increase for sellers.

Under the current system, eBay charges sellers 8.75% for the first $25.00 of an item that is sold. If the item sells between $25.01 to $1000.00, you get charged 8.75% of the first $25.00 and 3.50% of the remaining closing balance. Let's do an example...

Say you have an auction item that sells for $100.00

Current System

Your Final Value Fee (FVF) will be $25.00 x 8.75% + $75.00 x 3.50% = $2.19 + $2.63 = $4.82

New System

Your FVF will be $100.00 x 9.0% = $9.00

Isn't that GREAT! Your FVF almost doubles under the new system for a $100.00 item. Gotta LOVE that....NOT!

The eBay forum is already up in arms about it all and it is only the day after the announcement. A must read is the "eBay: Death By A Thousand Cuts Redux" which provides links to several of eBay's competitors as well as a link to the classic, original "Thousand Cuts" article. Look for another drove of sellers to leave eBay come April 1st.

Will Walkin' Willie continue to sell on eBay? Sure, but our main focus is to get customers to my other two websites: for trades, graphic novels and CGC books and to for discount books (and we mean LARGE discounts). In other words, we will USE eBay - we will not let eBay USE us....

We'll take a look at the changes for eBay stores next....(not good there either unless you sell a TON of stuff...and I mean a TON).

Friday, January 15, 2010

My House - i.e. My Kingdom for SALE!

1723 Overbrook Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29732 - a GREAT house for sale!The major time consumer for me in 2009 was getting my house ready for sale. It was listed once without success - a major blog entry later - and now is listed again.

There are two major problems with a single comic book dealer getting a house ready for sale. 1) There is a TON of clutter - I had comics and comic book related stuff ALL OVER THE HOUSE. 2) The house was cosmetically obsolete - i.e. there was a lot of wallpaper - great at the time but.... and paint trim (some sort of light cream color - I dunno) that just was out of date.

In fact, the second (and present) realtor wouldn't list the house until we got rid of the clutter and spruced the place up.

So we did.....(thank goodness Melissa is right brained and therefore creative...)

We had a home inspection performed and while there was nothing significant, we repaired EVERY SINGLE ITEM, nitpicky as they were, and then some. We even replaced the deck (not so nitpicky...). We painted almost the whole inside of the house with a couple of the rooms just primed - removed a ton of wallpaper. All of the trim has been painted and it really pops. Heck, I even painted the basketball goal and it really, really looks great.

Melissa did a great job in staging the house - not too much, not too little - and CREATIVE! (I really admire creative people if you didn't already know...)

Now THAT is a garage!One of the highlights for the guys out there (and some girls too) is that we epoxy coated the double car garage floor - you know with the speckled bits and all that - it's there on the left. Don't worry, a professional painter did the work so it is top rate - you could eat off that garage floor now. The exterior paint is still within warranty and it looks good. Not only that but the house has professionally installed Gutter Guards (the real thing, not an imitation...)

You want storage? This house has a TON of storage - walk-in closets out the wazoo, walk-in attic...the whole she-bang!

Another guy thing: The whole HVAC for the downstairs was replaced - new high efficiency gas furnace and new heat pump. The evaporator coil was replaced in the upstairs air handling unit so it is - for all intents and purposes - brand new as well. Other than routine preventative maintenance, it's nice to have a house where you don't have to worry about HVAC for a long, long time....

Finally the location, the lot is 1.18 acres - which is big for a city lot and it is conveniently (i.e. within easy walking distance) located to shopping, banking and the interstate (I-77). The traffic is minimal as someone needs to have a reason to go down Overbrook Drive. Rock Hill, South Carolina is just 20 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina so you have that going for you too.

Once this palace is sold, I will write a blog entry - or three - about the whole experience. I know more about getting a house ready for sale than I EVER did - it was a hard knocks education for sure. Believe me, it is worth the words....

OK, time to get back to comics....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Follow Walkin' Willie's Comix on Twitter!!!

Yes, kicking and screaming, this old comic dealer is getting "with it" and doing stuff on Twitter. Here is the link:

We'll use Twitter for announcements or just anything we find on the internet you might find interesting. One of the primary uses will be to let you - our customers - know about new products, particularly items in short supply that we sell on eBay. We have to be careful - no more than three or four "tweets" a day.

Internet Marketing....we love it...we don't know much about it.....but we love it!

Monday, January 4, 2010


We at Walkin' Willie's Comix would like to thank everyone for support as well as sending out our best wishes for a great 2010!

Change is constant. You either manage change by first embracing it or you get run over by it. We choose the former rather than the latter.

A short review of where we were at the beginning of 2009 and where we are now. At the beginning of 2009, the company car was a 1998 Toyota Camry and the sole website we had was one that dealt only in modern back issues. Not good.

Things have changed. Now the company car is a 2007 Ford Expedition bought to transport the lovely Melissa and myself to comic conventions as well as provide the engine for moving our goods around the country. Secondly, the old Walkin' Willie's Comix was given a total makeover and now sells trade paperbacks, graphic novels and CGC graded books.

Finally, we launched our Walkin' Willie's Comix Discount Comic Books website in mid-September and it is growing on a weekly if not daily basis. The sole purpose of this new website is to put up - as fast we can - our inventory of Golden Age through Modern books. All it takes is a cursory glance for one to realize that some of the best comic book deals on the Internet are found right on this website. Books are anywhere from 20% to 90% off of graded guide! This is a no-frills site as its only purpose is to sell as many comic books for as low a discount price as possible.

That is 2009 in review - except for the comic conventions which we talked about in other blog posts. A lot of change...

Now to 2010 and what you can expect...

First, we plan on launching around 20 eBay auctions a week. Yes, it would be nice to make a buck or two off of these auctions but the main purpose is to move traffic to our websites. We have a bunch up there now and more going up every week.

Secondly, we will hit the road for a modest convention schedule. While it is a bit stark, it allows us to pay our complete attention to the websites while still getting out a meeting the comic book fans. Nonetheless, we will start out the year on 3/12/2010 in Orlando for three days at Mega-Con, then go to Heroes-Con in Charlotte, NC on June 4th through 6th and finally end up the year for the four-day-you-gotta-go-once-before-you-die Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend (September 3-6, 2010). We will also do one or two one-day shows in the Southeast - mostly North Carolina and Virginia.

Now that we're firmly settled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, we can give our complete and full attention to the business of Walkin' Willie's Comix. What that means is that you - our customers - can count on regular updates to our websites if not a little more regular blog content - we are looking at what we can do on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Finally, we have another announcement to make later this quarter - more on that later - but the bottom line is that we are poised and ready to make 2010 the best Walkin' Willie's Comix year yet! We sincerely hope 2010 is your best year too!