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!