Come to think of it, it’s been quite a while since someone’s claimed to have a copy of the very first Superman at home.
So the general consensus to Monday’s post, in which I talk about not wanting to spend my time grading and pricing other people’s comics for free, is “good on you.” And a lot of “you shouldn’t feel bad,” and honestly, I don’t. My comment near the end of that post about seeming “terribly selfish” was my half-attempt at trying to balance just how negative I was sounding. It was all “I won’t do this” and “I won’t do that” and, despite being entirely justified, I felt like I was coming across like a real sorehead. Thus, I assure you, I am perfectly happy saying “no” when I feel like someone’s trying to take advantage of me (even if they don’t realize they are, which most of the time is the case).
Thom H. had a question about what was goin’ on:
“It sounds like it’s happening to you more frequently lately. Is that true? And is there a reason for it? Has something suggested to your community that this is a service local comic shop owners provide?”
I’m not sure, frankly. In fact, my first phone call at the shop that Monday was someone else asking if I’d price their comics for them. Now, part of it may simply be the local populace becoming increasingly aware that there’s now a comic book store lurking in their midst, and that’s enough for people to dig out their backpacks and milk crates filled with full runs of Youngblood: Strikefile out of the storage units and haul ’em into my shop. Also pointed out is that you can expect a flurry of this sort of behavior whenever there’s a widespread puff piece in the news about “first Batman sells for a billion dollars.” I don’t think there’s been a widely disseminated story along these lines lately (well, there’s this, but I doubt that’s putting dollar signs in the eyes of people in Southern California), but they’re easy enough to find online, so those stories never really go away.
Also, it seems to me that any collectibles store probably gets a lot of this sort of request. I can only speak for comic shops, since that’s where I’ve been
imprisoned employed for all this time, but I’ve been hearing “can you tell me what this is worth?” for decades now. Usually, it’s someone calling on the phone (as one may infer from the title to Monday’s post) with a book or two or a dozen that they rattle off to me and expect me to price and grade on the spot, which I can’t do because I have no idea what condition the item is in, and it never does any good to ask because the person on the phone never knows. Sometimes I can’t even get the title out of ’em. The running gag is that if I’m told it’s a mint X-Men from the 1960s, it’ll ultimately turn out to be a Cyber Force from the ’90s that might actually still be on fire.
In person, it works about the same. Someone has a comic at home, they want me to nail down a price on it, and I really can’t, not without seeing it. Now, I’m not a complete jerk about it…on the off chance that they know the actual title and issue number, and I’m not otherwise occupied, I can pop open the price guide and give them the range of values the book might fall under, emphasizing that “condition is everything.” And like I said last time, if they want to poke through the store copy of the price guide, so long as I’m not using it, no problem. I just can’t price books without seeing them, because if I do so and then they bring in the comics to sell, and they’re not in the condition promised, then any prices based on that condition are out the window and nobody’s happy.
Anyway, that’s Day Two of “Mike’s Comic Buying Philosophy” and my thanks to my two remaining readers for sticking with this.