Not as Terror-ble as things may seem.

§ September 2nd, 2013 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So reader Egmont commented on this site over the weekend, in which he asks if there still any demand for St. George #2.

For folks who don’t remember, and to be fair, I barely remember and I 1) sold these things when they were new, and 2) still have them all in stock (tragic details on that momentarily), St. George was one of the titles in the Shadowline Saga imprint, published under Marvel’s Epic line, that was intended to be a new “mature” line of superheroes, because sure, why not. Anyway, St. George #2 introduced a character named Shreck (no relation; also no relation; totally a relation) who would later be apparently retooled and introduced into the Marvel Universe under the name Terror, in the series Terror Inc.

I am totally working on 20-year-old memories here, but I do recall some referencing to, or some minor contention over, whether or not Shreck from the Epic/Shadowline Saga comics was in fact the same character as Terror in the Marvel Universe. According to Wikipedia, which is right and true in all things and whose authority should never be questioned, that despite early editorial insistence that they were not the same being, one of the Marvel Universe handbooks later established that they were. And don’t get me started on the MAX version.

I don’t think anyone really cared all that much, “he said just prior to the influx of hate e-mails from the Terror Inc. fan club.” A glance at the most recent Overstreet guide shows no mention of anything special happening in St. George #2, where I was expecting at the very least “1st Shreck, later Terror (see TERROR INC.).” A Near Mint copy of this will set you back a whole three bucks, according to the guide, and, well, about that….

Let’s take a look at that Terror Inc. scan up there at the beginning of this post. Well, here, let me give you a larger scan of what I want to talk to you about:


So that’s one of our old price stickers (with my writing on it, in case you were wondering) (The newer price stickers has the proper apostrophe in “Ralph’s,” also in case you were wondering). That was the standard back issue markup for a back issue just pulled off the wall, and the fact that it’s my writing on the sticker means that it was priced either the day it was pulled off the shelf after its four week (or so) sales cycle, or within a few months of that time. If it had been an old back issue pulled out of the backroom storage during one of our regular restockings, it would been bagged and tagged and sorted into a box for Ralph to grade and price (mostly for grading-and-pricing consistency’s sake).

Seeing that sticker on that comic tells me that particular issue of Terror Inc. has been sitting in our back issue box since, oh, the early 1990s. And so had the rest of the series. The best case scenario is that maybe, say, through the early to mid 1990s we did sell some Terror Inc. issues and restocked them repeatedly, and that the last time we restocked them, I went ahead and priced the issues to help Ralph keep up with his pricin’ ‘n’ gradin’ duties. I suspect, however, that isn’t what happened.

Now, I should say we were missing one issue when I checked our Terror Inc. section over the weekend…we didn’t have #13, guest-starring Ghost Rider. Relatively recently, I did have someone looking for Ghost Rider appearances, so maybe that’s when we actually were able to move a copy of this. No worries, we had another copy in our backstock that I pulled out to replace it. By the way, the MAX series Marvel did a couple of years back didn’t move the earlier series at all.

Looking in the price guide, most of the issues are priced at three bucks a pop, except for the two issues with Wolverine ($4 each). A quick glance at the eBay shows a #1 “in high grade” selling for a quarter, and a run of every issue except #1 selling for 99 cents. And judging by how few copies we have still in our backroom, I’m guessing a number of them ended up in our bargain bins, and we may sold a few that way to any folks willing to search through those boxes.

And that’s okay. Sometimes the fate of certain series is to end up in the bargain bins, where folks are willing to throw down a quarter or a buck to take a risk on some oddball forgotten title, or to take home a shiny-covered Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1, oh God please buy more of those. And then we have copies of those same comics, sorted and guide-priced in our regular back issue bins, for anyone who would rather have the convenience of finding the book right away without having to search through long boxes of unsorted cheap books. Not that this is something that’s happened much with Terror Inc. anytime recently, but you never know…that day may come. Weirder things have happened.

It’s also a matter of marketing, too. We simply haven’t got around to getting those Terror Inc. issues priced and graded and put on our website listings, where any Binging or Googling or Veronica-ing Terror Inc. fans can find it. Or maybe when we get that #13 I just pulled out of the backroom priced, I can put it in our Recent Back Issue Arrivals boxes where it may get more eyetracks than it would in the ol’ Terror Inc. section in the regular back issue bins.

I know that this seems like a direct contradiction to my recent post claiming that there still is a back issue market, but the comic market at any time will have more than its share of dead stock. Or slow movers. Like pitch-drop level slow movers. And the quarter boxes, the dollar boxes, or whatever…that’s a partial corrective tool that doesn’t solve the problem, but does lessen it slightly. Very slightly, judging by the number of Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1s I have still. …Anyone need any?

8 Responses to “Not as Terror-ble as things may seem.”

  • Egmont Scurley says:

    I am glad to learn that the attempt to turn ST. GEORGE #2 into a hot collectible was unsuccessful. That reaffirms one’s faith in humanity. This attempt was obviously a top-down affair, driven not by the interest of actual collectors (or readers), but by the desire of dealers to make a big profit on something that was merely gathering dust in their long boxes–and also by the desire of people who wrote about the market to prove their power to influence it.

    This reminds me of something else I read around that time, by one of those people who wrote about the market. He wanted to destroy once and for all that silly claim some people were making, that the great quantities in which some comics were being printed then would prevent them from ever being truly valuable. There may be hundreds of thousands of copies of SPAWN #1 out there, he wrote, but the average comics shop would have only one or two. The typical collector was not going to drive to another town on the off-chance of saving five or ten dollars, so he was in effect a captive audience. The shop was thus free to charge whatever it wanted, and the collector would have to accept it.

    This was someone who was clearly not prepared for the Internet.

  • Jer says:

    put on our website listings, where any Binging or Googling or Veronica-ing Terror Inc. fans can find it.

    I remember using Veronica to search Gopherspace back in the day. You make me feel old Sterling. Damn you.

  • Mikester,

    Due to your fame and influence over we huddled masses, have you ever had a blog reader enter the store wishing to purchase whatever comic about which you had just written?

    I’m not necessarily speaking of general discussions of new or recent issues (like your New52 discussions or 3D lenticular type of thing), or even true rarities (where a collector might give their eye-teeth for an old D&D fanzine,) but old, odds-n-ends comics about which you have some nifty anecdote?

    You could have a special corner of the store (probably between the trash can and the restroom) for “AS SEEN ON TODAY’S PROGRESSIVE RUIN. BUY IT NOW! BE PART OF THE MEME”, y’know… or something.

    ;-)

    ~P~

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    I always thought Terror was a fun character. He’s one of those guys who I always thought could have made the transition to “evergreen supporting status” or whatever, but no one else ever seemed interested in using.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1″

    Those will outlast ALL OF US.

    “This was someone who was clearly not prepared for the Internet.”

    INDEED!

  • Kid Kyoto says:

    Ah you left off the best part, describing what Shreck/Terror’s powers were!

    Suffice to say they kind of made it hard for him to team up with too many people. At least not more than once.

    Wolverine of course would be an exception.

  • Never heard of St. George. Never heard of Veronicaing. But thanks to the Google I have found a person named Veronica Ing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and a few other sites.

    Don’t leave me out of the loop, Mr. Sterling, sir.

  • Mike Nielsen says:

    I once mail-order purchased a book that Mike spotlighted on his blog. Them old Pizza-Hut reprints of random old DC comics are hard to find around here. :)