"My Chin Is Cold, My Gun Is Hot"

§ January 21st, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on "My Chin Is Cold, My Gun Is Hot"

So for no real good reason, I decided it was time to reboot my beard, as it were…shaving it all off and starting again from scratch, leaving me all pink-faced and unpleasant-looking. I like to think it’s “cherubic,” but popular opinion appears to be that it’s “unsettling.”

Of course, I chose to do this while California is having a cold snap (a California cold snap being defined in the rest of the country as “t-shirt and shorts weather”), so I’ve been experiencing cool breezes upon my naked jaw, which I haven’t felt there in quite a while. Also, I’ve had customers at the store pointing and whispering, saying things like “Hey, I think Mike shaved,” and “Boy he looks weird without the beard…so nothing’s changed, basically” and “Is he looking this way? Quick, stuff this Spawn down your pants.”

Anyway, you didn’t come here for “Beard Talk,” you want yourselves some comic talk, so let’s see what I can provide:

  • I came across an article somewhere in which the writer was recommending Civil War variant covers as good, long-term investments. I suppose they could be, if by “long-term” he means “dumping them before Civil War finishes and nobody cares anymore” (and, to be fair, given the number of delays this series has had, it could very well be long-term).

    I’m presuming a lot of you reading this site have read it for a while. God knows I’ve been writing it for a while. And presumably you’ve read my comic-store specific articles for Comic Book Galaxy. Hopefully, if you learned anything about me and how I comport myself at the shop, it’s that I never, ever, under any circumstances, promote or suggest comics as investments. I never say anything like “Hey, this comic will probably go up in value, you should buy a couple.” I get the creeps even typing it (this post aside). Quite frankly, it’s just asking for trouble, because I don’t want something like this happening at the shop:

    Me: “You know, this new issue of Mister Forelock’s Cowlick of Mystery is quite the hot item. I think a value increase is inevitable. Would you like to buy a dozen copies?”

    Customer: “Why, thank you, kind comic book store clerk. Clearly, if it’s one thing you know, it’s finance and investment futures. I shall buy a dozen copies, and an extra dozen besides! I look forward to my coming wealth!”

    (Six months later)

    Customer: “Say, I just tried to sell my two dozen copies of Mister Forelock’s Cowlick of Mystery online, and was only able to get $0.01 each! Your promise of increased value has failed to come to pass. Prepare to die!”

    Me (wearing fake mustache and using Spanish accent): “I’m sorry, but Mike moved to Athol, MA four months ago. Would you like me to forward a message, señor?”

    Perhaps that’s a slightly extreme example, but you get the idea. I don’t want to recommend investments that don’t come to pass and burn the customer, not just on his investments, but on the hobby entirely. See also the ’90s market crash, where people overbought, couldn’t see a return on their money, and moved on to toys and Beanie Babies.

    Recommending variant covers for current “event” comics as investments seems even more problematic. As I’ve argued incessantly on this site, the importance of crossover events like Civil War is fleeting, quickly supplanted by whatever the next event will be, and one or two events later, Civil War will be old news, all the “permanent” changes will be reversed, and it’ll be lumped right in with Atlantis Attacks! and Infinity Crusade as footnotes in Marvel history. (And before some of you Marvel fans get your knickers in knots, this applies to DC events, too, so relax.)

    The attendant “scarce” variant covers will of course be affected by this loss of interest. You can already see it happening with the variants for House of M, one of Marvel’s prior events-with-variants series. There’s no denying that some variants are hot, and sometimes expensive, while the series is current, but I have a hard time seeing them trading for the same sort of money, say, twenty years down the line. (And I’d be lying if I said we didn’t sell some of the premium items for current market prices…but 1) we’re undercutting prices on the eBay, and 2) I don’t promote them a “good investments,” so at least I sleep peacefully, mostly.)

    But, hey, like I can’t predict something is going to go up in value, I can’t predict for sure something is going to go down. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Civil War will go down in history as one of the pinnacles of comics publishing, and anything associated with it will be sought after as rare collectibles for the foreseeable future, prices skyrocketing, trading fast and furious for sealed plastic slabs containing Michael Turner sketch-cover editions.

    I don’t know.

    I do know that I prefer to recommend to folks that they buy stuff they like to read, rather than worrying about “future value” and “investment” and so on. I’m kind of old fashioned, that way.

    But I just thought of something…the pricing of variant covers is, at least in our case, based on the number of copies (or extra copies) that we had to order to obtain the variant, and what the average current market value appears to be online. As such, the variants are priced higher than the standard cover. Is the increased price on the variant itself our suggestion of investment to the customer? Are we telling customers, via our pricing, that if this version of the comic is already priced at $10, surely it’ll go up more?

    Great, now I’m the jerk.

  • Len Wein took reader questions on his site and has been answering them over the last couple of days. Of note is his background for one of the best superhero stories from the ’80s, “Whatever Happened to the Crimson Avenger?”

    (And before you ask, no, I couldn’t think of a question for him. Well, there’s “Why is Swamp Thing so great?” and “Can I come over and hang out for a while?” but I don’t think either of those will fly.)


    The world of Iron Man 2020 is only thirteen years away.

    Plan your shopping accordingly.

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