I’ll never tire of making fun of the “Qualified Near Mint” grade.

§ October 19th, 2020 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 16 Comments

So here’s a weird thing a customer brought in for me to deal with. It’s a copy of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea #1 from 1964:

…which was at one point apparently processed by the Library of Congress:

The customer said that the seller he bought it from had mentioned that apparently that the Library of Congress had ended up with an extra copy of this comic in the system and unloaded it, which seemed a little odd to me but apparently the ol’ LoC does stuff like that.

When I posted about this on the Twitters, pal Nat responded that it may not have ever been in the Library’s archives, but just a copy submitted for copyright reasons and stamped during the process.

I mean, Nat’s probably right, he knows from publishing, after all, and my own knowledge of how the government actually operates is pretty lousy, leaving me suitable just for selling comics or being a Supreme Court nominee, so I defer to his wisdom. Regardless, this seems fairly unusual, as I’ve not seen something like this in the too many years I’ve been on the job. Or, who knows, maybe they’re common as dirt around, oh, say, Washington, D.C. “Ah, geez, another one,” says the manager of Lincoln Memorial Comics and Games, as he tosses his third LoC-stamped copy of H.A.R.D. Corps #1 in to the recycle bin.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with it…the customer is okay with me selling it on consignment, though I’m not sure what to charge. It’s not a bad copy, aside from that crumpled corner. so probably somewhere between Very Good and “Qualified Near Mint,” I reckon.

In other back issue news, I was going through some of the many boxes of comics that have been piled upon me by folks over the last few years of my store’s operation, pulling out things I can use right now. And one of those things was a 1991 issue of Silver Surfer, autographed in that very same year by the book’s artist, Ron Lim:

Well, that’s kind of a neat surprise! Alas, the comic itself is not in the greatest of shape, so any premium I was thinking of putting on the book (which wasn’t going to be an outrageous mark-up at any rate) was rendered mostly moot. But still…kind of a neat thing to be surprised by!

16 Responses to “I’ll never tire of making fun of the “Qualified Near Mint” grade.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Not a store owner in the DC area, but I have been an active collector of back issues at various stores in northern Virginia, about 10 miles outside DC, for 20 years+, and I’ve never seen this. I don’t spend much time going through H.A.R.D. Corps back issues, though, maybe that’s the problem.

    That Lincoln Memorial Comics store sounds like a good idea, especially since I believe they’re planning on expanding the visitors’ center there.

    By the way, you can actually see concerts at the LoC. I saw the Dave Holland Quintet there several years ago.

  • Brian says:

    My guess, given the LoC’s collection policies statement (when not reading funny books, I’m usually working in some museum or another’s curatorial department) is that the comic was taken in for their special collection of American comics (accession being the term for transfer of ownership to the museum or library — note the accession number and date stamped on the page) but ended up not being collated into the collection (being thus deaccessed, transferred out of ownership of a museum or library).

    Had it ever made it into a collection and registration, the accession number there would be paired with an item number denoting its location in the system. Note that the LoC keeps duplicates of key materials (government papers, historic writings, and so forth) at multiple sites, but only maintains singular archives of pop culture special collections in Virginia (I used to frequent the LoC annex below UC Berkeley as an undergrad, where key documents are duplicated well out of They Nuked Washington Range).

    I can’t give any advice on condition and price, but I can attest that this was owned by the US government as a piece of Americana for at least a time, due to that stamping.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Actually, what strikes me odd about this comic is the cover. Gold Key’s adaptations of live-action TV series usually had covers built around photographs of the stars. If the comic lasted more than a few issues, it might start using painted covers, but these would still have photographic inserts. In the case of VOYAGE…, however, painted covers were in use from the start, and only with the third issue did inserts of Richard Basehart and/or David Hedison begin to be used. I suppose that someone at Western Publishing simply assumed that sharks would sell better than Richard Basehart.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I will add that the Dell/Gold Key TWILIGHT ZONE comic also had painted covers from the start. However, these always had a picture of Rod Serling somewhere near the title (and always a picture of Serling as he appeared on the TV series–even to the end in 1972, when he was appearing weekly on TV in NIGHT GALLERY, with a longer hairstyle).

  • Chris G says:

    I once bought a copy of the “Who is Donna Troy?” issue of NEW TEEN TITANS from a dollar box, and got home to find it was signed by Wolfman and Perez.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    Here’s the LoC’s catalogue record for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: https://lccn.loc.gov/sf96093826

    It looks like they’ve got issue #1 and #3-14.

    I don’t know about the copyright office, but if it was in their collection and removed you’d have a “discard” ink stamp on it.

  • Chris K says:

    I live in the DC area and work in paralegal research, and I go to the Library of Congress a few times a year for work purposes.

    A year or so back, I needed to research old volumes of a trade journal periodical called “Power” (focusing on power plant engineering). When pulling this up on the catalog periodical search, to my surprise, the first thing to come up was “Power Man Annual, 1976.” Further down were listings for issues of Luke Cage, Power Man proper, as well as the old Epic “Shadowline Saga” title “Power Line” and even – my hand to God – “Brother Power the Geek.” Yes, Brother Power the Geek has a space in the Library of Congress, where it belongs.

    I was on the clock so I did not pursue these, but time permitting, I absolutely would have filled out my request slip for these and read Luke Cage comics at the LoC all day long. (I, uh, already own both issues of Brother Power.)

    So, yes, the Library of Congress does include comics, and the selection is fairly deep.

  • Chris K says:

    I was at the LoC another time for work, and noticed on the returns cart, standing out among the various academic and technical volumes, a random “Y the Last Man” collected edition, which someone apparently requested up for reading. Either as a break during dry research, or maybe just a local worker looking for something to read on their lunch break. (It’s easy to get a reader’s card for the LoC. You can’t remove the books from the premises, and you have to fill out a request form to have library items brought to you, but if you are in the area and have time, it can be used as just a regular public library. For people who live or work in the area, it can be a good resource.)

  • Chris V says:

    Here I was hoping that only members of Congress could peruse the Library of Congress.
    I could imagine Rand Paul rushing over to reread their collection of Brother Power the Geek comics to relax after a long day of filibustering….

    I ended up with a copy of Green Lantern #50 autographed by Ron Marz.
    I have no idea where I got it.
    I wanted to see what I could get for it, but the comic store I took it said that unless one can prove that Marz really signed it, autographs actually decrease the value of a comic.
    Since I had no idea where it even came from, the guy offered me cover-price.
    I decided to give it to someone who was a fan of Marz’ GL instead.
    I wonder if he was trying to cheat me….
    I’ll ponder this as I reread my collection of Brother Power the Geek comics.

  • Donald G says:

    My wife has a number of autographed early NEW TEEN TITANS issues, some jointly signed by Wolfman and Perez, and others signed by just one of the other, from appearances made in the Dallas/Fort Worth area prior to 1984.

    Of course, this was before the need for authentication was on the radar in the community, and I wouldn’t know how to go about having those autographs authenticated in the first place.

  • Mikester says:

    On the topic of authenticating signatures…I feel like in comics most of these signatures just found out in the wild are probably pretty safe, as I doubt there’s a forgery ring specializing in Rom Lim autographs, or even Wolfman and/or Perez ones. Even Stan Lee or Jack Kirby signatures that just happen to show up on books in larger collections are likely good, as they signed, like, a million things before the folks with the certificates and the DNA pens got involved.

    I’d worry more about, like, online auctions for “Stan Lee” signatures without sufficient documentation.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”

    I got this confused with the movie “Fantastic Voyage”!

    “neat surprise”

    I’ve found autographs randomly a couple times, but I can’t remember who by!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Stan Lee or Jack Kirby signatures”

    did Ditko ever sign anything? I know he became reclusive after a certain point and stopped doing conventions.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Here is how you distinguish between the movies “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “Fantastic Voyage”: “Sea” manages to make the revelation of the main villain’s identity surprising, through the simple expedient of never showing this person actually doing anything suspicious until right at the end and never providing the character any motivation for wanting to sabotage the Seaview. “Fantastic Voyage” also wants the revelation of its main villain’s identity to be surprising, but rather gives the game away by casting Donald Pleasence in the role.

    Here is how you distinguish the TV versions of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “Fantastic Voyage”: “Sea” was a live action Irwin Allen production, and “Fantastic” was a Filmation cartoon. “Fantastic,” therefore, is the most life-like one.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Turan: LOL!

  • Pj Perez says:

    So here’s a question: do uncertified autographs in comics add to or devalue them? Just curious how you as a retailer approaches this.