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“…And that’s how pogs saved our bacon.”

§ September 20th, 2017 § Filed under batman, batman89, market crash, retailing § 5 Comments

Okay, still trying to extract some old Batman ’89/early comics retailing memories from my head to supplement the last couple of posts. A few of you have contributed your own memories, and I shall be commenting upon them soon, oh yes, so prepare yourself for that.

As it turned out, I was talking to my old boss Ralph the other day and pestered him a bit about the impact the first Tim Burton Batman movie had on the shop. In line with what I told you the other day, Ralph said that business had pretty much exploded what with all the excitement over the film’s release, and while lots of different things were doing well, Batman comics and merchandise were of course doing the best. One thing he mentioned that I should have remembered was what happened to prices on the 1970s Joker series, which suddenly skyrocketed. Prior to this period of time, you could get them dirt cheap…I’d bought a copy of #1 for one slim dime at a comic book convention, and Ralph had issues scattered throughout his 50-cent bargain bins. Ralph recalled that when the Bat-craze hit, and prices shot up, he dug through the bargain bins to pull out all those Joker comics. Of course, one or two got missed, and Ralph would just have to cringe inwardly as he sold the $20 comic (or whatever it was) for four bits.

On a related note, I had asked Ralph what his invoices were like at the time…I had vague memories, but wanted some confirmation. Ralph said that during the boom years, the weekly comics invoice would easily reach several thousand dollars, at a time when DC and Marvel comic book prices were still, what, about $1.50 each, and indies were $2 to $3? Ralph said he was ordering hundreds of copies of several books and mostly selling through on them…and the back issue market was still strong enough that we were selling a lot of back-numbered comics as well. So basically money was just pouring in the door, to the extent that Ralph had bought a new truck about that time and paid for it entirely in cash. That’s the sort of thing that would probably set off alarms today, but back then, in the wild and crazy days of the late ’80s/early ’90s, ’twas no big deal.

As I’ve said in the past, when the crash came, it came quick, and we didn’t know it was a crash at the time. We figured it was a brief lull in sales, and that folks would be back, and orders continued to be placed as if sales would be back up shortly…and it eventually became fairly evident that wasn’t happening. For business to go from doing so well to [crickets] was a shock, and the store had nearly died before orders could be adjusted back to realistic levels. One specific example Ralph gave (and gave me permission to relate here) was having a new comics invoice that cost about $12,000, and then making only about $7,000 for that week. As you can imagine, having too many weeks like that could drive any business into the ground…and it did, for many comic shops at the time. We were able to ride it out, once we scaled orders back, and plus we had game products in the store that supplemented our income, and we were still the biggest comic shop in the area, so we still did some comics business. Oh, and pogs helped too. No, really.

It was a strange time to live through, and one that I hopefully learned from as I run my own store now (he said, juggling numbers to get those Marvel lenticular covers). Anyway, next time I’ll talk more Batman ’89 and less “I SURVIVED THE ’90s COMICS CRASH AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS FOIL-LOGOED SHADOWHAWK T-SHIRT.” If you have your own Batman ’89 memories, feel free to chip in!

“I had the strangest dream, as if I’d posted about POGs on my weblog for an entire week.”

§ August 13th, 2012 § Filed under swamp thing § 10 Comments

So I get an email from Joe, and Joe sez to me, he sez: “there’s a new Swamp Thing toy out” and I sez “okay, well, off I go then, as there’s a Major Toy Store Chain along the path from my home to my place of employment at the Ventura Comic and Cardfight Vanguard Shop and Video Deli and I shall make a stop during my journey to work, oh yes.”

And what is this toy, you dare ask? Well, there are these things called “Squinkies,” it seems, which are little squishy rubbery toys that are indeed very very tiny and perfectly sized for fitting one or four into each nostril, not that I’ve ever done that, nor have I taken pictures of it, but there is a line of DC Comics Squinkies, and you can see Joe’s pics of his own purchases right here.

The deal here is that each package of twelve “Squinkies” includes three that are “blind-packaged,” so you can’t see what they are. Swamp Thing is one of those “blind-packaged” ones, apparently to avoid riots at toy stores as people rushed in and mobbed the aisles trying to get their hands on the latest Swampy item. The blind-packaged Squinkies not randomly packed, and if you were to pick up the package marked “Series 2,” you too could have a wee elemental that looks a little something…like this:


Here’s the little guy next to somethin’ to give you a sense of scale:


The other two “blind” Squinkies in the Series 2 package are Kamandi and Sinestro, the latter of which actually looks a little like a bee from the back, or maybe a member of Stryper, what with the yellow and black costume he’s wearing.

I almost, almost bought Series 1, since there was a little squishy Darkseid in that package, but, you know, it’s already problematic as it is that I purchased the one set.

So anyway, if you’re a Swamp Thing collector and you need one of these, look for the package with a picture of Green Lantern on the backer card in the lower right hand corner…also, note that a couple of other Squinkies in the package are Batman and Aquaman, to help you identify that you’ve got the right set. And when you’re buying your Squinkies, tell ’em Mike sent you…I mean, chances are pretty good they know a Mike, they’ll just assume you mean him.

Another look at Marvel Super Heroes POGs.

§ May 10th, 2006 § Filed under pogs Comments Off on Another look at Marvel Super Heroes POGs.

Well, a good chunk of them are just pictures of the characters, with their logos:

Then there are a handful of group shots:

Some group shots are “themed,” such as “Brusiers” (with Hulk, Venom, and the Thing), or “Fire ‘N Ice” (Human Torch and Iceman), or this one, featuring a skull motif:

This one brings up some vague memories of the Great POG Scare of the early ’90s, particularly that the “skull” POGs were considered more desirable, for some reason. Or maybe I’m confusing them with the “poison” POGs (not to be confused with these guys)…or maybe the skull POGs and the poison POGs were the same thing. I don’t remember. I don’t really want to remember.

At any rate, the themes get a little strained, like this one:

Because, you see, the Thing is rocky, and Ghost Rider…rolls, I guess, since he has a motorcycle. ROCK AND ROLL, DUDE.

And there are quite a few POGs that just have logos:

The sample pack we opened was primarily just logo POGs.

All those images above were taken from a promo poster we were sent a few days back, by the way. I’m half-tempted to put it up in the store just to see customer reactions: “No, not POGs! Not again! Nooooooooo-“(deep breath) “-ooooooooo!

I think this attempted POG collectible revival may be about five-to-ten years too early for the typical 20-year “nostalgia gap” that most things like this seem to have. Assuming, of course, there will be nostalgic interest in these at any point in the future…most of my customers who had bought them as young’uns seem embarrassed by it now, and in my case, I’m embarrassed that I even sold them here at the shop.

Given that the superhero trading card market is fairly moribund (it primarily consists of people not buying new cards, but trying to sell their old Marvel sets to us and being surprised that they’re not worth much of anything now), I don’t think the tangentially-related superhero POG market is going to take off. Unless, of course, they sell it as a gaming item (since there is a game of sorts associated with POGs, mainly involving throwing things at other things) to the kids buying the Yu-Gi-Oh collectible card game and the like, but even the CCG market sorta looks like it’s slowing down.

POGs. Geez, of all the things I thought I’d never have to deal with again….

In which I shamelessly bend the rules.

§ October 11th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So remember that time I asked you all for questions and you gave me a bunch of questions and I started to answer your questions until I got distracted by other questions which raised more questions? Anyway, I’m back to your questions:

DolphusRaymond dives in with

“Between Doomsday Clock’s [JSA]/LSH simmer, the return of Wally West (and consequent ‘no twins’ meltdowns), and the Zatanna “OMG Young Justice really existed what does it mean?!?” in the new Young Justice, do you see post-Crisis pre-New52 continuity making a comeback?
Is this my generation’s ‘I miss Barry and Hal bring them back?’
Will the comics world ever see more than 3 of the 52 multiverses published at the same time? (I count Main Continuity, Freedom Fighters Earth-X, and Shazam! …I don’t know if Bendis creates a pocket universe around his writing or not.)”

Ever since Crisis on Infinite Earths it seems like creators at DC kept looking for ways to bring back the stuff they liked from the pre-Crisis continuity. And of course later reality-changing events like Zero Hour and The Kingdom were intended to bend our new DC Universe back into a shape somewhat resembling the Old DC Universe, and all these reboots and retcons and so on is what brought us to the point of having a story where all the continuity problems were pinned on Dr. Manhattan, which is probably not a thing anyone saw coming a few years back.

Anyway, I don’t really see DC just straight up going back to the way things were post-Crisis/pre-New 52. Like, just ignoring everything that’s happened since and starting right up again from just before all these reboots/relaunches happened, like restoring from a back-up. But I imagine DC will continue its habit of picking and choosing the pieces from the past that it likes and reworking them into the comics of the present. We essentially have the post-Crisis Superman in our current DCs and that seems to be going okay so far.

As far as the “number of different universes in play at any given time at DC…I don’t know. Do the Sandman books count as a parallel universe? Scooby Team-up?

But everyone, hold everything: things are about to get more complicated (and more headachey for your retailer pal Mike) if this business about DC’s “5G” plan is true. So, basically, ignore everything I wrote prior to this paragraph because I’m honestly just hearing about this supposed coming hoohar from DC right now. So now I suppose the ultimate answer to your question, DolphusRaymond, is “who the hell knows?”

• • •

Synonymous means only one thing when asking

“So why _was_ the ‘Mike’s Magical Comics Fort’ name rejected?”

Mr. S is referring to this lightly prophetic post of mine (posted only a few months prior to, well, my actually opening a shop), in which I suggest that as a possible name for my no-longer-so-theoretical store. (Though I’m kind of partial to the store name “Ventura Fun Time Comic Book/Magic Card Store and Video Deli,” originally posted here…though I’d probably have to change “Ventura” to “Camarillo.”)

Anyway, I didn’t use the “Magical Comics Fort” name because people would continally come in thinking I had Harry Potter comics and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Unless they accepted Books of Magic comics as a sufficient replacement, of course.

RELATED: Brian followed up the previous question with

“Is it true that Mike’s Magical Comics Fort actually does exist, except that it’s your secret fortress of solitude, with statues of Swamp Thing and Sluggo holding up a giant long box in the central hall?”

And it’s constructed entirely from pogs.

• • •

De demands da dope:

“After crossover minis with Star Trek and Green Lantern, what’s the next natural mash-up with Planet of the Apes?”

Ooh, I immediately want to say Twilight Zone, given Rod Serling’s connection to both, but maybe that’s a little too wide-ranging an idea. Um…Kamandi seems like the natural one, given POTA was the inspiration for the Last Boy on Earth in the first place. Or…I mean, you can always throw Superman or Batman into any crossover thingie like this and probably come up with something workable.

Oh, wait, I’ve got it…Swamp Thing! Yeah, I know, gee, who saw that coming, but hear me out: “PLANT ELEMENTAL OF THE APES.” Don’t tell me you don’t want to see that.

• • •

ExistentialMan makes me ponder my existence with

“What do you consider the single best year of comics publication in your lifetime?”

Holy shit. I mean, pardon my use of the word “holy,” but man, that’s a good question. I’m going to say 1986. You had Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, the relaunch/reboot of the Superman books by John Byrne (hey, I think they still hold up, mostly), you had Dan Clowes show up with Lloyd Llewellyn which I bought off the stands because it looked so amazing, the first Mage series by Matt Wagner was still going, there was the two part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and pals, Englehart and Staton’s Green Lantern turned into Green Lantern Corps and started to get weird (and also introduced Kilowog!), Dark Horse Comics and Slave Labor Graphics started up, we had ‘Mazing Man, Flaming Carrot was still going, Cerebus was still good, Love and Rockets was around (as it still is!), Swamp Thing hit issue #50, we had regular Groo the Wanderers…man, there are lots of things to love about 1986. I’m sure I could pick out any other year and find things to love about it, but 1986 was the first one to come to mind.

Oh, and the New Universe started in 1986, too. Don’t forget that!

• • •

Jason Sandberg contributes TOO MANY QUESTIONS but he advertises on my site so I will let his filthy lucre sway me into breaking the “one question per customer” rule:

“What holds the Winter Soldier’s mask on his face?”

Our hopes and dreams.

“Am I correct that ‘Captain America and the Mighty Avengers’ issue 9 was better than the entirety of ‘Avengers: Time Runs Out?'”

Since you advertise on my site, I’m going to say “yes, you are correct, sir.” I mean, mostly because I’ve read neither and have no basis for judgement.

“What dark and sinister medial moguls are thwarting the progress of the DREADSTAR film/TV franchise?”

Alas, it appears the frailty of human flesh may be the cause, as according to this interview with Jim Starlin, the producer died and that kinda scuttled their plans. He’s still hopeful to get it on TV, but, well, you know how it is.

“Robbie Reyes ‘ghost rided’ a dead Celestial. Could he ‘ghost rider’ Galactus’s Taa II? Where would he go, what would he do?”

“Rided?” Anyway, I suppose Mr. Reyes could pull that off. As to the question “Where does a Ghost Rider ‘ghost-riding’ Galactus’ home base/spaceship go?” and answer is of course “anywhere he wants to.”

“If I ever make it out to the West Coast, where would we go for lunch, dude?”

Anywhere that takes your credit card, my friend, because I’m not going to restaurants too often on a comic shop owner’s salary.

• • •

And with that bout of sheer favoritism, I think that’s enough Question Time for today. I’ll try to get to the remaining questions in short order instead of making you all wait so long again. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you Monday.

Yes, I know Shatterstar was in the movie too.

§ September 30th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 4 Comments

So I got a set of these in a collection the other day:


…and by “set,” for those of you who weren’t around in the early 1990s to experience this particuliar phenomenon, I mean “all five initially released versions of X-Force #1, each prepacked with one of five different trading cards sealed within the polybag.”

Now your pal Old Man Mike was there manning the comic shop front lines when this comic was unleashed. We had tons of them, and as I recall we set up a table near the front of the store to put them all out for easy access, divided up by inserted card. Which means, yes, we had to go through the cases and divvy ’em up.

The point is, we ordered a lot, and we sold a lot. And yes, I know you bought them. Yes, you, right there, reading this blog post right now. I saw you do it. We caught it on camera. WE HAVE EVIDENCE. Anyway, plenty of copies got circulated out there, and we had a reasonable, and surprisingly not overwhelming, stock of copies of that first issue stashed away for future back issue sales.

Well, things go as they go, and what was eventually became not, and X-Force and its ilk fell out of favor…as, well, did most comics as the ’90s wore on, in favor of pogs and Magic: The Gathering. And back issue demand for that particuliar first issue of X-Force did trail off, even as the series kept on keeping on.

It never fell entirely out of awareness, of course…X-Force #1 remained a notable artifact of the excesses of comic collecting in the 1990s, a cautionary tale along with the 5 covers for X-Men #1 and the “bagged” editions of Spider-Man #1 and thankfully the industry has learned its lesson and no longer depends on multiple variant editions of its publications to shore up sales.

The end result was that, for many years, X-Force #1 was not generally traded in the aftermarket for premium prices. If anything, it was slash-priced, marked down to move, for the love of God please take these off our hands…dollar boxes aplenty were fed by copies of this book across this great nation of ours, and that’s just how things were. Not to say that some venues didn’t keep copies in the bins marked at ye olde Overstreet prices, and they did sell occasionally, but its star had long since faded.

CUT TO: your pal Mike, getting a collection of comics over the weekend…some good stuff, some stuff basically dumped on me, but most of it still usable. Within was that set of X-Force #1s that I mentioned about 4 or 5 thousand words ago. I’d been literally turning these down as they showed up in the hands of hopeful sellers coming through my door, but, eh, here they in this box of stuff I got, might as well price ’em up and put them out.

And evidently it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity of price this issue, because imagine my surprise to find out the guide has the version with the Deadpool card priced at $18. The one with the Cable card is priced the same. The other three card variations are a somewhat more reasonable, but still seemingly optimistic $6.

I feel like, at some point during one of the three or four previous times that Deadpool’s popularity peaked, that I did check our price guide and/or online sales to see if there was any increased demand for the Deadpool-card version of X-Force #1, and at that point it was big ol’ “nobody cares.”

But, obviously, things have changed. My initial thought was my pet theory about things that used to be common and in deep stock at stores through the ’90s boom period have suddenly become harder to come by, as shops from that era die out and, sometimes, take their stock with them. Or that copies that did make it into the hands of collectors were either damaged due to poor storage (a not-infrequent problem, even with the hardcore collectors at the time) or just discarded outright (after losing interest and/or failed attempts at recouping their money via resale back to shops that either didn’t want them, or offered only a pittance).

Mentioning this on Twitter, I received this response from Tony:

“They are everywhere and people will drop $5-10 easy on them. Its shocking. It’s a mix of the age of the book, new fandom from the popularization of Marvel movies, and those early 90s fans that are now wanting to rebuild their collection.”

And yes, those are factors as well. I know “age” doesn’t always equate with “price,” but I’ve seen demand for the novelty publications (bagged, like this X-Force, or foil/chrome/die-cut covers) from customers who hadn’t even been born yet when these items were in their heyday. And, like Tony mentioned, I’ve had customers who did collect these as they were new, who had since lost or discarded their collections and now want to reconstruct them. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia, friends.

The actual pricing seems pretty…extreme, and my response to Tony that it might be a case of “hot because it’s hot.” Not priced according to any supply/demand thing, but because “Deadpool is in a movie and these should be hot now.” The X-Force #1 with the Deadpool card is priced a little higher than normal, people notice, start picking them up, which encourages more up-pricing, a self-fulfilling prophecy that cycles on and on.

This is not to ignore that variation with the Cable card, also priced at $18 in the guide, which surely must solely be the fault of the character’s appearance in the Deadpool movie. That they’re both $18 makes me think it was specifically the movie causing the price bump, since in comics alone Cable isn’t nearly as popular as Deadpool, unless I’m about to hear from the International Cable Fan Club in my comments here.

So anyway, that was quite the shock, mostly because I’d expected this to happen a while back, it didn’t, I figured that was that, then suddenly IT HAPPENED. Don’t know how many people are actually successfully selling these for nearly $20 a pop. A quick look at the eBay shows it trading for far less than that…there seems to be more interest in issue #11 of the series (the “first appearance” of the real Domino, as it had been an imposter Domino in the comics prior to that…um, SPOILER, I guess).

Still not sure what I’m going to price my copy at. Maybe $100, really screw the curve there. But while I think about that, here’s a picture of me holding that bountiful treasure of X-Force #1s, as taken by the Mighty Matt Digges:


Hey, if you buy all these from me, maybe I can afford a razor to shave my face!

(PREVIOUSLY ON PROGRESSIVE RUIN: would you believe I’ve written about X-Force and the Deadpool card before? Here and here? I can’t believe it either. Look for my next post about this in 2022!)

“This popular pet is the number one threat to your comic book collection!”

§ July 22nd, 2019 § Filed under death of superman, retailing, television § 4 Comments


So over thge years I have heard many, many times from folks who wanted to sell me comics that the items they were offering were “in mint condition, still in their bags.” And of course, while a comic bag certainly does offer better protection for the funnybook contained within than no bag at all, it’s obviously no protection from bending, stabbing, being set on fire, being chewed on by the pet llama, whathaveyou. (And no, even the addition of a backing board to your comic’s security may not be enough to help.) I’d say the vast majority of comics I’ve received “still in their bags” are nowhere close to mint.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it takes more than just sliding a comic into a bag and/or board to preserve its condition. It takes proper handling, storage, and distance from the previously mentioned pet llama. You can keep a comic inside a bag all you’d like, but that’s not a bulletproof container. And it’s not going to magicallly undo whatever damage you did to it prior to its placement in a bag.

This is all a roundabout way to talking about the comics pictured above, Superman #75 and Adventures of Supermnan #500 (and, by extension, other comics packaged by the publisher inside sealed opaque polybags like these). When it comes to pricing/grading these for in-store sale, there’s no real way to gauge the condition of the comic therein if the polybag is still sealed and, from all appearances, still new-looking and intact.

Emphasis on “looking.” Like the standard clear plastic bags used for comic storage, these polybags won’t protect from bending or creasing or the like, but if they are sealed, you aren’t going to be able to directly check the comic for any damage done. I mean, you can kind of feel along the spine and maybe along parts of the cover (working around the various trading card and poster inserts and such, of course) and determine if there is any phyiscal harm. But, again, without visual confirmation, it’s hard to nail down a grade.

So long as the exterior of the bag looks new, and if the item is sealed (and no damage is immediately detectable within the package) I generally just mark these as “MINT – SEALED.” In a way, it’s like Schrödinger’s Comic…so long as that polybag stays sealed, we have no exact idea what’s going on in there. It’s not ’til we open it up that the reality is solidified and we get a comic that’s, I don’t know, actually in FVF or whatever.

Now it’s possible the polybags themselves could do harm to the comics inside eventually. I’m pretty sure that’s not archival material used in the packaging, there, but on the other hand…I opened my personal copies of these when they were new, and just kept everything, comics and inserts and all, still inside those opened polybags and then inside one of your standard comic bags…and far as I can tell, no damage done by those wrappings yet. And if you remember that overflowing case of Adventures #500 I got a while back…people who’ve bought copies of thoese from me and opened ’em up didn’t find any problems.

If you’re really concerned, I guess you can just store the comic and its polybag in separate bags. As I somewhat recall, in the ’90s during the real heyday of publishers prepacking their comics in bags with goodies like trading cards and pogs and such, the price guides, of which there were many at the time, had to set down rules as to what would preserve the collectibility of these items. I think it was Overstreet which put its nickel down on the comic still being considered “mint” or whatever so long as the opened bag and contents were all present. And I think our attitude at the shop at the time was “okay, fine, but sealed copies are still going to sell for more than opened copies,” and lo, it is still true to this day. I don’t have my current copy of Ovewrstreet right in front of me to see if they still hold that position, if in fact it was them.

Anyway, just something I think about every time I get these in collections and have to price ’em up. I’ve written before, somewhere and at some point, about how a lot of those Superman #75s were purchased by folks who didn’t normally collect comics, so I suspect a large number of them had been stored improperly and damaged, or just outright discarded, over the years. There may not be as many sealed copies of this still around as we assume, so getting them at all is welcome. And they do still sell.

• • •

In some brief non-Death of Superman news, it was announced over the weekend that the DC Universe streaming service’s Doom Patrol series has been renewed for a season 2, to be produced in conjunction with Warner’s forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. The story says the new season will show simultaneously on both services, so that, along with the news of the DC Universe exclusive Young Justice series also getting a renewal, that this streaming channel will continue to be its own thing. The fear was that DC Universe would be folded into the HBO Max service, and sure, that could still happen eventually, but it looks like it’s still operating on its own for now.

Gonna party like it’s 1989.

§ May 22nd, 2019 § Filed under batman, collecting, retailing, this week's comics § 2 Comments

So I haven’t said a whole lot about new comics and mags lately, mostly because, due to current eyeball issues, I can’t really read comics and mags at the moment. As such, I’m building up bit of a backlog of recent goodies at home, on top of the backlog I already had, for me to attempt to plow though once my peepers are in order. Therefore I’ve been trying to be a little pickier about what I set aside for myself, though sometimes I can’t resist a certain special something.

What I definitely don’t need to be taking home for eventual reading are those magazines with articles and interviews about comics past, like Back Issue…a fine publication, but it just takes me forever to get 1) to them, and 2) through them, so I try to make sure it’s got something I really want to read about…especially right now, as who knows when I’ll finally have good enough vision to properly absorb them.

That said, they just got me for two issues in a row. The previous issue, #112, had a special focus on “nuclear heroes,” with a cover and feature on DC’s Firestorm, a character whose comics I very much enjoyed throughout the 1980s. I always like learning more about the comics I read as a somewhat-younger Mikester, so that’s how they got me there.

Issue #113, the one pictured above, came out this week, with its focus on the 30th anniversary release of the first Tim Burton Batman film, and all the Bat-hoohah and goings-on in the comics industry at the time. As some of you may recall, because I keep bringing it up, there were two major events I had to deal with shortly after I first entered the world of comics retail way back in September of 1988. One was “The Death of Robin,” and the phone calls and large number of walk-ins we had involving that. The other was, of course, that very Bat-film, and the huge explosion of interest in comics that ensued.

I talked a lot — and I mean a lot — about this film and its impact on the business about a year and a half back (here are links to that particular series of posts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 — and that is a whole lot to take in, but at least check out Wayne’s anecdote at the end of post #9. Trust me on this). But anyway, this issue of Back Issue is hitting the double-nostalgia chord with me…not just learning more about the Bat-comics I read at that time, of which, like most comic fans around then, I read a bunch. It’s also reminding me of a simpler time of comics retail, when I was just a teen, or barely out of my teens, manning a register and shuffling around comics and, okay, it’s not that different from what I do now, but I’m also paying the bills and placing the orders and just plain keeping the doors open. Not like back then, when I just had to focus on ringing up custmers and talking about comics and reading comics without also worrying about owning an actual business. I miss those days sometimes…but overall, I prefer what I’m doing now.

Oh, and I found yet another Death of Superman thing while looking up stuff for today’s entry, but it can wait ’til next time.

§ August 29th, 2018 § Filed under batman, death of superman § 4 Comments


Reader Allan asks:

“I actually would like to hear your thoughts on the whole Knightfall/Quest/End saga if you haven’t already done so.”

Thiis is of course asked in response to my last post, where I once again talked too much about the death of Superman and wrapped it up with a partial scan for Knightfall pogs…er, “Skycaps.”

For the uninitiated, the whole Knightfall/Quest/End/Epilogue/Sorta-Sequel/Constant-Visual-References-to-Bane-Breaking-Batman hoohar involved Batman, in an event not at all inspired by dollar signs appearing in DC’s eyes with an accompanying “ka-CHING” sound after the Death of Superman took off, getting his back broken by new baddie Bane (pictured in that giant scan above), and then being replaced by Cyborg Superman new sorta-goodie character Azrael while he recovered. And then the whole Knightquest and Knightsend thing was about Bruce Wayne continuing to recover and eventually attempting to reclaim the Batman identity from Azrael, who turned out to not be tempermentally suited for the job, as I recall.

Okay, I don’t honestly know if Doomsday moneymoneymoney goosed DC along into having a similar situation involving Batman, as that scan above came from the same solicitation catalog as all that “Death of Superman” promotional material I featured last time. Granted, that was just introducing the Bane character, and I haven’t any idea if “the breaking of the Bat” was a planned thing at this point, or even planned to be as big a thing as it turned out being, taking over the Batbooks for as long as it did.

But whatever the reason, ’twas the season for replacing superheroes, I suppose, and Classic Batman was knocked out of the picture and New Coke Batman stepped in and that was that. Now, as to what I personally think about it…

…Well, to be honest, I really don’t have the memories or experiences of even particularly the interest in maintaining an informal history of sorts of the Knightfall event, like I’ve been with Superman’s temporary demise. Now, I read at least all of Knightfall (where Bane plans out, and eventually succeeds in, the defeat of Batman), and probably most of the following Knightquest series, but I’m about 97% positive that I checked out before the concluding Knightsend issues of the Batman comics had proceeded too far along.

Now, don’t get me wrong on the “interest” part. I don’t mean “I’m not interested in talking about this,” what I’m trying to say is “I wasn’t that interested in Batman to keeps tabs on or revisit the story.” I’m not even sure I have any particular retailing memories of the Knightfall event. I know the Vengeance of Bane comics still sell. I know this specific issue featuring you-know-what still has significant demand. And this one cover featuring Catwoman is always popular for…reasons.

Basically, most of my thoughts and memories surrounding this event is more involved with the decades-later back issue market aftermath, as well as the current semi-popularity of the trade paperback collections. I can very easily remember events of the day when Superman #75 was released. Couldn’t tell you a thing about what happened when Batman #497 came out. I mean, I know it sold well, but that’s pretty much it. No crazy rumors about issues selling for hugely-inflated prices, or about people buying copies by the truckload, or anything like that.

It’s weird that I’m drawing such a blank on it, but that’s just what happens, I guess. Death of Superman sticks out because that was the first really big EVENT I had to deal with upon entering the high stakes world of comics retail. Well, sure, there was the “vote to kill Robin” weird-ass promotion DC did, which I got behind the counter for just in time…I remember getting calls and questions about that. But that wasn’t a patch on Death of Superman, which was such an unusual event that memories of that were burnt into my brain’s ROM files, while the Knightfall shenanigans were just more high-selling comics in a boom market that lived in my brain’s RAM for a bit, until it got flushed out by the next thing I had to deal with.

I am surprised that we haven’t seen DC have a go at one of their animated movie adaptations of the storyline, though if the current “Death of Superman” multi-film series does well, “Knightfall The Cartoon” may not be long after. There was an episode of one of the Batman animated series which featured Bane, picking up some elements from the comics, but that’s pretty much it. Oh, and the live action movies, of course, where he appeared as Poison Ivy’s henchman in one, and then there was that other lesser film he was in.

Hmmm…okay, I probably still have a few more points to cover about all this, but I’m calling it a post for today, I’ll be back Friday with more excessive typing. Thanks for reading it, folks!

Please don’t tell me if “poggery” actually means something dirty.

§ April 23rd, 2018 § Filed under collecting, market crash § 9 Comments

So reader John, the fella what related the horrifying yet strangely satisfying tale of the shredding and recycling of 14 long boxes of Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1, emailed recently to inform me of more bulk stashes of the ’90s funnybooks that came into his hands.

Specifically, he had several long boxes of ’90s comics, abandoned at a local storage facility, fall into his possession, multiple copies of each, all in Mylar sleeves, and all of the Usual Suspects when it comes to collections like this. Singled out by John was this photo he took of all his copies of Man of War #6 from Malibu Comics:

…specifically because he felt, as I am a man of poggery, I would appreciate the included pogs in each sealed factory-polybagged issue:

This was during the time of, of course, the Big Pog Invasion, but also during the time of Everyone Gets A Superhero Universe, including Malibu Comics which was doing this universe, with Man of War and the Ferret, while also doing the Ultraverse, with Prime and Firearm and so on. Did those two Malibu Universes ever cross over with each other? I imagine it would have been relative easy, being published by the same company an’ all, unless there’s some behind-the-scenes ownership stuff I don’t know about. Regardless, if they’d made it into the 2000s maybe that would have happened.

Anyway, there’s come collector excess for you, but at least they seem to have been kept in better shape than the comics in this tragedy. John said that the majority of the comics in this accumulation met a fate similar to the aforementioned Turok…well, not shredded in a spectacular fashion, but certainly disposed of, save for some Deadpools and a few other goodies that may actually be sellable. But here’s hoping that Man of War movie never comes to fruition, or I would weep openly on John’s behalf for such a lost lucrative opportunity.

…I’ll take two years.

§ February 12th, 2018 § Filed under question time Comments Off on …I’ll take two years.

This is probably the longest I’ve let one of these “question time” posts go unanswered. Remember back, nearly a year ago, when I last took questions from you all? Maybe I should make a concentrated effort to actually get through them before it actually becomes a literal year. So, let’s get a few out of the way today:

philip snipes

“How do you decide what to put on eBay? am someone who mostly looks for large lots of ‘readers’ for cheap, so I’m curious to know the calculus behind what goes up, and what doesn’t, from the Vast Mikester Archives™.”

Well, it’s a combination of things, really. Sometimes it’s stuff that doesn’t really fit into the usual items that sell in the shop, and I feel would have a better chance moving online. For example, I have (or had) several pieces of music industry memorabilia that I don’t really have any place for in the shop, or for which I don’t believe I have any sort of perceived clientele. Y’know, things like radio station promo buttons or calendars, or industry mags, or that sort of thing. I feel like would have better luck finding customers for those online than from the local community.

Sometimes it’s stuff I’m looking to turn around right quick, sometimes at prices that would likely make it a more difficult sale in the shop. Not too long ago I had a Richie Rich #1 from 1962 that, again, I was selling on consignment for somebody. He wanted to make a certain amount of money on it, and I wanted to make a certain amount of money on the item over that amount, which would have put it way above guide for the condition it was in. And, comparing prices on eBay, my slightly outrageous price would have fit right in with recent sales there, so, after taking lots of pictures and writing a exactingly-detailed description of the condition, I put it on eBay to hopefully turn it over as soon as possible. …As it turns out, I should have asked for more money, I guess, since it took, no exaggeration, less than five minutes for it to move. I probably spent twenty minutes taking pics and prepping the actual listing.

Sometimes it’s just clearing space. I have several boxes of backstock I have yet to go through sitting in my backroom, mostly acquired on the cheap. As such, I’m able to blow out large quantities of books at inexpensive prices. Or sometimes it’s clearing out the overstock…as a professional funnybook salesman, I almost never make ordering mistakes, but, well, on that once-or-twice-a-decade occasion that I do, I try to use eBay to unload that excess.

Sometimes it’s, well, the time spent processing the item for listing/shipping vs. the price realized. It takes a non-zero amount of time to get pics of the item, write up descriptions, prep the listings, and get these things packaged to survive the tender mercies of the postal office once they sell. Though I’ve got the process streamlined about as well as I can, the time spent is still relatively fixed, whether it’s a $100 item or a $1 item. As such, I’ll usually pass up the less-expensive items in favor of things with a higher cost. Not that I don’t list less-pricey things…and let’s be honest, none of these “rules” are set in stone. Sometimes it’s just straight up whim that gets me to put some goodie online for sale.

• • •

Simon says

“In your sourcing mix, what are the %ages of DCD, DBD, Ingram, B&T, others?”

Probably comes as no surprise that Diamond is the largest source of product, just for convenience’s sake, with a little bit of extra stock coming from other sources. Don’t really want to get into exact percentages, but Diamond is way up there.

“If that’s confidential then pick another question, Mike, any question:”

I kept everyone waiting on these answers, so I’ll say a little something about each of your extra Qs:

“How does the Marvel collapse affects your operation?”

Any “collapse” that may be happening is something that’s been going on since the Big Two decided relaunching with new #1s rather than maintaining consistent series was a good idea…my general strategy has been, as always, order conservatively and keep a close eye on sales numbers. And of course keep an ear open as to what customers want and like.

“How have you proofed against a DM collapse?”

Urgh…not really at all, to be honest. I mean, I could get books and such from other sources, but the comics market as it is now depends on that weekly influx of new periodicals, and if there’s nobody there to make sure the monthly books are getting out to shops, well, that’s bad news. Eventually…eventually, the market may move over to primarily trade format books that could be available from a variety of sources, but the market ain’t there yet.

I mean, I guess I could always just sell back issues. Wouldn’t want to have to depend on just that, however. Maybe pogs will be big again. (Okay, less silly answer: diversify my product. If the direct market goes away, I’ll have to find stuff to sell that doesn’t depend on direct market distribution, since that’s what I primarily deal with. At the very least, if the DM goes away, I can spend more time moving all that pending eBay stuff.)

“And against the exodus to online and digital?”

All I can do is provide good service and a willingness to order/reorder items people are looking for. If someone’s dead-set on leaving behind the physical comic world for bits and bytes, I can’t force them to stop, but being a decent retailer will hopefully keep people remembering that actually going to a physical comic book store can be rewarding.

• • •

Okay, maybe I’ll try to finish off the remaining questions next time. I promise, next time I do this, I won’t take a year!

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