San Diego, CA – evening

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Comic-Con International 1998 is now over, and perhaps my life will resume some semblance of its former self.  In particular, perhaps updates will get written more than once a week…

And actually, you’re not going to get much in this one, either.  I’m working against a for real deadline: in about half an hour, the office at the Kampground is going to close and I won’t be able to get this in tonight.

So first off, thanks to everyone who wrote me email, and thanks for waiting patiently while I spent all my time, energy, and money on funnybooks and their associated paraphernalia.  Actually, I haven’t even picked up email in several days, I’m only assuming at this point that everyone’s being patient about it…

The show was incredible, past even what I remembered from being here three years ago (I’m struck simultaneously by the thoughts “wow, has it been that long?” and, “wow, that seems like a lifetime ago…”).  I bought four, FOUR “big” books.  Without getting to lost in arcane comic trivia, I collect Silver Age (late fifties, early sixties) Marvel (the major comic company in the last several decades) books, both superheroes and “monster” books (the most popular comics of the fifties, wherein aliens or muck monsters or lava men or stone gargoyles lurch around eating everyone).  The “big” books in this realm are #1 issues and first appearances of major characters.  At this show, I got Avengers #1, X-Men #1, Tales Of Suspense #39 (first Iron Man) and Tales To Astonish #27 (first Ant-Man).  Okay, so you’ve never heard of Ant-Man, he was big stuff (no pun intended) in the early sixties.

Historically, I get maybe one big book at a show.  The prices forbid me any more.  But, like many markets, comic prices are undergoing an “adjustment.”  In particular, lower grade books (the more beat-up ones that I actually prefer) were “de-valued” in the most recent Overstreet (the bible of comic book price guides).  See, prices of high-grade books have skyrocketed as more people realize that they are about the safest, surest investment you’re likely to come across.  And low grade books were always priced at a fraction of the high grade prices (say, one-sixth).  Unfortunately, sales of low grade books were stagnant because the huge price increases were only an issue for the highest grade books where the investors play.  Low grade books are for collectors and readers, and those prices rise more linearly.  So Overstreet (wisely) changed the fractions they used.  Instead of “good” books being worth 1/6 of “mint” books, they became worth 1/10.

Basically, an instant fire sale on low grade books.  Add to this the hair-trigger nature of certain comic dealers (they got de-valued in the guide?  Oh, shit, nobody wants ’em anymore!  Sell, sell, sell!), and I got four big books for what I expected to pay for two of them (and I’m a brilliant shopper, by the way.  With all of the above going on, and my going back to a certain dealer two or three times to look at the same book, just to shake my head and hand it back, _then_ go back Sunday afternoon, when they’d rather sell it at a loss than ship it back home, I ended up with an X-Men #1 that had been priced at $550 for $250.  Ah, it’s good to be the king…).

So if you’re looking for investment advice, buy low grade Golden Age (1940’s) ans Silver Age comics.  Right now you can find great deals on them, and the collectors are always there.

Anyway, I ran off at the mouth longer than I’d intended, there.

Most importantly, I am alive and well, and I expect to have more time to write in the near future.

Thanks for being patient.

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