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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ramblings of a Comic Geek: Comic Cons & Comics!

Some might not remember a time when comic conventions were just about that: comics! Yep, there was a time when a comic convention just had dealers selling comics and local comic artists.

There wasn't a horde of celebrities pawning their signatures or slinging photo ops, panels that had directors, actors, and writers talk about whatever movie, people who just dressed up to cosplay, and booths that sold wares that had absolutely nothing to do with comics. Not that I have anything against all that, but I do remember when comic cons were pretty much just about comics.

Well, actually, I may have something slightly against it. Perhaps more with the bigger cons than the smaller cons.

Don't get me wrong here. I don't mind celebrity autographs. Hell, I had to get Jason Mewes and Lea Thompson's autograph, and later this year, I am aiming to get my Flash season one box set signed by Danielle Panabaker.

Photo ops? Not really into paying a celeb to pose in a picture with me and pretend like we know each other. I think it's kinda creepy to be honest.

That's just me though, but fans obviously like to do that shiz. For me, I still go to comic cons mainly for comics and finding deals on comics. That's still my number one priority.

All the other stuff is nice but not a necessity. After all, the word "comic" is before convention, and when all that other stuff starts pushing comics into the backseat, I find it irritating.

Once again, that's just me. With that said, a big con that only has 25% or less of it's space occupied by comic dealers is strange.

Yes, I am aware that booth space at these big cons are expensive. Most dealers have to pal in together in order to get a space.

Heck, I'm sure quite a few local dealers don't even bother getting booth space at bigger cons and I don't blame 'em. For someone like me, it's not very economical to even hunt for comics at bigger cons.

Whoa! What, you mean?

Don't get me wrong here. This is not a review of Silicon Valley Comic Con or anything.

I'm not trying to persuade or dissuade anyone from going or not going. This is from the perspective of someone who basically just guns for comics at comic conventions.

Here's my dilemma in the matter: Silicon Valley Comic Con cost $50 for a single day to attend. Okay, I know that's nothing compared to San Diego Comic Con, but $50 for someone who just hunts for comics at a con is pretty ridiculous.

Let's review that concept. $50 for a single day just to be able to shop for comics that are at the convention. Now, I know it's cool that dealers from all over the area come around and there is a wide selection of comics, but $50 just to hunt for comics for a single day?

Now, imagine if you had to pay $50 just to be able to shop on eBay or the mall every time you visit.  I think you can see where I'm going with this, right?

The truth is that we don't have to pay every time to use eBay if we just want to shop for comics. In fact, you can even get money back for purchasing comics on eBay with the eBay Bucks program if you live in the U.S.

I am not sure if they extended that to other territories or not. Okay, so a big con is already at a disadvantage in that regard.

$50 to be able to shop for comics at one of these bigger cons, or no entrance fee plus receiving eBay Bucks if I purchase on eBay? Hmmm...don't really think there's anything to think about concerning that.

Back to booth price. I know that dealer's prices are a bit heftier at bigger cons because of the costly booth space. Don't get me wrong, and I am not putting 100% of the blame on booth cost for the growing lack of good deals on comics that are shriveling up at bigger cons. 

Some dealers just don't have good deals whatsoever at a big or small con or where ever they're selling at. It's just a sad truth, and in this slowing down comic market, I think they seriously need to rethink that strategy.

I still do not understand the logic of many dealers that ignore eBay prices. If your New Mutants #98 comes back a CBCS 9.6, don't price it at $700 when CGC 9.6 copies sell within the $400 range on eBay.

Well, I suppose you can if you're not that worried about pricing comics to sell. Another thing that's beginning to irk me is when raw key comics at cons are priced the same as their CGC graded copies on eBay.

Sure, some of these dealers can argue that certain grades of raw key comics do sell around the same prices as their CGC counterparts on good ole eBay, and they would be correct. Here's the thing, though: 

The buyer didn't pay $50 bucks just to log onto eBay and the buyer most likely got eBay Bucks in return for their purchase. Comparing both venues as having the same buying advantages is unrealistic and pricing comics at cons to reflect that is just plain ludicrous.

Sure, you may have under-graded your comic and that I could possibly get a higher grade after submitting it to CGC. Then again, there's also the possibility that you over-graded the book and I could have it come back a lower grade than what I paid for. 

In short, if there's a raw comic advertised as a possible 9.8 for $500 at a con and a CGC 9.8 of the same key for $500 during a 10% eBay Bucks promotion, I'm gonna get the $50 eBay Bucks back instead of paying $50 just to be able to attend the con and purchase your supposed 9.8 raw copy for $500.

Plus, I'll save some more dough from having to get that raw copy graded by CGC or CBCS, not even including the shipping cost to and back. Newsflash: I most likely will get the better deal on eBay and that's where my dollars will go.

Not to mention that if one paid to attend two or three days at a big con! That could be around $80 to $100 just to attend.

That's $80 or $100, folks, money in itself that could go towards a nice key issue or some nice overlooked key comics. I know some of you are thinking I'm frugal as all annoying hell, and you're right.

I am and so are others. Well, they should be.

I do like some dealers personally as people, but I am going to go where I can find the best deals regardless. If big comic cons are no longer economical for me in finding good deals on comics, I won't attend them. 

I'd rather pay $13 or $20 bucks to attend a smaller con or just snag it on eBay if the better deal is online. If deals at smaller cons shrivel up, then I'll stop attending those as well.

Not to say that smaller cons guarantee finding better deals on comics, but it's less of a blow leaving a con empty-handed when it costs $13 instead of $50 for a single day. I did buy quite a bit of comics at Colossus Con this year and that's definitely a smaller con.

Not to say that I didn't have fun at Silicon Valley Comic Con either. I did and there sure is a lot to see. 

There was a gallery of movie costumes and props that were being auctioned off and that was really cool.

The sports almanac from Back to the Future, space ship from Starship Troopers, or Christopher Reeves' Superman costume from Superman III are awesome things to see for any movie fan. To be honest, though, if it weren't for Gerry seeing the sign and bringin' it to my attention, I would've completely bypassed the whole thing. 

Once again, my main focus is comics, and Gerry is pretty much the same. He's just a lot more observant than I am. Speaking of comics, I did end up getting two. Did I get good deals on them?

Well, I'm not sure. I did get an X-Men #28 and the 1st appearance of Banshee.

X-Men fan here, and always wanted this one. It is a raw copy and advertised as a FN/VF that I got for $80.

Okay, if I sent my raw copy to CGC or CBCS and it came back exactly as advertised, there is a CBCS 7.0 copy on eBay right now for $130 with a Best Offer option. On second thought, a new listing for an X-Men #28 CGC 7.5 just popped up on eBay for $95 and $15 shipping. Old label but it is still a better deal.

The cost of the actual raw comic of $80 plus the CGC or CBCS cost of grading and shipping to and back will be more expensive than just snaggin' either of the two on eBay currently.

However, if by some miracle the X-Men #28 copy I purchased comes back an 8.0 from CGC then I did get a decent deal on the comic. We shall have to see, but I seriously doubt the comic I got is that high.

In truth, I doubt the comic is even at a FN/VF and most likely a 6.0 FN or lower. I am expecting the worst when it comes to getting that comic graded.

The 2nd comic I got at SVCC was from the same booth and it was a Jimmy Olsen #135. It's the 2nd cameo appearance of Darkseid and is a CGC 9.4 copy.

I got it for $225, and it's not the most sought-out of comics currently. However, there is a bit more than just the 2nd cameo of Darkseid going on with this comic.

As most probably don't know, the early Jack Kirby work in Jimmy Olsen started introducing Fourth World concepts before it's main titles of New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle were published. Project Cadmus was first introduced as the DNA Project in Jimmy Olsen #133.

The debut of the Silver Age Guardian is in this Jimmy Olsen #135 and he is known as the James Harper clone. He was cloned by Project Cadmus, and if that sounds familiar to you, it's a prominent facility in the Supergirl TV series on the CW.

Actually, the character of James Harper was also on the TV show as a colonel in the U.S. Marines. I don't think he suited up as the Guardian in the Supergirl show though.

The original James Harper debuted as the Guardian in the Golen Age of comics and is the great-uncle of Roy Harper also known as Green Arrow's former sidekick Speedy. James Harper as the Guardian first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7 and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

So Jim Harper as the Guardian was a hero that had no super powers but had exceptional combat and tactical skills and a shield like another famous comic creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. His supporting cast was a group of orphans on the streets of Suicide Slum called the Newsboy Legion.

When Kirby left Marvel and signed a contract at DC Comics during the early 70s, he resurrected the Newsboy Legion in his Fourth World story arc. Actually, the sons of the original Newsboy Legion became the heads of Project Cadmus and cloned James Harper.  

Although the character of James Harper did not appear as Guardian in the Supergirl TV series, it appears that Jimmy Olsen is taking up the mantle of the crime-fighting vigilante on the show, and you can somewhat see the influence from panel to screen. 

I don't think Jimmy Olsen ever became the Guardian in the comics, but you know how they like to twist things around in La La Land. It is kinda of a fitting move since the Guardian character was resurrected in the Jimmy Olsen title.

Despite most of Kirby's Fourth World stuff being passed up by the comic market at large, a lot of influences are starting to seep into live action media. I already mentioned Supergirl but Parademons, mother boxes, Darkseid, and Steppenwolf in the Justice League flicks? That's all from Kirby's Fourth World as well.

Anyway, those are the two comics I got, and if I'm going to be realistic, the cost of $50 should be tacked onto the prices of those comics. In reality, I paid $250 and $105 for the Jimmy Olsen #135 and X-Men #28.

If I want to be even more realistic, I'd even calculate parking and gas into those comic prices. Parking in the city is not cheap either, especially when a big event is going on. 

In all honesty, I'm not absolutely thrilled with the purchases I got at Silicon Valley Comic Con this year, but I'm not entirely distraught over them as well. I think I got a pretty good deal for the Jimmy Olsen #135, but I would've been better off buying a CGC X-Men #28 on eBay.

Still, I left SVCC wondering if bigger cons were even worth my time and with the revelation that they may very well not be. I asked two dealers that I personally like how SVCC was going for them 2 hours prior to the end and they said it was slow and bad.

They also said that last year was so much better. Perhaps other comic hunters are becoming more finicky as well and don't see the point in paying the expensive ticket prices at big cons when the deals on comics can't even compete with eBay or elsewhere.

Perhaps the over-saturated big comic cons won't even be viable venues for comic dealers to sell at in the very near future. Some dealers are starting to believe this to be true.

So the two vendors I spoke about earlier is Marc Newman of House of Comics and Harvey Doss, and they are bringing back the old school comic convention. Their con is happening in Berkeley on June 3rd and comics will be the main focus. 

No joke, this will essentially be a comics-only convention, so my NorCal and bay area brethren who are just all about comics, you most likely don't want to miss Berkeley Comic Con.

Click the link for more information if interested. I'm looking forward to it, and I do think it's a needed change from the so-called "comic" conventions in which half of the event isn't even about comics.

It only cost $5 to attend, and since the booth prices aren't ridiculously expensive, I'm expecting to find better deals on comics there. We shall see!


  1. This is so true. A lot of very good points here. Been into comics for about 20 yrs now and have never been to a major convention. Usually buy all my comics on EBay or at my LCS.

  2. I just bought that X Men 28 cgc 7.5 off ebay thanks to you... I love your blogs and page.. I check your info everyday and read about past key books... Much love my friend !

  3. I just bought that xmen cgc 7.5 Your posts are the best and the info you have on key books is mind boggling! I read everything you ever post ! Much love and long time reader.

    1. Lol, pouring salt into the wound, eh? Rock On! Congrats on the snag!

  4. Couldn't agree more! I have been avoiding the NYCC Comic Con for years. Back when I first started collecting,( in high school, and before all the movies took off) there were these awesome comic conventions in New Jersey. They were either 2 bucks to attend or free! Everytime I would go in they would give you a raffle ticket and raffle off a nice comic during the convention. I ended up winning a Tigra #1 one time! They don't do that anymore, but these guys are still dedicated to comic only conventions in NJ. They are awesome- only back issues- silver age and golden age stuff. The best part is you won't be swarmed with giant cosplay characters or funko pop displays. Thanks for a great read as always!

    1. Hello again, Rebecca. Hope all is well on the East Coast. Thanks for reading. I do miss when most comic cons were mainly about comics. Sounds like you have found those kinds of conventions over in your neck of the woods. Can't stand them funko pop things. How long have you been collecting comics?

  5. Berkeley comic Con sounds a lot like So. Cal's Cal comic Con.
    The best shows for buying books and hanging with like minded people without all the gimick.

    1. Thank you for posting the link I didn't think So. Cal had an event like this. Now I know and plan to attend.

    2. Spreading the good word already!

  6. Great read. I stopped going to the Big Show's about 10 years ago because of the increased parking and prices to get in. I would rather spend my money on the books and not for the entertainment that I don't participate in like guests an cosplay. I always said there should be a separate fee for those things and different rooms so that you don't have to pay for them if you don't participate I'm just there for the books.
    thanks for your service.

  7. Hey Mayhem,

    thanks for your report from the front. Right now I' m really into comics with Adam Hughes covers so I thought, maybe you could make a top ten list with his most valuable ones. Just in case you don' t have any feature on your mind right now.

    Max Rebo

    1. Hey Max. You could just look on EBay sold listings for how much Adam Hughes covers have sold for. That will give you a general idea on which are the best.

  8. Long time reader, first time poster. Yet another insightful piece. There is one point I'd like to get your thoughts on. You mentioned a "slowing down comic market." Do you reckon it is a sign of an impending back issue value bubble burst?


    1. Heya Gaz, that's a tricky question. Wasn't sure how to answer it so sorry 'bout the late reply.

      Certain comics still doing pretty good. Certain ones have fizzled. I think some peeps may be becoming more finicky and spending their hard cash on a key issue for a character that they like.

      I mean, why spend it on a character you don't really care for unless to eventually flip. Perhaps more are becoming fatigued possibly as well.

      I mean, who wants to chase this and then chase that continually? Gets a bit old, right? Who wants to be thirsty all the time?

      Anyway, those dealers at the show said the back issue market was slowing and another dealer I recently asked said back issue sales are slow because everyone just wants keys.

  9. Hey man,

    Good read, however I have to point out a couple of things about the big cons.

    You are paying the big money to have the big guests there. It would be great if you could have Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane come to your con and sign books all day, but they are not big enough names to pay for them to come to the show. That's why the shows book celebrities, so that non-comic buyers will come and subsidize the cost of bringing in the artists.

    At bigger cons, you will also tend to see bigger books. I've never seen a Batman #1 at a small show before, but at the FanExpo in Toronto I have. You get the bigger dealers at the show, and since it costs them more to get into the show, they pass the "savings" onto the customer. Most dealers will jack their wall book prices, but give you better savings from their bins.

    With ebay, you are lucky to get the Bonus Bucks program, but here in Canada we don't get it. We have higher shipping fees and a devalued dollar to the US dollar. So a book that might cost you $20 with shipping on EBay is costing us closer to 28 and with no incentives like bonus bucks.

    Sometimes the big con is the only place you can go.

    1. Yeah, I know that I usually write from the vantage point of my stompin' grounds and not sure what it's like on eBay for Canada or UK buyers. In that regards, them big cons might still be worth huntin' comics for since you do have to deal with import vats or duties.

  10. I just don't see the point of going to conventions anymore especially here in Southern California. San Diego, Long Beach, Anaheim are not cheap to get into to and everything is priced really high. I would rather buy stuff off Ebay or my LCS. Even a new Con in Ontario Comic Con Revolution is opening up and it is $27 to get so not terrible but I have to figure do I want to spend the money to buy a tickets to get in for me and my fiance or order the Briggs Land #1 9.8 CGC off ebay for $55. I think ebay is going to win out. Besides there are free events like the Claremont Packing House Comic book and collectible show that is free parking and free admission with lots of just dealers.
    Anyway great report love your blog and read it all the time.


    1. Damn, I can only imagine So Cals comic conventions. I did have you guys in mind when I was complaining about the single day price for a bigger con in Nor Cal. Definitely sure prices are a lot more insane in south Cali at them conventions. Thanks for reading Robert!

  11. Great points all around by everyone. Great article. JW

    1. Hey JW, thanks for all the well wishes you gave for my fam. How you doing over yonder?