Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Nonsense!

Part of me wants to just wax philosophical on every little announcement coming out of DC, but I figure that stuff is already getting a little old, and it seems to change daily.  Until this stuff actually hits the racks, I think trying parse the limited info coming out of that situation is like trying to eat yogurt with chopsticks.  You can do it, but I'm not sure the payoff is worth the investment.

I stand by my assessment that DCs "new" roster of titles fails in that it doesn't actually have anything new in it, but (potentially) novel reiterations of the old, though.  That feels like a wasted opportunity.  But whatever.

Continuing Adventures in CGC!

Waaaaaaaay back in January, I began to chronicle my first steps in getting my trades graded by CGC.  Originally I submitted them through a local comic shop, but unfortunately their dues weren't paid up, they decided that the dues weren't paying up, and CGC sent the books back.  That took about three months to sort out.

So I decided to bite the bullet and pay for my own membership, which is more palatable to my independent nature anyway.  I packed up a couple of comics hoping to produce enough cash to pay for the grading of the rest, and sent three trades for grading at the end of April: Spider-Man Vs. Green Goblin, Batman Year Two, and Joker Devil's Advocate.

If that seems like an odd assortment to desire the grading treatment, you're correct.  I wasn't even sure they'd grade the books, although I've seen a graded Wonder Woman: Challenge of Artemis, for example.  There are no posted rules about size restrictions, although there surely must be.  Can you imaging a slabbed edition of Watchmen, as an example?  It just doesn't seem plausible.

Not knowing exactly what I was getting into, I decided to send some nice books that weren't the cream of my collection as a test.  It just seemed like the measured response.  Each of the books had very minor but discernible flaws upon close inspection.  I felt that each was surely in at least 9.4 shape, and that one of them might achieve something higher if somebody was in a good mood.

Well, the results are in.  Spider-Man did earn a 9.4, while Batman and Joker will be wearing 9.8s on their holders.  Wow.  Not bad, not bad at all.

Needless to say I have a new toy, one which I'm casually calling "my retirement fund."  Now that I know that CGC does indeed grade the damn things, and that I appear to have a knack for selecting prime examples - the implications boggle.

Bottom line is that the collected market is still in the Wild West stage of development.  Nobody is really doing this right now, and being ahead of the curve is a good place to be.  I'm going to start sending some more high profile product away for slabation, and I'm going to build a book empire that will shine so that the gods will see it from on high and marvel.

What should the discerning collector be getting graded?  Well, anything old in 9.0 or better.  Just like their comic book cousins of old, trade paperbacks were purchased to be read and loved, not handled with prostate checking gloves and sent to CGC.  Anything from the 90s in noticeably good shape will be difficult to come by in gradable condition.  If you should find some, I would start grading them now.

What else?  How about first print, first editions of "the classics".  I'm talking about Sandman, Y the Last Man, and holy chockatolleez, what do you think the long term prospects of a Walking Dead: Days Gone By first print in 9.8 are?  I'd say they're pretty good.

Back Issue Magazine Is Cool

Back issue magazine is everything you read newsarama for, but never really get.  I'm talking about the good dirt, the real dirt, the kind of dirt nobody ever talks about to a contemporary news source because they'd like to continue earning a paycheck in the industry.

Do you know why Jim Starlin took Dreadstar out of Epic and into First?  Because Marvel stopped sending him checks for his Dreadstar work, that's why!

Apparently it was some kind of personal vendetta, because everybody else at Epic was getting paid without a hitch.  Starlin doesn't seem to know who exactly didn't like him, but he would have to have his checks re-cut and sent time and again, causing him to fall behind on his bills.

That's just crazy, and that's life, and that's why I love Back Issue so much.  It's not up to the second. You aren't going to find out who's actually doing the scripts on Supergirl in September.  Whatever.  You are going to find out about all the juicy behind-the-scenes stuff from the classic comics you remember with love, from the people who created the comics themselves.

I'm in love with that magazine.

Forgotten Key Run: Harbinger

Last night on Chronic Insomnia we answered some listener mail about some of our favorite all-time runs and creators.  Those lists could go on forever, of course, but I really feel negligent in failing to mention the pre-Unity Harbinger comics from Valiant.

It seems crazy that those comics are twenty years old, and yet here we are.  Harbinger was Valiant at its Valianty best.  It was an obvious X-Men analog, with a group of outcast kids trying to survive in a world that didn't understand, trust, or particularly care for them.

The twist is that there is no Prof. X or happy school of gifted youngsters.  There's a corporate bastard by the name of Harada hunting them down to exploit them for cash and power.  Back in the 1960s when the X-Men were created, the world still sucked, but you could still trust the government and even love your President, if he was a Kennedy.  By the 1990s, we don't trust NOBODY.

Shooter sent his kids on the road as fugitives, and some of them cut against type nicely.  These were not born warriors and fashion plates looking to dispense competent justice.  Zeppelin was a comic nerd who had no business in combat.  Flamingo was a giant whore, Torque was an even gianter dick.  Then there was good old Pete Stanchek, who would mentally coax his girlfriend to do stuff, and then have her threaten to kill him.  She was not bluffing, by the way.  Meanwhile, Pete does not get the girl like Some Kind of Wonderful always taught him he would, she goes and gets knocked up by the illiterate prick who is probably three beers from beating her.

God it was good!  And nobody I just described is quite as papier mache as I made them out in the last paragraph, at least not while Shooter had the reins.  Those pre-unity Valiant books were really good comics.  I miss those dearly.

- Ryan

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