So the Great Funnybook Purge continues here on the Nerd Farm, and it’s taking far far longer than I thought it would. For one thing, my plan of using a seven-year-old Overstreet guide and E-Bay in combination to figure out prices is turning out to be way more time-consuming than I thought it would be.
I can’t use the former, for instance, to find a realistic price for Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run, and finding that long run on E-Bay proved so frustrating that I finally threw up my hands and made up arbitrary prices designed to move them out of my house. All but the “death” issue, of course.
It doesn’t help that I’ve never liked the collecting side of funnybooks. I mean… I acknowledge it, and dutifully put all my books in bags. But I don’t really care so much about protecting them from… whatever it is that’s supposed to hurt them in the open air.
With the slick paper most modern comics are printed on, I’m not sure how much that’s even an issue anymore. I do like to keep my stuff in good shape, though, and I find that bags help with that when you store your books in comic boxes. So bags make sense.
Of course, you don’t need a bag for every individual issue. That’s crazy talk. Depending on what size bags you get (I prefer Silver Age), you can get anywhere from four to six comics in a single bag without hurting them, so that’s what I do. I mean… if the covers on a book are particularly nice, I’ll only go two per bag, with the covers facing out so I can look at the pretty pictures. But if I’m selling the things… I kinda do need a bag for each individual issue. So I’m also having to bag stuff. LOTS OF STUFF.
On top of that, I’m having to deal with the sometimes-perplexing thought processes of the people who buy and sell funnybooks on the internet.
I get, for instance, that the prices of the Eclipse printings of Miracleman are falling in the face of the on-going Marvel reprints. They should; the key to those books’ “value” was that the story was so hard to get, and now that it’s not… supply and demand kicks in. But the prices are falling ridiculously far (in some cases lower than the cover price of the reprints), and the issues Marvel hasn’t gotten around to yet are still going for high dollar. But why would you be willing to pay out thirty bucks for a comic that’ll be reprinted in a couple of months when you’re not willing to pay it for one that came out last week? I don’t know, but I’m thinking that I better get my Miracleman 15 up on the E-Bays soon if I wanna get in on the insanity…
Far more bothersome to me, though, is a trend of “wishful thinking” pricing. People are declaring previously-unremarkable books important for the slimmest of reasons. Take Swamp Thing 25, for instance:
A fine comic, early in Alan Moore’s redefining run on the book. If I remember correctly, it’s the beginning of that horrifying children’s home story with the white monkey demon thing.
Brr. One of my favorites. But it is not, I’m afraid, the first appearance of John Constantine. That’s issue 37. So why do I keep seeing it listed as “First Appearance John Constantine”? Apparently because of this:
Which, okay, sure. That certainly looks like Constantine. But it’s not. It’s Sting.
Here’s what happened, see… Series artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben wanted to draw Sting. So they did. That’s him mugging to the camera in the midst of a horrible tragedy on the streets of Houma, Louisiana. Then they suggested to Alan Moore that they have a recurring character in the series who looked like Sting, presumably so they could draw more pictures of Sting. Or maybe just because they thought it would be funny. I don’t know. Whatever their reasons, about a year later, Moore acquiesced and gave them a British street magician who looked like Sting:
That’s in Swamp Thing 37, however, and the guy in issue 25 is, as we’ve already established… Sting.
This is all an established part of funnybook history, a fun little story that can teach us all an important lesson about the interplay between writer and artist. Even a writer whose scripts are as notoriously detailed as Moore’s.
But this doesn’t stop the
price-gouging scum— er… con artists— er… ever-prudent businessmen (yes, that’s it!) of Funnybook Interweb Sales from claiming that it IS Constantine’s first appearance, and charging exorbitant prices for the issue.
All of this kind of makes me hate comics. And that makes me mad, ’cause I love comics. So I can’t go more than a couple of hours before I have to open up one of the books I’m selling and read it. Then I love comics again, and everything’s alright. Of course… Then I also start having second thoughts about selling the book I read, and hem and haw over it, and…
Yeah. This is gonna take a lot longer than I thought it would…