Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to all for a happy, safe and prosperous 2005! May all your collections be filled with gems.

As of 12:00:01 am tomorrow morning, I will be officially unemployed for the first time since I delivered newspapers over 20 years ago. It's a weird feeling, but I am looking forward to the new experiences and people I will meet once I land a new job.

Be safe out there!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Jerry Orbach: 1935-2004

I was really saddened to hear of the death of Jerry Orbach. He was a favorite for many years. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to get a signed photo and a handwritten note from him. Rest in peace, Lenny...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Flat On My Back

I've been flat on my back with what I think must be the Flu for the past 2 days. I'm the kinda guy that almost never gets sick... maybe I get a slight sniffle or cough once a year and it never lasts more than a day or two.

But this is something else. I can't recall ever being this sick. I'm a bit better now, but Monday and Tuesday I had no energy to do anything, which is especially bad when you are supposed to be networking and job prospecting.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Eagle Has Wings

My friend Bob McLeod has a superb website that highlights his world class astronaut and cosmonaut autograph collection. The site also has excellent information on some common forgery types.

For a primer on space exploration history through autographs, check out Bob's site.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Forbes Magazine Takes On Heritage

Forbes Magazine has an interesting article on Heritage's Jim Halperin. Does anyone else see the parallels between what HAS happened in the graded coin hobby and what appears to be happening to the graded comic book hobby? What's the old saying about those not learning from the past?

STL Comics Forum

STL has started a new comic book forum, and so far, it seems fairly lively and intelligent.

Check it out here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Collection of Distinction

My good friend Al Hallonquist has created an online gallery of his aviation autograph collection. While this is only a small portion of Al's entire collection, it is truly a collection of distinction. I am in awe.

The beauty of his collection is that he has put together these signed gems through his own efforts by meeting or writing to the aviation pioneers... very few pieces were purchased.

Al's love of the subject matter shows and has created a collection that contains some real museum pieces. This is what "collecting" should be all about.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Uh, No It's Not

The more I see of CGC, the more the cracks become apparent. I just received a standard submission back (which was submitted in the beginning of August.) I am not happy.

First, the Boston Pedigree book came back without the pedigree designation on the label -- even though I submitted it with all the proper documentation. My previous submission also had a quality control problem as the microchamber paper was sticking 1/2 inch out of the bottom of the book and was sealed into the well. I had to send it back twice to get it properly fixed. Quality control is lacking.

Second, their grading is all over the map and getting less and less consistent. I don't want to sound like sour grapes, but I know grading and have seen enough slabs to know this book IS NOT a 9.0!

It's a 9.2 at least with a shot at 9.4. I've seen Bronze Age 9.4s with bent corners, small creases and other various visible defects. The only problem with Batman 222 is a very small, non-colorbreaking bend near the top staple. That's it... otherwise it's almost perfect. I am really pissed this book got a 9.0, especially when I see weak 9.4s everyday on eBay and the CGC Boards.

Babe Ruth Bat Sells For Over $1 Million

So what do you do with a $1.265 million bat? Buy a $15 wall display case, get the cordless drill, put in a few wall anchors and let her rip?

From eSCD...

The newest member of the sports collectibles hobby's rare $1 million club attracted national attention last week. The bat Babe Ruth used to sock the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923 sold for $1.265 million Dec 2 at the Sotheby's/ SportsCards Plus auction in New York City, precisely matching the price paid for the famed T206 Honus Wagner card (also $1.1 million, plus the 15 percent buyer's premium) in a MastroNet auction in 2000 and establishing a record for the most money ever paid for a game-used bat. It is only the third piece of sports memorabilia to sell for more than $1 million.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mercury Astronauts Signed Limited Edition Print

Twenty years ago, America's original Mercury astronauts reunited to encourage the next generation of space explorers. Their efforts led to establishing the Mercury 7 Foundation, which later was renamed the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) to include their fellow Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle peers. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $2 million to exceptional college students pursuing degrees in science and engineering.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary and to continue to raise scholarships, the ASF has introduced a special, limited edition print signed by four of its founders: John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Walter "Wally" Schirra and the late Gordon "Gordo" Cooper. (This project was the last ASF activity that Cooper participated in prior to his passing earlier this year. His family approved of the prints' sale as planned, as it continues the efforts that Cooper worked to achieve.)

Available for $195 each, the 20th Anniversary Astronaut Scholarship Foundation signed and numbered print is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity certified by ASF Executive Director Linn LeBlanc. Limited to only 300, supplies are limited. Prints can be ordered here.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Who Doesn't Love Super-Gorillas?

With great fondness, I recall having a beat-up copy of Super-Heroes vs. Super-Gorillas as a kid. I probably bought this comic off the stand. Since I couldn't find my original copy, I obtained a replacement copy recently. A very nice 9.2.

It contains 3 stories reprinted from the 50s and 60s -- one Superman, one Batman and one Flash. Still a highly entertaining read. The only downpoint is that they -- like most older reprints -- did not indicate from what original issues the stories first appeared.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Is a Clean Staple Tear a Production Flaw?

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you can enjoy a relaxing day with family and friends.

Here is a book that I've been seeking for quite a while. It is the Green Printing Error Variant of Fantastic Four #110. I recall Metropolis Comics had a VF-ish copy on their site for a long time for around $30. Of course, by the time I finally decided to pull the trigger it was gone. So, I searched eBay everyday for about 6 months before I found this copy to bid on. It was listed as a VF+ 8.5.

It is a really sharp book that appears to be a 8.5, but, there is always a "BUT"... at least where I am concerned.

There is a clean vertical staple tear running parallel to the back side of the bottom staple. It's like the staple actually cut through the paper when it was being stapled. Thankfully, the tear lies flat and is difficult to see when the book is closed and the cover is still firmly attached at the top and bottom staple.

Does anyone have experience with this type of flaw? I don't know if I would call it a "popped staple" because it still holds down the cover and has not completely popped free of the cover. Is it considered a production flaw? Given the great condition of the book, I don't think this happened through mishandling, more likely it happened when the book was stapled.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Steiner: What's Good For Us is Bad For Regular Fans

Steiner recently announce an exclusive deal with pitching ace Curt Schilling. I love how the spinmeisters at Steiner announce this like it's a good thing for the fans! Yup, now the loyal fans can be assured they'll have to bend over and pay nosebleed prices for signed items. Further, you can now be assured that Steiner will keep him on a tight leash, so need to worry that Schilling might do a local card show near you and sign for reasonable prices! Steiner also means that sanely priced items like signed 8x10s (e.g., items under $100 that regular folks can afford) are most likely out of the question. Not too worry however, a few dozen [well-connected kids] will get a free clinic at Fenway and they'll make some charitable donations... so that should make you feel better about skipping that mortgage payment to buy a signed bat.

Highly-paid executives, Stephen King, Hotel Heiresses and Robber Barons rejoice -- Steiner will have a wide selection of signed bats, game equipment and framed 16x20s starting at what regular folks pay for their monthly car payment!

Here is the release from eSCD.

Steiner Sports Marketing has signed an exclusive deal with Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling for autographed memorabilia. The contract also gives Steiner exclusive rights for Schilling's signature on trading cards, meaning the company will coordinate all of the Red Sox pitcher's autograph deals with the various baseball card manufacturers.

"This (deal) will help us to penetrate the New England markets," said Steiner Sports CEO Brandon Steiner. "When you think of Curt Schilling the word "superstar" comes to mind, and we are proud to be able to welcome Curt to the Steiner family.

Schilling has already signed individual and team-signed items for Steiner for products relating to the Red Sox World Series championship. In addition to the autograph element of the program, Schilling will host a skills clinic for youngsters at Fenway Park that will be sponsored by Steiner. Meanwhile, Steiner has agreed to make a donation for every win Schilling records in 2005 to the SHADE Foundation, a charitable organization run by Schilling and his wife to help prevent skin cancer in children.

"I look forward to working with the people at Steiner, who particularly impressed me with their willingness to work with me on my commitment to charity," said Schilling. Katie Leighton, Schilling's public relations and marketing director, said the pitcher has been concerned for some time with the number of non-authentic items in the marketplace. "We have been looking for an exclusive deal that would enable fans to know that they have a source through which they can acquire authentic Curt Schilling memorabilia," Leighton said.


Thanks to all those that wrote privately expressing sympathy because I lost my job. Your kindness is appreciated.

I've spent the last week regrouping and trying to get the ball rolling on a new start. I've updated my resume, bought a few new suits and have an appointment with an outsourcing consultant next Tuesday. I already have a plan of attack, but I'm sure the consultant can help me refine and focus my strategy. I have a good attitude, great experience and a terrific resume... so I'm looking forward to starting a new job energized and enthused. I have no doubt I will be successful, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Green River Pedigree Database

This is an interesting site being developed by Red Hook (Brad) of the CGC Message Boards. It's in the beginning stages, but looks very promising. I've sent Brad scans of my 2 Green River books -- Thor 149 and Superman Annual 7. I'd love to see this type of information available on more pedigrees.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

There's No Crying in Blogging!

I typically avoid personal information here, but I will share that I was laid-off from my job yesterday. I was one of the unlucky 3,000 that got axed in a "reduction in force."

It's not a good time in Corporate America.

It really makes me want to forget the Master's Degree in Marketing & Advertising and open a Bar-B-Que Restaurant. Standing behind a counter that I own in a sauce-stained apron doesn't sound so bad.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A CGC Undergrade?

Here's one that I still scratch my head over when I look at it. I picked this up earlier this year... it's a CGC 6.0. And I must say, this is about the nicest 6.0 I've ever seen.

A few very small spine creases, light edge and corner wear, and that's about it. There is a small area of color loss on the lower portion of Doctor Doom's cape. It looks as if a piece of tape may have caught it. Could this be what lowered the grade from what otherwise could be a 6.5 or 7.0? Frankly, I've seen worse looking 7.5s.

I dunno, but I will take Silver Age 6.0s that look like this all day long!

Who Is This Guy?

I'm the marketing manager for a small division in a very large international corporation. I develop marketing strategy, create collateral material, write and publish newsletters, websites... basically I do whatever it takes to increase awareness of our division and the services we offer to internal and external audiences.

I've been at this firm for four and a half years. In that time, we've come a long way. When I was hired, marketing manager was a new position and the firm had absolutely no organized marketing efforts or professional materials. Now, we look like a contender.

I worked in New York City for the first four years at this job, but transferred to an upstate New York office this past April. The vast majority of my communications are by telephone or Internet anyway... and if I'm needed for a meeting in New York, I can hop on a train and be in New York City within two and a half hours.

There is always the concern that being away from the home office I may isolate myself politically, but that's a chance I'm willing to take to be able to afford a nice home in upstate New York.

The house is coming along nicely and the wedding is set for next May.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

My Bargain of the Year

$9.99. It's a solid 9.2 with a shot at 9.4.

This made my day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Dreamy 8.5

I picked this Conan 17 PGA (CGG) 8.5 VF+ on eBay recently for $7.14. It is absolutely stunning, and I have no doubt this would be a CGC 9.2 minimum -- maybe even 9.4.

This slab also has the new PGA inner well which features a tapered sealed edge. The sealed edge is about 1/8th of an inch from the edge of the comic. Slab damage is an impossibility in this well. I shook the book fairly hard and there was no movement or damage. The key is that the seals are close enough to the edge of the comic to prevent movement -- this prevents slab damage to the corners and it also prevents the interior from tearing loose from the cover.

I understand that restoration detection and the archival quality of their materials have been issues with PGA. I'm not going to worry about restoration on fairly inexpensive books and I will crack it out of the slab for long term storage. So, for now, I'll take PGA 8.5s all day long... especially at $7 each!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Anatomy of a Restoration

I'm going to do something most other comic collectors would not publicly admit -- I'm going to tell you about a comic book I had restored, and show you a pre- and post-restoration images.

It all started a few years ago when I bought a Fantastic Four #1 on eBay. The scan looked decent, the seller had good feedback and I placed a lowball bid and won. I anxiously awaited my prize. When it arrived and I gazed at it through the mylar and I was thrilled. It looked even better than the scan.

The excitement was short-lived however. When I opened the cover, I saw a few dreaded marker bleedthroughs. Yup, it had some amateur restoration.

What to do? The marker touches were small and couldn't be seen from the outside, and I did get it relatively inexpensively... it would be very difficult to get a comparable copy for even close to what I paid...

After thinking on it for a few days, the book grew on me and I decided to keep it. Sure, it had a few small marker touches, but it was my FF #1. The book was a very clean VG with nothing worse than general wear, some bends, small creases and a corner chip.

After a year or so I started thinking about having a bit of professional work done on it. Heck, technically it was already restored, why not make it a bit better with a professional touch-up? The book had no major flaws, and most of the bends didn't break color -- it might benefit greatly from some minor work. So, I sent it Matt Nelson and instructed him to evaluate it for what could be done to improve the book as much as possible, yet keep it within the "Slight" restoration designation. Matt suggested a cleaning, press, fill to replace a small corner chip and a tiny bit of color touch.

I got the book back today, and here it is:

The major difference is in whiteness and brightness. The cleaning made a huge difference and actually enhanced the glossiness as well. The pressing made a significant difference as well. The only downside is that the cleaning made some of the original marker touches bleed a bit, and the bleeding is actually more visible on the inside of the front cover. (It is not significant, but it is more apparent than before.)

Now, I would say the book is a Fine- (5.5).

Here Matt's breakdown of the work done.

And a side by side slice for comparison:

For a modest fee, slight restoration increased the condition of this book at least a full point in my opinion. Best of all, my book is still 99.5% original parts.

I tell my story not to try to convince anyone that restoration is the way to go for them, but rather hopefully this will educate some about the benefits of restoration and demonstrate that restored books are not necessarily cobbled together "Frankenbooks." "Restoration" may be a dirty word in today's collecting market, but I predict there will come a day when restored books -- especially those with slight restoration -- will lose the stigma and assume their rightful place in the hobby.

What a Waste of Time...

I can't believe I spend a good chunk of my lunch hour yesterday reading about the travails of CGC message board drama queens. That's 40 minutes I will never get back.

Message Boards can be informative, but they are addictive. You gotta know when to ignore threads and move on.

Interestingly, it's always the same small group of people that are involved in "controversies." I suspect a high number of controversies are manufactured by people with too much spare time on their hands.

BTW, the CPG Boards have really gone down the dumper. There are some good folks there, but content is sparse and the moderators seem to do more harm than good.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My Pledge

God willing, by this time tomorrow there will be a decisive winner in the Presidential election.

Of course I am hoping my candidate will win, but if he doesn't, the republic will stand and life will go on. Neither man is perfect, and neither man is the devil incarnate.

If the other guy wins, he will be my president. I pledge to support him in the face of foreign evil, and I may not always agree with him, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

The United States of America needs to get past this era of bitter partisan division and rally behind the fact that we have much more in common than not. All Americans need to wake up to the fact that there is an enemy dedicated to destroying us, and we need to stand together, or we will fall individually. We need to stop giving credence to the propagandists and conspiracy mongers on the left and the right.

"Our Nation this generation will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause, by our efforts and by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Two Sides of the Moon

CollectSpace is selling Dave Scott signed copies of this book for a very reasonable $25.95. I ordered my copy today.

Two Sides of the Moon

From CollectSpace:
In this unique dual autobiography, astronaut David Scott and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov recount their exceptional lives and careers spent on the cutting edge of science and space exploration.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Accurate Comic Evaluators LLC

Another comic book grading company throws their hat into the ring.

Accurate Comic Evaluators LLC, High Quality Comic Grading!

Other than a few online scans, I haven't seen or held one of their holders, so I will reserve judgement on the quality of their grading and holder. The label looks nice, but obviously that shouldn't be a major criteria for judging a grading service.

I would advise them to learn from the mistakes of CGG (now PGA) and add the following to their website:

  • Bios on their principals
  • Bios on their graders
  • What materials construct the holders?
  • How are the books stored and are they insured?

The key to success for any grading company is building public trust. The answers to these questions will go a long way to getting ACE off on the right foot.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Next Blog

Every once in a while I hit the Next Blog button in the upper right portion of the screen.

When I do, I am reminded what a vast wasteland the Internet has become. From the hyper-sensitive self-absorbed sops to the worthless baby blogs, most personal sites and blogs are authored by human trainwrecks bent on sharing every inane detail of their shallow lives... or even worse, their bad poetry. Who cares what you had for dinner last night, how you are feeling today or that "bitch" at the office gave you a dirty look?!

A special circle in hell should be reserved for those that feel that their baby deserves its own little home on the world wide web. Hint: Not everyone is enthralled by your kid. In fact, I'd be very concerned about the motives of those adults who do seek out and enjoy viewing your baby blog. Cripes... baby blogs are a free smorgasbord for pedophiles and you're serving your kid up like mac & cheese at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

One thing all these sites have in common is lack of content.

I don't want to be rude, but give me content, or get the hell off the information superhighway!

Ok, It's Over.

Congratulations to Sawx Fans. The Curse is over.

Now that they've joined the club, the lovable loser mystique is gone with all the requisite charm. They are now just another franchise that managed to win 1 in the past 86 years.

Welcome to the esteemed ranks of the Kansas City Royals and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Masterworks, Archives and Collected Editions Fan Site

Check out this message board... lots of good stuff. It'll take me a while to work through this.

Masterworks, Archives and Collected Editions Fan Site

BTW, has anyone else picked up the Barnes & Noble softcover Marvel Masterworks? I recently bought Spider-Man Volumes 3 and 4. At $12.95, it's the best reprint value anywhere. I'm hoping they expand the Uncanny X-Men softcover line.

Captain America - Bronze Age Pac Coast Pedigree

One of my recent collecting goals is to get at least one sample of as many comic book pedigrees as possible. The Pacific Coast Pedigree presents a problem in that I think the Silver Age books are typically overpriced by a lot. I understand that paying a premium is all part of collecting pedigreed comic books, but the Pacific Coast premium is way too high. This is somewhat perplexing to me because, in my view, the pedigree isn't any nicer than most other pedigrees that can be had for a much smaller premium. Is it due to hype?

In any case, I picked up a Pac Coast, but opted for a much less expensive Bronze Age book. It's a 9.2, but looks just as good as many slabbed 9.4s or 9.6s I've examined. How can you go wrong with a Jack Kirby Captain America Bicentennial cover?

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Curse: Not Over Yet

All the people that say that "The Curse Is Over" are driving me crazy!

No, it's not!

NOT until Boston wins the World Series. What the heck do these people think the "1918" chant is about?!?

The point of The Curse is that Boston will not win a World Series, not that they won't ever beat out the Yankees at the end of the year. There have been plenty of seasons since 1918 that Boston came out ahead of the Yanks and even appeared in the World Series (to lose). If The Curse wasn't over then, it's not over now.

If they win next week, the curse will be over, but not before.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Devastating Collapse

As the most embarrassing and humiliating defeat, this far surpasses the loss in the 95 Division Series to Seattle.

The best medicine now is to look back on happier times and forget the hideous collapse. Here are some signed photos from my collection...

Next year, the Empire Will Strike Back!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

John Dehner

John Dehner is one of those actors that you've seen a million times, but you never know his name. Dehner was a supporting character in hundreds of tv shows from the 50s through the 80s. He got his start in show business as an uncredited extra in many movies in the 40s, but finally made a name for himself in radio. John Dehner had an unmistakable deep, gravelly voice that meant more often than not, he was cast as a vicious killer or prairie trash in Gunsmoke. Dehner got his own radio series, Have Gun, Will Travel, and starred as Paladin for several years. In addition, he appeared on countless other radio shows of the era.

Dehner made the transition to tv smoothly, and appeared many times on the tv show Gunsmoke, often playing the same type of remorseless killers he portrayed on the radio. He had a long career in tv and passed away in 1992.

It took a while, but I was able to find this signed photo of John Dehner to add to my Gunsmoke collection. I'd love to find a pose of him taken from Gunsmoke or some other western, but signed photos are so few and far between, I'll take this one until a better pose comes along.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bring Back The Polybag!

To further expand on the idea of the comic buying public slowly withering and dying...

Why don't comic book publishers sell comics through big chains such as Walmart?

Now, I know there would be massive problems with selling new releases through this distribution channel, but what about bringing back the old style polybags that had books that were a few months old?

You'd think this would be job #1 for the boys and girls in marketing at Marvel and DC. It just might stop their slow slide into oblivion and get kids interested in comics again. Why not sell the polybagged 3 packs again? Walmart would be the perfect venue for something like this. Take the newsstand returns and put 'em in polybags .... 3 for $1.99 or something like that. They're only going to destroy the returns anyway, right?!?

Seems like a no-brainer to me, but perhaps there are behind the scenes issues that make this impractical....

The Comic Market - Estimated Time of Death, 2025

The great dilemma of comic book publishers is that they are not building a new audience. If I am not mistaken, the average new comic book buyer is in his mid to late 20s. Sure, some teens and younger read the monthly pamphlets, but not nearly enough to sustain the market once the older fans drop off.

Certainly comic book licensing has never been stronger with the movies, video games, etc... but that does not necessarily translate into people buying comic books.

Many of the fanboys on the various comic message boards seem to think as long as Marvel is pumping out movies, their comics will continue to grow in value exponentially (as we have seen in the past 5 years with the emergence of CGC slabbing.) My response is, "If today's 15 year old isn't reading comics now, what makes you think he will suddenly want to drop THOUSANDS of dollars on an old Spider-Man comic in 20 years?!?" Sure, there will be SOME demand, but not enough to sustain insane price levels. The analogy I like to give is, "I like James Bond movies, but I've never had the urge to collect first editions of the original Ian Fleming novels."

I think the same will apply to comic books in 20 years. The movies may be chugging along, but the people who cared enough to collect the original comics will be entering retirement homes, dead and/or looking to sell their collections [to a tiny market]. Someday when our culture moves on to the next "big thing", comic books will be what old movie postcards are today -- crammed into dusty shoeboxes at your local flea market.

I think there will always be demand for iconic issues... pieces of Americana such as Action 1 and Amazing Fantasy 15 because they have crossed the line from being of interest to comic collectors only to being of interest to collectors of all sorts of pop culture and Americana. There will always be rich businessmen who will have an interest in displaying the the first copy of Superman in their office or den. Conversely, in 20 years will anyone but hardcore comic geeks -- remember, this is the audience that is dying off -- have an interest in Ms. Marvel 18, the first appearance of Mystique? (a CGC 9.8 copy recently went up to $1,225 on eBay and didn't hit reserve!) I can't think of a worse long-term "investment."

I love my comic collection, and someday I hope to get a few dollars back. But I don't delude myself into thinking that there is a 5 year old walking around now that will pay big bucks to take these things off my hands in 30 years.

Friday, October 15, 2004

AS IS Makes Me Nervous

As Fantastic Four 13 is the only remaining FF I need to complete the run, I was thinking of dropping a bid on this copy. It's listed as a VG+, but it has really nice eye appeal and may actually grade slightly higher than advertised based on what I see in the scan.

So, as is my practice, I asked the seller if the book was restored, and if so, what it the return policy. Here is his response:

I have not detected any restoration on this comic but even though I consider myself a excellent grader, I may not catch some forms of restoration. This came from a collection that hasn't been removed from its storage box since the early 1970's and this gentleman did use touch up on some of his books but it has been evident when applied. So I don't believe this has any restoration. I'm selling the FF 13 with a starting bid of $9.95 and willing to accept the final price whether it the current $36 or $500 so I do not wish to be bothered later if minute restoration is detected. I'm willing to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge and even send further scans but these comics are being sold AS IS.

Unfortunately that answer doesn't cut it. Obviously this seller doesn't understand that even "minute" restoration makes for a tremendous price difference in today's market. Given that he admits that others books from this collection were touched up, I'm not willing to roll the dice with this book.

My quest for FF 13 continues...


Mind boggling.

This comic book closed at $158. A princely sum for a book that a) the seller offers no guarantee against restoration and is sold "as is", b) the seller admits came from a collection that had other restored books, and c) can be had in higher grade for less from reputable dealer websites (that is, dealers who will accept returns if you are not happy with the book.)

eBay is the land of uneducated buyers and sellers who are more than happy to serve them.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Stan's Sports Memorabilia Faces The Music

Here is an article from eSCD regarding the forgery mill, Stan's Sports. It saddens me to think about all the people that have "treasures" framed on their walls with no idea they are fake. As the article indicates, Stan's is responsible for selling up to $7 million in forgeries... that's a lot of fake autographs sitting in collections.

I'd love to see Stan and his whole crooked family rot in jail.

A prominent purveyor of fake autographs is close to facing justice as the Fitzgerald family – Stan, his wife Donna and mother Josephine – pled guilty Sept. 30 to felony charges stemming from the sale of forged sports memorabilia. The Fitzgeralds, from Caldwell, N.J., and operators of Stan’s Sports Memorabilia during the 1990s, pled guilty to the charges in San Diego federal court, home of the FBI’s Operation Bullpen investigation, which has been overseen by San Diego-based FBI agent Tim Fitzsimmons.

The Fitzgeralds were charged four and a half years after Bullpen’s primary raids shut down their business and more than 50 others on Oct. 13, 1999. For a variety of reasons – among them the work-flow crunch on federal prosecutors – the Fitzgeralds almost “walked” despite almost five years of fake-autograph sales and anywhere from $2.5 million to $7 million in fake-autograph revenue, as a five-year statute of limitations loomed this month. But assistant U.S. attorney Melanie Pierson was able to get charges filed in April.

Stan Fitzgerald, 37, pled guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud. Because of the dollar amount involved, he faces a federal guidelines recommendation of 70-87 months in jail, along with a fine. Donna Fitzgerald, also 37, pled guilty to aiding and abetting tax evasion, admitting she failed to declare $100,000 in income from the sale of counterfeit memorabilia. She faces a recommended 12-18 months in jail. Josephine Fitzgerald, 61, pled guilty to assisting the preparation of false tax returns with federal guidelines recommending 10-16 months in jail.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 10, and Judge Larry Burns made it clear the sentencing judge does not need to follow the guidelines. “He may follow the recommendation, he may listen to your counsel, he may listen to Ms. Pierson, but he’s not bound to do that,” Judge Burns said. It’s very possible that each of their sentences could be lighter than even the lowest recommendation jail term, especially for each woman.

Unfortunately for collectors, while assets seized from the Fitzgeralds were valued in an FBI press release at more than $2 million, only $19,326 in restitution was ordered. At this point, the restitution will only be available to the seven victims who assisted Fitzsimmons and Pierson during this specific investigation and, according to Pierson, have items the FBI has been able to confirm were forgeries. In other words, there will very likely not be a method of applying for restitution for those victims who are not contacted by the court, although Pierson suggested collectors who believe they have a claim for restitution can contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator’s office at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego for instructions on how to proceed.

Stan’s Sports Memorabilia sold both real and fake memorabilia, the latter being primarily provided by the Marino family, the well-documented group that included the forgers and several of the key distributors of the fake material. Stan Fitzgerald told the judge that he sent items to an address in San Diego to have the phony signatures applied, but didn’t know the specific person performing the forgery. “(I) utilized the service. At the time, I did not know (where the forger was),” Fitzgerald told the judge. The Fitzgeralds sold a wide variety of fakes from both current players and deceased legends during the period from November 1995 to October 1999. Along with those fakes came bogus certificates of authenticity.

Both Donna and Josephine Fitzgerald admitted to the judge they knew Stan was selling fake autographs.

Along with still-unspecified fines, back taxes and the restitution, the Fitzgeralds will forfeit their two primary Caldwell homes, plus a third residence that Donna told the judge they purchased about a week after the October, 1999, raid on their business.
– Rocky Landsverk, reporting from San Diego

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Big Apple Pedigree

I recently picked up a few Big Apple Pedigree books from Metropolis Comics, and I couldn't be happier.

These are gorgeous comic books. You can't tell from the scan, but the colors are deep and the books are super glossy. They have a nice fresh feel to them. If not for the slight toning, they must look like they did when they came off the rack almost 40 years ago. I recommend this pedigree... they are nicer than the Winnipegs, Bostons, Mass. and Green River comics I have in my collection.

I love the old style rendition of The Watcher on this one... and Kirby's blocky, bowl-cutted Hulk is no slouch either...

One of my all-time favorite covers. Marie Severin is wonderful...

Luna Is Breaking Up

My favorite current band, Luna, has announced they are disbanding after touring to support the new album.

It's sad, but not unexpected. Typically, the only bands that last forever are the bands that you wish would go away.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

How I Store Comic Books

I use Mylite2s with Fullback Buffer Backing Boards. I tape the flap closed, but I don't seal it all the way across... just a centered piece of tape about an inch long. The book is protected from spills, moisture, dust and insects, yet is not totally airtight so it can still breathe a bit. In my opinion, this is the best storage option for comic books, bar none -- including CGC or PGA slabs. The MyLite2s also display beautifully and can make even slightly worn comic books sparkle.

I recently purchased microchamber paper and insert that between the front and back covers of my more expensive books.

I think acid-free boxes are overkill and don't worry about it as it's not in contact with the books. However, I do change out the boxes when/if they start to yellow.

I keep my comic books on steel industrial shelving with wood shelf surfaces. The dehumidifier is running 24/7 and keeps the room at a steady 53% humidity +/- 2%. The room is about 68 degrees year round.

Any questions? ;-)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

John Romita Sr. - Fantastic Four 105 Art Page

There are some nice Fantastic Four pages on eBay right now, including this great page by John Romita Sr. There does seem to be a lot of white-out on this page, but I'm sure that won't stop it from ending at a price way above what my budget will allow.

Godspeed, Gordo

Gordon Cooper, 1927-2004

He was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. The best of the best, a pilot among pilots and a man among men. He was a hero and a patriot before those terms became overused.

I was lucky enough to meet Gordon Cooper a few years ago. Even though he was ill, he was gracious and friendly. I feel very fortunate to be able to say I shook his hand. He signed this photo for me at that time.

Here is another favorite from my collection...

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hot New Look!

Yeah, I changed to a template that was a bit more vibrant. The blue on blue (yawn) wasn't working for me anymore.

I'm not crazy about this template either, but at least it's a bit more visually arresting. The selection of blogger templates is underwhelming to say the least... why don't they have any blogs with a pre-designed Links section?!?!

I'll search online for something else when I get a chance.

Now, I have to put all the customized info back in...

CGC Boards Wake Up To Slab Damage

Apparently, some of the folks over at the CGC Boards have woken up and smelled the coffee about slab damage. I don't know if they've been asleep for a year or so, but I (and several others) have mentioned slab damage concerns in many posts going back at least 6 - 9 months. I also mentioned slab damage in this blog entry from 2 and a half months ago.

Here's is one thread about slab damage, and here's the other.

That said, in true CGC Board fashion, there are the stubborn contrarians who just don't get it and need to see further proof of what should be evident to any reasonable person. I guess if CGC Slab Worship is a big part of your life (and finances), it's difficult to admit you've been kneeling at the altar of a false god.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Wonderful Cheese

Ok... too much negative lately, so I want to switch gears and focus on the fun of collecting... at least in this post.

I love the wonderfully cheesy sports covers on some of the early DCs, and World's Finest Comics features some of the cheesiest. Here is a copy of World's Finest 24 from my collection. I love it!

Table Scraps Anyone?

What's up with the high grade snobbery in comic collecting? More than ever, it seems like some consider anything below 9.0 a piece of trash. If you truly love comics, would a Fine/Very Fine really be that much less lovable than a 9.2? I can see some collectors wanting the finest examples, but does that mean they have to look down their noses at everything else?

I fear comic collecting has degenerated from a hobby that loved an art medium to a hobby where an influential portion of the collectors love the label and the status it brings more than the book inside.

Like cards, coins and autographs, the affluent have taken over and that leaves most collectors in the humbling position of having to settle for their table scraps.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

CGC Snuffing Out Midgrade Books

There has been some discussion on the grading standard differences between professional comic book grading companies CGC and PGA

In my view, PGA is more accurate and closer to Overstreet Standards than CGC in the 4.0 - 7.0 range. In short, CGC is much too strict on midgrade books which have traditionally allowed for an accumulation of minor flaws or one or two larger flaws. Up until CGC became the "standard", FINE and VG were always fairly wide grades... but now CGC interprets them very narrowly. In some cases, it seems as if CGC goes from 7.5 straight to 4.0!

If I had the first Overstreet Grading Guide handy, I could cite irrefutable cases where midgrade books depicted would be graded at least one full grade lower today by CGC. Interestingly, with the Second Edition of the Overstreet Grading Guide -- which featured many CGC books -- the midgrade books demonstrably "got better."

I have been collecting Silver Age Fines or better as an adult for almost 20 years now. Today's CGC FINES look better than [accurately graded] FINES ever did in the past.

It's a double-edged sword... I like the idea that I can buy a CGC 6.0 - 7.0 for below Guide and the book is sharp as hell with nothing more than minor edge wear, yet, the FINE that I bought in 1988 (and EVERYONE at the time would have agreed it was a FINE) would probably get a 5.0 from CGC today.

IMO, PGA is truer to the traditional acceptance of what midgrade comics should look like.

Moron Scammer of the Day - Conan #3, CGC 9.5

The moron scammers on eBay just get dumber and dumber.

This seller claims,


In Brooklyn, "comics are not a big thing?" What an idiot.

Further, the scan is clearly stolen as it's a scan of a CGC slabbed book -- the same book he claims is not certified.

What happened to the good old days when scammers at least had to call your house or ring the bell to try to con you? With the advent of eBay, every brain dead, can't-spell-loser skell can set up shop.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Photobucket Problems

My apologies for broken images in the blog. Apparently there are problems with Photobucket, the service that hosts my blog images.

Hopefully, the situation will be corrected soon.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Do I Have To Be An Engineer?!?

I figured I'd try the Google AdSense program on this site. You never know... I could make an extra 13 cents a year... (Well, really 9 cents after taxes.)

So I go through the process and I get the code to paste into my blog template... and that's when the fun starts.

What the heck is it with these blog templates? Why aren't they regular html? I figured out how to do my website myself, why does the blog look like a foreign language to me?

Obviously, the blog template is different than setting up a page in html. I tinkered for a while and finally got the google ads to appear on the right. Not exactly great placement, but that's the only place I could get them to work without screwing up everything.

As for the Google searchbar -- forget it!

Now, in about 87 years I should make enough from the ads to pay for the hour I just wasted trying to set it up! ;-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

One More Fantastic Four To Go

With this recent purchase, I have one more Fantastic Four to go to complete the run and I will have Vol. 1 #1 to the current issue. I bought this off eBay and it was advertised as a 6.5. I agree with that grade. The small chip at the bottom left corner isn't actually a chip -- it's a small tear that can be folded down and lays flat.

The missing comic is #13. I'm seeking this issue in the 6.5 range give or take a half a grade. It's more difficult than I anticipated... all that seems to come up are VG or worse copies. It is a difficult issue to find in decent shape and it will kill me to pay the price, because even thought it is the first appearance of The Watcher, #13 is not a very good story and among the weakest of the early Fantastic Fours.

Another eBayer Who Sucks: Pluckybuyer

Pluckybuyer won a book from me and then proceeded to ignore my emails for a few days... shortly thereafter, the emails started bouncing back. Pluckybuyer was listed from Canada with the email address of

I reported him to eBay for the nonworking email, so eBay suspended his membership (NARU) and issued me a credit for the auction.

Unfortunately, I cannot leave a negative for this bum now because eBay will not allow you to leave a feedback for a NARU'ed user. Very frustrating.

You can bet I will be monitoring suckybuyer, and he becomes active again, he will get a fat, juicy negative from me.

Interestingly, I had a major dust-up with a CGC Board member -- who happens to be from Canada -- days before this bum bid on my auction. Coincidence? Probably, but you never know...

Here's a neat site that catalogs bad eBayers. I'm tempted to go through the site and add all the losers, psychos and deadbeats to my blocked bidder list. Unfortunately, online vermin typically have multiple shill accounts, so when one account gets blocked, they'll just use another.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Wow, this is a gorgeous book. And unlike many Silver Age 9.6s, it look like it actually deserves the grade.

I think it's funny how CGC denies there is a "grading curve" for older books, when the evidence is so obvious and most collectors admit that the curve is "part of the game."

I have modern books I thought might be 9.6 or 9.8s with perfect corners, perfect spines and no visible flaws, yet they came back 9.4. I consistently see Bronze, Silver and Gold 9.4s or better with visible corner scuffs, spine creases, color loss and soft corners. If anyone really believes there isn't a curve, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Punisher: My Take

No real spoilers here...

Watched The Punisher the other day on DVD.

It was okay, but not great or even very good. Just okay.

My issue with the movie is that it was a watered down Hollywood-ization replete with the romantic subplot and goofy comedic supporting characters.

Castle himself was somewhat bland and I never got the "gritty engine of destruction" that the Punisher should be. The movie told us that he was an expert in arms, combat, etc, but they never showed it... his character was more of a punching bag than anything else. He wasn't as mentally tough as I thought the Punisher should be.

I didn't like the drinking in the film. I thought that was untrue to who the Punisher would be. The "real" Punisher probably would only drink as a cover and never let himself lose mental focus by drinking to excess to "escape."

The use of weaponry was pedestrian and could have been a lot more imaginative. The only cool thing was the car with the roll down metal windows, but they didn't even use that to full effect.

In all, it was a decent 2004 take on Deathwish, but the film ignored various key character traits that make the Punisher unique.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

WTC: So Damn Hard Getting It Out

As some of you know, I worked at the WTC and was there on September 11, 2001. I made a point of avoiding media coverage, emails and any other 9/11 exposure yesterday and chose to work around the yard, enjoying the sun. My parents came over for dinner, and it went unsaid, but we all knew why we were gathering yesterday and how lucky we were to still be together.

The past 3 years has been a series of peaks and valleys for me. But life is much better now, although there will always be dark shadows that come to me in the night... but I've accepted that is a small price to pay compared to many.

I've marveled at how far I've come in 3 years. I met the woman of my dreams and we're engaged to be married. We bought a house together, so another dream of mine has been fulfilled. And I now live closer to my family again and I can regularly enjoy the company of my parents and extended family.

In a way, at 9:04 am on September 11, 2001, I began the journey of the rest of my life and for the first time in my life, I was more than simply living, I was alive and realized what a gift it was.

It has been a struggle though, and for a while, I feared nothing would ever be normal again. But, I kept repeating my mantra in my lowest moments, "If I made it out of there, I can make it through this." There are still bumps, but the worst stretch of bad road is behind me.

In ebbs and flows, the World Trade Center still comes to me. Once in a while it's a tingle in my fingers and toes, an anxious twisting in my stomach or short temper for no apparent reason, or the gut feeling that I want to run when I'm in a crowded shopping mall. The flesh raises on my arms whenever I watch a movie and someone falls from a building.... just another souvenir from Al Qaeda.

Most often, the planes come to me in the night. And the screams. And the gore. I can't remember the last time I slept through the night, but I know someday I'll sleep like normal folks do and the restless nights will fade into memory.

The World Trade Center is deep in my bones, which is infinitely better than my bones being in the World Trade Center.

It is amazing how 20 minutes of your life can sink in and not want to let go. It was so easy for the World Trade Center to get in, but it's so damn hard getting it out.

Friday, September 10, 2004 - PGA Name Thread - Comic Grading Group changes their name to PGA

This is a fairly interesting thread -- replete with the requisite flaming -- regarding the future direction of PGA (CGG). Daniel from PGA weights in, and you can see my "expert opinion" of what their advertising should accomplish. ;-)

That said, I suspect all the armchair marketing directors will have a different opinion.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

FANTASTIC FOUR 10 - Kirby Page!!!!

Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR 10---Sensational Page!!!!

Nice page with an opening bid of almost 6 grand. Seems a bit steep... wonder if anyone will bite...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Restored FANTASTIC FOUR #1 CGC 9.4


I'm really curious to see how much this goes for. However, I suspect that it will go for far less than a restored copy that was simply color touched with replaced staples. The trimming will kill it. Most collectors that can swing this kind of money hate trimming.

Frankly, a sliver width trim wouldn't bother me that much, but this book looks very skinny and screams, "trim job!"


Since adding the hit counter a week ago, I am shocked at how many people hit this page!

I guess this should motivate me to update more often and get on the computer on the weekend. But then who is going to mow my lawn and paint the bathroom? ;-)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ebay Scam of the Week

"115" OLD COMIC BOOKS!!! Vintage comic books,no reserve

One must presume that the 4 books depicted are the very best in the lot...

So, it looks like someone paid $1,075 for 4 moldy horror books perched on top of what are most likely a stack of worthless moderns.

Presuming the winner is not a shill, he's going to be in for a bad surprise. I'm probably go to track the feedback on this one just for shits and giggles.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

CGG is Now PGA

The company formerly known as CGG (Comic Grading Group) has changed it's name to PGA (Professional Grading Authority). Apparently, there was some threat of legal action by CGC (Comic Guarantee Corporation) based on the similarities in the name. Confused yet?

It was probably a wise move by CGG to change the name and avoid the legal hassles that would have ensued. That said, the name "Professional Grading Authority (PGA)" really lacks focus and they could have done better.

I've always wished that CGC had a solid competitor... it's just healthy for the hobby. Unfortunately, time and time again CGG has shot themselves in the foot with bad PR moves and questionable quality of materials. Well, I hope they get their act together... they seem like decent folks.

Monday, August 30, 2004

X-men 101 9.8!

Here's a thread about the X-Men 101 9.8 that sold for $4,500 on ebay.

Interestingly, the winner -- a doctor -- makes an appearance to defend the price he paid.

He seems like a decent guy, but as they say on the CGC Boards, the price is still

Thursday, August 26, 2004

eBay Invoice Warning!

eBay has been having problems with inaccurate invoices going back at least a year.

Last spring I was charged $64 by eBay and I didn't sell one item! eBay ignored my inquiries, so I had to dispute it through my credit card. Since that incident, I have run into at least 6 other eBay users I personally know that have had "phantom" eBay charges appear on their credit cards. I wonder how many people pay without knowing... it could add up to millions of free dollars for eBay.

Always check your eBay invoices and watch your credit card... this company has a habit of overcharging or charging when NO charge should exist!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

My God, It's Minty Fresh

This is just staggering. This was recently passed around a message board and I don't know where it came from, but I had to share. As you can see on the label, it's a Curator Pedigree copy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Scotty & Neil Armstrong

The James Doohan Farewell Convention

Wow. This is bizarre and strangely ironic. For those that may not know, for many years, scores of historical space dealers and show organizers that have been trying to woo Neil Armstrong - a very reclusive man and a non-signer. He finally agrees to appear, but it's at a Star Trek show... and he's not even the headliner!

By the way, I'm surprised that James Doohan is able to appear publicly. I met him at The NYC National Comic Convention in 2000 and he appeared very frail and somewhat "out of it" then.

This show does have an incredible line-up. Creation Entertainment (who handles most of the Star Trek shows and somehow missed out on this one) must be kicking themselves. There has to be some behind the curtain politics as to why Creation didn't produce this event.

Mark McGwire Private Signing

Mark McGwire Signs At Steiner

For only $899 Mark McGwire will autograph a baseball for you in the upcoming Steiner Sports private signing. And the price goes up from there.

I don't think any further comments are necessary.

Total Dork

When I sit back and read my own blog, it all seems so silly... the nonsense that I focus on and obsess over.

I sometimes wonder what a person with no interest in collecting would think if he or she stumbled across this blog. I can only envision one reaction: Total Dork.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Another PSA/DNA Question Mark?

Here's another PSA/DNA COA on a very questionable signature. Stylistically, there are some minor problems with this signature, but even more troubling is the execution. What I mean by that, is, how it was signed.

Look closely at this signature and you will note that it doesn't flow. The signature is halted and hesitant. Often, when characteristics like this are exhibited, a forgery / trace job is a strong possibility. Look at the angle at the bottom of the paraph and how the pencil looks darker there... it looks as if it was "gone over" a second time to "fix" it!

Secondly, it is an older style signature, yet the inscription is laser printed. So even if the signature is real, the inscription was added later.

Third, the positioning of the signature is unusual and signed in a way that can give the impression that it was signed to allow space for the inscription. Now, if Neil Armstrong signed this card many years ago, did he position his signature in an unusual way because he knew that someone would want to print an inscription on the card years later? Obviously not. Something does not add up here.

Can I definitively say this is a fake? No. But there are enough question marks about this item to say that I could not verify it as authentic. PSA/DNA should not have either.

Friday, August 20, 2004

thesaint00 Update

thesaint00 made good on his word and I received the long overdue Marvel Masterworks yesterday via Priority Mail. Again, he didn't have to make good on his ex-wife's debts, but he did and I commend him.

Given this and the information revealed in the previous messages, I would recommend this seller and wish him the best.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Website of Broken Dreams

I was searching for a dealer that sold pedigree books when I ran across the Long Island Comics site which contains a stash of reasonably priced golden age pedigree books. A Mile High for $60!. Circle 8s for $24!! A Bethlehem for $40!! When I lived on Long Island I had visited this shop, so I knew it was a legitimate operation.

I whipped out my credit card and dialed as fast as I could. Wow... the prospect for getting several great pedigree books for a little over $100...

Well, my dreams were quickly dashed when the owner, Frank Verzyl, told me that the site should have been taken down 2 years ago and hasn't been updated since 2000. Further, he said that he sent all the pedigree books to his brother, John "Comic Heaven" Verzyl, a few years ago. No need to look any further... they are bargains no more.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Update on thesaint000

I have been contacted by Jamie (Linebarger) -- thesaint00. He sent me a long a detailed email which went into quite a bit of personal information. Given the email, I can only conclude he is telling the truth. I won't reveal all the personal information, but here it is in a nutshell:

The Negative Zone is not my business, and never was. The only affiliation I ever had with the Negative Zone is that I used to be married to it's former owner, Jennifer Dowling. Any business you did with them, it was she is the one you did business with, and she is the one you had, and I can see still have a problem with....

I guess that brings us back to me. After getting laid off from my job, I decided to start selling again on ebay. I had to do something, because the economy in Seattle is horrible, and I have been unable to find work, and unempoyment will not cover my expenses. I guess I am in the same boat as a lot of people. It wasn't that difficult for me to start up again, because Jen and I made an agreement to split the inventory of the old business when she left. Some of it was hers, some of it was mine, and we split it down the middle. I reactivated my old account with Diamond Comic Distributors, and here I am.

As a peace offering, he offered to send me the book I never got from his wife (he admitted the chances were low to none of ever getting anything from her.)

So, I agreed to explain the situation here to clear his name. Hopefully I'm not being a sucker, but I believed him and wished him well.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Ebay Seller Warning: thesaint000

About 6 months ago, an eBay seller known as the Negative Zone (aka The Watcher000) imploded leaving many buyers without their items and incurred a mess of bad feedback, myself included. At the time of the implosion, they sent an email begging for patience citing all sorts of mysterious stress related problems with the owner.

Now, I've noted a seller, thesaint00, that bears a striking resemblance to my old friend The Negative Zone (thewatcher000). Through eBay, I confirmed thesaint00's contact information and the seller is from Seattle. The Negative Zone was from Seattle.

Compare auction listings:

Negative Zone auction for which I paid and never received book

Current thesaint00 auction for same item I never received

Interesting how they can currently offer the same items they can't seem to send to their old customers. Clearly, they feel no obligation to send items from the old seller account. Their attitude is obviously, "Why bother to send items that people paid for once the seller account is trashed anyway?"

If this is the same seller -- and I'm 99% sure it is -- I can't believe eBay can let a seller blatantly rip people off then just set up shop under another (thinly veiled) name.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Mile High gets a bad rap sometimes due to their grading and/or high prices. But, as my story will show, Mile High can be an excellent dealer in some circumstances.

I ordered 31 NM books from Chuck in his recent blowout sale. Most where $1. I checked off 31 books from my want list and filled 31 holes. The books were all 80s and early 90s including Punisher (1987), various Valiant, The Thing, Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, etc.

The results are in... of the 31 NM books...

26 were 9.4 or better (a few possible 9.6s)
4 were 9.2, and
1 was 8.0

In all, a good experience.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Shills & Thrills

I am astounded by some of the admissions made in this thread where some posters feel that it's okay to shill auctions to assure that certain price levels are maintained by certain books. The goal of the shillers is to assure that market prices don't drop on books that they own... so they shill up bids on copies of the same book to maintain the price level.

I don't see how some folks think this is ethical or acceptable behavior.

You can see my rant in the thread.

Collectors' Society Message Boards: Thrill bidding

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sarasota Bound

Sent a few books off to CGC yesterday. I don't slab many books because I would rather spend my money on the books themselves rather than slabbing fees, but I bought a Gunsmoke 1 Boston Pedigree recently and I thought it would be a good idea to slab it. It was sold to me as a 9.2... I'm betting on 9.0 or 9.2 at best.

I also sent this gem. It's perfect except for a slight non-color breaking bend near the top staple. I'm really curious to see how CGC grades this. In my book, it's a 9.4, and I'd be disappointed if it came back less than 9.2. But, I've heard CGC can be brutal on non-color breaking bends. We shall see...

Rest In Peace: Fay Wray

I've never heard it mentioned before, but she had a great movie star name. It sings.

Ms. Wray was a good mail responder up until about 10 years ago.

Now she belongs to the ages.

Monday, August 09, 2004

It seems as though every comic collector has his/her own acceptable grade guidelines. As much as I would love to only have uber-high grade gems, if that was the case, I wouldn't have very many older comics.

So what are my grading guidelines?

I go for eye appeal and strive to get clean, structurally sound, well-cut books with no major ink-breaking creases or pieces missing. Even though some of my more expensive books may be "technical 4.0s" due to hidden defects or an accumulation of small flaws, the book may actually look much better than the technical grade. The minimum grades I shoot for are:

Gold - VG 4.0
Silver Keys - VG+ 4.5
Early Silver - Fine 6.0
Later Silver - F/VF 7.0
Bronze Keys - VF- 7.5
Bronze - VF/NM 9.0
Modern - NM 9.4

I try not to obsess over condition and avoid the "must upgrade" mentality. I am not always successful.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Kirby Original Art - Fantastic Four 20 Watcher Splash

What a gorgeous page. My God, I'd love to have this, but I'd have to sell off a chunk of my collection. Sometimes I wonder if I'd be better off if I sold 90% of my collection and just had a handful of really nice gems like this.


Thursday, August 05, 2004


An interesting debate on how high profile, high grade sellers might consistently obtain uber-high grade books.

Collectors' Society Message Boards: HOW DOES JASON EWERT DO IT??!!

When a .5 upgrade may mean thousands of dollars of difference, does anyone think that some sellers are NOT working the system?

Online Credit Card Processors: Is The End Near?

Western Union Auction payments (BidPay) recently made this announcement:
Western Union® Auction Payments has made a business decision to no longer accept MasterCard® as a form of payment. You may still use your Visa® or American Express® debit or creditcard, but if you have MasterCard® stored in your account profile, you should sign in to Account Central and delete your MasterCard® information. We're changing our name back to BidPay®. Watch for our name change and updates to our website coming soon.

Of course I don't know the reason for this, but I'd bet it has something to do with the rampant fraud and chargebacks associated with 3rd party online credit card processors like BidPay and PayPal. Some credit card issuers are now refusing to permit chargebacks to these 3rd party processors because the fraud is so out of control.

This that know me know my disdain for PayPal and what a scam it is... but in case you've forgotten, visit PayPal Sucks for some horror stories.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Quintessential Hulk Artist

To me, the quintessential Hulk artist is Herb Trimpe (preferably with Marie Severin inks).  Most Trimpe Hulk art under issue 200 is very pricey, but I picked this Trimpe page from Hulk Annual 6 for a fraction of the cost of a page from a regular issue from the same time period.  It's still the classic late silver/early bronze age Hulk "look."  Go figure...  It's inked by Frank Giacoia and/or Mike Esposito.

And here's the cover to the issue in which this appeared...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Ghost Of Frangipani COAs Past

I received this email and thought I would share.  I removed the person's name to protect his privacy...

I was recently doing some research on an autographed baseball I have with a signature verification from Donald Frangipani.  The item in question is an autographed Mark McGwire baseball.  I received this item through a contest from ABC Sports.  Along with a letter from ABC Sports they also sent the letter from Mr. Frangipani.  I am not a collector and was looking to sell this item when I stumbled upon you while looking up information on  Mr Frangipani.  I read various reports about him and was curious about the authenticity of the autograph considering its source (ABC Sports).  Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.  I received the ball back in 1999 and it is an official National League baseball.

My response...

While I can't say with 100% certainty, I'm sorry to report that the ball is likely a forgery.  I have yet to see a Donald Frangipani COA on an authentic signature.  I'm sure a few do exist, but the odds are overwhelming that it is a fake.

The 1999 time frame was when Frangipani was at the height of issuing COAs that appeared on eBay by the thousands.  They were all fakes.

Unfortunately, forgeries are commonly distributed through giveaways and charity auctions.  Often the people sponsoring the charity or giveaway know nothing about fakes and who reputable dealers are... and if they contract with the wrong person to provide the item for the event... you are stuck with a fake.  Stans Sports is an example of a company that every knowledgeable collector knew sold fakes...  but Stans had big flashy ads in magazines so the unknowing presumed they were legit... and so it goes...

I would send the ball to a reputable authenticator to confirm either way.  I recommend Richard Simon

It's Never Too Early For Movie Hype

eBay item 2259704437 - Fantastic Four #489-502 (60-70) Waid Wieringo Alba

Note the Alba in the title. For those that don't know, Jessica Alba is slated to play the invisible woman in the FF movie that is supposed to come out next summer.  As she starred in a failed tv show, I don't see her being a big draw at the box office... but who knows. 

Since the movie hasn't even started shooting yet, next summer is doubtful.

Monday, July 26, 2004

FF / X-men Limited Series

Years ago I swore off buying limited series.  They were almost always a complete waste of time and money.  This one will be hard to refuse however...  from

Marvel has signed an agreement with Dreamwave, the first fruits of which will be a Fantastic Four/X-Men limited series by Pat Lee which will begin in December


Detecting Color Touches

One of the most common forms of restoration on comic books is color touches.  Color touches can be professional (acrylic paint), or amateur which are usually marker or a dry powder rubbed into a crease.  Many people are not aware of the dry powder type color touch.

I bought a few silver age books on ebay that I suspect had this type of color touch.  Not a great loss because they were $20 books... but, this goes to show you any book can be restored -- not just expensive keys.

The touch is some sort of fine black powder that is rubbed into small creases.  It's hard to detect because the color rub only sticks to the creased area where the original inks are broken, so the touch is actually only as wide as the crease itself.  If you look at the cover at an angle, the affected area may be a bit duller than the gloss on the rest of the cover.  Also, if you gently rub your finger over the area, a tiny amount of black may rub off.

One way to detect color touch is to look for fine creases where the ink does NOT appear to be broken.  Then look much closer.  This is where many color touches will be found.

Regarding the ebay seller that sent me the color touched book, he replaced the first book that had a certain dry rub color touch with another one that I suspect had a smaller touch.  At that point, it wasn't worth pursuing any further.  I just avoid his auctions now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Hulk 181 Coming Out Of The Woodwork

Given that this is a bronze age comic of a fairly popular title, one would have to think a ton of Hulk 181s exist, with many high grade copies to boot.  Predictably, as the prices go higher, more high grade issues are coming out of the woodwork.  On eBay at this moment, we see
Hulk 181 CGC 9.6
Another Hulk 181 CGC 9.6
An unslabbed copy claiming to be NM/M (uh huh...)
CGC 9.0
CGC 9.0 with a $1,120 Buy-It-Now
CGC 8.5
CGC 8.0
Plus 12 other slabbed and unslabbed copies in lower grades.  And this is supposed to be the slow time of year for online sales!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Slab Damage

One of my concerns with the growing and aging comic book slab market is the increasing occurrence of slab damage.  Slab Damage is when a book is damaged during the encapsulation process, or more commonly, when a book is damaged by sliding around in a slab.  The damage most commonly takes the form of blunted or creased corners and is especially prevalent when there is a bit of an overhang on the cover.
I think I have the dubious distinction of having the worst slab damage ever. The label says 9.4 and that's the price I paid for it.

So, now I'm stuck with it.  Makes you want to think twice about dealers with no return policies on CGC books, huh?

35 Cent Variant Madness

As predicted in my 7/14 entry, the Iron Fist 14 35 cent variant closed at a mortgage level price - $1,296.58... although I expected it to go higher.

Here's another 35-center with a $300 Buy-It-Now - eBay item 2257851918 (Ends Jul-24-04 15:48:13 PDT) - Fantastic Four 186 CGC 8.5(ow-w) 35 cent variant

A pretty copy, but is it worth 4 times what I paid for this copy?

I'd grade mine at 7.5 (VF-)

Friday, July 16, 2004

A Byrne Namor Page

I picked this up a few years ago.  I'm sure it would cost me much more now.  It's not an action packed page, but I really liked it because the linework is so clean, and it captures Prince Namor at his most regal.  Namor is wearing the same type of crown he did on the classic cover of Fantastic Four Annual #1.  A very nice example of the Submariner signed by John Byrne...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Comic Book Trifecta

IRON FIST #14 35 Cent Cover NM+ High Grade Sabretooth

Here's a trifecta that's sure to pay off big.

* Key issue - First appearance of Sabretooth (I don't personally get it, but I guess many others think Sabretooth is an important character)
* High Grade - I don't know if it's NM+, but given the scan, it looks pretty darn good and could be a NM+.
* 35 Cent Price Variant - The hardest to find price variants, and 35 cent variant collectors are crazy.

With over 2 days to go, this baby is at $400, and none of the big variant collectors have weighed in yet. Sniping will be brutal. This "funny book" will go for mortgage money. And I'm talking about a NYC expensive home type mortgage...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Odds & Ends for Sale - CHEAP!

Shameless Plug

I'm not a dealer, but I do sell some items once in a while to make space and/or raise cash. I have a few signed items on eBay now... all guaranteed authentic. Stay tuned... more to come.

Stuff For Sale - CHEAP!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Babe Ruth Bat - A Million Dollars?

From E Sports Collectors Digest...

After 80 years in hiding, the bat Babe Ruth used to slug the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day, April 18, 1923, will be auctioned, along with many other prized and valuable memorabilia items, by SportsCards Plus. The sale will take place Oct. 4 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan.

The bat -- which received a perfect grade of A10 by SCD Authentic -- will headline the New York-themed auction, which will also feature autographed game-used memorabilia and personal mementos from many of New York's baseball legends.

After his 1923 home run, Ruth, always supportive of kids and young ballplayers, autographed the bat he used and donated it to the Los Angeles Herald to be awarded as the top prize in a high-school home run hitting contest. On the bat, he inscribed, "To the Boy Home Run King of Los Angeles, "Babe" Ruth, N.Y. May 7, 1923." The bat was awarded to Victor Orsatti by the Herald in June of 1923. It has remained in the Orsatti family for the past 80 years, until recently being presented to David Kohler of SportsCards Plus for auction. The bat's new owner will also receive all of the accompanying documentation, including a congratulatory telegram from The Babe to Orsatti.

For complete auction details see the July 23 edition of SCD

Friday, July 09, 2004

Paypal: The Scammer's Best Friend

I found this interesting missive on a sports collectibles message board. It's a story I've heard over and over again, but this poster put it very well...

In a scam earlier this year I received a handful of worthless 2003 commons instead of the 1965 Mantle PSA 8 that I paid for. The scammer used delivery confirmation, so had a tracking number. PayPal's response? They would not do a chargeback because delivery was made and it was simply a dispute over the quality of the goods. Work it out with the seller, they said. Well, the seller had skedaddled and was NARU, but PayPal still would not get involved.

So if you do file a complaint, do NOT click the button next to "Item delivered, but not as expected." That's the same as clicking "Never mind, I don't want my money back after all."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

A Multi-Tier Grading Scale

As I was pontificating in one of the forums I frequent, I suggested the notion of a multi-tier grading scale for CGC - or any other comic grading company. Here it is...

Grading is constantly evolving. Who is to say that a few years down the line CGC (or some other company) may adopt a multi-tiered grading system that accounts for production quality, eye-appeal and restoration. (Don't be surprised if this happens when submission levels start to steadily decline. They have to find some way to get people to continue to slab a finite number of books... but I digress...)

As it has been noted, production quality varies greatly between books often creating a vast difference in the appeal of books which have the same exact grade label.

It would be interesting to see a grade like 8.5 / A / 0.0

8.5 structural grade / A production grade (perfectly cut and centered, bright inks) and the 0.0 is the restoration scale. My feeling is that the purple label stigmatizes restoration and puts books with tiny color touches or dots of glue in the same category of re-created franken-books.

For instance would you rather have a FF #1 that is

6.5 / A / 2.0 (slight color touch)

or a

4.5 / C / 0.0

The way the market is now, the latter choice would be worth a lot more than the former. But on paper, the former seems more appealing doesn't it?

In any case, doesn't this system tell you a lot more than the current single number grading scale? And it tells you the level of restoration rather than simply stigmatizing it with a purple label.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A Fantastic Four Page

For your viewing pleasure, another page of original art... this one from Fantastic Four #225, page 12. Bill Sienkiewicz drew it and Joe Sinnott inked it.

Not the most action-packed FF page in the world, but I am finding that FF pages are very tough to come by. Part of the difficulty is that with a team comic, there are not many pages that feature all 4 team members - let alone all 4 in action!

I'd love to get a Perez or Pollard page in the issue 170 - 200 range, but I just can't find any. And, I'd hate to think how much one might be!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Donald Frangipani... The Bad Penny of Authenticators


I thought this bum was out of business and his COAs were banned from eBay? I know he weaseled out of trouble by claiming others were forging his COA... the irony... an "authenticator" that wouldn't know a forgery if it bit him, uses forgeries as a defense. Keen minds should be able to see the truth of the matter.

This auction features a COA from Donald Frangipani dated 5/2004. Note that he has a snazzy DF hologram now... so he MUST be knowledgeable and legit. LOL

eBay Users: Free Negative And Neutral Lookup Page

Earlier I noted that the eBay Negative and Neutral Feedback page was out of commission. Well, a visitor was kind enough to point me to a similar online tool. It works fairly well, but does not allow the user to look up Negative/Neutrals left by a user, only those received.

eBay Users: Free Negative And Neutral Lookup Page

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy 4th of July

I'm not going to let Socialist haters like Michael Moore ruin my day. The USA may not be perfect, but that should not cloud all the good that it does -- even to ingrate countries that have no concept what opportunity they have been given.

God Bless America and the freedom she stands for.

Apollo 11 Autopen - Only $1,473

eBay item 2253486304 (Ends Jul-03-04 12:33:29 PDT) - NEIL ARMSTRONG APOLLO 11 CREW SIGNED OFFICIAL NASA 8X10

Here's the eBay rip-off of the week. Some sucker paid $1,473 for an Apollo 11 Autopen crew portrait. You can get one of these for free if you only send away to NASA and ask for one.

This seller was informed by more than one person that these signatures were not authentic, but I guess they don't care. Greed rules.

I also find it interesting that they guarantee PSA/DNA will authenticate the signatures. This illustrates how dumb the seller is, or how far PSA/DNA has fallen.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

If I Only Had $5,495, plus shipping.....

eBay item 2254411960 (Ends Jul-11-04 08:59:59 PDT) - Batman 1 Spring 1940 CGC 1.5 Detective Comics

Other than the spine and centerfold, this comic appears to be structurally sound with good paper quality.

If I had 5 grand to spare, I'd buy this and have it in a professional restorer's hands in no time. It just needs a good press, cleaning and some mending... 99% of the book would still be original parts. I'm sure it would restore to Fine 6.0 or better with moderate (or less) pro work.

Perhaps if I skipped a few mortgage payments...

Free Comic Book Day 2004

Free Comic Book Day 2004

Don't forget... this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! Who can resist free comics?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Healthy Reserve To Protect Sentimental Attachment

Frank Miller Elektra Battle Page From Daredevil 176

I've seen a lot of hokey reasons for a high reserve, but never "There is a healthy reserve to protect my extreme sentimental attachment to this wonderful piece of artistic genius."

Interesting that some people's sentiment can be bought if the price is high enough.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

My First Kirby Page

I've bought a few pages of original art over the years... mostly lowball bids on eBay that I was lucky enough to win. But, I always wanted a page of original art from my favorite comic artist, Jack Kirby. I recently decided to make the wish a reality. I've always had a soft spot for Machine Man... I recall buying the originals from Shelburne Pharmacy in Rotterdam, NY. I am now the proud owner of page 10 from 2001: A Space Odyssey #10 (1978).

Some Rare Autographs Get More & More Common - A Guest Editorial

Here is a guest editorial from AeroSpace collector Bob McLeod. Bob is a super guy and has a keen eye for forgeries. Because he is a polite Southern Gentleman, he is not as direct as I might be, but as astute readers, I'm sure you will get the idea...


I like to check out my "favorite" eBay seller, "Maksuta," occasionally. His large & varied eBay material has been likened to a flea market. He offers a usual big selection of Yuri Gagarin signed items & many deceased cosmonaut autographs, plus many various non-space Russian collectibles.

He seems to specialize in rare Soviet/Russian space material and is considered by many to be the leading supplier of the ultra-rare Soyuz 11 crew signed items. The Soyuz 11 crew were killed during their flight and their autographs are considered the rarest of all space autographs. Because of tradition & superstition, rarely did early Soviet cosmonaut crews sign anything before their flights.

"Maksuta" has a history of offering items signed by the Soyuz 11 crew going back at least to early 2002, with a postcard on eBay signed by the S-11 crew. I have kept records of at least 7 items he's offered signed by the S-11 crew and have seen many more in other auctions just like he offers. The first ones made their debut some years ago in a Superior auction and sold for around $4,000. But because of them becoming relatively common since, few seem to sell publicly & Maksuta's usually don't sell on eBay and are re-listed over & over.

So they don't seem to be a serious problem, as probably most collectors have learned of the questionable nature of these many & varied S-11 crew signed items. But they can still be a danger in our hobby, as described below.

One S-11 that originated from Maksuta sold about a year ago on "Dealer A's" Website for around $4,000. Maksuta was proudly named as the source in the elaborate description
and was referred to as a "respected dealer." I contacted Maksuta about the one being offered by Dealer A and was told that he sold it to Dealer A for $1,000.

Dealer A was informed of Maksuta's less than distinguished history & history of offering them, but it had no effect and the S-11 stayed on Dealer A's Website until it eventually sold for $4,000 - with a no return policy.

I have since seen an identical one offered by Maksuta on eBay for less than $1,000. I have seen at least five S-11 training photos signed by the crew that were offered by
Maksuta and two philatelic items, which I've all made copies of. I've seen many more of the same types offered elsewhere. At least one other eBay seller sold one for around $700. They have become so readily available, that practically anyone can own the world's rarest space autographs.

Maksuta now has on eBay, besides his two S-11 crew signed training photos, two ASTP crew signed covers, one said to be flown, with certain fake signatures by the three Apollo crew members. His history is anything but respected or respectable & his autographs should be carefully checked out.

Bob McLeod

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Negs/Neutrals: Disabled!

Negs/Neutrals: Disabled!

This was a great web tool that allowed you to see only the negatives and neutral feedbacks left for an eBay member. All you had to do was enter the username, and it would return negative and neutral feedbacks only. I always look for patterns in feedback. If the comments are constantly about poor grading, poor packing, etc, I suspect there is a problem with the seller and I avoid. It's usually fairly easy to detect a "revenge" feedback and I typically ignore them.

The feedback lookup tool was especially helpful with sellers that have a lot of negatives buried under a mountain of positive feedback. Bear in mind that this is a common tactic used by sleazy sellers -- they can shill their own auctions and leave positive feedback to quickly move a negative comment off the feedback front page because they know many eBay users won't bother to go back more than a page or two.

I will keep an eye on this site... hopefully they will be back up soon.

Waste of a Good Art Print

eBay item 2252556701 (Ends Jul-01-04 17:35:25 PDT) - SIGNED x Neil Armstrong R Reagan Jim Lovell J Doolittle

This is an utterly disgraceful waste of a beautiful print. Whoever did this is a total moron. Since it is a private auction, I tend to think the seller knows it's a fake...

Why didn't they just add about 20 other signatures while they were at it? How stupid....

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thoughts On Private Auctions

Some eBay sellers use private auctions and justify it by arguing that "all the big auction houses do it." True, but the big auction houses are established businesses and the identity of the principals should be a matter of public record. The reason why it's okay for established auction houses to have private bidding -- and not okay for eBay -- is that an established auction house is supposed to adhere to a code of ethics and be above reproach in this regard. We place trust in the good name of the established auctioneer and expect that the auction will be conducted fairly (i.e., no shill bidding.) Not the same can be said for eBay sellers who conduct private auctions. We don't even know who they are and/or what their real name is and they expect to be trusted?