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.