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.