Friday, December 23, 2005

Maybe a Little More

Okay, maybe I wasn't totally forthcoming in my last post...

I bought this for myself too.

Shock SuspenStories #9. It's about a 6.5 due to structural issues, but it has a tremendously glossy cover and wonderfully supple pages. It really feels like it just came off the spinner rack.

I'm very happy with this ebay pick-up.

And what better way to celebrate Christmas than an EC that depicts a man chained to a rotting corpse... dragging it across the desert as buzzards peck away?

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Merry Christmas (To Me)

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past few weeks. The kid is due in February, and in addition to preparing the nursery, we decided we might as well update the other 2 bedrooms, hallway and dining room on that side of the house. My life has turned into tearing down paneling and putting up sheetrock, painting, electrical work, window replacement, floor refinishing, putting up all new trim and more. Thankfully, I can now see the light at the end of the home renovation tunnel. (I really wish I was rich enough that I could just pay someone to do all this work.)

Anyway, I rewarded myself with this pickup. Another Action WWII cover for the collection and this one is from the Lost Valley Pedigree.

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I hope everyone's collecting wishes come true this Christmas! Best to you all!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The 29 Year Old Virgins

I started reading a few of the Don Rosa Captain Americas I picked up at the National 2 weeks ago. It's part of the MadBomb saga from 1976...

As I was opening the books, some of the pages were slightly stuck together... not in a bad way but "stuck" like when the pages have never been opened since it was printed and bound.

So it struck me that I was the first person to ever open and read these 29 year old books.

Kinda cool. :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

National Convention Report

As I wrote earlier, I attended the National Convention in NYC last Friday.

Overall, the con was weak. First, it could hardly be called a "National." While the dealers there were good (and no knock on them), but it was the usual Big Apple Con suspects... all northeast dealers (plus Motor City and Harley Yee.) I went expecting to see a wider variety of dealers and did not. There did not appear to be nearly as many dealers as attended past Nationals.

Second, many of the scheduled guests were not there (Romita, Adams, etc), even though they were being promoted as being there all 3 days.

On a positive note saying I enjoyed chatting with Blazing Bob (High Grade Comics), Steve Borock, Brent (Quality Comix) and Ted (Superworld.)

So... on to the pick-ups...

I arrived just before 1 o'clock and my first stop was Superworld where I quickly looked for my most wanted books. I chatted with Ted for a few minutes, but they didn't have what I was looking for in the grade I needed. As I chatted with Ted, Tom Brulato (and his assistant?) were scouring through a new high grade collection Ted had acquired. They seemed to be pulling a number of books, leaving some table scraps for us lesser beings. Ted noted that he was sorry to see all the trouble with Ewert as Jason had been a good customer and could always be counted on to buy a stack of books.

Next off to Blazing Bob. He had some great books at decent prices, but just not the ones I needed. Bob made a few snarky, yet funny remarks, and I moved along.

My next stop was with Steve Wyatt and the Don Rosa Collection. Steve is a super nice guy and it was a pleasure chatting with him. I was thrilled to find many of the books on my want list still in the Rosa Collection. Best of all, the books were priced at guide... not bad for true NM books.

Here is the Rosa COA

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First, I pulled 4 Bronze Age Captain Americas, thus completing my Jack Kirby run... issues 193-214 all NM-ish or very close. The one thing some of the Rosa's suffer from are non-colorbreaking bends. So, even the VFs still have NM-ish eye appeal.

Don Rosa Captain America 193

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The story in Iron Man 80 is an abomination, but the cover rocks. Kirby really is King.

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I was thrilled to upgrade a number of Fantastic Fours with NM Rosa copies. This is my favorite. Believe it or not, due to the super thick spine, Fantastic Four 236 is very, very tough in NM or better. This Rosa copy is a slam-dunk for a 9.4 with a perfect spine... and it costs me $6. Could be my best value of the show.

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I also picked up some EC "East Coast" reprints from the mid-70s from the Rosa Collection. Love these covers...

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The next booth I hit had some sweet X-Men that were grossly undergraded. How often do you see that? The books were so undergraded, that I had to ask the dealer if I was missing anything! He responded that he does mail order and he doesn't like returns... so he grades everything low. Fine by me!

He graded and priced this X-Men 98 as a Fine+ (6.5). I consider myself a very strict grader, and I think it's an 8.5!

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This X-Men 100 was graded and priced as a 7.0... I think it's a 9.0 with a bright white cover to boot!

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If every dealer graded and priced like this guy, we'd never need CGC.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I went looking for ECs and WWII cover action Comics. There was only one WWII Action cover in the room and it was badly restored. Disappointing. As far as ECs go, there were some in the room, but far less than I expected, and prices seemed high -- full guide or more for midgrade books.

I probably paid a few bucks more than I should have for this beauty, but it was at the top of my want list. I love this cover... a snapshot of a dark and twisted bondage scene... very edgy and disturbing.

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I picked up this Two Fisted tales 41 from Harley Yee for a surprisingly good price:

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Last, but not least, I checked this 8.0 beauty from my want list courtesy of JHV -- a good dealer, by the way... Ah, maybe it could be an 8.5 on a good day...

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Before I knew it, the afternoon had passed and I had to catch the 5:45 Amtrak back to Upstate NY.

As I mentioned previously, the variety of dealers and availability of guests was disappointing. I actually went home with half of my show money still in my pocket... that has never happened before.

It's too bad that the greatest city in the world can't get comic shows nearly as good as those held in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Censored Cover

This Vault of Horror 32 features a censored cover and internal artwork. The story involves a businessman who goes camping with his partner, and to get the business to himself, buries a hatchet in the top of his partner's head. Of course, the dead partner returns to haunt his murderer. Instead of seeing the hatchet lodged in his head, the cover and internal artwork were altered to show this bizarre white glow on top of the victim's head.

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The censored images were removed in contemporary reprints and the hatchet is visible. However, I do not know if the uncensored images feature the actual original artwork, or the hatchet artwork was re-created for the modern printings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Road Back

It was one year ago today that I was down-sized from my job.

Finding a good job was much more difficult and more of a test than I anticipated. Seven months of unemployment was a real trial of will and character. (I'd like to thank Marsh & McLennan for the gray hairs that didn't seem to be there last year at this time.)

Well, that phase of my life is over now, but I did have a profound effect on the way I think about some things. A good humbling and humiliation will do that to you. I now know that every single one of us is a simple twist of fate away from traveling a rougher road in life.

I'm working now, I'm married and a kid is on the way, so life is good again.

In fact, last year I cancelled my plans for attending the National in NYC because I was laid-off 4 days before the show. Returning to the show this Friday will be a lot of fun, but it will also be a personal triumph for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Was eBay Hacked?

The latest email scam is a look-alike emails that invites the recipient to join the Powerseller Program. Follow the link and sign in and you will be enrolled...

I'm embarrassed to admit, this one actually got me a few weeks ago. [blush]

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to stuff like this, but this email took phishing to the next level.

The email passed most of the scam tests.

  • It was addressed to my eBay email address (which I only use for eBay and nowhere else. So the scammer must have the ability to get email contact info from eBay.)
  • The site it sent me to what appeared to be a secure https:// address within the eBay domain
  • And it came to me after I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay, so the timing "made sense."

Given the fact that they used my secret eBay email address and timed it after I had sold a bunch of items, actually makes me think that the scammer either hacked into eBay or obtained inside info in some other way.

After following the link and entering my data, I grew concerned, so I quickly changed my password. No harm, no foul, but frightening nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Good, The Bad and The Restored.

GOOD NEWS: Here's a book I thought I sold years ago, but I actually found it in an unfiled box!

BAD NEWS: It has a small tear seal on the back lower right corner. I guess my resto detection skills are better now than they were when I bought this 10 - 12 years ago.

Still a nice book, but it goes to show you even midgrade books can have all sorts of hidden surprises.

I really like the Shock SuspenStories because they featured a mix of story types. Each issue might have one horror, one crime, one war and one sci-fi story. The common thread was each story had a EC "Shock" ending. Great stuff.

Shock SuspenStories #10

Frontline Combat

Next up, Frontline Combat #6.

Looking back through these books, I'm surprised at the fairly decent paper quality. A slight bit of toning on the perimeter of the covers, but no brittleness and the inside pages are OW to cream at worst. The cover whites are still fairly white... little or no transfer stain. Not bad at all for books that were probably never stored properly until they were 20 or 25 years old.

If anyone has any info on the paperstock used for ECs, please comment below...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Got The EC Bug Bad

Now the bug has really gotten into my system. I need another EC #1...

I picked this up at a NYC or Long Island con.

Frontline Combat #1. Probably a 6.0/6.5

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To be continued...

ECs on Parade

After the Crime SuspenStories 14, I went a few years before my next EC. I bought this at a convention in NYC or Long Island in the early 90s.

Shock SuspenStories 1. About a 5.5... maybe a 6.0.

I love the look of revulsion on the reporter's face (right.) I presume it's the Warden throwing the switch in the background... he looks a little too happy, smug and self-satisfied, doesn't he?

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Friday, November 04, 2005

My First EC

I was bitten by the EC bug years ago, but drifted away in favor of the superb Gemstone Reprints in the mid-90s. Why buy the originals when the reprints were available for $2 each?

Well, a recent series of the threads on the STL Message Boards have rekindled my interest in the original EC comics. I will certainly be looking at ECs at the National in NY on the 18th.

This the first EC I ever bought. I picked this up in the late 80s at Fox Creek, a small antique fair in Upstate New York. At $5, it's one of my best comic bargains ever.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Action Comics #40 Signed by Siegel & Shuster

I had this sweet Action Comics #40 Signed by Siegel & Shuster on my watch list. It would have made a great early Christmas present to myself.

Sadly, the price went through the stratosphere. Hmmmm... gotta love those zero feedback users that came out of the woodwork to push this one up beyond all reasonable boundaries. Interestingly, the last "real" bidder topped out around what the book should go for... about $400.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Draining Every Drop of Blood

Check this out from eSCD:

It's an idea that's likely to raise a few eyebrows in the hobby, but a new company has figured out a way to remove autographs from baseballs. Alan Berman, founder of Signed Baseball Magic, talks with SCD's Scott Kelnhofer about the new process that can take a multi-signed baseball with, say, Doc Ellis and Roberto Clemente, and quite thorougly remove the former, leaving behind only the latter and a very different -- and more valuable -- collectible.

I looked online for more information on this practice and could not find any.

Take yer pick... every hobby has its pitfalls and they get worse as the money gets bigger. Everyday, the circling sharks take another chunk from the flailing swimmer. When there is nothing left to feed on, where will the sharks go next?

Whether it's pressing, trimming, restoration, toning (coins), forgery or removing unwanted signatures to manufacture a more valuable single-signed ball, it's just another way for an opportunistic scavenger to artificially make a collectible "worth more," that is, drain a few more drops of blood from the flatlining corpus of a hobby.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's a Real Mess Out There

I occasionally get emails like this and they always make me sad.

I am purchasing a Babe Ruth Baseball and it has a Donald Frangipani authenticity document. I saw on your alert on your web site. Is there a time period that is suspect? I have not seen any other negative press regarding his authentication. Should I or can I get the ball reviewed by someone else? If so, who would you suggest?

I suggested that he RUN away from the transaction and referred him to some others to back up my assertions. Any Ruth signature with a Frangipani COA is undoubtedly fake. It's never fun delivering bad news, but hopefully he'll heed my advice.

That said, there is a tendency in people to not want to believe that they just dropped thousands of dollars on a worthless fake.

From comics to autographs, all collectibles fields are a real mess now. Too much money is involved and it has brought out the big time scam artists and bloodsuckers seeking to drain gullible collectors of every last penny.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Biggest Comic Scandal EVER!!

It's deja vu all over again in the collectibles field.

As some predicted, it appears as if the graded comic book market is going the same way the graded coin market did a decade earlier. That is, it is going the way of cracking slabs, performing stealth micro-restoration to squeeze out a slightly better grade and reslabbing. Further, some in the hobby are coming to believe that CGC is offering preferential treatment to certain big shot dealers.

What brought this all to a head is that prominent dealer Jason Ewert was caught selling trimmed books in unrestored slabs. Thanks to before and after scans, it has become evident that the books were trimmed while in Ewert's possession. CGC has investigated internally, and subsequently banned Ewert from submitting. Moreso, CGC President Steve Borock has reported that he told Ewert to "leave the hobby or risk lawsuit from CGC." No one knows how many trimmed books Ewert slipped past CGC before he was caught... it could be hundreds.

Certainly there are many juicy details that us non-connected peons will only hear whispered in rumor.

If you have a few hours to spare, you can read how it all unfolded on the CGC Message Boards (where the trimmed books were first exposed.)

Trimmed FF 3 and FF 10 first exposed

Steve Borock's (CGC's) Response

A Summary Thread of the Whole Scandal

Friday, October 14, 2005

Buy My Stuff

For the first time in quite a while, I'm selling some stuff on eBay.

Trying to thin the herd a bit by getting rid of doubles, modern lots, miniseries and some sports bobbleheads.

Last week I sold about $100 worth of comicbooks and received an invitation to be a Bronze Powerseller. Gee, I knew the standards were low to be a Powerseller, but I never dreamt they were that low!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Baseball Collector's Holy Grail

Record Sale for Babe Ruth Signed Baseball

Memory Lane Memorabilia of Tustin, CA has reported selling a Babe Ruth signed baseball for $150,000, establishing a record price for a Ruth signed ball. The details of the transaction were private. The ball was graded 9.5 out of 10 by PSA.

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Due to the ball's unblemished white, almost new appearance and a strong, bold signature, most hobby experts regard this as the finest single-signature Ruth ball known.

The same baseball first set a record in November 2004 when it was purchased for $115,000.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why Paypal ONLY?

I wanted to launch a bid on this Fantastic Four 14, but the seller stated Paypal ONLY accepted. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask if other payment methods would be accepted from a longtime ebay member. (As regular readers know, I am no longer on Paypal after a very ugly chargeback incident where they tried to take back $1,100 from me because they approved a fraudulent credit card.)

So, I sent the seller, kaching$$$, an inquiry:

Will you accept BidPay or a money order? I have been on ebay since 1998... My feedback is over 500 with no negatives. PLMK. Thanks - Steve

kaching$$$'s response:

Only paypal accepted. Sorry.

I see more and more of this "Paypal only" nonsense everyday. What gives?

Are sellers so impatient and lazy that they would choose to have less people bid on their auctions rather than have to deposit a money order?

ebay is truly the land of sellers with no business sense... and it gets worse everyday as more brainless monkeys figure out how to use their computers.

And I will have no sympathy for them when they learn the hard way that Paypal will screw them sooner or later.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Charity Auction: A Smashing Success

My buddy Al Hallonquist and I are co-moderators of the Astronaut Yahoo Group with about 500 members. The prime focus of the group is collecting astronaut related memorabilia.

As I mentioned a few days ago, Al and I decided to run a Hurricane Katrina Charity Auction. Group members would donate items to the auction with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. We ended up with over 80 lots donated to the auction. We opened the auction to group members and/or anyone else that found about it on the various space collecting sites. I created the webpage and updated it with the bids every night.

The auction closed last night with $5,170 in charitable bids!! A smashing success. When we started last week we were hoping for a few grand at best.

I'm still on Cloud 9. ;-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Word Verification

Unfortunately, I had to add the word verification security feature for those that want to leave comments. Sorry for the extra step, but I was getting "comment spam"... much of it from these losers. This shady website was leaving spam links in all of my entries that mentioned PSA/DNA.

Fantastic Four 60 Newsstand Price Variant

Since I fell out of the running very quickly on this one, I don't mind drawing attention to the auction.

This is the first copy I've seen on eBay in over a year of looking. The results should be interesting.

What's odd is there is almost no interest in the other newsstand price variants. This issue was a 9 cent promotional issue in comic book stores, yet it is no more rare than the other newsstand variants. Whoever said collectors were logical?

Astronaut Group Charity Auction for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Al Hallonquist and I are organizing a charity auction of space memorabilia for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina. Many members of the Yahoo Groups Astronauts List were kind enough to donate items and shipping to the auction, and all proceeds will go to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

As of this writing, bids are up to $3,800... we are hoping to hit $5,000 by the time the auction closes tomorrow night.

You don't have to be a member of the Astronauts Yahoo group to bid... the auction is open to anyone. For more details, visit the auction webpage.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

So Trivial

Like most folks, I've been caught up on the horrible news from the Gulf Coast. I haven't posted because a) I haven't been inspired, and b) it almost seems wrong considering the horror some of my fellow Americans are living right now.

I know life must go on, but events like this should make us all pause and reflect on what's truly important. And collecting funny books, gadgets, ink on paper and the like really seems so trivial at a time like this.

September 11, 2001 was a life changing day in my life. I know what many of these people will be going through psychologically in the days, months and years to come. Sadly, there will be many who feel that the dead were the "lucky" ones. There will be many, many suicides, drug and alcohol problems and a whole gamut of post traumatic stress issues.

While helping these people now is critical to their immediate survival, they will need our help and attention for many years to come to battle the inevitable long term issues.

Let's not forget.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Superb Astronaut Autopen Resource

Be sure to bookmark this highly recommended Space Directory Astronaut Autopen Guide.

In fact, the entire site is a treasure trove of great astronaut and space collecting information.

Kudos to the webmaster, Craig.

Monday, August 15, 2005

UACC Show Report

I attended the UACC National Show in Secaucus, NJ this past weekend. The show promised a good lineup of guests and I was looking forward to seeing many on my online buddies from around the country.

The show was held in the Exhibition Center of the Meadowlands Crowne Plaza. I've been in this room many times for other events, so I knew it would be hot. The room is always hot and the 100+ temperatures outside didn't help. Even industrial sized fans could barely help the weak air conditioning.

My plan was to get several signatures on my Saturn V wooden model and the SpaceShip One pilots to sign my new SpaceShip One wooden model. After that, I wanted a few signed photos from the guests and I would browse the dealer tables.

My first stop was with Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I wanted to add them to a photo previously signed by Arthur C. Clarke. This is a vintage still that I picked up in NYC years ago and was signed by Mr. Clarke in 1999. The Clarke signature and inscription is so nice that I was tempted to leave it as is, but temptation got the better of me and I had the 2 actors add their signatures. Both actors were very friendly.

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My next stop was at the SpaceShip one table.

I asked Mike Melville and Brian Binnie sign a wooden desktop model. Both were real gentlemen and were a pleasure.

The rest of the people I wanted to get had fairly long lines, so I decided to browse the dealer tables a bit waiting for the lines to thin. I've been to enough of these shows to know that the lines always thin by noon, so there is no need to wait in long lines... be patient and you will get the signature you want. None of the guests are going to get up and suddenly disappear.

Next, I stopped by Rusty Schweickhart's table (Apollo 9) and had him add his signature to my Saturn V wooden model. It now has a dozen signatures on it, so signing space is getting limited.

After Rusty, Ed Gibson (Skylab), was my next stop. Always a pleasure, Mr. Gibson signed my Saturn V model as well. If I want any additional signatures on this, I may have to start using the base.

I returned to my car to unload the models -- they are a pain to carry around -- and returned to the show to have Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space) sign a photo for me. She looks unbelievably young for a 68 year old woman. She looks at least 10 years younger than she is. My regret is that I didn't think to take a photo with her.

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That was it for the in-person signatures. I went upstairs to meet with the UACC Board in a wonderfully air conditioned meeting room. As we had sandwiches for lunch (Thanks to Al Hallonquist for the invite!) , Al Wittnebert tossed out a folder full of bargain signed photos... a special for the UACC Officers at the meeting.

I wasted no time picking out this one for $10. An in-person signature from early in A-ROD's career. This could be my bargain on the year.

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After the meeting, I wanted to hit the dealer tables. I did a lot of browsing, but (thankfully) no big items caught my interest. I was thrilled to pick up this beauty from my favorite TV show for $10...

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Most importantly, I did get to say hello to lots of listpeople we all know: Al Hallonquist, Bob Russo, Steve Gruber, Kevin Taylor, Bill Owenby, Bob Glass, Sam Stein, Steve Hankow, Tracey Kornfeld, Mint Montague, Carrie in the blue flightsuit, Doug Henry, Rob Pearlman, Andy McCully & Lauren, Linn LeBlanc, Eddie Bizbub, and I know I am forgetting at least 3 or 4 more. (Sorry) I did enjoy meeting everyone I spoke with.

Overall, kudos to the UACC, Steve Hankow and Nolan Sims for putting on a great event.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Bronx Bleeder Pleads Guilty

From the August 11 eSCD Newsletter:


The FBI has released details regarding the guilty plea entered by former boxer Chuck Wepner, who lost to Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight championship fight in 1975 and was using the prestige of that event and his career to sell forged Ali autographs. The files were sealed until recently, but a press release now reveals that Wepner entered a guilty plea in May for conspiring to commit mail fraud. He admitted to selling memorabilia forged by John Olson, who pled guilty in 2003 and received three years probation, those sales taking place from June 1996 through March 2002.

Among the items that were sold were Champions Forever boxing posters (gold ink versions are forged). The Champions Forever forgeries were exposed in 1996 by Sports Collectors Digest, which quoted Wepner as claiming the forgeries were purchased from another party. "John (Olson) is a good kid," Wepner said in that 1996 story. "He buys things in good faith and sometimes he gets stuck." Wepner is scheduled to enter his plea and receive his sentencing on Oct. 24 in San Diego. Wepner and Olson say most of their forgeries were sold through Brian Ginsberg, who was indicted recently in San Diego on 13 counts related to the sale of forged sports and celebrity memorabilia. Ginsberg entered a not guilty plea and has a hearing set for Sept. 12. Olson was quoted in an FBI press release as saying Ginsberg paid him and Wepner about $117,000 for forged memorabilia.

In a related case, Michael De Sola of Madison Sports pled guilty in March 2004 to mail fraud, again related to forged autographs, often Ali, and again in a case sealed until recently. De Sola was sentenced to three years probation and a $1,000 fine.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

OJ's Cash & Carry

From Page Six in today's NY Post:

O.J. Simpson was heckled mercilessly before he was escorted out of the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Ill., on Saturday. Darryl Rivera, who captured some of the booing with his video camera, tells us, "People were yelling, 'Killer!' Another guy yelled out, 'Guilty!' " Simpson, who was asked to leave because he hadn't gotten prior approval from organizers to sign autographs, was hawking 8- by 10-inch photos of himself for $100 a pop — cash only. Rivera said Simpson was traveling with several "good-looking blond women."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

DC Collection Is Complete!

With the recent acquisition of New Adventures 26, UK collector Ian Levine has completed his quest to collect every DC comic ever published. To keep the title, Ian continues to buy every DC comic published every week.

Congrats to Ian on a notable achievement! Here are some pics...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Death of the Monthly Pamphlet?

Will the monthly comic book go the way of the Dodo? Are the publishers pushing us in that direction with the availability of inexpensive and comprehensive trade paperback reprints? Is it all part of a master plan to phase out monthlies?

Here is an interesting thread on this subject on the STL Comics message board.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Would Spider-Man Have Been Popular in 1938?

Recently on the CGC Message Boards, someone asked, "What if Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, had come out in 1938?" (At the same time Action Comics #1 was published -- the first appearance of Superman.)

An interesting topic... and here is what I wrote:

A significant part of the great appeal of Spider-Man is that he shared with teens from that era (the 1960s) many of the same problems -- insecurity, dating problems, bullying, not-belonging, etc. Peter Parker had a body supercharged with special powers, but his mind was still that of an everyteen underdog who was wracked with misplaced guilt and a devotion to an elderly aunt.

Would the culture of the late 30s have identified and cared about Peter's problemed psyche? Just a guess, but probably not.

The teens of the late 30s had recently emerged from the Great Depression and the storm clouds of world war were amassing on the horizon. They were not so introspective as to be able to easily identify with Peter Parker. Their problems were much more serious than getting marble-mouthed around Betty Brant; they had problems like worrying about how much food was going to be on the table, and were the relatives back in the "old country" okay.

And for every reason why Spider-Man -- a precursor to the "me" generation -- would have failed in 1938, Superman succeeded. They wanted a hero that was a "super" MAN, not a confused boy. Superman didn't have problems of his own, he solved other people's problems. He was the ultimate symbol of hope for better times -- an infallible champion of truth and justice.

It's no coincidence that when Spider-Man gained massive popularity, the times were very different and it coincided with the nadir of Superman's popularity.

These are 2 characters imbued with very different appeals, each custom fit to the era in which they were created.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Superman vs. Nazis

The book I've been waiting for finally arrived! After completing my Fantastic Four run earlier in the year, my next focus will be on some Golden Age Superman books, and I'm kicking it off with this one...

Action Comics #53, October 1942

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I'm going to concentrate on WWII covers. Typically these books are pricey, but still affordable in midgrades. So, I will look for books in the 4.0 - 7.0 range with nice eye appeal and decent paper quality.

I'm pleased with this book -- even though two small color flecks came off (above the DC logo and behind the soldier's knee on the right edge) as I was carefully examining it. The paper isn't brittle or weak, so this surprised me a bit.

Structurally the book is very sound and it has no creases. It suffers only from minor edgewear, corner wear and light dust shadows on the front and back cover.

I bought this as a Fine (6.0), and I think it's close. What do you think?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I arrived home yesterday to find a FedEx "we were here" thingy hanging off my front door. The waiting is driving me crazy. Hopefully my present to myself will be there when I get home today.

To pass the time, here's a hint of things to come...

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I bought this in the early 90s from Vincent's Collectibles (now Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis.) I always enjoyed chatting with Vincent in those early days when he did small local shows on Long Island. He was usually the best dealer in the room. He got a fair share of my collecting dollars back then.

I had a yen for a Golden Age Action/Superman on that day back in 1992 or 1993. Now, I wish I had pursued GA more vigorously at the time when prices were so much less.

This book is structurally in great shape with almost white pages. Other than the minor staple tears and the rodent chew on the lower right corner, it presents very well.

What is it with rat chews on books from the 40s? Were there that many more rats back then? You almost never see this type of damage on books from the mid-50s on. Storage conditions in the 50s and 60s couldn't have been that much better than the 40s... it's not like they were bagging and boarding them in 1958, yet you rarely see rodent damage from that era.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Still Waiting...

I'm still waiting for the item I mentioned in the previous post. What is the saying? Something about a watched pot never boiling...

Anyway, this is a signed photo that I recently completed when I received it back from Al White. I was working on this for quite a while... I call it the X-15 signature sheet. It contains all of the living X-15 Pilots except Neil Armstrong, plus drops pilots. Sadly, William "Pete" Knight has passed since signing this page.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Off The Dole...

Well, I have finally accepted a job offer and will begin my new job as a Marketing Director for a small business association tomorrow.

After getting "reduced in force" along with 5,499 other colleagues of Marsh & McLennan last November, the past 7 months have been a very stressful and humbling learning experience.

But, I stuck to my guns, wouldn't let the experience break me, wouldn't give in and settle for a lot less than I'm worth, and I have finally found what appears to be a challenging position in a company that believes in attracting and paying talent well. (I've learned that all companies want talent, but few are willing to pay for it.)

So, I rewarded myself with my first notable comic purchase in 7 months. When it arrives, I will share.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

That Old Comic May Be Worth $100!!!

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An ad from a DC comic, October 1975.

I suspect that these binders were similar to the binders that are still used to hold magazines today... the book is probably secured under a metal rod that is placed in the centerspread. It would keep the spine straight, but probably not do much to protect it from dust and oxidation.

Even 30 years ago there was a "value" mentality regarding collecting comic books.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Curt Swan's Superman

Here is a page of original comic art that I picked up recently. In my view, Curt Swan is the quintessential Superman artist of the Silver and Bronze Ages. I've wanted a Curt Swan Superman page for a while now, and I fell for this action-packed piece. The Last Son of Krypton is using his powers in every panel.

From Superman 348, page 16

Monday, June 13, 2005

It Had To Happen

As a visitor astutely noted, here is a Mark Felt (Deepthroat) forgery on eBay.

Predictably, it has all the red flags typically associated with fakes and scams of all kinds:
  • Private bidder auction
  • Hokey "From my grandfather's collection" story
  • A slow, plodding signature with no "flow" is almost certainly a trace job. The seller explains it away as the "pen skipped," but it's pretty obvious the signature was slowly traced and probably even stopped mid-signature a few times.
  • Sold "as-is." The seller gives the buyer one week to return item, but how many authentication services can turnaround an authentication within a week? And what are the chances the seller is EVER going to part with the cash once they get it in their hands? Answer: ZERO.

eBay truly is a hive of scum and villainy.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ultimate Waste of Dead Trees

As I've written previously, I dumped Ultimate Spider-Man from my reading list well over a year ago. I had enough of the all style, no substance, hyper-extended storylines. A typical USM issue contained:
  • 40% Peter and Mary Jane making silent goo-goo eyes at each other
  • 20% Peter and Mary Jane engaged in "clumsy" romantic dialog that never goes anywhere
  • 20% Needless establishing shots of neighborhoods and skylines
  • 10% Aunt May worrying about Peter
  • 10% Actual action or dialog that moves the plot forward

By trade I have been a professional copywriter, and I have written a number of motion picture scripts on spec. In all honesty, I think I could write a typical USM script on my lunch hour. No kidding, the dialog and narrative are THAT thin.

By my estimation, a typical 4 issue USM "story arc" could be easily captured -- with all the relevant story elements -- in ONE issue by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, etc.

Now, I am considering dumping Ultimate FF, which really bothers me because I am such a devoted FF fan. The latest N Zone storyline by alleged wunderkind Warren Ellis almost pushed me over the brink.

I read Ultimate FF 18 in less than 3 minutes. There was a FOUR page sequence showing a space shuttle crash landing on the Las Vegas strip. Are we as readers supposed to be enthralled with the visuals of a shuttle landing on the strip FOR FOUR PAGES?!? To add insult to injury, there was not one word of dialog or narrative in this sequence.

Some of these writers are very talented guys, too bad however that they are not using their skills on these books.

The irony is that guys like Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman and their contemporaries carefully crafted thoughtful stories with a beginning, middle and an end month after month for pennies relatively speaking.

Today's hotshot writers are "mailing it in" for big bucks, and the Ultimate lines are the most egregious example of this unwelcome trend.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog entry contains more text than the next issue of USM.)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

They Hit DEEP THROAT Powerball: W. Mark Felt Signed Book

As of this writing, this signed book is over $6,000 with 3 days to go!


10 days ago you couldn't have given this signed book away for the price of postage.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Good Day at the Ol' Fishin' Hole

This has nothing to do with collecting, but I have to share...

The best catches of the year so far. A Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass, caught at Saratoga Lake this morning. They both lived to fight another day. Thanks to Dad for taking the pictures.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

About Signed Guitars

Signed guitars were recently discussed in an autograph collecting list group. Here were my thoughts...

Most signed guitars are cheap Squire Strats (Fender's bargain basement line) or the low end Fender's made in Mexico known as MexiStrats. To the novice they may look great, but to someone that knows, these guitars look cheap and are the equivalent of getting a photocopy signed (instead of a real glossy photo.)

Frankly, unless it's Elvis or the Beatles, a signed guitar seems like a tremendous waste to me... a musical instrument is meant to be played and it's kind of sad if it's not. I know many won't agree with me, but IMO, a signed guitar is just as loopy as asking a TV star to sign your television.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Alex Ross Does Fantastic Four #1

Somewhere, Jack Kirby is smiling.

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A great take on a classic cover. My only criticism is that the text box is somewhat obtrusive and ruins the effect of Johnny Storm's flame trail.

If this becomes available as a lithograph, count me in.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

RIP: The Riddler

Actor Frank Gorshin, best known as The Riddler on TV's "Batman," died yesterday, age 71. He had lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia.

Not to make light of his death, but this sounds like the smoker's trifecta.

I wonder how much longer he would have lived if he didn't smoke?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Who Wants To Pay More Than They Have To?

Why do bidders run this lot up to $60, when the same books in the same condition can be had for a $20 Buy It Now?

(Yes, the first lot has a different version of #1, but that is a $5 book and doesn't justify TRIPLE the price.)

Do people even search for other similar lots on eBay or do they just bid up the first lot they see? Insane.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Some General Thoughts On Restoration

Here is an excellent primer on detecting comic book restoration by CGC Message Board member Poverty Row.

Good stuff. Comic collectors should read it and bookmark it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

No Gift Grading Here... Move Along...

Check out this White Mountain Amazing Fantasy 15 that has been graded 9.4.

Sure, all of MY books with:

* 2 fuzzy abraded spine corners,
* colorbreaking creases URC FC,
* creased ULC BC,
* loose looking, fuzzy staple holes
* color loss along entire top edge, and
* a minimum of SEVEN spine stresses

get 9.4s.

When this was assigned a 9.4, I'm sure they had NO IDEA it was a big-shot dealer/collector pedigreed book.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another Dumb Forgery

Here is a Glenn Strange signed cut inscribed "Doc." The seller claims Strange played the doctor on the radio.

Uh, on the radio, Howard McNear played "Doc."

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Thursday, April 07, 2005

An Amazing Life

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said, other than I have tremendous respect and affection for this man. John Paul II was an extraordinary human being.

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On a collecting note, a John Paul II autographs are exceedingly rare and would bring thousands of dollars in any form. The photo above is a common preprint... I've never seen an authentically signed photo.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Happiness = Hidden Gems

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have 7 short boxes of unread and unfiled comic books. These are books that I bought over the past decade or so -- probably in bulk from convention bargain boxes -- that were set aside without being read or cataloged into the collection.

Most of the books are midgrade horror, reprint books or newer than 1980.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem among the books not worth the paper they are printed on.

Superman 193... a nice glossy VF/NM 9.0

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wild and Crazy Email Requests

A member of StarArchive performed an experiment. He posted a fake email address for Steve Martin on a few autograph collecting newsboards to see how fast an address could be flooded with autograph requests. Within 3 days, he reported over 200 emails requesting autographs.

  • 21 were for charities (9 different people representing American Cancer society)
  • 98 people claimed they were under age 18
  • 15 people wrote multiple times using different emails but the same shipping address (one guy wrote 6 times)
  • 21 people used less than 2 sentences (e.g., Can you send me an autograph to me?)
  • 71 people asked for multiple autographs (1 of them asking for 20 for his classmates)
  • 82 people were not from the U.S.
  • 5 offered to send a SASE
  • 2 people were rude
  • 1 person claimed to be on his death bed (yet sent another request acting like a kid)
  • 46 asked for the photos to be personalized
  • 9 people said they wouldn't sell it on eBay, 1 said they would
  • Movie most often mentioned - The Jerk
  • 66 people claimed Steve Martin is their favorite
  • 1 person loved Steve Martin in The Coneheads movie
  • 1 person loved Steve Martin in The Hunt for Red October
  • 1 person loved Steve Marin of 7th Heaven (I think that was Steve Allen)
  • 2 people mentioned 9/11
  • 3 people mention the Tsunami (2 were collecting autographs for it)
  • 34 mentioned SNL, 4 said it sucks now
  • 2 used the phrase "Wild and Crazy Guy"
  • 1 mentioned that he was gay
  • 2 said that grey hair is sexy (1 was the gay guy)
  • 22 were obvious form letters
  • 2 used profanity

The greed and sleazy dishonesty is, unfortunately, not a surprise. Given this, we should all understand why many celebrities no longer respond to autograph requests.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Future Comic Book Prices

Check out this great article by Gene Park. I always enjoy Gene's logical and analytical posts on the CGC message boards.

I agree with Gene and as I've stated countless time on various message boards, the comic book buying demographic is dying. Today's 5 year olds will not be interested in Silver Age comic books 30 years from now. They aren't interested in comics now, why will they be willing to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for them in 30 years?

Once the current crop of serious collectors dies off or sells off in 20-30 years, who will be left to buy these books? Will there be enough demand to sustain prices? No way.

Certainly iconic books such as Action #1 and Spider-Man #1 will maintain value because they cross the "comic book collecting only" line into the area of pop culture / Americana, so they maintain a much higher level of interest from a larger audience. Non-key issues do not cross this line, and their value will plummet once no one is left to pay big bucks for the more esoteric issues. In 2038, very few people will care that Spider-Man #28 is tough in high grade because it has a black cover.

The rally cry of the die hard fanboys is, "As long as they are making movies, people will want the comic books." This logic is laughable. To today's kid, the Spider-Man franchise IS the movies and videogames. What makes anyone think that today's kids are going to generate a spontaneous interest in old funny books decades from now?!?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Congratulations To Me

As of March 10, 2005, the UACC Ethics Board has a new member, Steve Zarelli.

Steve will be helping Chairman Al Hallonquist and fellow members Robert Palazzo and Gary King. Steve Zarelli is well know for his Pen and Quill articles and his long time activites as a collector. Thank you for taking on his job, Steve.

Michael Hecht
UACC President

I told my fiance about the appointment last night, and her reaction was, "So does this mean you'll be spending MORE time on the computer?!?"

Thursday, March 10, 2005

This Dealer is Horrible Stuff

Neat Stuff Collectibles is just the worst.

This dealer is so incompetent, it borders on a scam. If an organization lists far more items than any reasonable person would think they could efficiently and accurately handle, mistakes are going to happen in volume.

Now, are they really "mistakes" if they would be foreseen by any reasonable person? Are they really "mistakes" when the same problems keep happening over and over again?

Or are these foreseeable events that Neat Stuff considers acceptable "margins of error?" They know that they will get enough positive feedbacks to cover the "margin of error" and maintain their eBay status.

I've ordered from them 3 times. The first order took months to arrive and I had to email them numerous times to get them to mail my order.

I would have never ordered from them again, but they made some statements online that they were improving their service, so I gave them another chance. The second order was delivered promptly with no problems.

The third order, however, will be the last.

I received the order after several weeks. It was 100% incorrect. None of the books I ordered were enclosed... I had obviously received someone else's order.

I wrote numerous emails with zero response. I called and left messages with no response. (Do you think if they sent me an Amazing Fantasy #15 in error they would have answered my emails and calls?)

Finally, a CGC Board member gave me another number to call. I spoke to a gentlemen that promised to issue a full refund, send the correct books and give me additional credit to make up for the error. I sent back the books I received in error and never heard from them again. I never got my credit, never got the correct books and never got a refund.

They had strung me along for so long, and so much time had elapsed that I couldn't even neg them. (Interestingly, other collectors have reported that leaving a retaliatory negative is the ONLY thing NeatStuff does quickly and efficiently.)

Learn from my example and avoid this dealer.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Farewell Luna!

Quintessential New York City band Luna played its final shows this past weekend at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend.

However, I contacted the band's bassist, Britta Phillips, and she kindly agreed to have the band sign a few items that I would send.

This photo means a lot to me. I took this photograph when Luna played at the World Trade Center in August 2001. You can see the banner in the background says, "Center Stage at the Twin Towers." Now that it's signed, it is a treasure to me.

They also signed a Les Paul pickguard for me...

These great mementos take some of the sting out of not being able to attend their last shows.

Farewell to a wonderful band...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Disappointing Ditko

I started reaching for my wallet the second I saw this new release -- Steve Ditko Space Wars SC -- New Release

Then I read a bit further...

Black & White?!?

Aw, c'mon. I'd pay another $8 for color.

Too bad.

FF Mission Accomplished!

Yesterday's mail brought me FF 13, which now makes my FF run complete. I have every regular issue of Fantastic Four -- Vol 1 to the present.

I've been looking for FF 13 since last summer and kept turning up snake-eyes. All I could find were very high grade copies for sick money or low grade beaters. My goal was to get a 6.0 - 7.0 book. This book was listed as a 5.0, but it has good eye appeal and was priced right, so I was willing to go a bit below my original goal of 6.0 - 7.0. Other than the edge toning and the rough top overhang, the book is very solid. (The toning looks worse on the scan than it does in hand.) This book is notorious for Marvel Chipping and having long creases, so it was nice to find a midgrade copy without those flaws.

Now I have a few annuals to pick up and my FF collection will be complete.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Red Flag That Screams, "Scam Artist!"

Often eBay scammers give you way more information than you need. If it's a fake autograph, the crooked seller will provide you with reams of unnecessary biographical information on the subject. If it's a stolen comic scan auction, they will provide you with a synopsis of the book and the key first appearances. Like anyone bidding on a Babe Ruth autograph needs to read his entire biography or anyone bidding on an Amazing Fantasy 15 isn't going to know it's the first appearance of Spider-Man and Aunt May?

Often the scammer will also provide worthless information regarding his or her collecting habits and why he or she is selling this item. "My late grandfather collected for years," or "Another baby is one the way so I'll have to sell this at a loss if need be."

As a general rule of thumb, sellers that offer long narratives of biographical information are probably trying to distract your attention from scrutinizing the item itself.

Scammers are operating from a subconsciously defensive position, so they tend to offer much more information than is necessary in a transparent effort to bolster their "credibility" and "likeability."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Monday, February 07, 2005

Meet Jeff Albertson

February 6, 2005... a historic day... The Simpsons finally reveal the Comic Book Guy's name: Jeff Albertson.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I Hate People That Bid Against Me on eBay

eBay item Incredible Hulk #5 CGC 6.5

I put a snipe in on this Hulk 5 hoping to upgrade my current issue. It's the Nick Cage copy that sold at Heritage 2 years ago for $368.

Well, some dingleberry bid it up to $569. Nice profit for the seller. Why do I see so many bargains on eBay, except when it's a book I'm going to bid on?!?

It would be cool to have a Nick Cage book, bit I'm not going to pay double guide for a midgrade book just because Nick Cage owned it. Obviously though, someone was willing to pay almost double guide value. Anyone that pays more than guide for a midgrade Silver Age book is a fool.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Is He Man or Machine or Monster?

Ok, this book won't be vying for best in census, but I did get it for $5 from my local comic shop today. Maybe if the movie is a big hit, I'll be able to flip it for million$.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Greed + Ego = Needless Alteration

In a recent message board thread, someone mentioned a CGC 9.0 copy of Batman 1 that had penciled writing removed.

One thing that's never really touched on in all the restoration debates is the "ethics" of certain procedures. Does it bother anyone else that something like an arrival date is removed for purely financial reasons (e.g., to make the book more saleable?)

In my view, an arrival date (or even the original owner's name) is part of the history and charm of a book, and something is taken away from the book when the arrival date is removed. There is no legitimate "conservation" reason to remove penciled writing -- it will never harm the book.

To draw a comparison, in autograph collecting, it is unethical to "wash" the personalization off of a signed photo. (A photo that is signed, but not personalized to a recipient, is typically worth more on the secondary market... so some dealers have been known to remove the personalization "To Joe Blow" leaving only the autographed signature.) Of course, it would be unethical to alter a historical document to make it more appealing for sale.

It really makes me wonder how much the big-shot dealers and collectors really love comics. If they truly loved the history of the books -- and just weren't obsessed with having the best copy to inflate their egos -- they wouldn't tolerate needless cosmetic alteration of these treasures.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Preservation of Archival Materials Manual

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has a superb manual on the conservation of archival materials. This 514 page manual is of great value to collectors of all types of paper memorabilia -- from comic books to autographed photos and books.

Best of all, the manual is available free in .pdf format. I've already downloaded a copy, what are you waiting for?!?