What Comics Share Your Birthday?

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Super-Hero comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

A few years back I was sitting around looking at some of my favorites comics and it occurred to me that one of my all time favorite comics (Justice League of America #10; “The Fantastic Fingers of Felix Faust”) was actually cover-dated the very month that I was born (March, 1962).  That got me to thinking – What other comics shared my birth month?

At that point I was only a ComicBookDb search away from figuring out a WHOLE BUNCH of comics that were cover-dated with my birth month.  From there, with a bit of editing, I had tribute image shown above.  One thing that was interesting was that there was only one single Marvel super-hero comic on the stands the month I was born, Fantastic Four #3. I actually have a copy of this issue, a friend gave his beat-up copy (probably Good-) to me when he upgraded his to one in a better condition probably close to 20 years ago now when I remarked about how I always thought that issue had a particularly cool cover. I was not cognizant of it being from the month of my birth until I did the search on March 1962 comics that spawned this blog (this all started out as a thread on the 11 O’Cl0ock forums back in 2010) but I remember being drawn to that issue of FF in particular all those years ago. I also picked up my copy of Green lantern #11 years before I came anywhere close to filling in the rest of my GL run.  Why was I drawn to these comics in particular before I ever did the search to see that they shared a cover-date with my birth?  Kind of strange….

It also occurred to me you could go two different ways with this.  Do you want comics that are cover dated with the month/year of your birth or comics that initially went on sale on the month/year of your birth?  Check out the “Newsstand Time Machine” on Mike’s Amazing World of Comics site: http://www.dcindexes.com/features/timemachine.php
This will let you search for comics by either “on sale” or “cover date” month & year.  Neither way is wrong, this is for your own enjoyment, so do whichever way you think works best for you!  If your birthday is early in the month, a comic on sales in the same month you were born may actually have come out after you were born, while any comic cover-dated with your birth month/year actually went on sales some time about 2 months earlier and was likely still on spinner racks somewhere on the day you were born (the cover date is when they were supposed to be taken off sale).  Personally, since I was born in March, I like seeing the “MAR”  on the covers of the ones cover-dated with the month of my birth instead of seeing “MAY” which would be on the comics that actually hit the racks in March.

In any event, I thought this was a cool idea and thought I’d share it. Anyone else should feel free to create their own “Birthday/Comics” images, I’d love to see yours!

TECHNICAL NOTES:

  • ComicCollectorLive is a great site that I use to browse for comic covers.  I also used ComicBookDb
  • I reduced all the covers in size to 150 pixels wide to allow me to build a uniform composite image (you can use whatever dimension you want)
    This can be done without fancy software using Paint on my PC or http://www.webresizer.com/resizer/
  • I stitched the individual reduced images together using good old-fashioned cut-and-paste and Paint that comes free with Windows, no fancy software needed!

BONUS:
For folks who are not into the whole “Super-Hero Thing”…

“Comics that Share My Birthday” (March, 1962 – Humor edition)

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Humor comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

“Comics that Share My Birthday” (March, 1962 – Romance edition)

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Romance comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Comic Blog Elite  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Collecting History, Comics, Comics Collection | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

INTERVIEW: 2015 Guinness World Record: Largest collection of comic books

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CREDIT: Guinness World Records

“It’s in the record books”

A phrase I’ve heard numerous times in my life now it’s true about me, I’m on page 172 of the 2015 book!  From the Guinness Press Release:

Since the age of 8, Californian, Bob Bretall amassed 94,268 unique comic books as of May 1, 2014. Bretall’s collection weighs an estimated 8.3 tons – as much as 118 adult men! The 52-year old has said he will never sell any of his comics, and will “leave that to [his] kids when it becomes their inheritance to do with as they will” — though he hopes they will keep at least a few in remembrance!

This has hit a bunch of web-sites around the internet, I’ve been tracking them on the ComicSpectrum site, but let me know if you see a mention somewhere that I’ve missed!

They didn’t publish the entire interview I did with them in the Press release I saw.  Since I have that information (I wrote it, after all) let me reproduce it here:

GUINNESS INTERVIEW:

I try to distinguish myself as a private collector, since there are people who own comic book businesses and are actively buying/selling comics who have far more comics than my 94,268 (actually 1000 or so more since I did my record verification with Guinness on May 1, 2014).

A comic dealer has inventory, in my opinion, NOT a collection. My comics are not an asset of a store/business and I have actually read 90-95% of them. I also bought them as individual comics and not as bulk buys of “I will buy 100 long boxes of comics for pennies a comic” like many people who are in the business of comics do to build up their back-stock.

It is also useful to note that my record number of comics are all unique/different comics and does not count/include duplicates. When a store claims to have 1 million comics you can bet that there are a tremendous number of duplicate issues in that total and that total will continually go up & down as they sell inventory and then buy up comics to replenish that inventory. My number goes in only one direction. UP!

How old are you and where are you from?
I’m 52 and currently live in Mission Viejo, CA (about 60 miles south of Los Angeles). I was born in LA and have lived my entire life in Southern California.

What is your occupation?
I work at a software company that creates apps for mobile devices. I am in charge of all program management and software process. I have both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Computer Science.

When did your fascination with comic books – and collecting memorabilia – start?
8 years old. I had read the occasional comic book before I was 8, but it was at that age that I discovered my passion for comics and started collecting them every month.

What was the first comic book that started your collection?
Amazing Spider-Man #88 by Stan Lee (writer) and John Romita, Sr. (artist). I have not missed a month of buying comics since then (around July 1970).

What is the most expensive and valuable comic book you own?
Sorry. I do not like to emphasize the monetary aspects of collecting comics. Too many stories about comics collecting focus on how many $$ everything is worth instead of the great stories and characters. I do not do it for the money and I don’t try to rationalize it as an investment and I’m not into it to make money, I have a regular job that pays the bills just fine. I’m never going to sell any of my comics, I’ll leave that to my kids when it becomes their inheritance to do with as they will (though I hope they’ll keep at least a few of them as a remembrance).

What is your favorite comic book and one you could never part with?
I’m never parting with any of them, but my favorite is the one that started it all, Amazing Spider-Man #88. It’s actually a replacement copy, since I really thrashed the original copy I had when I was 8, reading it hundreds of times and cutting out the Spider-Man picture. The copy I have now has been in my collection since the early 1980s and I’ve had it autographed by both Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.

Is there a particular comic book that you really want to own but don’t currently?
Amazing Fantasy #15, the 1st appearance of Spider-Man. I have every other appearance of Spider-Man except this one. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive at this point, I wish I had bought a copy 25 years ago.  I have plenty of reprint versions of this issue, but having an original would be nice.

Who is your favorite comic book character?
My favorite comic character of ALL TIME would have to be Spider-Man. Since he is the character who got me into collecting I have some loyalty to the character.
I would like to emphasize that there are a LOT of things besides super-hero comics out there. Only about 25% of the current comics I read are super-hero comics.

My favorite comic right now is Saga (from Image comics) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.  My current favorite Publisher is Image Comics, I get about 40 comics a month published by Image.
My top 12 comics at any given point in time can be found on my web-site here:
https://comicspectrum.com/Bobs_Top_Comics.html

And your worst?
There are no bad characters, only poorly executed stories. Any character can be great given the right creative team.

What is your favorite comic book film adaptation?
Avengers.  (Well, since I originally did this interview, Avengers has been replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy)

Where do you keep your comic book collection?
The bulk is in my garage. I have racks that hold all the comic boxes. I do keep some of it up in my comic book room. You can see pictures here (scroll about half way down the page):
https://comicspectrum.com/Bobs_Comic_Room.php

How do you keep track of your collection?
I use the ComicBase database software and have been for many years.  While there are lots of different collection programs out there, I find that this one works best for my collection of 95,000 comics and at this point I wouldn’t want to re-enter all those comics in another program!

As I read comics, I put them in a long box.  When that long box is filled it is alphabetized and entered into the database where we note which box any given comic is in.  This makes it fairly easy to find any comic in my collection using the database.  I use the software when we were verifying my collection for Guinness.  There were a lot of random books in my collection called out to verify that I really had all the comics I say I have.  “Show me Amazing Spider-Man #50″.  I’d go to the box it was supposed to be in, riffle through the books to the proper location in alphabetic order, and there it was!

Are you still collecting? When will you ever stop?
Yes, I currently buy 140+ new comics every month and also collect a variable number of back issues every month. You can see what I’m currently buying each month on my website here: https://comicspectrum.com/Bobs_Pull_List.html

In addition to my comics I have hundreds of comics-related statues on display in my comic room. I have over 300 Marvel comic busts from Bowen Designs and 100s of other assorted busts and statues from other manufacturers. I have 500+ action figures that are no longer on display and are in boxes in my garage. In addition to that I have numerous pages of original comic art, sketches, and other related items/toys. You can see a lot of this stuff in the pictures on the “Comic Room” link provided above.

What do your friends and family think to your collection?
My family is quite supportive of my hobby. My wife & I have been married for 29 years and she knew I was a comic book reader/collector from the time we started dating. She does not read comics, but helps me organize my collection. She actually enters all the comics into my comic book database each month after I have read them! That is love!
My two sons have grown up with comics their whole lives. My older son reads about 30 titles per month from what I buy and is a big fan of web-comics. My younger son is more of a manga/anime fan than of traditional American comics.
The majority of my friends are also comic book readers/collectors, so they’re generally just in awe of my collection.
I try to share my love for comics through my website (https://comicspectrum.com ) which is a “not for profit” hobby of mine. I know a LOT about comics, collecting, and the comics industry and I try to share as much information as I can with others.

How does it feel to make it into the Guinness World Records book?
It is AWESOME to be in the Guinness World Records book. Getting this record is the most extraordinary thing that has happened to me in my collecting career so far.
Whenever hear about a record like this, it’s very common for them to say “I know a guy who knows a guy who has WAY more comics”. My response is that records are made to be broken, and those people with more comics should be applying to Guinness to break my record! Just remember, you cannot count duplicate comics!!

And then there were additional questions asked on Facebook today on some of the threads talking about my record that I thought I’d take some time to answer here:

Look at how he treats his comics, they’re all over the floor (referring to the picture in the Guinness Press release)
Well, obviously I don’t keep my comics all over the floor!  That was staged for visual impact when the Guinness folks were at my house.  It took a while to get them all put back away after the Guinness folks left.  Also, my room is not painted the super-hero blue you see in the press release photo, that was added via photoshop for visual “pop”.

How do you find time to read 140+ comics every month?
It’s actually not very hard at all.  That breaks down to about 35-40 comics a week, which is 5 or 6 a day.  I read at least 2 or 3 every day (I write comic reviews on the ComicSpectrum review Blog so need to keep up on stuff).  I also catch up on comics reading on the weekends.  It’s easy for me to read 20+ on a Saturday.
Look at it this way, I can read 40 comics(what I read in a week)  in about the same amount of time that it takes to watch 2 football games (and I don’t watch football).  Nobody every asks a sports fan how in the world they can manage to find the time to watch a couple of football games each weekend!!
I’m not knocking people who watch sports. If that is enjoyable to you it’s a great use of your time. Reading comics is enjoyable to me & I use the time I don’t spend watching football to read my massive pile of comics.

But 140+ books a month, how do you keep all those storylines straight in your head?
Good question!  The main thing that helps here is that I try to read a lot of variety.  I found that when I was reading a lot more super-hero books that the stories all started blending together in my head.  That’s not to say they are all the same, Charles Soule’s She Hulk is very different from Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, and that helps me keep them straight.  So, in addition to trying to read super-hero books that each have a very different “voice” to the storytelling, I read many genres of indie books.  Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, Matt Kindt’s Mind Mgmt, Brian Wood’s The Massive, Ed Brubaker’s The Fade Out. Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising.  These are all so different that I have no trouble at all keeping them straight in my head.

Do you collect trades?
Of course.  I have almost all of the Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives,  Another Rainbow’s Carl Barks Library and Russ Cochran’s Complete EC Library ans 100s of others.  I prefer hardcovers nowadays.

How/where do you spend all that money on comics?
First, I get a pretty good deal on my new comics from Discount Comic Book Service.  I’ve been with them for 9 years and they’ve been great to me.  I also visit a local shop in Orange County, CA – Comics Toons N’ Toys – pretty much every week.  They have a fabulous selection of new comics, they carry pretty much everything that comes out and offer a discount off cover price on every new comic sold!  I talk about a lot of the places to buy back issues (that I buy every month) on the ComicSpectrum site.
Second, I have been collecting for 44 years, this collection didn’t appear overnight.  When my kids were little and money was tight I was absolutely not buying 140 comics per month.  I cut back to probably 20 or so titles for a number of years.  Providing for my family has always come first.  But now, with one son out of college & in the workforce and the other nearing college graduation, I have the luxury of being able to buy more comics.  I don’t spend money on a lot of other stuff, this is what I enjoy.

Is your collection insured?
Absolutely!  http://www.collectinsure.com/

Do you buy bags & boards every week?
I buy them by the 1000 about every 3 months (It’s a bit cheaper that way) .  You can check out my blog with more info on bags/boards/boxes here.

Collecting is for fun not a competition!
I agree. I stumbled into this record when I realized that Guinness World Records had not yet created a category for largest comics collection.  I didn’t set out to have this big a collection when I was 8.
I submitted, did all the necessary work documenting & verifying my collection and am the 1st person to hold this particular record with Guinness.
I fully expect someone to surpass me, but do the work!  Don’t just shout out on internet message boards that “I have more comics than that guy”

Other Questions?  Post a comment below!

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Posted in Collecting History, Comics Collection, Guinness World Record | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Flying Below the Radar: September 2014

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This is a Blog I do once a month as I read through the advance solicits for comics shipping in two months.  Every month your local comic shop (LCS) places orders with Diamond Comics for what comics will be on their rack two months down the road.  That means in September they’re ordering the things that they’ll be selling in November, 2014.

This month we have a lot of great items that could have flown below your radar!  A new series set in 1970’s Hell’s Kitchen, an examination of conspiracy theories and what if many of them were true, and Quentin Tarantino teams up with Matt Wagner to bring us a team-up of Django and Zorro!  What about people who have not only lived past lives, but can exploit the abilities of those past lives?  We have a tribute to the work of Ray Bradbury, a girl fighting her way past 9 trials from 9 gods to save her terminally ill brother, and a ape biker gang.  How about a super-hero who can’t be killed on death row, or an ongoing series for everyone’s favorite teenage witch or a photographic guide that will help you grade your comics?  Check out these and many more comics that could have easily flown below your radar!  I cover lots of cool stuff that you may miss if you’re not reading though all the solicits like I do…  I scour the solicits so you don’t have to!

Comic shop owners are typically aware of the books from the big publishers particularly superhero stuff and “hot” indie books (usually AFTER they become hot) - beyond that there are no guarantees.  Even if they know about a particular comic they may not order it to put out on their racks.  I keep track of advance solicits that get posted on-line on the ComicSpectrum website each month, if there is something you really want that’s not guaranteed to be on the rack (like Batman or Avengers), you should consider letting your comic shop know you’re interested so they’ll know to order it.

Most of the items shown here are things you may not see on the racks in every comic shop.  If it looks cool to you, make sure you ask your LCS to order it.  Heck, start a pull list at your shop and add the books you’re interested in so your shop will save them for you and you don’t have to worry about them selling out.

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CREDIT: DC/Vertigo                               CREDIT: DC Comics

THE KITCHEN #1 (of 8) [DC/Vertigo]
Ollie Masters (Writer) • Ming Doyle (Artist)
New York City, late 1970s. Times Square is a haven for sex and drugs. The city teeters on the verge of bankruptcy, while blackouts can strike at any moment.   The Irish gangs of Hell’s Kitchen rule the neighborhood, bringing terror to the streets and doing the dirty work for the Italian Mafia. Jimmy Brennan and his crew were the hardest bastards in the Kitchen, but after they’re all put in prison, their wives – Kath, Raven and Angie – decide to keep running their rackets. And once they get a taste of the fast life and easy money, it won’t be easy to stop.
THE KITCHEN takes one of the most popular genres in entertainment and, like The Sopranos, re-imagines it for a new generation to present a classic gangster story told from a fresh point of view.
FC / 32 pgs / $2.99

THE MULTIVERSITY: PAX AMERICANA #1 [ DC Comics]
Grant Morrison (Writer) • Frank Quitely (Artist)
A stand-alone issue which also acts as chapter four of the MULTIVERSITY storyline.
Morrison and Quitely investigate the conspiracy on Earth-4, home of Pax Americana! Told backwards through an experimental storytelling technique that reveals new mysteries with each turn of the page, PAX AMERICANA stars The Question, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and Peacemaker like you’ve never seen them before! As the assassination of the U.S. president leads to political intrigue, interpersonal drama and astro-physical wonder, the truth behind the crime and those involved will blow your mind! What confidential conversation between the president and Captain Atom could reveal everything? How far will The Question take his hunt for the truth before he hurts his former friends – or himself? And who is the steel-handed bogeyman operating in the shadows?
FC / 48 pgs / $4.99

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CREDIT: Avatar Press                             CREDIT: Legendary Comics

DARK GODS #1 [Avatar Press]
Justin Jordan (writer) • German Erramouspe (Artist)
Murdock leads The Storm, humanities last line of defense against the brewing Primordial Chaos and The Serpent, Tiamet herself! But her children slowly emerge ahead of her return, as human-monster hybrids inflicting horrors in their wake. The Storm has to keep this bottled up, prevent the rest of humanity from breaking into panic, and hold back the flood of horrors that come with the return of the original evils, the Dark Gods themselves!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

EPOCHALYPSE #1 [Legendary Comics]
Jonathan Hennessey (writer) • Shane Davis (artist)
When a mysterious space-time phenomenon causes 600 years of human history to collapse into a single era, societies from the past, present, and future are forced to coexist in a dystopian civilization. To set the timeline straight, an elite team of Resynchronization Officers must rid the world of Anachronisms — futuristic artifacts that threaten the very laws of time. To ensure our future, we must undo it. As one defiant officer leads the manhunt for elusive scientist Dr. Tomorrow and notorious outlaw The Salesman, he is challenged by shadowy agencies, rebel militias, and forbidden desire. Can our hero save history — or doom the future? By historical author Jonathan Hennessey (The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation) and artist Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One).
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

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CREDIT: Oni Press                                   CREDIT: BOOM! Studios

THE LIFE AFTER VOLUME ONE SC [Oni Press]
Joshua Fialkov (writer) • Gabo (artist)
Jump on now if you missed this in single issues!
Jude’s life is nothing special. It seems like every day is just a repeat of the last one, until one day, he meets a woman and can suddenly see into her past — revealing that he is actually in Purgatory for suicides. Now that he’s awake, he and the legendary Ernest Hemingway are on the path to change things in the afterlife for the better. Of course, that might not sit very well with the bigwigs down below or up above. Can just a few people change the course of billions of souls? Collects the first five issue of the ongoing series.
FC / 136 pgs / $9.99

DEEP STATE #1 [BOOM! Studios]
Justin Jordan (writer) • Ariela Kristantina (Artist)
You know all those conspiracy theories you hear about? Like how the Jonestown Massacre was a failed MKULTRA experiment by the government, or how Lee Harvey Oswald was trained and brainwashed to be an assassin? Well, what if some of those were true?
John Harrow doesn’t exist, and his job is to make sure that other things don’t exist, too. At any given time, the government is running dozens of black book operations, experiments that aren’t on any official record and are never acknowledged to exist. Some of these are innocuous. Some of them are monstrous beyond reason. And most of the time, they go as expected and the public is never the wiser. Most of the time. John Harrow’s job is to handle them when things go wrong, and do anything to make sure the government’s secrets stay just that—secret.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

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CREDIT: Dynamite Comics                      CREDIT: Dark Horse Comics

DJANGO/ZORRO #1 [Dynamite]
Quentin Tarantino, Matt Wagner (writers) • Esteve Polls (artist)
The official sequel to Django Unchained in the first-ever comic book sequel ever done of a Tarantino film! Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django/Zorro #1 finds Django again pursuing the evil that men do in his role as a bounty hunter. Since there’s a warrant on his head back east, he’s mainly been plying his trade in the western states. After safely settling his wife, Broomhilda, near Chicago, he’s again taken to the road, sending her funds whenever he completes a job. It’s by sheer chance that he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega — the famed Zorro — and soon finds himself fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s ever met who seems totally unconcerned with the color of Django’s skin… and who can hold his own in a fight. He hires on as Diego’s “bodyguard” for one adventure and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from a brutal servitude, discovering that slavery isn’t exclusive to black folks. In the course of this adventure, he learns much from the older man (much like King Schultz) and, on several occasions, even dons the mask and the whip… of The Fox!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

RESURRECTIONISTS #1 [Dark Horse]
Fred Van Lente (writer) • Maurizio Rosenzweig & Moreno Dinisio (artists)
Are you near-death experienced? Framed architect-turned-thief Jericho Way has discovered he’s a Resurrectionist, one of a select group of people who can not only remember their past lives, but become them. Two groups are now after his services—the Sojourn corporation, which wants to exploit his powers for mysterious purposes, and a motley crew of modern-day tomb robbers who have been trying to pull the same impossible heist for 3,000 years—and if Jericho joins them, he may steal back his own future!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50

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CREDIT: Valiant                                        CREDIT: Valiant

ETERNAL WARRIOR DAYS OF STEEL #1 (of 3) [Valiant]
Peter Milligan (writer) • Cary Nord (artist)
The Eternal Warrior…Gilad Anni-Padda, the Earth’s Fist and Steel…is forever charged with guarding the Geomancer and securing the Earth’s safety. After completing another brutal mission, the Earth’s undying guardian is approached with a cryptic task: find and save a baby — in whose hands might rest the fate of an entire people. But the Eternal Warrior is no nursemaid…and, to complicate matters, a thousand Magyar invaders want the baby dead. At the edge of civilization, can history’s most expert killer keep one precious life alive?
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

PUNK MAMBO #0 [Valiant]
Peter Milligan (writer) • Robert Gill (artist)
From a posh girls’ boarding school, to the slimy gutter of the London punk scene, to sniffing voodoo glue in a Louisiana swamp…how did the Punk Mambo haul herself from the upper crust to the backwater? Now, Punk Mambo is about to head back home to spread some much-needed anarchy in the UK! The punks and the voodoo priests she used to know have cleaned themselves up, and she’s a loud, belching ghost from their past, come to break in the new furniture…and break some faces!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

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CREDIT: Marvel Comics

PAINKILLER JANE: THE 22 BRIDES TPB [Marvel]
Jimmy Palmiotti (writer) • Juan Santacruz & Steve Mannion (artists)
Romance and chaos is in the air as Painkiller Jane is joined by a group of mercenary assassins called the 22 Brides… It’s nonstop action as Jane and the Brides take on a group of underground terrorists causing chaos in New York City — but when they get wind of the terrorists’ next target, their war becomes a desperate race against time, and Jane and her newfound allies must beat the clock to stop the mysterious plot before hundreds are killed! Plus: a special story by Steve Mannion, featuring Painkiller Jane on the hunt for a killer!
FC / 120 pgs / $17.99

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CREDIT: IDW Publishing                        CREDIT: IDW Publishing

SHADOW SHOW #1 [IDW]
Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella (writers) • Charles Paul Wilson III (artist)
In Shadow Show, acclaimed writers and come together to pay tribute to the work of the one and only Ray Bradbury, the incomparable literary artist who has given us such timeless classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine. Up first is “By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” written by Joe Hill and adapted by Jason Ciaramella and Charles Paul Wilson III. In this haunting story, Gail and Joel, two young teens, form an unlikely bond over the discovery of a lifetime. But their lives will soon be changed, forever altered by what they found that foggy day by the silver waters of Lake Champlain.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

THE BIGGER BANG #1 (OF 4) [IDW]
D.J. Kirkbride (writer) • Vassilis Gogtzilas (artist)
The Big Bang created all life as we know it. The Bigger Bang, a universe killing event, creates just one: a being named Cosmos. Is he a destroyer? A hero? A god? All he knows is that he’s completely alone in what was our universe… so he seeks out another where he’ll try to atone for the sins of his mysterious creation. A new creator-owned mini-series from IDW.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

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CREDIT: Action Lab                                  CREDIT: Devil’s Due Publishing

FIGHT LIKE A GIRL #1 (of 4) [Action Lab]
David Pinckney (writer) • Soo Lee (artist)
Standing before a jury of nine gods, Amarosa pleads for a chance to risk her life and gain entry to the Wishing Well where she will attempt to fight her way through and survive nine trials to claim her prize: a single wish that will save her terminally-ill brother.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

SOLITARY #1 [Devil's Due Publishing]
CW Cooke (writer) • Nando Souzamotta (artist)
They say orange is the new black, but does that go for superheroes as well? Tim was a superhero for a short time. One able to heal from any wound. But now, he’s on death row, awaiting execution at the hands of a corrupt warden, innocent of any true crime. Such begins the upcoming tribulation of a hero on death row… who may just be immortal. Check out a preview of #1 here.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

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CREDIT: Image Comics                             CREDIT: Image Comics

TOOTH & CLAW #1 [Image]
Kurt Busiek (writer) • Ben Dewey (artist)
Conan meets Game of Thrones meets Kamandi in an original high-fantasy epic for mature readers, as a secret conclave of wizards brings a legendary champion back through time to save the world, with disastrous consequences.
The action begins in a spectacular DOUBLE-SIZED FIRST ISSUE, with forty-four pages of story with no ads for the regular price of just $2.99!
FC / 48 pgs / $2.99

THE HUMANS #1 [Image]
Keenan Marshall Keller (writer) • Tom Neely (artist)
Apart, they are nothing…deemed by society as outcasts, misfits, losers, no good punks! But together, they are THE HUMANS! THE HUMANS is a high-octane, no-holds-barred, ape-biker-gang chopper ride into ’70s exploitation genre bliss. Follow Bobby, Johnny, and all The HUMANS as they fight and fly down the road to oblivion on a ride filled with chains, sex, leather, denim, hair, blood, bananas, and chrome.
FC / 32 pgs / $2.99

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CREDIT: Image Comics                           CREDIT: Image Comics

SAVAGE DRAGON #200 [Image]
Erik Larsen & Gary Carlson (writers) • Erik Larsen, Herb Trimpe, Chris Burnham, Nikos Koutsis, Frank Fosco & Travis Sengaus (artists)
Erik Larsen has been doing this series since 1992, that’s a looong time! For the 200th issue of the ongoing series Savage Dragon is out of prison and the Vicious Circle is gunning for him. Malcolm Dragon and his stepsister Angel join forces to keep their father alive against an all-out assault in this movie-length epic. Back up stories include an Angel and Mr. Glum story drawn by Batman alum CHRIS BURNHAM, Malcolm and Savage Dragon in WWII by legendary Incredible Hulk artist HERB TRIMPE, Special Agents Strikeforce by NIKOS KOUTSIS, Vanguard by GARY CARLSON and FRANK FOSCO and Malcolm Dragon by TRAVIS SENGAUS.
FC / 100 pgs / $8.99

ODY-C #1 [Image]
Matt Fraction (writer) • Christian Ward (artist)
An epic 26 centuries in the making: In the aftermath of a galactic war a hundred years long, Odyssia the Clever Champion and her compatriots begin their longest, strangest trip yet: the one home. A gender-bent eye-popping psychedelic science fiction odyssey begins here!
FC / 40 pgs / $3.99

OverstreetCaptain Stone1
CREDIT: Gemstone Publishing             CREDIT: Titan Comics

OVERSTREET GUIDE TO GRADING COMICS 2015 [Gemstone]
Robert M. Overstreet (writer)
An essential guide for people who want to learn more about the 10-point grading scale for comics.  Since 1970, the name “Overstreet” has symbolized a vast knowledge of American comic books. This guide teaches you the importance of condition (a factor that is often the key to real collectability) and how to grade accurately. The Overstreet Guide To Grading Comics includes the 10-point grading system, as well as exhaustive descriptions of Primary and Split Grades, examples of each grade with more than 200 full-color images in all, articles on storage, preservation, and restoration, a look at the independent, third-party grading companies, and much more!
FC / 360 pgs / $24.95

CAPTAIN STONE #1 [Titan]
Liam Sharp & Christina McCormack (writers) • Liam Sharp (artist)
The world’s first and only superhero has disappeared after undergoing a cataclysmic fall from grace in the eyes of the world. Middle-aged and unable to support his operations he had made a preposterous claim that the world was in danger, a notion derided by the media and the public at large. But what if the claim is true? Outcast writer and infamous murderess Charlie Chance, AKA The Pet, finds herself searching for the one man who was able to bring her to justice – Captain Stone.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Nocturnals Legendsabrina3b
CREDIT: Big Wow Art                                   CREDIT: Archie Comics

NOCTURNALS LEGEND HC [Big Wow Art]
Dan Brerton (artist)
A twenty year retrospective celebrating Dan Brereton’s Eisner-nominated series of dark pulp heroes, the Nocturnals. Packed with many never-before-published illustrations, as well as paintings and drawings spanning the twenty year history of this influential “monster noir” series.
FC / 152 pgs / $39.99

SABRINA #3 [Archie Comics]
Roberto Aguirre Sacasa (writers) • Robert Hack & Rachel Deering (artists)
Now an Ongoing Series! Rejected by the Council, Sabrina takes matters into her own hands to find Harvey’s missing soul. Recruiting two other young witches (from a neighboring coven), Sabrina holds a seance to locate her missing friend, but as ever, Madame Satan is pulling the strings behind the scenes. What Sabrina taps into is much more dangerous and diabolical and will send our beloved teen witch on an epic quest.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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To Slab or Not to Slab…

 CGC BooksThere are great reasons to slab a comic (slabbing is slang for getting a comic professionally graded and encased in an un-openable hard plastic shell from CGC, PGX, or CBCS).  We’ll do a subsequent blog talking about the merits of the various companies that offer grading/slabbing services, but for right now, let’s concentrate on the general concept of slabbing your comics.

If you’re purely interested in protecting your comics, mylar and acid free boards will protect the books just fine.   Have a look at the Blog entry on bags & boards for more info on this.  If you want to go the extra mile, stick your mylar bag into a top loader.  This will provide really sound protection for your comic for considerably less than you will pay to have it slabbed.

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Shawn purchased Avengers #58 slabbed because there are often accuracy issues with grading a cover with a lot of white

On the other hand, if you are buying an expensive comic over the internet and want a 3rd party graded copy to ensure you that you’re getting what you’re paying for, getting a slabbed book is a way to ensure that.  Third party grading will alleviate any worries about misrepresented grades and restoration.  However, you will often pay for that privilege.  High-grade slabbed books will frequently sell for multiples of what an unslabbed (also called “raw”) book will sell for.  In fact prices can vary quite a lot in the Near Mint to Mint Range.  The Overstreet Price guide doesn’t assign price values to books over 9.2 stating that prices in these grades are “frequently considered extremely volatile”.

When buying over the internet, slabbed books are protection against the non-professional graders out there (even among dealers) who have a wide variety of skill on grading in the fine, very fine and near mint categories.  Each grading point can sometimes amount to a non-trivial increase in price so a misgraded book can cost a buyer some money.  Slabbing is a benefit in the internet age not only for the buyer since almost everyone can become a potential dealer; slabbed books are more ‘liquid’ and are generally easier to sell .

CGC 10

Bob bought this slabbed variant cover because (1) it’s a really cool homage to the classic Green Lantern #76 – and- (2) He wanted to have a perfect “Gem Mint” comic in his collection

What about if you want a “perfect comic”?  If you do you’d better get 3rd party verification.  If you’re a stickler for 9.8 or higher, you NEED 3rd party verification.  The differences in grade are so minor at the very top end of the grading scale that the slightest flaw can change the grade.  Once you get a really high grade verified by a 3rd party, you never want to physically touch that book again.  Any kind of handling could easily drop a grade to 9.6 or lower.  That’s why slabbed books cannot be opened and slabbing will turn your comic into something that just can be displayed (or stored away).  Opening the slab (also called ‘cracking the slab’) invalidates the grade and it will need to be re-submitted to get it re-slabbed.

So, lots of reasons to buy books that are slabbed.  What about slabbing your own books? Slabbing your own books can be done for a variety of reasons;

  1. You are interested in preserving the book (see above, use mylar if this is your only motivation)
  2. You are interested in re-selling the book down the line (having the book slabbed will make it easier to re-sell, but not necessarily at a premium)
  3. You want the opinion of a 3rd party grading service
  4. You want 3rd party assurance that your comics are a certain grade or above (you want a certified “high grade” collection)
  5. You think slabbed books are “just cool

Be very careful when deciding what to have slabbed.  High grade books are great candidates, as are “keys” (e.g. a #1 comic, a 1st appearance, death, or other significant event).  Slabbing a random non-key book is often not likely to pay off in increased value, nor will slabbing books under 6.0, after grading costs you may in fact lose you money if ever attempting to resell lower grade non-keys.  As with anything, slabbing lots of books make the “per each” cost less.  A dealer that sends in a whole bunch of stuff is going to get a better price than a collector who slabs a couple of books every now and again.

Our philosophy on slabbing below 6.0 is “Do it if that plastic case makes you feel happy, because it’s not necessarily going to make you $$$.”  If it makes you happy, no one can take that away from you.

Cerebus_12

Bob bought this Cerebus #12 for about 75% of guide value (shipping included), even though it was graded 9.4

Many people interested in buying slabbed books are primarily interested in buying higher grade books.  Lower grade slabs seem to be a buyer’s market on many books.  Bob knows from the personal experience of buying CGC’d 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 books significantly BELOW guide prices (including keys like Amazing Spider-Man #1 and Showcase #22) that slabbing books that are not considered “investment grade” will often not pay off from a resale point of view.  This is not to say that they are not worth money, or that you may not be able to find some buyer somewhere willing to pay full guide or even a bit more for that slabbed book in 4.5.   In fact, depending on the age price and significance, some lower grade books may pay off for you if slabbed, it’s just not as much a sure thing as a slabbed high grade comic. Keep in mind that if you need to sell, those lower grade books may not be worth MORE if they are slabbed but will likely sell quicker since they buyer has an assurance as to the grade.

For recent books, the market is even more volatile if you don’t get that 9.8 (or the ever elusive 9.9 or 10.0).  We’ve seen books from the past few years in 9.6, 9.4, and 9.2 selling for less than what a regular collector not getting bulk dealer pricing would pay to get them slabbed.  This is where having some really strong advice on pre-grading books that are submitted could save you big bucks.  Anything from the past 10 years that is not a “super-key” book should be as high a grade as possible  if you are slabbing it as an investment.

So, To Slab or Not to Slab?   The answer is “it depends”.
If you do it for the right reasons it can be fun and enhance your collecting and/or re-sale experience.  Hopefully you’ll have enough knowledge going in to make the right choice.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com -and-
Shawn Hoklas:
shawn@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Guest Blog: Con Report – Wizard World Chicago 2014

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Wizard World Chicago at the Rosemont Convention Center.

Chicago has two major comic book conventions; C2E2 in April taking place at the McCormick place in downtown Chicago, and Wizard World in August, which takes place in the city of Rosemont about 30 minutes outside of the city. What for years was known as Chicago Comicon, was purchased by Wizard in 1997 and Wizard has expanded their lineup ever since, and quite dramatically this past year and into next, with a planned 22 shows that includes nine new cities. That’s quite a bit of growth for the company as they look to expand in areas where there may not be so many established cons, like Des Moines, Greenville and Raleigh. You can see a more complete list of conventions on the ComicSpectrum Convention calendar.

Although it can be a bit popular to pick on Wizard when compared to the other major cons, I felt that this year they did quite a bit right and was one of their more enjoyable conventions in recent years. Below are just a few reasons why;

  • They split the show into two areas, one focused primarily on Comic Book Dealers and Artist’s Alley, and the other side of the con for the autographs, toys and miscellaneous dealers. These two area were separated by the large lobby where photos can be taken and the cosplayers can hang out and mingle. Last year Artist’s Alley was away from the comic dealers which didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so to see them back together was a pleasant and smart change. Because of the split, it also made the show feel less busy and less congested which was much more enjoyable compared to previous years. It will be interesting to see how the attendance compares to past years, but once the show started it never felt crazy which made the whole weekend seemed relaxed.
  • In terms of Artist’s Alley, there was a smaller amount of big time artists, but because the layout of the floor was planned so intelligently, getting to the artists was nice and easy. I was able to meet quite a few artists and writers and they all had the time to talk. They weren’t the main attraction at this show though, and it’s not surprising why the major publishers don’t attend.
  • Wizard doesn’t tend to get all the big comics publishers and as a result they put a focus on the big names just outside of the comic world. With names like Norman Reedus, John Carpenter and Patrick Stewart, they cater to a wider range audience that includes a nice gender balance.  There are also fewer panels targeted at comic fans, the panels they do have attract the diverse media oriented pop culture audience they seem to be targeting.
  • The dealers of comics seemed a little less than previous years, but there was still plenty to buy. CGC was doing on-site grading which is always a plus, and one of the rare shows where they actually do this. The CGC booth is always crowded and is a big reason for many local/small dealers and comic collectors to attend the show.
  • Pop culture oriented conventions have become very popular and tickets sold out early this year. If you plan on going next year, I’d strongly advise ordering your tickets as soon as they go on sale. Having to buy the individual days if you plan on going for more than just one day is not cost effective ($60 for just Saturday!).

Wizard World made a lot of improvements to their show this year and successfully managed the thousands of attendees, so much so that at times it had a “small show feel” despite the large size. As they add more shows to their calendar, it’s clear that they’re making things better. That benefits everyone, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they improve even more next August.

Shawn Hoklas for https://comicspectrum.com/
Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Marvel’s 75th Anniversary Omnibus

Marvel75
CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Marvel is producing a HUGE 1000 page omnibus featuring 75 of the top Marvel stories as voted by fans.  Keep that last part in mind: “as voted by fans”.

By doing the selection based on an online poll on Marvel.com this project has turned what could have been a cataloging of the best of the best into a popularity contest amongst fans who tend to hang around on their web-site.  A side-benefit is that they’re able to shrug off any questions about why something placed at a certain location on the list or even why some selections were on the list at all by pointing at the fans and saying “That’s how the vote turned out.”

I’m not trying to say that this is bad stuff, there are some truly great comics here, just that the specific rank order looks a bit off of what I’d expect (and I’m sure everyone has their own unique order).  The full list is on Marvel’s web-site, let’s look at the Top 10:
1. SPIDER-MAN: THE DEATH OF GWEN STACY
2. CIVIL WAR
3. SPIDER-MAN: KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT
4. DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN
5. X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA
6. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
7. THE INFINITY GAUNTLET
8. MARVELS #1
9. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
10. AMAZING FANTASY #15

This is pretty balanced: 3 Spider-Man stories, 3 event-type stories with a plethora of characters from the Marvel Universe, 2 X-Men, Daredevil, and Captain America.  I’m a bit surprised there was not more X-Men or an Avengers story in the top 10.  Spidey for the win!

Looking at the specifics, I was kind of astonished that Civil War came in as #2 from the entirety of Marvel’s 75 year history.  In my opinion this is more due to a lack of awareness of the fans voting than anything to do with how awesome Civil War is as a story.  In general, we see a lot of things on the list that have either been made into movies or that are reprinted with regularity and so are in the front of people’s minds.  In the case of Civil War, it’s probably that it’s the fan favorite Marvel “event” of the past 10 years, which could be the entire time most voting fans have been reading Marvel.

Many recent Marvel events are on the list; Annihilation, House of M, Planet Hulk, Secret Invasion, World War Hulk.  That they all paced in the Top 75 of 75 year history of Marvel is a tribute to Marvel’s marketing machine, and good evidence why they keep doing several events every year.  Fans love them and they sell a lot of comics.  Selling comic is, after all, why Marvel is in business.  If events make this happen, then events they shall publish.  It’s also a re-assertion that the “window of awareness” for fans is likely about 10 years with selected classics kept available as reprints also scratching on their awareness.  That Amazing Spider-Man #700 charted at #46 is probably as far as one needs to look to confirm a really narrow window of awareness for fans voting on this list.

This Omnibus will ship in November (and will be on next month’s September Previews order form).  At a list price of $99.99 for 1000 pages, it’s a pretty decent price for that many pages of comics, as long as you don’t already have most of the stuff being included.  Amazon has it for $76.88 as of this writing and I suspect other on-line sites (like DCBS) will have it for an even more attractive price.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Collecting Variants in the Phantom Zone

PhantomLogoKilljoysPhantomPhantomLogo

I’ve talked about variant covers before (differentiating them from chase covers, look here for a reminder of the difference).  I like comics art and as a result, when they are reasonably priced, I will often pick up a variant cover for the sole reason that I like the art and I buy it as an object d’art.

If you like to collect variant covers you may have noticed the sub-genre of variants that are offered by a specific store with the store logo.  Forbidden Planet in the UK, Midtown Comics in NYC, Jetpack Comics and many more work with publishers to offer variant covers with some very nice art. The Phantom Group is a collective of more than 30 comics retailers (some of whom also offer store exclusives) that got together and pooled their resources to offer shared variant covers with the Phantom variant logo (seen at the head of this blog).  This allows collectors to get some really nifty things like the Paul Pope cover to The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (also seen above).

Revival

Another fun aspect of Phantom variants is when there is a series of covers that join together to form a connecting image.  An impressive example of this is Revival #1-10, which is challenging to display in a way that shows off the full scope of the art (the best way would be to put them on a wall, but I don’t have that kind of wall space).  Tradd Moore has a cool image of the combined image from issues #1-6 of Luther Strode on his Blog.

02_Saga2SC1-Ghost

An alternate to the Phantom variant is the “Ghost variant” which is also available through a select group of retailers but is released with no promotion prior to the day of release.  A few of my favorite examples of this type of variant are the Paul Pope variant for Saga #7 featuring The Stalk and Yuko Shimizu’s variant for Sex Criminals #1.

Low1-ExclusiveStore exclusive covers are usually nice but sometimes come with some really not nice prices (Jetpack is a big offender here, the Low #1 Jetpack/Forbidden Planet variant is $14.99 from Jetpack and £4.99, which is $8.40, from Forbidden Planet).  I’m not that big of a fan of paying $10+ for a $4 comic just to get a different cover image, but I’m often happy to kick in an extra buck or 2 over normal cover price and pay $5-6 for a comic with piece of art I really like.  If you wait around you can often find bundles of these on eBay, I recently got a bundle of the phantom variants to Bedlam #1-6 for $25, which came out to be $4.16 each, not much over normal cover price for the issues.  These end up on display on my spinner rack for several months and I justify them as both decorations for the comics room and cool collectibles.

The Phantom Group web-site has some useful information about the program but is really out of date.  As of this writing (in August 2014) it appears to not have been updated in over a year (since May 2013).  Phantom variants are still coming out, but whoever was in charge of keeping up the web-site has been asleep at the wheel.

If you like variant covers and cool artistic takes on favorite characters/series look into the sub-genre of collecting Phantom/Ghost/Store Exclusive covers, but shop around.  These are worth what consumers will pay.  If customers refuse to pay outrageous prices to a store for these variants they’ll ultimately lower the price to a more reasonable level to move their stock of exclusive covers.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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