4/26/04 - In my 4/7/04 COTD entry, I made the following observation:
"You'd be hard pressed to get a collector to freely admit they collect romance comics. But don't be fooled....there are more out there than will admit it. And some are very hard core about it. Due to general distain by dealers, some romance titles can be very difficult to find in nice shape, if at all. For the collector who wants a challenge, try the romance titles. Just be careful on who you tell....."
Reader Lee dB sent me an e-mail where not only is he proud of the fact he collects romance comics but is mighty enthusiastic about it as well......
Original EC comic book panel from MODERN LOVE circa 1949
Custom oil painting by Cyril Jordan, San Francisco - 2003
I'm a 37 year old guy, and as straight as they come, but I think that romance comics are really fun, and that there are some romance comics out there that may outlast the superhero genre.
First, a bit of background. Like many others from the X Generation, I began collecting Richie Rich and Archie, and then progressed to Spider-Man and Jonah Hex and so forth. Then I got out of comics, went through high school and college and grad school, and got back into it when I found that I had a valuable collection. Having been a college newspaper editor, in the mid-1990s I edited some of the Sotheby's Comic & Comic Art auction catalogs.
And one morning, while doing that editing,
I ran across some EC romance art, original stuff from the late 1940s, and it
caught my eye.
It seemed VERY "Pop Art"-like, tremendously similar to Roy Lichtenstein's work in the early 1960s, the paintings now worth millions of dollars. So I decided to buy some of the EC art at auction, and I started collecting romance art and comics from the earliest point, about 1948/49. There is a limited amount of material out there, so eventually my collection from that era became rather complete.
And then a few years passed and, finally . . . REVELATION!
A few months ago I was sitting in the Stanford Theatre, one of America's premier film revival houses, watching a film noir and it suddenly dawned on me: those aren't ROMANCE comics -- they're FILM NOIR comics. Which is why I not only recommend "romance" comics from the late 1940s as a great collecting choice, but also suggest that their popularity will coincide with Film Noir, and will probably outlast the superhero genre.
Superman - Batman - Spider-Man - Spawn - Hellboy -- these fellas will come and go. But The Maltese Falcon and other Film Noir are here forevermore -- and the late 1940s comics that swiped ideas from those films will remain equally timeless.
Interesting viewpoint....let me add a couple of points.....
It still amazes
me that comics could have such an influence on our culture but still be regarded
as one of the lowest forms of American literature. People are paying vast
sums for Frazetta art but wouldn't be caught dead displaying a comic. Or
that you could go to any hellhole in the world and people would recognize
characters like Superman or Spider-Man. Not to mention your example of
obvious copying of comic panels is immediately seen as a legitimate
"mainstream" form of art. It seems like people will accept
comic-related images and stories only if the comic book part of the equation is
factored out . . . seems ignorant and closed minded to me and I've never really
been able to pin down the rationale for that.
Also it seems to me that for "film-noir" comics to be successful, a new "type" of collector will have to emerge that understands and appreciates both media to make the connection. This has obviously happened with you but the mainstream populous still sees comics as mostly a childish endeavor featuring cartoon superheroes. This perception is slowly changing and will take years before being recognized as sophisticated enough for potential "film-noir" fans to grasp. I truly hope you're right as it would signal that comics are finally being regarded with more than general disdain . . .
On that note, thanks for sharing your experiences and I agree 100%.....romance, or "film-noir", comics are a great collecting choice and can be an adventure for those that like the hunt!
4/25/04 - A quick item concerning comics for a change. The new 2004 Overstreet Price Guide was released this week. My copy is still in the mail so I'm going to wait to get it in my hands before commenting. I do have some concerns with the guide, specifically their decision to drop the 9.4 notation and replace it with 9.2 (NM-). But again, I'll wait to comment until I have the book in hand.
One word of caution......I bought the electronic version available on the Heritage website thinking I could get a jump on my reading before my hardcopy arrived. Don't bother. Despite saying the price guide is complete and costing full cover price ($25), the electronic version is missing the Market Reports, Ads, and Articles. Only the price guide is available. I've contacted Heritage to try to get some fidelity on the matter as I wouldn't have wasted the money if I had known this beforehand but, of course, my e-mails are going unanswered. I'm going to contact Heritage via telephone tomorrow to see what the story is. I'll let you know when I do.....
4/25/04 - Well it seems that the computer is up and running as well as I can make it for now. You may or may not care what happened. If you're in the latter group I'd skip the rest of this (long) entry.......
We'll call this a brief history of what happened or how Jim's a dumbass.....
Almost two weeks ago my computer screen started to blink in and out as often as a rouge strobe light at a rave. Upon rebooting my computer, I received a message that my hard drive was in danger of imminent failure. A wonderful update message my wife noticed a week before but neglected to pass on to me. Only problem was that at the point I noticed the message, the computer hard drive had indeed failed and I wasn't given the courtesy of the "imminent" timeframe. So essentially the computer was dead. I couldn't retrieve any info on the hard drive with what I had available so I reformatted the drive. I know now that this was a huge mistake on my part as with additional tools I may have been able to pull some data off. It's too late now and I'm chalking it up as a lesson learned. The reformat was in vain though as the hard drive was still corrupted and unsalvageable. But the restore brought with it another problem.....
I promptly went to the computer store and bought a brand new Western Digital 160 GB hard drive. I pulled out my trusty COMPAQ Restore Disks and upon loading them (multiple times), I kept getting a "UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME" error on the last step of the restore process. I called Western Digital on the following Monday (they don't work weekends) and they thought it may be ATA cable problem. I promptly went to the computer store and got a 40/80 cable. Still didn't work. They suggested that I call COMPAQ to discuss and if that didn't help, then my HD was probably defective. In the meantime, I was able to get my old HD minimally working and was able to get an Internet connection. Upon researching the error, I found that COMPAQ had identified the problem and would supply an update CD to solve the error. Got COMPAQ on the horn and after getting transferred a couple times, I was told my 18 month old computer is not under warranty anymore and if I want any assistance, to include getting the update CD, then I'd have to pay $40. I balked at this as I believe I shouldn't have to pay anything because they obviously supplied me with faulty restore disks. A problem that they themselves had identified. Well I still wasn't going to get any love unless I paid the $40 regardless of my rational. I finally solved the problem by loading only the Windows XP restore disk and getting the set-up to repair the error.....no thanks to COMPAQ. But that was just the beginning of my problems I soon found out.....
Somewhere between getting my operating system back up on the new HD and loading my virus/firewall software, my computer was infected with two viruses, W32.GAOBOT.ZY and W32.RANDEX.GEN, that effectively stopped me from contacting either Symantec or any other virus websites to update my virus software. I believe now that I received the viruses in the five minutes between reloading my e-mail programs and reloading my virus/firewall software. I got Symantec on the horn but was politely told that they only supported Norton Virus 2002 on the Internet but if I bought the 2004 version they'd happily assist. This in spite of the fact that I paid $35 to update my subscription 4 months ago. So I was getting no love from Symantec either. I was finally able to rid myself of the viruses with the assistance of a friend of mine who is knowledgeable in hacking after a couple of frustrating days . To make a long story short......we essentially used a proxy server to get access to Symantec and their LiveUpdate server so I was able to download and update my software. After a few registry fixes, the viruses are gone, I have access to Symantec again, and all my computer software is updated and, seemingly, my computer is back up to speed.
I did have some items backed up on my old computer but I pretty much lost everything relating to this website. Not a huge deal as most is contained on my server host but some items will have to be reaccomplished. What did I learn from all of this?
- Never wipe the HD unless you're 100% sure that it's completely dead
- COMPAQ and Symantec customer service are useless unless you're willing to pay. Doesn't matter if you're current with them or not.
- Back up everything at least once a week.
- I'm now well versed in using proxies and hacker software if the need arises. OK....I never would use this knowledge but it's sure is nice to know.....
One last thing I noticed (if you've made it this far). I steadily received more hits per day for every day I was unable to access this site. People spent more time and accessed more areas of this website when it was "down" then when I was routinely posting new content. I'm still not sure this is a good or bad thing but thanks for the support nonetheless.....
4/19/04 - No I haven't forgotten about this site....
My home computer's hard drive crashed HARD and in doing so sent most everything, including the files that run this site, with it. I'm finally getting back to something approaching normalcy but haven't had access to this site until now because of it. I think I'll have everything back in shape over the next couple of days. When I do, new content will be forthcoming. I got lots of new issues to talk about too....just not the time or computer capability to post them right now. I apologize for this event.....and appreciate your patience while I finally get all the last bugs worked out.....
Again....thanks for supporting this site....
4/9/04 - As I've written in prior rants, being overseas can make collecting difficult. There aren't comic stores available, or anywhere really, to get your weekly fix or readily get back issues other than the occasional comics show. And even at the shows, the amount of US comics is paltry compared to their European counterparts. So, thank goodness for the Internet which allows me access to numerous dealers and perhaps the biggest comic "store" in the world.....eBay. I buy approximately 70% of my back issues from eBay. There are dangers though. The place is ripe with scammers and people that wouldn't know how to grade a comic even if they had a CGC label in their face. I've been relatively lucky. I've received comics that were advertised as NM and shown up as no better than VG. But only once in over 500 transactions have I not received an item I've paid for. I'm pretty sure that's not the norm......
So as a public service to those that read the site, I'll list my Top 5 eBay sellers. These are sellers that are a pleasure to deal with and their comic grades are mostly always on the mark. I usually don't like to recommend sellers as one bad deal could well reflect back on me but these guys (and girls) have gone out of their way to provide great customer service. Also, it's constructive to focus on the good sellers for a change than always harp on the bad ones. So on that note.......
drbanner - There isn't a stricter grader on eBay in my opinion. He doesn't always have items up for auction but when he does, you can be assured that his comic description is right-on the mark. In fact, the comic is more likely to be under graded than accurate.
make_it_so_marketing - This is where the majority of my eBay purchases have been coming from lately. Hundreds of comics are available from his eBay store and are fairly priced. Grading is usually spot-on. And most importantly, his customer service is impeccable. Always responsive to the end. He seems to care about his customers and his store.....and it shows.....
cedarchestcomics - One of my outlets to get higher grade, more expensive books. Their grading is generally spot-on, I've only had one difference of opinion that was handled very satisfactory, and good deals can be found occasionally. Comics are always shipped fast.
WeDoAuction - Doesn't sell comics but does sell bags and boards. Ships very fast. And is very responsive to questions. Becoming my main supplier of comic accessories.....
calm-mix - This recommendation comes with some reservation. This guy obviously is sitting on a very large early 70s remainder pile. The comics you get have been unread and can be very nice indeed. In fact, he's probably sold more than 200+ X-Man #94 and GS X-Men #1 in the last couple of years on eBay. I don't believe he's a comic collector though and his grading can be sporadic at times. He usually sells in lots of 10 or more. Distribution ink can be a problem on some. And he isn't the most responsive guy in the world. But with all that said, I've received some of the nicest Bronze Age Marvels I've ever seen from him. He is one of the major reasons I've been able to upgrade my Marvel Bronze collection to high grade in the last three years. If you buy from him make sure you look at the pictures carefully, especially for ink. But generally the pictures make the comics look much worse than they actually are. The word is out on this seller though so you're likely to have rival bidders on most of his lots. Of course you could hit his BINs but they've steadily gone up over the last year and are beginning to be outrageous. I always check out this guy's auctions.
So there you go....my Top 5 eBay sellers as they stand today. But they weren't the same 5 if you asked me last year and aren't likely to be the same Top 5 for next. But for right now....these dealers are where I'm comfortable putting my money......
4/4/04 - Out of all the various "stuff" I've written for this site, I've gotten more feedback on the Overstreet article than any other. I've been asked if I was going to do something similar when the new Overstreet edition hits the streets. Don't know right now. If there aren't any major changes in the book, there really isn't a need. But if I have the time, at the very least, I will find something to write about.
4/4/04 - If you've wondered why I haven't updated the website this week, I've spent the good part of my time after work rebag and boarding an old collection I recently bought. I've never cared much for the process of replacing bags but it's a necessary evil all collectors must go through now and again. But do we really? The conventional wisdom has always been that poly bags should be replaced every seven years or so. Sure you could buy Mylar sheets and end the replacement but at 10-13 cents a bag, it can get quite expensive. What I've noticed with this collection is the comics have been perfectly protected in spite of the fact they haven't been out of their bags for 25 or more years. The bags are yellow, dirty, and look terrible, but pull the comic out and it looks like the day it was bought off the newsstand. There are many explanations that could account for their preservation, being stored in a cool, dry environment being the most important. But the fact remains that the bags and boards did not damage the comics whatsoever despite warnings to the contrary. I've also noticed this with my own collection. I have comics that haven't been rebagged for 15 years or so. I've pulled a couple of these out and they still look like the day they were bought.
Also, comics have been granted very high grades by CGC after being pulled from those old 60-70s poly bags (which are supposed to be even worse than conventional bags) bundled with 3-5 comics for 59 cents. These comics are being graded with white pages with no loss of cover gloss. If you listen to the conservationists, these comics should be yellowed with pages starting to brittle. Not the case at all.
So are the bags really harmful to comics? I'm sure someone will send me a study from the Library of Congress outlining the harmful effects of poly bags but the fact remains comics that are kept in bags at least three times past their normal shelf life are not being damaged. Over an extended period, maybe 50-75 years, I'm sure that the bags may start to have an effect on the comics but all the evidence, at least that I can see, suggests the 7 year rule is bull. I'm not usually a fan of starting conspiracies but I can't help but think that the rule has been overstated to get collectors to buy new bags more regularly than needed. At the very least, I'm more at ease knowing that those comics in my collection that were bagged 15 years ago are still safe.....