4/17/06 -  As I wrote about in this article over a year ago, Scott Friesen, former CGC restoration expert, left the company to start up his own comics pressing company, Paper Collectibles Services (PCS).  Financed by CGC's umbrella parent, Certified Collectibles Group (CCG), and setting up down the hall from CGC's offices, Friesen started offering a pressing/restoration service open to only a few select clientele and unknown to anybody outside the CCG offices.  While operating, the whole endeavor was pretty much unknown to Comicdom at large unless you frequented a couple message boards or knew somebody who knew somebody.  None of the normal comics publications or Internet sites reported on PCS and little if any information was being released by CCG or CGC concerning the service.  Of course, those collectors who knew were divided on the whole enterprise or how CGC could remain impartial when a former CGC employee is pressing comics right down the hall.  They made their thoughts clear, including me, over the last year on the CGC Message Boards.  Apparently...somebody listened.  On 30 Mar 2006, the following announcement was released on the CGC message boards and appeared the next day on Diamond's Scoop comics website:

The Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) will begin formally closing Paper Collectibles Services (PCS). Paper Collectibles Services was developed to meet the needs of hobbyists for reliable professional comic book conservation. Effective Monday, April 3, 2006, it will discontinue all operations.

PCS performed comic book pressing, a common treatment which diminishes certain paper wrinkles, dents, and creases. While pressing is a necessary step of some conservation procedures, such as aqueous deacidification, it is primarily used to enhance a comic book’s visual appeal. Because this treatment can raise a comic book’s grade, many collectors believed this was in conflict with CGC, a comic book grading and certification company and also a member of the Certified Collectibles Group.

Key personnel will be transitioned to CGC’s restoration detection division. Chris Friesen, among the foremost experts in comic books restoration, conservation and certification, will leave PCS to rejoin CGC’s restoration detection team. Cantie Brevard, also a restoration and conservation expert, will also join this team.

Steven Eichenbaum, CEO of the Certified Collectibles Group, comments on this move: “Our primary purpose has always been to act in a protective role to the collectibles fields in which we operate. While I feel the value that PCS brings to the market has been misunderstood, we have always listened to all sides of every argument and responded to collectors and hobbyist as a fundamental component of our business development. Ultimately we did not feel that we were serving in the collectors’ best interest if there was a perception of conflict between CGC and PCS.”

“I’m extremely happy about this move, said Steven Borock, CGC’s President and Primary Grader, “I was very unhappy when CGC lost Chris as our top restoration detection expert. I and many others consider him to be the best in the world at what he does. Now, not only is he back in the position I originally hired him for, but he also brings with him to CGC another top expert, Cantie Brevard. This is not only good news for CGC, but for the entire hobby as well.”

So PCS, as a resto company, was no more.  It's interesting to note that this announcement was far more pro-active in getting the message out than any attempt at actually supplying information on the company while it was operating.  Regardless, this was the right move by CCG and frankly I'm surprised it took them a year to figure it out.  I suspect the dissolution has more to do with lack of performance (money) than having the best interest of the hobby in their sights.  If the latter was the case, they wouldn't have started the whole endeavor in the first place or immediately shut it down after the uproar it caused in early 2005.  And finally, who knows who Cantie Brevard is?  The name has never surfaced before in regards to comics restoration...

So you'd think those opposed to pressing should be happy about this development?  Well...yes...but it would only last a short time...

Not two weeks after the PCS shutdown announcement, Scoop posted on their website this article revealing that Matt Nelson of Classics Incorporated has lower his pressing and proscreen rates.  Not only were the rates decreased but in the article, Nelson gives CGC a resounding  thumbs up in regards to getting the high grade collection of your dreams.  And you also won't have a hassle if you use his service as a conduit to CGC grading.  This announcement brings up a couple of thoughts:

- This isn't the first time someone has offered a pressing service and Nelson has actually been doing it for awhile.  The difference is the "in your face" tone and distribution of the announcement.  Pressing pretty much has been a whispered topic in the hobby.  With this announcement, Nelson, known as one of top names in the comic restoration business, has slammed opened the doors.  If you previously thought pressing was a minor issue in the hobby or rarely done, you can leave your naiveté at the door because now there's no way of denying it...

- While the announcement is collector oriented, the real target is dealers of HG slabs.  The mention of decreasing rates as a result of filling in the gap left by PCS's shutdown confirms this.  You don't really think the select clientele Friesen was servicing were collectors do you?  There's no money there.  It's clear dealers were the ones approached.  And Nelson is keen on getting some of their business.  Maybe by being so overt about the announcement, Nelson suspects collectors won't cause as much of an uproar this time because he doesn't have ties to CGC thus dealers will be more inclined to use his service.  We'll just have to wait and see...

- It should be noted that since the former "EBay King of HG Comics Slabs", Jason Ewert (ejaenter), was outed as a fraud for selling trimmed comics in unrestored labels, Nelson (spectre52 on eBay) has emerged to take his place.  It's safe to assume now that all his comics for sale have, at a minimum, been pressed.   In fact, I think any CGC new blue label HG comics are suspect.  The only safe avenue now is the CGC old-style label...and even that isn't a guarantee...

So there you have it.  The pressing debate continues.  Not surprisingly, I find the announcement sickening if only for the audacity of it.  CGC is partly at fault here for contributing and catering to the label chaser mentality among some collectors.  Without that, the need for widespread pressing/cleaning to help a comic achieve its "Full Potential", a term used by Steve Borock, CGC Head, to justify the Boy Comics #17 rise from 4.0 to 9.0 upon regrading, is gone.  

Matt Nelson's announcement has definitely opened the comics "genie from the septic bottle".  The only hope now is for collectors to ignore these manufactured upgrade "wishes" and return the genie back to the crap it belongs...


4/16/06 -  Part 7 will cover the Bose wrap found in Marvels cover dated March 1985...

Military Insert Mania - Part 7

Marvel (& DC?) Inserts

-The Bose Wrap-

March 1985

Just when I thought I'd completed the Marvel series of military inserts another is discovered.  Shortly after I wrote Part 6, the Alka Seltzer/US Club wrap, I was contacted by a couple readers inquiring about another wrap appearing with Mark Jewelers insert comics in the mid-80s.  After a little digging, and a recent recheck of my insert collection, they were indeed correct.  The Bose wrap appeared in comics cover dated March 1985.  Like the other two wraps, it is not found in the centerfold like the NDS/MJ inserts.  The ad was placed directly behind the front and back covers on similar slick paper.  The ad campaign lasted exactly one month and can be found in Marvel, and possibly DC, comics cover dated March 1985.

Page 1 contained the Bose ad.  The ad features a pretty groovin' Loverboy reject with two Bose 901 speakers hooked up to a VCR.  Apparently this was an early attempt by Bose to get into the home theater market.  There is also a sweepstakes to win a pair of Bose 901s by filling out the attached coupon.  On a personal note, I used to own a pair of these speakers and they were wonderful...

Page 2 contained a pretty straightforward ad for One A Day vitamins.  

Page 3 contained another sweepstakes sponsored by Right Guard.  The winner would a receive $2000 credit with the local military exchange to buy sports equipment.  To enter, the attached 30 cent coupon for Right Guard had to be used at which time your name would be entered into the sweepstakes by the store.  Cut off for the contest was January 31, 1985...

Page 4 features a rather non-descript ad for AR speakers.  I can tell you that both Bose and AR were definitely targeting the right demographic.  Throughout the 80s and 90s, it was the rare military person living in the dorms that didn't have or was building mega stereo systems.  It was almost a status symbol with the military...the bigger and louder your system was, the cooler you were.  I still have my own mega system sitting in boxes at home to include my 200 Watt Yamaha amplifier and huge JBL speakers.  Not only could I listen but so could anyone else within a quarter mile...

You'll note that unlike the Mennen and AS/Club wraps, I haven't discounted the Bose wrap from being in DC comics.  While I could confirm their existence in Marvels, I do not have any March 1985 DCs in my insert collection nor could I find any at the comic shops I've had great success finding these comics.  DC was still carrying MJ inserts, even though they were soon to end, during this timeframe.  So if anyone has a March 1985 cover dated DC with the MJ insert, please feel free to contact me and confirm whether or not these issues contained the wrap.

Below is an example of the Bose wrap taken from Conan #168 Mar 1985.  Click on thumbnail scans for a bigger view of each page.  The same insert was used throughout all Marvel titles shipped to military exchanges...

Bose Insert Page 1 Bose Insert Page 2

Bose Insert Page 3 Bose Insert Page 4

The Bose wrap can be found in the following comics (I've confirmed those with an asterisk as having the insert):

Alpha Flight #20 *

Amazing Spider-Man #262 *

Avengers #253 *

Captain America #303 *

Conan the Barbarian #168 *

Daredevil #216 *

Dazzler #36 

Defenders #141 *

Fantastic Four #276 *

Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #27

GI Joe #33

Incredible Hulk #305 *

Iron Man #192 *

Marvel Tales #173

Micronauts: The New Voyages #6

New Mutants #25 *

Power Man and Iron Fist #115 *

Power Pack #8

Red Sonja #7

Rom #64

Star Wars #93 *

Thing #21 *

Thor #353 *

Uncanny X-Men #191 *

The Bose wrap can be found in Marvels and possibly DCs cover dated March 1985.  Also, if the comic has the wrap, it should have a MJ slick insert in the centerfold.  Comics shouldn't have one or the other.  Comics missing one or the other is an incomplete comic in my opinion and should be treated as missing a page.  Remember, both should be stapled in the comic...

So, hopefully, that concludes the Marvel military insert series for now unless other wraps show up.  I seriously doubt this as I did another complete scrub of my collection and could find no others.  But then again, my collection is not 100% complete so it's possible there are some out there.  And if I find one I'll make sure to let you all know as well... 

Next up is DC.  Their MJ insert cardboard era will be the focus of Part 8...  


04/15/06 -  Bought a new scanner.  In a test I thought I'd share this Superman Returns publicity cover from the current issue of Wizard.  For some reason, this doesn't scream "super" to me and looks more like a reject from one of Wizard's Halloween contests.  Here's hoping the movie isn't as cheesy...

Also, based on the lack of actual printed comics news on the cover, maybe it's time to change Wizard's moniker to "The Comics Movies Magazine"...


04/12/06 -  For those of you patiently waiting for the next installment of the Military Insert series, please bear with me.  The reason it's not up is my scanner has finally died.  It'll still scans fine if you like wide yellow bars obscuring 60% of the image.  After using my less than considerable computer skills, I've come to the conclusion the scanner has developed an ailment beyond any hope of rectifying.  So it's off to the store to acquire a new one...

Once the new scanner is up and operational in the next couple of days I'll be posting on another wrap found in Marvels and possibly DCs.  The BOSE wrap circa March 1985...

So to tide you over, I'll provide you a little tour of my humble abode here at Osan Airbase, South Korea.  Hopefully you enjoy this until the scanner's ready...

Since I had to use up the film in the disposable camera I bought during a trip to Hawaii, I thought you all would be interested in my "place".  And have evidence to take to the Slum Lord authority...

The room is essentially two billeting (hotel) rooms that have been modified into one apartment...

First my kitchen.  That's my front door by the way.  I have a sink, microwave, dutch oven, and two burners.  The back burner doesn't get hot enough to boil water and the front just can (about half the coil works).  Makes cooking more than one thing difficult at times... 



Looking from the kitchen is my living area. Have an entertainment center, bookcase, a couple tables, sofa, and a Lazy Boy.  Actually Lazy Boy isn't the official name...I think that would be "Blue Chair With Half Inch Padding That Reclines".  The view through the window is spectacular...if a basketball court turns you on... 



Looking from the front of the living area, you can see my sofa, "Blue Chair With Half Inch Padding That Reclines" and the doorway into the bedroom.  Another name for the sofa and coffee table would be dining chair and table as that's the only time I use it.  And some Comic Buyers Guides for late night snack reading material...



From the doorway, you can see my bedroom.  In the corner you'll notice my Command Post.  The computer table is really an oxymoron and should be better named "monitor table" since that takes up most of the room...also houses my phone.  The computer chair seat doesn't sit flat and leans downward in the front obviously because some fatass had the room before me.  Makes just sitting here an adventure...oh...and that's the broken scanner on top...



The bedroom as seen from the other side of the room.  I do have sheets, I swear, but was washing them when I took the picture.  I'm also pleased to prove you'll notice the lack of stains on the bed.  I have my nighttime bedwetting under control...honest... 



Lastly the view to the bathroom.  To the right of the toilet is the bathtub and a door.  In front of the toilet, and out of the picture, is fine reading material while in the head, Wizard.  Also, open the door and you get the back of the kitchen area.  I guess the Air Force was too cheap to just wall the door in.  Regardless, I keep it locked at all times because you never know... 



So there you have it...my humble abode. Really the place is trashed and isn't as clean as the pictures indicate.  I Photoshopped all the debris out.  If you have any suggestions on how to spruce the place up...I'm all ears. 
Just something to think about until I get the BOSE article posted...


04/09/06 -  You'll notice some new icons on the left menu.  First one is the "Press Free" logo.  The logo symbolizes my, and others, opposition to the "pressing" of comics to smooth out defects in an attempt to enhance the appearance and condition.  Pressing in my opinion is restoration despite CGC's stance otherwise.  Pressing and the quest by shady dealers to fleece unsuspecting collectors is tarnishing this hobby.  We've already seen one major Bronze eBay dealer, Jason Ewert (ejaenter on eBay), be outed as a crook and fraud by successfully getting pressed and micro trimmed comics by the CGC graders and placed in blue labels.  CGC wouldn't have labeled these comics restored just for the pressing alone (a stance I'm firmly against) but the trimming should have been detected and wasn't.  It's my opinion that as the resto rules are further eroded in the quest for comics in blue labels, and the associated dollars that brings, more and more amateur collectors will take it upon themselves to try some of these techniques at home.  First pressing...and if that's successful move on to other more ambitious techniques.  All the while destroying comics that frankly were just fine in their original state.  The "Press Free" logo is my word to all collectors out there that comics I sell will NEVER be pressed by me nor will I have others do it for me.   You can take that to the bank...

The second logo pretty much compliments the first.  The "Network of Disclosure"  is a group of collectors and dealers who pledge to "disclose", fully and in advance, any adverse history of comics we sell or buy.  This includes pressing, restoration, and comics bought previously from less than reputable sellers (Ewert for example).  If you click on the logo you'll be taken to a "Network of Disclosure" page which furthers outlines the goals of the participants and identifies those using the logo.  I'll save you the time though and post some of the pertinent info:

ArchAngels.com TheRestorationLab.com CollectorsAssemble.com Brokomics on eBay Detective27.com ComicCollectors.net EsquireComics.com Awe4One.com Detective27.com Detective27.com Green River Visual Database QualityComix.com Reliant 5 Detective27.com  

Some of the specifics concerning the "Network" are currently being ironed out.  I'll be sure to post any further information as it becomes available.  Also make sure you visit some of participants' links above.  These are good people trying to make this a better hobby for everyone.  And a better hobby makes for a much healthier one as well...


AWE4ONE.com and all associated written content, unless otherwise specified, (c) 2006 Jim Wilkerson