Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Now How In the World Did That Happen?

Doug: Today we're talking about those head-scratchers in the condition of your comic books. Defects, accidents, mishaps, even odd marks that you have no idea how they occurred. These can be books you have owned or seen. The troubles in question may even have been caused by you.

Doug: So why this topic? As has been well-documented, I've been selling my comic collection for the past 11 months via eBay. I've made a serious dent in it, having emptied five longboxes with a sixth knocking on the door. I've told our readers that there have been some victories along the way, but for most of my books I'm seeing revenues in the area of 30% to 33% of the prices in the latest Overstreet Guide. Many of the books I'm selling were purchased at retail by me, but several hundred were bought as back issues. What I've found is that in many cases those books are still in the bags in which I brought them home -- price stickers, dealer grades and all.

Doug: Which brings us to today's exhibit. Pictured below is my copy of Marvel Feature #11, which ended last night (and is no longer my copy). Here's the description I included with the listing, and I'll stop writing now -- once you read it and inspect the book's cover, I think you'll be able to fully discuss the question at the top of this post: Now how in the world did that (hole in the cover) happen?

Up for bid is a good looking copy of Marvel Feature #11, the first try-out issue for what eventually become Marvel Two-In-One.. I am no professional grader, so please consult the scans when choosing to bid. 
11  I am not going to put a grade on this one. I so wanted to say "high grade" in the listing, because when you first look at this comic's front and back covers, you'll say "wow..." However, if you check the front cover scan you'll see my reservation (and it's a big one if you're a serious collector). Notice the white call-out arrow near the Hulk corner box -- you can see a hole (yup - an actual hole) in the cover at the top of the arrow. And at the bottom of the arrow is a mark that looks like it wanted to become a hole, too! It's not pushed through, but is a noticeable blemish nonetheless. So that being said, I think you'd agree that the rest of the book would grade VF. But I can't get past the obvious defects on the front cover. Interior pages look great with sharp corners and off-white brightness.

28 comments:

david_b said...

"Someone shooting BB's at your comics, Doug..?"

Seeing that there are related color-breaking stress marks under it on the cover and on the binding, it simply was on the wrong end of a sharp/prickly corner.

If you examine the bottom of the puncture hole (smooth line) and the top (jagged) it can surmise the angle and how the puncture was created. The cover itself brings it down to Fine+ Condition, if I was grading it.

I had someone try to sell me a VF Silver Age Spiderman comic, but neglected to tell me someone had colored in Spidey's white eye slots (couldn't tell from the auction pictures..).

david_b said...

I would certainly agree it's a tough call.., especially on one of my all-time favorite issues. :)

Weird Robot test this morning, everyone.., having to select from pictures what is beer, soup, food, etc..

Waaaay too early for that.

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redartz said...

Interesting...was that one you bought as a back issue, Doug, or off the rack? The holes are irregular in shape, perhaps something got stuck to the cover at some point.

The physical condition of comics is almost an exercise in forensics! Many of the books in my collection are pretty low-grade, purchased at rummage sales and flea markets at bargain prices (reading copies and space fillers). On some of these books, I put my art / framing training to work and attempt some repairs, just to help keep them from falling apart in my hand and to enhance their appearance somewhat. For instance, I use archival quality document repair tape to repair torn pages and covers, have replaced rusted and missing staples, and flatten severe spine rolls (one of my pet peeves; I hate rolled spines when trying to read a comic- yes, I'm obsessive..). It becomes an extension of the hobby for me; a challenge: how much better can I make this comic than what it was before? I will emphasize that I never attempt this with any comic in VG or better condition, and would never sell any of these without fully disclosing my repairs.

Most of these books have been essentially worthless, just reading and cover-admiring copies. One, though, kind of fits with today's discussion of Doug's damage issue. At a flea market several years ago I bought a copy of Fantastic Four 48, the Surfer / Galactus intro! The price was a whopping 3 dollars. Of course, the cover was practically detached, creased, and shredded, and someone had drawn hair on the Watcher with a green marker. Not a comic with much eye appeal. Some months later, I found a cover to this issue on ebay, no interior- just the cover. Still many flaws, tears, etc., but no green marker hair. I won the auction (for 11 dollars- not sure if that was a deal or not...) and put that cover on my misbegotten copy. Still less than G as a grade, but I can look at it without cringing...

Doug said...

Great stories so far, friends -- keep 'em coming! Spidey's eyes and the Watcher with hair... Hahaha!

David, I'll say one thing about a decent scanner -- it shows blemishes that in varying light angles just aren't noticeable by the naked eye. Any books that have any degree of value are scanned for eBay. I'll do photos for large lots of recent books or for books that might be "reader's grade". But for any book that might fetch say, $10-15, I'll provide scans of both covers. When it was Silver Age books, I also laid the book open and scanned the inside front cover and splash page so the prospective bidder could see the bindery.

Doug

Martinex1 said...

I am so glad there is honestly amongst most collectors; I find most people very conscientious about pointing out flaws and defects. Buying comics with missing unexpected Value Stamps etc is such a downer. I once bought a copy of Avengers 45 with the Super Adaptoid, a favorite of mine from childhood that I was replacing, and I bought a mid grade copy. I opened up the plastic and boarded sleeve, and the entire back cover was missing. No mention of it in the posting. Rough. But that example is extremely rare for me. I do buy a lot of reader copies because overall it is just for my enjoyment or to fill holes in the collection. On another positive note, I once bought on ebay a copy of the Iron Man/Submariner one shot. The seller sent me the book as described PLUS a very worn readers copy. That was unexpected and great.

I always wanted to own one of those rarities with a printing error and double cover. I saw one once, and I just think that is kind of cool.

I don't know if any of you buy any CGC packed issues; I normally want to read the book, but on a couple of very nostalgic and important issues (to me), I have bought CGC issues for display.

david_b said...

Doug, totally agreed on those scanners. Nooooo mercy shown. :)

I'm on the verge of grabbing a few of those DC Flash issues around ish 217 and on, for the GL backup stories. I know there's a DC Showcase available, but I believe they're all b&w reprints. Need my stories in color.

Humanbelly said...

If you can get past the horrific devaluation that it caused, there's something almost endearing about the particular personal choice that someone 'way back when made with that book, Redartz. To some (probably) kid's eye, the one thing that was going to improve the look on that cover was to cover up Uatu's embarrassingly shiny pate with hair. And being (probably) a kid making the choice, what better way to indicate an exotic alien than making the hair green?

My copies of Avengers #2 & #3 look like they came over on a tramp steamer or something-- might be pushing it to call the covers Fair, in fact. #2 looks like it had coffee sloshed on the lower center, and then was left in a warm oven to dry out. (This is why I was able to pick them up for a song about 25 years ago.)

My childhood pal Bryan went through a brief period where he was writing his name in the top margin of the splash pages of some of his comics, which I later acquired from him. These have largely already been read to death (some with scotch-tape assembled covers still), and the personal value in seeing his still-a-kid cursive scrawl on them farfarfar outweighs any negligible further lessening of their collectible "worth".

The sister tangent to this topic- which I know I've mentioned probably a couple of times- is the phenomenon of finding preserved food stains and even bits of food and crumbs in comics that you might not have pulled out in decades. There are little tiny droplet-stains of spaghetti sauce in more of my old comics (and even some newer ones) than I can count, and it's always a hoot to come across them. A stack of comics and a plate of my own leftover home-made spaghetti for lunch-- man, that's been a staple of my life since the moment I learned to MAKE spaghetti sauce when I was about fifteen! And my late Silver Age Avengers and Hulk runs never fail to yield up ancient chocolate chip cookie crumbs. Nestles Chocolate Morsels (chocolate chips) on their own were also favored go-to after dinner snack/dessert, w/ a glass of milk, and a few years back I found a flattened base of one chip pressed into the pages of Avengers #100 (my original coverless copy). I had to smack my own hand to keep from instinctively popping it into my mouth. . .

HB

Doug said...

For some reason unknown to me, I can read and enjoy Marvel's Essentials, but not DC's Showcase Presents. I really believe it comes down to the style of the word balloons and the lettering fonts. DC's style just looks off to me. It is not as evident in color comics, but is glaring to me in the B&W format.

Doug

Doug said...

HB --

You made me think of one of my master's papers that was returned with a large smear of pizza sauce streaked across a page!

Doug

Anonymous said...

I had this one and I know exactly what happened to the cover. 11 year old me thought that cutting out the Hulk and the Thing would make a great wall pin-up - and it did. :-)

Tom

Doug said...

Tom, I also went through that phase.

But at least I can claim that I was 7, not 11... :~

Doug

Doug said...

Later today I'll go back to the main page and post the copy of ASM #121 (or was it #122?) that had a dozen thumb tack holes in the top of it. Oh, and in answer to Redartz's question, neither the Marvel Feature #11 or the ASM I'm going to post were purchased by me at retail. The Marvel Feature was bought at a shop, the ASM's at the Chicago Comicon.

And we can add that caveat to this topic today -- do you remember where and when you purchased specific comics?

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Have no idea how those holes got there, but as others have noted here as well, I had comics in much worse condition in my own collection. (And a whole other topic is the fact that early in my comics-reading career I tended to cut out a lot of the pictures - and then sometimes even Scotch-tape them back in.) And I had quite a few comic books that, due to constant reading, had their covers fall off, so I taped those back on, too.
And HB, re: food stains. I can relate. Many of my old comics had spaghetti, mustard, chocolate or candy stains in them.

J.A. Morris said...

The first thing that comes to mind for me is my copy of Daredevil 181. That's the one where Bullseye whacks Elektra, if you don't remember, Miller and Janson at their absolute peak.

Shortly after I bought it off the spinner racks, my family cat Annie decided to sleep on it when I left it on my desk. Long story short, it has a small hole in the cover due to a cat claw. But I don't lose much sleep over that, a beloved pet gave me reason to think about her (she passed away in 2000) every time I look at DD #181.

Humanbelly said...

Potato chips-- that's the other common debris item. I've found fragments large enough that they could be identified as Wavy as opposed to Flat chips.
Oh! And there are a couple of instances of Cheeto-created thumbprints on interior pages! (Man-- did we ever eat a fruit or a vegetable EVER??)

I can remember the where/when of comic purchases almost too well. It reaches the level of unneeded mental clutter. The changes in where in the grocery store the spinner rack was put over the years. Hulk #182 particularly comes to mind because it was, like, TWO WEEKS late getting distributed to us-- and then #183 showed up just a couple of weeks later-!

More distinctly, I discovered a rather worn copy of Hulk 154 amongst the horrific debris pile on the floor of a younger cousin's room in Arkansas. It was a long-missing hole in my run at that time, and I talked him into selling it to me for 25 cents. In the same pile, near the bottom, being destroyed further every moment, was a Fantastic Four #11--- which he wouldn't part with 'cause someone told him it was old and valuable (gnrgh!!). It was being directly wrinkled and trashed by a pile of loose matchbox cars and track.

But-- that Hulk issue is a distinct and beloved acquisition, no doubt! Good one, too.

HB

Doug said...

Of note: there are some trades/hardcovers coming our way in September that would definitely be of interest to our readers -- SHIELD by Lee/Kirby, and color Man-Thing and Monster of Frankenstein tpbs.

http://www.comicscontinuum.com/stories/1506/16/marveltrades.htm

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

HB, yes, I recall leaving some of those finger- and/or thumbprints from barbeque potato chips or Dorritos on comic book pages. As to your speculation about fruit - well, my family lived in a pretty rural area and we had lots of fruit trees on our property, and (big, fat juicy) wild blackberries grew in abundance all over the area. So there were occasionally also stains from cherries and berries on my comics...

One distinct memory I have of buying specific comics was when I scored the first four issues of Marvel Fanfare. It was in a comic book shop in Portland, OR (that I rarely went to, so it was memorable). Issue #4 had just come out that month, and since I only learned that the title even existed when I saw it, I inquired about the first three and the guy working there pulled them out and sold them to me for cover price.

Redartz said...

HB and Edo- I too find occasional tidbits inside my comics. Of course, of the many I've pcked up on the cheap, some enclosures were less pleasant. I have found squashed insects, and sticky substances the origins of which I shudder to guess! I bought a stack of 40' and 50's comics at an auction once, later finding mold growing in some. As for me, I had a few books bought off the rack which must have been very fresh: my fingers smeared the cover ink (arrrgh...)!

Doug said...

Speaking of finger prints, the black covers were always sharp looking, weren't they? But man, are those susceptible to the fingerprints.

You guys are grossing me out with all of the unexpected bonuses you keep finding... or in HB's case, leaving. :)

Doug

Humanbelly said...

If you view it through the lens of socio-archeological study, Doug, it removes a lot of that initial, gut-level, visceral squeamishness. Puts it more in the realm of a mid/late 70's teenage snackfood time capsule. . .

Fascinating, Captain. . .

HB

Doug said...

Right HB. But I'm just getting this booger vibe. It's not been spoken aloud yet, but I know it lurks within the dark corners of this subject matter.

Jeez, someone please talk about loose staples or something!

Doug

Karen said...

I'm waiting to hear someone find a valuable document inside an old comic....

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, at first I was thinking maybe you leaned on the comic the wrong way, but then the damage would've gone through to the inside pages...so, I have no idea how that happened! I had a few coverless comics as a kid (it was years before I saw the cover to Avengers #177!)

This discussion of finding stuff inside old comics reminds me of a backup page done by Fred Hembeck in Marvel Tales #250. (Scroll down to Marvel Tales #250 and click the image beside "Story 3".) I don't know why that immediately jumped into my head, but it's the kind of thing that sticks with you!

Mike Wilson

Colin Bray said...

I am a librarian and occasional seller of antique books so find interesting things in books all the time.

Just this week a random marked dentists appointment card from 1966 fell out of a book stored in my garage ready for sale. Ephemera like that is a lot of fun.

Less so with comics but that's probably because I normally buy those off professional traders.

The most extreme example of a damaged book I've seen was a single original ad page from Detective #27 that sold on eBay for £100 (about $150) No story or art at all, just an ad page.

Colin Bray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O-Bot! said...

I too have ben slowly selling my books. 6 years ago I had 50 short boxes. I am now down to about 5.

Dr. Oyola said...

I know what damages my comics, my cat!

Luckily, these are usually contemporary comics left on the coffee table for a week or two before I catalog them. If they happen to flop over the side at all Katie might take a bite!

Recently it was a big deal when she chewed the hell out of one issue of a limited series I was getting just to read, but then hoped to sell as a set on eBay. While the rest are in perfect shape, the bite marks ruin its value as a complete set. Oh well. I try to always remember that comics are ephemera.

I buy most of my back issues in Fine or VG condition, but my saying is "Fine is good, but Good is fine."

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