Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Thrill is Gone

Doug: So Friday afternoon, Halloween, my wife and I jumped into the Highlander right after school to head south to Lexington, KY for our son's conference tournament soccer match. On the way, as I battled the high winds and rain mixed with snow, I mused on the potential of finding a comic shop or two near the University of Kentucky campus (we would be at Transylvania University for the game, however). And then it hit me, and maybe it was the moment the selling of my comics collection really gained a finality in my mind: why on Earth would I want to go to a comic shop? I certainly wasn't going to buy any comics, and I buy my trades and hardcovers online at a discount anyway. And I was sad.

Doug: Today I'd like some thoughts on the feeling of going to a comic book store, your LCS, or to some other eclectic shop that deals in comics. I've titled this "The Thrill is Gone", but I know that's way too cynical for many of our readers. Some of you still have that great joy and sense of anticipation upon being in a different town or city and discovering a new shop, or even in reacquainting with a store you perhaps used to frequent. I can certainly recall the very day as a college freshman when some buddies offered me a ride into Peoria, IL to accompany them on a trip to a comics store. In my hiatus of the previous five years, I did not even know such specialty shops existed! So "kid in a candy story"? To the max! (That's '80s talk if you don't know). But rifling through longboxes no longer holds that magic for me. That partly makes me sad, but I'm also indifferent. Maybe it's a ship sailed, water under the bridge, or some other idiom/cliche'. What's that like for you?

Doug: And on the sales front, since you asked, things have been going well. My commitment to this blog (notably the reviews, but also being able to work ahead) has been scaled back because of the auctions. I'll still stand by my decision to sell this thing myself, but it is a true test of my time. In fact, this past week I did not have new auctions for the first time since I began. But with my wife away for the day on Saturday the 8th, I was able to get several hours of scanning and listing done. I'm into my Amazing Spider-Man collection now after having moved all the way through my Avengers books. I didn't sell all of those, and will come back to them at the end of it all. One thing I'm looking forward to is being able to package some nice Silver and Bronze Age lots pulling various titles together from the leftovers. I suppose my big news came a few weeks ago, when I listed ASM #s 121 and 122. I kid you not -- they were not "live" for more than 10 minutes when a buyer scooped them up through the Buy It Now feature. I got $70 for #121 and $75 for #122. The latter was in better overall shape to your eye and hands, with one exception (check the scans I've provided) -- some dummy who owned it well before I did had thumbtacked it to a wall! And not just once -- six or seven times! But to make this tale even more golden, the fella contacted me and asked if I had a few other keys. I did -- he was interested in ASM #s 194 (1st Black Cat), 238 (1st Hobgoblin -- which I did not have), and 300 (1st full Venom). I whipped up some scans very quickly, gave some details on any specific deficits the books had, and we negotiated a price. I'd estimate that I got around 75% of guide for the two, bringing his total bill to around $260. Not a bad day.

Doug: I'll leave you with another question, based on my experiences. I didn't know how much nicer my Avengers run was, condition-wise, than the rest of the collection is shaping up. I'm not into my Fantastic Four books yet, but I can declare that the Amazing Spider-Man stock isn't up to the standards that the Avengers sold at.


dbutler16 said...

I don't go into comic shops too often, as I'm trying to be more responsible with money. However, when I do go in, I still get a thrill. Not as much as when I was a kid, of course, but then nothing trills me as much as when I was young, I suppose. I still prefer back issues to TPB's (I won't even bother mentioning e-comics, oops, just did) even though TPB's are more convenient and usually more economical. I love the smell of the old comics, and the ads and letter columns. They take me back to the Bronze Age the way TPB's cannot.

There are about a half dozen or so LCS's in my area (how lucky am I?) but there is one in particular I enjoy visiting because they have a large selection of back issues (though not cheap, and they've got a ton of TPB's also) and they've got a large selection in their dollar bin. In addition, they've got a decent collection of those Treasury Edition sized comics for ten dollars a pop. I love those things, and it's tough to not pick one up each time I visit that store. I try to justify my purchases by saying that some day, my now three year old son will get hours of reading pleasure from my collection, and perhaps even my now nine month old daughter too!

MattComix said...

Sadly much of the thrill is ... nearly obliterated for me but my love of the characters isn't. So even as much as I have walked away, I haven't been able to leave it all behind totally. I still love superheroes and I still love artwork.

But now if I walk into an LCS it's less the anticipation of what I'll find and more the dread of whose being killed or maimed or just having something generally stupid done to them in this weeks megaclusterf**k crossover event.
Also as my eyes scan across the stands at the art there's very little of the visual thrill that used be there. ...or when I find art I like, that guy or gal is just doing the cover and the interiors will be in a totally unrelated style.

Plus, the monthly floppies no longer make any sense to me economically. A tpb will give me the whole bunch of comics or a storyline in one shot with no ads and I don't have to worry about it being so damn fragile. I can put in on my bookshelf instead of messing around with bags and boards.

Besides with de-compression syndrome running rampant chances are even a story that does hook me is going to read better in trade anyway.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm actually pretty indifferent to comic shops. Granted, when I first discovered that they existed, just before my teen years, I found them quite thrilling, but the shine wore off eventually (in particular, when I moved to California's SF Bay area after high school I really didn't like the Simpsonsesque comic-shop guys I encountered there).
And currently, since I live in a non-English speaking country, the comic shops don't really have a big selection of the American stuff I mainly like.

What actually gives me a thrill to this day is when I come across comics (either original issues or even tpbs) in used bookstores, antique shops, flea-markets or book fairs. There's just something so cool about that...

Redartz said...

I'm with you, Edo; as most of my current comic purchases come from Flea markets and yard sales, such venues excite me most. I do still enjoy visiting the old "brick and mortar". Having recently moved , I haven't yet had the chance to check out any comic shops in the area, but plan to do so. If nothing else, it might be a chance to make a new acquaintance or two with a shared interest in our new hometown...

Oh, and Doug; hope you have continued good luck with your auctions!

Anonymous said...

Very much the opposite experience. I bought most of my original collection from spinner racks as they came out and there were no really local comic shops, so that involved a trip to London. This is not really a long trip by US standards as it only used to take about an hour door to door, but it was the big city, so you had to be accompanied by a parent and due to the expense, this was a couple of times per year adventure and just so so special I can hardly tell you. I never peeled the price stickers off my comics because having bought them at one of a number of particular shops (especially ‘Dark They Were And Golden Eyed’) added to their specialness. Every now and then, I see a comic on eBay still with a Dark They Were sticker and I still feel the thump inside.

I stopped collecting for about 20 years and it was really the combination of boredom at work and excitement of being able to bid for ancient objects of desire on eBay that brought me back.

I was thus delighted to find that LCS’s still exist – and don’t just sell merchandise. My favourite is 30th Century Comics in West London. When you walk in the door, the first thing that hits you is the smell…..that dusty, musty, slightly stale paper smell that tells you some of your dreams are about to come true.

If this link is live, you can see it’s exactly like every other LCS you’ve ever been to.,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.79189006,d.ZWU&biw=1680&bih=955&dpr=1&wrapid=tljp141588521665910&um=1&ie=UTF-8&fb=1&gl=uk&spn=0.18,0.3&cbll=51.467261,-0.21824&layer=c&panoid=IComGoSNnp0l0Z4DGEA2uA&cbp=,15.555009,,0,-0.0&cid=17203662786890947911&q=30th+century+comics&sa=X&ei=oLFkVNrIKMnuaLS3gKAB&ved=0CI0BEKAfMAo&output=classic&dg=brw

dbutler – my experience is very like yours – the past recaptured, albeit a little jaded.

Matt – I’m in a completely different place to you as I only collect 61 – 85 or so. I stopped where I stopped. Jean Grey is dead, I have no idea what the Civil War was and not everybody is a Skrull.

Edo, Redartz – I used to love it when I went into a little second hand bookshop and looked around. There was always a pile of unregarded comics in a corner and gold was occasionally in them thar hills.

Doug – I’m sorry the thrill is gone, but I still think you would feel it…it would just be a retroactive, nostalgic thrill not connected to life now, because you have put away childish things, but now we see through a glass darkly and then face to face, right?


david_b said...

I still love a good LCS.., my 20something nephew introduced me to one on the south side of Milwaukee that's like the size of a Walgreens, huge areas of long boxes, lots of dollar comic bins, loads and loads of the current toys, statues, TPB's, tshirts and other collectables, Anime, Who, Marvel Legends, DC Direct, you name it. It really reflects the whole change in the industry which the comic cons have all bred themselves on, multimedia/merchandizing franchises.

While it's uber-awesome to think we never had the stuff when we were kids, I could never invest in the stuff these days.

But's it's always cool to call a place like this 'home'...

I do believe my college corner LCS is actually still in business today, so I probably need to head over there and visit the elderly owner (Ron).

I'll never, ever lose my thrill of finding VF-quality Silver and Bronze covers.., especially the iconic ones, DC and Marvel.

It's Home.

dbutler16 said...

Richard, 30th Century Comics is an impressive looking comic store from that picture. Literally wall to wall comics!
I also love the name. I wonder if it's an homage to the Legion of Super-Heroes?

David_b, I think I need to go to Milwaukee some day and check out that comic shop. Actually, my dream visit would be to Mile High Comics. Even before the internet, I remember their ads in Bronze Age Comics, and they always interested me with that huge inventory, even back in the day. I also agree that it's a thrill to fine some nice Silver and Bronze Age comics, though the Silver Age ones are not easy, especially at an affordable price.

William said...

I could basically copy and paste MattComix' post and call it my own, because everything he said is pretty much my experience as well.

I rarely go to my LCS anymore, (which is called Past Present Future) and when I do go in, it's not to look for new comics, that's for sure. The only new comic series that interests me at all is Mark Waid's Daredevil, because the stories are somewhat fun to read, and Chris Samnee's artwork is the closest thing you can get these days to traditional comic art. He's got a nice clean style with bright colors and deep blacks. But I only buy them in TPB form, and I can get those much cheaper online than I can at the comic store. And since I sold off my Spider-Man collection, I don't really buy single back issues of old stuff anymore. And anyway I have complete runs of nearly every one of my favorite Marvel titles in digital format, (Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Avengers, The FF, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Hulk) so I don't really need the printed comics anymore. I still have a couple of long boxes of old single issue comics of stuff I love to read and couldn't part with, but that's about it.

No, these days the only reason I have to go into my LCS is for action figures. Mostly Diamond exclusive DC Collectibles figures. In fact, I have several on order right now that should be coming in soon.

Karen said...

Doug, I'm impressed you got so much for ASM 122 with all the thumbtack holes in it! Ye Gods, how could the previous owner do that to it?? Then again, back in those days, who knew they were worth anything?

I still occasionally go into a comic shop, but it is with mixed feelings. I still buy back issues, and TPBs. Most of my trades I buy online, as they are considerably cheaper. I do try to buy some trades from local shops, to support the brick and mortars, but when Amazon and other online retailers can offer 30-50% discounts, it is difficult to pay full price all the time.

I look at the new books from time to time, but honestly, the art styles don't appeal to me. It all looks so hectic, so mass-produced, so the same. The last time I flipped through the Avengers, they were talking about destroying other Earths to save their own. That's right, killing whole planets of people. That just doesn't work for me.

I have picked up a few issues of Alan Davis' Hulk comic. The art is fantastic; the story is fine, nothing great but it works for me. Still, it makes me a little sad that the only new book I can read is one specifically aimed at me, out of continuity and a short-term run.

Garett said...

There are several good comic shops where I live, and also several second hand places--bookstores, antique shops, even a tattoo shop that sells comics. I enjoy them all. There's a booming business in TPBs at the second hand shops, so it's like when I was a kid going there for comics. The books are all in great shape, sometimes brand new, and they're half price, or you can trade for them. So I've built up a big collection of TPBs and hardcovers for very little cost. Last week, one second hand shop had 5 Sub Mariner hardcovers- 3 Golden age, 2 Silver age. My family reads quite a bit, so I'm always getting boxes of books they're looking to get rid of to trade in. Yesterday I found that Captain America Nomad TPB and Kyle Baker's Special Forces.

Many places, including the new shops, have 50 cent comics, and one place even has an 8 for a dollar section--picked up some Irv Novick Flash comics there. Even the regular back issues are pretty cheap if you're not looking for collector grade--I picked up a run of Mike Zeck's Master of Kung Fu for about $1.50-$2 a pop.

When I travel, I do like to stop in at local comic shops--Saskatoon has a great shop called 8th Street Books and Comics. Generally though, I like the second hand shops, as it's a mix of old and new, and the unexpected can come up. I found an awesome book on James Montgomery Flagg at an antique shop last month, again super cheap and in great condition. This summer in BC at a shop in a little town I found the original Famous Artists School HC books, four volumes from the 1950s, with art by illustrators like Albert Dorne, Al Parker, Austin Briggs, Jon Whitcomb, etc.

My band was playing a gig on Halloween, so I bought my very first superhero t-shirt at a LCS--the Flash lightning bolt, always one of my favorite symbols. Another rock band from out of town was there, and one member was trying on a bunny suit for onstage! : )

Last week I found Howard Chaykin's new Shadow: Midnight in Moscow series in the dollar much to look at. The difference is that when I was a kid, I would have bought nearly every new comic and read it if I could have. Now there's only a few new comics I'd read, but there still a big selection of old and new to keep me occupied.

Anonymous said...

I still remember when I drove by my old LCS, the place where I had my pull list and knew everyone's name and everyone knew my name, and discovered it was now a candle and bath bead store. Still the same building but the insides had changed.

I first discovered the Essentials line at Half Priced Books. Went into some of the LCSs to get more and ended up way WAY over paying. That's when I got more into Amazon. I still think its funny that at Half Price Books the comics are, you guessed it, half priced. I'm not gonna pay that for those. Who do they think I am, Rockefeller!?! And they carry new books now!?! When did that start.....did I just get off topic? Dayum, hate when that happens. Anyhoo, picked up Essential Wolverine Vols 1 & 2 and Marvel Masterworks Vol 1 The Amazing Spider-Man for 6.49!!! If it's been read, I think it was once.

I don't buy single issues anymore and if I did, I wouldn't. But if I did, it would be Thor. Prolly.

And dbutler, I have a lot, and I do mean, a whole bunch of lot of the Marvel Overpower decks if you want to teach your kids how to play when they get older.........

The Prowler (Where do we go from here now that all of the children have grown up and how do we spend our time knowin' nobody gives us a damn).

J.A. Morris said...

I don't rifle through longboxes very often, unless I'm looking for something specific.

But I do visit comic shops several times a month. I work a few blocks from one and the owner is a very nice guy (something that isn't always the case). My wife collects all the Buffy-verse comics so I get them at that store. There also very cool about giving me discounts on reprint books of Bronze Age material.

Edo Bosnar said...

Richard, that is indeed an awesome looking comic shop; I could spend all day in their flipping through the longboxes. Probably wouldn't buy much, or anything (much to the owner's chagrin), but I'd have the time of my life.

Garett, I can't believe Chaykin's Midnight in Moscow is already being dollar binned. Isn't it still coming out?

Garett said...

Edo, I think the last issue #6 is still to come. I found those in the second hand store, where they sell most comics for a buck. Often brand new stuff shows up there, like the recent Star Lord TPB and the Spider-Man Omnibus by Stern and Romita Jr.

The Groovy Agent said...

First off, I gotta say I wish I'd known you were in Lexington this past weekend--I was there, too, on Saturday and Sunday. Would've been cool to have had lunch or somthing. Oh well, that actually leads me to the only "thrill" I really have left when it comes to collecting--and that's Half-Price Books (two of 'em--that I know of--in Lexington). Slowly but surely I'm filling in my missing Essentials, Showcase, and other classic tpb reprints on the super-cheap. Just got Essential Captain Marvel #2 (yeah, Starlin and Thanos) for $9.99 on Sunday. That was a thrill!

Anonymous said...

There's one LCS a block away from my workplace. I still get a thrill from going there but I've found that buying comics constantly would be quite draining on my pocket. So, I only visit there once every few months, and only sift through the Bronze Age Marvel and DC stuff; I hardly ever buy modern comics unless I'm looking for a specific title.

I guess I'm a kid at heart - I still get a thrill from seeing comics, but the industry has changed quite substantially since we all were kids.

- Mike 'still lamenting hand drawn letterers' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Doug said...

Thanks for all of the comments today, gang! I've been locked up in the main office for the past two days, working on school curriculum. It's been pretty tedious.

I think when I do go to a shop nowadays, I actually judge the place first on their supply of trades and hardcovers, then on the books on the wall, and finally on the age of the books in the longboxes. Years ago that would not have been the case -- probably reversed!


Rip Jagger said...

I always just miss these posts during the week, so I usually just let them slide by, but this one was one I was thinking about myself just yesterday.

I have no "comic holy grails" left to hunt for and that has taken a lot of the energy out of my desire to go to shops. I go still, to pass the time when I'm waiting on my wife (as I was yesterday), but it hasn't any of the energy or zest it did in the 80's and 90's.

Some of me misses it, but some of me is just as happy.

Gettin' Old part one...first in a alas always-ending series.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, yeah: since dbutler said he would like to visit Mile High Comics, I have to say I'd prefer a visit to Lone Star Comics in Arlington, TX (you know them online as - I've wanted to do that since the first time I got a hold of the store's catalog back in 1980. I think they have a better selection, and certainly better prices, than Mile High.

But even more so, I'd love to visit the warehouse of Doug Sulipa's Comic World. As far as I know, he doesn't have a store, rather he only sells by mail order. But man, I'd love to have the run of his warehouse - given all of the stuff he has listed in his online catalog (which is, granted, really rudimentary and hard to use), I could probably spend days in there.

Dr. Oyola said...

I still have a thrill, but is about acquisition - not about the shop. I have no shop loyalty and usually find the physical process of looking thru longboxes disappointing b/c I can't find what I am looking for or they are overprices. Add to that the fact that I am not a big fan of the comic-buying community. That might be terrible to admit, but I try NOT to overhear the conversations at Midtown Comics when I am there to get books (and I am only loyal there b/c you get $20 off your purchase for every $100 spent cumulatively, i.e. if I spend $10 a month for 10 months, months 11 and 12 would be free!) because they strike me as immature and sophomoric or self-important. I know they are not all like that, but better to ignore it all.

But when I find issues I want online or at a bookstore I still get excited. Just go a package in the mail from Paul of the Longbox Graveyard or a random handfulof issues I bought from him cheap and loved looking through it, esp. since he threw in some random issues I didn't ask for for free and I love flipping through those as well.

Anonymous said...

I still get a kick out of "digging" through long boxes and "digging" at Walmarts/Kmarts/etc for the Marvel Legends I want (although ebay seems to be the best option, since I usually break the golden rule and open the packaging so I can line them up as per their teams, ha-ha!)----

I have a notebook with the comics I'm hunting for- these aren't X-men #1 or Hulk #181, just little nuggets I'd like to read (like an appearance by Stingray or Constrictor from an 80s or 90s comic)....and my RULE is NEVER pay more than $1 for back issues....I'm lucky my LCS has a bunch of longboxes with 50-cent comics, and there's a 2nd and Charles store I visit that's about an hour away!


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