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Monday, December 06, 2021 

Canadian store managers sell to speculators

The Brantford Expositor spoke with the father-son managers of a specialty store in Ontario called CaptCan Comics. Here's a plus I'll highlight:
Warren recalls buying his very first comic book – Avengers No. 238 – in Grade 6 after a buddy got him hooked.
If there's anything me and the above have in common, it's Avengers fandom, though for me, it ends at 2002, since the series/franchise went downhill afterwards, as Marvel was shoved into its early politicized situation when Bill Jemas/Joe Quesada were first in charge. And today, I own the issue number from the 1963-96 volume as part of paperbacks; a far better way to collect these classic tales. And here's something most interesting about their approach to sales business:
The Mitchells note that CaptCan Comics was the first in Canada to create an app for customers to browse and make purchases on mobile phones, with 6,000 subscribers that account for about 50 per cent of all orders.

“The app really helps capture the fear of missing out, offering a quick browse and checkout,” says Jayden. “We find that people use the website for more extensive searches. It helps to have those two pieces.”
I'll give them serious credit for taking advantage of app technology to boot, since it does make a good way to do purchases online. But then:
The Mitchells say the popularity of superhero movies and television shows fuels the desire to collect comic books.

Jayden notes that young kids with favourite characters from movies will later in life turn to collecting back issues to learn their storylines.

“It helps drive the industry and will give it some long-term health.”
And here's where valid questions can be raised. Let's consider that most of the movies made to date based on major and minor comics haven't translated into mass sales for comicdom, so I'm honestly irked when store managers make it sound like everything's breezy. It's nothing new, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. Besides, as the following points out, they seem to be in the business of selling to speculators:
Rarity and condition are among several factors that determine a book’s value. Customers can have the store clean and press books to improve their value. The store can also send books to a Florida firm that assigns a numeric grade of the condition for a fee of ranging from $50 to $200.

Warren says the most expensive item currently on consignment is an X-Men comic from 1976, graded at 9.6 out of 10 and listed for just over $37,000.

Why such a lofty price?

A new creative team and new characters turned the struggling X-Men series into Marvel’s biggest success for three decades, and was the first franchise to get a movie, the Mitchells explain.

“We also had a first appearance of The Hulk in 1962 that went for about $20,000,” Warren notes.
Honestly, when such an emphasis is put on the speculator market, and they sell all these ancient copies based on that, it's galling, because it mostly obscures the newer paperback/hardcover archives that should be the real emphasis here, and the sellers should encourage people to buy and read those, to learn about what kind of ideas, sci-fi or otherwise, went into the making of comicdom in the Golden/Silver/Bronze Ages. That's where children and adults would be better served in learning the history of storytelling, but let's not forget merit matters too, and most mainstream comics went downhill in the early 2000s, and if we take Green Lantern as an example, even earlier, post-1988. It's disappointing how a lot of these merchants won't put any emphasis on why loss of quality is leading to a loss of sales by extension.

And do they think anybody who pays over $35,000 for a mere pamphlet is actually going to allow their children to read it? One more reason why this speculator mishmash is such a joke. You have people spending thousands for something that'll likely be locked away in a vault, never actually read, and IIRC, there's variant covers today specially prepared for speculators to buy that surely wind up locked away in storage trunks under the flawed assumption they'll actually be of whopping value someday. Unfortunately, it's all a lot of flawed thinking with no definite guarantees.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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