I sit here on a peaceful Sunday afternoon reflecting on last week’s San Diego Comic Convention. As far as conventions go I couldn’t have asked for better. The only major thing that went wrong happened the day before I left for the show. I had started playing soccer up at Prospect Park, a few blocks from our home. I’d been playing for a few hours and I was just about to call it a day. At the last minute I brilliantly decided to play for five more minutes. A guy who had just joined the game charged forward to score on my goal. Now you know I wasn’t having any of that so I brilliantly decided to rush forward and block his shot. All I remember was colliding, his knee hitting my knee and his knee won. I dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes. I quickly got up and shook it off. A few moments later I realized I was not ok. I finally called it quits for the day. I hobbled home and iced my knee and went to sleep. I woke the next morning and made my way to the airport. Upon landing in San Diego I made went straight to the hotel. After settling in I decided to go for a stroll to Horton Plaza, a really great mall. I thought I’d grab a bite and do a little shopping. However the leg was getting worse and the pain was throbbing so I headed to the hospital. Scripp Mercy is a great hospital in San Diego. I was in and out of their emergency room in under 2 hours- amazing! They gave me a cane and a leg immobilizer, which fit tightly on my leg and kept it straight. Since returning to N.Y. I have had an MRI and I await the results.
With cane in hand and brace on leg I was left to hobble about the convention for the week. I managed but it definitely put a damper on the trip. The fact that they had expanded the show by about 25% did not help matters. I spent many nights icing my knee and watched more than a few god- awful movies on cable. I was very fortunate to have Nitin and Ben with me on the trip. I am a very hands-on person when at conventions, to the point of actually selecting every book that goes on my display wall. Nitin and Ben picked up the slack and basically set-up and broke down the displays on their own every day. They did a great job- Thanks guys!
By the way- I am sure you are wondering and the answer is yes, I blocked the shot on goal!!!
In terms of sales, finding new customers and buying new material the Convention was a successful one. I sold many low, mid and high-grade comics. I was particularly impressed with the interest collectors had in low grade, Marvel Silver Age keys. Usually at shows people are looking for high grade. The "What ya got in Mint?" guys seemed to have stayed home this year, or at least far away from my booth. Don’t get me wrong people bought high-grade books from me but they were not the guys who only buy in Near Mint or better, which grows very tiresome while I am at a show. I am of the opinion that a collector should look at a comic and judge for him/herself rather than rely solely on a label from a dealer or a third party grading service. It troubles me to watch as collectors pass over VF+, VF/NM or NM- books without even looking at them. First off, dealers make mistakes and can sometimes be too harsh on a book, secondly, you should judge for yourself. If you do not know enough to grade the books yourself simply ask a dealer what makes the book you are looking at a VF/NM or NM-. I assisted one gentleman for a half-hour advising him on how to grade his comics-he's is now in therapy three times a week-Ha!. Seriously, he did a really great job and we matched up on most of his purchases. I was glad to do this because I believe a knowledgeable collector makes the best customer.
The prices we realized for comics sold at San Diego were strong. We sold a Detective #31 in Fine + with moderate restoration for $5,000.00; Amazing Spider-Man #2 CGC VF/NM Northland Copy for $4,800.00; Famous Funnies #212 CGC VF double cover for $1,350.00; Four Color #9 VG/FN $1,700.00; Amazing Fantasy GD- $900.00; Superman #3 F/VF writing fc $2900.00; Classic Comics #5 Fine+ $550.00; and Hit Comics #5 FN with moderate restoration for $1,450.00.
During one of my many conversations with collectors at the show I was confronted with a very strange statement. A customer told me that he had never purchased a comic from Metropolis before because he liked to patronize the little guys and that we were too big and made too much money. Throughout my life I have experienced discrimination in many of its forms and I felt I had to address this comment. While I do understand wanting to help someone who is not doing as well as others I still wanted to let this customer know a little bit about myself. I informed him that when I started off in this business at the age of seventeen I did 35 shows a year and that I started my business with only $600.00 in my bank account. After graduating from Saint John's university I would drive into Manhattan every day set up a card table between John and Maiden St. on Broadway and sell comics on the street in downtown Manhattan to build up my business. I have sacrificed a tremendous amount to get where I am today. The customer seemed to appreciate what I had to say and I am happy to say he did make a purchase with me that day.
The AACC dinner was wonderful as usual. The food and company and conversation were lively and festive. The guys did a great job. They had an awesome art exhibit available for all to see. Highlights included the original art to the cover of Captain America #100 and 111. The 100 cover was so detailed and intense, Cap seemed to be leaping off the page. There was also a Wonder Woman art exhibit. The piece I remembered most was a beautiful water-painted-pin-up of Wonder Woman by Nick Cardy. Wonder Woman was painted in a very wholesome style, the background of the piece had a very Indian feel to it. It reminded me of a picture of Buddha with scrolling, colorful designs lighting up the background.
This year’s AACC seminar on grading was quite the spectacle. Gary Carter (former editor of CBM), Mike Allessandro, (collector), Steve Borock (CGC head grader), Rob Roter (PCE) and I sat on a panel to voice our opinions on grading and stuff. I am not sure what exactly came of it and I wonder if anybody left knowing how to grade any better. The gentleman I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier came to the seminar and I think he enjoyed it- I am glad we had the time at my booth to go over what I had tried to teach at the seminar. Next year I would suggest a longer period of audience questions and a limit of 1 minute answers-anybody who attended will know as to what I am referring. I also think we should pass around a low grade, mid grade and high-grade comic and teach people to grade using real books. Questions supplied by Mike Naiman were good but some seemed repetitive of the previous year’s seminar. I would also request that next year I not be seated next to Steve Borock as he kept touching my leg- just kidding Stevie.
The rest of this market report has almost nothing to do with comics.
I realized over the last two weeks how truly blessed I am to be in relatively good health. I have become temporarily handicapped due to my recent soccer accident. This has really got me to thinking about how difficult it is for permanently handicapped people to function in the world. I am unable to bend my right leg and it has caused me troubles with many simple daily tasks. Just sitting down can sometimes be a challenge. On Friday it took me over 15 minutes to walk (limp) just a few blocks. There are many days we wake up feeling sorry for ourselves but we should all start looking at how much we have- not how much we are lacking. Even if you are sick or handicapped this applies. Be thankful for everything you have, friends, family, loved ones, a mind to think, a voice to speak a comic to read!
I once read an article about a seminar in which the speaker asked the audience how they knew if their life was a success. One man, a well- dressed businessman answered that he believed being a success was making three million dollars a year and that since he only made one and a half that he was not a success. And he truly believed this. After, a 2nd man stood up with a big smile on his face and said he knew his life was a success merely by waking up in the morning and being alive. This puzzled the speaker and he asked why this was enough to show this man he was a success. The 2nd man said he had recently recovered from a heart attack and that it woke him up to the real meaning of life. He had to face his own mortality and was now thankful for the little things like being able to breathe and walk and talk. He no longer took these things for granted. Great story. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t want you to have to wait until something bad happens to realize how good you have it-realize it every time you wake up in the morning, every time you take a walk with your family, every time you sit down to eat a delicious meal, every time you go to sleep at night.
Until next month-yours truly,