Tuesday, July 12, 2005

An Open Letter to the Guys that Check the Spine of Every Comic Before they Pick Out the Most Perfect One to Purchase, Bag, and Board.

Dear Nerds,

I know you think you're being clever, finding the MINT copy of AVENGERS #6 that will someday buy you a Rolls Royce, but history has other things to say. You can bag and board that motherfucker, and file it right alongside X-MEN #1 and the Death of Superman. Give them twenty years, and you'll have the world's only poly-bagged toilet paper collection.

What is this game we play? In every comic store I've ever walked in, I see you there. You have a stack of forty books in your paws, and you're inspecting the edges and spines of these comics like Hercule Poirot looking for clues. I have sad news for you; if, by some Totally Bizarre Twist if Fate, one of the books that came out last week actually manages to become rare and a huge audience of collectors actually start demanding it, the minute and improbably tiny crease under the top staple will not matter in the least.

It's a hard path to travel. Once you start looking for tiny imperfections in something as inconsequential as a comic book, what comes next? Do the big problems in life become so massive that they vanish, or do they overwhelm you, like that episode of the Twilight Zone where the astronaut finds a tiny civilization and becomes crazed with power, only to later get killed by even larger astronauts? Do you start looking for tiny imperfections in everything you buy, like hamburgers or bags of chips? What happens when you finally pick out the perfect copy of HOUSE OF M FANTASTIC FOUR, and then someone bumps you on the train, or the humidity wrinkles it, or a dog shits on it? At that point does your whole world view crumble?

I also wonder about your priorities. Does reading the book even enter into it? You spend more time in the comic shop that anyone else, but I don't think you even care what happens in these shitty books. It's all about inspecting the spines and staples. That's pretty depressing. If I dwell on it too long, I get really tired and lonesome.

In short, you're spending a lot of time trying to find books that will someday be worth a lot of money, and such a thing doesn't exist. And if it does, whatever the WIZARD "Hot Pick" is that week ain't it. Also, you look like a total fucking loser.



17 Love Letters:

Blogger Chris said...

Preach it, brothah!!

1:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.
Comics aren't an investment. One of the salespeople at the comic store I go to always asks me if I want it bagged and boarded. You can tell he doesn't READ comics.

The other man I buy my comics from is too smart to ask me this question. He knows about comics, and knows that I buy them to read. I don't want to pay extra for a piece of cardboard and plastic to 'protect them'. Am I going to be upset if my copy of "Countdown to Infinate Crisis" is destroyed? NO! Infact, I pray a small tornado will come into my comic box and destroy that book...also the last half dozen or so Green Arrows.

2:02 AM

Blogger Leigh Walton said...

i hear you about Green Arrow. When Ramos & Fowler came on board I had to double-check the cover to make sure i wasn't reading GREEN ARROW / PLASTIC MAN TEAM-UP. Just absurd.

12:07 PM

Blogger Leigh Walton said...

Alex, could you ever say something like this to a customer, or post it up in the store somewhere? Or would that be retail suicide?

I'm thinking of that Jack Black scene from High Fidelity where he bitches out the dude looking for Stevie Wonder...

I guess the difference is that these losers unfortunately make up a substantial amount of your business, no?

12:14 PM

Blogger Crazy Legs Hinch said...

They spend lots of money, and if they pay extra for a bag and board, then its a bonus to the shop owner. But that doesn't mean you have to like these people.

4:29 PM

Blogger Alex! said...

"Alex, could you ever say something like this to a customer, or post it up in the store somewhere?"

Oh no.

"Or would that be retail suicide?"

Probably not, and hopefully the new shop will attract a different type of reader/enthusiast than the speculator/collector. But posting rude-ish critiques of people makes people defensive when they walk into a store, be they guilty or no.

Reading them on-line, however, is hilarious!

"I guess the difference is that these losers unfortunately make up a substantial amount of your business, no? "

Not so much, in my experience. But they seem to be everywhere you go, at least one. Like I said abovce, hopefully the new shop will have a different customer base...

10:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno, I don't disagree with you, but is it worth anyone's time to attack comic book collectors as if these people need to be taken down a peg or something? Are we saying anything here that The Simpsons hasn't been saying for over a decade? They're losers because they care about comics more than people! And they don't care about them for the right reasons! Isn't there anything more interesting to take a stand on? More daring?

12:11 AM

Blogger Crazy Legs Hinch said...

But what exactly will your new shop have to encourage a different client base, and less of the one that we have seen many times over? A female salesperson, perhaps? My comic shop hired a woman, and that made some people uncomfortable. Personally, I didn't care.

But in the long run, you can do worse than the "Guys that Check the Spine of Every Comic Before they Pick Out the Most Perfect One to Purchase, Bag, and Board". I was once stuck in line, holding my comics in hand, behind a 29 year old man who had a million questions to ask the salesman about Yu-Gi-Oh cards. And no, he didn't buy anything. I was there in line for 10 minutes!

So count your blessings, that's what I'm saying. And don't sell Yu-Gi-Oh cards at your comic shop, that'd be a good start.

3:29 AM

Blogger Crazy Legs Hinch said...

I just buy my comics to read. Then I put them in a box. Oneday, I'll clear a shelf for my trade paperbacks. But I'm really not concerned with condition or selling my comics on eBay. But if thats your sort of thing, go for it. I sometimes buy comics I want off of eBay, but I still wouldn't care if there is a crease. If all the pages are there and it is readable, I'm happy.

5:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Believe me, having some turd wanting his money back because of a 1 mm crease is not fun."

I sell my comics on eBay too, and for the love of Christ there are a lot of these people out there. One guy sent me a nick-by-crease description of each of the twelve books he bought from me. I started worrying about buying books with dinged-up spines, but that only lasted until I got halfway down the rack of new releases and couldn't take the self-loathing that came from becoming one of those spine-checker dipshits.

I solved the problem by putting a strongly-worded warning on the bottom of my ebay descriptions. It might cost me a few bids but the lack of douchebags complaining about books that were closer to VF than NM was well worth it.

2:53 PM

Blogger Alex! said...

Part of the problem is that these people only deal in the last six months of books, and have no idea how to actually grade silver or golden books. When you spend time with forty year old newsprint, your idea of "spine stress" changes radically. The Overstreet definition of MINT is very clear, and what these people are looking for is TOTALLY PERFECT AND WELL BEYOND MINT. When I see someone sweat over tiny creases and invisible wrinkes, i know they're not a "real" collector. Silver age buyers and dealers know that you have to forgive bullshit imperfections.

(For the record, I define a "real" collector as someone who has spent considerable cash on books that are actually harder to find than WOLVERINE #1. People who know about Marvel dull-blade edges and like to complete sets of Sugar and Spike "just 'cause". The guys I mention above are speculators, who expect a 400 dollar return in six months on a 2.50 purchase. Or they are weird pod people with extreme OCD.)

10:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you buy comics?

2:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imma commin to your store next week .. gonna check out every spine in da place

11:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A brilliant blog entry!

10:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have about 5 of those guys, I can't stand them. They take time away from other customers.

I also have a guy that "hides" comics. I have to resort and alphabetize everything after he looks through the silver and bronze books. I hate him and his kid that comes in with him.

8:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God... Ya'll are just... Jerks. No two ways about it. Jerks. Piss off.

3:01 AM

Blogger Mr. Rice said...

Anonymous: "Piss off?" What are you, English? If so, you're barely human so I don't recognize your words. If not, stop speaking jibberish!

9:31 PM


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