All of the major conventions are at first a marvelous immersion into pop culture. Then, reality hits home as a fan and you go from one con to the next all with the sinking feeling that there are fewer and fewer comic books at each convention you visit. Then it hits you, these supposed comic book cons are a big con game. They end up becoming nothing more than an assault on your senses and your wallet. Where are the comic book vendors? Yep, they are buried in the back corner. Usually, only the biggest dealers will show up as it is too expensive for the smaller comic book dealers to set up a table profitably.
As you venture throughout the convention hall, to the left you have TV heroes (for a price), to your right all your favorite comic artists (for a price), behind you a bunch of scrappy artists plagiarizing existing franchises. In front of you an armada of toys, games, nuanced pop culture references, Star Trek junk (non-collectibles), Star Wars garbage (recent toys) and a multitude of individual comics and fan art created by Dog-boy while living in his mom’s garage. Then finally the sticker shock hits home. You spent $60 just to get in the con for one day and the vendor prices are above even regularly high retail levels at your LCS.
The price gouging doesn’t just stop with the fans either. The vendors are gouged at the same time; forced to pay the exorbitant cost of tables, electricity, and parking. The result is that no one can budge off their pricing because their fixed costs are so high. Vendors need the full income off every book just to break even. Fortunately, I have seen the future of comic book conventions and the future is filled with “A New Hope.”
A New Hope…
There is “A New Hope” on the horizon for all comic book speculating Jedi. This past weekend I experienced a convention the way they are supposed to be run; this pure comic book convention was for the comic book fan, collector, investor, speculator, retailer, and dumpster diver. What’s the difference you ask? The one big difference, this con only had comic books. No, “Artist Alley,” no, signature booths, no weapons stalls, no wet t-shirt art, and certainly no toys. There was only one signing artist (thank God) and he was a Modern Age comic book artist on a stage, overlooking this massive comic book fest. Yes, this was a convention like no other, the way a con was meant to be run for comic book nerds only. The way every speculator loves it, “tons of cheap comic book inventory!”
The proprietor of the convention was at the front door taking tickets, saying hello, helping people and being genuinely friendly. Why? Well, because he is probably a collector too and enjoys the camaraderie and back and forth of a real “comic book” convention that (wait for it); actually sells comic books! It is the biggest free-market, free-for-all I have ever been to for comic books. It lasts for one day only. Further, upon entering the establishment it was noted there were no toys, dolls, or Halloween (cosplay). The only thing in this room were buyers and sellers, essentially a bunch of like-minded nerds scarfing down as many comics as they could get their grubby little hands on.
The First Booth
The first booth I walked up to had tons of books mostly in boxes arrayed on two tables. The wall books behind the tables were in great shape and reasonably priced. Now, I did a very popular (ahem) blog about six months ago on retailers raising wall book prices on raw comics to match CGC encased graded books currently for sale on eBay. However, at this particular venue for the most part that was the exception, not the rule. Vendors were posting higher prices but with the massive amount of competition around them they were “wheeling and dealing.” It was quite a sight to behold. I typically look for forgotten books or heavily discounted keys that have fallen off the radar. But the fun of the event was everyone was talking comics, trading comics, pilling through dollar bins, negotiating some fantastic prices for big keys. It was a comic speculators’ dream come true.
The Three F’s
This was the really great part, books that would have sold retail for $10 to $30 were going for $2 to $5. Daredevil, Werewolf by Night, Eternals (whew Eternals everywhere), variants, Tomb of Dracula, Neal Adams-Batman, Secret Wars, and heavily discounted Walking Dead. This convention was alive with the three F’s: fantastic pricing, flexible sellers, and rabid fans. Most of the table sellers (vendors) had run around purchasing comics for their own collection prior to the doors opening. I would walk up and say, “What is in that box bud?” The vendor on several separate occasions would respond, “Sorry, that is my habit I am feeding, I purchased all of them here, can’t sell those!” It was the ultimate convention for comic book buyers and sellers of all stripes. There was no wading through an army of zombies lost in the maze of pop culture retail, only good old fashioned buying, and selling of comic books! It was extraordinary.
Eternals #2 (Long-Term)
- Grade 9.8 $587 last sale 1-15-20 returned positive +23%
- Grade 9.2 $100 last sale 1-20-20 returned negative -6.5%
At the end of the day, the proprietor at the front door personally greeted us as we left. He wanted to know what I was going to do with all those comics? I replied, “I am going to resell em.” He wished us a good day and thanked us for coming to his event. I probably tripled my initial investment of $200 in comics. Including ending up with an Eternals #2 in near-mint condition for about $30. The bottom line, if one of these pure-cons appears in your neighborhood; then make sure you attend. Everyone should get to feel “A New Hope” every now and again. It is what cons should be; well, all about comic books of course.
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