The Simple Comic Newsletter

Issue #16

Table of Contents
01 Introduction
02 Samurai Guard
03 Kazar, More Than Just Another Savage
04 eBay and Comic Buying
05 What Else Do You Have Like This Book?
06 Movies and Heart Attacks
07 Classic Commercial
08 Top 10 List
09 Conclusion

Introduction
What a difference a month can make! Last issue, I was depressed about the number of hits and WHAMMO, the triple! Plus, I get a contributor! So maybe this newsletter is turning that proverbial corner. I just need a little help. If you are a fan of the newsletter, tell a friend, a family member, even a pet who is online. Post about it, tell other webpages to link to it. The more people we can get to read it, the more contributions we can get and the better off it will be! I feel there is a fair amount of people who want to read about something other than new comic news and I am doing my darndest to deliver that. There are allot of great series out there that have been passed over that I want to bring back to the spotlight again. I really want to show that comics can be a very affordable hobby and there are alternatives to the $2.00-$3.00 an issue for new comics. But I need your help to keep this going. Enough begging, lets get on with another issue.


Samurai Guard

One of the fun parts of this job is getting new comics to review. While many of them are the same old stuff, every so often one comes along that catches my interest. Samurai Guard is one of these. While the book is still in its early stages, it shows promise. Will be interesting to see the development of the book.

The book is published by Colburn Comics and is written and drawn by Kirk Abrigo, who is a competent artist, but his strength lies in his writing. Actually, it is his characterization that is his best strength as he has managed to flesh out a nice collection of characters in one issue, something allot of people cannot accomplish in a dozen books (best example is Youngblood, did you know anyone after the first issue or for that matter care?). From Captain Shindo to Yori, a female samurai who shows that you can have a worthwhile female character and keep her fully clothed.

The story deals with the mythical Bushido Island and the invasion by an outside threat that includes scuba men and ninjas. It eventually pits the age old battle of the samurai versus the ninja. One thing I would like to see is a little less action and more character development, but considering this is the first issue and I am sure that Kirk wanted to make a good impression and draw interest, I can understand the more action approach. I do hope he does go into more about the different Samurai's backgrounds and their relationships to each other. There is some very good potential here if it is properly handled. I personally want to find out how a woman became a samurai and would like to see some of the tension between her and the other samurais as they have to feel their male only occupation is being threatened. Also, how Shindo initially reacted to this and if his stance has changed at all would also make interesting reading.

In closing, Samurai Guard is like the diamond in the rough. It is a little unpolished now, but shows allot of potential. Lets hope that Colburn is in it for the long run and that the industry gives them a fair shake, because the market is in need of diversity and this title breaks free from the glut of super hero and scantily clad female comics that are so prevalent.

For more information on Colburn Comics and Samurai Guard, check out the web site at the following address: http://www.geocities.com/~colburncomics/


(Finally a savage who doesn't have black hair!)
Kazar, More Than Another Savage

Savages have always been popular in both comics and fiction in general. From timeless heroes like Tarzan and Mowgli, you have a long tradition of the savage man in an even more savage world. While Tarzan has been in comics for 50 years, another savage has been around quite awhile (with his first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #10). This person is Kazar the Savage, the monarch of the Savage Land, a land teeming with dinosaurs and other creatures from another era. With his trusty companion, Zabu, a saber-toothed tiger, he keeps peace in this harsh realm.

The story of a man in a land that time seems to have forgotten isn't a new one (can you say Warlord or Kona or even Turok?), Kazar is probably the only one that keeps coming back. While Warlord had one long run and then sorta faded into obscurity and Turok did make revival, only by abandoning the Dinosaur Valley and coming to the modern time, Kazar has stuck to his roots. He is one with the Savage Land and no matter how many times you take him out and try to civilize him, he will end up back there. Even the lure of a beauty like Shanna the She Devil, couldn't keep him from romping in the wilds with Zabu at his side.

While I enjoy the Warlord series more and Turok did have those great painted covers in the old series, I always have a fondness for Kazar. I only wish that they would give him a proper series, one where we get to see him and not a bunch of guest stars. That is the one problem with the Savage Land, it is a haven for heroes and villains. The X-Men and Spiderman have both spent considerable time there as have a half dozen other characters. It is tough for me to enjoy Kazar when he is always playing second fiddle to some super powered guy.

While Kazar has had numerous series, I do find his early stuff in Astonishing Tales and his own 1970 series to be allot of fun. Sure the 80's series had its moments, but they cannot hold a candle to the early stuff. The good thing about Kazar is that almost all of his books are cheap, very cheap and they make a good read for a budget conscious person. So pull out some of that pocket change at the next convention and treat yourself to some good escapism. Kazar is a very enjoyable series and considering you can get a few books for a buck, you are not talking a major financial commitment.

eBay and Comic Buying
by Mark Rachow

I’d like to introduce myself as a "once in a while" comic book dealer; I don't deal full time, but rather about a show every two months, plus a private customer a few times a year. I have talked to several dealers who feel you're really taking a great chance by buying on such online auction sites as EBay. A recent article in Comics Buyers Guide talked about the possibly of guide price manipulation using EBay as a vehicle (having 2 people fake a sale and report it to the guide to get the price raised). The point of view I'm expressing here is that I've had nothing but positive experiences with buying and selling on EBay, and that there are a lot of very reputable people who use the EBay system and other online auctions, and that it is an excellent source for buying and selling.

If you’re trying to assess my expertise in all matters pertaining to dealing and online auctions, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I just completed an online purchase via the EBay auction within 72 hours of this article being submitted, in which a golden age comic with a Phantom Lady story in it- Wonder Boy 17 arrived with an eerily familiar handwriting on the tag placed on the Mylar. Yes I won the bid on the exact comic that I traded to a fine guy from Indiana 3 years back at the Motor City show in Novi, MI. I can summarize the profit and loss aspect of this transaction in that I essentially paid this guy a 3-year storage fee, and not a slight one at that. I will point out that I'm very happy with this transaction overall as I received 6 comics from the 1940s and 1950s.

Bidding on EBay or most online auctions does differ from traditional bidding. For one thing, the proxy system will allow you to win a lot of auctions under your minimum. At a traditional auction, if you yell out "30", that's what you pay if you win. A traditional auction is also very time consuming. Of course, the last second "dreaded and evil" sniping, which we probably have all done at times is something that is a part of the online auction equation. To clarify for some of you, sniping is that winning bid place within seconds of the close and not leaving time for anyone else to retake the bid.

The first reaction one might feel regarding online purchasing and auctions, especially with graded comics is “buyer beware”. I did more selling at the beginning than buying, and I didn't have a scanner then. My philosophy as someone who fancies himself as an honest and trustworthy dealer is that if I err, I need to err on the conservative side with my grading and description in order to get positive feedback's. I've found that if you can find online dealers who consistently err in your favor, you’ve got inside information regarding value not apparent to everyone. One tip I can give is when you look at someone's feedback file, try to notice comments regarding their grading. Comments such as "books in better condition than advertised" or “conservative grading” always catch my eye.

From my buying experience, I've recently have been on a buying spree and have won about 35 lots in the last few months. I've won 20-30 lots in the previous year or two since I've been registered. Since grading is always subjective, I generally grit my teeth and bear it if a comic comes shipped to me at a half grade less than I was expecting (e.g. VG/F instead of their stated condition of Fine). I'd estimate that this happens about 20-25% of the time. Of course, I believe no one when they say they have a comic in VF or near mint. I always bank on the comic being in at least a half grade less for the high grades. So, in the majority of the cases, I agree with the grading. Finally, in some fortunate cases, the comics come in higher than advertised- maybe 5-10% of the auctions. Out of these 60 or so lots, I had to return one comic, in which they called a 1950s Jackie Gleason comic a VG/F and it was barely a good as it had long tears, creases, etc. I did get a refund for this.

One fact to be cognizant of is what general type of clientele you're dealing with, which I think can correlate to what general type of merchandise we're talking about. I've mostly bought golden age with some silver and maybe a 1970s lot or two. I wouldn't expect 12 and 13 year olds to be dealing with early 1940s Superhero golden age with Schomburg cover art, for example, and this may skew my experiences with EBay. I'm estimating that the demographics of the people I buy from fit into the more older and responsible people. Of course, silver age is something that does attract buyers and sellers from all ages.

In studying this great modern trend of online commerce, one must adjust to the times. I think that the ultimate impact of online comic auctions will be on the supply side, especially of the premium vintage comics, rather than the demand side. The big conventions are still getting the crowds (promoters are widening the attractions and variety). Of course, there are those dealers who'll say that business is off, but that is partially the function of not having the material people want perhaps made less available to some degree by these online auctions. I have read that 90-95% of Internet businesses actually end up failing. What will make or break the online business person is perceived value, trust and service from the prospective customer’s point of view, and those who understand this and are in this for the long haul will not take advantage of the long distance commerce and will grade accordingly.

So here are a few tips (other than the typical ones you might read) from an experienced buyer:

- One of my best runs of winning lots was right after the EBay system went down for a good portion of two days. They have a policy of extending any auctions due to finish within an hour of a downtime. My advice is to keep checking to see if it goes back up. Downtime keeps a lot of bidders away and they might not be there to bid on a lot, which closes in say 8 hours (if the system goes back up in 6 hours).

- I spend most of my checking time on comics in the "ending today" category, mostly in the Golden age section. One can spend an enormous amount of time comparing what's on the list with the price guide, so you need to be efficient with your time. If you got something about to close in an hour or so and its current price is about half your minimum, you might want to bid your minimum now. If you've got a marginally popular comic there, it'll go through 1 or 2 last minute snipe attempts, but you got a pretty decent chance of winning.

- Don't be scared away from reserve auctions, especially those in demand comics close to ending that haven't reached it's reserve. The last minute sniper will be more likely to stay away since there are more unknowns involved.

- Always bid an odd amount, like $5.27, instead of $5.00. That way a sniper won't be able to nip you by a penny.

- If you look at new additions to the auction, you might want to bid the minimum early (knowing it won't hold up) just to get it bookmarked as a reminder when you look at your auctions a few days later. When you check your current auctions, these will be included.

- Keep bookmarked folders on EBay sellers and who you've found to be conservative graders in the past. I have EBay sellers sub folders also.

- Even though I’ve pointed out that there are a majority of fair and reasonable sellers using the EBay system, one does need to apply some smarts. Someone with a 0 rating with a collection up for sale with a $5000 price is not someone I’d send a check quickly to. I’m more comfortable with those who have a complete description of the comic rather than a grade with no reason behind it.

- To contrast this point, a low rating reflects more on how much the seller has used the EBay rather than if he or she is trustworthy. I have asked for references from a guy several years back who had a 0 rating and was selling a couple dozen Mystery in Space comics from the 1950s. I did get answers from the past buyers of his, won this bid and wound up with a very good deal (about 5x the value over what I paid).

- When using the search engines, try clicking both boxes. For example I’ll type in Planet Comics and click on both Search only in Comic Books: Golden Age and Search titles and descriptions.

- Regarding shipping rates, both the USPS and UPS sites have rate calculators. I’m comfortable using priority shipping by the USPS as it's $3.20 for up to 2 pounds anywhere in the continental U.S.

- Enjoy the comics you do win. I figure even if I sell a couple at less than I pay, it's like paying for a movie since I'm enjoying the comic and the art.

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Mark Rachow is the owner of Mark's Vintage Collectables and does shows in the midwest and is active on Ebay. He currently has an inventory of over 20,000 comics, with several thousand in each the silver and golden age categories. He can be reached at marksvint@home.com and has an operating website at http://www.members.home.net/marksvint/marksvc.htm or more simply http://clik.to/marksvc

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What Else Do You Have Like This Book?
If you ever spent any time as a comic dealer, then you heard this phrase once too often. Someone likes a certain character or genre and wants to know what else is similar to this. Do you have that problem? You really like horror comics and want to know what has been made, but don't know where to look? Well, look no more! I have done a section on my website that focuses on this very thing. I call it Related Comics and it features lists of books that are available or were available on this website by genre. I currently have the following genres covered:

Horror
Science Fiction
Children's
TV/Movie Related
Western/War
Manga/Japanese
Independant
Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery

I also have sections where I list all the different books that some of the most popular heroes in comics appear in. So if you are a Batman fan, you will find his usual stuff like Batman and Detective as well as other series he either stars in or are part of his family like Robin and Catwoman. You will also find team books like JLA and Batman and the Outsiders as well as team-up books like Brave & the Bold and World's Finest.

So now if you enjoy one kind of genre or hero, you can look to see if you can find similar books! I even bookmarked the different sections, so you can easily get to them as the page is quite large! So next time you need a little advice, check out the page see if this helps out.

Movies and Heart Attacks
While I don't surf the web too much for comic news and I am so far behind in news, that I feel like Rip Van Winkle, I have to comment on the news about upcoming comic book movies. As I go into Fred Sanford mode (pretending to be Fred Sanford as he pretends to have a heart attack), I have to clutch my heart and stand in disbelief. Marvel not only is having some big budget movies coming, but they are getting some real actors in them! Gone are the days when Dolph Lungren was the biggest actor Marvel could get for a movie, they are attracting them like flies. First we had Wesley Snipes do Blade (which is getting a sequel with Wesley in the main role), but we make Patrick Stewart in the X-Men. No, not Patrick Duffy or Neil Patrick (isn't that Doogie Howser's real name?), but a bona fide Shakespearian actor who is not washed up. Plus, they are also getting some oscar caliber actors to fill out the movie and it is shaping up to be not just another Marvel movie, but an event, a major event!

Even more surprising than that is the Spiderman appears to finally be done with all the legal wranglings and is preparing to be made a movie, by Sony, if what I read is correct. It is also supposed to have a big budget and talk is on about some big names vying for the role of Spidey himself. Pinch me because I must be dreaming. I thought this movie was never going to see the light of day. Let us hope it gets the same royal treatment the X-Men are getting.

Other news I hear is that the Superman movie is getting ready to go and will be given a major makeover. While the last batch of movies had a few moments, I for one would like to see a more serious approach. Plus, there is talk that maybe a Flash movie is in the works. I am not sure what way this will go, but the television series showed promise. It only was given the timeslot from hell and had almost no chance of success.

Add in some smaller studio movies like the sequel to Spawn and others (what ever happened to the animated Elfquest?) and you have alot for the industry to be happy about! Let us hope they use the past as an example of what not to do and learn from these mistakes. There is so much potential in comic books, and I would like to see it given a fair shake.

Classic Commercial
One of the corniest of the old commercials is the ones for building bigger muscles. Sure there was the famous, "Make a man out of Mac" one, but there are alot more that are equally corny. I personally like the one that has "Mr. Terminator, Arnold" holding up two women. Or the ones where the scantily clad beauties are hanging all over this muscle bound guy. Talk about sending the wrong message to impressionable youths. Just build up those biceps and you will have all kind of women hanging on you. Yeah right!

But one thing these ads don't tell you is that sure their product may help in developing muscles, but to get the really big muscles, like the guys in the ads, you need to spend hours a day on them. And you cannot expect these results in a few months, it take years to get huge. But of course, they don't want something like reality getting in the way. Sure there will be some disappointed boys who expect to spend a few months on their body and head to the beach to bully everyone around and attract women like a magnet, but all they will find is that they are the same person, minus some money.

Top 10 List
I am going to do a different list this time. Instead of the usual list, I am going to list the top 10 reasons to attend a local comic convention. Please note that there are the Top 10 Silly Reasons to Attend, but some have some truth to them.

10. Where else can you wear those goofy costumes you bought?
09. People don't ask you who is on your t-shirt (aka: Who's Bone? What are the Wildcats?)
08. To see what the latest bandwagon that the dealers have jumped on (was Beanies, now Pokeman).
07. To buy copies of all those television shows that were considered too awful to be released on video (wow, Quark, I loved that show!)
06. To cry at all those books you paid full price for that are now in the quarter bins.
05. To laugh at the dealer with 300 copies of the same book in the quarter bin (I really thought Doom IV was going to be a big hit).
04. To make a list of all the expensive comics you are going to buy when you win the lottery.
03. Where else can an adult buy kids toys and not get funny looks?
02. Roll your eyes as you notice that the guy selling adult magazines is right next to the guy with the Beanie Babies and Pokeman cards.
01. Find that expensive comic in the bargain bin and gloat to all your friends about it!

Conclusion
Another issue in the can! We are slowly, but surely heading towards that 20th issue, our next milestone! Hopefully we will get some more submissions. If you have a site you would like to see spotlighted or are coming out with a comic you wanted to get reviewed, send it along and we will do our best to cover it. Thanks for reading and enjoy those comics!

Tom Zjaba