Collecting Dust: Part 3

The third part of Charles Meryerson’s “Collecting Dust” is the last one I’ll be reprinting here.  The article does continue past this, focusing on natural disasters and insurance stuff.  All of that can certainly be important…but I’m more interested in the physical preservation of the books.

Meyerson does a terrific job of blaming lignin for the acid that’s eating your comic books, even as you read this.  The old ones, at least.  How much lignin is in the paper stock used today?  I have no idea.  Who would one even ask about that, Quebecor?  I don’t know.  My suspicion is that acid is less of a problem than it used to be.

This piece also tackles restoration.  Kind of interesting, it seems like the pros repair holes the way a body shop might slap bondo on a rusty car.  But really, comic book restoration is a non-issue, except as it wanders into fraud.

99% of the readership doesn’t care enough about condition to restore a book, and the other 1% wouldn’t do anything to a book that might cause CGC to slap a purple label on the slab.  But still…fun to think about.

Enjoy!

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Collecting Dust: Part 2

We’re back with the second installment of Charles Meyerson’s “Collecting Dust” article, as originally printed in American Flagg! # 26.

This segment focuses on the poly bag, which is pretty standard.  Meyerson explains why these bags do not work long term.  If you’ve been collecting for awhile, you’ve probably seen the results yourself.  Sometimes I take an old book out of its protection, (some of my collection has been in the same polybags for more than 20 years) and can see a ghost image of the comic on the bag and board.

I know the headlines say “acid free” on the label, so you think you’re safe.  Uh-uh.  It’s better than nothing, but those cheap bags and boards are doing physical damage to your treasures over time.

Listen, I use the “bad” bags myself for most of my books, so don’t think I’m going snob on you.  For more permanent items and special comics, I recommend ordering true Mylar protection directly from E Gerber.  Everything they sell is of true archival quality. Incidentally, these guys are so Old School you can’t order the product online.  You have to talk to them on the phone like it’s 1986.  I love it!

If you order in bulk, (200 count or better) you can order 4mil sleeves and halfbacks for about 50 cents per.  A 4 mil Mylar makes a comic look gorgeous, and it will last longer than you without harming the book.  Your Amazing Spider-Man # 300 is worth that.

Back to Mr. Meyerson…

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Collecting Dust: Part 1

I stumbled over this while digging through long boxes.  It’s a series of articles titled “Collecting Dust”, in which Charles Meyerson covers the science of comic book deterioration and preservation.

Some of the horrors described are no longer relevant.  When these columns were written, comics were printed on shoddy newsprint.  I’m sure the new paper stock has its own issues.  I believe it was Fury in the Slaughterhouse that taught me:

Every generation got its own disease, and I’ve got mine.

Many of the dictums contained are still good advice, though.  You get the usual admonitions to store books upright, keep them cool/dry, etc.  Meyerson really sets himself apart by explaining the “why” part of these recommendations.  He explains the chemical properties of the comics, the standard protective gear, and the resultant alchemy in more depth than I’ve ever seen.

“Collecting Dust” was a three part series originally published in Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! issues 25-27, circa 1985.  If for some reason Meyerson or the remanants of First Comics don’t want this material published here, I’ll certainly take it down.

But in the interim, if you’ve ever wanted to know how to take care of your comics….Charles Meyerson is about to teach you how.

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OOPortunity: More Time

I keep trying to make “fetch” happen.  It’s not going to happen.

If you’re confused about the reference, go ahead and watch “Mean Girls” again.  It’s surprisingly not-terrible, and you’ll get to see Lindsey Lohan before she turned herself into a human dumpster.  So there’s that.

The very lovely Lacey Chabert plays “Gretchen” in that movie, and in order to contribute to the clique and seem clever, she tries overly hard to create a catch phrase.

“That’s so fetch,” says Gretchen.  She says it over and over, but nobody’s buying.   It’s kind of adorable, but the repetition does get a bit tiresome.  Eventually Rachel McAdams calls her out and declares openly that Gretchen should stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

And that’s pretty much what ooptrades is.  It’s a cute little thing I do to contribute and seem clever.  But nobody’s buying.

This is not the first time I’ve left the stage, but I have to say I’m leaving this time  feeling better internally.  I must admit some puzzlement over how difficult it is to sell free money, but on this second go-round I did a lot more research and I’ve come to peace with the knowledge that this is a numbers game.  Even if I were Jane Austen and a fantastic promoter, (I’m neither of those things) there is more public interest in belly button lint than out-of-print trades.

So setting aside the part where I’m potentially creating my own competition, (which I don’t much worry about) this topic is simply too niche to justify the time except as a labor of love.  And at this juncture, I don’t have the luxury of love’s labors.  My labor must produce something that will keep the lights on.

I really have enjoyed this latest flurry of activity on different levels.  Putting myself on a strict publishing schedule (and then surpassing it) has produced more writing from me than…ever, really.  That includes the semester I wrote my thesis!  (It applied Burke to Marvel’s Civil War, if you’re wondering)

It’s been good for flexing the writing muscles, although I wish I’d spent a little more time with the proofing muscles.  Rich Johnston thinks I leave a lot of spelling/grammatical errors!  But mostly the work was good for me, and I’d like to think it was good for a handful of you, as well.

At some point I may hit a powerball ticket and return here sporadically to contribute and attempt cleverness.  But once again, I’m afraid its time for me to bow off stage.  “Fetch”, as much I love it, is never going to happen.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday Shop Talk: Instocktrades report card

Let’s talk about sourcing books online for a bit.  I’m going to run down some of the online comic book heavyweights and compare the relative pros & cons.  Categories include:

  • Selection
  • Price
  • Fill Rate
  • Turnaround
  • Shipping
  • Want List
  • Customer Service

Since our focus is trade paperbacks, let’s begin with instocktrades.com, a TPB specialist.

Continue reading Wednesday Shop Talk: Instocktrades report card

Dirty Filthy Speculation: Haunted

Haunted

I really like Scott Chitwood’s Haunt Vol 1 TPB as a piece of dirty, filthy speculation.  Let’s run down the oopportunity point-by-point.

Haunt is a buzzy little indie book published by the fine folks at Red 5 comics.  (mostly famous for Atomic Robo)  Scott Chitwood does the scripts and Danny Luckert pencils the book. It’s a horror/ghost story in which the membrane between the supernatural and mundane world is breached.  Does that ever go well for the mundane world?  It certainly doesn’t in this case, as our lovely home is inundated with ghosts, and there’s pretty much nothing left between them and total annihilation except our main character Sarah.

Continue reading Dirty Filthy Speculation: Haunted

Civil War On Over-Priced Comics: A Call To Retailer Action

Whose side are you on? Your customer's side.
Whose side are you on? Your customer’s side.

Marvel is planning on selling the first issue of Civil War II for $5.99, with a regular price of $4.99 for subsequent issues.  And by regular, we mean disgusting and abusive.  Those price points are a crime against readers and retailers,  and demand an aggressive response.  I’m calling for comic book stores to send a message to Marvel with a “Civil War On Over-Priced Comics” promotion.  Do it right, and there will be an immediate financial reward as well.

Continue reading Civil War On Over-Priced Comics: A Call To Retailer Action