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Short Day At Long Beach

It’s been a bit of a rough ride for me in real life lately, so when my pal Billy King suggested we spend a part of last Saturday at the Long Beach Comic Con, I leapt at the chance. Two hours on the highway from North County San Diego passed in a blur as Billy and I gabbed about comics the whole way.

We knew we were in for a hot time when we saw the parking sign:

Lobster Festival!

Reminded me of …

Spinal Tap!

The $35 one-day admission I paid at the door felt like about fifteen dollars too much … but it was still fun to be at a comic show, especially one that was easy to get to and to get around in when compared to the madhouse that is San Diego Comic-Con. Just being able to walk-up on the day of the show and buy a ticket without waiting in line was probably worth the price of admission.

The floor wasn’t worth much more than half a day, but I did score a semi-random stack of back issues, and it was a real joy to just kind of follow my nose and buy things I didn’t expect.

Like a stack of Doctor Strange books that I found in an honest-to-gosh dollar box:

Doctor Strange

These are the good stuff — Gene Colan and Tom Palmer on art, and Steve Englehart at his faux-mystical best. I already had a few Doctor Strange books from this era, and now I suppose I will have to fill in the run and maybe think about a review here at LBG (especially with a movie coming up in the next year or two).

I got Giant-Sized Man-Thing #1, just because my kid giggles like Beavis and Butthead when I say the title:

Giant-Size Man-Thing

It’s not a bad story, either — vintage Steve Gerber weirdness, with Man-Thing battling the Golden Brain of the Glob, along with a pack of entropic cultists lead by a hooded villain who bears what surely can’t be an accidental resemblance to Richard Nixon.

Billy found a stack of Kamandis at half off … I told myself I’d buy one if it was that “crazy issue with the bats,” which I previously reviewed (in digital form) here at the blog.

Sure enough:

that one with the bats

I found an issue from the Claremont/Byrne run of Marvel Team-Up (which I still want to review here eventually):

Marvel Team-Up

And I bought Son of Satan because … why not? It’s a book I missed when I was a kid buying these things, and now it seems like the kind of thing that could never get published. I confess I thought this was the character’s first appearance (actually it is the second), but, wow, love this John Romita cover.

Son of Satan

I think the most I spent on any of these was about five bucks, and most were less. Stacks up nicely against buying a $4.99 current comic off the rack.

It’s ceased to be a major theme at this blog since culling my collection to move into a smaller house, but being possessed by my possessions is something I’ve written about a lot, and wandering the show today and buying comics anew made me reassess some of those insights. Most interesting was how seeing so many books on sale gave me an inflated sense of what my own comics are worth. There are significant differences in grade, of course, but I saw a lot of books today that I own, or that I recently sold for smallish sums, and of course all those books at the show were marked up to Overstreet and beyond. If I hadn’t experienced such spotty success trying to sell my own collection last year, I might have come away genuinely believing that some of those lesser #1s I had from the 70s — the Godzillas and Devil Dinosaurs and Human Flys — really were worth sixty or seventy or a hundred dollars, instead of the five or ten bucks I scored actually moving them out the door.

Godzilla #1

my database says I still have this book in my collection … is it really worth $30 in Good condition?

Just seeing so many aspirational books ranged at the dealer booths with their high sticker prices created a kind of echo chamber effect, a self-referencing feedback loop where of course those books are worth a lot of money because every dealer says they are (until you try to sell to them, at least). I wonder how many fans’ perception of the value of their comic books is shaped purely through buying them, without the experience of later trying to sell them without taking a loss?

But no matter. I’m still a reader before I am a collector. And now I’ve got a little stack of new-old comics to read. Life is better now than it was before. Can’t ask for more than that!

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