Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comics and the President

Today seems appropriate to comment on the latest wave of President Obama collectibles that are available for purchase, especially since the second printing of the Amazing Spider-Man #583 comic with Obama inside (and on the cover now) was available for purchase this morning at comic stores.

Except that it really wasn't available for purchase this morning, unless you pre-ordered the darn thing last week. I managed to snag a first printing last week, albeit the "regular" cover with the outrageous "cougars" reference. This morning I dutifully trudged down to not one but TWO different Comics retailers in the city of Angels (Golden Apple and Meltdown) only to discover the pre-order situation was well in hand. I didn't have nearly that problem last week when I went down to Hi Dee Ho in Santa Monica and walked out with the standard edition of the first printing, which now doesn't seem to be that bad of an after-thought.

Yes, that's the actual REGULAR issue cover, not too interesting is it? I can't even say I read the book to be honest. Over the years I've collected Amazing a couple of times - the first was from #270 to #330, though I sold off most of the key issues in there (Venom's first apperance, McFarlane's first Spider-Man) a couple years ago. The second and most recent run started with, err...darn, I'm not too sure, they messed up the numbering, but it was JMS (that's J. Michael Stracynski to non Babylon 5 fans) first issue. That run includes the special 9/11 issue, and I still have it. So even though I'm sort-of a fan of the wall-crawler, I'm not really interested in his comics anymore, ESPECIALLY after Marvel nullified his marriage to Mary Jane in the comics last year.

But I digress.

Here's the variant cover of the first printing, which is now selling for fairly big bucks:

You'll notice that the comic in this picture is graded, I'm not sure how they managed to get a comic that's only a WEEK old graded, but since I'm not planning on blowing big bucks on this "collectible" I don't really care. However, it is a pointed question that could be dealt with in a different article on the back-allies of comic books, and believe me there's a ton of bad dealers out there. You'll find them on eBay selling multiples of all the covers with Obama, these are the scalpers you want to stay away from. They took these books out of the hands of genuine comic readers and are scalping them for as much money as possible. Is there a surprising number of multiple copy lots on eBay right now? No, it's not surprising, disheartening to say the least, but not surprising.

This is the second printing that hit stores this morning. Or rather, it hit the scalpers this morning, because again, you couldn't just walk into a comic store and get a copy, unless you were very lucky and had a good dealer.

Next week Marvel will be bringing out a THIRD printing, here's that cover (supposedly):

Lots of 100 copies are already "pre-sold".

All of this for a FIVE PAGE back-up story. Yup, that's all there is in this issue, five pages. Written and drawn by two guys no one outside of the comic industry has ever heard of. Great.

There are other Obama related comics out there. One of the best, if not THE best comic was the IDW Biography comic that was released during the campaign season. They actually produced two books, one for McCain as well, and a third book was a combo flip book containing both comics. I bought a single copy of the Obama book back when it was issued, and I actually enjoyed reading it. In fact, that comic could be used in schools as a basic primer on the President's life. It was well-researched and even-handed.

Copies of the Obama book have sold for as much as $55 on eBay RECENTLY, but there are copies currently for sale under $10. Since the cover price alone was at least $4, that's not a bad investment. You might also be able to find it still on sale at retail, well, at least a third or fourth printing that is. Thirds have a special gold seal on the cover and the inauguration date.

President Obama also appears in The Savage Dragon #137 written and drawn by Erik Larsen. Savage Dragon has never been a favorite of mine, though I do own a couple of issues, and several years back Dragon met God, so that's something. The character is a cop, who happens to have green skin and a fin. Plus he's strong or something.

Originally this entry was going to feature other collectibles besides comics, but due to a scheduled down-time for Blogger, I wanted to get this finished ASAP. Next entry I'll look at other types of collectibles. Here's a preview though:

Looking on eBay, besides the obligatory domain names ( anyone?) the highest priced items are poster-sets of the Shepherd Fairey campaign posters, which are signed by the artist. If you look hard enough you could buy a full invitation set to the inauguration for a cool mil.

This is a nice collectible, a first printing of Obama's memoirs of his father's life signed and authenticated, and only 28K starting price.

Presidential signatures are actually a great collectible, and quite valuable as well, especially the older they are. Even the living ex-Presidents command top dollar when it comes to the certified autograph market, so if you ever have the opportunity to get a Presidential autograph, you definitely want to take it. When Bill Clinton's book came out a few years ago, lines for his signings were very long, but look

Then there's this silly auction for what is purportedly a 3 year old Barry Obama's crayon masterpiece. Seriously the seller has 0 rating and wants over a mil for something that my 2 year old could do better.


dayf said...

I have never understood the point behind grading comics. Fine, it protects the comic and defines how good condition it's in, but isn't the whole point of comics supposed to be what's INSIDE the cover?

tastelikedirt said...

Long after I stopped collecting comics I always would pick up Savage Dragon. Probably my favorite comic ever.

William Noetling said...

Dayf - I think the thoughts behind grading comics are much the same as grading cards, to get a definitive score so that you can value your comics accordingly. The grading scales of comic books are much more complicated than that of cards due to the sheer number of pages involved in a comic and the wider variety of defects that a comic can acquire after being published.

But yeah, I don't really buy into it either. Call me crazy, but I like to, you know, READ my comics. Even the old expensive ones every now and then.

At least with cards you can still see all aspects of the card (unless it's one of those hinged jerseys that they've been pumping out lately).