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The Weekly Haul: Week of October 17, 2018

This ended up being an interesting week for me for new comics!

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New issue of Batman, of course. I snagged Nightwing #50 last weekend, knowing #51 was coming out. I love the foiling on the cover, too! New issue of TMNT; new issue of Mr. & Mrs. X (I really need to find the wedding issue and 1-3 to catch up on actual READING!). I ended up getting Green Lanterns #57 as (I believe) the final issue of that series, thanks to a spoiler of the Cyborg Superman being in it (which, along with the cover, got my curiosity up for dealing with continuity TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD!). Another ending, Simpsons Comics‘ final issue (#245). This might be my first issue purchased of the actual series…perhaps sorta morbid to jump on for the final issue, but c’est la vie! Finally, based mainly on the foiling and partly on tying in to Heroes in Crisis (Maybe 80/20 split for me), picked up Green Arrow #45 from a whenever it came out–last week, or a couple weeks ago.

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Over the weekend, wound up swinging by Half-Price Books due to an errand involving going right by the exit. Came across Superman & Batman: Generations and Superman & Batman: Generations II paperbacks. While I know I have at least a few of the single issues for both, I’m not sure where, offhand. And since they were there in front of me, and I don’t remember the last time I even saw these in-person (and they’re fairly old–predating the 2005 DC logo switch!) so I opted to get them so I wouldn’t kick myself over passing them up later! (However, I did pass on several volumes of The Flash Chronicles, that were priced at or ABOVE cover price due to being "out of print"–I haaaate that HPB does NOT separate such volumes out from their general half-price mission/collection! But that’s a topic for other posts…)

I also found out that the reason the newest Marvel digest from Archie wasn’t/hasn’t been out is that the digest series has apparently been flat-out cancelled. As a consumer (rather than businessperson), that sucks, and is a major, conscious negative for me toward both publishers (regardless of my "understanding" from the business standpoint…if it wasn’t selling, it wasn’t selling). It’s something I liked and was buying, and with it cancelled, that’s one less thing I’m getting from either of them!

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#HPBHaul: 50%-Off Coupon March 18, 2018

Last week, Half-Price Books had a series of coupons–two days of 20% off your most expensive item, two days of 30%, two days of 40%…culminating in a Sunday coupon for 50% off your most expensive item.

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I held out for the 50%, having spotted the complete Homicide: Life on the Street series awhile back, and noticing it was still available. While I wasn’t willing to spend the money for it at "full price," with the 50% off, I essentially got each season and the movie for less than the cost of two Marvel comics apiece.

On checking out, even got the comment of it being one of those things that tends to only sell with these coupons.

This set joins several other "H" series for me; now giving me Homicide, House, Heroes, and Highlander as complete series in my collection (not counting the Heroes Reborn stunt from a year or two back).


Of course, this is a comics blog, so why am I showing off a DVD set? Well, for one thing, I got it at Half-Price Books, which has been a source of a number of volumes in my collection, despite the love/hate thing I have with them on pricing. For another thing, they didn’t have anything comic-related that was of sufficient interest to me for using the 50% coupon, and I wasn’t at liberty to drive out to the nearest further location, and I’ve had issues with that location having books I was "interested" in but even at 50% off still wayyyyyy outta my price range/what I’m willing to pay for whatever.

Though I went in "planning on" buying this set (on the caveat of "if it’s still there") I also looked at the comic stuff, and there just wasn’t anything of interest to me…and I didn’t even bother to flip through single issues–those are back up to being "$1 each unless priced higher." (well, that’s my reading of "$1 each unless priced otherwise").

Since HPB does not seem to curate its single issues (it barely has them in clumps by first letter of title or several subgroups), the issues seem to be $2-$4 or higher apiece, and they seem to typically be either big dumps of recent issues (so titles I’d be interested in, I already own the issues) or they’re big dumps of ’90s comics that I can get for 25-50 cents at several local comic shops (with better runs, better selection, and less instances of #1s being already cherry-picked OUT of the available runs) I tend to just not be interested in their single issues.

And I keep getting "burned" with any high-interest (to me) volumes being marked as "out of print" and priced at full price or double price or such (said volumes being mixed in with regular/common stock rather than being separated out as special ‘collectable’ volumes).

As I near the end-point of the third season of iZombie on Netflix, with only 2-3 episodes of season 4 having aired (I think the third episode as of tonight, March 19) it might be time for me to hook up a disc-player and dive into this for a 2018 run-through (last having watched the series in 2005 or so).

If nothing else…it’s another of my "all-time favorite/most-meaningful" tv series archived into my collection.

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The Weekend #HPBHaul (Weekend of June 23-25)

Along with getting to see a dear friend for the first time in far, far too long…I got to visit three Half-Price Books locations that are out of my usual range. Perhaps because of not being usual haunts, and the last time I’d been to any of the three had to have been at least two years or so ago, I found some stuff at each that proved enough of an interest to actually purchase.

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At the first one, I found a very good-condition copy of Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman. I’ve listened to the Graphic Audio production of this book and quite enjoyed it. Having the hardback (not just some paperback) is fantastic!

Then, I found a set of all ten of the Double Take volumes. I already had seven of the ten…but I’ll be darned if I could’ve remembered which. But fortunately…I periodically try to get photos of my shelves for just such occasions, and was able to –in that way–"look at my shelves" to see which ones were there, and pick out the three to complete my set!

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At the next location, I found the Superman: New Krypton vol. 3 that completes my set of that series of paperbacks. I still need to track down Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 1 in paperback and then I’ll be all set on that story.

This copy of The Further Adventures of Batman is probably THE best-condition copy I’ve seen yet of the paperback. And for Knight of the Black Rose, I thought this was a good-condition copy compared to others I’ve seen, and opted to snag it to add to my Dragonlance collection (yeah, it’s a Ravenloft book, but the character originates in Dragonlance!)

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At the third/final HPB, I happened across these two Superman sourcebooks. The covers alone make them of interest…as well as their subject matter! There were at least half a dozen other DC supplements in addition to these–after the earlier purchases and other stuff going on, there was no way I could justify getting all of them…especially as they’re for a game I doubt I’ll ever actually play. The two Superman ones are justified for me because they’re Superman!

There were several Owly volumes. I’ve always meant to give the book a shot, but never got around to it. I grabbed the cutest-looking one and we’ll see. I can’t imagine not liking it, though!

And finding the Captain America and the Falcon volume makes me highly glad I held off on buying it before at a higher cost. In its own way, this goes with the Black Panther volumes I already have–collecting the Priest run. Since this series, too, was Priest, it’s been on my radar since getting the last Black Panther volume.

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Then at a Walmart, I came across a display box full of the various Wonder Woman movie Pop figures. For this first time (offhand) since I started seeing the line in stores, I actually found the title character herself!

There was a Walmart-exclusive version with a different body pose and without her sword. I liked the look of this "regular" non-exclusive version better, having the sword and shield.

I haven’t cared for many of the "movie versions" of characters…but Wonder Woman is a definite exception for me! I’m also not a huge fan of mask-less human characters for the Pop range of figures–the faces being accentuated and being so plain and boring tends to be an issue for me. But again…for this one, I made an exception.


I actually stopped in at a fourth HPB location on Sunday–this one the closest to home and my most "usual" one…and found nothing of interest enough to buy. A few things to look at more closely than just walking past…but nothing that jumped out as wanting to buy right now or that I’d miss if I didn’t buy.

While I highly disagree with the "base" $2 price for single-issue comics in HPB stores…the "usual" one is one of the stores I tend to get the most frustrated with in their mixing high-price out-of-print volumes in with the main collection.

At the three others I visited over the weekend, I did not have any cases at all of something catching my eye but then being sticker-shocked. Everything was at least the store’s premise of half-price if not more and so made me a rather happy camper (so to speak).


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More Inconsistent, Baffling Pricing at HPB

It’s amazing to me the seeming “randomness” of books’ pricing at Half-Price Booksespecially on graphic novels/comics!

Take two different copies of the first printing of 1993’s The Death of Superman.

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Two copies, neither in great condition. One is–as would be EXPECTED for a place calling itself Half-Price Books–half of the $5 cover price. It’s actually a “newsstand” edition, given the bar code (as opposed to the Direct Market edition that had the “bleeding S”). Yet the newsstand one is in better condition at less than half the price of the more battered copy!

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The date on the price stickers suggests that at least these were bought a couple weeks apart…though that also suggests to me (given the condition and these BOTH being First Printing editions) that two different people may have handled the pricing. (That, or it goes to show how ridiculously INCONSISTENT they are!)

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I’d gotten the two reversed to hold and better show the damage to the more expensive copy–a bent spine/corner in particular.

Two different copies of the same book–one that’s not particularly “rare,” as I often see at least one (if not multiple or several multiples) at any HPB I go to. The book has been “in print” in one format or another for nearly a quarter-century–it eventually went from $4.95 cover price a $9.95/9 edition where they changed to the more iconic image lifted from Superman #75 itself. That one (I believe) went through a couple editions, and then just last year, the entire Death/Return saga was repackaged into a 5-volume set (including post-saga Doomsday stuff).

I’m even more flabbergasted at the pricing given the condition of the books. It’s one thing if something is in pristine/new condition…but when it’s old, beaten/battered, obviously seen better days…something MIGHT BE a “First Edition” or first print, but what, exactly, about that qualifies it as an exception?

I overheard at a an HPB location on the day of their 50%-off-one-item coupon day an employee commenting in response to a customer remarking on the crowd that a lot of folks were in getting “collectible” stuff that’s sat around for MONTHS.

Or, in my interpretation…stuff’s priced too high for folks to justify, but cut that price in half, and they’ll flock to the store!

As I’ve said numerous times in the past…if they want to be a boutique specialty shop, fine…but I wish they would at LEAST separate out their precious “out of print” and “collectible” stock and KEEP to their name for the general everyday stock.

End rant.

#HPBHaul for October 21, 2016

Today I went to a local (regional?) clearance sale by Half-Price Books. I had hopes of scoring an elusive Predator novel, or maybe snagging some Magic: The Gathering or Dragonlance novels, but no such luck (long story short).

What I did find was a set of four Penny Arcade collections that–for half the cost of a single Marvel issue–was well worth buying.

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Along with these, I also found a huge (but rather skinny) volume, Storeyville. Not owning any myself, I assume it’s about the size of the IDW Artist’s Edition volumes…certainly larger than a DC Absolute edition.

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I also snagged a handful of comics…though not nearly as many as I’d initially loaded up on…they were 50 cents each, so those dollars piled up fast compared to a quarter-bin.

Overall, not a bad haul, but certainly not what I’d hoped for.

#HPBHaul or #HPBFail? Not All OOP are Equal

While not actually a comic or graphic novel, I was looking for a copy of a D&D volume, and basically the only one the HPB I was at had was the (3.0, I believe) Players Handbook II. For $35. Because (gasp! shock! awe!) it’s out of print.

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$34.95 cover price, but hey, let’s add 4 cents and call it a day. But I did notice more than other times–there’s a date on the sticker…06-06-16. So I believe this means the book has sat there unsold for three months at that price. Makes me wonder if I could "make an offer" on it–would they rather move the book, or let it sit there as a potential sale?

And as I’ve mentioned before: they have a whole separate section for rare/out of print/"collectable" volumes. I REALLY wish they would NOT shelve full-price/OOP-priced stuff with "everything else"!

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Huntress volume. Half-Price Books wants $24.99 for it. Not half price.

Heck, this one’s not even full price.

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Seemingly JUST because it is "out of print," they’ve tacked on an additional 25% to the cover price. And with the date on the sticker, the thing’s been there nearly three months. This is at LEAST the SECOND time it’s caught MY eye before I (re)realized the price.

TWO times at least that I would have bought this–at $10. But it’s not something I’m willing to pay $19.99 for…and sure as heck not willing to pay a marked-up price for it just because it’s out of print!

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Particularly maddening on the pricing is finding this volume.

Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage. This looked like an "original edition," from the early/mid-1990s (when collected volumes at all were a relatively rare thing!). Sure, the book is pretty beat-up: white edges, bends/folds in the covers, torn spine, etc. But it’s an original edition! (or close enough to it–there have been at least 2 editions AFTER this one that I am personally aware of!) But since when does damage matter to HPB if it’s out of print?!?

I mean, honestly…I am really, truly curious: why is this one priced so cheaply for being vintage and long out of print (and I’m pretty sure even any newer edition is now also OUT OF PRINT) while other out of print stuff is marked up?

Where’s the consistency?!?

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I actually bought the All*Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder volume. It was at a different HPB, but was half off the cover price. Yet even this one is confounding–this is an out of print edition, I don’t even think the collection has an in-print edition right now.

9 issues’ content for $10 and it includes the infamous Batcave fold-out? For something that–if only for the notion that Miller considers it as canonical with Dark Knight Returns–I do want to read.

And where I’ve mentioned their having a full-priced Age of Apocalypse Omnibus listed as "out of print," I did finally ask about it–whether it was "the 2012 edition or the 2016 edition." It is the 2012 (original) edition, that at one point DID go out of print. But as there’s a new 2016 edition, and omnibii are expensive enough as it is, with an in-print newer printing, I can’t imagine many would care that much about an older printing if they just want the book itself. I’m not aware of any visually-distinctive differences.

Comics’ Pricing and Half-Price Books: Why I Complain So Much

hpb_grousing02I don’t “get” HPB and their pricing on comics. They are a used-books store, firstly. Their very premise is “everything is half-off the publisher’s list price” (printed cover price in most cases). Meaning that reasonable expectation is that you walk in, and everything is half-off. Not “pull a random book that’s appealing and discover it’s full price or 150% cover price or 200% cover price.”

Because they are a generalized books store, and have numerous “sections,” they are not a subject-speciality store. You want historical reference? They have it–but they’re not a “Historical Reference” shop. Books on pets/animals? Section for that, too–but they’re not an “Animals books” shop. Religious texts? Sure, they have a section for those, too–but they’re not a “Religous books” store. Vinyl records–yeah, they have those as well, but they’re not a “Record Store.” CDs, but even Records and CDs, they’re not a “Music Store.” They have DVDs and Blu-Ray, and I’m sure I’ve even seen VHS…yet they’re not a “Movie Store.” So even though they have comics and graphic novels, they are not a “Comic Shop.”

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photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/042

At least a couple of the HPB locations I’ve been to have had a whole separate section for “Rare,” “First Edition,” “Autographed,” and “Out of Print” books. This works well–this section is a “special” section of the store that provides space for the anomalous pricing…these rare, collectable volumes/editions are outside of the store’s broad, general premise of half-off: this section is where you would expect to find that $100+ signed First Edition of a book from 1892 or such. Or the now-long-out-of-print oversized Marvel Hardcover edition of House of M from 2005 or so.

As such, I find that it is quite reasonable of me to be able to expect that if I’m browsing the general “Graphic Novels/Manga” section of the store (not the Rare/Collectable) section–that everything will be at least half-off. If something is damaged, overly common, donated, or whatever factors lead to it–more than half off is a bonus, and quite acceptable…even though it’s the inverse that drives me batty–finding something less than half-off or even with a price at or above cover price. For me, it only goes one-way: cheaper than half-off = good, less than half-off = bad…and I admit that readily.

hpb_grousing01Typically, the vast majority of their graphic novels and such are well-organized, with four primary categories: DC stuff, Marvel Stuff, manga, and non-DC/non-Marvel/non-Manga. Within those, they tend to be roughly alphabetical, and generally the same series is clustered together with numbered volumes in a series mostly in numerical order. My core complaint here is when the higher-priced “collectable” editions are mixed in…when I get excited about the Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told thicker volume being present, it’s a huge turnoff to the store in general to be looking for the $9.99 price thinking it’s a $19.99 volume and finding a sticker indicating that HPB is actually asking $29.99 ($10 above cover price!) because it’s marked as “Out of Print.” If it’s out of print and thus rare and they’re not willing to “let it go” at half-off the cover price…it should not be shelved in with the general stock! I’m not shopping at HPB for rare/out of print stuff, and if it’s not half-off cover price, it is functionally not in stock at all even if the store has a copy present, for my purposes of general browsing.

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photo from HPB website, https://ww.hpb.com/050

Back to my earlier bit about their not being a comic shop: their pricing on single issues. HPB‘s pricing has been erratic and trending toward the ridiculous, and the other day I would escalate it from “ridiculous” to flat-out absurd! Being curious, I checked to see what the single-issue stock was like…and they had a relatively new-looking sign indicating that all comics are $2.00 unless otherwise marked. I do not fault them for setting a “general” price, or a “minimum” price or such, but there are a number of factors that collectively leave me extremely irked essentially “on principle” with that $2 mark. (Among other things, numerous prose books into the mid 1990s were roughly $4 each, so that at the “half price” they would be $2 as vintage items compared to relatively recent comics; let alone 1990s comics that by and large are hardly worth 25 cents apiece). To me, HPB does not “earn” the “legitimacy” with their comics to be asking “top dollar” for them.

I would strongly argue that most single issues of comics from the late 1980s/early 1990s to the early 2000s (if not at this point as recent as 2005 or so) are functionally 25-cent-bin books. Between digital and collected volumes, the single issues hold very little “value,” after their first couple weeks or life of the story they contain. It typically seems to me (and I could be wrong) that in many cases, it’s the long-time comics folks who are adamant about having “the single issues.” I imagine casual fans are happy just to read the stories, and would be content with collected volumes, perhaps moving to single issues if they’re completely caught up from collected volumes to where the only option is the single issues, because the current story has not yet finished for there to BE another collected volume. As such, once the story is in a collected volume, there’s little demand or collectability to the single issues.

hpb_grousing03HPB‘s comics are primarily in open bins to be flipped through. Typically their “priced” issues (the “unless otherwise marked” issues) are at least bagged if not bagged and boarded. So those $2 default-priced issues are the ones that likely were not worth protecting and individually pricing, as well as the ones that are more prone to damage from anyone/everyone “flipping through” the bins, bending covers, ripping/tearing, etc. and damage as sturdy bag/board issues get pushed back in, yanking a cover off, or causing the “loose” issue to be folded under, its bottom folded and the whole thing pulled downward…or tape from the protected issues sticking to a loose cover, etc. Someone simply browsing is more likely to pull a “loose” issue out and flip through it than to attempt to take an issue out from a bag or bag and board (especially if there are signs requesting one not do that).

Aside from being loose and more prone to browsing-damage…these “single issues” are not a curated collection. HPB has some dividers indicating letters of the alphabet, and that’s about the extent of the organization of the issues. The “A” section might start with several issues of Avengers followed by a couple Mighty Avengers and Dark Avengers (“M” section and “D section mixed here with “A”) before getting to an issue of Action Comics Weekly and then some issues of Angel: After the Fall and then an issue of Avengelyne before getting to a bunch of scattered issues of Clone Saga-era Amazing Spider-Man and then 4 out of 5 issues of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows and so on. There might be 50 scattered issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but they range from #372 to #595, and are in no discernable order. There’s no telling if there are even any instances, say, of two consecutively-numbered issues…unless one personally goes through all the bins (not even just this “A” section) to pull the issues and then sort by number.

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photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/092

One might be able to–at a glance–see that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of late silver-age or even bronze-age Superman comics (spanning Superman, Action Comics, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, The New Adventures of Superboy, Supergirl, The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, Adventure Comics Featuring Supergirl, etc). These will be “priced” issues, ranging perhaps $1.75 to $25 or $30 or $35+. And yet… they’re all intermingled, out of order, and so on. Absolutely maddening to even consider seeking one or two specific issues in the mess. And asking even $2/issue let alone the higher collectable prices…but at best you can find most of a given series scattered within a mess of comics whose series titles all begin with the same single letter.

hpb_too_expensive_comics_02At 25 cents or even 50 cents…sure, throw the stuff in loose and let the customer sort it out. You’re not making any significant money of a couple single issues here and there, no need to go to the effort of clear, detailed sorting. I, for one, have no problem with just flipping through several bins of stuff looking for something that is (to me) an unexpected treasure, when I’m “only” out 25 to 50 cents per issue. My effort is made up for by the insignificant price. But once you’re getting to $1 an issue or $2 an issue that’s a much higher, significant bit of money off single issues (and I’ve not seen any HPB location use any “middle-tier” pricing like 75 cents (from the 25 to 50 cents) nor $1.25, $1.50, or $1.75 between $1 and $2!) If I’m paying $1 or $2 per issue, I’m a lot more “serious” about the issues and as such expect the seller (HPB) to take it seriously as well. Have everything in order by series and number within the series. If you think you know enough about comics to know which ones are truly “key” issues worth having a higher price, know as well which version of series go in what order, and which number comes before another number.

Perhaps I overthink it, but…respect the customer. Respect the fact that someone who doesn’t know anything about comics doesn’t care about this particular issue over that particular issue, and thus will have zero interest in laying out $25 when there are sixteen other issues with Superman on the cover for $2 apiece, any one of which works as “a Superman comic for the kiddo.” Meanwhile, anyone who is willing or capable of laying out $25 for a single (not particularly great condition) issue does actually know at least a little bit about comics and that the used-books store is not a comic shop nor is this customer at a convention or other comics specialty location.

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photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/077

Additionally, one should know enough to differentiate between printings (at the height of the Death of Superman, the newsstand edition of Superman #75 went for around $10. Past 2010, the fourth printing of this issue–that probably was never “worth” more than about double cover price (or $2.50) certainly is not a $10 issue. In 2016, one should realize that those ridiculous, astronomical prices of certain issues in the 1990s–be it one of the Deathmate issues or the original Gen13 #1 or whatever–were already inflated and inaccurate, more a sales gimmicky thing of Wizard Magazine than much else. Maybe Gen13 #1 for one month in an issue of Wizard was listed as “$40.00,” but 20+ years later, I don’t know (of) anyone who would pay $10 for the single issue (probably not even that for a collected volume of the first 4 or so issues–the first story)!

hpb_too_expensive_comics_03Finally and perhaps most shocking to me recently…”clearance” comics were seen priced at $1 (they were 25 cents or 50 cents as recently as six months ago)…but $1 by tear-away stickers directly on the covers of the comics themselves. Essentially, the comics were being defaced to mark them as “clearance” items…and at $1 apiece. I could sort of see at 25 cents apiece or 50 cents apiece, marking them physically, indicating they’re not the “$2 unless otherwise marked” comics not otherwise marked. But putting stickers on them that are designed to tear apart and not remove simply or cleanly is flat-out insulting.

If things were priced consistently and clearly I would also have less problem…but all of the above taken into consideration, in short, sometimes it looks to me like it’s just someone at HPB looking at an issue or a graphic novel and thinking “hey, I think that was something I “heard” was valuable…better price that higher to not lose out!”

hpb_grousing04I posted recently about a paperback edition of The Irredeemable Ant-Man that I found, priced as expected at half-off the cover price. And yet, by the same apparent “logic” that seems to “mandate” something like Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told or a hardcover of Avengers Forever be priced at 150-200% above cover price, the Ant-Man book should have been $10-$20, but it wasn’t. Because who gives a darn about The Irreedeemable Ant-Man compared to Batman or The Avengers?

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