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The Value of a Comic

Thunderbolts #1 coverI was excited the other day, when I got that copy of Thunderbolts #1 for 25-cents. It would probably be worth cover price to me, maybe a dollar or so more–GENERALLY I’m finding that if I’ll pay $3.99ish for a new comic, that really puts perspective on the price of a “back issue” at $4 and under (unless I’ve seen its likes IN a 25-cent bin, then it’s just overpriced quarter-books).

I’m presently highly interested in acquiring a Magic: The Gathering comic. Specifically, Serra Angel (“A Fable of Dominaria” or “On the World of Magic: The Gathering” or whatever subtitle(s)).

This is a squarebound/”prestige-format” one-shot issue that was published in the 1990s by Armada, an imprint of Acclaim Comics. Originally it was priced at about $5.95 or so (let’s say “$6”) and came polybagged with an oversized (display, not playable) Magic: The Gathering card featuring variant art of the Serra Angel (the 4/4, flying, White, non-tapping creature that was rather powerful in the game at the time).

Serra Angel coverI believe the story was by Margaret Weis (I know her from the likes of Dragonlance, but also other fantasy works), the art by a Rebecca Guay. But since the issue came out at the end of the run of MTG comics, presumably when Acclaim was getting out of the comics game (or at least, the licensed comics), it must’ve had a rather small print run.

So: prestige-format, great writer, over-sized collectible card, small print run. Sure, fine–look at GI Joe #155 compared to #1.

So I can see where “rarity” and such can come into play. But frankly–the issue is “worth” no more than $20 to me, including any shipping/handling charges if I buy it online somewhere. And I’d prefer to keep it under $10–anything over $10 for just this one issue would be a new “record” for highest amount I’ve ever paid for any single issue of anything.

But it seems like there are plenty of copies out there–or at least, quite a number of ’em NOT SELLING. Today I found at least 7 active listings on eBay for this issue ranging from $50 to over $100 in asking price…but doing a search of completed auctions, NONE showed the issue as having SOLD–just listings that ran their course and never actually sold.

So you have over a half-dozen sellers “offering” this issue at $50+ thinking it’s gotta be “worth” $50+ and yet the thing’s not selling–for anyone. I submitted an offer for an “…or best offer” of the aforementioned $20 including s/h and was declined minutes later (So…the “potential” of $55 with s/h that probably won’t sell, vs. the actual offer of $20 with s/h and they’d’ve been paid this morning).

If there are this many copies out there and no one’s buying–the comic is NOT WORTH that much. It’s only “worth” what someone WILL ACTUALLY PAY.

Maybe I’m “whining” as someone who is interested in the issue but doesn’t have it–but I am quite sure I’d have less issue with the matter if I saw there were people out there actually paying $50+.

As-is, what I see seems to be a bunch of people clinging to a ’90s mentality, unwilling to consider that they’re just perpetuating a self-imposed myth. Like some sort of “urban legend” or such. “Well, all these other people are offering it for $50+ so I should be, too! If they’re putting it out there for that much I can’t possibly take such a huge loss as to sell/offer my copy for less!”

Superman #75 coverAnd perhaps someone actually HAS paid $150 to $300 for a single copy of this issue, at some point. Maybe it was actually “worth” that much to one person who absolutely haddahavitrightnow at some point. But most comics do not INCREASE in “value,” they drop. Superman #75 first print once sold for $5-10 (newsstand edition) and I’ve acquired at least 3 copies for 25 cents apiece in the last couple years. Pretty sure Thunderbolts #1 used to go for $20ish, and I got that copy for 25 cents the other day. Pre-Unity Solar apparently once sold for high-$ amounts, and I got an entire set of the first 25 issues minus one of the Unity chapters for less than $7 total in the last few years.

And the kicker of the thing is: I know nothing about the STORY inside the issue. Not sure what the art’s like. Because I don’t have a copy. And it doesn’t seem like Serra Angel is even something an average comic reader–Magic fan or otherwise–is going to ever get to read, at $50+!

Spell Thief coverI’ve complained before about IDW pricing their Magic comics at $4.99 just because of the shrink-wrapping to include a card with the comics (the cards should be a bonus, not something to cost a non-gaming fan an extra $1 to READ). But an even bigger complaint: why no MTG Classics volumes? I mean…surely they could put out some proper TPBs of the Armada stuff! If not TPBs, then 100-page specials…or just simply reprint the things on an issue-by-issue basis.

But it is what it is: if I ever find a copy of Serra Angel for that $20 or under range–I’ll probably buy it, and there’ll likely be a blog post about it. If I find a copy still bagged with the card–I’ll open the bag, remove the comic and card. If it’s already open–all the better, because everyone knows once you open the bag such a comic is “worthless” and thus I’d be doing someone a HUGE FAVOR by paying them cover price for it despite the missing bag/card.

If you own the comic, and you want $50+ for it, hey–that’s on you. Your comic, your right to choose what to sell it for, what price you’re willing to accept to part ways with it. Don’t get me wrong there.

But if you’re reading this, and you have the issue or can get one–please comment on this post to let me know, because I am serious–until I actually get a copy, My offer stands: I’m probably willing to pay $20 with shipping for a copy with the card, $15ish for just the issue itself.

More than $20, though, and someone other than me will have to validate the “worth” of the issue.

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Dragonlance: Chronicles #8 [Review]

Quick Rating: Above Average
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

The Companions battle Verminaard and his minions in Pax Tharkas with many lives hanging in the balance…

dragonlancechronicles008Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Steve Kurth
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is the final issue of this particular Dragonlance mini-series, and as such, things can be generalized a bit more than in previous issues.

The art has maintained a pretty solid level of quality–though I’m not sure we’ve had the same artist for the entire series. We do have Kurth on art chores for this issue, which is a plus, regardless of previous issues. Kurth‘s art is definitely a departure from a lot of the "classic" Dragonlance art from the 1980s, and even a lot of what I recall from the 90s. And while it may not be definitive, exactly, it very certainly fits these characters and the story. It’s not perfect (what art is, though?) but one gets a sense that these are (physically) 3-dimensional characters interacting with each other. There’s a certain creepiness here that captures the dark nature of this part of the story–and it works well. Where it fails is in some of the details of the story, as it’s not always clear from the visuals exactly what’s going on panel-to-panel.

The story itself comes across as very choppy. Perhaps I’m too biased, having read the original Dragons of Autumn Twilight as many times as I have in the last decade. This issue feels like an extremely abridged retelling of that story, as if it has certain points that it hits on, but lacks the detail of the original–and as such, comes across choppy.

I felt like I had to keep thinking back to the book to fully "get" what was going on with these characters. While the art gives a sense that these could be real, 3-dimensional beings, the story comes off as shallow and 2-dimensional. The blame for this is shared, and it should be noted that the novel this mini is adapted from is itself possibly the weakest of the Weis/Hickman Dragonlance Chronicles volumes.

The story caps off the first volume of the trilogy as the companions battle Verminaard in Pax Tharkas, while a couple dragons tear it up in the background, and Verminaard’s slaves reunite with their families as they prepare to take their leave of the fortress–provided anyone survives the battle.

I suspect that the story on the whole comes across better if read as a whole–reading an adaptation in eight segments separated by several weeks likely takes away from the overall experience. Given that, I don’t recommend this single issue unless you have already been following the mini. However, in a few weeks when the collected volume (advertised adjacent to the final story-page in this issue) is released, consider checking it out.

On the whole, this series has been a solid jump-on point for anyone interested in the "classic" Dragonlance saga. It introduces the core/original characters, generally conveys some key aspects about them, and the art particularly gives a visual interpretation of the characters that is much more realistic and believable than earlier visual renditions.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (chapter 6)

Having been freed by elves from captivity, the companions find themselves witness to the decline of the Qualinesti elves; they also find their next quest in their journey toward saving the world of Krynn…

dragonlancechronicles006Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Steve Seeley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is another good/standard issue of the series. It has been thankfully consistent–the story and art continue to work well together, to provide a true adaptation to the original novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight). Perhaps in contradiction to that, this issue features art by someone other than Kurth. While a side-by-side comparison will undoubtedly reveal difference, taken by itself it works well here. In light of a certain other publisher often combining artists of late on a single issue, that the entirety of this issue is just one is refreshing.

This issue takes the story up with the companions having just been freed from Fewmaster Toede’s slave-train. Their elven rescuers lead them into Qualinost (one of the Elven homelands, but not the original Elven homeland–but that issue doesn’t rear its head til later and isn’t overly relevant here). Once in Qualinost, we view some of the past come back to haunt Tanis, and get to see Tasselhoff marvel at what must’ve been (in his eyes) quite the childhood for the half-elf. The companions then take on a task from the Speaker of the Sun and head for Pax Tharkas.

The story itself is faithful at its heart if not word-for-word to the source material. The only real gripe I have on that angle with this issue is that here we see Tanis deliberately acquire a particular sword, whereas the original novel had him fumble for a weapon, and belatedly realize what he’d acquired, which added a bit more wonder to the weapon as well as what the companions face. Ultimately it is a minor detail, one that works well in prose format, but like a movie, not every minute detail can be adapted, and it’s better that detail is cut than something more integral to the story.

This is a fantasy comic/story, and based on what Hickman himself considers the weakest of these original novels. As such, you will find aspects of the familiar here. The creature the companions face seems drastically out of place given the sort of story here (I can think of no other examples of such a creature encountered anywhere else in the Dragonlance mythos–if anyone else can, I’d be interested in having that noted). However, from a story that was based strongly on a new Dungeons & Dragons module at the time, such a creature is just another generic sort that gives an excuse for a fight. In this story, it serves to introduce a new aspect to a just-met character that will serve a much larger role later in the Chronicles saga, if not this specific arc.

We’re six issues in, and have covered a lot of ground. As I understand it, we’ve two chapters left to conclude this mini/arc. If you’ve not followed along thus far, this won’t be a particularly good point to jump in. If you’re following it, though, don’t bail now!

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

The To-Be-Read Challenge of 2011

To Be Read Challenge 2011 – from readerchallenges.wordpress.com

My List:

  1. The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson
  2. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  3. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  4. Dragons of the Highlord Skies by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
  5. Dragons of the Hourglass Mage by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
  6. The Wastelands by Stephen King
  7. Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
  8. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  9. Ancestor by Scott Sigler
  10. Vampire a Go-Go by Victor Gischler
  11. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler
  12. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Alternates:

  1. Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
  2. Song of Susannah by Stephen King
  3. The Dark Tower by Stephen King
  4. The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
  5. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
  6. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
  7. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  8. The Brethren by John Grisham
  9. The Summons by John Grisham
  10. World Without End by Ken Follett
  11. The Ultimate Cat Lover
  12. Expiration Date

 

This challenge will be tracked on the 2011 Reading Challenge Page in the navigation of this blog, rather than on this post itself.

The rules:

  • the challenge is to read 12 TBR books in 12 months — you can read those all in one month if you want, or one a month, or however you wanna do it.
  • you should have a list posted somewhere for others to see
  • you CANNOT change your list after January 1st, of the current year!!!
  • you can create an Alternates list of MAXIMUM 12 books, if you want, in order to have options to choose from (you can read these in place of books on your original list).
  • audiobooks and e-books ARE allowed
  • re-reads are NOT allowed, as they aren’t TRUE “TBRs”
  • you CAN overlap with other challenges
  • OPTIONAL: you can join the Yahoo! Group created for participants of the TBR Challenge, if you want to have a place to
  • keep your list, or just to share with others about how you’re doing!
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