Doing Business in San Diego & Online Since 1997
We Buy Comics
We spend thousands each year buying comic collections. Call today!
If any of you out there have some books that you are interested in getting graded, come on in! We are an authorized location for your CGC submissions and have been for years.
We also recently opened an account with a new grading company CBCS (Comic Book Certification Service) that we are doing business with as well.
Whatever your preference, we are able to send in your books for slabbing and grading, so that you can keep them in the most pristine condition.
Visit our shop or e-mail for more information.
Did you know that Southern California Comics offers appraisal services for comic collections? We offer both formal and casual appraisals:
Formal: When these estates enter probate court, Powers of Attorney, the fiduciary, require third party appraisal experts to attack values to the comics. We can take stock of what is in your collection and assign a value to it. We are not certified appraisers, but we offer a service that has been sufficient for probate courts in the past. Feel free to contact us at the store directly for more information on fees, or to set up a time.
Informal: Bring any collections to us, and we can do a quick determination on the value, and let you know your best options, whether you would like to hold onto them or sell.
Socal Comics Alerts - 11/08/14
Check our Facebook Page for more information as we add new professionals to our Signing Event.
San Diego 6 Interviews Jamie and Neal Adams During Comic Fest 2014
This week's comic review video:
Your Friendly Southern California Comics Team
Jamie's marketplace report was published in this issue of OVERSTREET'S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE YEARBOOK
It’s early July 2014 and San Diego Comic-Con International is two weeks away. This year the show brings to us a sense of excitement. The Eisner “Spirit” Awards will be announced as usual but this time we are nominees for “Best Store”. We made the top list and await the voting decision with anticipation. As a comic book store with a relatively high profile, we take advantage of our position by giving back to our community. Our consistent charitable contributions and social networking played a role in our nomination.
The charity aspect of our profile originates from the thousands of free comic books we give away each year. The comic books come from a myriad of collections that come into our shop almost daily. Much of that material is either donated or left behind by once-collectors. We take what we can sell and donate the rest to a litany of benefits (including FCBD). We’ve learned from other, defunct stores and our own experiences that it does us no good to hoard thousands of back issues. We know what will and won’t sell. So, we give away to local, non-profit entities (libraries, the military, city and county agencies, children’s centers, and the like).
This report will surface in the 2014 Yearbook just a month and a half after Comic-Con. In the time since our Overstreet 2014 article was written (November 2013), we’ve watched more comic book stores open in San Diego- an explosion of stores coming out of nowhere. Competition for customers and collections is slowly ramping up. Craigslist retailers and others influenced by some kind of sales success imagine that now is the time to live the dream of running a small comic book business in an already overcrowded marketplace. As these stores pop up, they are beginning to bump into each other by shared zip codes.
I’m frequently asked about opening a second store. I’m content to operate just one. The follow-up statement is “I’m thinking about opening up a store”. My answer is always the same:
JAMIE’S THREE RULES FOR OPENING COMIC BOOK STORES
RULE #1: Don’t open a comic book store (see 1990s store implosions and reasons why).
RULE #2: If you must open a store, consider first the benefits of taking over an existing store. One that is looking to change hands is a great example and an easier transition: inventory in place, established customer base and Diamond account, fixtures and necessary appliances in place, and phone book advertising is already a go. There are tired, non-profitable shops out there that could thrive under a change of ownership.
RULE #3: See RULE #1.
Now I know some readers out there are screaming “UNFAIR!” at my comments, but I have lived in San Diego all my life and have witnessed numerous store closures during and since the 90s. My business capitalized on the storage units that opened up years later, containing the unsold inventories of many of the locally closed shops. The old store owners needed to get out from underneath the weight of storage unit costs for comics and things not likely to sell well or fast for any profit. Even now, defunct stores of the past are surfacing in the shape of dusty old storage rentals. The Marvel bankruptcy legend that surrounds the store implosion period was only a small part of the problem. The bigger role that generated the conflagration was played by the stores themselves. Too many stores ordering new comics in vastly unsustainable quantities to a shrinking audience: an audience whose ranks were filled with speculators buying hot comics (and variants) for later resale that could never happen. That’s because there was never going to be anyone there to buy that stuff at a later date to make it profitable in the first place.
CGC and the internet have encouraged a newly raging market of speculative sales and sales of weekly hot variants. I’m steeped in that crowd because of the store we own. I see that it affects a narrow age group. Most of these buyers are men within the 20-early 30s age bracket. Virtually none of the older customers, women, or children participate in those purchases. Those exceptions that do, find single covers interesting enough to buy (if the price is close to the cover price).
I have reason to grouse because I’m forced to share buying and selling opportunities with others that did not impact my business even five years ago. But out of respect to certain stores, some businesses have passed on various buying opportunities and send them our way, out of respect or friendship. Word spreads that we are the “Go-To Guys”. As a result, we’ve received buying opportunities for more exotic stuff than the norm for us. We’ve been routinely approached by several entities to buy more expensive comics that most stores can’t or won’t touch: high-grade keys, CGC books and the like. We’ve also tapped into the original art market with buying and selling options in greater quantities than the past. There’s just not much in the way of store-level expertise in those markets. The buying market for those expensive books is also rough at the store level here in SD. Patience, presentation, and the ‘net are what we rely on to move those comics at will.
One large Silver Age DC collection surfaced after last year’s Con. Plenty of ten and twelve cent DCs that sold well at our store but left plenty for the show. The “SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COMICS COLLECTION” from the spring purchase of 2013 yielded lots of big sales. Many of the key SA books from the collection that were CGC’d are still in inventory. We held onto them through our reluctance to discount them in the hopes we would capitalize at Comic Con 2014.
We trade on E-Trade as a partnership. We set up our account with shares in Marvel and a power and utility blue chip years ago. Thanks to the cohabitation of Marvel and Star Wars with Disney our shares exploded in value. The Marvel movie industry and Disney theme parks/merchandising elevate the Disney share values consistently with rare exceptions of negative movement. The Star Wars aspect of Disney is really something we look forward to. I have no doubt the reemergence of that movie franchise in 2015 will billow out the share values in conjunction with Avengers 2 and other Marvel projects (television and NetFlix).
I’d like to see more collectors and speculators take a greater interest in learning how to grade. We caught a negative Yelp comment because a seller felt my buy-in offer was ridiculously low. I tried to explain that the grades were low but he could not grasp that as an issue. Instead, he went elsewhere and then complained that I tried to cheat him. That’s happened several times recently with the skill-set of comic book grading appearing to be an alien concept. I can easily ride out a discourse over grading with another person but doing a hit-piece through Yelp affects our business …and it’s an unfair attack that Yelp won’t defend us from. Too many buyers are content with price gun stickers on collectible back issues and make “price feels right” decisions. I thought by now most people would have learned better from the minefield known as Ebay.
I caution collectors about the repetitive fad of investing in here-today, gone-tomorrow variants or “hot” issue number ones of some new title. This is history repeating itself. In fact, there’s a marked similarity between comic book speculation and general economic speculation, the kind of speculation that foments economic depression. Speculation demand greatly outweighs actual, future demand which causes a burst in the bubble. Everyone thinks they can play the game without understanding or learning the rules of it.
Every 20 or 30 years, the US economy goes through upheaval beginning back in the early 19th century. This constant, maniacal reversal of fortune culminated in the Great Depression of 1929. It took strong government and WW2 to bring things around but only to repeat a less impactful collapse in the 1970s. By 2008 its clear people are not learning a thing about speculation. The current regimen of buying and selling 1:200 variants while sitting on stacks of the unsold 200 copies leaves me with the feeling that compliant stores all over the country are heading for a fall. Those unsold copies have to be stored somewhere and that storage costs money. Those owners may not have enough square footage in their stores so off the chunks of copies go to storage facilities. At some point money coming in is toppled by money going out (or tied up). Stores close in the aftermath. It’s only a matter of time.
The last comic book industry collapse was in the early to mid-90s. Twenty years ago. I suspect we will see newer stores confined to the fad market strain to survive under the weight of unsold comics just like two decades before. Unfortunately, the economic collapses are often coordinated by a generation that was not around to suffer through the prior collapse. This was true in the past two centuries of US market breakdowns. Those buyers and sellers did not experience the lessons learned by those that survived. A 1:200 variant is not reason enough to buy the 200 requisite copies unless the store has a history of sell-throughs at that quantity. Otherwise, many of those unsold books are going nowhere. If you purchase 200 books to grab a variant, and normally sell 40 of those through your store…what are you going to do with 160 unsold books?! The money that variant brings you will offset perhaps a third of your deficit and you are still in the hole. Every week. Every month.
Of course, I have an answer: invest in the older, collectible blue-chip comics. Nothing says “buy me” more than a TMNT #1 or an ASM #129. We do love us some Incredible Hulk # 181s, though. No price seems too high for virtually any copy! New Mutants # 98s sell better than pop rocks in the 70s! For those with heavy wallets Hulk #1s and Amazing Fantasy #15s will satisfy investment needs almost guaranteed, especially if collectors can get them below market price (which seems to go up every month!). Our store has backed this philosophy since day one and has had the time-in to validate our attitude. Buy a few heavy-hitters, sit on them for a couple of years and then see what happens!
Folks, it’s a wrap!
Comic Con 2014 was our second most successful show ever. We sold well and we bought well. Our shop was stripped of comics at the show. Sales were enormous. But, we had comics in storage that we are just now getting into inventory so keep a watch on our web site for new additions.
Our relationship with Neal Adams developed further when he hired two of my people to work at his Comic Con booth. Our people impressed him so he hired them!
The store managed to remain on its game during the Con with a skeleton crew on hand. All around business was good.
Some of the cool things we bought at Con include an Avengers #1 (for sale) and finally, a Hulk #1 (not for sale). The Hulk will be on display with our Amazing Fantasy #15. We purchased a stack of cool key Marvels and DC’s which will take us sometime to process as we continue to put the store back together.
We Buy Comics
We spend thousands each year buying comic collections. Call today! (858) 715-8669.
Free Comic Book Day 2014 Was Amazing!
We estimate over 1500 attendees.
Check out the Comic Relief Podcast page for photos and and to listen to the Podcast that includes an interview with Jamie!
Take a Video Tour of Our Store with Your Host: Jamie Newbold!
San Diego's Most Comprehensive Comic Book Store Just Got Larger
We've expanded into another suite and are in the process of remodelling the store. We are expanding our comic book and trading card supplies selection. We also intend to begin carrying Magic The Gathering cards and more. Our graphic novel area is also expanding with the addition of more square footage to display trades. Come see San Diego's fastest growing comic book store swell with pride!
Our recent acquisition of the Southern California Comics Collection yielded one huge prize - a copy of Showcase 4. Considered the first Silver Age comic book (1956), it represents the beginning of a generation of comic book fans. Our copy was warped at the time of purchase and required some professional conservation to correct the physical appearance. Once completed, our copy was certified by CGC at 9.0 making it the fourth highest graded copy! Significantly, few copies exist in high grade so the value of the book was speculative. I say ‘was’ because we sold our copy May 4th for a whopping $50,000!
10am to 6pm, just like the rest of the week! 'Nuff said!
Did you know that So Cal Comics store owner Jamie Newbold is ALSO a fully trained and licensed Forensic Comicologist? Growing up on the mean streets of the back issue world, Jamie honed his comic quality deductive skills to perfection. Now he scans and accesses vintage books for the sharpest grade possible. You can run, color-treated covers...but you can't hide from - JAMIE NEWBOLD: FORENSIC COMICOLOGIST:
Neal Adams Stops By Our Booth and Talks to Jamie During a Hero Complex Interview at Comic Con 2012
Recently, Our store bought out one-half of the contents of a house. Literally. Comics, action figures, toys, statutes, cards, posters, military model kits and much, much more. These collectibles were purchased new ages ago by a now-deceased owner. Unfortunately, the process of displaying these items has cluttered the shop for the time being. Please be patient and come see the new stuff!
And Now for Something Completely Different:
As a firm believer of good karma, we try to help fellow comic book fans when they are in need. This weekend is a great example, as we helped recover a stolen comic book fanzine collection that contained some of the first examples of fanzines in our hobby. Many of these pieces are one of a kind and are difficult to find in any shape. For example, the first three Alter Egos (a widely popular comic book fanzine from the 1960s) are an extreme rarity even at mid-low grade. It was an amazing find to have at the shop. However, possessing the items seemed too good to be true. As we researched more into the fanzines, we stumbled on a Comic-Con blog where we discovered who the original owner was. His collection of fanzines had been stolen from him at the Con. I was able to piece together what happened and determined we now possessed the original owner’s stolen fanzines. We contacted the owner and are responsible for bringing back a collection to its rightful owner.
The owner, Aaron Caplan, is a popular figure in the colorful history of Comic Book Fandom. He owns one of the largest fanzine collections in existence. The loss of some of his best fanzines to a thief at the 2011 Comic Con haunted him for months. We acquired them at the store from a man off the street. Once their history was discovered we also learned of their value. The small collection of about 11 fanzines and related material has a retail value well over $5000.
Caplan graciously compensated our store for the money we spent to purchase the fanzines and thanked us profusely for our integrity and good spirit.
Your Friendly Southern California Comics Team
Our Store was Awarded a Certificate of Recognition for Donations we made to the San Diego Police Department's Mid-City Division.
Action Comics # 1
We are beginning a new feature for our web site. This section will contain collector's stories of comic book acquisitions and sales and other tales that will be entertaining and of interest to our friends and shoppers.
Our opening entry is a contribution by local collector and friend Peter Jones. Some of you may know Peter from encounters at Comic Conventions or AACC meetings of old. Peter's tale is probably one of the best we will feature due to the book the story is about--ACTION COMICS #1! I'll let Peter take it from here...
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that Action Comics #1 is a "Holy Grail" for many comic collectors and the ever-increasing prices on that book keep it out of the hands of most. In the past I've attempted to take a cheaper route and collect poor man's copies of some of the big keys. I call books that are assembled from parts of more than one copy "Frankenstein" books. They are also known as "married" copies which make them sound ever so…..genteel. Sometimes I fill in the missing parts of an incomplete copy with color Xeroxes to make a readable book; these I call "cyborg" books.
My overall success rate in this kind of endeavor has been extremely low and I've essentially abandoned such projects over the years, but I've had some requests to share the following story. My memory of some of the details is a little vague, but it goes something like this: I put out feelers for a low-grade incomplete copy of Action #1. I reckoned that in the best case I could assemble a complete copy and in the worst case I might only end up with a coverless and incomplete Action #1, at least with the Superman story intact, which would still be pretty cool. To me, having the world's worst copy of Action #1 was still preferable to having no Action #1. A few separate Action #1 wraps sold for decent money on ComicLink recently, so I guess there are other collectors who feel the same way. This was pre-eBay, so that meant putting occasional ads in CBG and calling dealers and other collectors. It's difficult to find parts, and empty covers are scarcer than coverless copies. I also wasn't surprised to find that a seller's radar goes up when I ask for an incomplete book or just a centerfold or a cover. They rightly surmise that I'm trying to complete a comic and they adjust the price upward, if they even have a part that I need. Comic collectors can be a suspicious and cantankerous lot sometimes, and the other Dr. Frankenstein's out there zealously guarded their scraps of key books. Typical conversations inevitably veered towards what they might get from me rather than what I could pry out of them. It really didn't go very well. Somehow I heard of an antiques auction, not even a comic book auction, somewhere on the East coast, where an Action #1 missing the cover, first wrap, and centerfold was offered. I called the auction house and they said it had already been sold but I managed to track down the buyer and ask if he was interested in selling it. He wasn't, but he wished me luck. I heard that a lot. Eventually, one of my ads in CBG got me a phone call from someone who had a copy that was missing one page but was otherwise solid and fairly attractive. The inside cover of Action #1 offered a contest where kids were encouraged to carefully color the first page of Chuck Dawson (a b/w strip), tear it out and mail it to National Comics. The best colorists would get some sort of prize. It made me wonder if there are more than a few copies out there that are missing that page. Anyway, this copy was not inexpensive but it was heavily discounted. I agonized and passed on it, but on further reflection, (and some manipulation of my financial resources), I called the seller back and went for it. Any regrets I had evaporated when I held the book in my hands. I couldn't believe I truly owned an Action #1, even with a page missing.
I had moved into the eBay age by now, searching for an incomplete copy with the page I lacked. Finally, a hideously thrashed one surfaced. It was missing the cover, at least one outer wrap, and the centerfold, pretty much the most crucial parts that any other bottom-feeder like me would want, but it had my needed page. There were indeed a lot of other bottom-feeders out there and the competition was fiercer than I expected. I was very determined though, and I won it. It turned out the page I wanted was in decent shape, too. With a little reluctance I took a razor and cut it out. The spine was already split about half-way down, so the extraction didn't take much effort, although I offered a silent prayer for forgiveness from the comic book gods for desecrating even such a wretched Action #1 corpse as this one. I laid the page inside my first copy and beheld a complete Action #1. A Frankenstein book, yes, but un-restored, and likely the only one I'll ever own. I barely refrained from shouting maniacally "It's alive! It's alive!" In case anyone wonders what I did with the rest of the second incomplete copy, I used my Famous First Edition reprint of Action #1 to make color Xeroxes of all the missing parts and assemble a readable cyborg book, which I sold to another collector (with full disclosure, he knew what he was getting). That almost entirely paid for the cost of obtaining the page.
All-Negro Comics # 1
Years ago a local comic book/toy store carried an extremely rare copy of All-Negro Comics #1. This particular copy was purchased years ago by another gentleman and sold to the comic book store as part of a collection. I bought it from the store in the 90's and eventually submitted it to CGC. I researched the origins of this title after learning that the comic had a Scarcity Index of 9 in the Gerber Photo-Journal Guides. "9" indicates that by the mid-1980s, the contributors to the Gerber volumes assumed that less than 10 copies could be accounted for. In our hobby, scarcity is everything to many collectors and comic investors. The variety of ALL-NEGRO COMICS’ features is oddball: a violent detective story followed by a fairytale for little children, then an adventure yarn about a Tarzan-like African hero and finally, a sex-comedy about two opportunistic tramps. Also, please note that the price of this 48-page comic is 15¢, which makes it somewhat ahead of its time. (The next time the 15¢ price-tag would pop up was in the late 1950s, and then for only a brief period of time at Dell.)
The career of publisher, writer and “All-Negro Comics, Inc. President," Orrin. C. Evans, is detailed on the inside-front-cover of this issue of ALL-NEGRO COMICS: “Former reporter and editor in the Negro newspaper field. Over a period of more than 25 years, he served with the Afro-American newspapers, the Chicago Defender, the Philadelphia Tribune, the Philadelphia Independent, the Public Journal and the American and Musician and Sportsman’s Magazine. He also has been a contributor to the Crisis, official organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Evans tried his best with little money to provide enetertainment to inner-city kids in Philadelphia. But, the combination of high cover price for the day and white distributors reluctant to carry a comic book for negroes ended Evans' intention. Copies went unsold. Some were retained by financial backers and the Evans family.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009 when I was interviewed for an LA-based radio program called "Ramped-Up". I spoke about the world of comic book collecting and introduced my copy of All-Negro Comics #1 into the conversation. The reporter was fascinated by the piece of oddball 1940s comic book history. One month later the segment aired in Los Angeles. Subsequently, I received a phone call and e-mail from a listener. Bruce Talamon, a photographer in LA heard the broadcast and contacted me with his own All-Negro Comics story. Bruce told me that he spent sometime in the past researching African-American comic book history. He read about All-Negro Comics and decided to pursue it further. Bruce learned that Orrin Evans had passed away. He dug further and located Florence Evans, Orrin's widow, in a resthome back east. Bruce and his wife made arrangements to meet Florence and spent an afternoon with her. Both parties were charmed by each other's company. Bruce and his wife returned home, richer for the contact with Florence. As time passed Bruce was contacted by a relative of the Evans family, a daughter. She arranged to meet Bruce and offered him a token of appreciation for afternoon spent socializing with her mother. She gave him a high-grade copy of All-Negro Comics #1. That's kharma, baby!
Astonishing # 9 Cover Art
Jamie has collected original comic book art since the 70s. The luxury of living in San Diego during the early San Diego Comic Con years provided ample collecting opportunity. One of his most pronounced art pieces is a pre-code horror cover from 1952. Purchased at the SD Con in the late 70s, Jamie has retained it in his collection to the present day. He paid $35.00 for the cover! Now, comic art in the 70s was not held in the same regard as the art market holds art in the new millenium. Jamie collected Atlas horror comics in the 70s-80s and saw the Astonishing cover as a cool supplement to his comics. $35 was a fair price for something collectors seemed less interested in back then.
The art was stored or displayed in Jamie's apartment at various times. Unfortunately, and this is where the story gets interesting, the art was targeted by a pet bird and suffered chew damage before Jamie discovered it. He rescued the page from further damage, but he almost tossed it because it appeared worthless, certainly less valuble than the $35 investment. But he kept it. Instead, he stored it in an old suitcase along with other memorabilia for years.
Jamie and Gino opened their store in the late 90s. Some of the start-up money came from their own collections going up for sale. Jamie dug around his storage containers and found the long-forgotten Astonishing #9 cover art. Opting not to sell it he kept it around intending to do something with it eventually. Skip forward to the year 2002, Jamie drove up to art dealer Tom Horvitz's home to discuss an art deal. While there, he and his two accompanying friends got a chance to see much of Tom's art. Pretty impressive! Included in his selections was some Russ heath stuff. Jaime had always been a fan of Russ's art. Tom said he represented Heath as an art agent. He even offered to let them meet him! He made a phone call to Russ and Russ was at Tom's apartment in less than 15 minutes! COOL! They were hanging out with Russ Heath! But it gets better! After some conversation and and a display of Heath art for sale he recalled he already owned some Heath art. He told Russ and Tom about the damaged Astonishing cover. Heath said he could probably redraw the missing corner the bird chewed off. Jaime made a call to home to his wife and she e-mailed a quick photo of the cover to Tom's computer. He and Russ looked it over and made a quick business decision. For $300 Russ would draw a replacement corner. Then, Tom would ship the art and Russ's drawing to the midwest to Roger Hill. Roger set a price to affix the replacement corner to the original cover. He also set a cost for creating and mounting all the missing stats. Referring to the 2 photos above you can see the older, darker cover paper. Notice the newer, whiter cover paper at the bottom, right corner? That's the new art that Russ drew to fix the cover. Compare it to the xerox of the original, undamaged art in the bottom photo and you can see how accurate Russ was--50 years later! Now, for those of you still paying attention you may have realized that the same artist had now worked on the same page of art twice--50 years apart! How cool is that!? The art took about 1 year to return from Roger. To paraphrase the title of the cover, Jaime was "astonished" to see the finished product. Below is a xerox of the cover as it existed before the corner damage
Jaime still has the cover. It has to be one of the coolest pages around. New Site.