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Wednesday, July 6th. 2022

A few members of our SoCalCrew went to an advanced screening of Thor: Love & Thunder this week!

The general consensus: GO SEE IT!

Pro Tip: There are TWO end credit scenes! Stay till the very end of the credits to see everything!

 

Voyager Magazine Excerpt

Jamie Newbold (Store Owner)

Our store thrives on word-of-mouth recommendations and glowing social network reviews from customers and critics. Our shop got off the ground 24 years ago with a shaky start. We had little money and no store operational experience.  Twenty-four years later we are extremely popular across the country and overseas. We learned that retailing old, back-issue comic books was, and is, a vibrant, popular hobby and potent business platform.  My family is small, but my employees are many and they have become my family. Each person that works for me becomes a character at the store with their own fan following. Our customers are tremendously supportive as illustrated by Google business comments alone. We have over 300 comments, many 5 stars, and a 4.7 rating.

The reviews have impact on our business. A grand number of customers discover us through various pipelines of communication. Many curious people transit over to review sites to see what we are and what we have before they commit to a trip to the store or our web site. The most thoughtful of them leave comments that often flatter our shop and our workers.  We stubbornly refuse to accept the very few posts that label us negatively when the comments seem one-sided and without viable merit. That’s part of the business, though, and we watch those posts get buried under new reviews that praise and like us. The ratio of good to bad is roughly 300:10 on Google alone. Yelp tends to conceal many of our high ratings, labeling them “redundant without contributing anything new.” This is their policy and I believe they prefer the drama of near-libelous comments over the numerous strong comments they claim add nothing.

I rarely follow the review posts anymore. I’ve had conversations with many businesses that stopped looking at their reviews because of needless anxiety over things said that are written in unfair environments and has created undue stress and anxiety.  We hear about the things we do right straight from our customers. Nobody comes to the shop to discuss what they believe we do wrong. The critics use social networking to “assassinate” us as they do other businesses.  Such is the case of the accusation of racism against us.

We have a lot of high-dollar back issues. They are the fruits of our labor to acquire inventory. Collectors frequent our store to make money off their comics. We pay well since those choice comics are our bread-and-butter. Possession of the comics is risky in a store where customers have access to our display items. We chain off particular areas, post employees and hang signs instructing customers to hand particular items over to them. All these precautions are based upon the habitual behavior of occasional customers that see shoplifting as a viable option to payment.

Kristin, an employee of the store since 2004, recently encountered two customers leaving the sensitive area containing costly comics. Kris is always happy and upbeat. She enjoys the customers and treats all of them with the exact same friendly tone and gusto. These two men ignored the signs and seemed perturbed at Kristin’s request to hold onto the comics for them at the register. She calmly pointed out the signage to them as our theft-prevention rule. They must have grumbled and stewed over the minor confrontation because they hit our Yelp account with a big negative. Their complaint: Kristin singled them out as Asian-Americans because she was racist. They accused Kristin of targeting them even though they acknowledged the signs.  Racist accusations are business killers. The facts had better be irrefutable for a disgruntled person to take it to the publicly-posted level.  There was one inarguable fact the complainers alluded to: Kristin is also Asian-American. The complaint tried to stretch the racism to include me, a White male and that Kristin acted as my avatar of racism purely to torture the two complainants. Ridiculous, yet Yelp refused to remove the silly post.

Yelp provides a list of acceptable reasons to dispute negative comments. Since racism defines itself as, “…predjudice between different races,” I thought we were on a strong footing with an appeal. Yelp denied the comment’s removal, forever tainting my store and my employees with the stink of racism.

In a nutshell, we survived two years of Covid-19 and gained some retail ground with our internet face drawing in greater sales. These customers don’t personally know us. Their impressions may come from brief e-mail contact and a few phone calls. The allowance of two cyber-bullies to color us with hate can cost us some of those new customers. We mock those jerks to this day for their swipe at our business. In all likelihood, the two complainants were more likely to have been put-off by a woman halting them than a man. We tried to understand the trigger for their vehemence and that seems to be the most probable outcome. They played the “race card” because it was nasty and it was easy. My business goal, like all of us in self-employment, is to make a living. If one is blessed with great employees then the job is to keep them and allow them to make the business their home, as well. That is what Southern California Comics has done despite the spitballs that attack businesses from afar with BS just to get a feeling of getting even with perceived damage to their fragile psyches.  Luckily, Yelp sees less activity than Google Business reviews. Seems reviewers prefer anywhere but Yelp to leave their thoughts. Thankfully, the bullies don’t. My Yelp review profile is largely ignored by the majority of the customers that do want to publicly share their regards for our store. I believe Yelp’s reviews lost some of their punch when the television show South Park mocked the cyber bullies in a 2015 episode. Perhaps Yelp’s relevance has been reduced since then.

The pandemic tested our survival and the current inflationary cycle is providing some worry again.  We did well over the past three years. I have one employee, Caitlin, who has elevated to our social networking specialist. Under her control the store’s airwave presence has become popular on FaceBook and Instagram. She controls the narrative and refreshes our presence daily. She follows trends and then makes us trendier. Currently, we’ve joined the Whatnot family and apply that addition to our retail outlets. The social media lives on 24-hour a day activity. Caitlin does her best to keep with the inquiries and conversations.

We don’t need a team when we have a Caitlin, and she’s on payroll! Commentary is sometimes added by other employees have developed their own social media followings. If your business has energetic, dialed-in employees adept with their phones, tablets, I-pads and laptops, you don’t need high-priced experts!

 

Saturday, June 25th. 2022

We are selling used comic book houses!

$20 for the cleaner houses and $10 for houses showing more wear. The long boxes are included. 

New comic book houses are expensive and difficult to come by at the store level.  Take advantage while we have them!

Only 12 remaining.

Thursday, June 9th. 2022

 We picked up some beautiful CGC graded sketch covers today!

These were all drawn in 2011, with most of the sketches residing on the cover of the 2009 Marvel title “The Marvel Project” #1. Prices for these books range from $150-$220

contact the shop at socalcom@aol.com or call (858)715-8669 to make a purchase!

Thursday, June 30th. 2022

Both copies have now sold!

 TWO Newsstand Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980) CGC 9.8 with white pages!

These books came from two employee’s at the shop who originally received them as an end-of-the-year bonus.

Profits from the books will go straight back to the employees.

The book on the right had some minor scratches to the CGC case, not cracked, and it is why we took $100 off.

Thanks to the two fellows who made these purchases! We all appreciate your support!

 

 

Store owner, Jamie, poses with an amazing Aquaman cosplayer! Find him on Instagram: @kyronart

Matt Cossin talks to some fans at his table. Find Matt and his brother, Mikey, on Instagram: @matt.cossin & @inthelifeofmikey

Free Comic Book Day 2022!

Caitlin (Media & Events Manager)

FCBD was on Saturday, May 7th this year, and like always, we hosted our famous Makers Market outside the shop to celebrate this national event with the community.

Each year for FCBD (the first Saturday of May), we invite local comic creators, artists, and writers to set up outside our storefront, allowing them to get their work into new hands. 

Check out this article from Bleeding Cool about our FCBD 2022 event!

Darin Henry holding down the fort for Sitcomics! Find them on Instagram: @sitcomics_binge_books

A customer looking through the hundreds of trades we discounted for our $5 Graphic Novel Sale!

Action Comics #1

Jamie Newbold (Store Owner)

This blog 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.

 

Astonishing #9 Cover Art

Jamie Newbold (Store Owner)

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.