Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Fizzy’s Gone ebay Crazy

Yes it’s true, I am mad on the old ebay now. I recently found a few graphic novels in my local library and that got me into the idea of digging my comics collection out of the attic.

Having read a few, I’m now completely re-hooked on buying comics (mostly online), which is not a great thing for several reasons.

1) Comics are incredibly expensive. When I started collecting in the late 80’s a standard book from Marvel or DC was about 55p. Now you’re talking £2.15 per issue and that’s before you get into fancy versions of the stuff you’re after.

2) Comics are even more expensive when you consider what you actually get for your money. I bought a book called Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life the other day there and it was great, a really cool wee story BUT…. It took me 20 mins to read something that I paid £7.95 for. Not the whole point of buying it of course but It’s a consideration.

3) As in any kind of collectable scenario, you start off with a list of things you need, which expands to include virtually anything you see. I set out initially to complete runs of Animal Man (Grant Morrison’s run), Doom Patrol (Ditto) and Shade the Changing Man, but have persuaded myself I have “needed” loads more besides.

4) Then of course there is the addictive power of ebay itself. The big scores ( I got several comics I wanted yesterday in a job lot for 40p for example), the competitive element that kicks in as an auction near it’s end, the postage costs that take the shine of your victories.

Most people will use ebay for the odd things but if you do use it to buy stuff you collect here’s my freshman tips on strategy I’ve found more or less work.

Most importantly when bidding on something you want, factor in the postage and set your maximum bid to the very most you are willing to pay. You may end up having your bid upped by speculators but you will stand a good chance of getting your item if you are willing to pay a realistic price.
This way if your bid is exceeded you can draw some satisfaction from the fact that some plum has paid over the odds. Oh yeah, and you won’t end up spending £20 on something worth £10. Most of the time, this approach fends off speculative bidders and you still land a bargain.

If your bid is beaten – LET IT GO. It will turn up again. Don’t panic bid or get competitive about it. You will break this rule.

Be nice, always pay quickly and leave good feedback where appropriate. I tend to look out for people who accept Paypal payments as sending cheques is just fiddly nonsense and you don’t get your stuff for ages.

My top recommendations on stuff I’ve bought so far are Ex Machina, a Superman-meets-The-West-Wing story about a superhero who retires and becomes the Mayor of New York and Scott Pilgrim, a series of chunky mini-collections about a young Toronto bass player in a rubbish band, his pals and their various tribulations. Drawn in a pastiche Manga style, this book cleverly blends Japanese action and plot chaos with Canada’s more rooted comic book tradition of slice-of-life confessional tales.

And loads more besides. 10 years away from reading comics I return to find Peter Milligan is still not as famous as he should be, that Grant Morrison’s stuff is still intellectually challenging but a pain in the ass to read and that Alan Moore and Frank Miller are still capable of producing genius followed by awful rubbish.

The “big noise” I’d missed while away was a writer called Brian Michael Bendis, who has done an acclaimed run on an old favourite if mine, Daredevil and a long run of his own book called Powers. I’ve read a fair bit of his stuff now and it’s good but not great. His Daredevil stuff comes nowhere near Miller at his peak, isn’t as good as Kevin Smith’s short run and offers far less in terms or originality that Anne Nocenti’s run. I’ve yet to read it all but so far – “Meh”.

Powers is a very interesting comic (It’s mainly about 2 cops assigned to deal with Superpower related criminal cases) and is very innovative and interesting stylistically. There is for example an entire issue that consists of a court transcript and a few court sketches of characters, another one where most of the issue is a “Hello” style magazine.

Kudos there, but for me the stories almost always fall flat and have used anti climax as a plot device virtually throughout. So, not only are the endings to the story arcs largely disappointing, you know they are going to be, because they’ve used virtually the same method to end all the stories I’ve read so far. Good stuff then, but not the be all and end all. That said I’ve only read the first 3 books and the rest are meant to really hot things up.

So there you go, I am pure back into comics. For how long I don’t know because I seriously can’t afford to keep it up. Thank God for libraries I suppose eh?


Anonymous said...

Good update. The eBay tips are so true. The best thing that can happen to you is your auction ending in the middle of the night...means you won't be tempted to nip in and pay over your limit for an item.

Did the Neck tip you off to Scott Pilgrim? He told me about it ages ago and kept hassling me to read it. I eventually picked the first two up at the start of the year and, like you, finished them really quickly. So, so good. I've not read the third one yet. Just so you know - you can get them for £5.99 delivered on Play.com.


Anonymous said...

Not sure if you're a fan of Garth Ennis or not...but if so, you should check out The Boys.


Fraser said...

Great tip on Scott Pilgrim there T, I paid £7.95 for both the books I got, never thinking for a second Play would have them. I'll order the third post haste. Aye the neck put me onto it.

I've been reading The Boys and am enjoying it. Hate to sound prudish but I think they could lose some of the gratuitous sex. Fine, aw the superheroes are hedonistic bawbags, I get it. Good though, always liked Ennis.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Kevin Smith's book 'Silent Bob Speaks'? Is embarrassingly funny if reading on a bus but there's a spoof bit at the end about American comic conventions. The whole book reminded me of your style of writing/humour etc. so was spooky to see this blog on here too.