Weekend Update with Nico

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We are on Instagram@cbs_daily and on facebook as Comic Book Speculation.  You can also find us on YouTube at Comic Book Wars where we discuss comic book news, market trends, speculation and investment strategies each and every Tuesday around 9:30 pm EST.  We also have the best Facebook group in comics, we are on Instagram @comicbookwarspodcast and I have a Facebook Page called Nico Time where you can communicate with me individually and share your own thoughts about the hobby.  If you aren’t already watching the Comic Book Wars podcast, we’ll be back each and every week to discuss comics, market trends, speculation, investment, sales strategies and more!

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Without further ado,

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This is your Weekend Update! 

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Corona meme

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Coronavirus Economy Continues 

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In an effort to speak more clearly about the impact of COVID-19 on our fragile comic economy, I want to begin by explaining the difference between these two things.  When people use the term “coronaviruses” they are describing a broad category of viruses including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).  Many of you will remember the impact of these contagious conditions on the global economy.

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COVID-19 is a different animal.  Medical experts refer to this coronavirus as the “novel coronavirus,” meaning it’s a new type of coronavirus that was not previously known or understood by health experts. COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.  COVID-19 is the issue. In an effort to speak precisely about the global pandemic impacting our community, I will be referring to the novel coronavirus as COVID19 henceforth.

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I hope that as a community we can take this time and make the best of it.  Enjoy time spent with our family, take the opportunity to help one another, refrain from profiteering, refrain from pillaging our neighbors collections in their time of need, refrain from selfishness and be of service to the greater comic community.  After all, it is our community and we should take ownership of it.

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There will obviously be opportunities to buy books below market price, and to purchase collections from people who desperately need the money.  I implore you, to be fair, kind, compassionate and considerate. I am not encouraging anyone to harm themselves, but I would encourage everyone to make sure we don’t take advantage of others misfortune.  If this time is time for anything, it is time to be a better neighbor, a better friend, a better member of the greater comic book community.

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It is unclear whether COVID-19 will cause delays in the print publication of comics, but many believe that this is inevitable.  Steve Geppi, the chairman of Geppi Family Enterprises and founder of Diamond Comic Distributors, sent a memo to retailers on Wednesday, indicated that this year’s Free Comic Book Day has been cancelled.

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FCBD MAY logo

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We’ve already seen our convention season screech to a grinding halt as the public outcry quickly caused convention promoters around the country to adhere to social distancing and isolation techniques promoted by the CDC, state, and federal government.  Prices have been all over the board on eBay with many rare comics flooding the market only to be quickly pulled by sellers fearing poor auction results or brokering private transactions.

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To give you some indication of the market, as I am writing this article there are 8 live no reserve auctions on eBay for CGC copies of Amazing Spider-Man #129 (the first appearance of the Punisher).  Clearly some collectors are unloading coveted books and preparing for tough economic times as a result of COVID19.

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Amazing Spider-Man #129

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If you are interested in listening to a panel discussion and some early predictions on the prolonged impact of COVID19 on the comic market, I sat down with Dennis Hayes, Peter Renna and Dillon Universe and had a great discussion Saturday night on NicoTime.  I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the panel although I would have expected nothi less from these gentlemen.

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The news updates are daily and I will do my best to record them here.  If I miss announcements that you believe are important, please be sure to share them in the comments section so that other readers can keep up to date.

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So far these are the major COVID19 comic book related media items you should be aware of are as follows:

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  1. New Mutants – unbelievably this project has been canceled until further notice; I suggested on our podcast that this film maybe released on Disney Plus which compelled sharp criticism from Jimmy, but no one has demonstrated that they can predict the impact of the coronavirus with skill let alone certainty.
  2. Bloodshot – movie theater chains have shut down and this film will be released early on March 24 video on demand platforms like Birds of Prey (which was rushed to release next week).  This is unfortunate for Hive Mind and our friend Dinesh Shamdasani. I know that he, I and many others were very hopeful about the success of this project. I am confident that Dinesh will bounce back and encourage you to support this film and his forthcoming projects, not the least of which is his new comic publishing company, Bad Idea.
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  3. Shang Chi – this movie isn’t scheduled to be released until February 2021, but filming has been halted. Eternals is done filming and I don’t suspect it to be impacted.  It is unclear what impact delays will have on Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki.
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  4. Black Widow – it was supposed to be released May 4.  It has not been pulled from release with no rescheduled date upon writing this.
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  5. Wonder Woman: 1984 – We are hearing that this film has been delayed.  It is unclear whether these delays will become official anytime soon, but early reports indicate that Time Warner Media is preparing for the worst.

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Reading Pile 

 

Since we rarely ever talk about the comics that I love, I thought the social distancing comic economy was a great time to talk about some of the books that I suggest people take time to read and enjoy.  If isolation in our homes gives us the opportunity to do anything, maybe it will help us all catch up on our reading pile. These are some of the books that I suggest are required reading:

 

The Walking Dead 

 

I have to admit that I gave up on the Walking Dead shortly after issue #100 like many readers.  However, I am someone who would say that the first 48 issues of the Walking Dead are some of my favorite panel for panel comics period.  Robert Kirkman is a master and these comics are masterful. I’m not going to insult our reading audience by describing this post-apocalyptic zombie story, but I will say that it’s a story about living in a community more than it ever was about the end of the world.

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Saga 

 

54 of the best issues in the history of comics.  The premise of Saga is an intergalactic Romeo and Juliet (Alana and Marko) from long-warring extraterrestrial races, run from authorities from both sides of a intergalactic war and care for their daughter, Hazel.  It is beautifully illustrated and written by one of, maybe the best, writer in the game. The last issue of the series before the creative due took an extended break was issue 54 which hit stores back on July 25, 2018.  It is uncertain whether the Coronavirus will inspire writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples to return to this book as it seems like a perfect opportunity for these creative geniuses to get back to their masterpiece.  This is 100% wishful thinking on my part, but not as far fetched as what often passes for news in our community these days.

 

Chew 

 

If you are a long time reader of the Weekend Update than you already know that I am a homer for the comic book Chew.  Our begrudging hero, Tony Chu, is a cibopath who solves crimes by receiving psychic impressions from the food he eats.  Sometimes cannibal, this story is hilarious and heart warming in ways that few comics ever achieve. John Layman’s writing is superb and Rob Guillory’s artwork is some of my favorite cover and panel work in the history of comics.  This book is twenty years ahead of its time and has some exceptional covers (including a Pulp Fiction homage, a Reservoir Dogs homage and an X-Files homage) all of which are dirt cheap.

 

Invincible 

 

Invincible is exceptional.  One of the best comics of a generation.  It may is something that you should experience for yourself.  Kirkman shines as he develops Mark Grayson into a hero. This series is his love letter to the superhero genre and it is exquisite.  A book you can not afford not to read from inception until its final issue #144 which was released in 2018. It is a series that is rooted in character development but unafraid to depict graphic adult scenes integral to the story.

 

Sandman

 

Don’t be the guy who waits for the Netflix series to fall in love with Death.  Take the time to enjoy Neil Gaiman at his finest. His 75 issue run on Sandman is arguably the greatest work of comic storytelling in existence.  It is a book with layered meaning and literary illusions galore, but can be read as a simple transactional comic. The first time I read this book I was an angsty teenager.  It captured my heart and my love for comics as a medium grew.

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Pick a writer, a solid writer

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One way that I enjoy comics most is by picking writers who have received critical acclaim and sampling their work.  This is a great for a guy who is busy and does a better job of reading trade paperbacks than he does reading books from a pull list.  These are some of the writers I hope you already enjoy and a small sample of their work:

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Alan Moore is arguably the greatest writer in the history of comics.  It is hard to know where to even begin to discuss his work. Although he’s worked on mainstream characters like Batman penning what many consider the greatest Batman story of all time, The Killing Joke.  Moore’s work on Swamp Thing is considered by many to be some of the finest story telling in the history of the medium. Similarly, he is the man who Miracle Man and V for Vendetta in the pages of Warrior Magazine.  All this and we haven’t touched on his most critically acclaimed work – the Watchmen. I have a soft spot for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (maybe because I’ve always wanted a copy of the error variant) and Moore’s From Hell (which I think is tragically underappreciated).  Alan Moore is an institution.

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Alan Moore

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Rick Remender is a beast.  His independent work is legendary and includes Sony television’s adaption of his book Deadly Class (which he worked on with the Russo Brothers), and a Netflix’s adaption of his book The Last Days of American Crimewhere he was both a writer and an Executive Producer.  Of course Remender has received recent attention for his forthcoming adaptation of Fear Agent with Hollywood royalty Seth Rogan. Some of his other creator owned work includes Tokyo Ghost with Sean Murphy, Death or Glory with Bengal, Black Science with Matteo Scalera, LOW with Greg Tocchini, and Seven to Eternity with Jerome Opeña.  I personally enjoyed his run on Uncanny X-Force and hope that we see the same flavor in a forthcoming X-Men related TV or film project. Arguably the best work he’s ever done was on Captain America.

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Jonathan Hickman is one of the best writers in comics.  He is currently writing Decorum and a host of X-Men related books.  I have Decorum sitting by my bed side and only have good things to say about his work on X-Men.  If you are new to Jonathan Hickman’s work, sampling these two books may help you decide if you prefer his mainstream work over his independent work.  I personally prefer his work writing independent comics like East of West, The Manhattan Projects, Pax Romana; Red Mass for Mars, Transhuman, and the Nightly News.   Others prefer his mainstream work on Marvel Comics’ like Fantastic Four, FF, S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers, The New Avengers, Infinity, and Secret Wars.

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Jeff Lemire is a legend.  Like many of the giants of their craft, it is hard to know where to begin with Lemire.  I was all in on Descender when it was released and it was glorious. The Black Hammer universe continues to impress and redefine the superhero genre in unexpected ways.  Personally, his work on Sweet Tooth may be my favorite. Others prefer the Essex County Trilogy. His work on Animal Man is nothing short of brilliant and was way ahead of its time. His short lived Hawkeye series is the basis for the forthcoming Hawkeye TV show and is one of the best written superhero series in the last decade.  I loved Lemire’s work on Extraordinary X-Men, Moon Knight and Old Man Logan for Marvel. I think he has a gift and that you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not reading his library of work.

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The Market hasn’t collapsed yet 

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It would be naive not to worry about your investment in light of the economic hardship faced by so many Americans.  It is obviously unclear what economic projections are and are not reasonable. Early reports from America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that COVID-19 can survive on some surfaces for days will not help the comic market.

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Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 3.10.21 PM

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Nevertheless, big books are moving for big dollars online. Here are some of the big auction results that I thought were interesting:

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Target Comics #7 high grade Spacehawk sold for $2,252.87

Misterios Del Gato Negro #21 (raw low grade) sold for $1,358.33 out of Australia

Marvel Mystery Comics #45 CGC 4.5 (brittle pages) sold for $1,725.00

Punch Comics #13 CGC 5.5 sold for $996.00

Fantastic Four #4 1st SA Sub-Mariner sold for $1,988.00

X-Men #12 CGC 9.0 1st appearance of Juggernaut sold for $1,625.00

Batman #15 (raw G 2.0 ish) .50 cal sold for $636.55

Incredible Hulk #181 CGC 9.4 sold for $8,667.99

Eternals #1 CGC 8.5 30 Cent Price Variant sold for $426.34

Seige #3 CGC 9.8 Deadpool Variant sold for $1,999.00

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People are still buying comics and will continue to buy comics throughout a recession.  Depression era comics are some of the most collectible and valuable comics in existence.  Obviously needs come before wants and priorities take precedence over discretionary purchases.  It is abundantly clear that the bull market is gone. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make money buying and selling comics.  That doesn’t mean that comics are a bad investment. That does mean that you are going to have to be smarter than ever and work harder than ever if you rely upon comics as a secondary  and/or primary income.

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If I were a betting man (and the way I buy and sell comics it would be hard to describe me any other way), I would suggest that the poison drip on the economy is going to cause a prolonged detrimental slide that may last closer to a calendar year than a mere three months.  Regardless of economic conditions, I will be buying and selling comics the whole way down and all the way back to the top!

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Until next time, “Happy Hunting you bunch of Savages!” .

 

– Nico, Esq.

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