mmm. tasty, tasty crow.

no, i’ve not started a Corvidae diet. i have, however, had something of a change of heart concerning CGC graded comic books.

this will probably come as something of a shock to those who have been gifted with my past frothing rants on the idiocy of “slabbed” comics. i’ve never bothered to post on the subject here, as pretty much anything i could say has already been said. just Google (or Bing, or whatever) “CGC Hall of Shame.” you’ll find lots of pricing foolishness.

but i’ve started buying CGC slabbed books. i’ve even joined a subscription service for them.

in my defense, i do still think there’s a lot of stupidity in the graded comic market. not just in pricing, but in the whole concept of “graded comics.”

but i’m not buying them as an “investment.” or spending the stupid amounts of money many people pay.

i enjoy comic books and, if they’ve made it this far, i assume most people reading this do also. my opinions on graded books have long been formed and informed by the nature of my enjoyment of comics.

the comic book is an interesting art form; it uses some combination of text and sequential graphics to tell a story. not all comics have text, but all have sequential art.

as such, the comic (not the comic book) is one of the oldest continually practiced art forms. we can’t assume that the primitive humans painting on cave walls were working in the comic form, but there is no doubt that the ancient Egyptians did. the Middle Kingdom coffin texts and “Book of the Dead” describe the necessary course for the dead to take to the afterlife, using sequential art to trace the journey and texts to supply the needed spells. i do prefer being able to read my comics while still alive, though.

in one form or another, comic art continued. some may claim that Action Comics #1 is the world’s most valuable comic. i would ask them to try and put a price on the Bayeux Tapestry.

but Wilhelm Busch’s publication in 1865 of Max und Moritz: Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen in some ways began the modern comic era (as distinct from the Modern Age); in the United States, his work inspired creators whose work became ammunition in Pulitzer and Hearst’s circulation wars.

Hogan’s Alley and other strips were eventually collected, creating a market for pamphlets of just sequential art, without the newspaper wrapped around. from there came the pulp expansion into the modern comic book form. and then came the Silver Age, and Watchmen, and holofoil covers. but the comic has always been sequential art. and that has been my key objection to “slabbing” books.

once a comic is sealed in a CGC holder, it’s no longer readable. one may appreciate the front cover art and back cover advertisement, but that’s it. the whole story is locked away.

the very idea of paying a premium for something that cannot be read was anathema to me; what sense did it make?

then came Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s run on Detective Comics.

aside: i collect original comic art. i’ve got several pieces framed on my walls, and others in sleeves (i need a print rack). so it’s not just the stories that “do it” for me, it’s the actual art.

Rucka’s writing was serviceable in this run, but Williams’ art was amazing. certainly some of the finest work of the Modern Age. and therefore, far out of my price range. most striking to me (particularly once considered through the prism of his interior work) were some of the covers. so i asked myself: what would it cost me to frame a comic?

the answer: too much. cheap frames started around $15 plus shipping, with premium frames running as high as $90. professional custom frames would run in the high end of that range.

but then i found CGC graded copies for under $30. graded as 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint), which means that cosmetically they’re pretty much the best you can find. and they’re already sealed in a holder which presents well. add some 3M Command picture hangers, and i’ve got nice art for the wall. are they “investments”? heck no. but they’re pretty.

the same vendor has a subscription service, and i’ve signed up (for the same per issue price) to get specific books whose cover art i particularly like. i’ll still be buying copies to read from my local comic shop, but now i’ll also have (relatively) inexpensive copies for display as well.

but i’m not going to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a comic book i can’t even read as an “investment.” that’s still crazy stupid.

quote of the day:

“An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

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