Is the comic book market being manipulated?

Short answer, yes. However, watch this video for the points being made.

I’ve discussed this in the past but the fact is we’re living in an artificially created bubble for comics, and a big chunk of that can be placed at the feet of Ebay and of things like Key Collector App.

Having an app that lists key books is fine, but the problem lies is users manipulating data to artificially create a demand which isn’t there, so you could have an issue which has happily resided in dealers 50p boxes for decades and turn it into a £20-40 book overnight and there’s nothing key about the book at all. For example…

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Now this happened back in the 90’s when speculators would drive up prices artificially helped by the likes of Wizard who’d push books purely on spec, or if they had connections to dealers who had boxes of the things sitting around.

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Right now as well if you’re wealthy but can’t afford to invest in a Picasso, you can pick up a Batman #1 for much less knowing that your investment will grow. To make sure your investments do grow, you have to ensure the market as a whole grows which is why Golden Age titles are out the reach of most collectors, and now Silver Age titles are similarly becoming out of reach. Some Bronze Age books are now rising dramatically in value thanks again to speculators. In many cases it isn’t even because of rarity but an intent to create key issues and capitalise on the film/TV boom based upon comics.

If you’re a dealer this sounds great but the problem is if nobody is reading comics outwith of speculation purposes, then the medium suffers. This, like so many other things in the industry, isn’t spoken about seriously as it still is the Wild West in many cases.

Collecting comics is fun but making collecting prohibitively expensive isn’t a great idea to grow the industry, nor the medium and perhaps it’s time for the industry as a whole to confront the issue of speculators and maybe try to avoid the bubble collapsing which would damage the industry just at it did in the 1990’s.

Saving Dominic Cummings

By now everyone should be aware of the Dominic Cummings saga and how it is seriously interfering with the governments public health message during the coronavirus with beaches across the country rammed. The lockdown is compromised which bluntly, means people will die but Dominic Cummings has been unaccountabnle so far.

In any other situation he’d have been sacked before the start of the bank holiday weekend but we live in odd times and now he’s doing a press conference from Downing Street where he’s spun a load of nonsense which makes the situation worse. The lie about driving to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight is his ‘Prince Andrew can’t sweat’ moment.

Fact is there’s tens of thousands dead. People have made sacrifices. But Dominic Cummings can’t even say sorry because he’s so arrogant he doesn’t feel that people’s deserved anger at him breaking the clear lockdown rules is something to apologise for. So his job is saved for now, but people know a cunt when they see one and today they’ve seen a massive one lie to save his job.

Every UK government Covid briefing ever.

The daily UK government Covid briefing is at best, a waste of time, at worst it’s a desperate attempt to spin what is a public health disaster into just another bit of politics which of course, is costing thousands of lives. It isn’t helped by a week and compliant UK media only too glad to massage Tory ministers ego.

Of course we’re now at the point where no real information is being given out, and the day-to-day briefing is something to be mocked which brings me to this great video from comedy duo Larry and Paul which is exactly like every Covid briefing ever…

What if there’d been a toy line for the 1979 Caligula film?

One of my guity pleasures in the very porny, very gory, very bizarre 1979 film, Caligula.

This was my introduction into the world of Tinto Brass, not to mention seeing actors like John Guilgud who in this film seems to be walking around in a haze counting how large his bank account is going to be once he gets through everything. It is also a mess as producer Bob Guccione rewrote scenes, not to mention inserted hardcore sex scenes filmed on set at night when the actors were away, as he felt it needed more sex to perhaps offset the violence.

Anyhow, the film is a mess but like one of the setpieces, it’s a mess one can’t help but be intrigued by, depending on what version of the film you see as there’s multiple versions depending how how much porn and gore you want. However imagine a line of toys to go along with the film that was made in 1979? Didn’t happen of course but what if it did?

Here you go…

Farewell Jeremy Corbyn

So that’s it, the Corbyn era of Labour is gone and the party is probably going to take years, maybe decades to claw back support if it manages that at all. I’ve followed Corbyn’s time in charge with an increasing horror as the green shoots of recovery for Labour were squandered for cementing personal power, and selling the UK, especially England, a vision which was at best a unicorn dream even though many of the ideas were sound (and as we’ve seen here in Scotland, perfectly workable), it was Corbyn and those around him that made people retreat hard from Labour.

Corbyn may have brought thousands of new people into Labour, but he really didn’t because many filtered into Momentum, Corbyn’s own Praetorian Guard. There was an ‘us against them’ mentality from the off as Labour instead of fighting the Tories took to fighting themselves, and any idea they’d work with other opposition parties fell to dust and lets not even touch on Brexit.

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Here in Scotland, Corbyn exposed himself as ignorant of the basics of devolution, the Scottish legal system, or anything in fact. Badly briefed and unable to find out for himself, one of his right-hand men took charge of Scottish Labour in the shape of Richard Leonard who has taken Labour here to irrelevance as his party looks ready to come fourth in the elections next year.  An opportunity wasted to be better than tribalism.

All the grifters, hangers-on and the like that surrounded Corbyn will no decry Keir Starmer, and indeed there is much to be concerned about, and for people in Scotland seeing an ultra British nationalist like Angela Raynor second in command suggests Labour will lead themselves to new depths in Scotland, and probably Wales too. No, it is in England where any Labour revival will come and where it’s needed because right now Boris Johnson and the Tories need opposing more than ever before. Yes, we’re in a worldwide crisis but they need to step up because just as people will remember the Tories failing us now, they’ll remember Labour failing to do anything to stop them.

But I hope I’m wrong and I hope Starmer is smart enough to reach out amongst the opposition to create a united front against the Tories, but I think the death spiral Labour have been on since 2015 especially will carry on and on.

You can save the comic book industry!

The coronavirus has essentially made clear the American comic book industry stands now on a precipice as the main distributor of new comics, Diamond, has suspended deliveries til whenever this all gets safe again which at best, is going to be July. If we’re lucky! Diamond are laying off staff, while nobody knows what’s going to happen as this week is the last week any new comics will definitely be published and shipped to shops. Thing is many of those shops won’t be able to sell them as they don’t offer an online buying or delivery service, so you can pretty much say those shops will not survive this.

I’ve seen several major crashes in the comics industry. By far the worst was in the 1990’s where shops crashed like ninepins as the speculator boom faded away, then the crash in the late 2000s ended up being a blip. This however is worse.

So what can you as a fan do? Some shops like Gosh and Page 45 need to be singled out because the world is a worse place without them, and because they provide a wide selection of comics outwith the spandex stuff but in this time, if you can, support your local shop. There might not be new comics to buy but this might be the time to see if they can dig out back issues for you, or pick up a trade or two. Anything to keep money flowing otherwise that shop you rely on for your weekly fix is gone and it ain’t coming back because the post-coronavirus world is going to look different to what it was only a week or two ago.

Good luck to all shops out there. It will be hard, some of you will go but as long as the community sticks together then that number will be smaller than it could be as long as people support them by buying what they can, when they can. I’m going to help by throwing out some recommendations in another blog of stuff to buy, but please use your local shop where you can.

Here’s to the new normal

I’m on day two of the official lockdown and so far I’m fine, partly because I’m off work on full wages expecting to get set up to work from home probably next week. What is clear is the situation is becoming more real that things aren’t going to change soon, and that we’re effectively in a wartime situation which leads us to see how people react to this.

Mostly people are doing what they can to help, but panic buying is still rife, as is black marketeering not to mention companies which clearly are nothing like an essential service forcing staff to come in putting lives at risk. Plus young people thinking they’re invulnerable can think again.

Reality is starting to dawn that this is the new normal. We’re locked down til June at least but by then thousands of us won’t be around, so this is a small sacrifice to make in order to save as many lives as possible.

RIP Max Von Sydow

As a child, my image of Max Von Sydow was from staring at pictures from The Exorcist, as at that point I was too young to watch it and it’d be at least 15 years before I did see it. I saw him as an old, frailish man.

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Yet when I saw him in Flash Gordon he was a relatively young man in all that film’s hot campy glory.

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Of course, it was a mix of Von Sydow’s wonderful acting and Dick Smith’s still astonishing makeup, and so for a while Max Von Sydow was my favourite actor. I’d eat up all his films when they landed on TV in those pre-digital, even pre VHS days so everything from The Seventh Seal to his still remarkable Jesus Christ (there’s something alien about his version of Christ I’ve never seen since) in The Greatest Story Ever Told, my favourite of the biblical epics with Ben Hur.

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There’s a ton of lost gems in Von Sydow’s C.V including the gloriously bizarre adaptation of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf which simply has to be seen, preferably while off your face on MDMA.

1980 and 1981 saw him in some of my favourite films, including the mental Escape to Victory and Death Watch, a great SF film filmed here in a post-industrial, but pre recovery Glasgow. It’s a film I’m always recommending because it simply is a lost gem.

If I sat down and wrote a list of my favourite films, Max Von Sydow’s name would pop up over and over and over again in the credits, from Dune, to Dreamscape, to Hannah and Her Sisters, to Until the End of the World, to What Dreams Will Come, and fuck, even Judge Dredd has some moments.

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A great actor not afraid to play in genre film as well as mainstream film, and one who was such a talent he made it look effortless, but it really wasn’t. Another one who’ll be missed.

Western civilisation might fall because people can’t wash their hands

We live in a culture where people, adults, have to be told how to wash their hands. Actual bloody adults who have no idea how to wash the shite or piss off their hands and with the coronavirus, we have people panic buying toilet paper and hand cleaner.

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Can you imagine it, civilisation brought down because people don’t wash their hands.

We’re fucked as a society aren’t we?

 

What I thought of Doctor Who season 12

Jodie Whittaker’s first year as the Doctor was patchy at best, shite at worst. Not as bad as  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, in the seventh season but bad so much was riding on this season. The main criticisms for me were an overcrowded Tardis, a Doctor barely allowed to develop regardless of how hard Jodie Whittaker grafted to make some awful scripts fly while the programme was directionless with new showrunner Chris Chibnall seemingly lost now he’d got his hands on his childhood love.

Then they all went away, had a think and came back this year with a bang with a two-part story which brought back a truly crazed version of The Master played by Sacha Dhawan channeling Anthony Ainley a lot of the time and then we had the return of Captain Jack and a totally new Doctor in the shape of Jo Martin which created plotholes and canon anguish for fans but it turns out Chibnall had a card up his sleeve.  For those of us of a certain age Tom Baker was our Doctor, and one of his, and the programme’s finest stories is the Brain of Morbius, a retelling of Frankenstein not to mention a serial which featured a lot of new lore for the series, including this.

For 44 years there’s been a running argument about who those faces are after the Hartnell Doctor, with some saying they’re previously unknown incarnations to some saying they’re the faces of Morbius or just it was something to lengthen the scene so they just took a load of pictures of the crew and slapped them in. Yet the dialogue makes it clear, ‘how long have you lived Doctor?’, and it really is a push to make these faces anything else but related to the Doctor so how does that work?

And after 44 years Chris Chibnall explained that (yes, they are previous incarnations of the Doctor) as well as tiny little plot points only the uber fanboy cared about. It was an audacious bit of housekeeping that made me laugh, yet I’m not sure it worked yet. I’ll have to watch it again however this entire season has been a vast improvement. Better scripts which gave Whitaker some work, plus the Tardis crew were less annoying. Sure, there were some awful scripts but overall things moved in the right direction even if Chibnall has now done a reboot and tie up plot points at the same time. Has it worked? I dunno, but it is getting people excited for the programme but I do wish it was just well-done stories of the Doctor’s travels rather than universe-altering plots every season.

Basically things are moving in the right direction. There’s still rubbish though Jodie Whitaker is turning into a very good Doctor, if she gets the scripts. Hopefully her third year sees that happen more consistantly.

I’m now off to watch that last episode again, just for a laugh!