Slabbed comics! Could someone please explain this particular madness to me?

You get Comics Guaranty Corporation to grade the condition of your prize comic book, then they lock it into a hard plastic case so you can sell it on eBay for outrageous amounts of money. [P.T. Barnum was certainly correct when he said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” I see in the COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE that someone paid $290.01 for a slabbed copy of BATGIRL #1… a comic book that is less than a year old.] Don’t even get me started on what CGC is charging to do this or what their listed turnaround times are… $35 (for a book worth less than $1000) and nineteen weeks to do the job?!

I can understand the logic of slabbing trading cards, coins or stamps. These items have only a front and a back, both of which are readily visible through the plastic. But comic books have pages inside! The intent of the creative teams was that people actually read those pages. What is gained by locking up the book so that it is never opened again?

Yes, sure, the person who bought that copy of BATGIRL can certainly buy another “reading copy,” probably for a buck. Which brings me back to wondering why he would want the slabbed copy. Is he hoping there’s some bigger sucker out there who will pay even more to own what will surely be the ONLY slabbed copy of that book? I guess so.

I have some 18,000 comic books in my collection, most of them published between 1960 and 1980. Despite the fact that they’ve been read and re-read, many of them would be considered highly collectible items. I suppose I could have them slabbed and sell them for outrageous sums. But that would mean no one could ever read them again.

There is logic in preserving a rare Golden Age book, doing what you can to prevent it from being damaged, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. The Golden Age books I own are in Mylar sleeves, but they can be removed to be looked at any time I want. Some might argue that these books are like a first edition of a “Huckleberry Finn,” but let’s face facts: If anything in SENSATION COMICS #17 was as important as a Mark Twain novel, it would have been reprinted numerous times by now. They may be rare, but that doesn’t mean they need to be locked up like museum curios.

Like the crazes that preceded it – from trading cards and pogs to tech stocks and tulip bulbs – this madness for plastic-encased comic books will burn out. There will be a few who will make a lot of money. However, most of the people who will be sucked in by the delusion of quick riches would be better served by hiding their money in the mattress. At least they’ll still have it a year from now.

1. Which “original” Marvel title lasted only six issues?
2. His “Book of Souls” is chained to his wrist. Who is he?
3. Even though they were called the SEVEN Soldiers of Victory, who was the eighth?
4. Remember the Awesome Android? To whom did he belong?
5. Egyptian prince Ra-Man had the powers and memories of what hero?
6. Though it now has a different connotation, what did the title invite you to do with Scooter?
7. Hi-Jack, Copperhead, and a Manhunter clone were charter members of what group?
8. Ever hopeful, ‘Mazing Man kept waiting for his sea monkeys in the mail; what ARE sea monkeys?
9. Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs were revamped and revised as what DC title?
10. Rejuvium was the prize Lars Hanscom sought when he turned Lightning Lad into what villain?
11. It didn’t cost “two bits,” but who got a shave and a haircut from Johnny Storm’s flaming finger?
12. Speedy and Green Arrow battled William Tockman, better known as who?

1. The first bank robbery occurred in New York City on March 19, 1831. Edward Smith was convicted of stealing $245,000.
2.A light-year is 5.879 trillion miles long; the measurement was introduced in 1888.
3. The fire-breathing chimera in Greek mythology has the head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a dragon.


Was there a Superman / Jimmy Olsen story from the late 60s/ early 70s that went something like this: Jimmy is president of a media company (maybe Galaxy Broadcasting) and he comes across Superman who is now a panhandler. It turns out that all the superheroes have grown old and lost their powers, but then there is a crisis and they get them back.
 Barry McKendrick []

You’re probably thinking about “The Super-Panhandler of Metropolis,” a two-part Imaginary Tale by Leo Dorfman (with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson) that ran in ACTION COMICS 396-397 in 1971. It takes place “on an imaginary day in the 1990s” and Jimmy is chief producer at WMET-TV.

It is only the Man of Steel who has lost his powers after exposure to sunlight turned red by chemical smoke. His vision powers remain, but his physical powers are gone and he is barely able to stand up. During a crisis at the end of the second part, Superman discovers that he still has his powers… that his handicap was psychological rather than physical. However, he realizes that science has made Earth a world that no longer needs a Superman, so he flies off into space in search of a new planet to call home.


I have enjoyed your column on Silver Bullet Comics for awhile and recently bought the latest DARK KNIGHT ARCHIVE. It had a “printed in Hong King” sticker on it. Does DC print all the archive editions overseas like this? Is it that much of a savings when you think about the shipping costs?
— David Donovan []
P.S. I have fond memories of your drawings of superheroes on the walls of the long-gone Collector’s Comics store in Wantagh, Long Island.

DC switched the printing of the Archives volumes (as well as some of the other hardcover books) to a printer in Hong Kong last year. Prior to that time, they’d been printed by Quebecor (Ronalds) in Montreal, the company that has been printing all their comics for a number of years. If there was not some savings in doing this, despite the higher shipping costs, it’s unlikely they would have done it.

There are, however, other problems that might not have been considered when the change was made. During my tenure as Production Director there, we routinely sent someone to oversee the printing job on the hardcovers. If something was wrong, there was someone there to say “Stop the presses!” and have it fixed. These days, they aren’t sending anybody halfway around the world and one result was the recent recall/ reprinting of the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES volume because of the poor printing quality on one of the stories.

By the way, David, I too have fond memories of Collector’s Comics. The store’s owners, Jim and Laurie Wanser, moved out to Las Vegas a few years ago and I’ve lost touch with them. If anybody out there is in contact with them, tell them I said hi.


Do you know the reason why DC’s books weren’t all “properly” re-booted after Crisis?
— kaldahl []

By “properly” I presume you mean “in such a way that there was a seamless new DC Universe that required no reference to anything that had happened in the first forty-plus years of the company’s history”? Mostly because it was a lot easier to say that all the characters in the books could “forget” the past than it was for the editors, writers, and artists to actually do so.

The guys who had their letters used this week earn 10% off anything they buy this week from Comics Unlimited through SBC. Got a comment or a question and want to save a few bucks at the same time? Use the handy question box in the column on the left.

Time for me to go read some old un-slabbed comics in my collection. See you next week.

This week’s “first letter clue” wants to know “WHERE THE DR IS.” The Doctor is IN and “IN” can be found in all of this week’s answers.
2. Destiny
3. Wing
4. The Mad Thinker
5. Mark Merlin
7. Secret Society of Super-Villains
8. Brine shrimp
10. Starfinger
11. Sub-Mariner
12. The Clock King

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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


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