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Monday, June 25, 2007

Broke-Bag Mountain

Many a time I have championed the lowly Mbag, it was truly the people's mail carrier, the cheapest way to get a crapload of comics to faraway places. Sure it took a very long time and was always delayed, but it arrived every time and it arrived in perect shape for little money. Alas, not more... in their infinite wisdom, the USPS has decided to cancel all Surface shipping and thus the Mbag.

Well that's not quite true, the M-bag is still out there, but it's not the grimm and gritty version, it's gone upscale. The Mbag is now the Air Mbag and that's not all that's changed.
I used to pay between $25.00 and $40.00 to have about 100 comics shipped from Anywhere, USA to my doorstep, well last week my first (Air) Mbag took flight and again it was filled with about 100 comics, and it cost me $106. And then I had a moment of clarity

I've reached the point of saturation...no more $1.00 books for me, no more sub $5.00 for me even. Also almost no more slabbed books.
Shipping has always been a major thorn in my side, I'm out about $1000 per year on shipping alone, but with the recent price hike it's become too much.
And with the surface M-bag gone the way of the dodo as well, hard times are here for the European collector who wants to get big collection going.

I guess I have to count myself lucky that I started collecting 5 years ago and not now, I've had close to 10.000 comics shipped to me from the US, the bulk (the cheaper books) via M-bag. And even if sometimes they took over 3 months to arrive, they always did arrive and in perfect shape. The new Mbag is about 2 to 3X the shipping price and frankly I don't think I would start from scratch again today and I'm happy I don't have to.

Basic economy is now that it's impossible to to get any comic shipped for less than a $1.00 a piece, and that first comic will cost you $10.50 at least. And just pray that Amazon or Milehigh has that heavy hardcover you want in stock as they can still ship it for about $10.00, otherwise prepare to pay about $25.00 - $50.00 to have it shipped to Europe.

Luckily (well not really lucky, but you know what I mean) the only books still on my want list are all more expensive books. If you buy a $1000 book it isn't really that important if you pay $20.00 or $30.00 shipping...but I sure wouldn't buy a full run of Rom at 50 cents a piece anymore...

Yeah, I'm bitter....but it's been a rough week comic-wise and I needed to vent. I always figured I would go broke collecting comics, never thought it would be the shipping though.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Unchained !

60 days....done and gone. This is the day the shackles come off. Sixty days ago I made myself a promise, after spending way too much in a very short time, to not only cut down on spending, but also not to buy anything for the next 2 months. While I was in the middle of my "down-time", I got overexcited and proclaimed, I'd not only do the 60 days, but extend it to 80 days, to have the first day of being able to buy comics again to coincide with my birthday. Well it was a nice idea, but enough is enough. I officially declare "buying-time" is here again.

The first week was pretty hard, but it got easier along the way. Some obstacles were thrown at me, a few dealers had interesting sales, one collector friend was dumping a large amount of Silver Age on the market and there was a virtual comic con that I attended, but I held on. The last weeks were the easier, in fact apathy set in. At one point I wasn't even interested in following discussions on comic boards any more, along with the thrill of the hunt of finding/buying new books, some of my interest inthe hobby waned as well. I even started wondering if the whole thing was still that important to me.
Happily when the final date approached so did my passion and the last few days of waiting were pure hell as there were so many things I was interested in buying again.

So did I really not buy anything ? Well....no (sorry), but I did stick by the rules. During that virtual Comiccon I bought a couple of dollar books, that's all I spent, a dollar per book (and they were all from my want-list).
This was one exception that I had made to the rule, very cheap books that were on the want-list were okay. The other rule was that if I found a treasure for a really low low (stupidly low) price I could buy it. Alas no Action #1's for $100 came my way.

With less than a week to go I also bought some other stuff, but I arranged so that I didn't have to pay before today (in fact I still have a few days before I have to pay). I haven't received the books, (they haven't even been sent) and haven't paid for them...I just kinda pre-ordered them, so I don't think I cheated. Of course your mileage may vary, and if you think I did break the rules, don't hesitate in letting me know.

I pre-ordered an Absolute Edition from Amazon Germany which was heavily discounted and I should get it next week or something. The other item I pre-ordered was a CGC 9.8 of Amazing Spider-man V2 #36 (the 911 issue). It's the book that brought me back into the hobby (I bought it in a shop and the next day I decided I had to have the complete Amazing Spider-man series) and the only comic that I keep buying multiple issues

I have about 10 now,6 raw NM copies 2 CGC 9.4s, 1 CGC 9.6 and soon a CGC 9.8. It's also the only comic book I would be stupid enough to buy as a perfect "Gem Mint" CGC 10.0 one day.

So what next ? Well, I don't have any plans at all to buy expensive books for the moment, I'll try to leave my Golden Age Batman run for next year.
For now I would be content if I could complete the following runs :

Captain America #100 - #400 (need about 50 books)
Hulk #200 - #500+ (8 more books to go)
Batman #200 - #300 (9 more books)

And of course a couple of smaller series...but more on those later

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