"How do you know how much a comic book is worth?" I asked the young man behind the folding card table that served as the comic book store's checkout counter. He suggested The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, by Robert M. Overstreet.
Losing the money was annoying, but not getting the comic books really made me angry. I had been duped. I was so upset, in fact, that I bellyached about the incident for days. I railed to anyone who would listen about the unfairness of it all and wondered if there were any mail order comic book businesses that could be trusted.
A brief historical note: In the late 1980s and early 1990s a magazine called Comic Values Monthly was being published. It seemed a month did not go by that, according to CVM, comic book prices were not rising. In fact, if the values in CVM were accurate, comic book prices were not just rising, they were skyrocketing. A number of events were influencing the market to the point where the comic book industry was having it's own version of Dutch Tulip Mania, a tale I'll leave for another time. Suffice it to say, many people were willing to pay ten times the cover price or more for many recently published comic books.
The following Thursday, (in those days new comic book day was Thursday), we would rendezvous in the parking lot of the comic book store. He brought the money in small, unmarked bills. I brought the comic in a plain brown paper bag. We made the exchange through the window of my car. He took the bag and quickly disappeared into the labyrinth of cars. I took the money, counted it, then sped away, feeling a little guilty for treading on the comic shop owner's turf, but also a little wealthier. It was the comical underbelly of comic book collecting. Not pretty, but everyone knew the score. Buying or selling, you had to take advantage of opportunities when and where you found them.
Now, kids, I do not condone any of you selling each other comic books from the parking lot of my store or, for that matter, from the parking lots of any other comic book stores. In my defense, before I offered to sell him a one, the man did ask the store owner if he could get a copy of the comic book, but the owner said he could not. This was, after all, the 1980s -- technologically ancient times, pre-internet, when hunting down a missed back-issue comic book could be a long, and mostly hopeless quest.
That experience brought about an epiphany of sorts within me. Who could people trust to buy comics from, sight unseen, through the mail? Why, me, of course! That evening I stayed up almost all night sketching a logo for a new mail order comic book business that I would dub "The Comics Club".
Comic book pushing for fun and profit began like a cakewalk for me. I put together a little mail-order catalog of selected comic book back issues from my personal collection of about 3,000 or so and began advertising in the Comics Buyers Guide's classified ads section. It was exciting! I could not wait for my first sale!
A word of cautionary advice: Be careful what you wish for. There are times in your life when you discover that some things have more meaning to you than you realized, and some small thing, some simple matter like, say, selling a comic book, becomes a turning point in your life.
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