As a comic book retailer, the opportunity to exploit a prospective customer’s ignorance can be enormous. Parents come in after their child goes off to college of on their own, loaded down with books that child left behind, looking to just dump them. Most times, these books aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, but sometimes you’ll get a New Mutants #98 (first appearance of Deadpool for the uninitiated) or an older, even rarer book that the kid had saved for or even TRADED-UP for. These are the times where character is tested. I wish I could say I was never tempted to take advantage, that I was above that thrill of giving someone a dollar for a Five HUNDRED dollar book. Those thoughts have danced through my mind at various times, but thankfully, my better self wins out. One of the things that Walt and I pride ourselves on is honesty…come in looking for a fair deal, we will invariably give you one. The young gentleman looking to finance his college education with his father’s books really was that naive “deer-in-the-headlights” guy who had NO idea of what he had. His father basically told him, here are comics, they are worth money, good luck! We took pity on him, and hope fully gave him a REAL education. More on him in a minute.
Anyone who remembers the movie, “Jingle All The Way”, raise your hand…Now, put it down, you liar. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad and also Rita Wilson and the late Phil Hartman. It had so many dangling plot lines and was so corny and horrible, nobody cared. Which brings us to the reason this travesty was even released: Toy tie-ins. The TurboMan action figure was a thirteen inch monstrosity, put out at a time when 3 & 3/4 inch figures were the norm. This clunky, bulky, in no-way representative of Arnold action figure was also made of slick plastic, making it a challenge for children to even hold onto. The majority of these figures ended up in discount bins in toy stores all over America, and ultimately into landfills, which makes this a fairly rare figure. I guess.
The next transaction is one of the most amazing I have ever witnessed, and not because what the gentleman brought in was so great, but because of what the gentleman did…he wore down Walt Flanagan! Anyone who is even remotely aware of Kevin Smith knows he idolizes Wayne Gretzky, and for good reason. Gretzky is to Hockey what Michael Jordan is to basketball. He so revolutionized the game, that everyone looked at hockey in a whole new context. That being said, this gent brought in a whole mess of Gretzky memorabilia…and Walt wanted to get it for Kevin. What he didn’t want to do is overpay…and I think he did. If you watch this scene a few times, you can actually SEE Walt getting more and more frustrated and basically giving this guy what he wanted, price-wise, just to leave the store!
Which brings us to the educational part of the show…Walt reached out to a contact he had at CGC (that’s Certified Guaranty Company LLC, to those not in the know) to come down and explain the benefits of CGC-ing a book. A thumbnail of the process is this: You send a comic to them; THREE separate experts go over your book with a fine-tooth comb, looking for defects that come with age and handling; each comes up with a grade for their part of the inspection; it is then sealed in a lucite package, preserving the grade given, providing THEIR seal is never broken.
This guy’s father knew what he was doing when searching out and saving books. Fantastic Four #s 4 (first Silver Age Sub-Mariner), Fantastic Four #5 (first Doctor Doom), Fantastic Four #48 (first Silver Surfer and Galactus), Hulk #102 (Hulk gets his own book again, after sharing Tales to Astonish with Sub Mariner), Captain America #100 (first Silver Age Cap book, despite it being #100), and Amazing Spider-Man #129 (first Punisher). Hopefully, this will get him started on his path of academia, and maybe give him a greater appreciation of comics as well.
And there ya go!