Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

Comic-Con:  it's no laughing matter

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Comic-Con San Diego

Is it that time of year again?  Yup.  The festival of printed cartoons ran July 18th to July 21st in San Diego as in past years.  It’s close enough to Hollywood to attract real life cartoon characters and close enough to the Mexican border to reach the drug stores one may need to recover.  The event is organized by Comic-Con International, “a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art.”  Thank God somebody has their back.  Mickey, Pluto and Superman are safe after all.  The fair manages to attract 100,000 visitors over 4 days and also manages not to be the only fair of its kind in the United States.  Chicago, Miami, Boston and Denver [among others] have their events.  Comics are no laughing matter.

Comic Con San Diego has been around for a while and I spoke with two San Francisco comic book store principals who have had long associations with the event, in both cases most of ten years.  James Sime of Isotope Comics didn’t go last year because of a death in the family [his cat] and didn’t go again this year to see if he could continue his addiction recovery.  “The show is a little much,” the crowds milling like the bulls at Pamplona.
  

Natalie Jumper who is a partner with Gary Buechler and Anthony Rivera in Comic Outpost [www.comicoutpost.com] were there and had a new attraction this year, video interviews with some of the real comic book characters; Dan Jurgens who wrote the Superman comics for a while, Gerry Duggan who writes Deadpool for Marble, Cody Vrosh, a free lance artist and Darick Robertson who draws the art for the smash comic title Ballistic.  England may have its royal family but so does the comic book world complete with capes, uniforms and disguises.

If none of this sounds familiar that’s okay.  Comics have become their own language and have their own blue bloods.  [Does this sounds like a new comic book title to anyone else?]

I asked Natalie what its like to be in the comics business.  They mainly sell new material to about 500 people visiting their shop on Ocean Avenue each week.  A typical transaction runs from $20 to $80 and she describes the business as very good.

For an east coast perspective I then called George Vasilakos at Zombie Planet in Albany, New York to see if they had sent anyone to the show.  Not this year and not in ten years since he moved east.  He does however take the family to the New York Comic-con for three days in the November each year.  “I wouldn't miss it.”  George, who has had his shop for 10 years and an active comic book business for five, said business is good, several hundred fans and collectors coming in each week.
  

For George the New York show is a family affair.  Mom and their three children 18, 16 and 10 will all be going with him for three days.  “I’m the obsessed collector but my children also collect.  They have been attracted by the images and become interested in the stories.”

I then spoke with Tom Key, a lifelong collector, who works at Oxford Comics in Atlanta, Georgia.  Tom is 46.  He didn't attend the recent Comic-con show either but expects to go to the Dragon-con in Atlanta in September.  Comics are a big part of his life.  “New comics are typically released once a month and, working here, I get an early look and sometimes buy.”  To the question, “is it an investment” he replied he hasn't bought comics with that expectation.  As to his collection, “I have them stored.  If I could I would look at them electronically.”  Condition is very important.  He has about 2,000 examples in his collection.

About the field generally – “Comics aren’t as taboo as they once were as movie studios have made superheroes a part of everyday life.”  As to women, “comics continue to be a man’s game.  The heroes are action figures, male power figures.”  He then mentioned “manga,” Japanese comics that many women prefer.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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