28th Jan2020

eBuying Comics: Week 35

by Ian Wells

This week I wanted to take a look at the wider world of collecting comics, looking at a very niche subject outside of just buying and selling comics online. So you buy and buy comics, at cons, local comic shops, markets and online. What do you do next?  Bag and board them, then what? Put them in a long box in alpha numeric order, then what? Take them out and read them whenever you feel like it. They all seam obvious and very reasonable steps to take, but there is one that slots in between bagging and boarding them and putting them snuggly in a long box. I am of course talking about logging your comics, whether that be by good old pen and paper or digitally. I myself used to operate a highly detailed spreadsheet on Open Office. I haven’t updated it in about two years so there is that! Of course everything nowadays is in the palm of your hand on your phone. Logging comics is no different. CLZ Comics is the standard bearer but at £1.29 a month I wanted to look at some alternatives and some other maybe useful comic book related apps.


Comic Library

This is the closest app to CLZ without any sign up fees. The app offers very substantial tools for collating your comics, it just perhaps lacks the professional finish of CLZ. The app is very easy to navigate right from the off. On the home screen you have options to add/browse ‘book shelves’, scan comics and add comics manually. The best place to start would be to add some ‘book shelves’, then once you scan comics or add comics you have somewhere to order them. I treated the ‘book shelves’ as a series so Daredevil vol.1, Daredevil vol.2,  Wolverine vol.1 and so on. Starting with the manual adding system it is very easy to navigate. Well I thought it was but when you compare it to how the system is used on the scanning option it throws up different results. But I’ll get to that. First up you enter the title which I took as for example Wolverine #5. Then you add to the correct shelf. You can then add a picture of the cover, which then shows up pixelated. I assume this is due to copyright. One major negative is that it only asks for the writer of the issue, but does have a input for the cover artist. However this can be simply fixed. For the writer input there are four blank fields to use. So you can easily adapt these to writer, pencils, inks and colours. The detail on offer is pretty much what I had on my spreadsheet, with the added bonus of pictures. Obviously one major drawback is that manual inout is very time consuming. Its fine if you are logging the issues when you buy them as opposed to going through long boxes of back issues and logging them all in one sitting! Which brings me to the scanning input. Right away I spotted a problem. Quite a big problem really, Direct Market issues! You know the ones, the comics with the Spider-Man head where a barcode should be! I had to got to Wolverine #37 till I hit on a news stand edition of a comic, then it got interesting. I scanned the barcode the reader works really well but the information it gave me including the image were all for Wolverine #5. All the information was correct for that issue. So I scanned some more, Wolverine #189 gave me Wolverine #71, Wolverine #159 worked. I dipped into my Daredevil box to try some. Daredevil #293 gave me Black Panther #6. So I was questioning then the validity of the app or whether Marvel reused barcodes after so many issues. I discovered Wolverine #71, #94 and #189 all have the same barcode (759606022540). So with this in mind it makes the scanning function of this app obsolete. However after scanning a few comics it became apparent I was using the app wrong. The title is intended to be the actual title of the issue. So unlike me inputting Wolverine#5 the app gave ‘Hunter’s Moon’. The Wolverine part then went in the series field with the number attached beside it. Doing the barcode scan you only get the writer, you can then manually add the artist like I suggested earlier. But that seems counter productive. Lastly what I don’t like is if you scan all your comics and they come out correct, when they are in the book shelf they are first sorted alphabetically by the title. So unless you really know all the titles off the top of your head you have to scroll through to find the issue you want. Of course you can click a button to sort the comics by numerical number for the series but the title is the predominant element on the screen. So ‘Hunter’s Moon’ is bolder than Wolverine #5. At the end of the day I would use this app if I was starting my collection tomorrow. The scanning input is too unpredictable to use on long boxes of back issues and doesn’t cater of direct market editions. If Iwas using it I would elect to do the manual input and that way you can use the fields to input the information in what way, like some of the ways I’ve mentioned already. Of course this has the benefit of being completely free to use.

Comic Price Guide

This app offers two functions, firstly checking values of comics as the title suggests and secondly for logging your collection. Now you can only use the logging part if you sign up for £2.89 a month. With the free download you can only add three comics to your collection and browse and limited selection of the price guide database. If you sign up for the paid version you get the full price guide database, with grades supplied by professional graders. You can also make more edits to the comics in your collection and have unlimited selling access on the market place feature. The opening page of the app simply has a search bar in the middle. Here you simply enter the comic you are searching for. It states you don’t have to enter any issue numbers. If you simply type in Wolverine it will give you every series with Wolverine in the title on their database. If you are looking for something more specific and type in as such Wolverine and The X-Men it will take you straight to that, then you simply scroll through to the issue you want. Some series have pictures attached for each issue. The app does only offer four grades for each comic. Those being Mint, Fine, Good and Poor. There is  no numeric grade for collectors more used to that system.  It does offer prices for each grade as you would expect. I don’t know if you get the more specific in between levels of grading if you sign up. Like VF-/VF+? Just for an example I used the first Wolverine mini series to compare how the prices come out compared to comicspriceguide.com. They are greatly different with a Mint on the app coming in at $50 compared to the $200 on the website. Calling a comic Mint is a very high standard to set and $50 is well off the mark. To put that in perspective a $50 comic on the website is only NM(9.4). Again I can’t say if this is because of the limited database on the free version. But if the values are so far wide of the mark you couldn’t use the free version as a guide to pricing your comics to sell online.

Spot On Grading System

Right of the bat you can’t use this books to log your comics in an effective way, but I wanted to give it a review anyway. To get full access to the app it will cost you $14.99 a year. For free you can get only five grades. Again the app is very easy to navigate. The first step is to enter the title of the comic you want graded. I went with Marvel Premiere #15 first appearance of Iron Fist. I paid £14.50 for this comic and it was graded 3.5 VG- by the seller. After you input the title it gets straight into the grading. In total there are twenty eight questions. The questions are multiple choice and answers are colour coded from green for good condition down through shades of green to yellow and orange for the mid condition answers and red for low condition answers. When I first tried it out I found the colours distracting and felt it was better to ignore them and be as truthful as possible. For example I got a grade 6 for my Marvel Premiere #15 with the answer I gave, which is a lot higher than the 3.5 it was given by the seller who is a very experienced seller. On my second test I used Daredevil #18 which is the oldest comic I own and it is not in great shape. Giving more truthful answers and not letting the colours influence said answers I got a grade of 4 which is pretty accurate. One plus is that it gives the grade in the lettered system and the numerical system. I do feel however some of the language used may be a bit complex for a novice looking to get a grade on a come to put on eBay for the first time. The questions range from the usual suspects of binding, staples, creases, tears, water damage and so on. It gets pretty in depth over the twenty eight questions. I don’t think the app offers enough to pay what they are asking a year, maybe it has a few more features with that. The app couldn’t be used to grade and log your comics as it puts them in grade order so it will be a real mish-mash. The questions it asks could be useful for someone wanting to get a grade for comic without actually using the app. With their own common sense they could apply green is very high grade and red is low grade without actually putting an lettered or numeric value to a comic.



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