08th Apr2021

eBuying Comics: Week 55

by Ian Wells

This Easter weekend in between eating chocolate and re-watching The Defenders on Netflix I did some comic collection housekeeping. There was a two pronged attack to the housekeeping: First I wanted to update my want lists both into a new notebook and in order of priority. Next I came across a new website for cataloguing your collection so I wanted to put that through its paces and give it a review. So I will start things off with some notes on my want lists then dive into my review of zapkapow.com

  • Daredevil: When I first started collecting Daredevil it was a case of getting and digesting all the Frank Miller stuff first. I done so relatively quickly and without breaking the bank. I think now I am aiming to get as many of the first run as possible. Realistically I think #1-#20 are more than likely out of my price range. Everything after that is fair game. I do already have a fair amount of issues before and after the Miller run so it is ust a case of closing the caps. I drew up a list starting at #11 and ending at #296 as some of the 90’s stuff looks horrible.
  • Master of Kung Fu: I have a decent amount of issues already but am 80 short of completing my run, plus the four giant size issues. September 3rd is going to be a landmark day which could change the course of me completing this run on the cheap. That is when the Shang Chi movie is released. Any issue that has a first appearance of anyone in the movie is going to see prices sky rocket. My hope is that the movie will be so far removed from the source material a lot of the series won’t see large increases in price. As I have mentioned before I am yet to pay over £5 for a back issue of this run.
  • Marvel Comics Presents: I made a list of more issues than I intended. I think the withdrawals of the thrill of the hunt is getting to me! The first ten issues are a definite. I need four or five of the Weapon X arc and then the Sam Kieth stuff seems appealing. Most of the other issues will be on cover attraction.
  • Alpha Flight/Classic X-Men: Only really interested in the first 28 issues by John Byrne. Currently I am half way there needing 14 more, but I do already have most of the standouts. Like with MCP I listed more issues than I intended. Originally I wanted the first 45 issues as I have started collected the Claremont X-Men via the Mutant Milestone trades. However there is some connective tissue between those trades within these issues and the back up stories are to good to turn down. When I first stared collecting I wouldn’t go near 50p or £1 boxes at cons. For these two series I will make an exception.
  • Green Arrow: I have an itch for the Mike Grell run on Green Arrow. My best bet is to track these down via trades. There are 9 in this run, as well as the Long Bow Hunters story arc. When I go to cons as well as my back issues I always like to have something substantial to read when I get home, hopefully this run will fulfill that need.

I have been looking for a new way to catalogue my collection. I like lists and I like having certain information to hand without digging through long boxes. Years and years ago I started a Excel spreadsheet so I could cater my catalogue how I wished. I just had a quick look and I haven’t updated it since 12th January 2019. CollectorZ (CLZ) has always been the cornerstone for website based personal catalogues and then latter app based ones, but I could never justify the monthly fees for essentially a list I could write down for free if I had the time. Last year I reviewed some very average attempts at cracking that market, then a few weeks back on Instagram I got an advert for Zapkapow. I clicked it expecting it ti either be another poor attempt at replicating CLZ or an equally expensive competitor. Apparently Zapkapow used to be an app before switching to a web based browser version last May. Right from the get go Zapkapow sets itself apart from the opposition by making it very clear the sign up is a one time payment for lifelong use. Appealing right? There are three price plans to choose from, each offering access to more features the site has to offer. They are;

Bronze Age – £3.78 (I went for this for the purposes of the review).

  • Full access to the price guide**
  • Create and save lists of haves/wants
  • Links to eBay sales
  • Full collection managment
  • Visual data of collection
  • Mobile access

** At Bronze level the price guide feature will need to be updated monthly for 72p. However it is a pay as a you go service and can update the price guide as and when you want. One simple payment will bring the price guide right up to the current date.

Silver Age – £14.47

  • All of the above
  • Automatic price guide updates each month

Golden Age – £18.08

  • All of the above
  • Access to the live price guide feature, real time online prices
  • Smartphone look up accessibility
  • Change the price guide currency to match your country
  • Download ‘have’ list as an Excel spreadsheet
  • Printable pull list for your LCS
  • Ability to add price you actually paid and notes section
  • New issues automatically go from pull list to have list

The Bronze and the Golden Age price plans are very justifiable one time payments from certain points of view. Where as the Silver seems a big step up in price for so little than Golden. Like I said Bronze at the moment meets my needs. Adding the price I actually paid would be a big help, as would being able to add my own notes on each issue. Also the ability the change currency would be a huge benefit for some of the features I do on this blog. I think the Golden Age plan would be very beneficial to either someone who has a massive collection and wanted to get it in order. As well as greatly serving someone who buys and sells and has a big turn over in comics. There is a reason to explain the big step in price between Bronze and Silver. I think they suck people in with the low one time payment of the starting plan and then they easily make more off of people from the monthly price guide updates. I would even go as far to say that is probably where they make a decent percentage of their income. Look at it this way. A comic reader/collector can’t justify £14 on a glorified spreadsheet, how many comics is that? But 72p a month for what could be key info doesn’t seem like  big expense. If you are a collector and not a seller the info the price guide is providing you is meaningless so the Bronze plan is perfect for cataloging your collection.

After signing up to Bronze I spent the afternoon putting the site through its paces. There is a tutorial on the site you can read before signing up that goes through the process of adding issues at the basic level. Searching for comics by series is easy with a big search bar to type into when you click the big search icon. I had read some reviews saying it didn’t have a big database of comics. Of the few I added that afternoon Marvel’s 1991 Maverick series was perhaps the most obscure. But that was on there, even the preceding one-shot! Adding a comic to your ‘have’ or ‘want’ is rather straight forward, once you get your head around it. For your ‘want’ list adding a single issue is a one click process once you find the right series and issues. On your first time adding to your ‘have’ list is a more involved process. Once you have located the series you want to add issues from you will see a ‘mass +’ near the top of the page. Despite its name this button is used to add mass issues and single issues. Confused yet? When you click this button it will ask you what issues you want to add with a start point where you type the number and a finish point where you do the same. So if the series is say 50 issues and you have the first ten you would enter 1 in the start and 10 in the finish. To add a single issue you would enter the same number in each box. Still with me? It took me maybe five minutes of trying to add a one-shot till I figured this out. The ‘want’ list option would benefit from a ‘mass +’ option too.

One good feature is that when you look up a series it shows all the variants. However this also provides a stumbling block for adding and removing issues from your ‘have’ list. Either I am over-looking it or you can’t remove single variants one at a time. As an example if I was to mass add my entire run of Wolverine from the first ongoing. Off the top of my head I have one variant in that run for #114. The original cover and the variant both show as #114 so I wouldn’t be able to remove one and not the other despite me only owning one of them. I don’t know if this is a shortcoming of the website or the pay level. As I said the database is very extensive. Another good feature is a one click link to all annual related to an ongoing series. The information provided for each issue is on point. You get a fairly decent sized cover picture plus all of the following: publisher, cover date, cover price, writer, artist, cover artist, any first appearances and a full price guide for raw issues that go from Fair 0.5 to Gem Mint 10.0. Two major drawbacks are that when you add a certain issue it marks you down automatically as owning a Near Mint 9.4. On Bronze you can’t change this. This wouldn’t be a big deal but at the top of the ‘Your Comics’ section it has a running total of number of comics in your collection and a running total of their valuation… I imagine this would be a good feature on the Golden Age price plan. It also gives you a percentage breakdown of your collection by publisher. Personally with the Bronze plan I don’t see the point in using the ‘want’ list as you would have to remove them when you bought them and then add them to the ‘have’ list. What is wrong with a good old fashioned hard copy of your want list? The good thing about Zapkapow is that you don’t need to be going through your long boxes as your adding issues. It is a simple process of search by titles and clicking a few buttons. You could argue this takes a lot of the fun out of cataloging your collection and depending on the size of your collection you may want eyes on the physical items to double check additions. Because the ‘mass +’ is easier to use it would be better to let your collection build up, out on some tunes and go through a big batch of adds in one afternoon.

On the site there a few other useful features. More aimed at the serious collector there is a ‘Trending’ section for the top 50 trending series of the week. The ‘updates’ section is again 50 books that have moved in price whether up or down in the last week. Lastly there is a ‘random’ section. I don’t quite get the point of this. It says it is for discovering new titles. But as the issues don’t tell you anything about the story you aren’t going to discover anything from a new reader point of view. Zapkapow, at the Bronze Age price plan, ticks a lot of boxes so it gets a solid:

**** 4/5

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