A series of posts from my old Marvel.com blog, these outlining a game I played where I attempted to get a copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #1 by trading with fans on the site, beginning with five junk comics that I happened to have. I’m not going to subject you to all of these posts and updates, but I did actually get a FANTASTIC FOUR #1–and it and all of the books that remained in the trading stack at that time were donated to the Hero Initiative, who made a few thousand dollars auctioning them off. And a good time was had by all.
I?ve been thinking about one of the lost arts of our industry: trading.
Time was, in days of yore, just about every comic book published was traded. When comics were first invented, at the tail end of the depression, because most kids didn’t have much disposable income, they’d buy a comic, then trade it with a friend after they were done reading it. Some publishers even inflated their readership figures using this model, estimating that six kids read each issue for every one purchased.
Most every old comic book dealer has a sign that says: Buying, Selling, Trading. But when was the last time you saw one trading? To each other, I suppose, rotating inventory between shops in different geographic locations. But seldom with a customer.
Trading, swapping, was one of the fun elements of being a comic book reader. It was about being able to get something beyond that single purchase. It was social interaction. It was a crash-course in supply and demand theory and the art of haggling. And it was a great way to build your collection in a time when there was no ebay, no national comic conventions, no comic book stores.
So I’m inspired. And I?m thinking, an experiment. A grand, swapping experiment. It’s about to be a new year, let’s see where this whole swapping idea can carry us.
I’m wondering if, simply by building a collection through swapping, I can get to the point where I’ve got a copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #1, the comic that started the Marvel revolution. Given a year’s time, I’d like to see if this is possible. There are plenty of copies of FF #1 in existence, and I don’t even need it to be one in terrific shape; it’s the idea of FF #1 that’s important here.
So my plan is this. At the left, you’ll see five comics I’ve gathered from my spinner rack. Just five books that I’ve got lying around. And I’m offering them up for trade. If you’ve got something you’d like to trade of one or more of these books, make me an offer at email@example.com. I’ll evaluate each trade, then make deals as we go, taking your books in exchange for the ones on the site here. All towards the goal of acquiring a FANTASTIC FOUR #1 by the end of 2009.
There are going to be a few rules, of course. Since this is a Marvel website, I think we’ll need to limit our trading to only Marvel books (it’d be pretty embarrassing to show a flight of DC or Image titles here every week.) Also, no money will be involved–this is straight-up swapping. If I agree to a trade, you send me the books in question, and I?ll send you back the books you’ve traded for. If you want anything signed, I’ll be happy to oblige. I’ll also include a CERTIFICATE OF MEANINGLESSNESS. This easily-forged item will certify that the books you’ve received in trade were part of this once-in-a-lifetime experiment (and might therefore qualify to be part of a pedigree collection in years to come.) And once all is said and done, and we get to FANTASTIC FOUR #1 or the end of 2009, I’ll donate whatever my bounty is to the Marvel library, for future generations to enjoy or use for reference.
I’ll post periodic updates as we go (which is good for me, since it’ll give me a theoretically endless supply of blog posts in the coming year), and we’ll see where this takes us.
Let the swap meet begin!
December 28, 2008 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General It’s a very exciting moment here, as we’ve received our first trade offer, from regular blog reader Kyle Latino. Kyle wrote:
Okay, for that 3D-Man (Marvel Premier #35) I’d part with any one or two of the following:
-2001 A Space Odyssey #1
-Black Panther #1 (Kirby’s return)
-Devil Dinosaur #1
-Monsters on the Prowl #12 (featuring Gomdulla the living Pharaoh)
-Mighty Thor #137
These are the Marvel issues that I have in my hanging collection of Kirby works, appropriately named ‘The Source Wall’. I draw artistic inspiration from it when I work on my own comics. Whenever I feel lazy or uncreative I just look at the Source Wall and feel Kirby’s explosive imagination striking my brain with black-dotty energy.
Also, if you want a crayon doodle of Mr. Fish, I’ll toss it in for free! Is that Luke Cage Power Man #29 for trade?
I tried attaching scans of all of them for conditioning appraisal, but it bounced back. ‘Monsters’ is in the worst shape, and has a corner missing on the back. ‘Thor’ is second to worst with so many stress lines. ‘X-Men’ is next with some stress. The rest of them are well taken care of.
I was quick to respond with the following:
Congratulations! You are my first tradee. Well done! Take a bow!
In the spirit of what you’ve offered, and the point of the exercise, I’d like to accept two of the books you described off your hands in trade. After an exhaustive analysis by my crack team of judges (one person with whom I had been I.M.ing when your offer came in), we’d like to swap you the MARVEL PREMIERE #35 for the X-MEN #17 and the BLACK PANTHER #1.
If this seems fine to you, let me know, and send the two books to me at:
417 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
And I’ll get you out the 3-D Man book and the Certificate of Meaninglessness (once I knock one together) just as soon as I’m back in the office and receive your package!
Sorry, I’m afraid the LUKE CAGE #29 isn’t for offer–or, in fact, that I even own a copy, outside of the ESSENTIAL LUKE CAGE volume. But if you’d like to include a crayon drawing, I might be motivated to post it at the blog.
Thanks for trading!
Well, trading frenzy has begun to grip the land in this holiday season, as I’ve just been offered my second trade–a copy of STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI #1 in exchange for the GHOST RIDER 2099 #1. Good times!
Assuming that both of these trades come off, we’ll then have six books in the Trading bank: X-FACTOR #88, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #139, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #42 (coverless), X-MEN #17, BLACK PANTHER #1 and STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI #1!
There have been one or two offers posted in the comments section of the blog, and I’d like to take people up on them–but for sanity’s sake, I need for you to send your offer to firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Having this one central clearing house for trading activity is the only way I’m going to be able to keep it all straight, and not promise the same book to two people.
So sure, I’d take a run of SECRET INVASION #1-8 in exchange for the X-FACTOR #88, and I’d take the two NAMOR issues and the DEADPOOL #3 for the BLACK PANTHER #1 (once it arrives, of course) But I need for you folks to send those offers to the e-mail address. Fair enough?
Also, the preliminary CERTIFICATE OF MEANINGLESSNESS has been designed, and it’s such an instant collectors’ item that, forget the comics–you’re going to want to trade just to be able to get your hands on one of these official beauties! (And it’s been carefully crafted so that any forgeries will be missing that essential ambiance that makes it what it is! So no cheating!)
We’ll shortly go back to actual blog updates with real content, probably after the first of the year, and I’ll just do these little updates once every week or two (or until somebody offers up a FANTASTIC FOUR #1).
But for now, keep trading!
EMERGENCY UPDATE! Spoke too soon! The would-be trader in question doesn’t have a copy of STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI to give! We’re back to square one (or square two at least…)
It’s great to see how many people are getting into the spirit of my little swap meet here. Since my last report, I’ve seen some frantic trading activity:
–In replacement for the elusive STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI #1, I’ve instead been offered THE ‘NAM #1 and MICRONAUTS #53 in exchange for GHOST RIDER 2099 #1.
–I’ve been offered a THOR #156 in trade for the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #139
–I’ll be getting a full run of SECRET INVASION #1-8 in exchange for the X-FACTOR #88
–And once it’s in hand, the ‘NAM #1 will be going out in exchange for the DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL graphic novel.
I’m a little bit surprised that, of the original five books, the one that’s still in my hands is the coverless AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #42. Granted, it’s coverless, but it’s a key issue, and over forty years old, so I thought that surely somebody would make an offer for it. But not so far.
As always, if you’ve got a swap to propose, drop me an e-mail at email@example.com and we’ll see if we can’t make it happen! And every participant also receives a CERTIFICATE OF MEANINGLESSNESS, which is in itself almost worth the price of admission. If all goes as planned, you should be able to see a reproduction of this coveted item over on the left.
Just to sum up, assuming all of the current trades come off as planned, what we’ve currently got in the kitty is: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #42 (coverless), X-MEN #17, BLACK PANTHER #1, MICRONAUTS #53, THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL graphic novel, THOR #156 and SECRET INVASION #1-8. Feels like a step up from where we started to me, and just a little bit closer to that coveted copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #1.
More updates to follow! Keep trading!
It seems like all I do anymore is update folks on my ongoing trading situation–but hey, I’m on vacation at the moment, it’s enough that you’re getting anything at all at this point! Regular service will resume next week.
In the meantime, we’ve seen some additional trading activity–including one situation that I need some help with, as listed below.
But first, the simple updates: in exchange for the DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL graphic novel (which I don’t yet have, and which was offered in trade for the NAM #1, which I don’t yet have–a house of cards indeed!) a kind trader has offered a lot of four books: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #72, #161, #162 and FANTASTIC FOUR #181. Good trade!
For the coverless AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #42 that desperately longed for a home, I’ve been offered a well-read copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #30. Trader Adam Culver also teased me with tales of issues of RAVAGE 2099, but I’m not going to hold him to any of that. Especially since this means that now every single one of the five books I began this grand experiment with has moved on to other owners.
Most crucially, trader Andy French is covetous of the X-MEN #17 we’ve got in the pile. First, let me post Andy’s e-mail:
Let’s see if I’ve got anything you’d like to swap for X-Men 17. I haven’t actually “traded” for comics in YEARS, so don’t have any kind of priceguide type thing, but it looks like X-Men 17 can be had for about $63 on ebay via buy it now in FN condition. I’m also not into the comic grading thing so….if there’s anything you’re interested in let me know and I can send photos.
*”X” – The whole run. This means:
Earth X #0-12,X
Universe X #0-12,X ,preview, FF, Spidey, Cap, Beasts, Omnibus, Iron Men
Paradise X #0-12 ,Xen, Devils, Ragnarok #1-2,A,X
These are all polybagged & boarded since the day I got them so pretty good condition.
That’s 45+ comics, which seem to sell for around $1.50-$5.00 a pop.
Some combination from the following:
*X-Men:The Hidden Years 1-22 (also bagged/boarded/boxed from day 1. Very good condition). It would pain me a little to part with these, but trades are available so I could manage for something equally juicy like this. These look like they sell for $1.75-$4.50.
*Civil War 1-7 (b/b/b day 1)
*X-Factor (1986 series) 1,24 – Hard to say, has some wear. Decent condition.
*Web of Spider-Man (1985?? series) 1 – Slightly better than decent I think.
Let me know if anything looks tempting.
I wrote back to let Andy know that I wasn’t really basing my trading on book value, but instead upon my sense as to whether the books I’d get in trade would bring me closer to the goal of FANTASTIC FOUR #1. But since he offered so much, and in such combination, I thought I’d open it up to the group. So you tell me: should I take Andy up on his offer–and, if so, what should I ask for in exchange? Or should I hold out for a better deal from somebody else? (And if you’re somebody with an interest in X-MEN #17, dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with a better offer would be in your best interests at this stage of the game.)
Once I’ve gotten a sampling of responses, I’ll make a decision, and then update the board again. But that’s where things stand on the first day of 2009!