Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hmmm, That's Odd

As I said yesterday, I have no strong desire to read, buy, sell, or even think about comic books. It's to the point where I was actually dreading the inevitable drive to Mile High Comics after work to pick up this week’s batch. Sure, okay, that makes sense. I’m burned out, so I can see why that drive would seem more like a burden than it would an exciting excursion.

So why the hell was I bummed when I found out the holiday pushed back this week’s books to Thursday? While I wasn’t looking forward to going to the comic shop, was I somehow secretly excited about it at the same time? Do I have some sort of pain/pleasure fetish I wasn’t aware of?

Either way, it really doesn’t make any sense. I could understand it if there was a book I was particularly looking forward to, but aside from the new Liberty Meadows, I'm not interested in any of the comics I plan to buy this week (which is an interesting thought in an of itself). Hell, now that I've seen the cover 100 times, I'm not even that excited about Liberty Meadows.

I’m perhaps more confused about my collecting habits right now than I’ve been since I started this blog. I’ve come to accept my desire to hunt and gather. And I can almost comprehend the insatiable need to buy something only to put it in a box. But having mixed emotions about heading to the comic shop? That’s a new one even for me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Crispy Collector

I have a stack of unread comics at least four inches tall. I have 12 trade paperbacks and graphic novels I’m yet to read. I have several football cards on my bookcase waiting to be encased in plastic and placed next to their brothers in my closet. I have three unanswered emails from artists interested in doing a commission for me. On top of that, I’ve spent less than 10 minutes on eBay in the last week, haven’t stepped inside a bookstore in two weeks, and my visits to comic news sites have dwindled to one a day in which I read nothing more than headlines.

Ladies and gentlemen, consider this collector burned out.

It’s a new feeling for me. With so many different things to collect, it’s hard to imagine a time when I’d be equally uninterested in all of them. Yet here I am. Right now I’m completely indifferent about my collections. I’m not motivated to buy, sell, or enjoy. As far as I’m concerned, as of right now I’m no longer a collector.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ll be back in the game in no time. And if the past is any indication, when I’m back into it, I’ll be back into it hard. But for now, it’s hard to imagine that time. And just like I have no idea what triggered this mood, I have no way of telling what will trigger the change that I know is coming.

So for now, I’m just going to sit back and…and I don’t know what else. What do most normal people do when they’re not buying something for their collection, selling something from their collection, or thinking about buying or selling? I guess I’m about to find out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I still can’t believe what happened Sunday. Honestly, it feels like I just lost a pet. There’s this hollow feeling inside. But I’m not sure what’s making me more confused and sad, the fact that I lost two important auctions, or the fact that I spent $38 on the one I did win. I mean, how can I spend $38 on a Nick Collins card but lose a rare Walker and Favre?

I think maybe I need to see a counselor.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two Time Loser

Well crap! A few days ago I was all giddy about the prospect of crossing three more Packers football cards off of my list, and now I’m moping around the house, still completely stunned at the way things went down.

All three auctions were scheduled to end Sunday afternoon, so I left my mom’s birthday celebration early and rushed home, telling my wife to weave between traffic...time was too short to be waiting for these suckers driving the speed limit. Before the car was in park in the garage, I had zoomed inside and logged into eBay to check the first auction. It had 15 minutes to go and it was still only at $2.25. Whew. Plenty of time. And because I was ready to bid $28, I knew that was enough for a Javon Walker card, even if it was limited to only 10.

With 10 seconds left, I typed in my bid, clicked the button, leaned back, mentally crossing the card off my list. But wait. That doesn’t say congratulations. That says…what does it say? The experience was so new, so unexpected that it took me valuable heartbeats to figure out that I hadn’t won the auction. Instead, the screen was telling me that I was outbid. And those precious moments I spent trying to decipher the meaning behind the words may have cost me the card. I tried to up my bid, but it was too late. The auction had expired. I hadn’t given myself enough time to re-bid.

I couldn’t believe what just happened. I sat there in shock for several minutes, speechless, still not comprehending what went wrong. I actually just lost an auction. Amazing.

These cards come along too rarely to let another slip through my fingers, so I vowed then and there that I would never lose another one. And I would get my first test in only 16 minutes, this time with a much more valuable Brett Favre jersey card.

Despite my previous loss only happening moments before, I saw myself letting the seconds remaining tick down to 20. What was I doing? I have to bid quicker in case I was outbid. How could I forget that valuable lesson? So typed in my bid as fast as I could, and this time I was rewarded with the congratulations notice. But wait. What have I done? There’s still one second left. Oh shit. I clicked refresh and saw my life flash before my eyes as the blood red text appeared: You have been outbid! That’s bullshit. You mean to tell me in that one second, some asshole swooped in and won my card? That bastard!

I moved around the house in a daze for the next two hours, unable to comprehend pretty much anything. I was just so damn confused.

“I think I just lost an auction,” I said to Stephanie. “Two actually.”

“That sucks,” she said with no more emotion then she would’ve shown had I said we were out of twist ties.

Didn’t she hear me? I said I had lost not one auction, but two. Armageddon was upon us, didn’t she recognize that?

Lucky for me I still had one more auction to attend to. In my mind, I was guaranteed a win. And how do you guarantee a win? You bid more than the card is worth. And bid I did.

And I won. I won a Nick Collins card for $38. “Who’s Nick Collins?” Good question. Perhaps an even better one would be, “Why did you just spend $38 on one of his cards?”

Friday, May 19, 2006

This Bugs the Hell Out of Me

So I’m reclining on my desk chair, surprisingly relaxed after a terrible day at work, my feet up on the desk for prime comfort. I’m reading my nearly perfect copy of Possible Side Effects, opening the book just enough to read most of the words without craning my neck, the spine so tight the end boards feel like a spring loaded trap pushing against my hands. The cover is encased in shiny, smooth BroDart. The pages are bright white. The corners sharp. In other words, the book is gorgeous.

While enjoying the second essay, I notice a tiny brown speck the size of a needle point on the outside edge of the pages. It’s tiny. Smaller even than the one defect I noticed when I bought the book. So I hold the book gently and blow, making sure no moisture escapes my mouth. Satisfied, I return to the story. But no, my gust of breath didn’t dislodge that piece of lint. So I try again.

Damn it. Still there. I’m no longer relaxed. I can’t focus on the story. All I can see is that brown speck that ruins the beautiful white landscape of those pages.

It’s time to pull out the heavy artillery. Ever so lightly, I brush my finger along the edge of the page, knowing just a tiny amount of pressure could spell doom for the book’s luster.

I recognize my mistake instantly. My heart sinks. My eyes bulge. That tiny dot wasn’t a piece of dust or lint after all. It was the world’s smallest bug. And bugs have blood inside. And damn it, blood smears! And now, in one moment of poor decision making, there’s another flaw staring at me like an open wound.


Not 24 hours after sweating profusely trying to find the perfect one, my copy of Possible Side Effects stumbles from the ranks of the near perfect and now rests with thousands of others in the “severely flawed” category.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One

Stephanie and I went to another book signing last night, this time to hear Augusten Burroughs read from his new memoir, Possible Side Effects. The place was already packed by the time we got there, so we had to sit three rows from the back. And unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to find a copy of the book. So before the author showed up I scurried to the stack of books in the front. Instead of going through my usual routine of scrutinizing all 100 copies, I simply grabbed three and scampered back to my seat, somehow ashamed of myself, feeling the eyes of the entire audience boring into me as if they knew I was looking for a perfect copy and hated me for it.

All three of the books I had picked were minty fresh, but given the fact that I had the next 90 minutes to hold and inspect them, I found the most minute defects to complain about. Almost imperceptible to the naked eye, the tiny ding on the flap on the book I chose was driving me crazy. It was to the point where it was almost hard to pay attention to the author. So when the autograph line moved us to the front and the stack of copies, I couldn’t resist looking through the rest.

And look I did. After studying the binding, the spine’s tightness, and the entire dust jacket of eight different copies, I decided enough was enough. The book I had was acceptable. More than acceptable. It was one tiny imperfection away from being flawless. I could live with that.

Yep, I could live with it, just like you can live with a throbbing headache. The next five minutes were torture. The author sat a few feet from me, about to sign my book. Yet behind me, only just now out of reach, were the rest of the copies I hadn’t looked through. And I just knew that I was about to have Augusten Burroughs sign the second nicest copy in the story. Argh!

I finally stepped in front of Burroughs and handed him my books. Once he signed my inferior copy, all was fine with the world. What was done was done. That tiny imperfection was now mine for all eternity.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One in a Million

I’m a sucker for cool covers. I’ve bought my fair share of comic books just to have that cover in my collection. Heck, I have a full box of comics I’ve never read (the bulk of those featuring covers by Frank Cho or Adam Hughes). I don’t care that I never read them. I’m not buying them for the stories; I’m buying them for the glorious art that graces the cover.

Even with my addiction to cool covers, I’ve managed to distance myself from the variant craze that’s once again sweeping the comic industry. I’ve picked up a few second prints with sketch covers and the like, and I’m forced to pick the cover I like when a book has more than one cover to choose from. But those don’t really count. These books aren’t produced in limited quantities, and for the most part, they don’t demand higher prices on the secondary market.

No, what I’m talking about are those incentive covers and other rarities. You know, the ones store owners receive if they order 25, 50, 100, or more of a particular issue. I’ve stayed away from these things for several reasons. First, the prices are just crazy. Spending $25 or more for a comic that just came out is ridiculous. Second, most of the covers don’t do anything for me. I’m amazed at how often the variant cover looks worse than the mass-produced version.

I’ll admit to buying one variant. I picked up a copy of the Joe Jusko variant for Captain America 8, but that was strictly to ensure I had every issue in the Ed Brubaker run on the title (of course, since that time I decided to skip the anniversary special, so that excuse went right out the window). Yes, I was a sucker. It’s not particularly rare, it was costly, and let’s face it, it doesn’t look nearly as cool as the covers Steve Epting has been producing. But hey, it made the collector in me happy to say I still had a complete set, so I’m cool with it.

Now, however, I’ve fallen for Red Sonja again. While I was able to stay my hand when it came to the $3 copy of the Tan cover for Red Sonja 6, I’m wondering if I’ll have the same will power for the upcoming Joseph Michael Linsner variant for issue 13. I’m not sure how rare the cover will be, but you can bet it won’t cost $3.

I could handle paying a little extra for a rare cover I really like, as long as it happens infrequently, and as long as I found one in minty fresh condition. I just don’t want to make a habit out of it. If it’s a one time deal, then cool. Consider it a present to the collector in me. But the sickening part is that I’ve been doing research (if you can call searching eBay research) on other variants, research that has landed more than one variant on my watch list.

How does a guy go from considering a Linsner variant that hasn’t been published yet to thinking about picking up past variants from the same title? It makes no sense. Sure, I like those other covers too, but what I’m really doing is laying the ground work to completing a set. If I plan to get the Linsner, why not get all the others too so I can have every one of ‘em?

The interesting thing about my “research” is that I’m proving that buying variants is definitely not a good investment (or rather, since I don’t “invest” in comics, these aren’t a good value). In reality, it’s a waiting game. The longer you wait, the cheaper these issues are. It’s a trap. My brain wants to buy one because of their rarity and potential value, but the fact that they’re selling for less and less should be a red flag, right? Well, it’s not. Instead, I’m salivating at all the bargains. Look at how cheap I can get these really rare comics. D’oh!

What is wrong with me? I took logic class in college, and believe me, there’s not a shred of logic in my argument. What’s worse, it’s the rarity issue that’s driving me out of the football card market. In that arena, sports card values aren’t so much based on the player anymore, they’re based on the rarity of the item. Some Aaron Rodgers rookie cards are going for over $600, and he’s never started an NFL game. It’s ludicrous.

So why am I thinking about diving into this? Oh, that’s right, because of the gorgeous cover, right? But c’mon, look at it. Sure, it’s nice, but is it that special? Red Sonja is half naked, which is a huge selling point, but I have a box of comics with a half naked girl on the cover and they weren’t that expensive. Is this one worth the headache and extra dollars?

So which is it? Is it the cover or the rarity that’s making me consider variants for the first time? Whichever reason I go with, it’s not a valid excuse.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Three Down?

Yes! There are currently no fewer than three Packers cards from my want list on eBay. That’s huge! Sure, I’m more into comics and art right now so it’s hard to get amped up for a piece of cardboard with a picture of a guy on the front, but damn it, crossing three more cards off my list would make me one happy camper (at least for that fraction of a moment when I realize I’ve won the card, then after that it’s back to not caring about cards).

Now I just need to figure out how to manage these bids when I have such a depleted bank account…

Monday, May 15, 2006

Motion Sickness

I was putting away my copy of Uncanny X-Men 472 last night before bed and I thought to myself, “Why am I still reading this garbage?” It’s not that the story was particularly terrible, it’s just that I didn’t care about anything that happened. So yeah, maybe it was terrible. (I’ll admit that I bought the issue because I love Chris Bachalo’s art, and believe me, he didn’t disappoint, but comics are so much more than the art. Well, they should be anyway.)

So naturally I began to wonder, “Am I still reading comics because of the collector’s mentality, or am I actually getting something out of my monthly habit?” Don’t get me wrong, there are some great monthlies out there. Anything Ed Brubaker or Gail Simone or Brian K. Vaughan write is sure to be fantastic. But a lot of the other stuff I buy makes me feel like I’m just going through the motions. Reading the solicitations in Previews and placing an order is more fun than actually reading the books. Hell, putting ‘em in mylar bags and organizing them in my comic boxes is more fun half the time.

I can’t remember the last time I messed myself because a comic was so powerful I couldn’t contain myself. Novels and nonfiction manage to knock my socks off from time to time, but should I expect a similar experience from comics? There are gems out there; I know because I’ve read plenty. So whenever I read a comic that isn’t at that level, a small part of me screams out in pain. I know I can’t expect every issue to be top of the line, but when you’re reading 20 comics a month, a few of them should attain perfection, right?

If I search myself for the truth about why I’m still buying these things, I find two interesting answers hidden under the surface. First, there’s the natural worry that the issue I don’t get is the one that everyone loves. It’s the perfect comic. Not only is it a great read, but its values go through the roof on the secondary market.

In comparison, the second answer I give myself seems to be less important, but the more I evaluate, the more I see that it’s the real motivating factor for why I continue to collect modern comics: I can’t stand the thought of having an incomplete run of any series. The moment I start buying a series, I have to keep buying because once I stop, I’ll no longer have a full, complete set.

Those non-collectors out there might question my sanity. “Let me get this straight. You’re reading comics you don’t particularly enjoy just because you’re worried that if you don’t read it, it’ll be a good story. Or that you won’t have a complete set anymore. Is that right?”

Yep. Crazy, huh? Writing that down makes me realize just how idiotic it all sounds. But it’s true. And when you combine these two aspects of my thought process, they become so overpowering it’s almost crippling. As a matter of fact, my brain is shutting down right now. It’s almost as if thinking on this as much as I have actually triggered a safety mechanism that shuts down my mind so I can’t discover the truth.

Unfortunately, I’ve been here before, and obviously, since I’m still having this inner dialog, I didn’t do anything about it. Maybe now’s time to change that.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Speak to This!

I woke up this morning saying to hell with finding art that speaks to me. Some comic art just looks wicked cool, and a little eye candy is just what a person needs. So screw it, I’m off to buy more art. And based on this commissions thread over at the Collector’s Forum, there are some nice commissions to be had if you’re willing to pay the price…and for now, I think I am.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You Gotta Feel It

I had the most enlightening email conversation with my buddy today. I spent a few hours this morning researching original comic art, but I felt this urge to share some of my thoughts with someone else. So I asked Jason—a fellow collector who has the oddest predilection toward buying DVDs—what he thought of the style Richard Friend is toying with on his blog.

Jason seemed a little hesitant, but it was obvious he didn’t dig it that much. So I emailed him a link to Friend’s Padme piece, telling him that the artist has a more traditional style too. I was even considering getting him do a commission for me of Dejah Thoris.

That’s when Jason admitted to not being a fan of most of the art I’ve shown him in the last year. “Honestly, most of what you send isn't very interesting to me because (don't take this the wrong way) I'm not interested in comic art outside the comic page. I can appreciate good sequential art in a comic as I read, but displayed on a wall or gallery...naaah, just doesn't do it for me. I like my art to evoke a certain response and a standalone idea. It should be self-contained rather than feeling as if it's yanked from a whole.”

Jason told me he likes darker imagery, often with a blend of the erotic and the horrific. Sure, he likes beautiful women as much as the next guy, but he wants his art to be a standalone image that really speaks to him, and comic art doesn’t do it. He shared an image by John Bolton (above) that is particularly powerful for him.

That’s when I began to realize why I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Frazetta. For me, his imagery evokes the feeling of adventure. Of heroes and villains and damsels in distress. Those are the same feelings a good piece of comic art will give me.

Jason was right when he mentioned that the art needs to do more than just look good. You have to feel something. It has to work for you on a deeper level, not just on the surface. Sure, some comic art has touched me emotionally, but most has done so only in the context of the story. Maybe having that piece on my wall won’t have the same meaning.

Granted, a lot of the art I’ve purchased in the last year means something to me on a totally different level because I met the artist or have interacted with him for an interview or whatever. So that aspect will always be important to me. And you can bet that I’ll buy art from any graphic novel I’m a part of, either as an editor or as a writer.

But when I buy art just to buy art, my conversation with Jason will be a very important key for me. Am I considering this piece just because I like the style? Or the artist? Or the subject matter? If so, I should reconsider. Because if there’s no emotional attachment, I don’t think it’ll be important to me years down the line. I would never buy art I didn’t like, but now, maybe it’s time to step it up a notch and only buy those pieces that really have an emotional impact for me.

Sure, this new thinking might just be my brain’s way of tricking me into spending more money on my next piece, but even so, I’m glad to be thinking along this line. It might keep me from buying some art in the near future, but that’s okay. As far as collecting goes, quality is always more important than quantity.

For those interested, I've posted a thread on this subject in the Collector's Society forums.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Moving On

This morning I caught myself jotting down names of artists I’m interested in having create me a Dejah Thoris commission. That’s right, not 24 hours after posting about how I don’t have the money to actually pay for all the comics I bought, not a week after being so into graded comics that I spent $400 in one day, and not a month after being so into first edition books that I thought I’d never need any other collectible, I found myself researching artists who might create a one-of-a-kind piece of art for me.

Good grief. It’s madness. But unlike what G.I.Joe says, knowing is not half the battle. And if it is, it’s the easy half. The fact that I know my interests have already changed doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’m officially hooked on original comic art again, and right now all I can do is get my fix. Either that or struggle through days of denial until the next phase sets in.

I’ve resisted the temptation for about six hours so far, but every time I’ve ventured online I quickly found myself in one original art site or another. I tell myself that looking around so much actually satisfies my needs, as if seeing what others own somehow curbs my impulses. What a crock. Window shopping does nothing but make your desires grow.

I’ve resisted so far, but it’s been a battle. And let’s face it, the temptation is nowhere near its peak. The need will only get worse. As will the debates that go on in my head. The voices will battle it out all day, weighing the pros and cons to the point where I can’t sleep. The rest of the time I’ll be online, researching artists and costs and turnaround times, or talking to other collectors to get their opinions, anything to make my decision easier. But all that’ll do is give me a headache.

Yep, resistance is futile. As of 8 a.m. this morning, I’m an original comic art collector once again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

And for My Next Performance…

I’m in the middle of a death defying juggling act that has the collector in me licking his chops with excitement and cowering in the corner with dread. I have three fairly large comic deals in the works and only enough money in the bank to cover one of them. That in and of itself isn’t such a bad thing since I can spread out payment without being too much of a burden on the sellers. But when you factor in the fact that I’m jonesin’ to buy that $70+ X-Men Omnibus, well, then you get a hint at my despair.

And don’t get me started on the other great deals I’ve spotted in the last few eBay watch list is reaching maximum capacity.

At this point, I can’t even use my tried and true Mark-to-Market style of collecting: I’m out of options on things to sell. Sure, I have plenty I could move, but I’d have to start cutting into those collectibles I really enjoy. And let’s face it, it’s next to impossible making that decision. Will the one I want bring me greater joy than the one I already have? It’s like deciding which of your children you’re willing to sacrifice. (Okay, let’s not get out of hand here. We’re talking comics and football cards, not kids. So yeah, this is a much more difficult decision.)

At this point I’m starting to feel like a company about to stumble into chapter 7 bankruptcy. First I need to consider those debts I already have and factor in their importance. Second, I need to ponder the possibilities that might open up by spending money elsewhere, as if the future is in the palm of my hands if I make that right decision.

You’d think some of these decisions would be easy for me by now. Hell, I could just read some of my blog entries and supposedly have the answer. For example, buying that X-Men Omnibus today does what exactly? I don’t have any BroDart, so I won’t be opening the book or reading it for at least a month. Look what happened when I had to buy that Fantastic Four Omnibus. Good God, it’s still in its shrink-wrap. So I should be able to strike that from my list, right?

Wrong. Instead my mind works double time factoring in the other elements of that transaction. For example, if I don’t buy it now, I run the risk of In Stock Trades running out of copies. This would mean I’d end up spending extra money in the long run because all other sellers charge shipping fees.

Is saving $8 to $10 in shipping worth the repercussions of delaying those other transactions a day, a week, a month? I have no idea. And to be completely honest, part of me doesn’t even care. I’ve lost interest in those others. It’s almost as if my mind has tricked me into believing I already have all of those comics. And any hardcore collector understands when I say that I’m beginning to look past them and on to the next hunt. So although I was excited beyond belief when I found that Amazing Spider-Man 265, right now, it’s completely off the radar. Well, except for that minor detail called payment. But is that insignificant stumbling block really worth potentially missing out on that next exciting purchase?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Holy Cow! What Did I Sell?

I got back from Moab to learn that the Ex Machina set I had for sale on eBay sold for $122. Say what? Nineteen modern comics plus a second print variant for that kind of cash? Doesn’t make any sense. That’s more than triple the final price of any other set.

My immediate reaction was, “Yes! Now I can buy more books.” But after I had a moment to reflect, my thoughts soured. Had I just unknowingly sold some crazy cool collectible that I assumed was worthless? Maybe that sketch cover was some sort of rare commodity that would’ve sold for more had I just sold it by itself? Worse yet, what if the buyer thought he was getting something else? I didn’t mislead in my auction listing, but what if I labeled my set incorrectly?

I don’t know what to think. It’s possible that my previous feedback (which mentions just how great my packaging ability is) helped raise the value of my auction, but not to that level. No, something else must be going on. But regardless of what happened, I mailed the books, and now I await word from the buyer. Will he be excited or disappointed? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

One More for the Road

One last post before I head to Moab for the weekend…

I had one final discussion with my wife last night about the differences between my purchase of a few $100 comic books and her $100 spent on a haircut. She pointed out that she goes to that extreme only three times a year, whereas I spent a whole year’s worth of haircuts in one afternoon. She spreads out her $300 spending, while I leave the door open to more and more expenditures.

I tried to tell her that there will be no potential return on her investment. I, on the other hand, can one day sell my books. Sure, I might never be able to recoup my costs, but at any time, I can turn around and get at least some of my money back.

Awhile later, after reading my last couple of blog entries on the subject, she couldn’t resist pointing out that my purchases are hidden away in a box upstairs. “Your comics are hermetically sealed and un-viewable while my glorious hair can be enjoyed daily by everyone I encounter!”

Hard to argue with that.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

You Can’t Wash Clothes with Comic Books

Is there some unwritten rule I don’t know about that ensures things go wrong the second you spend your money on something frivolous?

The appliance repairman just spent 30 minutes in our home and left with a $70 check. His verdict? We’d be better off buying a new washer/dryer set than paying him to fix the old one. Now that’s money well spent. He said he could probably fix it for $400, but if his solution didn’t solve the problem, we’d be out that money and still wouldn’t have a washing machine that worked properly. Wonderful!

Those comics I ordered suddenly aren’t looking as cool as they once did.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I’ll Take "Haircuts vs. Comics" for $100, Alex

Stephanie and I were relaxing on the couch Sunday night watching a pretty boring film. It didn’t really keep our attention for long and we started having little snippets of conversation to drown out the dialog on screen. Naturally, our conversation eventually switched to my recent comic book purchase. It didn’t stay there for long, though.

”You spent $300 on comics you can’t even read? That doesn’t make any sense,” she said, feigning renewed interest in the film. I just gave a half-hearted laugh, trying to avoid the touchy subject.

Of course, the collector in me had to have his say. “Yeah, but they’re really nice copies. Almost perfect,” I said.

She turned to me and said, “I can’t talk to you about this anymore.” She’s been saying that a lot lately. At least she was more confused than upset (I hope).

A few moments later the characters in the film were talking about getting their hair done at an expensive salon. I turned to Stephanie and asked, “When was the last time you paid $100 for a hair cut?”

She stared at the ceiling, trying to pull the date out of her mind’s filing cabinet. I made it easier on her and asked an easier question. “Have you ever paid more than $100 for a hair cut?”

“You mean cut and color?”

It was my turn to roll my eyes and turn away confused. I began to wonder if now would be a bad time to tell her I just won a gorgeous copy of John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 for $80. I decided against it, figuring that the fact it was Frank Miller’s first Marvel work probably wouldn’t help my cause much.