LET'S LEVEL WITH LEE!

By Lee Hester, owner of Lee's Comics of California.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

OSCAR SEASON!


One more photo from Wonder Con, on the right it's award winning photographer and bon vivant Oscar Benjamin, spotted with an unknown female on left.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CATS THAT LOOK LIKE HITLER


This is my sister-in-law Barbara's cat, Pooty.

Of course, I don't call him Pooty, I call him "Schickelgruber", or "the F├╝hrer".

Barb let me know about a website called: Cats that Look Like Hitler.
They call them "Kitlers".

Saturday, March 14, 2009

RUSH HOUR

There is a new Website that allows you to post a quick automated apology to Rush Limbaugh.

It should prove to be quite a time saver for busy Republicans.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

BUY! BUY! BUY!



This is a follow-up post to my previous item about the "wisdom" of comic book retailers that no longer engage in the business of buying and selling back issues.

Sometimes the fates come along to help buttress my argument. Today was an example of this.

As it happens, today I had the good fortune to buy the original owner comics collection pictured above. Most of them are from World War 2 era. They are wonderful golden age books, and it's a real pleasure to have them. These are the books that made America great, put the Axis on the run, and won the war for the Allies. Looking at these will make your pulse quicken whether you collect comics or just read them.

The most amazing thing about these books from a preservation standpoint is that they all have white paper, even though they are seventy years old. If you are a collector, you know how truly rare that is. Comics books, until recently were printed on newsprint, and were made to last only a month 'till the next issue came out. To see fresh looking 70 year old comics is truly shocking. It's rare that I get to buy original owner collections this nice, so it's always a treat for me.

By original owner, I mean that they were all bought by the same person or family, and they were kept together and never re-sold until today. I am very fond of original owner collections because they have not been displayed by dealers before, so they have bright, vivid, and glossy covers

I'll be pricing and scanning these comics over the weekend. They should be on sale in the stores, and on my online store by Monday. I won't be turning away books like this, until I'm pushing daisies.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BYE BYE BACK ISSUES

I just read a very entertaining article by a comics dealer who is eliminating back issues from his store.

I disagree with his premise, but I found the article and comments thought provoking. His main qualm with back issues seems to be that they encourage the viewing of comics as collectables. Not necessarily so. Most of our back issues are cheap reading which costs less than a new comic!

Also, I think of the great independent record stores such as Amoeba records and Rasputin. They carry new stuff, cheap stuff, and collectors items all in one store. Every department seems to do well, and they have survived and thrived where new only record stores like Tower Records have gone under. When I go to an independent record store, I buy from all categories. I don't want to limit myself, and I certainly don't want to limit my own customers. It amazes me how so many otherwise progressive retailers paint themselves into a corner by turning their back on profitable product lines.

The really neat thing about back issues, is that as a dealer you can buy them for your own price. They can be very profitable if done correctly.

Lee's Comics will continue to carry back issues. We will continue to make an offer on just about any collection. It might not be a LOT of money, but you will get an offer (unless it's REALLY bad!)

Here's a hypothetical question. You are a dealer. You don't carry back issues. You don't buy back issues at all from customers. Someone brings in a low grade, unrestorerd Amazing Fantasy #15 valued at $2,000. They are willing to sell it for $1,000. You know you could sell it within 3 days and make a 1,000 profit.

If so, you DO buy and sell back issues, you are just very selective about what you buy.
If not, you are turning down ready profit in hard times.

I will keep selling back issues.
They help keep me in business.

I also like to have a vast selection of New Comics and Graphic Novels. I don't mind selling comics supplies, toys, T-shirts and novelties. I am all in favor of expanded choices, rather than diminished ones.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WATCHING THE WATCHMEN



I arrived at the parking lot of Eastridge Shopping Center in San Jose on Friday at 9:00 am. I wanted to see the first theatrical showing of Watchmen. After all the hype and hoopla, I wanted to see it before anyone had a chance to color my judgement with their appraisal.

I hadn't been to this shopping center many times before. I had never driven there on my own, only as a passenger. When I reached the sprawling center at that hour, it looked like a huge, vacant warehouse. I parked right up in front of where I presumed the theatre entrance was. There were only one or two cars in the parking garage. The structure looked vast and seedy. It probably looked better when it was filled with cars. Without the cars, you could see all the wear, trash, cracks in the pavement, weeds growing through the cracks, and painted over graffiti.

I made my way to the entrance, and walked inside. The place was empty, but the lights were on. The stores hadn't opened yet. That was going to happen in an hour. Theoretically. For now, I felt like I was in the middle of "Dawn of the Dead", the zombie movie that takes place in a shopping mall. I just looked it up online to fact check. Here's a fun fact that I found, and I should have known. Zack Snyder, the director of Watchmen directed a re-make of Dawn of the Dead in 2004. Walking around in a vacant mall is the perfect way to warm up for a Zack Snyder picture.

I've never been to an early showing. Not this early at least. The show was scheduled to start at 9:45. There was not a soul waiting at the Theatre. The gates were closed. I killed some time walking around the mall. I saw some very nice super-hero hats on display at a hat place. I checked out the Gacha Ball kiosks and compared the selection with my own.

Finally I wandered in to see the movie at 9:30 am. The following contains spoilers, do don't blame me if you read anyway.

The movie starts over very handsomely with a montage of previous events. This is done quite artfully and it sets a nice tone for the movie. This film is beautiful to behold. There are many scenes in this film that defy expectations for a costumed super-hero film. At the same rate, there is plenty of action to please fans of this genre. Generally, things are tastefully done, and the Rorschach, Comedian, and Dr. Manhattan characters are very well played.

The opinions on this movie seem split. I think it's a better film than 300. I normally don't like Super-Hero movies. You might say that this is not a super-hero movie. There is much to like about this film. Perhaps I benefited by not having a very fresh memory of the series. The last time I read it was twenty years ago. I do remember it wall enough to note that the filmmakers changed the ending, but I don't recall any other changes. There were probably a bunch. I wonder if some of the people that didn't like the film were comparing it to the comic series. I believe that a movie should stand on it's own merits, just like a book or comic book should. This film held my attention, and I would like to see it again some time. I give it 3 out of 4 stars. Definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

HBO STRIP CLUBS

If you watch HBO programs like the Sopranos or The Wire, you will notice an establishment that I call the HBO strip club. That is a place where characters meet to talk. Nobody ever looks at the women who are in the background, moving lethargically on stage.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

THE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

Here is the official Republican response to Obama's ambitious new agenda:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

BULLSEYE

Sometimes only satire can fully explain an issue. Here John Stewart scores a bullseye.
Stocks sliding? Banks failing? Who could have forseen THAT coming? NOT CNBC.

THAT'S ARMAGEDDON

Here's a little video that pretty much encapsulates what's happening to the economy right now.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

CHANGE PARTNERS

I'm a big fan of Frank Sinatra's singing. My favorite period is the albums that he did at Capitol records during the 1950s. Some of my favorite material from the 1960s is his work with Brazil's greatest songwriter, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Here is a live rendition of a medley of songs from their great 1966 album "Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim." Sinatra alters his style to suite the songs, without losing his unique directness and storytelling skills.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

SOME KIND OF WONDER CON

Well, I'm finally rested up, and have enough time to do a 2009 Wonder Con report. Setting up a booth at a large, multi-day convention is an exhausting endeavor, even if you are fit and active like I try to be.

It was well worth the effort, though. Friday and Saturday were like having two extra shipment days. Some time ago (as explained in greater detail in past postings) I decided to diversify our convention stock as to appeal to the greatest number of attendees as possible. That strategy paid off handsomely this time. Everything sold great! We had this week's new comics, bargain books and toys, 'Toon Tumblers, Pure Hero Shirts, Posters, Buttons, Stickers, old two dollar comics on a vintage spinner, half-price statues, and some new toys that we got from Diamond on consignment.

The only departments that didn't do so well were the wall and bin comics. This may have been due to the fact that they were set off to the back of the booth a bit. I did take time to poll many of the back issue dealers. Most of them said that sales were down, or disappointing.

While I was at the show, I tried to put my ebay store on vacation. That stops the sales from going through until I get back. The reason I did this, is that I didn't want to sell something online that had sold at the convention. I got back online a couple of days later, and found that I had sold a bunch of stuff on my ebay store! What the heck was going on? I finally figured out what happened. Putting your store on vacation only makes the ebay store items go on hold. For the last several months, I put new items up at a fixed price "buy it now" listing. None of those listings were put on hold.

Now here's the funny thing: I sold more vintage comics on my ebay store, that I had tried to shut down, than I did at the convention! We still did okay with vintage comics at the show, but I'm glad that they are not my primary focus like in years gone by, or I might be singing the blues right now.

Several times during the show I tried to walk around, but could not do so because the isles were crammed with people. It was a human traffic jam, and you could not get anywhere, so I just went back to my booth. I noticed that the isles where they were selling comic books had plenty of room to move around in. It was those other items, the non-comic book items, that appealed to the big crowds at the show.

Friday and Saturday were very busy. Sunday saw lots of people, but they were mostly looky-loos. The sales slowed down considerably on Sunday.

Anyway, it was a successful event for this dealer. It's particularly satisfying, especially in these uncertain times. That's the financial angle. From a personal standpoint, I always enjoy seeing old friends, business associates, and favorite creators. Now for a few photos.


Here's me, Ryan, and Mark. It's Friday, and we are set up and ready to go.


Here's one of my favorite booths. They sell a bunch of nutty Anime style hats. I brought plenty of people by that booth.


Here's the folks lining up to get in.


Here's my friend David Mack, creator of Kabuki.


Our buttons were a big hit.


This chap was the voice of Charlie Brown in the 1980s. He was fun to talk to.


I saw this gal in her great Polaris costume, and it immediately made me think of one of my favorite comic covers of all time. It's X-Men #50, by the great Jim Steranko. I got her and her friends to interpret the cover in tribute.


Here's the cover to X-Men #50, to compare.


Here's my 6 foot 7 son, "Little Lee", and his girlfriend Christina. I bought a hat for her from the aforementioned funny hat place. My son helped out on Saturday and Sunday, and was a great help to me.


Here are my long time friends, Richard and Wendi Pini, creators of Elfquest.


Here's another fantastic costume. It's Steve Ditko's Creeper. I was a big fan of the character, and enjoyed seeing this unique costume.


My son must have took this one. It's an outstanding shot of Zatanna.


This one was really great. It was not a mask, and you could see her eyes.

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Imagine a World with no comic books. Not worth living.

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