Introduction to Comics

Welcome to another contribution by CBG to the enlightenment of comics fans. My name is Chuck Rozanski, and I'm the president of Mile High Comics, Inc. For the past 31 years I've been selling comics to fans all over the world. During that time I have had more than my share of adventures, and have come away from it all with an abiding love of the world of comics. I am quite proud of my position as a leading comics retailer, and have no desire to move on from my current role. I view acting as an intermediary between the publishers, and comics fans around the world, as a sacred trust, and I derive great satisfaction from knowing that I have helped so many people with their collections.

That having been said, my lifetime in the world of comics has not been without controversy. I have never been hesitant to speak my mind, and have (without much effort) seemingly made a career out of offending the powers-that-be in the comics industry by exposing their frequent foibles. I have also, on occasion, been a lightening rod for criticism from some comics fans due to my leadership role in raising prices on selected back issue comics, frequently to many times the pricing levels printed in esteemed "Price Guides." Taking my base of antipathy even further, I have also offended many of my fellow comics retailers by taking positions that advocate a strengthening of the comics industry by promoting the interests of large comics retailers, usually at the expense of our smaller brethren.

With that kind of track record in public relations, you would think that I would be the last person in the world that the editors of CBG would pick to write a new column on trends within the world of collectible comics. There are a couple of compelling factors, however, that make me the right person for the job. The first is that, while I have never hesitated to step on toes, I have always tried to be scrupulously honest in my opinions. If that meant offending good friends in high places in order to speak the truth, I have always let honesty win out over personal concerns. This has held true even when I've had to admit mistakes of my own, or that of my staff. You almost certainly will not always like the opinions that I express in this column, but they will always be truthful to the best of my knowledge, and written from the heart.

Another important consideration in my being selected to write this column is that I own the largest operating database of fixed price back issue comics sales in the world. Since the age of 14, when I ran my first ads in ROCKET'S BLAST COMIC COLLECTOR, I have been a mail order comics dealer. Starting in 1996, I converted my mail order comics company into MileHighComics.com, and have subsequently quintupled our overall back issue sales. The database that facilitates and tracks those sales will be the primary source of sales information that will be revealed each week in this column.

So what kind of data will I be providing you? Primarily the raw sales data that we analyze internally each week to determine our online pricing trends. In particular, we're looking for books that are selling well, or that are being frequently requested through our online "Want List" program. I think that seeing these trends in advance will give you quite a leg up on your peers by revealing to you patterns that it might take years for the "Price Guides" to notice.

One thing to bear in mind is that our internal goal at Mile High Comics is to maintain and expand the largest online inventory of back issue comics available anywhere in the world. This is a much more difficult process than it would first appear, as it requires that we continuously analyze sales trends, so that we can maximize the revenue we derive from our existing inventory. That revenue, in turn, is what allows us to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year buying comics at conventions all around the country. Those dollars need to be spent very efficiently, so we're engaged in a continual exercise to determine which back issue comics have gained or lost in popularity in any given week, and adjust our prices accordingly. The purpose of this column will be to reveal to you as much of that previously proprietary information as possible, so you, too, can make informed choices when purchasing back issue comics.

My final point for this first column is to emphasize that the prices that I will be reporting are convenience prices. Buyers who come to a fixed-price seller, such as Mile High Comics, are frequently fans for whom reliability and ease of purchase are their primary concerns. As such, they are willing to pay a premium to avoid the hassle of searching for issues missing from their collections from less reliable, or under stocked alternatives. Those of you who are more willing to take on the challenges of ferreting out comics at lower prices will no doubt succeed, as there are many alternatives, including small retailers and online auctions, where many back issue comics can be purchased for prices that are a small fraction of our list prices. The fact remains, however, that for a certain segment of the comics collecting community, that paying fixed prices is a preferred alternative. I will be reporting price trends within that specific collecting population. While the prices may be different within other sales alternatives, I think that you will find, nonetheless, that the trends I report are a constant.

I'll be back next week with the specific topic of discussing Comics Guarantee Corporation, and the effect that slabbing comics has had on the pricing of issues from "pedigree" comics collections.

Please send your e-mails to chuck@milehighcomics.com, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221



Next
Tales From the Database



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