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the retailer roundtable program

With my fairly recent rekindled passion for comics, I can say that my comic-buying madness is steadily declining. I’m sticking to current titles that I am reading right now, and I am satisfied with that. I am also satisfied with working through the back issues, discontinued series, random issues from the ’90s, and graphic novels that have made themselves into an unread pile (by ‘pile’ I mean bagged and boarded in a neat row inside a box).

I got through my variant cover-collecting itch or did I? At almost 9PM on eBay, the variant cover to The End League issue 1 was about to end with no bids. I remember seeing this same variant at Austin Books with a fifteen-dollar price tag. I didn’t want to spend fifteen bucks on this comic because it was a sketch variant, but I was intrigued that only one-thousand copies of this variant were printed.

I found it on eBay, because I was caught in a web-surfing vortex after enjoying the first issue of The End League, finding out that the second issue was released at the beginning of last month, thinking that I didn’t have it, and checking on eBay for a possible awesome deal (which I know you can never find for current issues). Mad run-on my bad. [As it turns out, I do have the second issue. It was just lost in the pile.]

I put the book on my watch list. It was listed at five dollars with five-dollar shipping. Total, this would be five dollars less (plus tax, which would have been another buck twenty-three) than what it would cost me at Austin Books even though I didn’t really want it. C’mon! I like the title. It’s a variant! Only 1000 copies printed, man! I’m a recovering variantoholic.

I checked on the auction when I ran across one of my eBay reminder emails. At ten minutes ’til the auction’s end, no one had bid on it.

I told myself, “Why not? It’s only ten bucks. A thousand copies printed, rare enough. You read the first issue last night and really liked it. Five less than what Austin Books sells it for!”

I was about to bid on it by placing my max bid to an evil six dollars and sixty-six cents.

Then I reminded myself, “Wait. What if someone else is watching it?”

So I did what every wise eBay buyer does: I set up a snipe.

I’ve won many awesome auctions by sniping. I don’t consider it wrong. If it’s wrong, then why is the option available? In a competitive environment such as an auction, shouldn’t a true winner be allowed to use his knowledge of the available tools in order to win? You may beg to differ, but you probably don’t use or win on eBay as much as I do. Yeah, that sounds inflated but you might wear one pair of shoes and I wear another. OK… moving on.

I set up the snipe. The auction ends. I’m the only bidder. I win The End League 1 in 1000 sketch variant for nine dollars and ninety-ninety cents. Score! On ComicsPriceGuide.com as of today, it’s 9.4 value is fifteen bucks. This must be how Austin Books prices their variants.

I don’t feel guilty about purchasing this, because the IRS approved my e-file and the Benjamins will be depositing soon.

This really wasn’t the point of this post. I just started rambling. Let me get to the point. Go!

The auction’s title had “RRP” in it. I had no idea what that meant, so I googled it and found a very entertaining set of articles by Terrence J. Brady at Movie Poop Shoot called CGC Hall of Shame. They were written during my dormancy from extreme comic-collecting.

I really agree with the guy. People on eBay pay crazy amounts of money for CGC-graded comics. One of the more entertaining discussions in one of his articles was the one about McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 Gold Variant with UPC.

Every CGC Hall of Shame article is great writing that I recommend reading if you’re a total comic geek and understand the idea behind CGC grading. Even though these articles were written four or five years ago, the idea is still strong that buyers on eBay will flush money down the toilet to own a comic in a hard shell with a grade on it.

I can see the reason they’re so popular. The rarity increases based on the fact that an special group analyzed a specific copy of a comic. The comic itself may have hundreds of thousands of copies printed, but to be specially graded by CGC adds that extra touch for the collector. Plus, I’m sure it’s collectors’ bragging rights that are on the table when eBay gets involved.

Read this guy’s stuff even though it’s years old. Like I said, the information is still relevant.

This time for real. I ran across his articles, because I wanted to know what RRP stands for. RRP stands for Retailer Roundtable Program. Brady sums it up here.

Basically, it’s a secret society gathering that DC puts together to touch base with retailers. Special editions of comics are given away at these meetings, so they have value to collectors. You can’t find these special editions sitting on the shelves with the rest of the regular comics.

I know the warm-up to this post was longer than the execution, but hey, it’s late and I love comics. Peace out.

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