Friday, September 30, 2011


During the third weekend of September we held our "Comic Book Garage Sale," in which we offered thousands of comics, plus some movie posters, toys and other collectibles at reasonable prices.  Technically, it was our second time having this event, but the first sale in July had some definite roadblocks.

First, the crushing heat and humidity kept many people away, and the ones who did come had difficulty flipping through long boxes for an extended period of time in a hot garage, despite the huge fan we had blowing in the direction of our customers.  We also did not pull as much inventory as we hoped to have available for the sale, due to various time constraints.  Therefore, we were not completely prepared and organized for the first sale. 

However, this time everything seemed to be much more in our favor.  Weather conditions were absolutely perfect all three days, with mostly sunny skies, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the 60's.  We had over 30 long boxes and 20 short boxes packed with comics, and we also added some other items, such as movie posters, Marvel laser cels, and some toys.  With the comfortable weather being our best ally, it was not unusual to see customers spend one or even two hours just taking their time flipping through boxes and checking off the missing issues they found for their favorite titles. 

Some customers that made a casual visit on one of the days were shocked to see just how many comics were available, so they returned the next day armed with checklists and index cards so they could buy in bulk.  Several people purchased 200-300 comics, and some even returned the next day to pick up a few more that they had missed during their first visit.  We also benefited from having some of our earlier customers refer their friends to the sale, which helped to make Sunday another successful day, despite some competition from the Detroit Lions' football home opener.

Comic Book Garage (or Yard) Sales have recently become more and more popular all over the country.  Veteran comic book writer Tony Isabella, the creator of Black Lightning, recently held his "Garage Con" event and reported a successful sale on his blog site.  Scott Hudlow, a large-scale comic dealer in California, also had several yard sales this year.  Artist Chris Yambar even took the idea a step further and created "Lawn Con" in 2010, which was an actual comic convention taking place on the front lawn of his Ohio home, complete with guest artists and live music!

What were the big sellers?  A better question might be: What didn't sell at this sale?  Marvel and DC material from the 1980's and 1990's were the big winners, with huge sales of titles like Daredevil, Captain America, Avengers, Batman, Nightwing, Catwoman, Hellblazer, Spider-Man, and of course the X-Titles.  Some of the key issues sold were Sandman #1, Marvel Secret Wars #1, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 and #2, Batman #428 (Death of Robin), and the "R.I.P." issues of Batman. 

There were also requests for a wide variety of obscure titles ranging from the early 1970's to the 2000's, such as Forever People, Omac, Black Axe, Icon, Hardware and even the barely remembered Peter Milligan version of Infinity, Inc.

We also had several movie posters for sale.

Superman and Justice League titles were among the few comics that did not sell very well at the garage sale, and there was not much demand for independent titles.  However, with all comic books it's often a matter of having the right collector show up at the right time.  

Overall, the weekend was a huge success.  Lots of comics were sold, collectors walked away very happy, and I had the opportunity to visit with several Facebook friends in person.  Many people were interested to hear that we were considering having another sale later in the Fall, perhaps in mid-October.  However, local ordinances may not allow that to happen, since the city has specific limitations on how many garage sales can be held on a quarterly basis.  We'll definitely give it some thought. 

Were they any negative aspects to the sale?  Not really, although it was a huge weekend for garage sales all over the Metro Detroit area.  Basically, if you drove into almost any subdivision, you would find 2-3 yard sales within a couple blocks of each other.  The positive aspect of this was that it drove additional traffic to everyone's garage sales, including our own.  The downside was that some of those people didn't bother to read the many signs that we had posted around the neighborhood.  This resulted in several confused patrons coming into our yard with a perplexed look on their face and asking questions like "Is it just comics?". 

I would then reply with something like "Well, yes, it's a comic book garage sale," which often resulted in more confusion from the people looking for used furniture and baby clothes.  Incidentally, we did offer a very nice Kirkland Deep Freezer for sale besides the comics, but did not receive any offers!

Huge thanks to everyone who came to the sale.  I hope to see many of you at a future comic book garage sale, or one of the local conventions that we set up at.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The third annual Durand Fantasy Expo was held this past Saturday, September 3rd, at the VFW Post #2272, located in Durand, Michigan.  The Durand Expo is an unique annual fundraising event that is done for veterans by a veteran.  Jeff Decker is a Gulf War Veteran who created the event in 2009 to benefit members of the VFW Post.  He came up with the idea to combine several pop culture staples, including comics, toys, sci-fi and fantasy fiction, all into one event. 

VFW Post #2272 in Durand, Michigan

The show was a mix of comic book dealers, toy vendors, local artists, publishers, fantasy authors, and even a couple television and movie actors.  Admission was a $5 donation to the VFW Hall, and kids 10 and under got in for free.  There was also a raffle basket, which started out with a few items in the morning.  However, thanks to the generous donations by several dealers and even some of the guests, the basket was bursting with comics, art prints, toys and autographed photos by the time the 3:00 p.m. drawing was held.

Durand Fantasy Raffle Basket filled with goodies! (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Several local artists from the last couple shows returned again this year, including Brian Germain of Dark Elf Designs, who did a limited edition convention print, the first one for this annual event.  Only ten of these prints were available for sale at the Expo.  Other local artists and publishers included Steve Jencks from Lost Highway, Eric Mullarky from New Baby Productions, and Meljamin Studios.

Brian Germain holding the limited edition print he did for the Expo. 

Other guests included actress Robyn Griggs from Another World and One Life To Live, and fantasy writer Jim C. Hines, author of the Goblin Quest trilogy.  A surprise guest that was not originally scheduled to appear at the Expo was Antonio Mireles, who played a Latino gangster in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino.

Robyn Griggs and Antonio Mireles (Photo by Jeff Decker)
The 501st Legion-Great Lakes Garrison also set up a booth, with several members graciously staying in costume for the majority of the day, despite massive humidity and temperatures reaching 98 degrees.  Their booth also provided entertainment for the kids, with the "Star Wars Blasters" dart gun contests (pictures of classic Star Wars actors on the wall were used as targets).

Members of the 501st Great Lakes (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Surrounding the Expo itself were other events, including an official "ghost investigation" at the Durand Train Depot, sponsored by S.P.I.R.I.T.,  which is basically Shiawasee County's official paranormal investigation team, a writing workshop hosted by Fantasy Author Jim Hines, and the "End of Summer Crusin Classic Car Show," which took place at the same time as the Expo, just a few blocks away in downtown Durand.  This car show is a great alternative for those who may be hesitant to face the massive crowds and traffic of the Woodward Dream Cruise, but still want to enjoy checking out classic cars in an old fashioned downtown setting (along with great 50's tunes courtesy of a local radio station).    

The flyer for the Ghost Hunt at the Durand Train Depot

For myself personally, sales were a little slow, but I did meet a lot of nice comic book fans, did some networking with another convention promoter, and talked to several customers that were very interested in my upcoming comic book garage sale that I am having the weekend of September 17th.  The biggest seller of the day were my dollar boxes containing back issues of  Amazing Spider-Man.  Other comic book titles that customers were looking for included Spawn, Deadpool, X-Men and Iron Man.  Interest in independent titles was almost non-existent at this show.  Secret Identity Comics also provided several freebies to customers, including free comics and graphic novels from Bluewater Comics, the "DC New 52" preview comic, and the latest free catalog from Bags Unlimited (who generously donated packs of comic bags and boards for one of the raffles!). 

Secret Identity Comics sold comics and provided lots of freebies for the Expo! (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Promoter Jeff Decker has already started working on next year's event, and is looking for guests to appear at the 2012 Expo.  He recently mentioned on the Expo's Facebook Page that he will "start firming up the guest list sometime in late winter [or] early spring, but anyone is more than welcome to throw the hat in the proverbial ring at anytime." 

Brian Germain's Limited Edition Print for the Durand Fantasy Expo!