Thursday, February 15, 2007
eBay Head's Up & Orlandocon Memories
I imagine many of you reading this blog are, just like me, eBay comic strip buyers. As you know, it has gotten to the point on eBay where it is downright foolhardy to give a seller a negative feedback, no matter how egregiously bad they are, because they will just turn around and fire back a retaliatory negative on you and there's not a darn thing you can do about it.
In view of that problem I now leave negative feedback only in the most extreme cases -- those in which I send money and get nothing, not even junk, in return and can't get any answer at all from the seller after many attempts. Anything short of that and I deem it not worth the hit on my feedback to leave a negative. I do occasionally sell on eBay, and that makes it imperative that my rating stay high.
So instead of posting negative feedback on bad comic strip sellers, I'm going to share a few of my experiences here that may save you from dealing with some highly questionable comic strip sellers. If you also have stories to share, I encourage you to do so. Maybe we can form a little informal feedback system right here and save our fellow collectors from those few bad eggs that can make eBaying a real pain.
Seller #1: your-ebay-store : this seller, apparently representing one of those stores where people can drop off merchandise to be auctioned, is currently selling a bunch of newspaper strips. I purchased a 1940 Mortimer and Charlie page from him, a date later than anything I own. What I received instead was a 1939 page, and it was torn in half at the fold and had a large rat chew in the side. I told the seller of the problem and he immediately got snarky with me, but said that if I sent the page back to him (at my expense) he'd send the right page. Though I was already smelling trouble I sent the page back. I used the same cardboard packing material he'd sent it in. I made sure to get delivery confirmation on it to avoid the "I never received it back" ploy. Well, that didn't set him back one bit. He claimed that the package came back ripped to shreds, and the page destroyed (more than it already was?). He then claimed that he had another buyer who had bought this page and that I should pay him (again!) for the page I had supposedly destroyed.
Now I knew I was dealing with a real bad news seller, so I stopped communication, went to Paypal and filed a dispute. Paypal, usually a real slacker when it comes to disputes, wasted no time and I got a refund. So deal with this seller at your risk.
Seller #2: historicnewspapers : these folks have been selling a ton of Sunday sections on eBay, some of it insanely rare stuff. The good news is that these people have always been extremely honest and courteous with me. The bad news is that they are the worst organized gang of nitwits I've ever met. I've bought a lot of extremely rare Sunday sections from these folks, and I don't think there's a single shipment that I've gotten from them that was right. Sometimes the mistakes have been simple sloppiness, like sending the wrong date of a paper, or messing up their cut-and-pasted listings and thereby claiming there are certain strips in a comic section that aren't there. And every time I alert them to the problems they have made good on the mistakes such that I had no complaint in the end, although it was really annoying to have to go through these problems over and over.
The straw that broke the camel's back was when they lost a shipment of over $400 of extremely rare Sunday sections (frankly I would have paid far more for them, but there was little competition for the lots). Some of these sections were rare to the point that they could possibly be the last existing copies. I waited for the package to arrive for over a month (they tend to be extremely slow shippers, too) and when I finally inquired about the shipment they said it had been sent "sometime in the last few weeks". No shipping records, no tracking info, no delivery confirmation. They had sent this package, for which they charged me a $50 shipping fee, by USPS media mail, uninsured and with no tracking. The package was lost forever with no hope of finding it. And it didn't really seem to bother them. They gave me a full refund with no problems. And I was left with the sick feeling that I didn't give a damn about the $400 -- I wanted those rare sections!
It was at this point that I stopped purchasing from them. It was like a junkie laying off heroin, but I couldn't stand the thought of losing another unique comic section, priceless to me, because these people just didn't seem to give a hoot about their business. I sometimes look at their listings and drool, but I just won't get sucked in again. Proceed at your own risk, but if you do buy from them, BEG them to put tracking on their packages!
Okay, there are two sellers I'd classify as bad, though for very different reasons. So it's only fair that I mention a few great comic strip sellers who always do right by me:
C'mon folks. Share your stories and do your part to help save your comic strip collector buddies
from bad eBay experiences! And while you're at it, share your huzzahs for the good guys that you encounter.
After I shared a batch of Jim Ivey's photos, many from the late, lamented OrlandoCon convention, one of the original sponsors of the con emailed me and offered up some of his own memories of the good ol' days. Thanks Charlie!
The 1974 "Gainesville Convention" (?) by Charlie Roberts
I first met Jim Ivey at the 1968 or 1969 Phil Seuling "New York Comic Art Convention". Jim had his cigar going, along with a two foot high stack of original art piled loosely on a few tables. Back in those days original comic strip and comic book art was quite a bargain. "Peanuts" dailies were around $ 50, "Krazy Kat" Sundays were $ 500- $ 750, and most comic book covers and pages were $ 10- $25 (including Ditko " Spiderman" pages !).
I moved to Orlando in 1973 and became good friends with Jim, visiting his home or museum at least once a week. At the time Jim had some 3,000 originals and his goal was to have one original by every cartoonist in the world. Simply put, Jim never saw an original he didn't like!
In early 1974 Richard Kravitz, a fellow collector attending college in Gainesville, and I drove to Miami for a comic convention put on by the legendary "Rocket's Blast Comic-Collector" publisher G.B. Love. The show was in a fire hall with no air conditioning, and it was literally 90 degrees in the shade. Tables consisted of wooden planks on cinder blocks. As we drove home, Rich and I both agreed we could certainly put on a somewhat better show. Rich suggested the Gainesville area, as the college students would certainly be interested in comics.
I wanted to get Jim involved, and talked to him a few days later. He was all for putting on a convention.....but in Orlando. Jim was the regional Chairman of the National Cartoonists Society, and Orlando not only had plenty of cartoonists but also had Disneyworld as a major tourist destination. Rob Word and comic book and pulp collector Neil Austin joined us as co-sponsors, with Jim as the logical choice to be Chairman. Early on, Jim and I went to see Roy Crane about coming to the show as a guest. In a slow, deep Texas drawl he inquired "Just what the Hell is an OrlandoCon?", as if it was some sort of "con" game. We laughed, and explained the concept to him.
Subsequently invitations went out by mail, phone, or in person to some 40 of Florida's cartoonists. We decided to have a banquet for the cartoonists, and each year one artist would receive an "Ignatz Award"; a gold brick based on the love Ignatz had for Krazy Kat. The first convention book had a front cover sketch of Roscoe Sweeney by Roy Crane, and the back cover was a specially done original by Captain Marvel artist C.C. Beck. The show was held in September 1974 at a Howard Johnson's hotel (with air conditioning !). Dealers tables were $5, and for $1 admission you could have met Roy Crane, Hal Foster, C.C. Beck, Bill Crooks, Leslie Turner, pulp artist Harold McCauley, Ralph Dunagin, Mel Graff, and many others along with a film show provided by Rob Word.
We also had a charity auction to benefit the Milt Gross Fund of the NCS to help cartoonists with financial problems. Hal Foster put in four "Prince Valiant" 1960's original Sunday pages. The prices ranged from a high of $240 to a low of $170! I moved to Pennsylvania later that year, but stayed involved with "OrlandoCon" through 1977. Those were amazing times in terms of collector interest, and I continue to give Jim Ivey a "Tip of the Hatlo Hat" for everything he's done over the years. A true "gentleman", and a great guy!
Got nothing to really add other than to say that your experiences have mirrored my own with regards to 'historicnewspapers' right down to charging for Priority Mail & then shipping Media.....
I collect the Sunday supplement "Pictorial Review" (later Magazine) from the 50's with regard to certain caricaturists & although wins/ purchases for the most part have made it, there's been a few they've lost me over the years...
Better Buyers Unite.info is the only website dedicated to auction buyers.
Ebay buyers need to be empowered to take control and complain about bad ebay transactions without fear of retaliation or negative feedback. There are so many complaints against ebay sellers. It's time we had a voice. www.betterbuyersunite.info
Would you mind posting your experience on BetterBuyersUnite.info? People really need to hear about your experience.
I know a lot of important creators who didn't generally attend conventions, like Hal Foster and Roy Crane, attended the Orlando show. Is there somewhere that I can get information on who the significant attendees were and which years they were guests?
How many years did you folks put on the show? I remember from years ago the ads you ran for it in the old TBG and always impressed at the roster of guests.