Saturday, November 29, 2014


If you ask anyone under 40 who John Fogerty is, you are taking a gamble.  Most people don't recognize the name.  In fact, a small portion of people would also get angry and demand that you "stop phoning them at 2:00 am".  Well I am sorry, I was having trouble sleeping, random person in Newark.  Anyway, John Fogerty was the lead singer of the band "Creedence Clearwater Revival" and he also had a few solo hits in the 1980s.  If you have heard "Proud Mary", "Fortunate Son" or "Centerfield", then you have heard of John Fogerty.

One of the first records I ever heard my parents play.

I went to the concert with my mother, who is now retired so what better way to celebrate than to sit in a big hockey arena and smell other people's weed.  I think that is why you work all those long hours in an office.  Now that she is officially a senior citizen, getting to the Saddledome via C-Train was risky business.  I resigned myself that I would either show up and see her waiting by the West Entrance, or she would have talked to a stranger and I would never see her again.  50/50.  Luckily she was at the Dome so I put my phone away, did NOT dial the police and weep uncontrollably, and went inside.

Fogerty played a couple of years ago at the Corral (a much smaller venue) and did not sell out, so I knew there was no way that he was selling out the 19,000-seat Saddledome.  Lucky me!  Here is my strategy: buy the cheapest possible ticket and then scoot over to a better section.  The ushers act all put out, but secretly they love the challenge of spotting who paid good money and who just squatted like a hobo in an abandoned apartment.  We  found a nice empty section and stretched out.  Let there be rock!

The lights went down and we were treated to a 35-minute music film about the year 1969—Woodstock, other bands, The Beatles, San Fransisco, etc.  It was a cool movie but to be honest, I found it a little long.  I started to wonder: was this the concert?  Had Fogerty died a couple of weeks ago and this was the whole show?  Luckily the lights dimmed, people started screaming like they were being cattle prodded by security and eventually the 69-year-old Fogerty came out rocking "Born on the Bayou".  He looked half his age and sounded great!

You ever have one of those songs that you hear and it instantly takes you back to a certain time in your life?  When I was three years old, I had a ViewFinder, which is a kid's toy (like binoculars) and you can watch a comic book or a movie through the ViewFinder.

somewhere between cave man drawings and the iPad, 
there exists The ViewFinder

I had a DC comics reel and watched Aquaman.  Meanwhile, my dad was playing "Bad Moon Rising" (by CCR) on the record player.  This is one of my earliest memories.  So when Fogerty busted out "Bad Moon Rising", I was in heaven.  I was three years old again.  (I didn't drool or pee myself, in case you were wondering—it is a legitimate question.)  The only way it would have been better was if Aquaman had suddenly shown up on stage and maybe played an instrument.  Anything.  Keyboards.  Tambourine.  Even an actor playing Aquaman would have been awesome (I am not picky).

new base player?  Just an idea.

All in all, it was a great concert.  He played a ton of hits and the crowd seemed really into it.  Well, okay, maybe a little too into it.  My only complaint was the guy sitting behind me who whipped out a harmonica during "Lodi" and started playing along.  Really?  Um... this is not a jam, old guy who smells like warm beer and marijuana.  I am pretty sure I know the exact number of people who paid money to hear him play harmonica, and it rhymes with hero.  We picked up our coats and moved to another empty section—I couldn't believe security let riff raff like that into a section that we had snuck into. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

CGC Comics: How Much Does It Cost From Canada?

I wanted to document exactly how much it cost to ship my comics to CGC and get them back (I live in western Canada).  This is not a rant about CGC itself, or their grading process, or their holders, or any of that stuff.  I did, however, want to document the slabbing process (partly because of my own bad memory) and partly because I had a bit of a difficult time finding out the process and the cost (the REAL cost) when first starting out.

For those who are new to the whole process of "slabbing" comics: there is tons of information online about CGC (Certified Guaranty Company, found at  So this blog is a tracking of the cost for me, a Canadian, shipping my books down to Florida and back to Canada.  How much does it really cost?

One of the comics I did NOT submit to CGC.  Sigh. 

(Note: these are 2014 prices—if you are looking at this from the far-reaching future, these might look great in 200 years.)

CGC Membership: $140.14 Cdn
This was the "premium" $120.00 US per year.  What this gets me is 4 free CGC submissions and access to the website to look up CGC census data, access the forums, etc.  What I personally cared about was the coupon for the 4 free submissions.

Shipping My 4 Raw Books: $30.00 Cdn
You can use Canada Post, Fed Ex, Purolator, etc.  I chose Canada Post.  It cost about $30 to ship the books from my home and native land to sunny Florida.  I always wonder why they would have a comic-book-grading company based out of the one place nearby that can get a hurricane, a flood or invaded by the communists.  Every time the weatherman says it is windy or rainy there are comic book fans getting ulcers. 

Even if it is a relatively tiny package, you have to ship "Expedited Parcel" which has a tracking number (good) and insurance (very good).  You also should ship the 4 books in a box (not an envelope) and stuff it good with paper, bubble wrap and extra sheets of tough cardboard).  I didn't have any problems and the shipment arrived right away (around 7 business days). 

Grading: Free
Well, kind of free... remember to include the coupon in the box and the books get graded as part of the premium package that I already paid money for.

Return Shipping To Canada: $72.78
Hello!  Be on the lookout for the priority shipping back to Canada.  Good news is that it gets back to you quickly—the bad news is that it is a bit more expensive than it was to send it down there.

Total Cost for 4 CGC Books:  $242.92 Cdn
This works out to about $60 per book (Canadian).  So if you are going to get only these 4 books graded, make sure to have the books be either a) super in-demand, b) super high grade, or c) books that you personally really want to get graded.  Typically, people will send in 4 "high end" books (like silver-age Marvels, or expensive 10 or 12-cent comics) for this tier.

Because I had already paid the annual fee, I figured I would give it a shot and submit 30 modern books as well to see if I could average down the costs.  My logic: I had thousands of comic books, at least 30 (hopefully) worth CGC-ing from the modern era, and I already had the annual membership, so that gave me a slight discount (and the ability) to submit more books.  Same deal, but this time I was submitting 30 modern books.

Shipping 30 Modern Books To Florida: $30.00 Cdn
Again this was through Canada Post as an Expedited Parcel and it worked out to about 30 dollars.  Here's a tip I learned: open up a PayPal account and ship the books through the PayPal account.  You can get a small discount (like 5 to 8 per cent).  Also, knowing what I know now, I would have submitted the 4 higher-end books along with 30 moderns.  Just fill out 2 invoices and send them together all in the same box.  Live and learn!

CGC Fees for 30 Modern Books: $660.01 Cdn
The fees worked out to $22 per book (Canadian) to get them CGC'd.  Now this will no doubt change over time (exchange rates, etc) so again this is 2014 prices, with exchange, with a credit card.  This apparently includes the return shipping as well.

I had heard horror stories about CGC taking forever to grade books.  The total time spent between shipping the books and getting them back was 62 calendar days (so about two months).

Return Shipping:  $22.78 Cdn
The package was shipped back through Federal Express.  It arrived in one huge box that looked like a 28-inch TV screen had arrived.  It was heavy (30 books).  So exciting!  This was the big question mark in the whole process—the return shipping was included in the CGC charge.  The only thing I actually paid was the customs "brokerage fees".

I personally did not get hit with any duty, and I didn't fill out any special forms.  CGC indicated on the shipment that the books were being re-imported and I guess the customs guys liked it.

Fed Ex has to stay in business somehow, so they charge a "brokerage fee" to get your books from the United States through customs into Canada.  It's not technically duty... it's more like a "service fee" to ship it. Grumble grumble.

Total Cost for 30 Modern Books: $712.79
This does not include the membership (because I already paid for it).

Total Cost for 4 Silver Age Books Plus 30 Modern Books: $955.71 Cdn
Let's call it an even $950 Canadian dollars, after it is all said and done.

$950 Cdn
34 books total
$27.94 Canadian per book to get slabbed

This isn't meant to persuade anyone to CGC their books or not—simply an accounting for Canadians to figure out what the real fees are if anyone in Canada is interested (and obviously this is a ball park amount since shipping rates could be different depending on where people live and what service they use).

I think that some people see $18 listed for a modern book on the CGC website and so we factor in maybe $20 for the book when making a purchase.  However, shipping (especially to and from Canada) can be very expensive, especially if someone doesn't ship stuff all the time.  The actual price to CGC the books was more like 150% of that, at around $28 per book.

Tips to save money:
  • If you have a bunch of stuff to send in, consider waiting and do it all in one year (rather than send a little over multiple years).  It costs a lot of money (like $30) to send one item, four items or twelve items—the postage is not much more for each additional book on a "per book" basis.
  • Really a take a super-critical look at your books.  If there are any defects whatsoever, the grade of the book will fall (and often fall a lot).  Remember, each book is going to cost you about $30 (Canadian) so be very critical.  ANY fold, crease or tear, or scuff, or anything will bring it down.
  • Consider opening a PayPal account to create a shipping label—the difference between sending one parcel through PayPal ($25) versus two Canada Post "at the counter" parcels ($60) is definitely worth the time and effort.

Good luck and happy hunting for that great comic!
One of my actual comics.  Yay!  Something came back  higher than a 5.0.