Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: The Best Masters of the Universe Books

So much of this hobby and industry is driven by nostalgia. It’s that unexplainable emotion that takes you back to a time that is easy to romanticize. It’s why so many of us, when we finally reach adulthood, spend a lot of our money attempting to buy back our childhood. It seems like the comic market is no different. Kids who grew up in the 80s want GI Joe and Transformers, while kids from the 90s love Spawn and Power Rangers. 

This sentiment has existed in the hobby for years. This week, Hollywood will try to tap into that nostalgia with a major film and a show release. Today, Snake Eyes hits theaters and Masters of The Universe: Revelation lands on Netflix. We already addressed some Snake Eyes books to be on the lookout for, but since I imagine a lot of you will be indulging in some He Man this weekend, it felt only right to bring you to Eternia for a top 5 Masters of The Universe books to look out for.

5. He Man and The Masters of The Universe #1 – Dave Wilkins Variant (2012 DC Comics)
9.8 Price: $3500
DC Comics

This is “THE” variant to get for MOTU collectors. Yes, there are some other valuable modern variants, but this is the grail for many MOTU fans. Skeletor covers always seem to perform better than covers featuring He Man, and this cover is a prime example of that trend. Wilkins is also an iconic artist who has stepped away from doing comic art over the last several years—minus a few exceptions. 

One of those exceptions is a return to MOTU with a brand new cover for Dark Horse Comics new series by Kevin Smith to go alongside the Netflix Series. Wilkins provided art for a Revelation Exclusive Variant from Wanted Comix. If the $600 that the 2021 book commands on the open market is too rich for your blood, you can still grab the Wanted Comix Variant for $21.95 on their site.

4. Masters of The Universe #1 (Image 2002)
9.8 Price: $220
Image/MV Creations

Masters of The Universe has a storied publishing history, having been published by DC Comics, Marvel, Image and Dark Horse over the years. This #1 issue from their IDW run was the forgotten child among #1 issues for many years, but that is largely changing. 

There are two main things this book has going for it: an awesome early cover from cover art superstar J. Scott Campbell and a preview of an upcoming Image series featured in the back of the book. That series was the smash hit and new Amazon Prime animated series Invincible. While that preview may have nothing to do with MOTU, it is an appearance of Invincible that predates Invincible #1.  

For those reasons alone, I expect collectors to continue to seek out high grade copies of this book. It is the most affordable on this list and not one to sleep on. 

3. Masters Of The Universe #1 (1986 Marvel Comics)
9.8 Price: $600
Marvel Comics

While not the first Masters of The Universe #1 to exist on the market, this is possibly the most popular as it kicked off the iconic MOTU Marvel run that spanned 12 issues and is a centerpiece for MOTU comic collectors. 

Star Comics was an imprint of Marvel that focused on properties that were geared toward a younger audience—such as Alf, Care Bears, Kid and Play and Muppet Babies. Among those series sits this 80s classic, which remains the one piece of Star IP in demand today. 

2. Masters of The Universe #1 (1982 DC Comics)
9.8 Price: $750
DC Comics

As I mentioned earlier, there was a previous #1 issue for MOTU collectors to chase, and that is this one right here from DC Comics. DC was a part of the creative force that brought us the initial story elements that gave life to this iconic toy line. 

While the 1986 Marvel counterpart lasted 12 issues, this mini series lasted just three, but can be extremely tough to find in the wild these days. Combine the reignited fandom of this IP with the fact that these comics were essentially published as a compendium for kids who were playing with the toys; collectability of the comics themselves was a bit of a secondary thought, if one at all. Hard grade copies can be tough to find and prices of this issue have been rising in recent months. 

1. DC Presents #47 (DC Comics 1982)
9.8 Price: $2,325
DC Comics

The no-brainer number one entry on this list is this issue from the popular DC anthology series, DC Presents. This series was used to showcase one-off stories, often pairing up unlikely characters or spotlighting unheralded ones. This issue does both as it features Superman and He Man. The issue gives us the first comic appearance of He Man as well as Skeletor. 

This issue was originally used to build awareness for the toy line and has always been popular with collectors. For years you could find copies in the wild ranging from $15-25, but those days are becoming a distant memory as Masters Of The Universe: Revelation excitement has sent this one skyrocketing with raw copies selling for a couple hundred and a 9.8 costing over $2k. 

I still think this is a book with meat on its bones. Will there be a live action film at some point? Is this just the beginning of MOTU’s return to prominence? Time will tell, but I am banking on nostalgia. I love investing in these properties. When people shop for items they are nostalgic for, price often becomes a secondary factor and when that happens, there is usually some ROI to be made. 

I am loving writing my weekly columns here at ONE37pm! Bringing comics and comic book investing to a new audience is my passion. With that in mind, catch me next weekend in Chicago for the National Sports Card Convention where I will be hosting CBCS Live from the main stage of the convention bringing comics to NSCC. 

Culture News

Renowned Stylist Courtney Mays Joins eBay’s “ReOpen Ready” Campaign

This ongoing pandemic has been challenging in a lot of categories, but it has also hit us in areas that we could have never previously imagined.

Many of us transitioned into remote work at the start of the pandemic and as a result, we ditched our business attire and formal/semi-formal outfits for comfortable loungewear and casual clothing. Some of us have since gotten stuck in a style rut, and even for those that haven’t, there has been an adjustment period fashion-wise in terms of returning to the office, or even with regular events that don’t include the grocery store. That is where renowned stylist Courtney Mays is here to help.

Mays is the mastermind behind the scenes responsible for styling Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Deandre Jordan, Anthony Anderson, and plenty more, and is now partnering with eBay on their brand new “ReOpen Ready” campaign. 

The “ReOpen Ready” campaign is a brand new microsite that features up-to-date trends and data tied to the world “reopening” after a year in quarantine. As a part of this campaign, Mays will be offering fashion tips and favorite items for being Front Row and Office Ready. Courtney’s picks for being Front Row Ready include a Burberry trench coat, Chanel bag, Garrett Leight sunglasses, a Les Tien’s yellow crewneck, an iPhone 12 Pro Max, and Reebok x Pyer Moss sneakers.

We had the opportunity to speak to Mays about being a part of “ReOpen Ready,” and what to look forward to in the future.

ONE37pm: This eBay “ReOpen Ready” campaign you are a part of is super exciting! What attracted you to the opportunity?

Mays: I’ve always loved the hunt…searching for a rare sneaker or designer collab, or even better a vintage watch or antique. eBay has always been the plug!  

ONE37pm: You’re offering some dope style tips to be “Front Row Ready,” could you talk a little more about that?

Mays: Outside is open! We’ve been at home in our Zoom-friendly pj’s for over a year now. So now that we can go out into the world, it’s fun to actually put on real clothes, or even well-dressed pajamas or sweats! However, No matter what you wear, do it in confidence! 

ONE37pm: What is your advice to those of us that may be stuck in a style rut from being in a pandemic for over a year?

Mays: I think this is a time for reinvention.  Now is the time to try those pieces you maybe never would have, or go for ALL your jewels or crazy frames you were too afraid to wear. We’re back to being ReOpen, so it’s time to show out!

You can continue to keep up with Mays on Instagram.

Culture News

ONE37pm’s ‘From Scratch’ with Jeff Staple is Here

ONE37pm’s latest series has finally arrived. From Scratch focuses on innovators in their lanes who have built up their brands—as you may have guessed—from scratch. Each episode will focus on a new creator and reveal details about their creative process and how they brought their vision to life.

The very first episode of the series features Jeff Staple, streetwear icon and founder and creator of the brand, Staple Pigeon. Jeff’s career spans decades at this point, and the mainstay of sneaker culture has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Beats by Dre, Adidas and more. His Nike Dunk from 2005 is—to this day—one of the most sought after and expensive pieces in the sneaker game. The man is a legend.

Jeff Staple embodies the ethos of From Scratch perhaps better than anyone. In the inaugural episode, he talks about how he settled on the pigeon motif, which has become inseparable from his reputation as a designer. In his early days hustling on the streets of NYC, he began to develop an affinity for pigeons scrambling for crumbs every day: “All the time, I’m seeing these guys, pigeons, everywhere, 24/7, doing the same thing I’m doing. […] You’re me. No one likes you, everyone hates you, but you out here eating somehow.” He goes on to joke: “Wait. Could the flying rat be my mascot?” And thus the Staple Pigeon was born.

They spend part of the episode diving into the Pigeon Dunk, which is one of the most iconic dunks in the history of streetwear. Especially in light of the revival of dunk hype over the past few years, the sneaker was ahead of its time.

Staple provides insight into his creative process in the current moment and addresses the contemporary state of streetwear. They also explore a massive collaboration of Jeff’s this year: the Perspective Pigeon x Staple Pigeon collab. When Gary first debuted his Perspective Pigeon drawing, fans of Gary and Jeff alike drew the connection, blowing up their phones. They got on a call immediately and the rest is history.

From Scratch aims to highlight the mechanisms by which creators build their identity and find success with their vision. No one demonstrates the From Scratch mentality better than Jeff Staple, who built his empire, literally, from scratch. Watch the inaugural episode above and stay tuned for more.

Culture News

Celeb Tailor Richfresh Is Collabing With Häagen-Dazs and Lena Waithe For Charity

Celebrity tailor Richfresh is designing for a good cause.

The Los Angeles-based creative who has become best known for the custom suits, jackets, tracksuits, and accessories that he has created for celebrities such as Dwyane Wade, The Weekend, A$AP Rocky, good friend Lena Waithe and more, will be partnering with Häagen-Dazs for a one-of-a-kind-tracksuit inspired by the luxurious ice cream brand that we all know and love.

On Thursday, July 22nd, Fresh and Lena Waithe will be teaming up for an exclusive IG Live in partnership with Häagen-Dazs and the #ThatsDazs campaign which will benefit Lena’s nonprofit Hillman Grad, while also discussing their creative passions and Fresh’s custom design. Following the IG live, fans will be given the chance to win this amazing tracksuit.


Here is a rundown of how it will work, and specific instructions on how to enter:

  • For every person that joins, Häagen-Dazs will donate $1 to Lena’s nonprofit Hillman Grad, dedicated to providing opportunities for marginalized storytellers to connect, grow, and accelerate their career in television and film. 
  • Viewers will then want to head to @HaagenDazs_US for their chance to win this Fresh custom piece. All they’ll need to do is follow the account, tag two friends and like the picture to be entered to win. The giveaway starts July 22 and a winner will be announced July 26. 

This is truly an exciting collaboration, and we had a fun conversation with Richfresh ahead of the Live to discuss how his partnership with Häagen-Dazs came to be, what it took to design the tracksuit, and the many other projects he is currently working on.

ONE37pm: Congratulations on the partnership with Häagen-Dazs! How did this come to fruition?

Richfresh: Thank You! It really showed up out of nowhere to be honest. I mean first of all it’s with Lena Waithe so that is a no brainer, and I saw an immediate parallel with Häagen-Dazs which is a luxury ice brand itself. It made perfect sense because my daughter loves Häagen-Dazs, and I have been shopping with this brand for years. It was just a great fit all around, and I will be designing a custom Häagen-Dazs tracksuit that I can’t wait for everyone to see.


ONE37pm: Now this is a one-of-a-kind tracksuit inspired by the ice cream brand, how did you come up with the concept?

Richfresh: It took me a long time…you know what I’m actually not going not going to say how long it was! It wasn’t difficult though. I just sat down and thought about the colors, and I wanted to create a piece that feels like all the elements of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. I didn’t want it to be boring, but I also knew that it couldn’t be “too much” either. 

ONE37pm: Do you have a “process” when it comes to creating?

Richfresh: Well first I have some Häagen-Dazs, and you know I like spinach too…Kidding! I usually have a glass of water, grab a pen, and get to work. It’s not really difficult because greatness flows through me. Everything inspires me, so I might sketch, doodle, and start playing around with colors. I’m real with myself, and make sure to stay true to my artform.


ONE37pm: You’re teaming up with your good friend Lena Waithe on IG Live to unveil the suit. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of your friendship?

Richfresh: It’s been great! L.A. hasn’t been the easiest place to navigate, but Lena feels like home. She’s like someone you know from high school or a spoken word, and we instantly clicked. She recognizes the God within me, and I recognize the God within her. She really respects my art and cares a lot. Lena never knows what she’s getting from me. She just lets me know that she’s going to the Oscars or an event, and I put together art for this woman. Lena is home, and one of my best clients. I’m having a better Los Angeles experience because of her. I also work with other great people like Terence J, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, etc.

ONE37pm: Okay let’s talk about the IG live. Fans can expect something special right?

Richfresh: This is going to be different, and the tracksuit is so nice. I can’t wait to wear it, and I’m excited for people to see. It’s actually upsetting me that I can’t wear it right now! The colors are so soothing, and guess what—somebody is winning this tracksuit! A lucky winner is getting a design, and so is Lena. Richfresh has the most coveted garments in fashion that are out of this town. It’s going to be like winning a car, and it will be signed on the inside too!

ONE37pm: Last but not least, what else do you have in store for the rest of 2021?

Richfresh: There is so much in store! We have a lot of evolution for our women’s wear planned, and we’re getting more products. Overall we’re evolving into a bigger business that provides for our customer base and their everyday living. We’ve got even more projects and videos, and a lot is in store for the near future.

Be sure to tune into the IG live tomorrow, and keep up with Richfresh on Instagram.

Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: Kang Conquers All

In fast-moving markets like collectibles, it can often feel like your attention is pulled in six different directions all at once. Collectors are constantly jumping from one thing to the next, from trend to trend. Having said that, this week there is one man (well sort of, really he is many) that has captivated the comic buying public and that is Kang aka Kang the Conqueror.

Jonathan Majors made his MCU debut this Wednesday showing up as an unnamed version of himself in the Loki Finale. Those who watched learned what comic fans know, which is that Kang comes in infinite forms across the multiverse with his dominant evil conquering variant Kang The Conqueror clearly on the way to the MCU. This has genuinely excited fans of several Marvel properties such as Fantastic Four (Reed Richards’ father becomes Kang), Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange, West Coast Avengers, and Young Avengers. 

Time will tell which direction Kang takes us, but one thing is for certain, his comics are red hot! Let’s look at some of the hottest Kang books as well as a few that are still out there to be had.

Avengers #8
Marvel Comics

This is of course Kang’s first appearance. This book has been desirable with the speculation crowd for a number of years so it is no surprise to see it take off in value the way that it has. This book will cost you four figures in any grade and is rising in value as we speak. If this week’s activities are any indication,  I would get on the Kang train now. If you’re not looking to make that type of play, no worries, there are some more affordable options out there for you on the market. 

Avengers #129
Marvel Comics

Just like when Thanos entered the MCU, I expect Kang’s cover art to be in high demand. Some of his other covers are spiking but this one, while up, seems to be under the radar a bit for a solid silver age major. I love this super dope cover and expect this one only to rise in the next twelve months as we know Jonathan Majors’ contract calls for five appearances with Loki only being the first. $50-60 gets you into a mid-grade raw copy. 

Avengers #267
Marvel Comics

Long a dollar bin book (and still out there in those bins!) this book is seeing heat on the market for its awesome Kang cover with the villain front and center and Marvel heroes all around. This very well could be what we see in the future as it will likely take heroes from all points on the multiverse to come together to stop Kang. The Kang Lives moniker on the cover, I also think, plays into where we are on the MCU timeline and makes this book as desirable as it is. This one has seen a meteoric rise from the $1 bin all the way to $90 raw on the open market. Don’t sleep on #268 and #269 while you are at it. 

Avengers Forever #1 Kang Cover
Marvel Comics

This time-traveling story is what many in the comic community expect Kang to take us toward. This 13 issue Avengers Forever story is low print in comparison to eras before and after it and isn’t an easy find on the open market. Copies are selling for $60 raw and while not a titled solo series, this was the first series that really had Kang front and center. I think this book and the series as a whole have tremendous room for growth. 

Avengers #2 (2016)
Marvel Comics

This is purely a cover art play and a good one to boot. This cover comes from master painter and cover artist, the living legend Alex Ross. The cover depicts some of the many faces of Kang and was an immediate hit as soon as the Loki Finale aired. This one was $4 and quickly rose to $30 raw. Being a modern title, I expect to see some 9.8 copies hitting the market any day now.

Seasons Beatings #1 Variant
Marvel Comics

So few Kang variants actually exist on the market and this one is a no-brainer to be a hit. We have seen this pattern before, buyers grab 1st appearances and then iconic Key covers. After that, they move on to modern variants. This Djurdjevic variant depicts a photo realism style painted cover that is a perfect portrait of Kang. Couple that with the fact that this is a low printer title and a variant cover at that and this is one with great potential for the low buy-in of $20 at current market pricing. 

Kang is here! The next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is upon us. This is Thanos all over again. Do not miss out on the chance to get in early even with the current spiking prices. We are only at the top of the iceberg for the potential of this character. There is still so much meat on the bone below the surface. So when you are at the next convention or comic shop, look for those up-and-coming Kang keys and be on the lookout.

Before I go I wanted to take a second and invite all of you to join me on Sunday as I have the pleasure of being a guest on a panel on the state of comic collecting at this year’s summer Skybound Xpo. Join me and my fellow panelists as we talk about collecting today with Skybound SVP Big Clutch of Comics Vault Live. I hope to see you in the live comments! 

Culture News

The 15 Best LEGO Architecture Sets

Since the theme’s inception in 2008, LEGO Architecture has brought some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks to life year after year. While the builds have gotten more complex over time (thank goodness they did, the very first ones were way too minimalist), there is a certain charm that comes with these scaled-down models of real-world locations.

The Architecture series is aimed at more mature, adult collectors. They do not include LEGO mini-figures and they are built to a scaled-down size, often using as few pieces as possible to build the monuments, buildings, and skylines that represent our global community. 

While the Architecture theme may not be for everyone, those that love it—like myself—tend to be pretty dedicated fans. From its earlier inceptions to the “skyline series” that debuted in 2016, the LEGO Architecture theme has endured and put out some incredible sets. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Best 15 LEGO Architecture sets released so far! 

1.) Statue of Liberty (21042)
2018 – Present / 1,685 pieces
LEGO Group

Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but it sure does in the case of ol’ Lady Liberty! This set is an amazing display piece and it utilizes some really unique sculpting and building techniques. This set is not one I’d recommend to new builders, but it is definitely one of the best displayable LEGO sets available today.

buy on amazon, $96
2.) Empire State Building (21046)
2019 – Present / 1,767 pieces

Much like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building is a behemoth of a set that will take several hours for you to build but will make for a great conversation piece when it’s complete. This set will tower over your other LEGO sets, and while the build may be very repetitive, it is one that will be hard to forget. 

buy on amazon, $103.99
3.) Fallingwater (21005)
2009 – 2015 / 881 pieces

While this set isn’t #1 on this “best of” list, it is my personal favorite for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s an amazing build; from the small details in the greenery to the unique shape of the building, Fallingwater displays beautifully and commands attention.

I grew up about an hour from where Fallingwater is located in Mill Run, PA. I always wanted this set, but it came out in my “dark age”—a term LEGO collectors use to refer to a time when they’re not actively buying sets. I missed the opportunity to get it when it was on store shelves, but about two years ago I bought a collection on Facebook Marketplace and found this sitting in the bottom of a bin full of loose bricks. That is still one of the happiest moments of my life as a LEGO collector! 

buy on amazon, $600
4.) Arc de Triomphe (21036)
2017 – 2018 (short life!) / 386 pieces

Of all the LEGO Architecture sets, this one had the shortest window of availability. It is a masterful model of the iconic Arc in Paris, France, and is among my favorites ever released. It captures all of the essences of the real Arc without sacrificing anything—besides size!

buy on amazon, $109.95
5.) The White House (21054)
2020 – Present / 1,483 pieces

There are two LEGO White Houses, both in the Architecture line, but this one reigns supreme. It comes with a 1×2 tile with the American flag printed on it, and if you’re strapped for display space, you can remove the East and West wings to take up less space. Talk about a great feature! 

buy on amazon, $106.99
6.) Trevi Fountain (21020)
2014 – 2016 / 731 pieces

This set depicts the iconic Trevi Fountain found in Rome, Italy, and it spares no details. From the horses in the water to the detailing of the pillars and windows, this set utilizes a blue and white color scheme that makes it stand out from every other set in the line. 

buy on amazon, $254.99
7.) The Eiffel Tower (21019)
2014 – 2018 / 321 pieces

Perhaps the most iconic of the LEGO Architecture structures, the Eiffel Tower had one of the longest availability windows of any set in the theme. The set utilizes a lot of interesting features to achieve its “tower” shape. The top section is not very sturdy, but the design of the set and display value more than make up for it. 

buy on amazon, $104.48
8.) United States Capitol Building (21030)
2016 – 2019 / 1,032 pieces

This set is among the largest Architecture sets in terms of width, and it utilized a very unique blend of colors to bring the iconic American structure to life in LEGO form. I sometimes wonder how well these American government-centered buildings sell outside of the US. It’s hard for me to picture a collector in Germany wanting a set like this, but hey, you never know! 

buy on amazon, $269.99
9.) The Louvre (21024)
2015 – 2017 / 695 pieces

The Louvre is absolutely beautiful in person, and its LEGO counterpart lives up to the real thing. Utilizing a wide array of flat tiles, this set has a certain smoothness to it that very few LEGO sets achieve. This is definitely a must-have! 

buy on amazon, $209.98
10.) Big Ben (21013)
2012 – 2016 / 346 pieces

Of all the LEGO Architecture sets, I think Big Ben was the best value for your dollar compared to the likeness of what it set out to represent. It’s a small build but packs the punch of Big Ben’s iconic towering presence. I got this one used, but man am I glad I did! It always brings a smile to people’s faces when I give them the tour of my LEGO collection. 

buy on amazon, $149.98
11.) Buckingham Palace (21029)
2016 – 2018 / 780 pieces

Although I’ve never been to Buckingham Palace, having the LEGO set is the next best thing. This set is unique to all others due to its inclusion of the London Bus out front. Very few LEGO Architecture sets feel “lived in” and real in the way that this one does, and I will always love this set for that reason. 

buy on amazon, $144.97
12.) Sydney Opera House (21012)
2012 – 2014 / 270 pieces

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic Architecture structures in the modern world, and its LEGO counterpart captures all of its beauty in scaled-down fashion. I think if LEGO remade this one, they could build it a little more sleekly, but this set still gets across its likeness and displays beautifully.

buy on amazon, $258.94
13.) Leaning Tower of Pisa (21015)
2013 – 2015 / 345 pieces

Very few LEGO sets are built with an intentional lean, so when they set out to do one, they had better do it right. The LEGO Leaning Tower of Pisa absolutely delivers, and the clever build of the set’s base allows the tower to truly lean just like its real-world inspiration. 

buy on amazon, $241.26
14.) New York City Skyline (21028)
2016 – Present / 598 pieces

LEGO created the skyline sub-theme for Architecture in 2016 and a lot of fans love it because it lets you display many (smaller) locations from a city instead of just one large structure for a similar price. While some of the other skyline sets have great builds and features, the New York City skyline reigns supreme, from its large Empire State Building to its miniaturized Statue of Liberty. 

buy on amazon, $56.25
15.) Paris Skyline (21044)
2019 – Present / 649 pieces

Another selection from LEGO’s skyline Architecture sub-theme, the Paris skyline offers all of the subtleties of Paris in one condensed row. The Eiffel Tower reigns over the set (as it should) with the Tour Montparnasse not far behind it. This set utilized several interesting structural builds that allowed it to have a unique feel when compared to any of the other LEGO Architecture skyline offerings

buy on amazon, $40
Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: Marvel What If…? Comics

As we head toward the finale of Loki on Disney+, we got a glimpse of the next Marvel offering on the platform with the What If…? trailer. This animated series asks the question: “What if things went differently in the MCU?”

This forthcoming show is based on a popular Marvel anthology series by the same title that has spanned six decades and more than 175 stories. What If…? often takes memorable moments in Marvel’s history and flips them on their head, asking: “What if something different happened?” Character deaths, moniker changes and new alliances are all standard fare for this fun fantasy series. What’s amazing is that over the years, these elseworlds stories have bled over into Marvel Canon. The fun nature of the stores, Disney animation and MCU voice actors are sure to have even novice comic fans excited. 

Let’s take a look at 5 (well, 6) of the best marvel What If…? Issues ever. 

What If Spider Man Joined the Fantastic Four?
What If…? #1 Vol. 1
Marvel Comics

The debut issue of the What If…? Series, this is the issue that kicked off the craze. All you need to do is look at this issue to see the impact What If…? has had on the Marvel Universe as a whole. When this issue was released in 1977, the idea of the Fantastic Four including Spider Man was silly and belonged in a non continuity elseworlds-style story. Yet, in the early 2000s, we would see this story become reality as Spider Man legitimately joined FF, donning a white Spider Suit with the 4 emblazoned on his chest. The nostalgia for this issue and its hard to find mint white cover make this one desirable in high grade. 

What If Jane Foster Found the Hammer of Thor?
What If…? #10 Vol. 1
Marvel Comics

This has easily become the most chased book in the What If…? series. This issue tells a story of the supporting character Jane Foster wielding Mjolnir and taking the mantle of Thor. This issue has become red hot as Jane Foster was given the mantle in Thor: God of Thunder #25 and debuted as such in Thor #1 from Jason Aaron. All three back issues are in demand ahead of the upcoming Thor 4: Love and Thunder release next year, which will see Jane Foster wield the hammer in the MCU. This is yet another example where these fantasy based What If…? stories ended up inspiring “real life” Marvel continuity. 

What If Wolverine Killed Hulk and What If Hulk Killed Wolverine?
What If…? #31 Vol. 1 and What If…? #50 Vol. 2
Marvel Comics

The epic battle between Hulk and Wolverine played out iconically in the pages of Incredible Hulk #180-182, featuring the debut battle of Wolverine. One of the common tropes of What If…? is to take epic battles like this and look at what would have happened had the outcome been different. In What If…? #31 from the first volume, we look at what would have happened had Wolverine bested Hulk and Vol. 2’s issue #50 looks at the reverse. Combine these with a reprinting of #180-182 (the originals are expensive!) and you can read and choose your own adventure style story. As with most What If…?s, this is a cautionary tale, as most of the time when something doesn’t go as planned in the Marvel Universe, there are consequences. 

Marvel Comics

What If…? Planet Hulk
One Shot from 2007
Marvel Comics

Coming off the heels of the uber popular Planet Hulk storyline from Greg Pak in 1999, 2007’s What If…? Featuring Planet Hulk asked the question: “What if Bruce Banner landed on Sakaar (Planet Hulk) instead of Hulk?” This was also around the time of Pak’s next big story with World War Hulk. This issue sees the death of Bruce Banner, but that isn’t what makes it an interesting issue. It’s the first appearance of Hulk’s child Skaar, a son he conceived during the Planet Hulk storyline, whose debut makes this an in demand back issue. Couple that with rumors of a TV appearance in the upcoming Disney+ She Hulk Series and this issue has gotten red hot. This is yet again another example of a fun What If…? Story influencing Marvel canon.

What If Venom Possessed Deadpool?
One Shot from 2010
Marvel Comics

That’s right, Venom and Deadpool in not just one comic but one character! This Skottie Young hilarity was originally a back up story split among 4 other What If…? one shots from 2010. The story was instantly popular, mashing up two iconic cult antiheroes, and warranting a stand alone printing. The issue was in almost instant demand and to this day is an extremely tough find in the wild. Yet again another white cover, this one has it all value wise. You have a tough to grade cover, a writer/cover artist whose popularity has taken off since the release of this issue, two top tier characters and an amalgam character who would later be featured in comics, toys and video games. That’s right, Venompool wasn’t a one off like the one shot may have intended. The recent Marvel video game Contest of Champions saw Venompool make an appearance, which also led to the creation of comics and even a Funko Pop to support.

Looking for a fun scavenger hunt next time you’re hitting a comic con? Try and find the four-part first printing of the story with those 2010 one shots with Venompool as a back up story. Lotted together, those one shots can command solid money that they fail to bring individually. 

I could honestly go all day, but these were my top 5 What If…? issues to be on the lookout for. I am pumped to see these comics play out in an animated series. There are so many more great What If…? issues I didn’t mention. With more than 175 of these amazing stories, Marvel has given the fans a look at both sides of the coin and forced fans to ask themselves “What If…?”

Culture News

Jay-Z and Blackstone Acquire Certified Collectibles Group (CCG)

Certainly and deservedly, the Goldin/Collector’s Universe news reported here a day ago was the talk sweeping the Collector’s market yesterday. What may have been overlooked a bit is a massive deal that was announced shortly before the Goldin acquisition. That was the sale of a majority stake in CGC (the market leader in graded comics) and their parent company CCG to a group of investors led by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and including Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Michael Rubin of Fanatics, Daryl Morey, the Director of Ops for the 76ers and NBA star Andre Igoudala among their investment group. The sale puts a valuation of the company at $500 million. 

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms with over $649 billion in holdings. Blackstone’s C.C. Melvin Ike said of the acquisition: “As thematic investors, we look for exceptional entrepreneurial teams succeeding in growing markets, and CCG is a great example. We have been closely following the rise of the global physical and digital collectibles industry for several years and we were drawn to CCG because of their leadership role in the categories that they serve, and Blackstone’s ability to grow the platform through both organic and inorganic initiatives. We look forward to working together to help the company continue and even accelerate its impressive growth trajectory.” Blackstone stated that they intend to leave CCG’s leadership in place. The deal seems to be mostly predicated on Blackstone providing resources to develop CCG’s existing and future verticals. 

CCG is a company with diverse holdings in the graded collectible space with offerings in sports cards, TCGs, paper money, coins, stamps, magazines, posters and comics. The sale undoubtedly has more to do with the business overall and, most likely, its move into sports cards with CSG (CCG’s sports card grading brand), rather than it having to do with comic book grading with CGC, judging by the investors brought into the brand. Nonetheless, with CGC a market leader in the comics space, this will certainly have an effect on the comic market as a whole.

The overall response from the comic collecting community when news dropped yesterday was anything but positive. Most viewed the deal as being a big group of outside investors who will now raise prices to reach profitability, while others viewed the deal as being sports motivated and are now worrying that comics could be adversely affected by any potential policy or pricing changes by CGC. Others worry that outside investment into space is an indication of a bubble.   Some professionals in the market saw it as continued validation for the collector market. 

For me, as a comic investor, I see these moves as a positive sign that the collectibles market continues to be red hot. It feels like every few weeks there is breaking news about a new company or investment group entering the collectibles market. All of it hopefully results in more exposure and an overall rise in value of the comic market as a whole. To collectors and investors who have trepidations about the sale, the beautiful thing is you have options. CBCS, owned by Beckett Media, has been narrowing the gap in secondary market value and market share over the last several months and provides a clear choice as an alternative to CGC. 

The comic market, like many collector markets, has become dependent on grading for solidifying the value of a collectible and maximizing its return at the time of sale. With so much at stake, it will be interesting to see how this new development shakes out. For my part, I will continue to view the market with a bullish nature and positive outlook. 

Culture News

Comic Con Tips for Collectors and Investors

Finally, after a long delay due to a nationwide pandemic, we are heading back to comic conventions. Comic Cons are the lifeblood of the hobby. Creators rely on them to build awareness for their next project, as well as show appreciation for the fans who have supported their previous works. Cons are the best buying opportunities on the comic market. Some of my biggest and best buys have come on the convention floor.

With so many new faces entering the comic space as either collectors or investors, I thought it would be prudent to write up a quick convention survival guide for the ONE37pm community so those curious about comic cons can jump right in and be prepared for success. 

We will start with….

The Obvious

I say these things are obvious mainly because they apply to any mass public gathering. If you have been to a sports card show or a music festival largely, these same rules apply for taking advantage of all that an event has to offer. Here are 5 basics for anyone looking to go to their first con: 

  1. Buy Tickets In Advance

Lines at the ticket window at conventions can be hours long. Aside from the discount pre ordering provides on most occasions, avoiding that dead time will pay dividends in your quest to fulfill whatever your goal for the weekend may be. 

  1. Prep Books to Bring

Whether you’re bringing books to get signed or looking to sell, make sure you have everything neat and organized before heading to the convention. The con floor is a busy place and not the spot you want to be trying to organize and get ready to either obtain a signature or work a deal. Make sure you know what you’re looking to get out of any books you’re selling. Don’t be the guy trying to sell books who has no idea what they are worth. 

  1. Be Early

Hot items go fast and some items are only available in limited quantities. So this is not the weekend to sleep in and lounge out if you’re trying to do damage on the con floor. I’m usually trying to be the first one in the building each day in order to ensure I can accomplish what I am there to do. Using the con schedule to your advantage and maximizing your time is key. 

  1. Bathe

With so many people out of town or burning the candles on both ends, the con floor can become a smelly place. There is nothing worse than being at a booth digging in boxes and having a guy stand next to you that forces you to politely vacate the area. Do not be that guy. Make sure you shower, wear clean clothes and bring a stick of deodorant or light cologne with you for those long days on the crowded con floor. 

  1. Con Crud

This relates to the last one, but clearly hygiene is very important. Many of the dealers and even customers are on the convention scene traveling to multiple cons a month during the summer and fall months. This can lead to sickness spreading around convention floors very easily. “Con crud,” as it has been dubbed, is the cold you pick up from the convention scene. It can be tough to avoid but sanitizing frequently, bathing, keeping an appropriate distance from others and OTC meds can help to prevent this phenomenon from getting the best of you. 

So now that you have the basics and are ready to go to your first convention, the next question becomes…

What do I bring?

This is easily one of the first questions I always get asked from 1st time con goers. And it is a crucial element of the convention experience as good preparation can equal success on the con floor, especially for those trying to squeeze out some ROI. Here are five items that are a must for me to bring to every convention: 

  1. Comfortable Shoes

I could not possibly over rate this one. To be successful at a comic convention and really experience all that is provided, you will be on your feet for multiple days. Foot comfort becomes essential to surviving those long hours without distraction. I would avoid flat bottom shoes like Chuck Taylors, heavy sneakers like basketball shoes and any form of dress shoe. Running shoes are your best option, especially for sneaker heads, as bending and crouching usually leads to creasing. 

  1. Book Bag 

You will be bringing items to the convention and undoubtedly bringing items home. This will require a bag of some sort. Rather than being the guy walking around with ten Thank You plastic bags, a book bag can help you organize and store your purchases as you traverse the con floor. Just be mindful of your bag when you navigate, as convention floors are crowded and you don’t want to be bumping people or booths. 

  1. Storefolio
BCW Supplies

This simple plastic box is absolutely essential to taking your con experience to the next level. If you’re bringing books, you will want to store them in your bookbag in a manner that doesn’t result in dinged and dented corners. You can store your books to either sell or get signed as well as use the box to store purchases. I usually bring 2-3 per day with me to the convention. 

4. Window Box Bags
Certified Collectibles Group

5. Sharpies 

Obviously a Sharpie is an important tool to the signature process, but it goes deeper deeper than that. The color of the signature, much like the signature placement, can affect the bottom line. I like to keep a collection of Sharpie colors in the front pouch or my bag. Gold and Silver are go to colors, but I find that character specific colors equal bonus dollars when it comes time to sell. Getting a signature on a Hulk book? Get it signed in green. Thanos? Use purple. How about Spiderman? Red signature with blue inscription or remarque. The possibilities are endless. 

Now that you have the basics and have all your tools of the trade ready to roll, the last thing that can help you is talking to other collectors who have attended that show in previous years. That can give you a lot of insight into tips and tricks to be successful. But if you don’t have that option, here are 5 tips from me that are applicable to any comic convention. 

Mr Bolo’s Top 5 Con Tips to Bring in ROI
  1. Hit Publisher Tables 1st

These tables tend to be hit by collectors after they have walked the bulk of the con floor. This is a common mistake. Often, publishers attending a con will have very limited convention exclusives. Those can move fast and I like to take care of any of those purchases first thing in the morning. Secondly, they may have back stock available at their booth that many times have been out of stock in stores for some time and are moving to retail on the secondary market. Some of the greatest opportunities for profit are sitting on those publisher tables. 

  1. Hit Artist Alley Second

This is really a double down on #1. To the same effect, some creators have convention exclusives for sale as well as popular books and variants at their artist alley booths. They very seldom have much in terms of stock and all it takes is one dealer or shark-like buyer to figure it out and the opportunity is gone. So when others zig, you zag. I hit the publishers, then artist alley while most go straight for the dealer tables. 

  1. Look For Pressable Defects

Unlike sports cards, creases in comics can be pressed out using a heat press so long as they are not color breaking; grades can be improved from the 8.0 range all the way up to 9.8 with the right presser. With this in mind, one great way to make ROI is to target con dealers who are leaving press equity on the table. Meaning, they are selling mid grade raw copies of books at FMV for their current grade, but with a press, you have the potential to increase in grade. Be sure to look for non color breaking creases as a reason to get excited rather than disappointed in a book. But remember, pressing can cost $20 plus shipping, so make sure you have the ROI built into the book. 

  1. Don’t Overlook Dollar Bins 

Ryan aka CardCollector2 of the CardTalkPod is a regular advocate for $1 bin diving for ROI in the card market, but the same is true of the comic book market. There are tons of buy for $1 and sell for $7-8 opportunities. Shipping and fees have made those type of sales tough, but emerging platforms such as Whatnot are able to provide sales avenues for those books. With the way the market is trending, I’m grabbing any Uncanny X Men, Amazing Spider Man, Wolverine, Fantastic Four, etc. issues I can get my hands on at that price, especially in high grade and/or newsstand versions (with a barcode in the lower left corner). Also diving in dollar bins is like scratching a scratch off lottery ticket. Most of the time it’s small double ups, but every now and then you can hit it big. I have always found the activity worth my time. 

  1. Go Low

We just talked about similarities with the card market, but here is a major difference: comics are heavy and take up a ton of space. In the interest of maximizing floor space, dealers will often put discount boxes under the table. I noticed over time that less collectors look through these boxes. Some don’t see them, some won’t make the effort to bend or crouch, some physically can’t get into those positions or can’t sustain in those positions. These are all reasons I believe in zigging while others zag. I will often target those low and hard to reach boxes as I believe they have been searched less and therefore provide more opportunity for profit.

No matter whether you take my advice or not, I strongly encourage you to hit a comic convention this summer. On top of the buying and selling of books, it’s a chance to meet your favorite creators (most of the time it’s completely free), check out some amazing cosplay, hear from some great voices in the industry during the panels found in the convention halls and to see so many cool items outside of comics—from Toys to Funko Pops to apparel. You name it, they have it. I genuinely hope to see some of you on the circuit this upcoming summer/fall. 

Culture News

Juicy J and Dr. Dina Answer the Question: What is the Future of Cannabis?

We’ve talked about cannabis’ past and we’ve addressed the current state of the industry. Now it’s time to look to the future and what’s to come. In the third and final episode of ONE37pm’s Cannabis State of the Union podcast, host Rama Mayo is joined by two big time names in the space, Dr. Dina and none other than Juicy J. Listen to the full episode below to hear their thoughts on the future of a burgeoning industry, but if you’re unfamiliar with either of this week’s guests, we’re here to help.

Dr. Dina

Dr. Dina isn’t a medical doctor, but she received her nickname from one of the most iconic people in the history of weed-smoking: Snoop Dogg. Dina got into the medical marijuana space in the early 2000s when a friend of her was diagnosed with cancer and found that nothing other than cannabis could helm him keep his medication down. If you know the show Weeds, Dr. Dina’s story may seem familiar. And that’s because she may actually have been the inspiration for the show’s lead character. According to Dina’s website, she “entered the industry in 2003, two years before [Weeds] debuted and at a time when she had direct contact with creative personnel on the show and when there were very few, if any, other women in the business – especially in L.A.” The primary distinction between Dr. Dina and Weeds’ Nancy Botwin, however, is the legality of their work. Nancy was a criminal drug dealer, whereas every bit of Dina’s work in the cannabis space has been entirely legal and based on the goal of popularizing medical marijuana.

Remaining anonymous for a lot of her career, Dr. Dina was thrust into the spotlight upon receiving an inadvertent “outing” in an article about Snoop Dogg in a January 2013 issue of GQ. We couldn’t think of someone better than her to talk about the future of an ever-evolving space.

Juicy J

Odds are you’re familiar with Juicy J’s music, but we can catch you up a bit on his immense work in the legalized marijuana space. The Three 6 Mafia co-founder is more than just a smoker; he launched a cannabis brand with GaryVee last year and always manages to combine his musical ventures with his rapidly growing cannabis initiatives. Back in January, Asterisk* didn’t just release a strain, but coupled the drop with a line of merch and a beat pack. With their meticulously designed aesthetic, Asterisk* beautifully captures the new age of marijuana, one in which weed brands aren’t merely cannabis distributors, but overall lifestyle brands.

Between Juicy J and Dr. Dina, there’s more than enough cannabis expertise to go around. We’ve got the medical marijuana perspective, the longtime smoker viewpoint and the expertise from someone who’s been in hip hop for a very long time. Listen above if you’re interested in learning about the future of cannabis from some of the people most equipped to address it.