Fees? Fie! Foes, Funds. – Dodging eBay’s Giant Boots

Boy at mailbox opening eBay item in horrible condition
Has this ever happened to you? Not if you ordered from Comic College!

I quit my job at Extranomical Tours and have gotten serious about selling Bob the Human’s warehouse, and what remains of the stock I moved from Minnesota. I’ve gotten serious about eBay and done pretty well for a few months, but it’s time to get Serious about the Fun, and get the products up here at my own online store at Comicopolis.com

For those of you who are thinking about eBay as a career, think on these things: 1) eBay is a huge marketplace so it’s easy to get “lost” and there are probably MANY people trying to sell things similar to yours,  2) eBay is the only game in town for SOME sellers to sell SOME products, and to aggravate both of the above 3) eBay is very protective of their profits. Therefore, it’s best to think of them as the big giant, and yourself like little Jack scurrying around on the floor of the giant’s house, living off the crumbs and the occasional morsel, and being very, very careful! I’m sure there are several, maybe even hundreds, of sellers on eBay that are making a a good living, or even tons of money, ON the eBay site, and if you want to liquidate your collection of Beanie Babies, but not make it a career, it’s a great place on the InternetS. But for someone who WANTS to make it a career, or just work at home, and by that I don’t mean a box in the park, I think most of us have to use it as only ONE outlet, but not THE ONLY outlet. You need to figure out how to sell some “where” else, use email marketing, and use eBay strategically to find customers and draw them into your own site or bricks and mortar shop or follow you to trade shows or whatever. The cut eBay takes out of your margin is big, when you count the cost of NOT selling one thing against the profit you make on SELLING the other thing, along with Paypal (which to be fair, charges in the same neighborhood of most credit card services). So that’s what I’m doing. The next few posts will therefore be about some of my best sellers on eBay, so search engines will find them here on this here blog. So there. Here’s my Jack and the BS view of eBay…. Continue reading Fees? Fie! Foes, Funds. – Dodging eBay’s Giant Boots

Bob Flies Back to Minnesota to finish the move

Dog with cape
Bob lands back in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

We’ve been in California a little more than a month, with only the possessions that would fit in my car, but it’s time to finish the job. There is still a 10 by 30 foot storage unit filled to the door and ceiling with comics, furniture, a life’s worth of accumulated crap, all waiting for me OR the auctioneer if I stop paying the rent, and one more Minnesota Comic Book Convention to sell at. So I’ve been looking into whether I should take Bob with me on the plane to ride back across the country again in the giant rental truck? I’ll be gone almost 2 weeks, so my new roomies are only slightly more familiar with him than random strangers. I think he wants to come! He can help! He’s a super dog, after all.

I would never put him in cargo, so I had to find an airline that would allow him in the cabin with me. He had to get certified by the vet that he’s disease free and healthy, so we visited our new local vet, the Grove Way Vet just a few blocks from home, near the 7-Eleven and Trader Joe’s. They also gave me a gentle sedative for the flight, and suggested I could give him only half a pill, since he is not typically a hyperactive, nervous, barky dog. I agree. Nice people, and a good place.

In a fit of independence and frugality, I decided we could take the BART train all the way to SFO. Continue reading Bob Flies Back to Minnesota to finish the move

From Pompeii in the East Bay to eBay

Bob the human at Fantasy Books and Games
Bob the human at Fantasy Books and Games

I’ve been selling on eBay for quite a while now. Bob (the Human) has this large warehouse that has been dormant since the late 90’s. He started with 1 store in the early 80’s when I met him, and opened or bought 4 more into the early 90’s. He opened the warehouse in an Oakland suburb to house large quantities of merchandise for future distribution to his stores, and the rest of the country through mail orders. When the “collapse” of 94-95 happened, the market ended up with only one real distributor, Diamond Comic Distribution. Through a complex series of negotiations and conversations, his warehouse became the landing point for large air and truck shipments from Diamond to the entire region and Bob’s competitors became his customers as they met at his warehouse to pick up their weekly “fix” of new comics and everything else Diamond sold.  They would pick up the new stuff and shop around this huge room of shelves stacked up to the ceiling with older stuff.

Then, Diamond Distribution decreed that every store in America would be serviced by UPS, which ended the weekly conclave at the warehouse, and one day a few months later, the workers left, the fork lift was turned off, the doors closed, and time stopped. And the dust slowly started to settle. What used to be a bustling, thriving business began to be slowly covered up by dust and accumulated debris of a collapsing empire. Until I show up 5 years later. Continue reading From Pompeii in the East Bay to eBay

MN to CA Day 4: From the land of NO trees to the land of MANY and large

Saturday, August 30, 2003. 425 miles in 9 hours

See the Photo gallery for a lot more photos of this trip.

Gee, Bobby, looky at all them trees!

Morning in Winnemucca. I had been introduced to another cat at check-in and it was waiting to meet the rest of our party in the morning. We had an uneventful packing anyway, and made our way across Nevada and up the Sierras. As is my habit, I  succumbed to the temptation to take a several hour detour around Lake Tahoe. After the white knuckle descent towards the Lake, and a few miles along the shore, we were in California at last – the land of more and bigger trees than even Bob can handle, and where the majestic mountain lion still roams, though in ever decreasing numbers, as civilization makes its relentless land grab. The land of our future life full of opportunity and fun!

Continue reading MN to CA Day 4: From the land of NO trees to the land of MANY and large

MN to CA Day 3: White Sands of Salt Lake and a Storm in Nevada

Friday, August 29, 2003. 535 miles in 10.5 hours

See the Photo gallery for a lot more photos of this trip.

"Dan's Petrified Critters" - the Horror!


Up and on the move in Rock Springs, Wyoming, at the crack of 11. It takes a while to get this crew out of a motel! Practically down the block from our motel – now, this is a rude awakening. Sam is wondering what is so interesting about a run down building, but he is just beginning to grasp the meaning, and Bob can only stare in horror. “Why are you slowing down?!? Get us out of here!”

Anyone notice a stylistic trend on the part of the photographer yet? I call it the “back of Bob’s head motif”, or BOBHM, for short, and I warn you that there is more coming. Continue reading MN to CA Day 3: White Sands of Salt Lake and a Storm in Nevada

MN to CA Day 2: From the Black Hills to the Rock Springs

Thursday, August 28, 2003. 535 miles in 12 hours

See the Photo gallery for a lot more photos of this trip.

What a waste of 400 highway billboards!


The great Wall of South Dakota, which is not that great, and to be honest, not very many walls. But here we are, and Bob seems unimpressed. We look down the long, covered sidewalk and wait for something to happen – anything.

Nothing does.

A few hours later , the 3 of us had a little taste of Freedom in the shadow of the 4-Fathers, and a lot of clouds at Mt. Rushmore. We paid our National Park fee and parked in the gigantic parking ramp, but were told that all pets were restricted to the grassy area at the far end. It was about 20 by 40 feet, and not very grassy. Bob did not feel, shall we say, inspired. Continue reading MN to CA Day 2: From the Black Hills to the Rock Springs

MN to CA Day 1: He’s Leaving Home, Bye, Bye

Wednesday, August 27, 2003. 515 miles in 11 hours

Check out the photo gallery page for more pictures of the MN to CA road trip.

On our way, stopped for camera batteries!

After spending a couple of days of frenzied packing and goodbyes, and with the invaluable assistance of my bestest and oldest friend Mike Ziegahn on the last morning, we are ready to go at 2:30 pm. I strapped that bike on there like we would be driving through a hurricane, and had my cable lock involved to force someone to cut all the straps to remove the bike and rack as one unit. I have three guitars in there somewhere, all my audio gear, and a trunk full of clothes and immediately useful household items for our new home in California. Continue reading MN to CA Day 1: He’s Leaving Home, Bye, Bye

Go West, Young Man! or… Californee is the place ya oughta be!

Bob with my "oldest" friend Mike Z.

This sort of summarizes a lot of posts that I actually wrote back in May, but this one is a LOT shorter! And Better. I just started “blogging” back in May during the eclipse, thinking I would just, y’know, write stuff. Right now I’m going through a major transition, moving to California, leaving friends and family behind because I think I will enjoy the physical, social, and economic environment out there more while I figure out how I will spend the rest of my life. So that’s what’s happened lately, and so that’s what I have to write about!

It’s about 14 years of trying to run uphill.

“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some (my emphasis) reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942 Continue reading Go West, Young Man! or… Californee is the place ya oughta be!

Why am I here…In the Comics business?

Amazing Fantasy #15 introduces Spider-Man to the world in 1963
Spider-Man pushes aside the usual Monthly Monster and steals the show, and makes history. Scan of a copy I sold a year ago.

Because I was born at the right time to make me just the right age to start reading comics at the best time since they were invented. It was kismet! But I had to fight an uphill battle against social stigma, economic hardship, and the most formidable enemy of all…

My mom didn’t like comics. She had probably read the “news” stories before I was born connecting comics with juvenile delinquency. Both my parents were very simple, very frugal, and they were mildly disapproving of “worldly” influences of pop culture and such. She did not allow playing cards, you know, the kind with kings and queens on them. Neither of them drank. My mom’s worst vice was candy. She taught me to love circus peanuts, chocolate, those round pink mints with 4 x’s on them. It was against her wishes that I started to involve myself in training for my very future career. I was a pretty good student and went to a well-respected private college, took the pre-med program with a degree in Biology. Within a year of graduating, I was starting down the road to comic book “investing” and retailing. But, you may ask, how did it happen? Or why? Well, I’ll tell ya…..

Continue reading Why am I here…In the Comics business?

Lunch, a walk, an eclipse, and starting a blog

Sitting at the back door of the College, with the house.


Yesterday was my last day at NRG, the country-wide spinoff of our local power company, NSP. They were sort of an Enron wannabe, dealing in global futures and building power plants from New Jersey to South America. Accountemps placed me there in the summer of 2001 and in early September, they told me they were going to pay the buyout fee and hire me permanently. Then the Enron scandal hit, their bonds were down-graded, they instituted a hiring freeze, and they started the inexorable slide into bankruptcy. Yesterday, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but I had to stay an extra hour (unpaid – timesheet already signed for 5pm) to leave my mess of now obsolete (like me) files a little more manageable for the next unfortunate minion to touch them. It was also the day they had the big nation-wide conference call with the employees about the bankruptcy hanging over our heads for about a year. Not my problem anymore. I hope my few remaining comrades survive and remain in good spirits.

A warning: If run-on sentences drive you crazy, don’t click that “READ MORE” or “CONTINUED” link!

Continue reading Lunch, a walk, an eclipse, and starting a blog

Dicta et Picta