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Digital Staples.

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Hibou

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In order to start, I need to end... where was I?

Dan Dare... Fantastic Four?

Hm.

Wait!  I was underwater. Yes, that must be it! No, something is wrong here...

Let's try to go back.

 

 

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As things progressively got worse around the country and around NY, I still had my job to do and that was actually going to be required more now. As I went from state to state and city to city the signs were all starting to point in the same direction...

 

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This was figuratively speaking of course... my roads that I would travel daily remained opened, but for pretty much everything else, things were closing by the day and by the hour. Ultimately things turned for the worse when they announced that the public schools were going to close followed by hints that soon all 'non-essential' businesses would have to close. This was when I realized that whatever this was, this CoronaVirus from December 2019... it was going to devastate everything.

I got my haircut... thankfully.

And I visited my LCS.

I went in there feeling that this would be my last time here. For whatever was about to happen, either I wouldn't be here anymore or this store wouldn't be here anymore. Whichever way it went, I took my time in there and definitely overspent. I asked myself what would I want to read again, what did I want to revisit one last time?

That's when I found this hardcover and thought it was perfect.

The Flash of Two Worlds.

Because that's precisely where we were about to go.

That night, I texted my friend Rob...

 

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So yes, this was what I chose to read right before we were all about to die.

And a nice peated Scotch was to go along with it!

 

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Edited by Hibou
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I'm guessing some people might've turned their social media accounts into hourly PSAs as the news was updating by the hour. Through the remaining weeks of March and going into April so much was changing that many of my family resorted to the same activity of informing other family and friends of these changes or where certain stocked items might be found.

It was also around this time that in multiple states they were asking people to restrict travel... and that's when I received my Travel Authorization papers from my employer. That was weird. As if everything else that was happening wasn't enough. It was simply a formality to indicate to law enforcement that our business was categorized as an 'Essential Business'.

Strange Days.

So from city to city and from state to state, the signs were clear...

We were definitely not in familiar territory anymore and certainly not in Kansas.

 

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So my job hadn't changed in terms of expectations, but other factors surrounding it did. Despite my stubbornness to simply go along as if everything was business as usual, for the safety of my wife and daughter, I altered my daily activities. Some by choice and some by force. Businesses were shutting their doors out of precaution or by order and certain Governors decided it was best to close all highway rest stops in their state. So for those of us that traveled through multiple states each and every day, it was a bit of a challenge.

Even my employment destination point had made drastic changes. Just weeks earlier we had access to offices and break rooms / dining ares and then one day, we were regulated to conducting our business from an outhouse or shack.

I think this was the point where for me, it was the beginning of the end and I'll get to that later.

 

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Despite all of these drastic changes, there was one that kind of made each day more and more creepy...

The people were gone.

The roads were empty.

The quietness of the world.

The skies.

No planes, no cars, no buses...Just the wildlife.

They came out of hiding and it was fascinating to see.

Almost...

Like a movie.

 

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Edited by Hibou
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April of 2020 was definitely a reflective month to say the least. We were all shut down, yet I was still working (now more than ever) but the world had changed.

This may sound strange and it's certainly weird to write this but I 'felt bad' for Easter. All of those baskets and chocolate bunnies in the stores... no one gave a care about that. The stores had shuttered and with that, Easter would be frozen in time. I'm sure some of you can decipher what I'm trying to convey here.

It was just weird.

Our family still tried to carry on our tradition of doing Easter eggs but it was different...

 

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For many Easter Sundays, our family tradition was to go out for Chinese food yet this year, that was not going to happen. And so we improvised and this was the start of what would become our Covid-cations... going to local cemeteries to converse with those that were one step ahead of us. I called these excursions, "Cemeteries and Cigars".  My wife, daughter and our Chihuahua would get into the car and take a drive to a cemetery to get outside and take in some fresh air... surely no one could object to that!

I would have a cigar while my wife and daughter would walk through the cemetery with our dog.

It's kind of sad to write this now but it worked and it's a memory we'll always have.

 

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At one cemetery, I found a piece of (coal?), an interestingly shaped rock and signs of the beautiful world that had changed before our eyes.

 

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On the way back home on this one particular Easter Sunday, we found a Walmart that was open and I was able to go in and buy some frozen Chinese food. That was when they were limiting how many family members could be in a store at any given time up here in NY. And so when we got home that Easter evening... we had our Chinese dinner.

 

...

 

Following Easter was my daughter's 18th birthday.

Nothing would go well this year for my dear daughter but she is certainly strong in spirit and she took everything in stride... well, everything except for the Lotus candle we put on her birthday cake... I think that traumatized her for life!

 

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This was great.

We were vacationing with the dead, locked in our houses and my wife was making home-made masks because there was no PPE to be found anywhere.

It was right after this that I felt the need to go and visit some old friends... and that would bring me back to CGC World.

 

 

 

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Was my world staring to fall apart?

Absolutely.

Even my best friend, Rob couldn't convince me of any better as he worked at a major university and it was nothing but doom and gloom there too!

On the early morning of my daughter's 18th birthday, we had snow.

 

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Our stores looked like this as we weren't allowed to buy 'non-essential' items...

 

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Thankfully they left the liquor stores open here as I decided to splurge on higher end Scotch that I hadn't tried before.

 

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And on social media, we had enough to keep our spirits and smiles up.

 

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But still, for me, there was something missing.

And so, what better time to look at the CGC Marketplace.

The first thing I saw, was an old friend... @skypinkblu ...

...and a sales thread.

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This was right at the end of April and the perfect bookend to what was an insane period for most of us!

@skypinkbluhad a sales thread in which she was selling off her Flash collection.

It didn't take me long to realize what was being presented here.

The last thing I wanted to read before the end of the world was Flash 123 and so, I bought the deluxe hardcover edition.

But thinking back... wasn't that the book that introduced me to this place?

It was.

Way back in 2009... 11+ years ago.

I came to these boards to understand what "cover reinforced with glue" meant.

 

 

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It was my restored Flash 123 in question...

Over some time, I understood a lot in terms of grading and CGC for that matter.

In terms of "collecting comics", this was my book and this would now be my Covid19 book.

And with that, it didn't take long to realize that I NEEDED to buy this book from Sharon!

And so I did. :)

It felt right... and it was from the right person, @skypinkblu .

It was perfect.

 

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This book will never leave my collection... it's as important as my Detective Comics 70!

 

EDIT- Rob just laughed his @$$ off at that comment. I guess he knows me pretty well.

Edited by Hibou
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Buying that Flash 123 was a bit of a turning point as it reminded me of interests that I hadn't recently given much thought to.  Even though the local comic shops were all shut down (and in my mind, never able to reopen) this quiet period gave me the opportunity to sit back and reflect a little on my main hobby, interest and yes, passion. The collections that I had assembled and sold over the many years, the books that I would say to myself, "one day I'll get a copy" and the books that I just enjoyed as a child all became front and center. As this is a point I'll get to later, I wonder if it was the shut down that also created this catalyst in others that would make the collectible market explode (along with pretty much everything else)?

A sense of nothing being guaranteed so to seek and enjoy this time now as tomorrow may not be. It's hard to say, but I'll get into that later.

I was still struggling with this new reality, as I'm sure most of us were, but I was also trying to find humor in it too. At one point, I thought to myself that if our new reality was to be masked and protected, then I had better get myself a suit of armor. I would need two helmets, in case one should get stolen...

 

 

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...and I also needed two sets of gauntlets as well  Foreshadowing the Black Knight perhaps or just crazy - you decide.

Thankfully, I regained my senses and that was as far as I went with that. From here it was back to the other make believe world of comics. :)

Once I started to reflect on my collecting habits and books that I had from when I first became a 'serious' collector, in my mind I went back to the beginning. The thoughts of being introduced to John Byrne and the X-Men in the early 80's are certainly a defining point in my life long admiration of the hobby and in turn, that led to my absolute obsession with the (All-New, All-Different) X-Men throughout the 80's.

As my parents understood this, one of my favorite memories was from Christmas of 1983. (My other favorite memory was from Christmas of 1980 involving Vince Ferragamo and the Rams... I'll tell that one later.

I was 14 years old and my parents knew that there was a comic dealer that I would buy X-Men comics from on Sunday at this local flea market situated on the Fairgrounds. At this point, I still maintained a newspaper route, which I had since I was 11 and that was my source of comic spending money. So the books I were able to buy were not that expensive at all... $15 for a book was almost out of reach so there were a lot of $1 - $5 books. As the story goes, my parents talked to this dealer during this Christmas season and was able to get some information from him in terms of what I would like as a gift. At that time, X-Men 94 was THE big book (Giant Size X-Men 1 was a kind of afterthought) and so that was not something that would be obtainable for them. They did find me a nice early issue and when I opened that present on Christmas morning, I absolutely loved it!

It was a glowing copy of X-Men 96 with a beautiful yellow cover!

I was thrilled to get that yet also perplexed as in how they were able to know about this book, not to mention actually BUY a copy.

Parents. <3

(Now I know.)

I loved looking at that cover... the primary colors in the title struck boldly against that beautiful yellow background set the stage for a composition featuring my favorite heroes about to battle a ferocious demon! A few months later, in 1984, I decided to try and recreate that cover. Surprisingly, I still have that drawing today.

I guess I didn't care for Professor X too much and based on Storm, perspective was still a tricky thing to solve! lol

 

 

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So it was this cherished memory that I went back to around late April of 20endoftheworld. I decided that I needed to get this book back too. What happened to my original X-Men 96 that my parents had bought? It was sold and most likely it involved girls... :(

So right after finding that Flash 123 from @skypinkblu, I found the perfect book yet again. This copy of X-Men 96 looked to be right about in the same grade range as what I remembered my original copy being (Fine+ to Very Fine-) and the price was perfect at $60. So thanks to @goodrockrich , I was able to fill in the space that needed to be filled!

 

 

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As we were exiting spring and getting into summer, things started to feel like they might be rounding the bend... or was that flattening the curve, I forget.

On social media I was seeing that two of my favorite local comic stores were now offering curb-side pick up and trying to adapt to this new retail world. Maybe I had it wrong all along... maybe we were actually going to be OK and maybe, just maybe we would be able to actually go in these stores again!

But more importantly, was the fate of my daughter's graduation in June.

Would there be one... would she actually be able to enjoy one day celebrating her achievement of her last 12 academic years?

I'll leave the discussion of schools alone but I can answer that yes, as chaotic and swift as it was, my daughter was able to recognize her graduation day at the end of June...

20endoftheworld.

 

 

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My daughter graduating was a big point of happiness in my life for 2020. The fact that it didn't all go as planned was (kind of) OK because nothing ever did go as planned for us. Those are stories to be told at another time but to be able to have this time, after what was seemingly doom, was a blessing. I continued my (somewhat) involvement here on the boards and decided that this one book was too good to pass up as it was offered in the Marketplace.

It brought me back to an older time, certainly, but it was a book that I just felt that I needed to own again. The draw and passion was too intense... this was another hallmark of my collection and I just felt that, now, I needed a new representation of this as everything else that I once had was gone.

And so...

I saw this sales thread from @danchoi03  in mid June of 2020 for a Swamp Thing #1 in a 7.0. Looking back, I wish I had enough foresight to have bought all of his Star Wars #1 copies he was selling (9.0,9.2,9.4) because I probably  could've flipped those for enough profit to pay for my daughters room and board for the year! At any rate, I was just focused on that Swamp Thing #1 because it had so many features I looked for in a book from DC in the early 70's and that mainly being TWO ( nearly!) FULL CIRCLES! lol

(Shhh.. there's a date stamp too!)

As older readers would note, that was certainly one of the things I had to have in these issues and so that was enough to convince me that I had to get this one too!

In a way, I was starting the next phase in my comic collecting journey and not even realizing it at the time.

On 6/27/20 I was the last sale on this sales thread but the proud owner of a Swamp Thing #1 once again!

 

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Edited by Hibou
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Consider this the intermission...

 

(Ok, apparently I can't use the Thompson Twins video :( )

 

 

 

 

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And now we're back...

As July came around so did the opportunity to start going back into the ("non-essential" their word, not mine) stores that had now reopened and were allowing limited amounts of people with guidelines of course. I visited the last LCS I went to right before the shutdown and it was a bit surreal. The last time I was in there, I wasn't sure what our futures held not to mention the fact that I didn't think that this store would be open ever again. They had tried to set up curbside pickup a couple of months prior but there weren't any new books coming out due to Covid rules and regulations which affected production and distribution. I went through the store though and picked up random back issues just to be able to start supporting them again. Following this stop, I visited my other LCS and did the same. The owner at this one was trying his best to keep everyone informed of what he was doing on social media and even offering books for sale on Facebook which I thought was a good idea but here's an interesting side story. Right before I was able to physically go into the shop, the owner had offered up about a dozen CGC books on Facebook. One book in particular caught my eye right away but it was too much to make a solid commitment on. It was a book that I had never owned and always wanted a copy as I kept saying to myself over the years and even decades(!), "one day I'll get that one". Well, I felt that this time should be that time but I was going to have to ask him if I could do a layaway option on the purchase. As we've had a very good relationship, I didn't think that was going to be a problem. And so, I contacted the owner only to be informed that I was 10 minutes too late as someone else had claimed the book.  So what was this book and how much was it? It was a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 - CGC 5.0 (VG/F) and it was priced at $1250.00. For most of you reading this, you all know what has happened just recently and I'll certainly be getting to that soon enough. Let's just say that if right now (today), I had 3 times the amount of what that asking price was just 10 months ago... I still wouldn't be able to buy that book.

:whatthe:

I was disappointed of course but kind of relieved that I didn't tie myself down with a commitment like that. I remember thinking to myself that I would find another copy later...

So when I was able to go into the shop, I was looking at the books that were still available from the FB sale but nothing was appealing. I looked around the shop as he seemed to have some new 'wall books' and this one book I saw felt like it would be a good buy on this day. It was another book that I had never owned before but wanted... it just wasn't on the top of my list of books to get. Looking back at this purchase now, I'm glad I got it when I did and at the price I did. I was hesitant at first because it was in the wrong plastic... nothing personal, that's just a thing I have and why I'm here on these boards.

So this was my "I'm still here to help support your store" purchase and I'll most likely send this one in to CGC once things stabilize a bit...

Conan #1  (Fine+)

 

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It was right around this time, towards the end of July and the beginning of August, that I could feel that 'bug' creeping up again as I was naturally again starting to feel that thrill of comics and collecting. Perhaps it was a response to the months that were behind us and the feeling of relief that things were looking up in general. Whatever it was, I found myself fueling that fire as I was now going to the places that I could looking for back issues. I found some good books at our local flea market here and it was the start of rebuilding a collection.

Little did I know (or see) at that time, what was coming next!

It was also at this time that I decided to do something else a bit drastic and risky. So much had changed in the world and for a lot of people that I thought that maybe this was the right time to make a move myself... kind of like, jumping into this 'time-shift' stream (I'll just call it that because I don't know what else to refer to it as) and see what I can make of it. Take a chance... gamble on the future. I thought long and hard about this one but my daughter was going to be going away to college in a month and I was going to need more income and better benefits in order to prepare for this new future. Aside from that, here I was about to be 51 in a few months and I thought to myself, can I go backwards... back in time? What I mean by this is that as we go forward (as the years progress), it becomes harder to go backwards. It becomes harder to start over. So if I were to want to make this jump, it was going to be now or never. Trying to do what I was thinking about doing would be so much harder at 54 than at 50. I had been employed at my job for the past 17 years and liked it. I liked the people, I liked the job... I liked the company. So there was no need to leave. However, I kept hearing this story play out in my head. I'm not sure who it was narrated by, perhaps it was me, but it told the story of the guy who decided to leave behind one world to go to an identical world but one where the results of his labor would be different. Hm... The Flash of Two Worlds. I knew I would be starting all over but I also kind of knew what to expect as it would be very similar to what I was doing 26 years ago. The only problem was that I was 26 years older now and going to go and try to do what I was doing when I was 24 was an uneasy feeling.  Like I said, trying to go back 26 years would be hard but how hard would it be to go back 30 years?  I could remain where I was and comfortably do that for the next 10+ years or I could try and squeeze out one more big move.

And so, I decided to make the big jump... (metaphorically speaking) I went over the top, cut the wire and crossed into No Man's Land.

 

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Doing this only ensured that the rest of 20endoftheworld would be an absolute whirlwind but of course, leave it to social media to accurately describe this feeling!

 

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Of course I would have to take one thing at a time and so, after I made my final decision and started the transition to my new world, it was time to face that which I had been blocking out a bit and that was my daughter leaving to go to college. Thankfully, she chose a college only an hour and a half away but still, it's a difficult thing to work through.  Thankfully, we were able to properly hold an outdoor graduation party for her with a small number of our family members and the weather that day was perfect. Being able to briefly see family that we hadn't been able to see in months was a great feeling and it just made that day all the more special.

 

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The following week, it was time to pack the car and take her to her college dorm. The entire summer had been incredibly frustrating for us in that regard, as it was for many, because there was still so much uncertainty in terms of whether the kids would actually be able to be on campus or would it all be remote.  I don't care to get into the constantly shifting information on that but needless to say, it actually worked out rather well with all things considered.

And so on that Saturday afternoon in August, it was time to say goodbye.

Of course, it was only temporary and just for a few months until her break, but still, it was a bit difficult for me to somewhat let go...

 

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:(

 

 

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