Friday, 5 December 2014

Weekly Update #60: 'OWH' & 'CAU' Copies


Hello, everyone!

Okay, another laborious (and I mean LABORIOUS) Update this week, I'm afraid.  I'm gradually going down the checklist of Before I Die Stuff and this is the last major component that needs to be moved along from Square One...

[alongside restoring the House, digitizing the artwork and negatives, putting The Cerebus Trust in place (my CIBC financial advisor I spoke with briefly last week and she assures me THEY will fit themselves around Aardvark-Vanaheim's needs.  Which is reassuring since this is going to be no one's idea of an intellectual property "template")]

Basically, I have a preliminary estimate of what it's going to take to actually relocate all of the CEREBUS inventory from Leamington to Kitchener.  Wasn't something that I was planning to "dive into" and then one of my trial balloons came, unexpectedly, floating back which made me devote most of two days last week to actually getting the project organized (mentally, at least: which is where all of these things start).

So, I kept backing the project up from the estimate $1,100 per trip (including U-haul rental, storage rental, 3 hours travel down, 3 hours travel back, loading and unloading) and going "Okay, TOO ambitious.  How do I START this?"  And that was when I realized that it has to start with the Earliest Off-White House Copies of the individual comics.  Both because it's the smallest quantity and likely the most valuable. The official category is "Complimentary & Gift Copies" which was something I did for years and didn't talk about.  If you wrote a fan letter and mentioned that you needed a CEREBUS issue and did I know where you could get it?  If I had it in "Complimentary & Gift Copies" I'd sign a copy and send it to you, bagged and boarded.  Usually saying "PLEASE don't tell anyone you got this." Which, fortunately, no one did.  Sometime "Lariv" plays in my favour :)

Comping that way became impractical a few years ago when I started actually looking at what it cost to send an individual bagged and boarded comic book by mail (especially US and International, which was virtually all of them).  But that meant, I still had these long boxes full of books.

(It definitely wasn't something I focussed on, to say the least.  So you have weird anomalies like the fact that there are NO copies of CEREBUS #91 in "Complimentary & Gift Copies" and something like a thousand of them in Leamington.  If someone needed a #91, I'd check Long Box One and go, "Nope, sold out."  Never comparing the two.)

So, I thought, "Okay, start small: let's bag and board and get a Certificate of Authenticity for the Long Box One CHURCH & STATE copies, sign them and write 'OWH' under my signature."  As usually happens, while I was doing that, I ran, mentally, up against the Kickstarter "Own Your Number" program -- which I added after OWH was conceived.  That is, if you ordered CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE early enough and you've got "#7", you hang onto #7 for all future CEREBUS ARCHIVEs until you let go of it...

(...or,  just to illustrate how complicated this gets/got in a hurry, if you have a "Lowest Number" request -- you have Your Number but if a lower number becomes available and you're on the "Lowest Number" list then you get the lower number -- you could Own #18 on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE and then Own #11 on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO, as an example.  So, for the purposes of the OWH Copies -- I think you see where I'm going with this -- you would be said to have Owned #18 from the time CANO came out until CANT shipped at which point you would Own #11 but no longer Own #18: when you "let go" of your number, you let go of it) that should apply to the OWH copies as well, right?  I asked myself.  RIGHT?  I asked myself again.  Right, right, right, I thought.

So: level of possible complexity: here's the actual rundown on Long Box One [number of copies in square brackets]:  61[3], 63[6], 66[7], 67[1], 73[4], 74[13], 80[12]

[One of those "happy accidents" when you actually sit down to do these things: I found the #80 office copy with Karen McKiel's handwritten notes on it mixed in with the rest of them: it had been there for nearly 30 years and -- obviously -- I retrieved it for the Archive itself]

81[22], 82 [17], 85[12], 86[13], 87[14], 88 [11], 89 [9], 90 [13], 92 [12], 93 [15], 94[8], 95[14], 96 [13], 97 [15], 98[10], 99[12], 101[9], 102[12], 103[13], 105[12], 106[10], 107[10], 108[13], 109[14], 110[14], 111[12].  As you can see, they're pretty small quantities so the number of Kickstarter people who even have the OPTION of participating are very few.  Is that fair?  Mm. If I had a number higher than 22 I might not think so.  But, to me, a CEREBUS fan jumping on the ordering process for CANO at the level equivalent to camping out for tickets overnight to get as low a number as possible should be the gift that keeps on giving.

And it IS only an OPTION.

This is why I'm talking about this extensively here even though we're a good few weeks or few months from actually getting even this tentative first baby step accomplished.  I think everyone needed fair warning.  "These aren't RUNS of books -- there are 32 of the 60 CHURCH & STATE issues.  They're 'uncirculated' but not guaranteed 9.8 mint.  On the pre-1990 issues, odds are they were both at 47 King St. W (attested to by the presence of the #80 office copy -- Karen McKiel only worked at 47 King St. West) before they moved to the Off-White House."  That's the cachet.  I don't want to hold even a SMALL gun to people's heads (which I would classify as "Okay here they are, now you have to pay for them RIGHT NOW or LOSE YOUR NUMBER").  SOME people aren't going to be interested no matter how low a number they have. Others are going to want them but not be able to buy them anywhere NEAR to all-at-once.  To make it worth the labour and shipping costs (as well as helping finance the multi-$1100 trips to Leamington and back), we're going to be looking at single copies in the ballpark of $15 just to cover the shipping and packaging costs.  Dropping from there -- how far? I don't know -- if you order multiple copies...

[another level of complexity rears its head:  can you order ONLY a few of Your Number?  Let's say you only need 4 of the 32 individual comics.  Yes, of course.  But the rate you pay per book is going to be higher than if you agreed to purchase all 32 of Your Number.  And you have to accept the fact that there are going to be 28 copies of Your Number circulating that you aren't going to have.  Again, the cachet that I see is:  "I have CANO, CANT and all of the OWH copies in #___".]

[I'm thinking that we will reserve all 32 of Your Number for a period of time -- say 6 months to a year -- and also offer an instalment purchase plan on your credit card.  This much per month and at the end of however long, when they're paid for we ship them to you.  And you can opt out at any time.  "Thought I wanted them badly enough, turns out I didn't so -- a year later -- I don't want them."  No harm, no foul.  But, you can't opt back in.  Once you let go of Your Number and any quantity of books that have Your Number, we're going to either offer them for sale or auction them to raise money for the $1100 per trip Leamington Relocation -- because that's the Larger Idea behind this:  I'm facing a Before I Die mountain of a problem and I'm trying to find a way to fund something that's actually completely UNfunded right now].

[And it would definitely be helpful if you're reading all this and are entitled to Your Number -- whatever that is, of how many different issues -- and you're going "Uh, no. Definitely not. 100% NO from me on that one" that you let John Funk or me know when you get a minute, so we can have Your Number mentally "in play" as we go along and take you off the list.]

...the actual price, I haven't really arrived at yet.  That's going to take a mental slide rule: how much for a single copy, 4 copies, 8 copies and 32 copies.  To help with that mental slide rule (about which I haven't the FOGGIEST idea), once we're ready to move to baby step #2, it's going to consist of auctioning the Cerebus Archive copies of the OWH Copies.  Leaving the Cerebus Archive and Off-White House without OWH CHURCH & STATE copies.  Which is SORT of a drag, but, if I'm sticking strictly to You Own Your Number (which I am) then #2 and #3 are the only numbers "in play" right now.

So (if you're still with me) the Cerebus Archive has OWH CHURCH AND STATE copies that are #2 and #3 out of ____.  So what I'm picturing is an auction of a) four comic books numbered #2 b) four other comic books numbered #2 c) 8 comic books numbered #2 d) 16 comic books numbered #2 and e) 32 comic books numbered #3.  My assumption being that whatever batch goes for the most "per copy" that tells us what the "clumping" effect is and that should give me a clue to pricing.  Just a clue, but then any sized clue is better than "haven't the FOGGIEST".

Mara (Hi, Mara!) has worked up a prototype of the Certificate of Authenticity based on my design which should be around this post (sometime after TimW gets home from work   :) along with a couple of sample scans that will show you what the signature and OWH designation look like.

Sean gave me an early warning that the purple I picked out for the background colour is a little heavy to have black type on it, so it isn't carved in stone.  But I did want to get it posted here to show you what we're looking at.  The Off-White House Copies will all have the Certificate of Authenticity on the back of the backing board.  As you can see, it will have a reproduction of one of the signed copies so you can verify "yes, this is what an Off-White House Copy of this issue looks like" as well as one of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE FIRST RELEASE Gold Seals.

I warned you this was LABORIOUS:

So those are the first batch of OWH Copies.  The next OWH Copies will be the JAKA'S STORY issues and then each trade paperback after that.  But we're going to wait until ALL the CHURCH & STATE OWH copies have been through the process and we have 100% Happy Campers with whatever has happened with them before we even DREAM of moving on to JAKA'S STORY.

The copies that are in Leamington will be CAU copies:  CEREBUS ARCHIVE UNCIRCULATED.  The difference with those -- apart from the signature having CAU written under it instead of OWH -- will be the range in quantities.  Whereas the OWH Copies will be deemed the property of Pledge Partners who own Really Low Numbers -- there will be plenty of CAU issues in that category -- there are others that we're actually going to be able to solicit through Diamond (again, autographed and with Certificate of Authenticity) and still only sell a fraction of them at (I'm guessing) a $19 cover price (factoring in Diamond's cut)...

[In the interests of "leading with our best shot" I think that will start with CEREBUS BI-WEEKLY #20 which is the first appearance of Evan Dorkin's "Milk & Cheese" of which there are about 200 or so CAU copies]

...and still leave us with a "beyond my lifetime" supply as a Cerebus Trust fundraiser in the long term.

And that's a MAJOR part of what this is all about.  Getting everything in place with ALL of the comics autographed, bagged and boarded and with Certificates and stored and ready to go for Dave Sim's Personal Black Friday.  Sorry to be glib for those of you who are squeamish about mortality in general and mine in particular, but -- given the political climate -- it's a safe assumption that the 72 hours or so after I die will be the Black Friday of CEREBUS Sales that never existed while I was alive ("He's dead, he can't hurt us anymore, we can afford to be magnanimous for three days before we expunge him from the historical record").  So, it's well worth mandating that the Cerebus Trust ("dump" is so HARSH a word  :)  keep an open conduit through eBay for at least those 72 hours and longer if "Dave Sim croaking" is still registering on some radar screens by the time I'm actually planted a week later.  This will be specified as one of my last wishes to keep the eBay Propriety Police from doing anything about it.  There is a possibility that the sales generated in that 72 hour period will help finance keeping the House and contents maintained for a year or period of years.  Since I won't have any control over what happens AFTER that, it seems to be money that I really can't afford to "leave on the table".

When I said this post is really just a first baby step, I wasn't kidding!  And look how long and laborious it turned out to be!

I have to say one of the biggest surprises I've found in the last year or so when I decided that the only thing that made sense was "open governance" is just how difficult it is to explain all of this stuff that I've been moving around in my mind for a good twenty years now, closing off as many bolt holes as I can (BET you there are five major surprises the first day after I'm gone that will put the whole thing in jeopardy despite my best efforts!), building in redundancies, etc. etc.  I really thought it would just take a couple of posts to get it all down here and then I could move on to more general LONG TERM stuff.

Like I say:  a year later and I keep going back and forth between "this week's brushfire and what I'm trying to do about it" and "Okay, how do I explain OWH and CAU in 25 words or less?"

For people who like this sort of thing, well, this is just the sort of thing they like, eh?

Thanks to everyone who keeps bearing with all of this.  Now back to picking up the mail and picking up groceries.

See you next week, God willing!


Anonymous said...

This is something interesting that never, ever would occur to me: There are people who are interested in getting a lower number on their Cerebus Archive portfolios. To me, comics are for reading, and it seems foreign to want to seal an issue in a plastic box where you can't enjoy it, but I can sort of understand the desire to preserve what is also a historical artefact. I don't really appreciate this "lower number" stuff.

But! Some people obviously do. My question is: How many people? Performing a cost/benefit analysis, are there enough people who care to make it worthwhile for Dave to spend his finite time on this? As I always say in such circumstances: let the numbers decide.

I don't think Dave is being gruesome by considering that after his death there is likely to be a bump in price for Cerebus back issues. His passing probably won't rate a mention in the National Pest or The Glib and Stale, let alone The New York Slimes, but it will certainly be noted in the comics community -- and we're the only people who will be interested in buying Cerebus back issues anyway. I recall noticing that when Whiteney Houstink died, the price of her albums took a temporary but huge rise. I think that Dave is probably correct that he can capitalize on that to help fund his "Museum of Me", so it's probably worth his time to set that in place.

If Dave wants to capitalize on his own death with some delightfully bad taste, what about including with those sale issues a "Zombie Variant" print of Dead Dave himself? That cements these copies as OWH or CAU and PMS (Post-Mortem Sale) copies.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, rip

jonbly said...

Moving stuff from A to B... obviously there are risks, but at some # of trips, it'll be better to buy a second-hand van than keep hiring.

Jake Capps said...

I was one of those "stand in line" people that emailed exactly at 10PM, and was told I was around one of the first 10 people but I didn't opt for a lower number. I picked 77 because I thought it would be a fun Cerebus significant number to pick. I guess it is what it is.

John Mosher said...

Man. No copies of my number. (62).


Heavy sigh........

Steve said...

As I mentioned in a previous post, a recent eBay auction of a full run of issues #50 to 300 (yes, 250 consecutive issues) sold for just over $50 (just over $100, with postage).

Apart from high-grade early issues (#'s 1 to 10) there's not much interest in individual issues.

And apart from some folks here who might spend the money as a way to support Dave, there's virtually no interest in Bi-Weekly #20.

Use 'em to warm up the OWH during the winter.

Jeff Seiler said...

Direct to Dave: Sorry, but I'm very confused by this. Does one only get to buy (say) the one-of-one OWH copy of #67 *if* one is the "owner" of #67 of CANO? Or does one have to be the "owner" of #67 for both CANO *and* CANT? Or does the OWH one-of-one #67 go to whoever "owns" #67 at the time of sale (presumably, whoever "owns" #67 on CANIII)? (Okay, I think I actually get this part, but bear with me...)

OR, (theoretically possible) what if *no one* "owns" #67 at the time of sale? Does the OWH copy then go to the highest bidder? And, would the same solution apply if the "owner" of #67 opts out on buying the one-of-one OWH? AND, if that person does opt out, does that mean that he or she forfeits #67 for future Cerebus Archive offerings?

And, what if Joe Smith really only wanted CANO (and got #67), but couldn't afford CANT and, thus, forfeited his "ownership" of #67, BUT really, really wants that one-of-one OWH #67? *Should* Joe be thusly penalized?

Or, for that matter, should I, as the purchaser of *two* portfolios each of CANO, CANT, CANIII (at which point OWH #67 presumably will be offered) have no chance to purchase the only one-of-one OWH in the first offering, simply because I wasn't lucky enough to be assigned or prescient enough to have requested #67 *months before* anyone (including you) knew that there would be a one-of-one OWH copy of #67?

Still with me? Good. (Deep breath).

NOW: What if there are no OWH copies of #121 ("my" secondary number for *all* offerings of Cerebus Archive up to the point when Jaka's Story OWHs are offered) and then, of course, there are zero copies of #301 ("my" primary number for all offerings of Cerebus Archive up to the point when The Last Day OWHs are offered)? Or, would I get the chance to buy all of the extant OWH copies of the 2003 (4?) Christmas card?

(The one with the fake copy of Cerebus #301, for the under-informed blog readers.)

I hope you can see that the above scenario/s would leave one of your most ardent supporters high and dry for OWHs, *IF* I am reading today's blog correctly.

If I am not reading it correctly, well, then, (in the immortal words of Roseanne Rosannadanna):


(But, seriously, I really, really, really want to have at least a *shot* at any one-of-ones.


So please tell me where I'm wrong and how I will have a shot, or, if I'm correct, please rethink this.

Best, and yours beyond 301,


Jeff Seiler said...

Oops. In paragraph 3 of the above post by me, that should read "Should Joe be penalized thusly?"

Damn split infinitives!

Jason Penney said...

My reading is that the issue number has nothing to do with it, only the number in brackets. So for #67, the person who "owns" #1 has first crack at the 1 of 1 copy, and for 74[13] the folks who "own" #1 through #13 get first crack at their respective numbers.