Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second hand comics market and Comics collection in Tamil Nadu!!!

As you all know there is a sudden increased interest in Tamil comics in the past few years. Internet has played a major part in this revival of interest. Many fans have become serious bloggers to pen their thoughts about Tamil comics. Some bloggers cover Indian as well as foreign comics (available in India) and many Tamil bloggers also cover comics in general. The underlying link between this bloggers is, they are all Tamil comics readers.

Suddenly everyone want to buy the old issues, be it Muthu/Lion or any comics for that matter. Basically they want to read whatever they have read when they were young. Unfortunately the old issues are no longer available with the publishers, so you have to rely on the second hand market to get these issues. Some get these issues from friends and known circles. The not so fortunate will resort to buying it from spurious sources. 

Whenever there is some interest in a commodity, there will be some businessmen in the scene. Some honest and some not so honest. Some downright cheats, who bank on the interest of this nostalgic fans. They exploit them for a profit, sometimes justified and sometimes unjustified. This blog is to highlight what is happening in Tamil Nadu as of now, as far as comics book selling is concerned.

I believe the price of any commodity is what the buyer is ready to pay, irrespective of what the seller/market feels as the worth of a commodity. I do not want to interfere in this process. I have already written a piece about this in my blog. But things have changed after this article.

I have heard from a friend of mine, who called me few days back to inform that he got a great bargain of Malaimathi comics. He mentioned that  for 25 issues of Malai Mathi comics he has agreed to pay Rs 20000(Yes, rupees twenty thousand). I was shocked to hear this news. As this friend is staying overseas for the past many years, he is not aware of the market. Not that I have full knowledge of the market in India, but atleast I'm better informed than this friend. Someone has pestered him for a long period to push this deal. I have told him that the price he is ready to pay is way toooooooooooooo high. Even if the book is in mint condition(i.e. as if it was released from the publisher today) it is not worth more than Rs 100. Not that I know from where you can buy all these issues. Even this price is very much on the higher side. To show that it is still possible to get Malai mathi comics, I have asked a friend of mine from another part of Tamil Nadu to buy few issues. He bought one issues in great condition and 4 issues without cover, all for Rs 5 each. I have tried to tell him in many ways that the price is too high, but my friend feels that he has given his "Word" to the greedy seller that he will buy so he cannot back out now. As he is in India now, I have told him to attend one election meeting and hear what promises the politicians give, knowing fully well that they are not going to keep it. I have told him that will give him the motivation to backtrack from this purchase. Not sure whether he will do that though!. 

Another interesting thing has happened in 2006. After I have posted my blog about Muthu Mini comics, one gentlemen has contacted me with the offer to sell the only issue missing in the post, that is issue 8, Muthal Vedhalanin Kathai. He has sent me a mail saying that he has the book, but the price expected as Rs 4000(Yes four thousand rupees). I thought he has typed one zero extra in the price, but he insisted the expected price is Rs 4000. Even if it was offered at Rs 400, in my opinion it was just not reasonable. Not sure whether he has managed to sell this book though. I have recently bought couple of Muthu Mini issues for Rs 10(without covers though).
 
While I was discussing this incident with other comic friends and bloggers, they have also mentioned that there are some people who exploit the interests of new fans, who do now have access to reliable sources. The "Raja" of Tamil comics mentioned how his friend got duped by someone whose name starts with the meaning "Azhagu". As usual this guy who wanted to buy the book was not familiar with the current market and he is a serious Lucky Luke fan. So when some one approached him with the offer to sell a Lucky Luke issue, he jumped with joy and paid Rs 500 for each issue issue of Lucky Luke. Only thing this seller did not mention was all these issues are still available with Prakash publishers for a cover price varying from Rs 5 to Rs 10. This new comics fan also proudly mentioned to the "Raja" that his new found seller is ready to sell Muthu/Lion comics in good condition for "just" Rs 100/each. Again when this seller was contacted about the list of available issues, the list came back with exactly the same issues that are in the "Virpanaikku Thayaaraga Ulla Puthakangal", published in every new issue of Muthu/Lion back pages. That is, this seller buys the book from the publishers for Rs 5 and sells to the unsuspecting new fans for Rs 100. This blog is to unmask the sellers like him and to protect the new fans. Whether I will succeed or not is not is a different issue, but I want to make an attempt. 

Whenever some one contacts me asking for the old issues, I always tell them to get in touch with Prakash Publishers(Muthu/Lion owners) first. Even the list which is printed in the back inside covers new Muthu/Lion issues are not accurate as they were printed many months back. So it is better to contact them over phone(simply a local call now-a-days) and ask for the list available. If you do not have many issues with you it is better to ask for one copy each from all the available issues of Muthu/Lion/Comics Classics. Why this is important is, the list printed as the "Virpanaikku Thayaaraga Ulla Puthakangal" will contain only the issues which are in stock with atleast 20 copies. There may be few issues which are less than 20 copies, but still available with the publisher. You can ask for the cost with postage and send a money order to them(I guess now-a-days all the banks with internet banking facility offer this service online). It is that simple.

If they do not have the issues you need, then your option is to look for these issues in the second hand shops. But this is not possible if you are outside India. Also Chennai second hand shops are dry and in places like Salem, the price has shot up to the sky.

What we can do is we can have a network of buyers and sellers who want to exchange old issues. To start with, we can have this list only for exchange basis. You may have doubles of some issues or you may want to part with one issue to get another. The will not be any sales involved in this, just bartering. Post your suggestions as to how we can go about implementing this. If you guys want, we can include sales for cash at a later date. 

But before we can do that we have to define what is the price of each issue. This is a tricky part. If you are just interested in reading the story you can get many golden stories from Comics Classics, there is no need to buy the original old issues are exorbitant prices. But if you want to collect the old issues then it is better to go for graded issues. Do you wonder what is Grading? Grading is the specification of condition of a comic book. Many of you would say, "No No, we never had anything like that in Tamil comics industry. There is nothing like preservation of comics in Tamil Nadu. Why are you starting this grading business now". Till some time back the back issues were available for few rupees, but they are sold for hundreds of rupees now. If you are expecting a price like Rs 100/200 then you better have a product worth that price. Not everything qualifies for this price tag. 

For example issue number 1 of Muthu comics in Mint condition(as if it has come out of publisher today is worth Rs 750. However the issue you have does not have first two pages and last two pages, then it is work only Rs 10. All other conditions, like issues with binding, taped, torn cover and pages, price clipped(where the price is torn by the second hand shop owner) will fit in between these two prices. 

I can give another real world example for this. Suppose you want to buy a second hand bike, will you pay the same price for the same model and make, if one has run 50000 km and looks in bad condition to another bike which was well maintained and has run just 12000km. The price should and will vary based on the usage and condition right? Just because one comic book purchased by some one for Rs 500 in mint condition, does not make your book which does not have first and last few pages to be sold for the same price. If you think your book value is same as the one in mint condition, you must be dreaming!!! Wake up!!!

Sadly this seems to be the case as of now. Somewhere, someone has bought few comics for a good price based on the condition of the book. Now everyone feels that even if they have few pages of the whole book, the value is same as the one which was sold in mint condition.

I think the time has come to demand the rights of the comics buyer, who is willing to pay huge price. He should be entitled to get a good quality product in return. It is time to empower him with this knowledge.
 
You can ask, who are you to fix a price like this and what is in it for me? Well the answer is, this is a qualitative decision and a personal opinion. I'm entitled for my personal opinion right, whether you agree with it or not. I do hope that some one from the small remote village in Tamil Nadu who has got a good collection gets benefited by this list, if he decides to sell his collection and if he searches the internet before selling(hopefully). I also hope that the Lucky Luke fan like the one who has paid Rs 500 for a book Worth only Rs 5, gets to read this blog before he shells out money on Tamil comics.

You may or may not agree with me, saying that please let me know the source from where I can buy the comics at this price. My answer is "Search on your own, but keep this price list as a reference". You may or may not get the issue you want at the price mentioned in the list, but these are the guidelines. If you get anything less than the price mentioned in the list, then be Happy. If you are paying above the listed price, then don't deviate too much from the listed price.

Next let me explain how this prices are determined. They are based on the price at which I and my friends have purchased the comics in the recent past and a bit of judgement based on my years of comics collecting experience. As I do not live in India my info could be slightly out-of-date, but most part should be fine I guess. If you have any reason to believe that the price is not correct or grossly inaccurate then please drop a note to me, either in the comments section here or by email. Or if you feel that publishing a price is a stupid idea, just laugh it off.

Here are the tips on preservation for those who are new to Comics Collection. The idea is, the book should be as close to the original condition as possible.

1. Never alter the state of the book in anyway. 
2. Do not tear the price from the cover(tell this to the book shops from where you buy the back issues regularly)
3. Do not bind the book
4. Do not paste cello tape on the cover(however damaged the book is). 

Here is the list of do's on preservation:

1. Keep the comics in a plastic cover, if possible with a card board back up and store them vertically(never horizontally, as the book tends to curl up when stored this way). Do not remove from book from the plastic cover unless required.
2. Store the comics away from Sun light or bright light. 
3. Use book marks when reading, instead of folding the corners.

And here is a printed article about comics preservation with a photo of a comic book with a plastic sleeve and backup board. A picture says more than thousand words!!!



Before we close this topic, let me clarify about a rumour that is doing rounds, saying that someone is reprinting the old Muthu issues again for Rs 100. I was told that about 100 Muthu comics issues were printed like this. But when I have asked whether I can get a copy I was told it is not available now. So this is what it is, just a rumour. No one can sell the copyrighted material without the owner's permission(Prakash Publishers). If I come across anyone who is doing this I would not hesitate to pass the info across to the copyright owners. I encourage you to do the same. Let us all work together to preserve a medium we all love.

And where is the price list? Well, it is under preparation and will appear in this blog soon. Meanwhile I want to know your opinion about the issues posted above.

Happy Reading!!

Regards,
Muthufan

16 comments:

King Viswa said...

Well, Well, Well.

1st Ever Post in Muthu Comics.Com and Me the First, As Usual.

King Viswa
Carpe Diem.
Tamil Comics Ulagam

King Viswa said...

Dear Muthu Fan,

//Many fans have become serious bloggers to pen their thoughts about Tamil comics// We all Know who the inspiration is. Every Post that TCU Does is a Tribute to Muthu Fan's Comics Blog for it was the Inspiration for us to start Blogging.

//I believe the price of any commodity is what the buyer is ready to pay, irrespective of what the seller/market feels as the worth of a commodity// In this Commercialised World, Gone are the Days when the Seller used to define the Price, Even if the Commodity happens to be as rare as an old comics be.

//I have already written a piece about this in my blog. But things have changed after this article// i Agree with your POV.

//I have heard from a friend of mine, who called me few days back to inform that he got a great bargain of Malaimathi comics. He mentioned that for 25 issues of Malai Mathi comics he has agreed to pay Rs 20000(Yes, rupees twenty thousand).// I Have also Spoken to Him and will meet Him in person next week and will try to change his mind.

//As he is in India now, I have told him to attend one election meeting and hear what promises the politicians give, knowing fully well that they are not going to keep it// Couldn't prevent Laughing Loudly. Very True, though.

//I have recently bought couple of Muthu Mini issues for Rs 10(without covers though)// Enna Kodumai Sir, idhu? Am still seraching for couple of them to complete my set and you are going on buying them in doubles and triples.

//The "Raja" of Tamil comics mentioned how his friend got duped by someone whose name starts with the meaning "Azhagu".// just loved the way you started to write and you are invited to Poongaavanam's Blog for the Kisu Kisu Corner.

//Whenever some one contacts me asking for the old issues, I always tell them to get in touch with Prakash Publishers(Muthu/Lion owners) first.// Even Myself as well. For that single reason alone, i have put the Contact Number of Muthu Comics Office in the Side bar of My Blog.

//Also Chennai second hand shops are dry and in places like Salem, the price has shot up to the sky// Yes, All Beacause of Milk'an, Right?

Very good example w.r.t Bikes.

//I think the time has come to demand the rights of the comics buyer, who is willing to pay huge price. He should be entitled to get a good quality product in return. It is time to empower him with this knowledge// This is what we call in Law as "Caveat Venditor" from what used to be "Caveat Vendor".

//A picture says more than thousand words!!!// the Mantra that i have Learned from Muthu Fan. An dis following that in My Blog.

Very Good Post with Lots of Information on the Preservation.

Waiting for the Second Part of it.

King Viswa
Carpe Diem.
Tamil Comics Ulagam

King Viswa said...

//This is what we call in Law as "Caveat Venditor" from what used to be "Caveat Vendor"//

read that as This is what we call in Law as "Caveat Venditor" from what used to be "Caveat Emptor".

Apologies for the Typo. Current Cut and Am Typing in the Dark. Couldn't Prevent the Typo.

King Viswa
Carpe Diem.
Tamil Comics Ulagam

shankarvisvalingam said...

முத்து விசிறி அவர்களே,

தமிழ் காமிக்ஸ்களை வாங்கத் துடிக்கும் உள்ளங்களிற்கு நீங்கள் ஒர் அற்புதமான பதிவைத் தந்திருக்கிறீர்கள்.

தேர்தல் வாக்குறுதி உதாரணம் அட்டகாசம்.

காமிக்ஸ் விலைகளை அறிவித்தல் வாங்குபவர், விற்பவர் இரு பகுதியினரிற்குமிடையே நம்பிக்கையை அதிகரிக்க உதவும் என்றே நான் கருதுகிறேன்.

உற்சாகத்துடன் தொடருங்கள் உங்கள் அரிய பதிவுகளை.

King Viswa said...

Dear Muthu Fan,

//the "Raja" of Tamil comics mentioned how his friend got duped by someone whose name starts with the meaning "Azhagu". As usual this guy who wanted to buy the book was not familiar with the current market and he is a serious Lucky Luke fan//

Already received Couple of mails (As My Personal Mobile Number will Not be reachable), and calls in my other Number enquiring about the Buyer. Someone even asked is this true?

Let me tell you that this is 100% true and there is one more incident about the same buyer. Let me narrate it now.

All ComiRades know tha TRUE value of Rani Comics (Not more than INR 10/- At any cost, even if the book happens to be Issue no 9, which has another big story on why it got printed in less numbers).

Now, this Crazy ComiRade went to such an extent that he used to Buy Xeroxed Rani Comics at INR 50/-. Would You Believe It? However it is true and when Yours truly presented him More than 25 Rani Comics (All issues in Mint condition before Issue no 60), he almost cried out in Joy.

One more request to all ComiRades: Kindly do not guess the names of the ComiRades involved in this Post in public.

King Viswa
Carpe Diem.
Tamil Comics Ulagam

ЯR [comicology] said...

Muthufan, Good to see that you have changed your stand on seller deciding the price from the last time you spoke on this topic on your blog. It's true, the current trend necessitates that change of thought.

I for one was one of the aspiring comics readers who once dreamt that I could collect all Lion / Muthu Comics completely. Only to come face the reality that the prices have now have went over the roof, especially when so many blogs have come up cherishing the passion.

However good I may be financially at present, I could still not digest the prices which these guys have demanded just to cash out on the unique passion which we share.

Looking forward for the second part and your pricing guidelines, and the announcement of a network where we could exchange and even buy things of our interest (which mostly would help me since I don't have much to exchange in return :) ).

ÇómícólógÝ

பயங்கரவாதி டாக்டர் செவன் said...

Welcome Back Muthufan,

I've mailed you personally about my musings regarding this subject!

Take care! Or announcements like these could make your site into a spam-pool like the now defunct official lion comics web-site!

தலைவர்,
அ.கொ.தீ.க.

siv said...

Second hand books price rates are shocking. This factor insists the need of more re prints from Lion publisher. They should enlarge their reprinting options. (Now only Fleetway's books are reprinted)
Old comics are sold in scan format also. As this will affect the market of re prints this also to be discussed.

காமிக்ஸ் பிரியன் said...

i second bayangaravadhi dr 7.

//Take care! Or announcements like these could make your site into a spam-pool like the now defunct official lion comics web-site!// already i can see comments like that.

காமிக்ஸ் பிரியன் said...

siv,

//Second hand books price rates are shocking. This factor insists the need of more re prints from Lion publisher. They should enlarge their reprinting options. (Now only Fleetway's books are reprinted)// read the explanation given by Dr 7 on the reprints issue.

here is the link and the explanation is in comments section: http://akotheeka.blogspot.com/2009/05/blog-post_9331.html

Anonymous said...

waht a wonderful blogg. really some people of my kind are exisists in this world

karthikeyan said...

Three years before i received a phone call and the person in the other end told me that he has all the Muthu Comics, except few and the price he demanded is Rs50,000. As you guys said here i also asked him again and again is it 5000 or 50,000. He clearly said it is 50,000Rs and he need the money for his marriage (donno whether it is true). But i told him, i don't have that much money may be somebody else would buy from him.

Happy to see someone had took the first step in creating awareness about this issue. Thanks Muthufan for ur efforts.

naveenmp3 said...

WOW!!!
Great Post buddy!!!
So many People who are interested in paying HUGE amount of money for less number of books.

Why dont we ask all these users what book they want and correlate and find which is the most demanded in the market and ask MR. Vijayan to republish it so that everybody can be profited.

cheers,
naveen

Anonymous said...

Dear Muthu Fan,

I agree with your thoughts on old tamil comics sales.Recently i have been informed by a comics fan that his friend is ready to sell his collections and the price he is expecting is 5,00,000.

That too they are selling only in packages like Muthu comics package,Lion Comics Package.For Mini-Lion they are expecting around 65000.

Atleast to prevent these kind of exploitation to the new/unlucky fans who didn't able to get old books Vijayan must expand his re-print options

coolkittu said...

Hi Every One

I came across this blog recently.
When i get thro this i felt very happy to see such valid effort has been taken to bring this dream of seeing my comics in the web.

i have become a fan of "muthufan".

from his blog i could find some other blogs like King viswa,Akotheeka,etc.

When i try to go thro their blogs it says that only invited users can login.

Can u send a invitation to my id.

coolkittu@gmail.com

I am a very big fan of comics.

I have a huge collection with me.

i like to contribute like the same way as others.

How to do this.

I am in coimbatore.

Anyone from here?

kindly mail me in this regard

thanks
Krishna

Vedha said...

happy diwali to you & Your family/friends circle.