Thursday, April 14, 2016

Herge Comics - The Secret Ray, The Manitoba and The eruption of Karamako(Adventures of Jo, Zette & Jocko)

This post is basically a rant about the English comics, some related to Tamil comics and some are not.

Recently I have come across an Amazon sale of a Herge (Creator of Tintin) book.

Amazon Link

Title : The Secret Ray, Parts One and Two: The 'Manitoba' No Reply; The Eruption of Karamako (The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko)

ISBN-10: 0951279955
ISBN-13: 978-0951279953

Behold... the listed starting sale price is between US$ 2000(Rs 1,33,500.00) and US$ 2100(Rs 1,39,740.00), depending on the condition of the book. It goes all the way up to US$ 5305.07/Rs 3,53,012.00 (Plus postage US$ 3.99 for postage within USA, if you are very keen ;-)) I definitely know that this is an insane price. That got me searching for other 'nominally' priced copies of this book.

And I have found one which is more or less same as the costliest book listed in the Amazon site.

Abebooks Link

To be precise, the listed sale price is US$ 5281.60/Rs 3,51,450.00 (At least this guy offers 'Free' postage within USA, instead of the US$ 3.99 offered by Amazon sellers ;-))

Of course, I did find a 'cheaply' priced book(compared to Amazon price) in the world's biggest second hand shop ;-)

EBay Link

The lister has posted the following description :

"The Secret Ray by Herge - The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko. Sundancer 1994 Edition. First and only edition in English, this combines the two part stories The Secret Ray and The 'Manitoba' No Reply. Translated by Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner, this was printed in small quantities in 1994 and never reprinted. I've seen this described as the "Holy Grail" of Herge books in English and that is hardly an exaggeration as it is extremely rare and very difficult to find. It has taken me over a year to find one to offer for sale and I don't think it likely that I will find another one anytime soon. Condition is superb - I suspect it was bought by a collector and never read - certainly could be sold as new. I have looked extensively on the internet to find a sensible price for this book and can only find 3 copies Worldwide for Sale - two on Amazon US for $2,100 & $2,904, and one on Abe Books for $5,282. Therefore in line with my policy of always trying to offer best value, I am pricing this at £1250.

Postage is UK £11.55 Royal Mail Special Delivery, Europe £25 Parcelforce Insured, Rest of World £45 Parcelforce Insured. Note that I will always combine postage - you only ever pay actual Royal Mail cost."

For those who did not read the above para fully, here is the gist of it:

He is selling a copy of the book in 'Superb" condition(whatever it means) for a bargain price of only  £1250(British Pounds)  or US$ 1780/Rs 1,18,440.00(Based on the exchange rate as of today). And he is doing this because "in line with my policy of always trying to offer best value". Postage is extra as well, in case you are rushing to place the order now ;-)

Why am I lamenting about a book, which has got nothing to do with Tamil comics. After all, there are thousands and thousands of books priced more than this and also hell of a lot of Herge books may also be priced more than this. Well, the thing is, I have a copy of this book here in Singapore and so does a close friend of mine(In India).

Front and back covers of this book is below. Enjoy!

Honestly I don't think the value of the book is that much. I may not sell my copy, because my daughter wants to have it for herself. But if anyone who has lots of money to throw away, they can contact me to 'arrange' for a sale of the copy my friend has ;-) You know how to contact me(muthufan'at'yahoo'dot'com). Hahaha!!!

As we are talking about 'costly' books, here are some more. This time, something related to 'our' heroes, specifically 'Captain Tiger'(a.k.a Blueberry in other languages). This is also my response to people who keep asking me over many years, as to how to buy the originals of the Tamil books that is out there.

I have all the English edition books of Blueberry. It took me about five years to collect all the English edition books. As I was doing a search again for these books for a friend of mine, I have come across something interesting. Again how someone(mostly book sellers), who has a copy of this book in English, think that they have a fortune in hand ;-)

Take a look at the EBay listings for these books(as of today):

Blueberry Moebius Charlier Comics Listing in EBay

For starters, we should know the list of books and the stories in each book. For that I take reference from

Blueberry Moebius Cross Reference

If you prefer in table format and cross reference it with Tamil issues, please take a look at the list below:

No French Title French Release English Publishing Info - 1
1 Fort Navajo 1965/09 Fort Navajo (Egmont/Methuen, 1977)
2 Tonnerre à l'ouest 1966/01 Thunder in the West (Egmont/Methuen, 1977)
3 L'aigle solitaire 1967/01 Lone Eagle (Egmont/Methuen, 1978)
4 Le cavalier perdu 1968/01 Mission to Mexico (Egmont/Methuen, 1978)
5 La piste des Navajos 1969/01 Not translated
6 L'homme à l'étoile d'argent 1969/10 The Man with the Silver Star (Dargaud, 1983)
7 Le cheval de fer 1970/01 The Iron Horse (Epic, 1991)
8 L'homme au poing d'acier 1970/03 Steel Fingers (Epic, 1991)
9 La piste des Sioux 1971/01 General Golden Mane (Epic, 1991)
10 Général tête jaune 1971/10
11 La mine de l'allemand perdu 1972/01 The Lost Dutchman's Mine (Epic, 1991)
12 Le spectre aux balles d'or 1972/07
13 Chihuahua Pearl 1973/01 Chihuahua Pearl (Epic, 1989)
14 L'homme qui valait 500 000 $ 1973/07
15 Ballade pour un cercueil 1974/01 Ballad for a Coffin (Epic, 1989)
16 Le hors-la-loi 1974/10
17 Angel Face 1975/07 Angel Face (Epic, 1989)
18 Nez Cassé 1980/01
19 La longue marche 1980/10 The Ghost Tribe (Epic, 1990)
20 La tribu fantôme 1982/03
21 La dernière carte 1983/11 The End of the Trail (Epic, 1990)
22 Le bout de la piste 1986/09
23 Arizona Love 1990/10 Arizona Love (Dark Horse Comics, 1993)
24 Mister Blueberry 1995/11 Not translated
25 Ombres sur Tombstone 1997/11 Not translated
26 Geronimo l'Apache 1999/10 Not translated
27 OK Corral 2003/09 Not translated
28 Dust 2005/03 Not translated
1 La jeunesse de Blueberry 1975 Blueberry's Secret (ComCat comics, September 1989)
2 Un Yankee nommé Blueberry 1978 A Yankee Named Blueberry (ComCat comics, March 1990)
3 Cavalier bleu 1979 The Blue Coats (ComCat comics, July 1990)
4 Les démons du Missouri 1985 Not translated
5 Terreur sur le Kansas 1987 Not translated
6 Le raid infernal 1987 Not translated
7 La pousuite impitoyable 1992 Not translated
8 Trois hommes pour Atlanta 1993 Not translated
9 Le prix du sang 1994 Not translated
1 Sur ordre de Washington 1991 Not translated
2 Mission Shermann 1993 Not translated
3 Frontière sanglante 2000 Not translated

Other English versions:

No French Title English Info - 2 English Info - 3
1 Fort Navajo
2 Tonnerre à l'ouest
3 L'aigle solitaire
4 Le cavalier perdu
5 La piste des Navajos
6 L'homme à l'étoile d'argent
7 Le cheval de fer Graphitti Designs, Volume 8
Signed by Moebius 
8 L'homme au poing d'acier
9 La piste des Sioux
10 Général tête jaune
11 La mine de l'allemand perdu Graphitti Designs, Volume 9
Signed by Moebius 
12 Le spectre aux balles d'or
13 Chihuahua Pearl Graphitti Designs, Volume 4
Signed by Moebius 
Confederate Gold, Mojo Press 1996
14 L'homme qui valait 500 000 $
15 Ballade pour un cercueil
16 Le hors-la-loi
17 Angel Face Graphitti Designs, Volume 5
Signed by Moebius  
18 Nez Cassé
19 La longue marche
20 La tribu fantôme
21 La dernière carte
22 Le bout de la piste
23 Arizona Love Divided into sequels: Cheval Noir #46-50. Black and white, American current size comic book format.
24 Mister Blueberry
25 Ombres sur Tombstone
26 Geronimo l'Apache
27 OK Corral
28 Dust
1 La jeunesse de Blueberry Graphitti Designs, Volume 6
Signed by Moebius  
2 Un Yankee nommé Blueberry
3 Cavalier bleu
4 Les démons du Missouri
5 Terreur sur le Kansas
6 Le raid infernal
7 La pousuite impitoyable
8 Trois hommes pour Atlanta
9 Le prix du sang

Tamil cross reference:

No French Title French Release Tamil
1 Fort Navajo 1965/09 இரத்தக் கோட்டை
2 Tonnerre à l'ouest 1966/01 மேற்கே ஒரு மின்னல் 
3 L'aigle solitaire 1967/01 தனியே ஒரு கழுகு 
4 Le cavalier perdu 1968/01 மெக்சிகோ பயணம் 
5 La piste des Navajos 1969/01 செங்குருதிப் பாதை 
6 L'homme à l'étoile d'argent 1969/10 தோட்டா தலைநகரம்
7 Le cheval de fer 1970/01 இரும்புக்கை எத்தன் 
8 L'homme au poing d'acier 1970/03 பரலோகப் பாதை 
9 La piste des Sioux 1971/01 இரத்தத் தடம் 
10 Général tête jaune 1971/10 இரத்தத் தடம் 
11 La mine de l'allemand perdu 1972/01 தங்கக் கல்லறை - 1 *
12 Le spectre aux balles d'or 1972/07 தங்கக் கல்லறை - 2 *
13 Chihuahua Pearl 1973/01 மின்னும் மரணம் **
14 L'homme qui valait 500 000 $ 1973/07 மின்னும் மரணம் **
15 Ballade pour un cercueil 1974/01 மின்னும் மரணம் **
16 Le hors-la-loi 1974/10 சிறையில் ஒரு புயல் **
17 Angel Face 1975/07 திசை திரும்பிய தோட்டா **
18 Nez Cassé 1980/01 காற்றில் கரைந்த கூட்டம் **
19 La longue marche 1980/10 காற்றில் கரைந்த கூட்டம் **
20 La tribu fantôme 1982/03 காற்றில் கரைந்த கூட்டம் **
21 La dernière carte 1983/11 புயல் தேடிய புதையல் **
22 Le bout de la piste 1986/09 புயல் தேடிய புதையல் **
23 Arizona Love 1990/10
மின்னும் மரணம் **
24 Mister Blueberry 1995/11
என் பெயர் டைகர்
25 Ombres sur Tombstone 1997/11
என் பெயர் டைகர்
26 Geronimo l'Apache 1999/10
என் பெயர் டைகர்
27 OK Corral 2003/09
என் பெயர் டைகர்
28 Dust 2005/03
என் பெயர் டைகர்
* தங்கக் கல்லறை - Re-printed in one volume
** மின்னும் மரணம் (Hard Bound), including Arizona Love (11 stories)

1 La jeunesse de Blueberry 1975 இளமையில் கொல்
2 Un Yankee nommé Blueberry 1978 இளமையில் கொல்
3 Cavalier bleu 1979 இளமையில் கொல்
4 Les démons du Missouri 1985 மரண நகரம் மிசௌரி
5 Terreur sur le Kansas 1987 கான்சாஸ் கொடூரன் 
6 Le raid infernal 1987 இருளில் ஒரு இரும்புக்குதிரை
7 La pousuite impitoyable 1992 வேங்கையின் சீற்றம்
8 Trois hommes pour Atlanta 1993 அட்லாண்டாவில் ஆக்ரோஷம்
9 Le prix du sang 1994 உதிரத்தின் விலை
1 Sur ordre de Washington 1991 மார்ஷல் டைகர்
2 Mission Shermann 1993 வேங்கைக்கு முடிவுரையா
3 Frontière sanglante 2000

As you can see, the EBay prices are at absurd level. Why am I saying this?

For example, if you want to buy the "Blueberry" series consisting of 10 stories, easiest way is to buy the Epic series of 5 books from EBay. It will cost you as much as US$ 117.48(Based on the completed transaction given below - Without postage). Let's see the breakdown:

1 Chihuahua Pearl(Stories 1 & 2) - US$ 39.00

2 Ballad for a coffin(Stories 3 & 4) - US$ 13.99

3 Angel Face(Stories 5 & 6) - US$ 13.99

4 The Ghost Tribe(Stories 7 & 8) - US$ 25.25

5 End of the trail(Stories 9 & 10) - US$ 25.25

Another complete set was sold for US$ 100, though it is not everyday you will get all 5 in one go.

Sold for US$ 100(Sold on 21 Feb 2016)

If you see, another set was sold for close to US$ 200(Sold on 02 Mar 2016)

Sold for US$ 199

And, someone from Salem, Tamil Nadu is trying to sell it for US$175(Best wishes to him ;-))

Someone from Salem, TN, India

Let's see what other options you have, if you want to buy all 10 stories from this series.

You can go for Confederate Gold by Mojo Press 1996. But it is B and W and has only first five stories(out of 10 stories). The last sold price was EUR 30 (US$ 34)

Confederate Gold

So, that rules out Mojo Press book. But I recommend this to anyone who loves B and W version of this series. In my opinion, this is the best ever B and W production for this series in any language. If you want to buy this book cheaper, buy it directly from the seller for US$ 6.50 each(Excl postage), rather than the insane price at which it is offered in EBay and other sites. If you want to buy the book directly from the seller, please get in touch with him through his email "mojo88man'at'yahoo'dot'com". His name is Ben Ostrander.

Coming back to our discussion, you can see that it easily costs over US$ 100, to buy "Blueberry" series, by taking the Epic books(5 books) options. If you do a little more research, you will know that you can buy the same ten stories by buying the Graphitti Designs volumes 4 and 5, that too signed by the artist Moebius(which will only increase in value over a period of time as only 1500 copies were produced and he is no more). If you see the last sold price of these books in EBay, again they are very expensive.

Volume 4 from EBay

Volume 5 from EBay

Though the final sale price for both is not known, I can guess it to be around US$ 60 to 75 each, as the other items listed for US$ 99 were not sold yet and lower priced items were sold.

Now, in my estimate, you can't get these two volumes for less than US$ 125 from EBay(The easiest option available). But if you go to the publisher, you can get it for much less.

Volume 4 from Publisher

Volume 5 from Publisher

Yes, the books are still available from the publisher, which costs less than the lowest price available in EBay. It really beats me, why there are so many idiots who buy Epic series books(5 books) or Graphitti Designs books(2 volumes 4 and 5) from EBay at a higher price, than buying it directly from publisher, limited edition hard bound signed volumes. The reason is simple - They don't do research before parting with their money

They also get carried away by the nonsense description the buyers put in the EBay ad, saying ultra rare, super rare and all other superficial stuff. You have to realise that they are just sellers, and mostly book shop guys, who has vested interest in selling the goods at the highest price possible. And importantly they also may not know the market realities that it is available elsewhere for a cheaper price, as this is only one of many books they sell. So they can't afford to spend too much time researching each issue. For example, the biggest second hand comic book shop of earth could be Mile High Comics. If you search for the Blueberry books, you can see that he sells the hard bound books for a US$ 120, which is once again much higher than what you can get directly from the publisher. When I have asked Chuck Rozanski(owner of Mile High Comics)about this price discrepancy through mail, he never bothered to reply. Why should he? Let him dream on, that his books listed for US$ 120 for the last 12 years will one day be sold for US$ 120, where as it is available for US$ 46 from the publisher.

So, to sum it up, if you are a collector and want to buy English books(of the books translated and published in Tamil) which is value for money, there are plenty of options available. Please follow the steps given below, before you spend your hard earned money:

1. Research for the English editions and collect all possible information. Who has published it first, any reprints, from any other publishers etc. Look for fan blogs/sites for info. If you feel the information given in the site is not sufficient, contact the bloggers/web site owners. Most of them will be more than happy to discuss about comics and help fellow comic enthusiasts, as I do. It will not cost any money to contact them now-a-days. Just drop a mail from the contact us page or from the blog links.

2. Once you have this info, start contacting the publishers directly, if they are still active. You will not get this info in the first page of the Google hit list as all those links in the first page happens to be paid hits, but you should be able to get this info anyway using Google. Buy directly from them, if it is cheaper.

3. If the price still looks expensive, start contacting other collectors(through blogs and their web sites), who may be willing to sell their spare copies, at a price much lesser than EBay prices or for exchange. For example, if you want Tex Willer issues in other languages, get in touch with a fan in Netherlands. By the way, I don't think he exchanges anything for Tamil issues now.

4. If nothing works out, then only go for established easy paths(EBay, Milehighcomics) etc to blow your hard earned money away ;-)

You need lot of patience when you are looking for books you want at a reasonable price!

This also happens to be the 50th post for this blog. 50 posts in 11 years, not bad by my standards :-)

Happy Birthday Viswa!

Happy Tamil New Year to all!

Happy hunting and happy collecting!!!