I’ll never understand eBay buyers. Don’t they do even a bit of research before they toss bids down on things they know nothing about? The latest weirdness happened today, as a Limited edition issue of The Cimmerian V1n1 was snapped up by a buyer for $28.50 (hat tip: Brian Leno). The seller — dmacmaniac from Austin, who I assume is Dennis McHaney of the REH Inner Circle — even notified buyers that the issue in question had an unseemly spot on the cover. And as far as I can tell there are no signatures on this issue or anything else to make it special.
So what’s so weird about this, you ask? Only that this issue in this edition is still in print on The Cimmerian‘s website for $10. I would expect the price on these to go up once they sell out, but for someone to buy this today at this price blows my mind. There’s only 49 left –I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to the prices once these are no longer available. I still recall the way that Joe Marek’s New Howard Readers shot through the roof once they went out of print, and those had such terrible production values that I refused to buy them on principle. Thank God I’m not a collector, else I would have been forced to buy them. Ewwww.
That first issue of TC is still one of my favorites. My editorial was more right that I ever could have imagined in 2004 — I’m glad I made it as brassy as I did. Don’s article was at the time decried by some readers as malicious and inflammatory, but in light of subsequent events — Wandering Star’s implosion, Del Rey’s stalled hardcovers — his predictions about the series becoming just another overpriced, broken set of books like the Grants now sparkle with the aura of fulfilled prophecy. That issue also heralded the reintroduction of Darrell Schweitzer into the Howardian debate after many years spent in the outlands of Weird Tales and wider fandom, and watching his voice become a staple among the Cimmerian chorus has been a pleasure. Gary Romeo’s takedown of Wandering Star’s editorial policies has been subjected to three years of withering concentrated assaults from “the Orthodoxy” (as he refers to his detractors), but I have yet to see a response that rises above the pedantic to rock the foundations of his core claims, which to my mind remain as impregnable as ever. Even the faults of the issue — the old-style foil on the Deluxe covers, the lack of a Lion’s Den, the inferior print quality and picture repro compared to today, the subtle warping inflicted on the issues due to my soon-abandoned experiments with shrink-wrapping — remind me of how much things have changed for the better in the last three years.
$28.50 — usually that kind of a price markup is reserved for publications containing some rare Howard fragment. If TC — the first Howard fanzine to stringently avoid relying on original Howard to buoy its sales and collectability — starts regularly achieving such inflated amounts at auction, it will be a pleasant step forward in our field. For the first time, a journal dedicated to writing about Howard will be fetching significant prices on its own merits, without dangling bits of original REH in front of collectors who otherwise wouldn’t read the magazine.