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OK. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. I am not promising to have found the key to buying yourself a Lamborghini and a third house in Florida.

And my comic ISN’T actually worth four thousand dollars and has never SOLD for four thousand dollars despite what the screen capture (shown below) from Amazon might say.

screenshot2_cenoSo a few weeks ago I noticed that an indy comic book I drew a few years back started to climb the pricing ladder at Amazon. (and yes…at times I do check my books on Amazon. I like to keep an eye on the reviews. But I never read too carefully for fear I’ll get bummed out) This Amazon Price Inflation isn’t that unusual (Ebay anyone?). But I have never seen it climb to this embarrassing level. This is the Mt. Everest of Amazon pricing weirdness.

Why does this happen? Isn’t online shopping the be-all-end-all of a free-market dream within a dream? Perfect low noise environments where pricing gets rational? Ah no…

I’ve asked around and emailed a few people. And it pays to recount this as we are currently in an era when Amazon’s practices are being looked at a little more closely. And even when it’s NOT Amazon pricing this, they are creating the marketplace.

Let’s start logically. The pricing on this comic is the result of either technical errors or human misunderstanding. I’ve talked to people who place it in both camps, or perhaps a combination of both.

Most likely at least two bidding bots got involved in a pricing war. This jacked up the price. Then a human probably saw a rise in value and adjusted their pricing on the item which resulted in the bots going at it again.

Eventually the one or two people holding this item (Hey, it wasn’t exactly printed in the tens of thousands) may well have taken the price they saw as a true market price.

A little chaos with our online markets please and thank you.

I used to work for Max Keiser and one of the things I picked up listening to him was an affirmation that markets are victims of irrationality and the manipulations produced by humans desires. All our human foibles – be they technical or greed induced – find their way in. The ideal free market environment is a dream. John Lennon may as well have been signing about it when he wrote Imagine.

Markets are as conducive to mistakes as any other human structure. And thus my $4,000 comic book.

BTW I still have a few in a box if anyone wants to buy them for three grand each…

 

What do I do with an extra 20 minutes of swim team practice for my daughter? Some quick bad guy designs.

rogues1

From the sketchbook.

trolls

beanbean2

 

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans written by David LaRochelle has been named one of the finalists for the State of Wyoming’s Buckaroo Award.

That’s cool! I drove through Wyoming last September. Perhaps rolling my window down and yelling EVERYONE SHOULD READ HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS worked.

And ‘Martha’ has also been named a Best Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education!

Very awesome accolades for a terrific book by Mr. LaRochelle!

angrychicken

Some more art from cards and letters generated after school visits. Thanks to all the kids for the time and effort they put in on these cards!

 

From: Kora C.

Aliens and bad books. The story of my life!

kora_c

From: Edward B.

That’s a book that eats people!

edward_b

 

From: Erin S.

She captured so many of the characters from my books!

Erin_S

From: Jacob V.

Another Earthling! Fan. The inside of the card was like a comic book page too!

jacob_V_O

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the film The Shawshank Redemption. It’s focus is on the continued revenue stream the film provides for the studio that owns it. What’s more interesting is how a movie is released, is pretty much ignored by the  movie going public and then lives on as one of the highest rated films of all times.

This has happened before with films like Citizen Kaen and Casablanca.  These movies came out and no one seemed to care that much. But they go on to entertain generations.

In the WSJ article they mention that the film may have been overshadowed by Forrest Gump at the box-office which was the BIG movie the year it was released. Forrest Gump was an enjoyable film, but when I watched it again a few years ago it seemed pretty forced. The truth is that Forrest Gump has not held up very well through the years, while Shawshank has.

This same situation happens with books. There are of course mega-hits right from the start.  But often those works hit so big because they channel some moment of cultural zeitgeist perfectly and it resonates. Like a flashlight bouncing off mirrors, it can light up an entire room. But ultimately it’s only got a triple A battery behind it. It doesn’t last.

The strength that comes from perfectly capturing the moment can make the work feel flat and dated in a short time. For me TV shows, especailly sitcoms, are the most obvious examples of this. (with a few notable exceptions.) If you watch the most successful shows from the past, say 1956 or 1973, it quickly becomes obvious that they are badly dated in both big and small ways. Watching the show becomes an exercise in irony.

Even the shows that were tops in 1982: Dallas, Three’s Company, Joannie Loves Chachi – ouch! Yet, at the time they commanded huge numbers of viewers.

This is just a permutation of the debate on commercial art vs. fine art. Is what we’re creating going to stand the test of time? Does that issue matter since we can’t consciously control that aspect of our work anyway? Do we too often make alterations to work to feed into the current trends and desires vs. making something that might resonate with a deeper sense of ethos, pathos and logos?

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