In-Depth With The Key Collector App
With the increases in technology, we’re finally starting to get that which matters most: great apps dedicated to collecting comics! Okay, maybe not for some but it’s the things like this that excite me greatly and one app that I recently discovered was Key Collector app, a little phone app that keeps track of key issues. Honestly, it’s nice that collectors are putting stuff out there like this. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Nick from Key Collector, to get a better sense of what the app is about and what some of the functions are. Here is how it went.
Why do an app that categorizes key issues versus something that categorizes comic book runs?
Nick: I felt there was a significant void in the comic book industry in a resource that allowed collectors to quickly and easily identify the most sought after comic books which are the key issues. I’ve experienced the frustration of googling issues to see if it had some significance as a key. The idea sprouted organically when I was helping a used book store owner go through a collection of over 10,000 comic books. I spent an entire summer in the basement of a warehouse going through long boxes. Don’t get me wrong. It was fun but so unbelievably time-consuming. Its a tedious task to figure out which comics are key issues and find out how much they are worth. I kept saying to myself, “I wish there was something that had all the key issues without the clutter of non-keys so I could find them fast.” Before that I would go to half price books or antique stores and go through the comics, sometimes unsure if a book had value. I’d google it and if I found it were a key I’d check the price on Ebay. If I bought it and wanted to catalog it in something Id open that app and log it. If I wanted to see what was on my wish list I’d have to open the notepad on my Iphone. I wanted to build this app that combined all these fragmented resources to give concise information on what every collector wants in order to build a legendary collection. People love to post about the key issues they own on their social media pages. No one cares to announce that they picked up a comic without any memorable or historical (to the character) occurrence in its pages.
Overstreet’s industry report comes out annually with their price guide. In it are about 50 segments from dealers, comic book store owners and expert collectors. Universally they all have the same feedback on what collectors are looking for and its key issues so I knew I was on the right track as I was creating the database. If you follow message boards, forums and social media profiles you’ll see people are often inquiring about where to find the first appearance of this character or that character. It just made sense and honestly I was in disbelief that no one had done this yet to the degree that I have. I can proudly say that Key Collector Comics is the most comprehensive, available database of key issues in the world.
In your opinion, what constitutes a key and do such things as rare reprints or variants get considered “key”?
Nick: That’s a good question and the answer is different for many people so what I tried to do was include every key that would resonate with every collector. Everything from superhero keys to World War II cover art, horror comics, romance comics and every category you could think of including Fanzines.
I start with any comic that has resale threshold higher than the cover price. Most of the database was built that way; going on ebay and setting the values for comic books sold above $5. If it was a golden or silver age comic that sold for a good amount of money based on the age and condition, I wouldn’t include it. Even though there are a lot of valuable books out there simply because they’re old, scarce and in good condition in my mind doesn’t make it a key and the likelihood of finding one in a dollar bin is low.
Variants that have a considerable dollar value due to scarcity combined with an artist’s exceptional work I’d consider a key issue. Reprints, I would consider a key if it were valuable due to lower distribution numbers.
How many people are working on this to keep track of key appearances or issues, especially when there’s television and movie announcements that come up, making what is thought of as an obscure character into one sought in high demand?
Nick: Thousands. Many of the people who are using the app will alert me if something is missing or incorrect. But in terms of who is evaluating keys, monitoring the news, etc. That would be me. One person. There is quite a bit of movie and television announcements but I have key words set to notify me when something comic book related happens that might change value of an issue.
Are there features you plan to add to the app(you don’t have to give any information away that you don’t wish to)?
Nick: YES! I can think of about 10 off the top of my head with another 30 or so that are attached to the multiple phases of the Key Collector build-out. For sure this is only the beginning and there’s a lot I cant reveal but we just did an update a few days ago that presented a new search option “Browse by Category” where the collector can discover keys based on themes like “Heralds of Galactus” or “Recalled/Controversial Comics” “Batman’s Arch-Enemies”. This will be an area that is constantly being built upon. One thing I’d like to add on it is voting so “100 Most Iconic Covers” can be more than just my opinion. I want this app to be everything collectors want which is why I ask for feedback on social media so often and I take into account everything the collector community is requesting. One big thing that people have requested is expanding on the values outside of the current, simplified 3 tier pricing system I have right now. By the end of November we’ll release another update that includes expanded pricing. It’ll also let collectors catalog their books with more information like if its graded or signed. They’ll be able to add notes if they wish and how much they paid for the book.
What can users do if they see something that might need to be updated?
Nick: They can reach me through the app if they click on “Account” They can also email me at email@example.com Also I encourage everyone to like the Key Collector Comics Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter. I can be reached on any of those platforms.
What is it about Valiant that led you to put an emphasis on their books?
Nick: So the Valiant button is an exciting opportunity and happy you’re a big fan because it’ll mean so much more to you. I met Dinesh, the CCO/CEO of Valiant at New York Comic Con. He was walking the floor and approached me asking what I was promoting. I told him about Key Collector Comics and he understood exactly what I was doing immediately. Not only that but he “keyed” in to one of many important aspects of the app which is to embrace new collectors by offering a guide to what they want to collect. We exchanged contact info and have been in contact since. I can’t express how generous Dinesh is in the fact that he is a busy man, running a dynamic entertainment company yet will spend an extended amount of time with me on the phone, discussing ideas surrounding the app.
He expressed interest in promoting the app with the foresight of knowing it has promise to be beneficial to the comic book industry. I presented him with an idea that I felt would result in a mutually beneficial partnership by acting as the “key issue advisor” to his fans – a go-to resource that provides comprehensive information of which issues Valiant fans, new or loyal, can find significant occurrences.
Starting next week, Valiant will introduce Key Collector Comics mobile app to their fans.
The app shows a dollar amount if a book is good/fine/near mint, which for key issues, is pretty important. How are you basing book value?
Nick: The simplified 3-tier price structure is meant to provide guidance at-a-glance across the spectrum of the scale. We’re talking about raw book pricing so the speculative condition is quite different from one person to another. This is a question I get often and a difficult concept to communicate because there is so much variation in value from one grade to the next. The purpose of the values are to give a generalized cost to work off of but the bottom line is this: these prices are averages from auction sales over a 3 to 6 month period. The average is captured and scaled back slightly so collectors know if they obtain the book at the stated price, there is likely to be profit already built into the book. So if I stick so the suggested value of $10, chances are the book has a real market value of $12. There are guarantees due to market volatility but I stand behind the pricing and feel it’s safe for Key Collector Comics friends to buy confidently with the app as their advisor. Many people look at it as a means to track the precise value of their collection which is understandable due to the lack of communication within the app that could clarify the concept. But in a couple weeks we’re expanding our pricing layout to encompass the full 25 point grading scale and app users can input their own price, denote if it’s slabbed and by which grading company, upload personal collection pictures and make notes about their book.
So I’ve played around with the app and in my opinion, it’s pretty sweet. For one, you can browse a series and get a sense of what books are the key issues or even the harder-to-find ones. I felt like it helps to have some of that info laid out, especially when as a collector, you do fall into new books to buy or collect. It keeps a fair price to your books, too. I mean, who doesn’t think about how much their comics are worth? Even if you don’t collect for monetary value, you cannot deny that comics are collectible and some are very pricey. And best of all, it is a free app that I was able to put on my smartphone and play around with and one that is new and will improve over time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some books to add to the app.