John Cawley

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Frames of Time...

007_05 - Selling Memories
Almost since my start of collecting comics, I have been involved in some form of sales of collectibles.

This catalog cover represents my last major venture. It was with good friend Jim Korkis. The two of us had a large amount of duplicates or less loved items in our collection. We began by sharing tables at various conventions to sell the stuff. While I was the 'businessman' of the team, Jim was easily the salesman. As he would often say, people were not buying the item - they were buying the memory or story. When someone would pick up an item, Jim would instantly go into a tale of where the item had come from, some great fact about it, or perhaps simply recall his fondness for the item when he was a child. You could see the buyer face go from mere curiousity to true fascination.

As we sold items, we needed to continually re-build our stock. What we discovered was, as tough as it was to find old items for one's collection, we found it equally tough to find new items. Video stores had limited shelf space for cartoon videos. Book stores had only tiny sections devoted to books on animation. Many animated items ended up in discount stores or remainder centers. We would find all sorts of nifty items like a Tom and Jerry knife.

The other thing we discovered was that items folks were looking for were often simply hard to find because too much material was coming out to be found in any general store. The late 80s was a boom of animation books, videos, magazines, limited edition items and such. We thought we could become a 'one stop' shop for the collectors of comics and animation. We assembled a long list of videos, books, magazines and such from a variety of distributors. Many times the items we got were in the bargain bins of these companies as they could not tap the cartoon marketplace. I located books at a distributor that were autographed by the artists. We also purchased books and had them signed by the illustrators who were our friends and associates.

Sadly we did not have the time or funds to move into a bigger venue and soon found the business more time consuming than profit making. Ironically around that time we were contacted by a person in Washington State who had a similar idea. He wanted to create "The Whole Toon Catalog", and did. His publication were much glossier than our simple catalog. But in the end, he succumbed to the same business problems. Eventually Facets, an independent video supplier, bought up the Whole Toon Catalog and merged it into their company.

Other ventures I got involved with was a comic sales company with two fellow comic collectors, movie posters with friend Harry Fisk, comic and animation art with friend Bruce Hamilton and even animal art with my talented wife. However thanks to her store at Cafe Press I don't have to do any of the work. I just get to watch her draw, enjoy the final piece and watch the compliments come in from her many customers. Can't beat that as a business plan. Oh, should also direct your attention over to the stuff I have for sale here.

Before I bring this frame to a close I must send a shout out to Dave Bennett, a talented animator, designer, artist. Dave, who did the cover for us, was a friend of Jim's. At that time, Dave worked at Rick Reinert's studio which was producing animated specials. Ran into Dave recently at the Animation Union's Golden Award's Banquet. Was glad to hear he was busy working on some fun projects at Warner Bros.

text, photo and format John Cawley


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