Apr 12, 2011

Making Lemonade out of Lemons — An Email Exchange with Christopher Noon of BigToyAuction.com

I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox a couple of days ago. After having to deal with a lot of this mess involving you-know-who, I got an email from Christopher Noon, he of TheBigToyAuction.com. Christopher is a professional auctioneer, and he's more than sad that this whole mess is still going on. However, he thinks—and I completely agree with him—that there is a whole lot of momentum and energy here that can be veered towards a more positive direction, namely to the Hero Initiative. As much as I'd never like to talk about the people who started this ever again (they've had their fifteen minutes of infamy, folks, and they're damaged goods forever at this point), I do think it should be channeled towards something more concrete.

Go visit TheBigToyAuction!

Being in the Philippines, I can't actually participate in his proposal, what with physics and geography making it impossible. However, I can post the email here, and I invite all of you interested to repost it and contact Christopher at thebigtoyauction(at)gmail(dot)com if you wish to participate.

I just saw some of your recent blog postings regarding the unfortunate "Granito Incident" that is, sadly, still going on.  I had sent a message a little earlier to Ethan Van Sciver regarding this, but I thought you and a few others might be interested as well.

Despite the distasteful beginnings of this whole affair, I had a thought that a lot of good might ultimately come out of all this.  Seeing the comic book community come together so quickly in such a cohesive manner, I wonder if we could parlay this into something that would benefit the comics community even further.   I am a professionally licensed Auctioneer (PA Lic #AU005664) and would be happy to donate my services to put together a charity auction to benefit the Hero Initiative.

Rather than dwell on all of the negatives of what has occurred here, it might be a good opportunity to spotlight the type of work that the Hero Initiative does in helping the same type of artists affected by these events.    I would be glad to work with you to help put together a a Live-Auction Event where "Legit-O-Mite" artists can create authentic artwork to auction off with the proceeds going to the Hero Initiative.  There is already a lot of built in publicity to the whole situation, and I think it would be a shame to let this momentum either continue on in it’s current path or fizzle out completely.  Instead, I think it would be a great opportunity for comics professionals to stand up for something positive and pro-active rather than the negative reaction that began all of this. 

There is a lot of potential to do something good here.  After all, if we can "get comics' loudest leftwing hippiefreak AND loudest rightwing Nazi to join forces," as a particular comic site puts it, there’s no reason we couldn't get a lot of people behind this to raise some money for some of the very same artists exploited by this whole affair in the first place.

I've contacted a few others involved, and I’ll see if I can get hold of Mr. Waid and the folks over at Hero Initiative as well, but I also wanted to let you know as you seemed pretty vocal about this.  If you would be interested, please let me know and I will be glad to discuss it further with you.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Christopher Noon


TheBigToyAuction said...


I appreciate your help in getting the word out. I've contacted a few others affected by this and so far the response has been tremendous.

I was thinking that in addition to channeling anger and energy into raising money for a good cause, this might actually have a positive unintended side-effect of educating covention-goers and organziers to protect themselves about from this type of fraud in the future.

By using the auction to promote Legit-O-Mite artists and raise awareness of sites like comicbookdb.com, we might also be able to educate consumers and potential consumers as to how to research actual comics professionals and to avoid getting ripped off. And by giving more exposure to organizations like Hero Initiative, we can spread a little education about why it matters.

I'm really excited about getting this off the ground, and I look forward to hearing from more of you soon!

Duy Tano said...

That's great to hear about the response, Christopher. Best of luck!

Ty Templeton said...

I hate to splash water on this idea, but what's wrong with donating the artwork directly to the Hero Initiative? They run their own auctions, and are likely to raise more money on their own, since they're cutting out any middle man, and have the HERO name behind them when the auctions happen. I've had my donated works go for thousands of dollars through Hero Initiative auctions, prices I could never get if I auctioned the work off anywhere else. I'm not saying this to be difficult, but out of genuine curiosity...what advantage is there in using an auctioneer who is not associated with HERO to raise money for HERO, when they do that very thing exceptionally well themselves?

Christopher Noon said...

Hi Ty,

Thanks for your message. I appreciate your feedback and questions. I agree. It's in Hero Initiative's best interest to raise and keep as much money as it can.

If I understand correctly,(please tell me if I'm wrong), Hero sells their items through eBay. That's great and brings a lot of exposure to Hero, which is even better, but right off the top eBay's Giving works takes 20% before eBay/Paypal take out payment processing fees, and any upgrade fees (subtitle, bold, etc.)

For Charity Auctions, I almost always donate my services, so %100 of the Hammer Price goes directly to Hero. We handle everything on the back-end from answering questions to dealing with the customers, leaving Hero to focus on other things.

More importantly, we offer something that eBay can't. We do Live-Auctions with internet bidding. With an eBay auction, if it ends at 3:00, it doesn't matter if a sniper swoops in at the last second and you were willing to go higher to get it back - the auction's over.

I sell each item live, so we go as long as necessary until we've reached the maximum price people are willing to pay. If it takes till 3:02 to do that, that's fine. eBay doesn't remind you how much you *really* want that item. It doesn't speak to you personally to make the sale in the closing seconds. I do.

It goes quick, and internet bidders go head to head with floor bidders, so "auction fever" can run the prices up quickly. At a Humane Society event, we had a signed Eagles Jersey go for $3600. My wife looked it up and the same Jerseys were going for $70-$150 on eBay, but the rush and excitement of the Live-Auction atmosphere ended up bringing way more value. I still don't know what they were thinking, but I talked with the woman who won and she was thrilled with her item. She didn't regret a thing even though she knew what these went for, and the Humane Society had an extra $3600. Everyone was happy.

eBay gives 7 days (10 for additional fees) for an auction, whereas we can list the catalog months in advance of sale day (usually, we go 3-6 weeks). We accept competetive pre-bids online, just like eBay, up to and including the day of the sale, and my staff represents any absentee bids, phone bids, or pre-bids up to the maximum amount as they come in.
The extended preview lets me maximize publicity, gives potential bidders time to save up for items and tell their friends, and allows greater exposure for donors, since I always link to donor's product pages or gallery as a thank you for their donation.

Finally, the main thing we offer that Hero Initiative is not currently utilizing is the Event Aspect of the Live-Auction. I'm licensed in PA with priveleges in NY, NJ, and CA and reciprocity with 13 other states, so we can hold Live-Auction events almost anywhere.

For many, a Live-Auction is fun entertainment. I know Hero sets up booths at Conventions. While you can walk past a booth without checking it out, it's hard to ignore me yelling as I call bids. When you run a Live-Auction, people look. Even if they don't bid, they'll see the Hero Initiative Logo on the podium, and can check it out later or head over to the booth to ask what all that fast-talking nonsense is about. A Live-Auction is great publicity. And it's free.

Christopher Noon said...

But the important thing is that it's still a Hero Initiative auction. I'm just offering another venue for Hero to raise funds. The items are still donated to them, and they are still in control. It doesn't take away from or detract from their current sales, any differently than sales of books on their website do. It just opens up another revenue stream.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. I know it can be new to some, and that can be daunting, so I'm always grateful for an opportunity to answer people's questions. If you have any more, let me know and I'll be happy to help.

I can't draw. I can't color. I can't write. This is what I have to donate. I'd like to give it to a cause I believe in.

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