This is our second installment of interviews with Whatnot sellers. Zach Appio has done what a lot of others have wished or dreamed of, which is starting their own comic! In fact he's done a number of different series and has amassed quite a collection in a short time. Learn more about this multi-talented Whatnot seller below!
What got you into comics?
- I’m 33 years old, and have always been into comics and pop culture, but didn’t seriously start collecting until I decided I wanted to produce my own comics in 2018. My collecting started with gathering reference books to study different writing and art styles to help me produce the several different comics that I now produce, such as The Home, Just T & Cakes, Tish & Squish, and Nonna Antica. The more I read, the more I wanted to get back into the older comics and characters that I missed from my childhood. Fast-forward to 2022 and I now have a nicely curated collection of about 8 short boxes ranging from individual keys, complete runs/limited series, sketch covers, graded books, etc.
Favorite childhood memory about comics?
- My favorite childhood memory about comics was sneaking my older brother’s books from his short box and reading them with extreme care to avoid the beating that would come if he knew I was thumbing through his early ASM issues…worth the risk!
What got you into selling comics?
- I had gone to a bunch of comic cons and eventually said to myself, wouldn’t it be cool to be on the other side of the table for once? I’m a multimedia artist, but at that time, didn’t have anything created that was related to the comic world. I then set out to create my own comic book that I could sell at local comic cons in my Albany, NY area. My one comic turned into two, then three, then I began producing an experimental album. After about a year of producing I had created a new media label with three separate issue #1’s, a CD, and supporting merchandise before I even tabled at my first con. I was very successful selling at my first show, which encouraged me to produce more comics, branch into sketch commissions, and deal in speculation comics on the side as a hobby.
Biggest mistake you made when you started selling?
- The biggest mistake I made when I started selling was getting my own website name incorrect on my album jacket for my CD titled Irritable Vowels. I had transposed the server name and my website and didn’t notice it when the company sent the proof. I was devastated, as the problem couldn’t be fixed and it happened nearly a week from my first tabling event. To remedy the problem, I designed stickers that I printed and cut that seamlessly blended into the album jacket art. Regardless of the problem, I always believe there is a solution that can be found as long as you keep a calm mindset!
What’s your favorite character or title to collect?
- I’m a big fan of anti-heroes or characters that deal with mental health issues. For that reason, I’m a big fan of Legion (David Haller), Moon Knight, and Gambit. I’d have to say Legion is my overall favorite character though.
Next big thing for your personal collection? Your grail?
- In addition to anti-heroes, I also have a soft spot for The Pet Avengers! I have been on a quest to get the original appearances of all the Pet Avengers, which is surprisingly difficult/expensive since most appear in coveted silver and Bronze Age books. I have a few but am on the lookout for X-Men #10 for the 1st appearance of Zabu and Captain America #117 for the 1st appearance of Redwing.
- The grail that I currently have in my collection is either my CGC 9.8 New Mutants #26 signed by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz or my CGC 9.8 Uncanny X-Men #117 (1st appearance of the Shadow King).
Most unique or favorite thing in your collection?
- I have tons of books that I love in my collection, but my favorite is a sketch cover that I made for my wife’s birthday. We are currently expecting our first child and my wife’s favorite character is Harley, so I drew a Pregnant Harley Quinn. It will always be a special book that will stay in the collection!
Raw or Graded? Why?
- In my near 5 years of experience, I would honestly say…it all depends! Ask yourself, what are you trying to do with your books? If you are selling, I personally prefer graded books due to the mere fact that there is no discrepancy when it comes to their grading. If I list a CGC/CBCS 9.0 graded book for sale, the buyer knows they are getting a verified 9.0 book. This differs from raw books, where you might personally judge a book as a VF or a 9.0, but the person receiving it sees it as a 7.0 and gets upset. It is difficult because grading is somewhat subjective with comics, so getting two people to agree on a grade can be a challenge.
Best find or score?
- The best score that I still have in my collection was Godzilla #1. I randomly walked into a local pawn shop and the guy had a junk box of comics in the back. I ended up buying a few, but at the back was the Godzilla for $1. I was a huge Godzilla fan growing up, so I’ll probably always hang onto that book!
- The best score that I found and sold was a newsstand Thor #337 (1st appearance of Beta Ray Bill). I found the issue, which was around an 8.0 grade, and bought it for $3 then sold it the same day for $150. A nice little flip, but one book that I sort of wish I kept.
Advice to new whatnot sellers or collectors.
- If you are a collector and a seller, I’d recommend keeping your collector in check if you want to be a good seller. Otherwise, you will find yourself holding onto books you intended to sell or trying to price them too high…because let's face it, you don’t really want to sell the book you love.
- To new WhatNot sellers, I say…Be Different! Your goal should be to build a steady following of customers and viewers that keep returning to your stream. That likely won’t happen for you if you are just like Joe-Seller that sets a book in front of the camera and doesn’t say anything while music plays in the background. I have nothing against those sellers at all, because I’m sure many would say they do just fine, and if that is what you like to watch all the more power to you…but I prefer at least a little pizzazz! I love the innovative streamers on the platform that look like they are pushing the limits of the app. It doesn’t mean you need to drop a ton of money on lights, props, and whatever else…because at the end of the day you must remember the goal is to get exposure to help you sell your comics and MAKE MONEY!
A big thank you to Zach for taking the time do an inteview and all the great pictures and advice! Be sure to check out him in the following links.