For so many of us, making the decision to start collecting comic books can be a daunting minefield to jump into. For those of us not blessed with an unlimited budget, where do we start? Sure, everybody can walk into their nearest comic book shop and pluck the latest issue of Batman from the shelf, or browse the trade paperback racks for a lovely hardcover edition of a classic storyline. But, if you are looking to try and pick up those big ticket issues, the comic books that really mean something, then where on earth do you start? We all have our favourite characters from DC lore and if serious about collecting valuable key issues relating to that character then most of us need some serious help and guidance. Not only do we need to know which are the issues to be looking for, but pricing information is of paramount importance. Luckily, help is at hand in the form of an amazing mobile app that provides all this information and more free of charge!
KEY COLLECTOR COMICS – The creation of the supremely dedicated and knowledgeable Nick Coglianese from Chicago, Illinois. Several years in the making, this one-stop shop resource for comic collectors is extremely user-friendly, amazingly set out and above all else, fun to explore! From the main event level, household name characters to more obscure favourites, (B’Wanna Beast being my go to guy), all bases are covered. DC, Marvel, Image, Vertigo, Dark Horse and everything in between are covered, from obscure indie publishers to the top tier houses.
Want to know the key Batman issues to look out for? In the time it takes to search for the character, a chronological list is yours to scroll through, breaking down the top issues relating to that character, complete with a price guide based on the books condition. It eliminates the clutter and focuses on those issues that have significance and value. What’s more, the list is constantly evolving, keeping up to date with market trends and surges in popularity.
Absolute icons in the industry, Alex Ross and Neal Adams have actively endorsed the app too! Recommending it to their social media followers and giving away signed exclusives to users of the app, adding a great amount of credibility (not that it is needed). As an avid comic book enthusiast, I cannot say enough good things about Key Collector Comics, it truly is an essential tool for any collector, whether you are just starting out or have years of experience under your utility belt.
But, how did this come to fruition? To try and do justice to the painstaking and lengthy process involved, please see below my interview with the man himself, Nick Coglianese.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Nick Coglianese. I’m 39, from Chicago Illinois. I work for a liquor company based out of Kentucky and I own a mobile app that is the world’s 1st resource dedicated to helping comic fans identify “key issue” comics. A key issue is a first appearance, an iconic cover or any milestone in comic history that gives an issue value monetarily or as a highly sought after collectable. Family? Not married, no kids if that’s what you mean. If I did, I’m sure this app wouldn’t exist right now….
What gave you this obvious passion for comic books. Where did it
all start for you, was it one particular thing that sparked off your
interest, and from there, what were your favourite books to read
It began with The Bat, as I’m sure it does with many collectors. In 1989, Tim Burton made the first true Batman movie and when the commercials began running on television, I was hooked. Growing up I read the classic superhero titles. Batman, Avengers, Spider-Man.
Do you have the time to still read now? If so, what are your
current favourite titles? do you have favourite
Ha! No, I don’t have time for much outside of work and the app. Before the app I read Saga and a lot of Vertigo. I would buy trades and read what I heard was good. I have probably over 500 TPBs. I was collecting those for awhile. Before that I had probably 20 long boxes of single issues that I’d collected but I consolidated them down to maybe 5 boxes of key issues and beloved series, story arcs, single issues that I really liked or had great covers. Some examples would be the full Fables series, the full Y: The Last Man Series, the full Lucifer Series, a slightly obscure 12 issue series called Moonshadow, Sandman #50 and many other single issues like that. Of course, when I reduced my collection I know I gave away a lot that I wish I’d kept. I think I had Chew #1 but can’t remember.
What is your own comic book collection like, do you still collect
to this day, or is it too time consuming with your work on the app?
I haven’t purchased much in the past couple of years because I’ve committed my funds wholly to software development, building Key Collector Comics. Sometimes I buy speculator books or issues that I got an inside tip about. I’ll usually pick up one on eBay and then send a push alert to everyone which cleans out the stores. A couple of weeks ago, three weeks before anyone else, I was told to announce Body Bags by Jason Pearson as a good speculation pick. After I sent the notification I watched the book skyrocket up to $100. Hours before that I bought it for a $1.00. With great power comes great responsibility. I promise everyone that when I get one of these tips I only buy one book and I’ve never sold one of my own comics. Well, that’s not true. I had the first 50 Walking Dead that I bought off the shelf for cover price when it was released. I sold the whole series. I made pretty good money on it but I hate that I sold it. It’s hard to explain why. Collectors like me will understand.
Talk me through the app creation process. Once you had fully
formed the concept in your head, how did you go about the creation of
the app. Did you create it in conjunction with a web design company?
What was the time span between starting the creation process and
having a version ready to take to New York Comic Con 2017?
It was difficult. Its not like I live in Silicon Valley so I had a hard time finding a developer. I knew I wanted someone local so I could meet face to face with them. I think that’s important. I scoured LinkedIn, Facebook then went around to the computer science universities and hung fliers, posted ads on the internet. Finally I found someone through LinkedIn and worked with him for about 10 months but I did not enjoy that experience. He was extremely difficult to deal with and one day while looking at his portfolio page on a well-trafficked website, I saw he had posted all of the wireframes, design pictures – pretty much the business plan and we were months out from even releasing it. Eventually he “finished” the job and the app was working well but I wasn’t blown away by it so I found another developer. My friend began dating this girl who was in HR for a software development company and she matched me with the right person who has been really great. There’s always challenges with developers and guys like me who have an idea and expect it to be done the next day.
How long did it take to input all the data into the app, it must
have such a long process? How much time do you have to devote now to
maintaining and updating the data?
The database took me over 2.5 years to build before it even went onto the app. I entered everything by hand into an excel sheet. Over 8,000 individual entries with pricing, artist, writer, description of why it was a key. And I didn’t just enter it, I cross-referenced everything because there is SO much misinformation out there. Even Marvel and DC have the wrong information for character first appearances. Sometimes the “first appearance” is literally someone mentioning the character’s name. I spent a lot of time every day building the database. Sometimes 14 hours in a sitting. I still do that now. There are SO many obscure issues out there and just oddities that we’ve all probably passed over at one point in our lives while sifting through a long box. Now I devote every minute that I can to the app because there’s always something to do whether its marketing or refining the wording or reaching out to a creator, knocking on DCs door (I’ve had conversations with their marketing people – I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to let them know you love key collector and want to help it grow!) talking to retailers, individually emailing people that I find on social media who are comic fans! Haha. I always find something to do.
How did you manage to get legends like Alex Ross and Neal Adams
involved in endorsing the app? Who approached who, and what was like
dealing with such icons of the industry?
I literally picked up the phone and called their office. The first person who endorsed my app was Dinesh Shamdasani, formerly of Valiant. I met Dinesh at the NYCC, he was walking through the convention and came up to me at my shitty booth and asked what I was promoting. I was taken aback because so many people were in such a hurry to buy their Funko dolls or whatever that I could hardly get any attention. Dinesh understood it right away and knew what I had could be beneficial to the industry, to help new or frustrated collectors find or identify what they wanted without the frustration of researching everything individually. Still, Dinesh is 100% available when I have a question or need advice even though he’s producing Bloodshot and is very busy. If it weren’t for Dinesh I would have had to struggle a lot longer to get to where the app is today. Brian Pulido of Chaos Comics and Lady Death fame was the next endorsement. You can watch me interview him on the Key Collector Comics YouTube channel.
Now the owner of Coffin Comics, he enjoys the most devoted fans I’ve come across and its very obvious why. Brian is very engaged with his fans and is all over the Facebook groups interacting with them. He’s been a great mentor through this too, offering really good advice and helping me to understand a business I just fell ass-backwards into. Then Artgerm. I randomly reached out to him on social media and he was so kind and gracious with his time. He offered an interview with him over Google Hangouts. I had never used it before. When he and I had our interview appointment it took me half an hour to get the screens, the sound and everything right. Artgerm patiently waited, offered suggestions and when I finally figured it out, he spent an additional hour talking to me about his covers. Alex Ross, I called his art studio and eventually worked my way to him and he kindly offered some great giveaways and began mentioning me on his social. He is impressed with the results this early on so he’s going to be doing a lot more with me – more giveaways of his phenomenal books. Neal Adams I ambushed at a comic convention. I followed up with his office afterwards and I’ve been talking to his daughter Kris who has been SO great, so nice and also generous. She really cares to see the app do well and promote her father’s work. I can’t say enough nice things about her and the other people who have sponsored the app. When Artgerm, Adams and Ross say yes, I consider myself really fortunate. Its great to connect with them, get this awesome stuff that I can offer on the app. People go bananas over the giveaways. To be able to offer the app and the stuff that comes with it…I never thought I’d be in a position to make so many people happy with something that I’ve created.
Where in the world is the app most popular? Do you have any users
in places that might be surprising?
I’m still learning the analytics and for this question I just figured out how to get the exact answer. It has been downloaded in 131 countries since October 6 The top are U.S., Canada, the U.K. (only about another 1,000 downloads from the U.K. and you’ll blow right past Canada!), Australia and the Philippines. It probably sounds goofy the way I’m talking about it being downloaded in all these places but you have to understand, I never thought I’d have introduced something that people would enjoy like they are and I’m so grateful I have the ability to share this. It’s a lot of fun.
Nick is a thoroughly engaging and enthusiastic guy, with one hell of a creation! The interview is merely a snapshot of his story, which is an epic tale to say the least. To truly understand the sheer dedication and passion required to get to this stage, Nick has kindly given to us a fully account of his backstory, which involves a summer spent sifting through 50,000 comic books in a bookstore basement, to launching the app at New York Comic Con in 2017. It is quite the roller coaster ride, and will be published as a follow up piece to this interview.
Key Collector Comics free mobile app is available on Apple and iTunes.
You can also follow on Twitter at @keycollectorapp