Friday, November 30, 2007

Numb3rs & Comics

This entry is a week late but the 11/23 episode of the CBS show Numb3rs revolved around comic books and a convention. The writers knew their material.

For those who never saw it (this was my first time), the show is about a pair of brothers. One is a typical FBI agent. The other one is a math genius who uses game theory, auction theory, etc. to help solve the crime.

In this case, a comic book investor announced that he had discovered the rarest of comic books - an ashcan edition of a 30+ year old favorite. Ashcan editions are cheap, black and white copies often printed on smaller than usual paper. They are only produced for copyright purposes and often the entire print run is thrown away (hence the name).

No sooner was the comic unveiled then a masked gunman appeared, shot a guard, and stole the comic. Later, dozens of fake copies of the comic appeared.

The show touched on several issues dear to the comic collector's heart. One was benefits for the creators. In this case, there was a possibility that the rare comic had been stolen from the creator's personal collection. He wanted to leave it to his wife to provide for her retirement after he died. This echoes a campaign in the 1970s and early 1980s for DC to provide benefits to Superman's creators.

The person who unveiled the comic was a collector, not a fan. All he cared about was the value of his collection. Fans hate this sort because they run up the price of back issues, keeping them out of the hands of people who want to read them.

The math angles included looking at how much ink seeped into the paper on the theory that forgers write slower, allowing more time for the ink to sink in, and an analysis of the forgeries which turned out to have a mathematical code buried in them.

The comic creator was played by Christopher Lloyd who has played an animated character in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The guy who played "Henry" in Eureka was also in it but I forget his name.

I preferred the comic convention episode of Psych (which I never blogged about) but this one was good for network TV. 

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