“But, Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills! You’re from two different worlds! (sees neutron bomb approaching) Oh, I’ve wasted my life.”
Treehouse of Terror VIII – Homega Man
The days of collecting comic books have long disappeared from my like the hair on my head. Yet, when I think about both of them, I am saddened by the thought as I see them as old forgotten friends that used to mean the world to me. Today, I still read comics though more graphic novels than the single comic book floppy issues. I consider graphic novels to be the original binge watching before the internet as several comic book issues were bundled together and not having to read one issue at a time and each month at a time.
Back in the day, my fondest memories of collecting comics were when they still cost $0.35. For a $1.05, I would spend my allowance-ish on just three comics and had to be very selective. X-Men was always my top pick with Spiderman which had to win me over with the art cover to be chose. Yet, DC would always be Superman and Batman regardless but in the 70’s the stories were fair. I loved DC’s Legions of Superheroes especially Dawnstar who was super hot. (Enough of the fanboy drool.)
My stepfather was the one who pushed me into collecting comic books. He worked with me on collecting all issues of Marvel’s What If? series. There was a comic book store he used to take me near my mom’s job which I loved going to with him. I made sure each back issue I bought was read and put away carefully; this was before plastic bags and boards. I remembered this rule about protecting my comic book collection after he told me his mother threw away his collection when he went into the Air Force. All those prized collection could have been worth the fortune had they been passed down to me. However, my collection, despite the good condition, will never fare the ideas of by a new car or paying off my college loans.
Sure, I have a couple of rare items like Conan # 3, as pictured on the left. I was given this copy sometime in my teens. It was a lot of money back then and I tried to sell it for a local comic book shop called Jimmy’s Comic Book Shop in the Bronx near my junior high school. Jimmy would not buy it from me as, in his divine wisdom, wanted me to hold on to it for a longer time. While I would have blown what ever monies from the sale of this comic on crap, I still have this comic somewhere in my stored collection. Just now, I decided to look up to see the value of this comic and according to Comics Price Guide online, the high-end value is about $250. Sound great for me to sell now but the trick is how? There are very few comic book shops today and even fewer that will pay top dollar; remember they have to make money too. There’s always eBay as option which I hesitated but I looked up to see if anyone was selling their copy and there was. The seller was selling their copy at $9.99. Oh well, I guess I would be eating meat this week but what to do in the future?
The article blames on the value of comics going down on the Internet. Since many people can download copies of comic books via bit torrent, I don’t believe this is the case – directly. Yes, anyone can get a copy of Action Comics # 1 but few have every seen or even held a physical copy of the book. The book itself has significance to comic book fans for having the first appearance of Superman. So going back to bit torrents, downloading this book in a digital format is meaningless. The digital age should have made all traditional paper comic books increase in their collection appeal. However, for a comic book collection to have strong value, the number of physical comics have to go down.
The rarer the comic and of course in great condition will fetch those amazing prices all collectors dream of but remember the 90’s with the variant covers has made selling comics next to impossible. The comic book publishers themselves are at fault for lowering the value of their own products. This trend is unlikely to stop due to the blockbuster storylines that not only run for many issues but crossover to many of its series. The more publisher invest in the idea of forcing their readers to this business model the more doing bit torrent make sense. I for one will admit, paying for comic books make no sense when you can check them out in the library for free. Yes, you may not own the comics but imagine the money and space you’re saving buy not having to buy comic books.
Barry T. Smith, 44, spent most of his life collecting comic books. And he always considered them an investment. “These books would someday be college tuition, or a house down payment,” Smith remembers thinking. “I would lay them all out in my parents’ living room, sorting them, cataloging them, writing down entries on graph paper while cross-referencing them against the Overstreet Price Guide.”
After college he landed a tech job in Silicon Valley but held on to all 1,200 of his comics, including several hundred early issues of Marvel’s X-Men, which his research suggested had grown in value every year. The comics sat in a storage unit, boarded and bagged, for close to two decades. When Smith found himself unemployed and in need of money to support his wife and two daughters, he decided the time was right to cash in on his investment.