As a companion to my previous piece about Heroescon, I thought I would write a piece on collecting at conventions. Here’s my theory on collecting at shows. If it’s a big show (I.e. SDCC, NYCC, or Heroes), I mainly go for original art, prints, or independently done books. These bigger shows have bigger name stars. If you’re wanting to get a commission or an original page from Jason LaTour, Skottie Young, or Bernie Wrightson (my favorite), this is the place to do it. Or if you’re trying to get a signed TPB by Jason Aaron, Scott Snyder, or Cullen Bunn then that’s you’re venue. Most writers, artists, colorists, and inkers have trades, drawings, and books for sale. Also remember, these guys are not getting super rich off this stuff. Some of them are making a good part of their living doing the con circuit. I’ve picked up Monster Fighters, Return of the 80s Undead, and other great books distributed solely by the creators. Add these books to your collection, you never know where the next big hit may come from.
However, there are supreme collecting opportunities as well. The best of which is trades. 1/2 off trades, buy 2 get 1 free, even $5 trades can be found around most any convention floor. You can even occasionly find some hardcovers super cheap.
The other thing you find at big conventions are those illustrious .50c & $1 dealers. While I don’t shop these guys often (I look for those books in bulk), these are the most popular vendors. Looking for an Excalibur #57 (that’s for you Bob)? This is where to find it. Teen Titans from the 90s? Here. Do the two finger shuffle with fellow bargain hunters and rack up. Just make sure you bring a box on a handtruck or a heavy duty back pack.
Now to small cons, here’s where collector’s can do some damage. There won’t be a lot of writers and artists here. Not a lot of cosplayers (no offense guys & gals). Just a couple dozen vendors with time to talk and deal. Dealers can be as much fun to talk to as creators. Most have been around for years and years. Some own brick & mortar stores, some are weekend warriors. They travel the roads of the region harking their wares. These guys & gals are where collecting goes to the next level. $5 & 6 for $25, $10 or 6 for $50, sounds like a lot but these aren’t your normal 90s books, these are silver & bronze age gems. Maybe even a golden age book in fair shape. Odd little books meant for specific styles. Speed Buggy by Charlton Comics, Gold Key Roy Rogers, Dell Little Rascals, DC House of Mystery, Marvel silver age Tales Of Suspense, the true heart of a great collection.
Not everyone can own a “key” book, for most of us FF #49, Amazing Fantasy #15, Avengers #1 are a pipe dream. But, if you can get a complete run of Tomb of Dracula or New Gods, that’s when collections start to become viable.
In conclusion, use the big conventions to collect original art & prints. Use toy and collectible shows for just that (don’t ignore those boxes of comics here though). Use the small cons for filling in your collection. Shop smart and be patient, if no one has that specific book that you’re waiting for, just hold out. Don’t spend just to spend. Make sure you take something to carry it all in. And remember, late shopping is best, those boxes of books look a lot heavier leaving than they do coming in. Happy Shopping!