Tales of a Collector: Collecting Comics in the New Environment

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the big 2, their pricing, and the damage that it is doing to the industry that we all love.  But how is the climate for collectors?  Well there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. So like a at drunk at closing time, I’ll start with the ugly.

The Ugly

As I’ve discussed in this column before, in the 90’s, the speculator market almost killed our beloved comic industry. People were buying variants and #1’s expecting them to sky rocket price wise, making them rich.  It didn’t work (are you listening Boundless, Archie, and others?).  But now there seems to be a bigger problem. 4 and 5 dollar books are becoming a norm.  They are putting a stranglehold on pocket books and pull lists. (are you listening Marvel and DC?).  So how does that affect the collector?  Pretty much the same.  I find myself cutting books just like everyone else, or not buying good books.  Silver Surfer? nope  JLA? nope  Batman? trade wait. I’m fairly successful but my bank account is not limitless either.  It’s affected my weekly buying, which is where collecting begins, and it’s affected my back issue buying.  I’ve had to adjust my buying just like every one else.

The Bad

So how has this all affected the back issue market?  Or has it? Depends on who you ask or what you’re talking about.  The premium stuff has risen exponentially.  The holy grail of comics are super high and super hot right now.  Especially if a book has a CGC grading (which may or may not mean much, we’ll discuss that in a future column).  Premiere books command premiere prices.  Premium books graded are bringing super-high prices. Gold and Silver Age keys have always been the highest. But Bronze, Modern, or Current Age stuff is going higher too.  Star Wars #1 (1977), New Mutants #98 (first Deadpool), Walking Dead #1, Hulk #181 (first Wolverine), House of Secrets #22, all bring premium prices. Which is good, IF YOU OWN ONE, if not, then you’re paying over inflated prices (especially for CGC high grades). But that’s not always the case, which leads me to the good…

The Good

So what can be good about high prices on current books or paying super high prices for keys? Well, the heightened awareness for the movies and the related comics has had a good side effect. Lots of people are coming out of the wood work with their hidden collections.  Grandpa left me cedar chest full of comics (which happened recently, and yielded a 9.0 Action Comics #1. $3.21 million for those interested), or I have my books from when I was a kid.  Unfortunately, most of the time, you have to break their heart. Everyone has those 90s X-Men titles (very few, that aforementioned New Mutants #98), but the influx of books has made it easier to fill in those runs. I just finished my run of X-Factor (#1  and #6 (first Apocalypse) being the most difficult, but economical for the time being. Supply and demand, simple economics, the demand is up right now, but so is the supply. Do some shopping, find that deal.  The local convention will have plenty of $1, $2, $5 or 6 for $25 books,so complete your favorite run.  And at a cheaper price. Tired of paying $4.99 for a book you have no idea if it’s good or not?  Try paying that for one you know is good.


Next time: CGC grading pros and cons

Life long collector (minus some high school/college years). Also a horror, Star Wars and cooking fan

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