Monday, January 24, 2011

An Inconvenient Truth.....About Comics (14)

Hello all.  Sorry it's been so long.  I have been busy I promise.  But here we go with another fun blog!

I would like to pre-face this blog by telling you that the following information won't make you any happier if you are a collector of comics though. It might open your eyes to something. But it's not going to make you happy in general. Matter of fact if you are an avid comic reader, this might be a little depressing. There I said it. I just tried to convince my readers not to read my blog. Not too bright of me huh? Sorry, just wanted to let you know what you are in for....

Comic books are an interesting commodity. If you want to see what is currently happening with your favorite heroes, then you have to read them. They are the official stories. Also they are a nice collectors item because they can go up greatly in value. And some have sold for thousands of dollars. In the early 1990s, even financial advice was given that comics were a better investment than the stock market! But all of this seems like a lot of talk. Is any of this true? Let's look at some myths about some myths, and hard truths about comic collecting.

The Golden Egg Goose

Comics first were realized that they were a collectors item largely in part because of the crazy amounts some old books go for. Take Detective comics number 27, published back in May 1939. The issue first featured the Batman. One just sold for a record making $1,075,500! Yes that's over a million dollars! Also Action Comics featuring Superman is in high demand selling for over a Million as well. Suddenly almost overnight a new generation realized there was money to be made. Suddenly everyone became a collector. And even today in Comic Buyers Guide, and magazine such as these, comics prices are listed to help collectors figure out what comics are hot. What you need to buy.
Is this accurate though? Are there a lot of people making great money off comics? To cut to the heart of the matter, the answer is a simple: nope. Well, why not? Well let's take a quick look back.

The comics that are selling for so much money are older right? But it's not just that they are older. You see, back during World War II paper was a hot item. People recycled it for the war effort. Well, what was the first thing that got trashed? Mom was just itching to through out all those old comics her son had cluttering up his room. Hence some of the old comics from the 40s and early 50s are extremely rare. Hence the high prices. What about today?

Did you make sure to pick up issue 700 of Batman? What about number 600 of Wonder Woman? Yeah, you did and so did everyone else. Comics just aren't rare enough anymore to be worth anything. This is partly to blame because of us as consumers. (Because we all had the investment idea at the same time). But also the comic book companies are to blame as well. They saw the demand for comics and went above and beyond. Suddenly there were so many 1 shot issues. Next there was variant covers. 1 in 25, 1 in 50, 1 in 200. People snatched them up. This really created a glut of comics though and prices have dropped sharply since then.

The Light At the End of the Tunnel

So are there any reassurances with comic collecting? Are comics worth nothing anymore? Well, they are still worth some money. You just have to be really careful what you get and when you sell for sure. Here are a couple factors that affect the price.

1. If a movie comes out the comic gets hot. This is true of any comics when they come to the big screen. Suddenly everyone has a renewed interest in them. This is true of big name comics like Batman and Spider- man. But it's also true for smaller books. Take Kick-Ass for instance. It's a book published under Marvels Icon line. The books were a success before the movie came out. When the movie hit it blew up. Now if you own a first print of the first issue, expect to be able to sell it for just about 50 bucks. Granted it's not thousands. But still a nice little payout.

2.Variant Covers. These are a little tricky because they may or may not be worth something. Variants are harder to come by, but they drop in price seriously fast. Take the 1 in 200 variant cover for Blackest Night # 1. When it first came out it was worth almost $200. Just a couple months later it had dropped to 80 or so. And now? Same book is worth less than $40. So as you can see, you can't make a living on variant collection either.

3. Rarity in the indie scene. Sometimes the indie comic labels such as Icon, Image, & Dark Horse under print some issues. The demand outstrips the supply and obviously it creates a low supply. Take Morning Glories issue 1, first print. It was $3.99, but now goes for almost $50. Crazy. But once again this is a blind shot in the dark. Backwards. What are the odds the comic you get will be worth a lot of money? Probably better to go to Vegas. You have got just as good a chance there....

Leaping Long Boxes in a Single Bound

That brings us to the bottom line on comic collecting. If you love reading comics, than buy all you want. Enjoy all you are reading. But if the comic kind of sucks and you are just reading it to hold on to the full collection, don't bother. 10 years from now half your comics are going to be worth about 3 cents a piece. So collecting comics is honestly a really bad idea. You are not going to make any money on them. And I mean you won't even break even.

Why has Detective Comics sold for so much? Because there are only 100 to 200 in existence!

But if you are reading the comics for the pure pleasure, than I say go to it. Right now is a excellent time to be a reader. Thrilling story lines and amazing exploits abound. Daredevil has left Hell's Kitchen. Ultimate Spider-Man is going to be killed off. As well as one of the Fantastic Four. Then we have Batman returning with a vengeance. And Brightest Day is racing towards an explosive conclusion. Yes, it is a great time to be a reader.

As for me, I wish I knew this info before I get into comics. Now I have a whole collection of which some of them are enjoyable. Some are worth a little bit of money (and I mean little literally!). But I also have a crap load of fodder too. Maybe it's time to finally give in and go to digital comics. We shall see... Anyway, if you are a collector, here's hoping you find a Detective Comics number 27 at a yard sale. Heck, here's hoping I find it. :)

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