Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Collecting Comics

[The rest of my Free Comic Book Day script.]
Hi, everyone! Thanks for coming. The flier says I’m going to talk about comic book collecting and I had planned on doing a comic book Q&A – but that’s okay, I can give a short talk to you about collecting comic books to kick things off and then get to questions. If you didn’t come with a question to ask, that’s okay too! I prepared some questions for you – all you have to do is pick one and ask it when the time comes.

Tony Isabella wrote, “the golden age of comic books is when you’re 12.” So, let me tell you briefly what collecting was like when I was 12. It was 1983 when I was 12 and this comic book came out when I was just entering Tefft Middle School. It’s from Marvel Comics. Marvel and DC Comics were the two big companies back then and that’s still basically true today. Back then, there was a lot of company loyalty among fans. Marvel’s loyal readers didn’t read DC’s books. We were called Marvel zombies. The companies even played up this rivalry and every year the two companies would have a baseball game against each other. Marvel was producing around 40 or just over 40 comic books a month back then. This comic book cost 60 cents. If I had $25 a month back then, I could have bought every comic book that came out every month. Nowadays, $25 would get me six comic books. Only six.

Back in the ‘80s is when collectors started being told to bag their comic books in plastic sleeves to protect them. If I recall correctly, we were told to double bag them, but I’ve never seen comic book stores doing that and I certainly could never afford to do so. Between the sleeve and the comic would be a cardboard sheet that would keep your comic book from bending. And you were supposed to stand up your comic book collection instead of laying them down flat, as there was less risk of them bending if standing up. We were also told to change the plastic sleeves over time, though that could get pretty expensive if you had a lot of comic books and I never did it. I had to throw out a lot of comic books because of that. The plastic sleeves are supposed to keep mildew away from your comics, but if mildew does get in, or you put a mildewy comic book in plastic, the plastic sleeve is no good. And, eventually, the mildew will spread even inside the other plastic sleeves around them.

If you wanted to buy this same comic book today, there’s three ways you could do it. You can go to a comic book store, check for this in their back issue bins, and pay maybe $3 for it. You could go online and try to win it in an ebay auction. You might get it for only $1.50 that way. Or you can go to Marvel’s web site and subscribe to their digital comic book collection. For $10 a month, you can access thousands of comic books from Marvel’s history online. You can buy digital comics from almost every company except DC Comics, which has refused to jump on this bandwagon.

Now, you might wonder why a comic book from almost 27 years ago now costs $3 when it used to cost 60 cents. That’s simple economics – if something is harder to find and people still want it, you can charge more for it. Now, back in the ‘90s, this principle fooled a lot of people into thinking that they could invest in a comic book that would become hard enough to find that it would be worth hundreds of dollars. Only comic books from the 1960s or earlier are that hard to find and that rare and valuable, but the whole speculator craze of the ‘90s turned a lot of people off of comic books when they found out their collections were worth almost nothing. So, if you do collect comic books, learn the lessons of the past and ONLY buy them if you like them, not to try to make money off of them.

No comments: