Nothing makes me recoil like the thought that my long boxes of comics are gathering dust and steadily declining in value. Sure, those copies of Gen13 aren’t going to buy me a cup of coffee, but there has to be some value in the issues, whether monetary or experientially. Now that time has passed, someone new to comics surely has to want to read a highly published long story arc featuring characters they never heard of before, right? Someone… right?
That’s the way I look at classic comic books. I often name drop Captain Midnight as an example of a popular and forgotten piece of pop culture. The good old Cap was a radio serial (you can google that) and got his own book that ran for many years. Then… he disappeared. Third hand references to him got me interested, and I finally scoured the web for info, went to a few shows, and grabbed a few issues.
At some point though, isn’t curiosity going to lead people to broaden their minds besides the Marvel movie characters? Isn’t there a kid who is going to see that he can grab 20 issues of a title for $5 in a bargain bin and read them? I’m not sure anymore. The more conventions I go to, the less transactions I see with the big dealers. You know them by sight, the 50+ year old man with his wife or son, a big yellow and red banner, and a wall of very expensive old books that seem to sit for the entirety of the show. Who buys this stuff anymore?
A rather famous dealer I know shocked me when I saw his car one day. It was a beater that looked like something Peter Parker would be wrestling the Macho Man to buy with prize money. I thought, “this guy has a collection and warehouse worth millions, where’s the money?” The answer was, and is, it’s not there. It’s just an anchor weighing him down.
Any collectible is only worth what someone will pay, and in the world of comics, there are less and less players who will pay the big bucks. I’m not talking about a Nick Cage collector, I mean someone who is looking for a Captain Marvel (Shazam) issue with a sticker price of $800 in fine condition. Those guys are gone. If they wanted it, they have it by now. The middle-aged people of today who are now coming into disposable income and nostalgia are buying their 1970s and 1980s toys, and not buying comic books.
But buying old comics shouldn’t be about money, it should be about VALUE. Nostalgia. Exploration. Adventure. Inspiration. But there’s something I can’t describe that isn’t connecting people today with the books of long ago… or even “not too long ago”.
I sat the other night walking my fingers through my books. Seeing amazing stories like Wildstorm Spotlight #1, or Fall of the Mutants, or the first years of Spawn. No one seems to care to seek these out.
So as I prepare to go into Wizard World this weekend, I walk alone in a crowd of cosplayers, pop culture and Japan fans, Disney Marvel Maniacs, and the zombie aficionados. I will be alone combing for Legion of Super Heroes back issues. I will be undetected seeking out Golden Age heroes. I will be silent amidst the moans of the Walking Dead.
And somehow, I will have a great time. I’m just not sure who’s having the same fun as I am.