Collecting or Investing
With all the movies and TV shows coming out based on our favorite comic book heroes, (Avengers, Batman v Superman, Agents of SHEILD, Arrow) I get nostalgic and go through my old comics. As for DC Comic Books I collected the bat family mostly, a few Superman and others here and there mostly when they did crossovers. I didn’t read Arrow, Constantine or Supergirl (couldn’t keep her origins straight anyways). I collected X-Men, Hulk and Spider-Man from Marvel, Poison Elves from Sirius along with anything Joseph Michael Linsner did and a few other books as well. Working at a local comic book store through high school and some college I was able to read many different books, I had to to know what was going on and sell them.
I was lucky enough to be working through the 90’s boom of comic books, the great artists and story lines, from the breaking of Batman to the Death of Superman and the creation of Deadpool and then Image Comics. I had started collecting around 1987, my best friend was collecting Hulk and I went with him to the local comic book shop and got hooked. My first comic I bought to start collecting was Uncanny X-Men #210 and #211 the Mutant Massacre. After a while of working at the comic book shop I started to do what a lot of people did, speculating about books.
I have about 900-1200 books that I was sure would be worth some good money in the future, and I was wrong. While my X-Men collection is worth a good deal I do have other books that I did get because of their value, first appearances', first art work, and big events. The best books are the ones I got because I wanted them and then to find out they are worth a lot, unintentional gain is great.
I am still a collector of comic books, mostly Transformers from IDW (any title), the main bat family, Batman, Grayson, Batgirl, and also Hulk and Spider-Man (only since Peter returned). I have limited my selection because I would spend way too much if I really looked around. I no longer buy books hoping they will be an investment; they are for me to read and enjoy.
Why all this? I do not agree with those who call themselves collectors that go and find the “professionally” graded and packaged comics. Oh great you have an Uncanny X-Men #210 graded at a 9.7 and sealed in a hard plastic case? Why? Just so you can guarantee the value, you are an investor not a collector. You worked real hard to find that copy didn’t you? You had to create the search on eBay so you know when an Uncanny 210 went up for sale, you went to different “collectors” websites to find it. What happened to going around to comic book shops or conventions hunting for the book you need to complete a run? You are missing out on the excitement you get from finding the book, examining it to make sure it’s good enough to buy. I wonder if you investors would even know how to evaluate a book, can you grade them for yourselves. I have priced so many books from current and silver age to golden age books. I know if a book is worth what someone is asking, can you be certain what's in that plastic is accurately graded? You want this sealed and graded book because you are planning to sell it later, the very idea of what an investor does. Brokers don’t collect stocks and bonds they invest in them.
For me the best thing, the most fundamental of collecting is being able to enjoy your collection. We all know someone that has figures of some kind on display, precious moments or action figures. These are displayed in cases or on shelves where the collectors can pick them up, dust them off and play with them if they want to.
This is the top of my desk, post it’s my kids have done and some of my favorite Transformers including some of my customs. I take pride in rearranging them, dusting them off and Transforming them from time to time. Now like my Transformers I love going through my comic books. You investors may have owned a copy of Uncanny 210 previously so you wanted a graded one for nostalgia. Now you have another one in the protective case, mine’s in a plastic bag with an acid free backer. Do you remember the first time you read that issue? I was sitting at a desk in my room, laid it down and was sure not to press it flat to keep it in the condition I bought it. Seeing the artwork of Alan Davis on the newsprint and smelling the pages as I turned them, my wife calls the scent musty and I call it nostalgic. Getting to the end of the book being left with a cliffhanger, an incredibly memorable time from my childhood, and this was repeated with each new book I got. Sound familiar to you? Is that how you felt reading your favorite book? Guess what “collectors” I can go to my collection and pull Uncanny 210 out, lay it on my desk and read it again and again. The sight and scent of the book taking me back to my childhood, a journey that is worth more than the book could ever be. Can you do this? Are you able to relive the excitement of the first time you read the book? No because you bought it for the money, you didn’t collect the book you invested in it, robbing yourself of this experience.
For me someone will collect to enjoy things, not to simply show them off or to turn a profit. You might be able to display the books but you cannot enjoy them. I do not have a problem with the “professional” grading (maybe I do since I have to use “ “) or those who buy them. I just believe that this practice is not collecting.