Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Comic Book Collecting

I have always thought it was kind of amazing how insanely high the value of old comic books can become. Anywhere from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The most valuable comic in the world is worth 1.5 million dollars, which I think even an enthusiastic comic collector would agree is a ton of money for just one comic book.

What I think is most interesting is why these comics are so valuable. It's usually not because they contain some uniquely exciting storyline material, or the artwork is especially affecting.

It also has a lot to do with how old the comic is, what physical condition the comic happens to be in, and how rare the comic is. Sometimes the first appearance of a particular character will inflate the value of a comic book if that character becomes famous or popular; the first appearance of Batman is a $1,380,000 comic and the first appearance of Superman is the $1.5 mil mentioned above. First or early editions of comics that end up running many issues will be worth more.

But basically, it seems like if you can say “Whoa, you still have one of those?" or "I can’t believe you saved that thing for all this time!”, then the comic is more valuable. The actual content or entertainment value of the comic is somewhat irrelevant.

Considering all this, if there were ever a good time to own a valuable comic book collection I think this would be the time. In ten years, it’s very possible comic books will no longer be physically manufactured and bound with paper. Many comic books are available exclusively online already.

As more and more readers become comfortable with the electronic medium, the price of producing a hard copy and shipping it all over the place goes up and up, and laptop/Smartphone/tablet technology continues to improve (and becomes more ubiquitous), it will eventually become more convenient and profitable to just release the comics online and get rid of the paper version altogether. The same thing is happening to newspapers and magazines.

Someday, the production of a physical comic book might become as the production of a vinyl album is today; mostly for old-school or nostalgic effect by retro grouches or hipsters who swear it was better back then, and the new method has got no soul because there is nothing quite like actually holding one in your hands.

Just as records are more valuable today because they pretty much don’t make them anymore at all, I am sure the value of comic books will also soar as they phase out the paper version; people will start getting rid of them and over the years they will become lost or destroyed, until finally they become a genuine museum-worthy artifact.

A selective and fortunate population of nerds will likely become rich because of this inevitable change in medium. Their smugness is well-deserved after all the chiding and disapproval the hobby earned them over the years from their mothers who just couldn’t understand their passion.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing info, maybe I should put "comic books" on my Christmas list?