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Comic collectors are programmed to hoard

I went to a community garage sale recently and was amazed at some of the things people are still trying to offload that fall firmly into the category of “let it go.”

Outside of the expected items, the number of vhs tapes is quite staggering.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to accept that some things are just never going to find a new home. Comics were the hardest to accept for me.

The collector market is, in many ways, the worst thing that happened to comics. Readers and non-readers stopped thinking of them as magazines – disposable and of equal value in swaps – and started thinking of them as objects with the capacity to increase in value (however long the odds in general).

As soon as folks started putting comics in bags we were going down a dangerous road.

I laugh wholeheartedly when I hear the cry of the anti-digital that a digital comic has no resale value. I always offer to sell my Ambush Bug collection for only 20% over cover price to reinforce the self-deception intrinsic to that argument.

For three decades I’ve had friends in comic stores. If they aren’t rich, why do you think your “investments” are going to work any better?

The impression that comics – all comics – have resale value is the biggest and most widespread lie in the industry.

Why is a copy of Extreme Justice more likely to retain value than, say, a February 1995 issue of Time Magazine? They are both similar formats but one is in landfill and the other is in the bins of a hopeful seller who drags it from show-to-show looking for the next sucker.

Ultimately a comic is only different from a magazine if we pretend it is. I have no problem dropping a $5.99 copy of Esquire into the bin, but I once found myself about to put the Free Comic Day Infinity #0 into a comic bag!

We are programmed by our own hobby to put value to every comic that crosses our threshold.

Just once I’d like to buy an old Spider-man at a show for $50 and immediately fold it and put it in my back pocket. Perhaps set up a friend with a video camera to capture the horror of those around me. Would anyone try to stop me? It’s a distinct possibility.

And so a pile of comics goes into the blue bin. If you have trouble with this thought, at least be reassured your copies of Supreme Power now have an incrementally-greater demand because I have reduce the supply by one.


Ω An earlier version of this post appeared at

4 thoughts on “Comic collectors are programmed to hoard

  1. the article seems one sided, that’s not a slight, but 😉

    I am sure some people like to collect comics, just to have that collection, because it’s a hobby. Resale, or valuable comics are a part of it, I’m sure. I am pretty happy with my first appearance of Gambit because of it’s value. Yet, my water damaged Daredevil #7 is the gem of all my comics because it’s the earliest Daredevil and I got it from my wife for Christmas.

    I’m sure the lottery ticket mentality for each and every comic is part of some (maybe lots) of people’s thinking. I think this was huge in the 90s when the flood gates of – those old comics will pay for college – thing started. I’m sure that is still there but not so much.

    If I pay $5 for a comic, I want it to stay in good shape because #5 is pretty hefty just to roll up and put in my pocket 🙂

  2. I think that’s all true too. My slight is toward the widespread notion that every comic should be treated like your Daredevil #7.

    As for the $5, a latte costs that and we don’t put it in plastic to preserve for some theoretical future generation. A Vanity Fair mag costs almost double that and it’s into the bin the next week.
    Which raises the question, did you spend the $5 to hoard a bunch of stapled pages, or to experience the story?

  3. oh! I buy my comics to read. I do buy dollar bin, or comics on the cheap and haven’t read them yet. I tend to buy up a bundle of comics like say, Alpha Flight and then when I have a good run, I’ll read through them. It does or it can take a long time.

    so all new releases, I read. Back issues are random. Mostly Daredevils, cause I want them all, and they don’t have to be in great condition WHICH is a newer frame of mind. When I bought back issues of DD v1 a bunch of years ago, I wanted as mint as mint a I could get…now, I just want the book and hey, a ratty looking issue 56 is still issue 56.

    I don’t buy magazines and a coffee is hard to collect. I did recently throw out a well used tablet. Now, this cost maybe 200+ bucks a few years ago. Like anything I throw away, I hope to get the moneys worth out of it before it goes. So, if I bought a magazine, if it got read and parts re-read, then I could let it go. A comic, I could re-read 10 years later and it’s part of my collection. I’m sure some people might collect Vanity Fair, and they’d keep that and throw away a comic. That’s all fine, it’s all just personal preference of what we keep, what we let go and why. AND to justify it.

  4. I whole-heartedly agree that “it’s all just personal preference of what we keep, what we let go and why” !

    We should always be asking what is giving value to us personally, not allowing outside “but it might be worth something someday!” guide us. (Stress on the might and someday)

    I think there are a few things that we, as a society, have connected with ‘having value’ that makes the “let go” part the hardest. As well as comics, National Geographic has this strange consideration. I don’t know if it’s the high-brow nature, or the brand, but folks try to donate that magazine all the time.

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