Saturday, March 19, 2005

Nothing Funny About Comics

Comic book collecting used to be an intense hobby of mine. I mean, I went all out. I once had Fantastic Four #1, Hulk #1 (when he was grey – he became green in issue #2), Tales to Astonish #27 (first Ant-Man), Mad #1 (it was a comic book before it became a magazine) and on an on. I went to conventions in New York (including the Star Trek conventions) circa mid 70’s and my friends and I even had a “company” (The E.P. Henry Corp. – that name hasn’t seen print in decades!) which had a table at a few of these. But you know what spoiled everything for me? Grownups. That’s right grownups. Give them a whiff of a money making opportunity and they’ll ruin the fun every time. Now, you have collector’s items that are “restored” professionally, graded and sealed in plastic. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, you’re not actually supposed to read them, right? Just own them and sell them. I sold all mine years ago. The last one that I had, I brought to a comic book store in Albuquerque, New Mexico in order to sell it. It was an issue of Spiderman (#20- something). I observed a father and his son attempting to buy a comic for the kid’s collection. But the boy didn’t have quite enough money for the Spiderman (#80- something) that he wanted. The dealer was acting like a regular Ebenezer Scrooge. I was completely disgusted. So I hand the kid my Spiderman and told him he could have it for free. Needless to say, everyone was stunned. The dealer asked me why I did that. I looked right in the eye and said “Comics should be for kids.” I walked out of that store and the chapter, in my life, entitled “Comic Books” was closed forever.


At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Mr. Tambourine Shatner said...

All I've gotta say is right on. That is probably one of the more honest and decent things that I have heard of someone doing, and this topic further shows how truly cut throat comic collectors can be. It wasn't this way 40, hell, 50 years ago, not that I was alive then, but still, I believe that comics really ARE for kids.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

You're a good man, Henry.

I have a ton of boxes of comics I really have to unload, most of them worthless. I'm going to donate a big batch of them to the Young Adult loft at the library I work at, where comics are put out for kids to take.

I spent thousands and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars on comics during the years I collected them. Today they are, again, almost worthless. However, in my waning days of interest I remember the ten year-olds coming into the comic shop, blustering in their trying-to-be-cool way to the clerks and buying five copies of whatever Wizard said was that week's hot comic.

I pitied them, because I knew their comics would be even more worthless than mine. The big difference, though, was that I bought mine to read and enjoy, while they thought they were 'investing' in them. I got what I wanted from them. They didn't.

eBay has killed comic prices, which is bad for us old guys, but great for kids. I could reproduce 95% of my gigantic collection for a puny fraction of what I paid for them over the years. This would be a glorious time to be collecting at least those comics I was reading in the '70s-'90s.


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