Or: Why My Comics Aren’t Worth Shit and Never Will Be.
As thirty looms closer and closer, I’ve come to embrace my dorkiness, it’s cheeky and likeable in many situations. I’ve always been a dork, regardless of my willingness to acknowledge this truth. I collected comics, toys, and trading cards of all sorts as a kid. Being a collector in the early nineties means that I completely fell victim to the collector’s society that was evident in comic culture at the time. Everything was an investment. Anything could be the next ultra popular book. Untold dozens of dollars lurked on every comic stand, if only you picked the right ones.
The overwhelming majority of this mentality is due to the small fortunes being amassed at the time by collectors from the sixties. These old Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and X-Men books were being sold at auction for more than value of the entire comic shop you heard about it in. Several factors converged to make these comics so valuable – they had become beloved cultural icons beyond the comic book world, these issues generally introduced important characters or events, but of far more importance is the fact that they all were extremely rare. Limited numbers of these comics were even printed, and even fewer survived since comics were rarely collected back then.
Greasy young men in comic shops around the country understood this, but refused to acknowledge it. They were special, and special people had special things. So we all went about buying up any first issue we could find, every alternate cover, anything advertised as limited, and absolutely anything chromium. We then went about sealing them away after carefully reading them to preserve their value. Hell, some of us didn’t even open the books, and immediately sealed them in a bag to ensure maximum returns on our investment.
Through careful selection and storage, we could easily finance a small revolution when we sold our comics twenty years down the road. George Carlin once said “have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?” A wise man, Mr. Carlin. We were special, so our worthless shit was priceless stuff in our eyes.
Much to my wife’s chagrin, I still have my comics. They live in our guest room closet, which is where they will probably remain forever. Out of amusement I have occasionally checked the price of some of my prized books, most of which have actually depreciated from the meager amount of money they were worth twenty years ago. None of them will ever be worth any notable sum of money. Too many of them were made, and too many of those were collected and boxed away in the same way mine are.
This isn’t something confined to comics – the same argument could be made for sport cards and memorabilia, Beanie Babies, action figures, Barbies, and an almost endless list of other things people collected at the time. Because we were assured of our incredible worth and uniqueness, we projected these feelings onto all of the things we collected.
Face facts, most of our stuff is actually shit, no matter how much self-esteem we have.