Comic Lover’s Wife – Why Comics?
The Comic Lover’s Wife is back, this time just with a question that has nagged at her brain for a while. Hopefully it can generate some discussion between you and your friends not into comics and provoke some thought.
Something puzzled me. I asked hub…why do folks bother to collect comic books anymore? They can’t really be worth anything. The confusion for me was it seems the comic book collecting market totally disregards the laws of supply and demand. I understand that the old comic books are valuable and collectible because they were printed in smaller amounts, via a process that used chemicals that caused them to break down and in an era when they had to survive war, censorship, etc. For modern comics in the digital age, most books are scanned and available on the web almost immediately upon release. Even for folks who still buy the hard copy books, the comic book companies print thousands of each book flooding the market. On top of that, the minute you read it and bend its spine, it depreciates and is not even worth the cover price. From all appearances, any comic from the modern age should be worthless.
Hub tried to clarify for me and gave me an example of Batman Adventures #12, the first appearance of Harley Quinn. He said while the book was printed in large quantities, the folks who collected the series in hard copy bought them and held on to them for their love of the book. Some of the books may have also been returned to the printers, destroyed by being handled over the years making them unmarketable or held by long term speculators and not on the market after the initial printing. That caused the perceived scarcity that made them valuable. He noted that the book was a first appearance, which most comic collectors know gives the book added value. Now, many years later, thanks to the character having a role in a new movie it has driven the price of the book through the roof. As most of the dedicated collectors probably already have a copy, I have to think the market demand must be based on a new audience just discovering the book due to the movie or having the book as an art/investment piece-since the higher priced books are already graded and slabbed and can’t actually be read anymore.
What I got out of our conversation is that it seems that when it comes to comic collecting, it is a matter of perceived importance. Books that had little value can be boosted by being the base of a popular trend or have a new and exciting character introduced and be rendered valueless if a storyline takes a turn that loses reader support or the genre loses favor. Despite the factors against comic books having any value, the old adage seems to hold true that something is only as valuable as the price someone will pay for it.