When it comes to comics, most of the time it seems that you’re either a “reader” or a “collector.” There don’t seem to be too many among us who do both.
A RECENT EXAMPLE
I was checking out a post on Facebook by a comics creator who was attending a con recently. In short, a person came up to him, asking him to autograph a fairly valuable comic he’d co-written so he could have it slabbed and added to his collection. When asked if he would charge for that, the creator said no, he didn’t charge for autographs, but the guy could help by buying a comic or book he had on the table in front of him.
When the creator returned the signed comic to him, the guy simply turned and walked away. That left the creator puzzled. This person would pay for the autograph but wouldn’t consider buying a book instead?
Another creator responded to him in that thread, saying that there are two kinds of comics fans – READER or COLLECTOR. Just as I mentioned previously, few fans engage in both activities, he noted.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT’S VALUABLE?
I have speculated in the past, buying certain comics because I know they would be worth something soon. In every case, I blew it big time because I’d wait too long to sell these books, so they had become basically worthless.
I stopped collecting because I did that too often. Now I only buy comics and related items that I truly WANT. Don’t get me wrong – I do have several Batman statues, figures and the like, so I’m not immune to wanting to keep several items at one time!
Here’s what confounds me – How does a collector know a book he’s buying is going to be valuable? Does he or she check out the many “price guides” to find out? Do they talk with other collectors on message boards or at cons so they can know?
The thing is, in my opinion, it’s the quality of the comic (storytelling, art, script) that makes it valuable. Say someone reads a story and likes it, and they want a copy in better condition. They go back to the store and get one. The store employees notice that issue is selling well, so some of them increase the price since they need to make money to pay their employees.
Word gets to the “price guides” about this, and the cost goes up there as well. Collectors read this, and some decide they want “in” on this, too, so they scour the landscape for copies. The price continues to rise.
Finally, the cost is too much, so the demand begins to fall. Accordingly, the price goes down, too, but never quite to cover level. At least, that’s my experience.
Granted, some folks are big fans of certain writers and/or artists. One guy I met once bought an entire case of a number one issue because he loved the artist. If you have the money to do that, more power to you!
The question I keep coming to is, if you don’t read the book, how do you know it’s good enough to collect? If you bag and board a comic the second you buy it, you could have all blank pages in there and have no idea that’s the case!
I think you need to READ the book before you can decide to collect it. But that’s just me. Otherwise, it’s only speculation. Informed speculation, maybe, but still speculation.
I have a couple of suggestions to make – for both sides of the table, of course.
I read a great suggestion online for creators that said one should put a clearly labeled jar for donations on their tables. That way a fan can always put money there without a lot of muss or fuss. Also, have a sign that indicates your policy regarding autographs so there’s no confusion.
For fans, if you’re willing to pay for an autograph and the creator says they don’t take it but would be happy if you would buy one of their books, for pity’s sake, buy one! That’s a massive hint he or she is sending your way! And you might actually enjoy it if you sit down and read it! And they might remember you the next time you want one of their wares signed.