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We're all waiting for the other kids' moms to throw theirs out first
August 23, 2013 4:32 AM   Subscribe

"We talked about how it’s crazy that there is this generation of comics collectors that basically all have the same collection. Exactly the same. Like the one we just saw. And how it’s (basically) worthless. And how those collections were worth real money even ten years ago. Maybe more like 20 years ago. Remember G.I. Joe #2 from 1982? It used to be worth 40 bucks. Now, just a click away, there are 6 used from various sellers starting at 99 cents. Spahr joked that we should have all sold when the market was at its peak in the early ’90s." -- Bad news for those of us who wanted to fund our kids' college funds with our comics collection: even rare comics are worthless now.
posted by MartinWisse (128 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Alternate headline: People no longer insane.
posted by Artw at 4:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [38 favorites]


Just hang onto them for another 20 years, and sell them at a premium to all the 60-somethings who wish they had never gotten rid of their collections when they were 40-somethings.
posted by usonian at 4:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ebay removes the appearance of scarcity.
posted by jaduncan at 4:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [41 favorites]


Is there an internet effect happening here, in that in the early 1990s these collections were dispersed geographically and not "just a click away", you had to find the collectors or via shops or specialist magazines or conventions &c. All of a sudden via eBay you see that in fact x-thousand of those comics were printed and sold and some large fraction of that x-thousand survived and is in plastic somewhere and thus the price drops.

(on preview, what jaduncan said above)
posted by chavenet at 4:47 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


That and just the general collapse of comics reading/collecting as a hobby in the mid nineties under the collective greed of, well, everybody.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:48 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


The link in the FPP suggests that a lot of it is that a bunch of 40 year olds are just trying to get rid of their collections now. What made them expensive before wasn't that the issues themselves were rare, but that issues for sale were rare.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:53 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe now I can affordably replace my never-returned Sandman TPBs with the same early printings (rather than the bastardized reprints with the godawful covers).
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Variant covers still seem to be a big deal though:

I talked to my local retailer about this recently because I’ve always had trouble getting my head around the whole variant model. He said the store has one or two customers that want the variants. Those customers pay a large enough premium (sometimes in advance) for the rare versions that it covers to store’s entire order on the book, including the extra copies needed to qualify for the variant that the store is not sure they’d be able to sell otherwise. In this scenario, everyone wins: the collectors get their variants, the retailer is not assuming any additional risk, the publishers and creators sell more copies in the direct market, and because retailers are ordering more copies than they would ordinarily, there are extras available on the shelf for casual buyers who didn’t pre-order. Seems like a good way to turn the obsessiveness of a few collectors into a broad-based benefit.

Not sure if this is the standard model that retailers use, but if so, it makes plenty of sense and does not seem unsustainable.


I dunno, I like my local comicbook store, I like picking up floppies every couple of weeks, but I can't help like feeling sometimes that it's like the ritual practices of some weird band of pygmies that's on the brink of being wiped out by inbreeding and we should all just go digital.
posted by Artw at 4:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had exactly this type of collection. Traded it about 10 years ago for a few thousand dollars worth of home improvement work from another collector.

Sounds like I did well.
posted by kyrademon at 4:56 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Was about to comment the same thing happened to record in the 90s... but I then saw it's mentioned in the article. Are records really worth money again now? What like hipsters buying stuff? I thought he argument was that as collectors filled out there collections (of anything) then only things of real value was the truly rare
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:57 AM on August 23, 2013


some large fraction of that x-thousand survived

So someone needs to buy up a lot of these collections and put fire to them. It's the only way to save these comic books as valuable cultural items. One remaining copy is coveted by collectors. Thousands sit unnoticed in the closet until someone needs the space.
posted by three blind mice at 4:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's also the claim that GI Joe #2 was worth $40. That was more the price you would buy it for. A store, which had lots of overhead, would pay $4-8 for it, maybe twice that in trade credit. Another collector might pay a bit more, depending on the deal you made. I spent a chunk of time in the 90s explaining this to collectors (and worse, speculators) who were aghast that Overstreet was what they would pay, not be paid.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:01 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Someday I'll have to deal with my long boxes of crap going back to the 90s. I'll probably have to burn them or something. Hell, there's probably rats living in them right now.
posted by Artw at 5:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been collecting The Fretboard Journal since the first issue in 2006, and I've been surprised to see early issues already selling for $100-200 on eBay in the last year or two. I'm guessing there will be a similar collectibility curve; in another few years a bunch of people will simultaneously look at their shelves and say "You know what? I'm never going to read these again, but they're worth good money. I'll sell them on ebay!" and the bottom will drop out of that market too, at least for a while. I never bought them as an investment, but if they keep going up it's going to be pretty tempting to cash in.
posted by usonian at 5:06 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


HA HA HA HA HA THIS IS ME RIGHT NOW HA HA HA HAAAAAAaaaaasshit.

I need the space and I'm no longer attached to them, but like so many nerds, it's hard for me to just throw the damn things away. I tried The eBay, but alas, nobody wanted my crap. I think a fire sale is in order. Or a fire. -sigh-

I'd be happy to sit on them for another twenty years, but my storage space is very limited and the longboxes are plentiful.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:09 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a whole large run of Spiderman from the 70's-- except, of course, the one that intro'd The Punisher. I don't feels as bad now about having sold most of the early 60's stuff for decent prices in the late 70's. I still have 3 boxes of various stuff in the garage, including a few Batman & Superman from the late 50's and some of the dumb westerns Marvel produced for a while in the early 70's like The Rawhide Kid. The newest batch of stuff I have is probably the first 40 or so New Mutants, which I bought because I liked the art & the storyline. I intuited from the used bins not too long after that that I should probably not expect these things to appreciate at any sort of investment rate, and I ran out of time to read them for fun.

I tossed the baseball cards a good while ago.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:09 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


TBH things are not looking Si hot for you, large pile of CDs, or you, post VHS pile of DVDs. And as for you, bookshelf full of books...
posted by Artw at 5:11 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(If you were born after 1990 please find an "old" to explain those words to you. For a laugh try asking about "magazines".)
posted by Artw at 5:13 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is all good news for kids who might actually read (and reread and rereread) comic books without worrying about preserving some fantasized resale value. Collectors, give your otherwise worthless comic book collections away to the beings for whom they were naturally intended.
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on August 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


I never had a large collection, but decided to whittle down my collection a few years ago. I ended up with a long box of stuff I knew had no resale value on ebay which I put outside on my lawn next to a free sign.

It sat there for over a week before someone grabbed it. I've had old lawnmowers disappear from the lawn in less time.
posted by inthe80s at 5:14 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tragedy as several orphanages collapse under the weight of shitty unwanted comics.
posted by Artw at 5:17 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


When you go back in time to sell your comics, I advise investing that money in something stable, like beanie babies.
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on August 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


Tulip bulbs.
posted by Artw at 5:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


IDEA: Stoke paranoia that eBay is run by "The Man", start inflated price Bitcoin comicmart.
posted by Artw at 5:23 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the smartest things I did several years ago was sell a bunch of Valiant comics that I had duplicates of. I got several hundred dollars for them; the ones I kept are now basically worthless.
posted by Curious Artificer at 5:23 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My stamps aren't worth anything either. *sigh*
posted by JanetLand at 5:23 AM on August 23, 2013


I unloaded my collection a few years ago. My collection wasn't much, but I was somehow hoping for a few hundred. The only place that would even take them offered me $40 for the lot. I took him up on it just to have the damn things out of my house.
posted by Badgermann at 5:24 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows that the real long-term value is in SNES JRPGs.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know, I wonder if that is the problem? In the nineties when we were buying comics, somehow we all had the idea that these were going to be valuable someday, because it was happening to the next generation up. So I think we hung on, collectively, to shittier comics. Comics that weren't just amazing, that didn't have those emotional resonances. And so of course they're not worth money now - because people aren't clutching them to their chest and saying NEVER WILL I SELL NEVER.
posted by corb at 5:26 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bet certain types could have fun cutting up the books, whiting out the captions, and writing in their own.
posted by pracowity at 5:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


You mean my Claremont-signed X-Men issue of the death of Phoenix isn't going to fund my kid's college? Claremont himself told me it would be worth "a lot of money someday". Maybe he meant, like, 1987.

What about my old FF issues introducing Galactus and the Silver Surfer? Those were for my retirement.

Don't even talk to me about the Star Trek plates. I've already dumped those.
posted by DarkForest at 5:28 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My comic book collection -- many of which I acquired from 50-cent and dollar bins, and so were already worthless in terms of resale value -- has worth to me because I enjoy owning and reading them. I never considered resale value when I bought comics back in the 80s, just whether I liked the book.
posted by Gelatin at 5:28 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problem is that there are few young nerds who crave this stuff. It's all old nerds like me. Who already have it. I've tried dumping some on my nephew, but he never really caught the bug. The only success I've ever had in unloading was donating a longbox or two to the local VA hospital. Maybe I need to do that again. If they'll take 'em. Argh.

I wish I had the storage space to just keep 'em. I'd love to just keep 'em.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:31 AM on August 23, 2013


Sweet. I dumped everything at the peak except my Miraclemans (Miraclemen?), which a quick scan of EBay tells me are holding up quite well.

Actually scarcity rules.
posted by Bonzai at 5:32 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's my indicator that the comics market is shitty: there was an AskMe in 2005 where blue_beetle was looking to get rid of a bunch of comics, and I posted in there mentioning that I was interested in obtaining the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire JLA run if he had them. I still get emails every few months from people who've stumbled across that post and want to sell me their comics.

If people are reduced to cold-emailing J. Random Dude Who Expressed Interest in Comics A Decade Ago, the market can't be doing so well.
posted by COBRA! at 5:33 AM on August 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


Hey, could be worse. Wasn't there a thing running around the net a couple weeks ago about some family that tried to finance their kids education with like $100,000 worth of Beanie Babies?

I'd take a bunch of long boxes of comics to re-read any day over a whole goddamn house with all the walls lined with shelf after shelf of Beanie Babies. All staring down at me in the dead of night with their little beady eyes. All mocking me. (shudder)
posted by Naberius at 5:40 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


They only take a tiny bit of soul each.
posted by Artw at 5:41 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someone in the Beanie Babies thread called this sort of thing "cargo cult investment" and it seems really true. All this happened in the 90s during the stock market boom, and if you're a comic fan that doesn't know anything about stocks but knows about comics, it might seem like a good idea. Stick with what you know.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:42 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I still jave a fairly-standard-for-my-age bracket Uncanny X-Men run, starting from 175 and running to 300-ish. I also had issue 150, but could never bring myself to pay the dough to fill in the 151-174 gap.

Today, I bought #151 for $4.56, shipped.

I dunno... for those of us who never intended to sell the things, it's pretty good news actually. I think I'll probably fill in and add to my run every paycheck for the price of a cup of nice coffee.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:50 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be honest, the nineties collection boom was just the stinking putrid icing on the already rancid cake. Comics speculation happened even before the direct market had been established, with books like Conan #1 or Shazam #1 in the early seventies, when collectors would buy up whole truck loads from newsstand distributors. Once there was an established network of comics stores, it just got worse.

In the eighties, titles like X-Men sold 300-400,000 copies per issue when there were at best 100-200,000 readers. Once DC and especially Marvel noticed they could run up print runs by encouraging speculation (variant covers of Spider-Man, trading cards with X-Force, 8.5 million copies of Adjectiveless X-Men #1), the market was always going to go collapse, as it had already done in 1987 in the black and white comics bust.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:51 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ephemera has value because it is ephemeral. Once everyone is keeping it well duh but I guess this isn't news to you guys. So, what is right now being produced, used up, destroyed, that nobody thinks is worth anything? And that isn't already being collected? That's the stuff to sock away for the future.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I whittled my collection of comics (and books and RPGs and other stuff) down a few years back with a vast ebaying... about the only thing I didn't touch was my pile of CDs as I still made frequent use of it, now, not so much, but the effort in sorting that out don't really seem worth the dosh I'd get back for them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:53 AM on August 23, 2013


Thank god I invested all my monies in feces from animals about to be extinct. So far I've only been contacted by the occasional pornographer and coffee aficionados but there's a real market for this in the next decades due to global warming.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Any kind of physical media seems to provoke a bit of a hoarding response, regardless of speculative value.

LOL at BluRay collections.
posted by Artw at 5:56 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I inherited a bunch of comics from my dad, most of which were terrible, but he had a few Classics Illustrated, which were a pretty good intro to classic literature for 8 year old me. The decline in value of comics means I can buy almost the entire run for a couple hundred dollars.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 5:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone in the Beanie Babies thread called this sort of thing "cargo cult investment" and it seems really true.

I think it's a classic greater fool kind of investment to make. Problem is, there isn't always a greater fool, so these kinds of "investments" are not the kind of thing you buy and hold. I think people don't want to believe they've made a highly speculative investment which they are going to have to time right. They want to buy and hold.

the effort in sorting that out don't really seem worth the dosh I'd get back for them.

Last year a junkie broke into my car. I know it was a junkie because he went through my first aid kit looking for painkillers & whatnot. He took all the non-copper coin in my cup-holder.

He left the two full books of CDs. CDs and pennies are not even worth stealing.
posted by gauche at 5:59 AM on August 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Three words: Comic book decoupage.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:59 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad had a box under his bed containing the entire run of Crypt of Terror/Tales from the Crypt that he bought as a youngster. He returned home from college to find it missing.

"Mom, do you know what happened to that box under my bed?"

"Oh, with those awful comics in it?"

"...."

"I threw them away, how can you read stuff like that?"

"...."

I think he eventually forgave her.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:00 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


> " I never considered resale value when I bought comics back in the 80s, just whether I liked the book."

Ironically enough, this is why I ended up getting rid of mine early enough to still effectively make a profit on the deal. Those comics were a pain to store and transport and reread, so when trade paperbacks became more common, I just bought a bunch of the ones I wanted to have around and got rid of the annoying floppy versions.
posted by kyrademon at 6:00 AM on August 23, 2013


Chavenet...that was my experience with models horses. First you had to find a sales list (sent with an SASE or postal coupon). Then you wrote back to the seller, hoping the model was still available. If you could afford it, you might call long distance. If you were picky, you might request photos to verify the condition. Then off your check (or bank draft or money order) would go and, the model horse would arrive, hopefully unbroken.

I only collected what I liked (which is the number one rule of collecting anything), but now that I no longer collect, it has been so hard selling, even giving them away. The ones still new in box I gave to Toy Mountain at Christmas. Ads on Kijiji at dirt cheap prices only garnered the attention of one teenagers girl who was thrilled to walk away with ten of them for $50. Now I don't collect anything!
posted by Calzephyr at 6:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any kind of physical media seems to provoke a bit of a hoarding response, regardless of speculative value.

See endowment effect. If you know it would cost you $1,000 to buy another copy of Spider-Man #1, you logically should, but in all likelihood wouldn't accept $1,000 for your own copy of the same comic.
posted by gauche at 6:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Strange Interlude: With these kinds of collections?

"...So I see you've covered this table with images taken from comics from the 90's when everyone was imitating Rob Liefeld. I'm going to confiscate the table and have it destroyed, and I have a court order preventing you from ever coming within 20 feet of any kind of decoupaging equipment ever again."
posted by Grimgrin at 6:06 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have $200K worth of Nibble magazine in the basement.

Well, not quite yet. But soon!
posted by mazola at 6:07 AM on August 23, 2013


So who wants to sell me their worthless, worthless copies of Flex Mentallo 1-4? I will pay top dollar. Maybe even twenty top dollars.
posted by griphus at 6:09 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, this probably means I can afford to replace all my old Love and Rockets that my parents threw away. (In fairness, this was the result of a miscommunication while I was getting settled into a new place, not malfeasance.)
posted by Frowner at 6:09 AM on August 23, 2013


COBRA!, I've been trying to track down a full set of that JLA run for a while, and the problem I've actually run into is that the guys who sell dollar back issues at cons sometimes don't even bother to bring them. I've had them tell me they weren't expecting anyone to ask for them, so they left them at home.

On the bright side, I've only got about ten issues left, and I didn't pay more than a dollar apiece for any of them but the first issue, which I think was $3.
posted by nonasuch at 6:10 AM on August 23, 2013


My full run of Howard the Duck ought to be worth, I don't know, a used Miata or something, right?
posted by DarkForest at 6:14 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also have a signed (to me, from Grant) copy ofInvisibles #1. Unfortunately the sentinemental value to actual money value exchange rate sucks. Stupid comics market forcing me to hold onto my priceless beloved objects.
posted by griphus at 6:20 AM on August 23, 2013


I only collected what I liked (which is the number one rule of collecting anything), but now that I no longer collect, it has been so hard selling, even giving them away.

I collected Breyers from about the age of 8 to my early 20s, but gave it up because the prices skyrocketed. At the time, I wondered if the company had started to target the adult collectors market, as opposed to the kids who, you know, liked to play with the toys. (Kept the first one I ever bought, but sold the rest a long time ago.) I remember enough about them to grumble in irritation at antiques sellers who mislabel the horses ("that's a Palomino Family Arabian Stallion, you nincompoop, not a Quarter Horse"). Your comment sent me traipsing over to eBay, where, indeed, the values appear to have plummeted, and not much is selling.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:22 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&LH_Complete=1&_nkw=beta+black+lotus&_sop=16

Hasbro has located a golden goose...or has it?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:25 AM on August 23, 2013


Lol, I still have that collection that COBRA! mentioned. It's not worth the money it would take to sell it. The current plan is to give it to my son once he's done teething. Or as kindling.

Artificial scarcity is a real kick in the teeth.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:25 AM on August 23, 2013


So someone needs to buy up a lot of these collections and put fire to them. It's the only way to save these comic books as valuable cultural items. One remaining copy is coveted by collectors. Thousands sit unnoticed in the closet until someone needs the space.

Ah, the De Beers model. You know, you should always buy your husband a real comic worth at least 2.5 times your monthly salary or everyone will know that you're a cheap woman who doesn't really love him.

Comics: because drama is eternal.
posted by jaduncan at 6:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Shipping is painful too. A run of comic books gets heavy fast, and all the common ones end up not being worth selling at any price. It's more efficient to just sell the rare ones, and throw away the rest.

(Same deal with old magazines. I had a pretty good collection of Cinefex, and individual issues seem to sell for decent rates on eBay, but then you realize they cost $9 an issue as a subscriber, so it's still a loss. And trying to bundle them together just causes the price to plummet since now the shipping adds up. So you either keep them or dump them.)
posted by smackfu at 6:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I collected Breyers from about the age of 8 to my early 20s, but gave it up because the prices skyrocketed.

I too have generally purchased a lot of ice cream, though in my case I haven't left the market yet. Too delicious.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


So who wants to sell me their worthless, worthless copies of Flex Mentallo 1-4

You do know a collection has been published, right?
posted by MartinWisse at 6:35 AM on August 23, 2013


We just moved 18 long boxes of the collection mentioned. Husbunny knows that the collection is just nostalgic and sentimental. It actually has negative value because we had to get a new place that could accomodate the collection.

My sister has been holding onto McDonald's Happy Meal prizes for decades.

The Beenie Baby market crashed too.

The only reason old comics were valuable was because during WWII paper drives ate up the collections. They really were rare.

Old comics aren't rare. They're just old.

I never saw the value of collecting something thinking that it would appreciate in value. I'd rather play the lottery. Less to dust.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:36 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they make good insulation. Stick them in a wall, forget about them, let them get discovered decades later.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:40 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So who wants to sell me their worthless, worthless copies of Flex Mentallo 1-4

You do know a collection has been published, right?


Questionable recoloring.
posted by Artw at 6:44 AM on August 23, 2013


Action Comics #1 Found in Wall is a headline. Death of Superman special found in wall, not as much.
posted by jeribus at 6:44 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I should have gotten hold if one of those black armbands to wear for Man of Steel.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in a similar boat, mainly because I was an idiot about this stuff in my early teens (the '90s) and bought a number of "valuable" books in (no quotation marks needed for this adjective) shitty condition. Thankfully they were at least from the '60s and '70s so not everyone has them. I'm wiser now and just like having them and hope to pass them onto my daughter if she has the least bit of interest.

All of that is a preamble establishing my bona nerdes so I can tell you this: over the summer I purchased the Deadpool game. In no way do I recommend you do so, but I was jonesing for the new Batman game to come out. It was actually fairly entertaining, but not a good game and the insistence on living down to it's Mature rating ("TITS! BOOBS! I CAN SAY THESE THINGS!") was depressing. There are some stops in the game where they give character bios and show the covers of the comics they debut in. When they showed Deadpool's bio I realized I had a copy of New Mutants #98 sitting two floors above my head, probably in good condition. I chuckled and elbowed one of the dogs in the ribs when they talked about how valuable it is. For example, "About $230 is what I have in it."

I don't think it's in a bag and I'm in no hurry to put it in one, assuming I can find the right box.
posted by yerfatma at 6:48 AM on August 23, 2013


Stick them in a wall, forget about them, let them get discovered decades later.

What kind of wall surface you using? If it's drywall with an external plastic barrier of R-Value > 4.3, sure. But if we're talking horsehair plaster, you're going to see yellowing within a few decades. And don't even get me started on cinderblock.
posted by yerfatma at 6:51 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


So who wants to sell me their worthless, worthless copies of Flex Mentallo 1-4

You do know a collection has been published, right?


Yeah, ArtW beat me to it. The new colors are ... they're not bad, per se, but they're absolutely not Flex Mentallo. Not my Flex Mentallo, anyway.
posted by griphus at 6:57 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It actually has negative value because we had to get a new place that could accommodate the collection.

Yikes. Time to arrange for a supposed break-in. While you're both out having a nice dinner to celebrate the extra space you're going to have (but don't mention the reason to him, of course), have a friend secretly come in and truck it all away and break the lock on the door on the way out to make it look good. While you're at it, have your friend take or break any other shit you want to get rid of. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry about all your crap. On the other hand, at least now we have room to walk, so it's not all bad."
posted by pracowity at 6:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've got one longbox of comics, given that I never collected avidly. I think that I should un-bag and un-board the lot of them and just set them in my son's room. He's just getting interested in learning to read, and these may be good fits for him. It's hard to let go of the idea that they need to be cared for, but I fondly remember my dad's childhood collection from his mother's house.

I never kept 'em for money, but apparently I'm not immune to the bug.
posted by ChrisR at 6:58 AM on August 23, 2013


Also, I am now even more burdened by the stack of Gen13 comics I have. I don't want them, I'll never re-read them, but they were the first comics I ever collected, with money scrounged together here and there for back-issues purchased at the comic book store on my walk home from Middle School.
posted by griphus at 7:00 AM on August 23, 2013


The worst part of the 90s glut of comics was that all the material was so needlessly MACHO and embarassingly EXTREME that you wouldn't even want to give it to kids these days to read.
posted by Theta States at 7:03 AM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


UK comics kids represent! I sold my pile of 100 or so early 2000ADs for A$50 back in 1985 and bought a proto-walkman, a deal I came to regret; although nowadays, I'm not so bothered. I hung onto my complete run of 22 Starlords, though, plus the summer special and the first annual (and several years ago added the later two annuals via eBay for not very much)... and now I see that the whole lot would cost me less than twenty quid to replace in VG condition. Ehh, who cares. They don't take up much shelf space in the special slip box I handmade for them when I was about 12, and pulling them out instantly transports me back to being 10-13, which is fun to do every few years. If I had boxes and boxes of them, though, those returns would diminish pretty quickly.

I wish I'd been a few years older and had kept a run of Action.
posted by rory at 7:11 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So so so glad I (digitized and then) sold my CDs, records and DVDs when I did. Most of my comics went for next to nothing, but I gave many of them away. My TPBs sold for a about... 30% or so of cover?
I kept my favourite/rarest of vinyls and have them up on a wall. Who knows if they will appreciate further in 30 years?

Now I pretty much just have a few TB of redundant storage, and an art book collection, which seemingly holds it's value respectably given the low print runs and the general inability to build tablet-based catalogue raissones...
posted by Theta States at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2013


I have nine long boxes of mostly late 70s/80s/early 90s Marvel and DC. I'm not even considering selling them anymore. They were well-read by me, and are already getting well-read by my 5 year-old son. My collection has taken on far greater value to me now that I have acccepted that they are without value.
posted by joelhunt at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My dad's mother threw out his Action Comics #1 (and various other comics from that era) when he went away to college. I found that out in the 80s when I was collecting X-Men ... my soul let out a keening wail.

Oh well, I guess they're collectible because everyone's mom threw them out.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:16 AM on August 23, 2013


We have seven long boxes in the basement with a variety of late 70s/early 80s marvel comics and I am getting tired of moving them. So the husband has declared that he's going to move them out of the boxes and into a file cabinet so they can at least be more easily accessible. I am not sure this really solves our problem -- we don't have much space in the basement for the long boxes, so I'm not sure we really have space for a big enough file cabinet either, but at least he's considering doing SOMETHING with them besides continuing to just haul them around.
posted by devinemissk at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2013


....which I put outside on my lawn next to a free sign.

Next time, put a $5.00 sign on it -- it'll disappear in 5 minutes. I did this with a dinette set that sat all weekend with a "free" sign on it, and sure enough on Sunday afternoon, as soon as I ascribed a value to it with a "$10.00" sign, it vanished without a trace in half an hour.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Boy, did I ever get lucky with the box of comics we found in my grandmother's basement in the late '90s. There were a bunch of early Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Fours (including #48) in decent shape which belonged to my uncle when he was a kid. When I told him they were worth quite a bit of money he said he didn't know anything about that stuff so I could sell them on eBay and split the money with him. Of course, at the time I thought I should maybe hang on to them for a while because they were only going to be worth more as time went on, right? But in the end I got about $2500 for the lot (including about $500 for FF #48 alone) and when I check on them now people are getting a quarter of what I sold them for, if that.

The bottom seems to have dropped out of most collectible markets these days. My thing is records, and unless you find something *really* rare and coveted (a friend got close to $1000 for a reggae 45 he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago) it's almost more trouble than it's worth to sell them online.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:34 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually did see a decent decoupage done with comics. A friend's girlfriend made him a countertop, decoupaged and sealed with several layers of poly. It was in a shitty apartment that actually had no countertops when they moved in (long story), so it was an improvement over what they had.

I collected Breyer horses in the 80s and 90s. In the early 2000s, I needed to move and didn't want to move 4 TV boxes full of horses. I sorted through and kept my favorites, and then gave the rest to a friend's kids. My mom was pissed. The kids were thrilled, and still have them. Those horses were played with and loved again, and that was enough for me. Perusing ebay tells me it was the right call (though my mom is still pissed if she thinks about it).

The only thing that I've ever had that was worth money was my old Warhammer 40k minis from the early 90s. I still lost money (bought for about 1500, made 1000), but I didn't intentionally collect them with the idea of making money later, and they paid for the two home inspections we needed to buy our house, so....... win.
posted by RogueTech at 7:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was 19 or 20, I worked at a video store for a while, and a manager there had a friend who was getting rid of a bunch of comics. He brought in a large bag. When I got home, I went through them and among a bunch of random stuff was a stack of Transmetropolitan floppies, issues 1-20something. They're dinged up, one of them has a ripped cover, they're definitely not in any sort of collectible shape but, damn, it's a hell of a treasure to have.
posted by griphus at 7:38 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and CDs? We sold them to Amazon for store credit, again because I didn't want to move the boxes. And hey, $200 in Amazon store credit is pretty useful.

I wasn't able to convince my husband to get rid of his 4 longboxes of comics, but he moved them himself, so I really don't have much to complain about there. We all hold on to goofy stuff sometimes.
posted by RogueTech at 7:38 AM on August 23, 2013


Now if the bottom would just drop out of the collectible Fender & Gibson guitar market, I would be one happy camper. I need a fretted P-bass to play, but can't afford one that sounds right. I had my eye on a '61 at Austin Vintage Guitars, but the dude from Radiohead bought it during SXSW for north of $5000.00. At least it's hopefully getting played, because it was like butter. I understand huge loads of these things are sitting in real vaults, supposedly appreciating -- such a waste.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:40 AM on August 23, 2013


I guess one of the smartest things I did as a teen (one of the very few smart things I did as a teeen) was to put my Dad in charge of my comic books etc. when I moved out. We just put 3 or 4 boxes of comics in his office.

30 years later, they were still safe. Just a tiny spec in the ocean of stuff he had accumulated over the years. Discovering them again was one of the few happy moments I had during the depressing job of going through his things after he died.

Unfortunately, they aint worth shit.

But thanks Dad, anyway.
posted by freakazoid at 7:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


> CDs and pennies are not even worth stealing.

I remember when CDs were something you had to be careful to not leave visible in a car because - for a very short while - if they were good you could get $6 or $7 each for them. I sometimes had to make painful decisions about which albums I could live without in order to buy a case of beer for the weekend.

CDs got swiped often enough in the mid-'90s that when I sold them at secondhand stores in Kingston they would take your contact information down in case the police showed up looking for a stash reported stolen (how often the cops actually followed these leads is another question).
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:48 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I think it's a classic greater fool kind of investment to make. Problem is, there isn't always a greater fool

There isn't always one for your stocks and bonds either. (As for those back issues of XKCD I've been squirreling away, my hope is fading.)
posted by jfuller at 7:51 AM on August 23, 2013


Break & Enter certainly isn't the crime it used to be.
Back in the days, junkies could go for any loose window and walk away with a stash of CDs, getting $3-$7 each. Then DVDs came around!
Nowadays they just have to hope for a macbook air, and hope they don't just stumble on an old Ipod.
posted by Theta States at 7:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the early 1980s my dad loaned an old friend of his some money to go to law school. Said friend was a comic shop owner here in New England and as a sign of good faith for the loan he would send us his mail-order checklist every month and we could get any comic book on the list for free.

As a 12 year old who probably learned how to read with comic books this was as close to manna from heaven as I will ever see.

For a glorious 3 or 4 year period I would check off all my regulars (X-men, New Mutants, Groo the Wanderer, Cerebrus, Love and Rockets plus more that I'm forgetting) as well as virtually every single #1 that came out during that span of time (Marvel, DC and all those "new" indies).

Occasionally the friend would do us a favor and drop in a few nuggets of gold with a note that this one was special and we should take care of it. Such as the real Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (not the 2nd or 3rd printing, the crazy-rare first printing). The authors of TMNT Eastmen and Laird were based in Massachusetts, he was based in New Hampshire/Maine and they would come up to his shop on occasion. So I have a pretty solid run of TMNT and every few years I check up on it just to say hi. I'll even read the #1 (gasp) because it's cool to think of all those collectors who are silently screaming for me to stop doing that.

Now my son is 12, and he never truly got bit by the comics bug. None of his peers did either. The history of that #1 is vaguely intriguing to him, but my guess is he's just humoring dad with his attention. Maybe some day that'll change, but chances are not. To me that's the real loss, not the arbitrary dollar amount we funny humans put on material things.
posted by jeremias at 7:53 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Problem is, these comics just aren't old enough yet.

If you want to get rid of all your golden or silver age comics, I will gladly take them off your hands for free.
posted by mattbucher at 8:00 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, I blame a lot of this on the Amazing Stories episode "Gather Ye Acorns" starring Mark Hamil.

TV lies, people. It lies like a lying liar.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:23 AM on August 23, 2013


Wow, that story certainly is a product of the 80s marketing scene.
posted by Theta States at 8:34 AM on August 23, 2013


When they showed Deadpool's bio I realized I had a copy of New Mutants #98 sitting two floors above my head, probably in good condition. I chuckled and elbowed one of the dogs in the ribs when they talked about how valuable it is. For example, "About $230 is what I have in it."

Ha! I gave that issue (in a complete run of New Mutants) to my sister a few years ago. We both read comics all through our childhood and we sometimes trade runs back and forth between each other. I just Emailed her a week ago because I am going to list our old Atari 400 and games on eBay and wondered if she would just want it instead. Now I'll have to get her to list the NM issue on eBay for the dough-li-o.

Despite the fact that our parents were into all kinds of collecting things and were obsessed with tracking the values of their things, we both just read comics that we liked to read. So our collections have X-Men and New Mutants, sure, but also Alien Legion, Elfquest, G.I. Joe (I remember when #2 was this silly expensive issue) and other less collectible bits of the 80s. I have 6 or 7 longboxes and I just try to crack them open monthly and read the comics inside of them. I also occasionally snag runs of 80s/early 90s comics that I didn't collect as a kid. The best way to do it is to get lots off eBay, of course. I think I got 60 issues or so of the Giffen JLA mentioned above for around $6.

I did inherit my parents' habit of taking very careful care of your collectibles (they were into antiques). I have never sold any of my floppies. Only one has gotten damaged through the years of moving from various states and houses - Wolverine #1 from the Chris Claremont limited series. I was mad for a few minutes when I saw that, but... oh well!
posted by Slothrop at 8:48 AM on August 23, 2013


I remember watching the 'Gather Ye Acorns' episode, too. Our whole family watched Amazing Stories. I'm sure that episode kept my parents' attitude cemented for years!
posted by Slothrop at 8:49 AM on August 23, 2013


Just as a side note about disposing of CDs, if I'd sold mine off when all of my friends were laughing about keeping them, all I'd have now are CBR 128kbps MP3s.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:51 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I consider my CD collection as high-resolution safety backups, at this point.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:01 AM on August 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wait, you guys sell all your cool old toys? Have you been speaking with my mom? (I will NEVER FORGET AND NEVER FORGIVE the sale of my and my sister's My Little Pony collection!! NEVER!!!)
posted by Mooseli at 9:22 AM on August 23, 2013


When cleaning out my parents' house after they died, we experienced the same thing with depression-era glass candy containers. Basically, all the people who would be interested in them were in their 60's when they had money and increased their prices so that boring ones might sell for $20-50 and rare ones would go for over $100. Now, those sample people are in their 80's and busy with retirement or passing away and the next generations just aren't interested in things like a little glass bottle shaped like a drum. So the price has fallen out of the glass candy container market.

You get old, or outgrow something and suddenly so does everyone else!
posted by BearClaw6 at 9:24 AM on August 23, 2013


I'm not terribly surprised to see this from TCJ, as they've had harsh words to say about the collectors' market going back decades. When Harlan Ellison wrote about comics for Playboy, Gary Groth--who had already had a falling-out with Ellison over a lawsuit that they were co-defendants in--wrote a scathing response which included pointing out that Ellison's opening to the piece, a sort of standard my-friend's-mom-threw-out-his-old-comics story, ignores the fact that all those old issues of Action #1 and Detective #27 would be worth a lot less if everyone held onto their copies. But that sentiment was indeed quite popular in the eighties, bolstered by titles such as Uncanny X-Men, The New Teen Titans, and Frank Miller's Daredevil run that quickly appreciated in value, and led directly to the speculators' market.

So, I'm not surprised, and frankly a little relieved, that the several longboxes of comics that I've got cluttering up a spare bedroom in my apartment probably aren't even worth the expense of boarding and bagging them all. I'll clear up a lot of space that way.

Also, WRT the user comment that Artw quotes above, I just have to laugh at the closing line: Not sure if this is the standard model that retailers use, but if so, it makes plenty of sense and does not seem unsustainable. It's worth noting the comment of comics pro Jimmy Palmiotti below that:
When I go to my comic shop and see a ton of one book, I know they had to order a varient. They also tell me its worth it because they have someone that will pay a few hundred for the book. I hate to tell them the book will NEVER be worth what they paid down the line.
When someone who depends on comics (I assume) for his livelihood is telling you that, what does that imply for the health of the medium (and just about every LCS out there)?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:29 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect more putative moms have thrown out more putative Action #1s than were ever printed. Also, fishermen have been known to lie about the size of fish they didn't catch.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:37 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Horace Rumpole> I suspect more putative moms have thrown out more putative Action #1s than were ever printed.

John Byrne pointed out another factor in the relative value of comics of that era: most of the copies were pulped in WWII paper drives.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 9:39 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damn those Ratzi bastards!
posted by yerfatma at 9:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember comic + art trading cards? Those used to be swift business in the late 80s and early 90s.
Today, I just saw this on ebay... TSR factory sealed box set, $10 buy-it-now price.
I am thinking of getting it for my nephew just for fun.
posted by Theta States at 10:07 AM on August 23, 2013



So what this thread is telling me is that I ever go to another garage sale and come across a box of comics selling for 25 cents each and see some really old looking ones titled Action Comics it might be an idea to buy them?
posted by Jalliah at 10:11 AM on August 23, 2013


I knew the 90s comics were never going to be worth anything, but I didn't realize that the market for all modern age comics had crashed so thoroughly. I was vaguely assuming my early Claremont/Byrne X-Men were still worth something. But yeah, no doubt there are a lot of people like me with a handful of longboxes they haven't opened in years who got tired of moving them.
posted by tavella at 10:12 AM on August 23, 2013


So what this thread is telling me is that I ever go to another garage sale and come across a box of comics selling for 25 cents each and see some really old looking ones titled Action Comics it might be an idea to buy them?

It's probably a reprint.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:17 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's probably a reprint.

If if measures 10" x 14", it's definitely a reprint. Don't be fooled like some poor suckers were.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:26 AM on August 23, 2013


For a glorious 3 or 4 year period I would check off all my regulars (X-men, New Mutants, Groo the Wanderer

I think you can get *all* the Groos for like $100 on ebay now.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh. My dad hearing about the Death of Superman going for a couple hundred within weeks after its sold-out run induced him to finance a lot of my comic book "collecting," by which I mean reading and breaking the spines, etc. Which is why I pretty much go with trades — floppies fall apart, and I hate waiting months to resolve a story.

Like, even though I have the full Invisibles run, I've been buying cheap trades of those too, since that way I can read them more often.

(I am still looking to complete my collection of Airtight Garage, which still cost more than I'd like for the individual issues and have incredibly shitty trade collections. I've got about five of the Epic run, but actually went to the huge comic book archive at Michigan State University to read through the rest. They're pretty great, and I'd love to have 'em.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2013


Oh man, I still have some Heavy Metals form the 70's with episodes of The Airtight Garage of Gerry Cornelius in them. Those aren't for sale.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am hanging onto the Furry Freak Brothers though. Fat Freddy's cat cracks me up.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Basically, all the people who would be interested in them were in their 60's when they had money and increased their prices so that boring ones might sell for $20-50 and rare ones would go for over $100. Now, those sample people are in their 80's and busy with retirement or passing away and the next generations just aren't interested in things like a little glass bottle shaped like a drum.

Back in the high days of speculation, 1991-93, Comics Scene (iirc) ran several special features about why speculation and the comics boom were bad news and they talked about the example of dime novels. Dime novels, as you know Bob, were cheap weekly magazines sold in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, the precursors of the pulp magazines. Back in the forties and fifties these were incredibly popular as collectors items, as the people who read them as children and teenagers were nostalgic for them as adults. The average issue went for as much as five dollars then, but fifty years later, these same issues were still five bucks and the sole buyers for them were university libraries and the like who had a mandate to collect them as pieces of US history.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:34 AM on August 23, 2013


I didn't care all that much when my mom threw out my Action #1. The whole point of this post is that comics aren't really worth anything anyway.

When she tossed my Leicester Codex, then there were some harsh words.
posted by Naberius at 11:37 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the mid 90s I traded most of my 80s and 90s comics for Go Bots.
posted by drezdn at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Naberius: "When she tossed my Leicester Codex, then there were some harsh words."

Morrison's or Moore's run?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:00 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every now and then, I consider learning book-binding, and binding my collections of Sandman and The Invisibles and Transmetropolitan floppies in leather covers. It would be so easy -- just take out the staples, and they're already in perfect signatures.

Maybe now that it's looking pretty certain that they'll never be worth anything, I can stop balking at the prospect.
posted by rifflesby at 1:13 PM on August 23, 2013


CDs and pennies are not even worth stealing

YOUR CDs aren't worth stealing. I've got a lot of those, too, but I've also got a lot of CDs that go for $40, $60, $100, and sell, too. Not necessarily in the genres you'd expect -- there are valuable "easy listening", jazz, and soft rock CDs. Quite a few of the "Collector's Choice" label releases of obscure 60s pop are in short runs and are hotly desired.
posted by Fnarf at 1:15 PM on August 23, 2013


For the coneseuir junkie...
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I managed a comic and game shop in the late 80s and early 90s. I encouraged the owner to drop comics like a hot rock and pass the subscription list to another store before the inevitable crash killed us. Instead, we divested ourselves and moved to a game-only format just as Magic: The Gathering hit the market.

The irony is not lost on me that the Magic cards we sold then are now worth multiplicatively more as a return on investment than those comics ever were or ever will be. I had people in '94 give me the stink-eye for daring to sell Beta Black Lotuses for $120 (now selling -- and actually selling -- at $4K+ for ungraded mint copies, with graded 9.0+ copies worth considerably more).

I'm back at it now, owning my own toy and game store after working in the real world for almost 20 years, and I wouldn't sell monthly comics again for any reason.

(And I still have three longboxes remaining, the contents including Flex Mentallo 1-4. I've moved those boxes eight times.)
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:44 PM on August 23, 2013


Every now and then, I consider learning book-binding, and binding my collections of Sandman and The Invisibles and Transmetropolitan floppies in leather covers. It would be so easy -- just take out the staples, and they're already in perfect signatures.

I've been thinking that exact same thing, rifflesby. I have Grant and Breyfogle's run on Batman, which isn't terribly valuable, but also hasn't been collected in trade format. I've been toying with the idea of putting them in longstitch or limp paper bindings, just so I'd be able to read them again without worrying too much about wear and tear.
posted by MrBadExample at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm picturing all you comic book collectors as being like this poor sod.
posted by orange swan at 9:48 PM on August 23, 2013


After perusing the prices on the Marvel app on my iPad, I am thinking that it's not just collectors that are delusional about the value of their comics. Sweet hot cakes Marvel, it's just ones and zeroes. Digital versions of Days of the Future Past and Dark Phoenix are not near worthy of that kind of pricing.
posted by Ber at 7:21 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I think you can get *all* the Groos for like $100 on ebay now

I just saw a big stack of them in a thrift store for -- I think -- $1 each.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2013


Ohio man sells old comic to help fund daughter's wedding.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:04 PM on September 2, 2013


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