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Thursday, July 31, 2014 

Wall Street Journal makes a sensible argument for why to buy comics

The Wall Street Journal gave 6 tips to first-time buyers who might go to see movies like the new one based on Guardians of the Galaxy. Here's one that makes a lot of sense:
3. Buy for enjoyment, not investment. Old comics are worth a lot of money because they’re rare. People didn’t really think about collecting in the old days, so they wouldn’t care for issues and would often throw them out. Nowadays, everybody’s a collector, so there’s a glut of stuff out there on the market. “Buy what you like,” Costello says. “People are so impatient, they want their books to be worth something in another year or two, not really realizing it takes 20, 30 years for this stuff to appreciate.”
Man, coming from a financial paper, that's the most respectable thing one can say about a medium that's long been victimized by collector's mentality for over 2 decades. That's exactly why people shouldn't have bought some of Image's output in their early years, because they weren't doing it for genuine story value, only to cash in on the speculator market, surely the most dishonest thing they did at their launch. And the writer's got another good tip too:
5. Trust your judgment. Parents shopping for their kids are often concerned about graphic content such as sex and violence, so it makes sense to flip through books yourself. “You know your kids a lot better than I do,” says Costello. Be warned, though. “Comic book companies have really left a big gap. You have books that are for really, really young people, and then it jumps to teenagers,” Costello says. “And then they don’t have anything left in the middle for eight- to 11-year-olds.”
And the biggest problem here is that more emphasis is put on the flagship lines that have long been destroyed by political correctness, while lines for children get considerably less promotion and marketing to draw in an audience for them.

But what comes before the tips is a stretch:
Comics shops are bound to see even more curious customers as audiences actually see the critically acclaimed film, as well as the upcoming animated series and already-announced sequel. Many of the shoppers will, no doubt, be new to the experience, whether they’re parents inquiring for their kids, teenagers looking for a new book or, simply, interested adults.
Past experience in an age of movie adaptations suggests the stores won't see many additional customers at all. In fact, I'd advise moviegoers who do trip to the comics stores to avoid the works of a certain writer who's worked on the Guardians movie as consultant: Brian Bendis. His presence on the film's staff is enough to discourage me from seeing it at this point, because of his record back in the comics division. Any moviegoer looking for great pastimes in pamphlets would also be advised to check out the original Guardians tales from the late 1960s and avoid Bendis' hack work altogether, because nearly every story he's written for Marvel is filled with some kind of pretension, and the women get treated very badly.

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As the article points out, old comics are expensive because they are in short supply. Most modern comics will not appreciate in value, because the customers are collectors who save them. And dealers order extra copies of comics that promise to be key issues (first issue of a new title or reboot, death of a major character, etc.), so they will never be rare.

Movie and TV adaptations might pique some interest and draw a few new customers into comic shops, but not many. The last time a movie or TV show really stimulated comic book sales was in 1966, when the Batman TV series was popular. And that was when comic books were widely available, being sold in drug stores, grocery stores, and on newsstands. And sales probably went back down when the Batman fad passed in 1967-68.

And parents who do visit comic shops and "flip through books" may be turned off by the "graphic sex and violence," as well as the heavy-handed leftist political diatribes.

I would say that some Archie comics might be suitable for 8-to-11-year-old kids. Their digests (which are still sold at the checkout in some grocery stores) have reprints of older, kid-friendly stories. But I definitely can't recommend their newer stuff, which is as bad as the gore porn that DC and Marvel are putting out.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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