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Monday, February 25, 2013 

Collecting for monetary value still makes more headlines than collecting for enjoyment value

Where else but in a paper like the Wall Street Journal could a superficial focus on the monetary value of old - and even new - comics come up? They write about the investments being made in classic comics, because of:
Rarity Value

Part of the reason for the renewed interest in recent years is a string of new movies that have raised the level of interest in characters such as Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men.
So instead of wanting to actually read the early stories, they're investing in them because the small amounts left today make them valuble in terms of money? No wonder they probably aren't looking for archives of the old material in hardback and paperback. Why'd they even watch the movies? One could think they weren't interested in the stories there either.

And even newer comics seem to be getting collected just for investment:
Alex Rae, a buyer at Midtown Comics in New York, notes that some recent publications have proved good investments, too. The first issue of the new Detective Comics series from DC Comics, featuring Batman, was sold in 2011 for $2.99 and is now fetching $10 to $20.

Other recent titles that have done well include early or notable issues from independent publishers such as Image Comics Inc. Mint copies of the first issue of Saga, a title introduced just last year at $2.99 by Image, are selling for $60 and up. Copies of Thief of Thieves No. 1, also introduced last year by Image at $2.99, have sold for $70 or more.
Well there we have further proof that the publicity stunts the big two pulled this past year were only to produce comics for obsessive collectors who only care about the numero uno issues and how supposedly valuble they are. Some are probably being sold on eBay, but why in this age of recession should anyone have to spend so much for something that might lose even that much value soon after?
Issues that kill off characters often do well, too. But there's a caveat there, as well: "In the old days, when a character was killed, they stayed killed," but that's not always the case anymore, notes George Papadimatos, an actor and comic-book collector in the New York area. In recent years, publishers have killed off characters—including Superman—only to bring them back in later issues.
What I want to know is why anyone would buy the issues even if they don't want the death to happen, since either way, most comic book deaths today are not done for true story value but instead out of shock tactics and publicity stunts? It makes me angry how even the better written deaths in comics have been exploited as a gold mine for get-rich-quick scenarios, and those who buy/sell the issues aren't really interested in whether the story is worth reading; they're interesting in turning a fast buck! That's hardly helpful to the medium's image and reputation.

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In a History Channel documentary, Stan Lee pointed out that Golden Age and Silver Age comics command high prices because they are rare. In the 1960s and earlier, comics were bought by kids who read them once, then threw them away. Stan was skeptical about new comics increasing in value, since the market is now collectors and investors who save their comics. I tend to agree. The supply will probably be higher than the demand. Even some comics that are selling for ten times the original cover price will lose value, and will end up in dealers' bargain bins. A lot of speculators may get burned.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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