If you’re anything like me, you’ve been to a couple of comic cons here and there in your collecting lifetime. Took a flight out of state, drove a couple of hours to your nearest comic con or even booked a weekend stay at the Marriott. That’s what we do as collectors, religiously attending comic cons each year helps us complete our comic book runs or find that grail we’ve been looking for……..right!? If you have done that, then you may know my guest – Alex Reece from Reece’s Rare Comics.
Reece’s Rare Comics is a staple in the comic book community with jaw-dropping comic con booths and mouthwatering eye candy on display, that, of course, EVERYBODY wants. I am fortunate to know Alex, who works at Reece’s Rare Comics, and was happy to catch up. Here is our conversation on C2E2, hot comics, top comic cons to attend and the current state of the comic book industry. Please enjoy:
About Reece’s Rare Comics
Q: Tell me a little bit about Reece’s Rare Comics and what you do for them? What do you guys specialize in and collect?
Hi Richard, thanks for reaching out to chat! Reece’s Rare Comics started out as the Vault of Comics back in the 1990s, when my Dad (Greg) opened his first comic store. He had been a collector since he was a kid, and had always dreamed of owning his own comic business. My brothers and I grew up in the back of that comic store, I can remember trying to put together all of the issues of the Carnage story-line as a kid. Unfortunately, around that time was the comic crash of the 1990s, and with four young kids my Dad could not afford to keep the store going, so he transitioned into a job in corporate America. Flash forward to 2007, my Dad was offered a collection from a mutual friend who knew my Dad used to sell comics. He bought it, set up at our local Baltimore show, and did way better than he ever thought he would at the show, which inspired him to take it on as a part-time affair. He kept grinding, often times taking “vacation” from his corporate job to set up at shows, then would drive home Sunday nights to be in bed at midnight, all to wake up at 5 am to start his week for his corporate job. Needless to say, the passion was all on the comic side of things. Eventually, he grew it enough for it to become a full-time gig and he was able to drop his other job. All the while I was in college, I helped out at my fair share of shows during the summers, so I had a taste for the comic dealer life. By the time I graduated from college, the business had grown to the point where my Dad needed another full-time worker, and I happily accepted. It’s not too often these days that you get a chance to work with family, so I jumped on it. My younger brother Austin came on board a few years later and we have gotten busier and busier every year since!
So with the origin story told, we can jump into my role at the company. Being a small family business, we all have our hands in all the pots. Some days I’m scanning and listing books, grading raw books, screening books for submission to CGC, shipping books out, going to buy collections, fielding phone calls, booking hotels for shows, and actually attending/setting up at shows. As you can probably imagine, there are no two days that look exactly alike, however, I would say the majority of my time these days is spent processing raw books. This generally means I’m grading them for listing on our site, or I’m looking for CGC candidates out of the many collections we have bought over the years. It can take a day or more to go through an entire long box, and as we buy collections all the time, I never seem to make as much headway as I want. But my job is looking at comic books, so it’s really not that bad haha!
We are asked frequently about what we collect, which is a natural question since we work in the collectible industry. As to comics, we view our inventory as our revolving collection. Our Dad sold his collection early on when he started the business so as not to create a conflict of interest. While we love comic books, we had to make the decision that all of our books are for sale. It works out though, as I know that if we sell an Amazing Fantasy #15, I will likely have another one in stock at some point. We do collect some other oddball stuff, I have a small video game collection, and Austin collects records, some baseball cards, and some video games as well.
Q: I follow you guys on FB and get your newsletters when they are sent out. I understand you recently attended C2E2. How was your experience at C2E2 this year? How was the crowd despite the growing global concerns that were developing at the time and how do you feel the show did?
C2E2 was a fantastic show for us, as it usually is. Being the first major show in the calendar year helped too, as customers had pent up demand for quality material, and most dealers came well stocked from a long off-season and satisfied that demand. The comic buying crowd was heavy from opening Friday all the way to the closing bell on Sunday. Austin and I joked that if we set up Monday, the comic buyers probably would have come back out to buy. We also bought a ton of quality material that walked up to the booth. That said, the overall attendance was probably down from years past. The hallways were easily navigable, and lines for things like the bathroom/food were not as bad as they had been in years past. People were also definitely wary of shaking hands or getting too close, and I saw some people wearing masks. All of that said, I think the show did very well, all of the dealers I spoke with seemed to have a solid show.
Q: What were collectors looking for? What were the Top 5 comic book requests you received during C2E2? What comic books are you actively looking for?
In no particular order, I was asked for Amazing Spider-Man #129 (still incredibly popular even though prices are softening a bit), Fantastic Four #48/49 (likely some Silver Surfer movie speculation), Marvel Spotlight #5 (same thing but for Ghost Rider), and then a tie for the last spot among some Silver Age Marvel 1st appearances like AF #15, JIM #83, FF #1, etc. Those are just never out of style, regardless of what else is hot at the moment we always get asked for those. DC continues to be soft for us outside of Batman and Detective Comics.
HOT Comic Cons to attend
Q: What are your “go-to” must attend comic cons each year? Why?
Again, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite Comic Cons for actual comic buyers.
–Baltimore Comic Con Fantastic privately-owned show and the owner makes the vast majority of the floor comic dealers. It has many national dealers, as well as some local guys that only set up in Baltimore. Couple that with cheap hotels and some awesome seafood on the inner harbor, and you have a winner.
–HeroesCon in Charlotte. This is a no brainer, it has been the go-to for comic collectors for almost 40 years. This show is wall to wall comic book vendors, so you are bound to find something on your list. Austin and I like to go see the local minor league baseball team (shout out Charlotte Knights!) if they are in town, and there are also plenty of good food options downtown.
–New York Comic Con NYCC has been growing into a veritable powerhouse over the last decade. This show has it all, from a robust comic dealer section to big-time publisher setups, and everything in between. If you are looking for a San Diego type of experience on the East Coast, look no further than NYCC…. if you can get tickets!
Q: I would be remiss to not bring up and talk about the global pandemic that is taking over the world and asking how are you handling it and what are your plans as far as attending other 2020 Comic Cons?
First, we want to wish good health and safety to all of those in the comic book community and beyond. It has been a wild start to the decade. We put the health of our family and customers before anything else, which is why we had decided not to go to Emerald City even before the official cancellation announcement came out. We will be trying to determine best practices for every show going forward, even if the shows go on as scheduled. It has made planning for this year quite difficult, but we are taking it a day at a time and trying not to look too far ahead. Hopefully, we can all work together to slow this thing down and get back to normal sooner rather than later.
Q: Do you consider this a buying opportunity? Are you seeing more opportunities to buy and acquire key books now or are people still holding long term? What is your current temperature gauge of the comic book market?
At Reece’s Rare Comics we are treating this as business as usual. If a buy makes sense, we are going to go after it. I haven’t seen or heard of any collectors that are panic selling, and I think most people are aware that the coronavirus is a temporary event. The comic market, in general, has seemed to start leveling off a little bit last year. I think there are a few factors, but one that just kicked into effect in 2019 was the internet sales tax laws. As buyers factor in these taxes, they are adjusting their purchase price for the comic book down, even though they are still paying the same amount of money. For example, if a comic had a fair market value (FMV) of $10,000 and a buyer wanted to buy it before the new tax laws, he simply had to pay that number. Now, he is factoring in the sales tax, so he might be looking to spend $9,000 on the book + $1,000 in sales tax. He’s still paying $10,000, but the price that’s being reported to GPA/GoCollect and other sales tracking sites for the comic is $9,000. This turns into a multitude of red arrows and falling prices and starts a vicious cycle of books falling. There are other factors at play too, but that’s one of the bigger ones that I think has had a negative impact on the comic market in 2019 and 2020 as well. I do think this will become the new normal and the comic community will adjust, just as we always have. I will say that even with that factor at play, sales have remained strong (see my answer on C2E2), and there is still a demand for quality examples of many books.
Q: Last thing, for someone out there new to collecting and/or speculating in comic books, what kind of tips or suggestions can you give them as far as the hobby is concerned? Where would you tell them to start?
My first suggestion would be to not speculate on comic books. Our biggest collecting advice is always, “Buy what you like”! That way if the book doesn’t go up in value, you still have something you think is really cool. At the end of the day, that’s what’s at the heart of collecting. What gives these things value is the fact that people want to own them because they think the books and characters are cool. I think we all, myself included, can sometimes get wrapped up in comic books as an investment rather than a really awesome hobby, so that would be my biggest piece of advice. Get what you like!
Q: How can people get a hold of you and/or check out Reece’s Rare Comics? Maybe someone out there is actively selling or looking for a particular comic book to buy and they want to check you guys out and contact you.
You can find our website at www.reececomics.com which has my contact information (and Austin’s too!). Also, you can follow us on Instagram @reecesrarecomics and on Facebook at Reece’s Rare Comics. While on our website please sign up for our newsletter where we give updates on our show schedule, new and high-profile listings, and other things of interest. Finally, check out our News section at the bottom of our website to see how comic dealers live life on the road. I particularly like the one Austin wrote about our drive out West to San Diego Comic Con. Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone in the comic book community who allows me to do what I do for a living. We wouldn’t have a business without you, and we appreciate you all. Thanks much and stay safe!
Thank you, Alex, for your time and for doing this interview. It was great to catch up and see from your eyes on how the comic book industry is doing and what are some of the hot comic books in the market currently. Thank you for sharing and I (we) look forward to seeing you in the Comic Con scene throughout the year!
Please share your thoughts and any comments you have about C2E2. Do you attend multiple Comic Cons throughout the year? Which ones are your favorite and most looking forward to attending? Do you have any of the Top 5 comic books, according to Alex, currently in the market? Please share what comic books you are most actively looking for. I would love to hear from you. Until next time comic book junkies.
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