Mega keys and first appearances aren’t the only issues worth collecting. Piecing together a complete run is well worth your time and can make you fall in love with the hobby.
For rookie collectors, it seems like the hobby is all about key issues, mainly first appearances. True, key issues are the most valuable comics to collect, especially those coveted debuts. However, there’s more to collecting than just having high-priced single issues in your long boxes. What can be very satisfying is putting together a full run.
If you’re relatively new to collecting (since this is a Collecting 101 post, I assume you are), you may be asking what do I mean by a full run? It can be a handful of things. Generally speaking, a run is when you piece together consecutive issues from a given series. For instance, I was a huge Todd McFarlane fan in the 1990s, so I have a run of early Spawn comics. It also can be all the issues written or drawn by a favorite creator, like Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil or Jim Lee’s X-Men. Whatever it is you’re aiming for, all you need for a run is the consecutive issues with a common theme.
Where things get more collectible is in the complete runs. Somewhere out there, there are collectors with Chris Claremont’s full run on X-Men, which would take up an entire room of your house all to itself. It’s those legendary creators on the titles that made them famous that are the most coveted runs, but it’s up to you.
Before I give you some starting places for collecting your runs, let me say that piecing together that final issue you’ve been searching for is a wonderful feeling. It took me a couple of years of digging through dollar bins, checking online auctions, and making trades to finish my Miller Daredevils. They’re not all high grades, but that’s okay; I did that for fun, not for resale.
Pick your favorite series and creators, and go to work. (That is, of course, when we’re allowed to have cons again. Thanks, corona.) To help get you started, here are some of my favorite runs.
ALAN MOORE’S SWAMP THING
In 1984, DC hired Moore to revamp Swamp Thing, making for a historic 44-issue run (with the exception of issues #59 and #62, which were written by John Totleben and Rick Veitch, respectively). In that time, Moore redefined the character, giving him layers, and making a monster that readers could better sympathize with and connect to. The run also gave birth to John Constantine. If you haven’t read this, you are missing out on a genre-defining work of art.
TODD MCFARLANE’S AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Like Miller’s Daredevil run, “the Todd Father’s” time on Amazing Spider-Man was legendary. That’s not to say McFarlane’s art doesn’t get plenty of criticism these days, but it’s still one of the most popular Spidey runs of all time. Starting with ASM #299, he worked on the title for 29 issues, ending with ASM #328. The good part about this run is that, aside from the Venom first appearances, these comics are in abundance and typically not expensive, so adding these to your collections shouldn’t be too difficult. When you finish those, you can always move to his run on Spider-Man.
FRANK MILLER’S DAREDEVIL
I almost left this out because it’s arguably the single most collectible run in comics. Safe to say, it’s almost too easy to have this on the list, but it felt wrong not to include it. So much has been said about Miller’s time on D.D. that there’s not much left to add. Suffice to say, this is the quintessential D.D.
MORE TO COME
There are so many great runs out there that one post won’t do them all justice. I’ll follow up with more, but leave suggestions on which ones I need to spotlight.