Collecting Versus Investing: The Stories Behind Your Grails

by Matt Tuck

Giant-Size-X-Men-195x300 Collecting Versus Investing: The Stories Behind Your GrailsWhat’s the one comic in your collection that you would never let go? How did you get it? It’s all about the story behind getting your grail.

Looking past the sales data and fair market values, what makes a comic special?

Maybe you didn’t think you’d ever own that comic. Maybe you bought it off the shelf for cover price decades ago. Perhaps it took a lot of work to acquire. In the end, I’ll wager there’s a tale to tell about how you got it, and that’s what sets collecting apart from investing – the journey.

ASM-39-199x300 Collecting Versus Investing: The Stories Behind Your GrailsWhen I think about the single comic I value the most, it’s a toss-up between my Giant-Size X-Men #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #39 signed by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. It’s easy for me to explain why my ASM #39 is so special. Romita is my favorite Spider-Man artist. This was his first issue on the title, and Romita and Stan “the Man” signed it. What’s not to love?

GSX #1 is a different story. It’s not signed by anyone, and it’s a low grade with water stains. Low grade or not, it is the culmination of a lifelong quest, and that’s what sets it apart from all my other comics.

The X-Men were the reason I started reading comics in the first place. I discovered them in the 1980s when Chris Claremont was in his prime. It was the lineup of Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler that hooked me decades ago. As far as I was concerned, forget X-Men #1; Giant-Size #1 is the X-Men’s real first appearance, and that was my first “holy grail.” 

What adds to its appeal is that it took time, effort, and chance to get one. The thrill of the chase, you might say.

Gsx-page-one-217x300 Collecting Versus Investing: The Stories Behind Your GrailsFour years ago, I was on the hunt for the Inhuman keys since they were the hot team du jour before their ill-fated television series flopped. I got my hands on Fantastic Four #45 and F.F. #46, and I was looking at getting them graded before trying to flip them. I posted them on a Facebook comic group, and I was approached with a trade offer: the first two appearances of the Inhumans for a low-grade GSX #1. Since this was a trade by mail, I was apprehensive about the deal, but the reward outweighed the risk. The thought of finally owning a comic that I had coveted basically my entire life was too tempting. I took the deal, and, fortunately for me, everything went to plan. 

For the first week, I kept it in a top-loader and put it on my desk. Sometimes, I would just stare at it. Of course, I had to read it. That’s the plus side of buying low grade; you’re less likely to worry about damaging it. A few weeks after the trade, I unsuccessfully attempted to sell it, and I am thankful for that. I ended up sending it to CGC, and it’s now sealed and preserved in my collection. And that’s where it will stay until I pass it to my sons. 

That’s the essence of collecting – finding that one issue that has eluded you for so long. If you have the money, you can have virtually any comic you have ever wanted through the magic of online auctions. Where’s the fun in that? That’s why I value my GSX #1 over my Incredible Hulk #181. I won an auction for Hulk #181, and anybody could do that. GSX #1 is different. I had to work for it and get lucky. That’s why it’s not an investment; it’s a cherished item.

And that’s what comic collecting is all about, Charlie Brown.

 

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3 comments

Ken Scudder March 11, 2020 - 2:00 pm

My grail comic is FF#1. It’s in poor condition, no back cover, instead of a front cover ti’s got a full-color xerox. But, it does have autographs by Stan AND Jack. I was at a Creation Con in NYC in the early/mid 80s, and they had a “no minimum bid” auction. I won it for $26, $13 of which I had to borrow from the friend who went with me (we were in high school). I have been afraid to touch it over the years, but every once in a while I pull it out and just stare at it. And it’s the first thing I tell people about in my collection, even though it’s not the most “valuable” book I have (oddly enough, that’s NYX #3!).

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Matt Tuck March 11, 2020 - 2:24 pm

F.F. #1 signed by Stan and Jack? That’s impressive. You should get that slabbed and preserved. Thank you for sharing!

Reply
Ken Scudder March 11, 2020 - 2:28 pm

Probably will at some point…but then I won’t be able to hold it in my arms at night!

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