It’s a lot of fun to track the exploding values of comic books, but let’s get a little sentimental. What are the comics going with you to the grave? Mine is easy- Ghost Rider.
It’s such a personal question. And it will never be the same for two collectors, but it’s a question I’ve been interested in for a while. What exactly makes something so precious priceless to you?
The Heart of a Collector
Inside every collector is that first. It doesn’t have to be the first comic or trading card or piece of art they ever received. It has to be the first item that they really loved. I’d argue that the reason so many of us collect comics is to capture that same love and sense of wonder we first felt with this particular item. For a lot of us, nothing quite reaches that same level of awe, but sometimes we can rekindle it with an amazing find.
It Doesn’t Have to be Valuable
One thing I’ve noticed in my collection is that I often find the most joy out of some of the least valuable items in my collection. These aren’t mega keys worth thousands and thousands of dollars, they’re offshoots, miniseries, and oddballs. An example for me is the Clayton Crain and Garth Ennis’ Ghost Rider series. I absolutely LOVE this series and have multiple copies of every issue. Why? I don’t really know. It was the first comic I read and felt like, “Yes, THIS is Ghost Rider.” When I first bought it, I was too young to purchase books rated mature. My mom had to walk into the store and confirm that it was alright for her son to read a comic with spinal columns being ripped out of people’s bodies.
And sometimes it is valuable. As in, really valuable. Over a decade ago, I perused San Diego Comic-Con (this was when you could buy tickets at the front of the convention center and just walk in,) and found out that Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, was at a booth. While many don’t know the storied history of Gary Friedrich, I did. He was the guy that merged Faust with 70s biker culture that created my favorite superhero. The bad news was, it was Sunday, and he was about to head off home. I, lacking my Marvel Spotlight #5 (which I paid $42 for) or my Ghost Rider #1 (an even $50), was distraught.
I met the man, shook his hand, and lamented my woes. His wife seated at the booth looked up and said, “Oh, that’s okay. Just send it to us and he’ll sign it and send it back to you.”
“Really?” I asked, looking up at slightly frowning Mr. Friedrich.
“Absolutely,” his wife answered.
The next day I grabbed my two most prized possessions in the world, wrapped them up in cardboard, bubble wrap, more cardboard, more bubble wrap, and sent them off in an insured box to Gary Friedrich’s house. A week and a half later, they arrived, signed on the cover with his single “G.”
It was everything I could have wanted.
The Value Today
The value of a signed-by-Gary-Friedrich Marvel Spotlight #5 is unknown. I’ve never seen one for sale, although I’m sure they’re out there (I also just don’t really care). If I were to sell it, I’m sure I’d be making hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for my return on my initial investment of $42 plus shipping. But that would be missing the point.
Some comics, I think, are sacred. They inspire us and bring out our inner kid-at-the-comic-store looking behind the glass cases at the stuff we had to save up for a while to afford. To have that very same book signed by the creator, well, I’d be hard-pressed to let it go.
How about you? What’s that one comic in your collection that you’ll take to your death?