Confessions of a Comic Collector – Issue #1

by Michael Vlachakis

hulk254-198x300 Confessions of a Comic Collector - Issue #1

I want to make a confession.   I had to buy this book.  I knew it the minute I saw it.  But why?

Well, that is the type of insight I hope to provide in this article.  Whether you are new to comic collecting and speculating or a seasoned veteran, everyone has a unique and “logical” thought process when it comes to buying the right comics for your individual collection.  I want to offer insights into what that thought process was for me on this individual comic.  For some, it may offer validation into their collecting habits.  For others, you may do the complete opposite and rightly so.  We are not here to judge…just here to learn and have fun!

A few days ago during my relentless search for comics to add to my already out-of-control collection (be honest, we buy too many), I stumbled upon an Incredible Hulk #254 and my first thought was “wow, there it is!”.  The U-Foes are awesome and I wanted their first appearance in a 9.8 White Pages so I had to have it.  Vector, Vapor, X-ray, Ironclad…yup.  All there!  For those unaware, the U-Foes are a group of normal humans funded by leader and millionaire (it was published in 1980, so that was rich) Simon Utrecht.  He funds a mission to space that would allow his team to interact with Cosmic Rays and gain powers in a fashion similar to the origins of the Fantastic Four.  The Incredible Hulk intervenes in the mission in an effort to save the team from dangerous radiation and certain death.  The U-Foes ultimately gain powers yet blame the Hulk from stopping them from developing even greater powers.

I had been waiting for a copy of the first appearance of the U-Foes to show up for sale, and there it was.  I have to buy…right?  I’d been waiting for this moment…there it was finally…buy it, buy it, BUY IT!  Wait.  Emotion in comic buying seldom works out great.  Full stop.. lets go through the facts and see if we want to buy this book.  First, I go to check the Census Numbers for Hulk #254.  At first glance, not great Census numbers as a collector.  There are 44 graded copies and 22 of them are 9.8.  Right away, with half of the copies at the top of the census, I am at a disadvantage as a collector and speculator.  However, I personally had never seen this comic for sale in this grade and as mentioned previously, it is on my short list.  Then, if the Census does not look great, perhaps there is some other redeeming quality about the book that will make me close the purchase.

Is it a Newsstand Version?  For me, as a collector looking for rarer books, Newsstand can make a difference between a book being a pass or a must buy.  Unfortunately, when it came down to the specific item I was offered, it was a Direct Edition.  This particular comic was from 1980, which was the second year of the Direct vs. Newsstand split in distribution.  In the first few years, there was very little difference in the prices of Direct vs. Newsstand.  A book from the 1990’s would be much rarer in Newsstand, and therefore offer a greater value than its direct counterpart.  Seems to be a solid Bronze Age find either way!

What about the price?  Is it being sold at a significant value?  The pricing trend shows a 105% increase in this book at 9.8.  Wonderful…but I am buying at the peak?  No any recent sales to pull up to show a snapshot of the market.   What to do, what to do?  How’s my budget this month (perhaps some earlier control could have made this purchase easier to decide on)? I ended up being on-the-fence about this comic, so I did what I always do…set it on the watch list and thought about it for a while.

At the end of the day, I did pick up the Incredible Hulk #254.  I thought the comic was rare enough to add to my collection.  It had the first appearance of some cool characters who may show up in future Marvel offerings.  As much as I would have like to keep emotion out of the decision, I wanted the comic and emotion won out…with the help of some logical analysis.

Any Comic Confessions that you would like to share?  What is the one book that would be difficult to say ‘no’ to?  Join the conversation by dropping your comments and look for more Confessions in the future!

You may also like