Navigating the side effects of the eruption that has rippled through the comic world isn’t an easy task. Thankfully, we have a price guide for that.
If your face wasn’t buried in long boxes sniffing for gold the past year, you likely noticed this recent boom in collectibles wasn’t limited to comic book pages. Every major collectible asset has been affected with positive growth over the past year. Record values have become the norm, and we’ve watched new relics hit the auction floors with stupendous results.
Trying to understand what the future has in store for collectibles requires us to take a look at the past. For those who walk that ever-expanding history with us, we salute you.
Perhaps the most notable additions to the graded collectibles mainstream are retro video games, and the timing is ideal. As a custodian of pop lore, I can’t help but draw comparisons between the collectible nature of comic books and the inevitable status of video games. Each has thoroughly inundated our global culture with a plethora of timeless characters, worlds, and adventures. They’re basically the same models in different periods of technology.
That explains why the first time I ever laid eyes on a Ninja Turtle was in 1989 when Konami brought TMNT to my NES. I would not know for years that the artwork on the video game box was taken from the 2nd print for issue #4 in the Turtles’ original comic run. Next, I remember leafing through my cousin’s copies of the Legend of Zelda from Valiant Comics. I was 7. The crossover was strong in me from the get-go.
Fast forward to 2021, and the eve of GoCollect launching a video game price guide AND a concert poster price guide has me nostalgic for crossovers between the mediums again. Only this time around, with many comic prices slipping out of reach, and new tools coming our way to dive deeper into other collectible assets, I’m looking at it from a different point of view: what characters have transcended their original platform and are worthy of collecting in other forms? The aforementioned TMNT products are highly collectible and look great side by side in protective slabs, likewise the Valiant-Nintendo crossovers. But who, if any, have transcended to or from music, or have live performance posters that would be featured on the GoCollect concert poster price guide?
We Can Work It Out
With the exclusion of theatrical posters or Disney on Ice performances, it appears that Gene Simmons’ tongue might be longer than the list. In fact, the only fully licensed and successful acts that come to mind right away are KISS and the Wu-Tang Clan. Not coincidentally, both have utilized highly unique marketing strategies for their content. These include, but are not limited to, concert posters, comic books, and ass-kickin’ video games. This bit of news probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it raises an interesting question. Is there anyone else who has content that can be sourced in all of GoCollect’s upcoming price guides?
I’ve touched on the relationship between comic books and video games. We could spend the better part of the day populating an easy list of successful crossovers between just those two. But what happens when we turn up the music and look for connections between the three?
Rock N’ Roll Comics
Published from 1989 to 1993, Rock N’ Roll Comics builds a bridge into comics for many music artists, but did you know that every single one of those 65 issues was unauthorized and unlicensed by the musical artists themselves? Rock N’ Roll Comics #1‘s depiction of Guns ‘n’ Roses sparked enough controversy over its legality that the comic’s ‘cease and desist’ order eventually became a featured story in Rolling Stone magazine. They were sued for issue #2. They were sued for issue #3. Issue #4 was banned in many locations. But that didn’t stop Revolutionary Comics from continuing ‘unauthorized and proud of it’ for another 4 years!
If I had a bigger appetite for destruction, I’d source that initial comic book for its significance, and hang it next to a 1991 concert poster of G’n’R at the Riverport Amphitheatre, where Axl Rose famously dove into the crowd and wrestled away a video camera from a fan who was bootlegging the show. That’s my kind of curation.
It’s Time To Play The Game
Thankfully, however, Axl was never featured in a video game outside of the Rock Band series by MTV Games. But, if we include the licensed Rock Band video games as well as the unlicensed content of Rock ‘n’ Roll Comics, we can pull out Guns ‘n’ Roses as a successful triple threat, along with AC/DC.
If we take a step back further into the days of Guitar Hero, we can also add Metallica, Aerosmith, and Van Halen to the list of music acts who have a comic book and a video game that you can display alongside their concert posters. The Beatles also had a Rock Band video game fashioned in their honor, and have a slightly longer history with comic books that extends to both Marvel and DC universes. But, if we’re being honest, that material was unlicensed parody. And that keeps the Fab 4 just shy of our Fab 3 shortlist of authorized price guide content.
A few musical acts who do have authorized reproductions of themselves in comic books include Alice Cooper, Kid ‘n Play, Billy Ray Cyrus and Eminem. You won’t find a video game for any of those artists, but since we’re throwing out unlicensed comic material, there is a pretty cool Alice Cooper / Super Mario hack for the NES out there.
Michael Jackson’s: Moonwalker
Now, as we take one more step back in time while keeping both feet planted firmly on the ground, gently slide the ball of your front foot behind you. Repeat the process using your other foot, and now we’re showing the King of Pop some respect. Released in 1989 as a huge campaign to promote the Sega Genesis home system, Michael Jackson’s: Moonwalker may be the penultimate crossover of video games and popular music. And the best part about it, MJ contributed creatively to the development. The game is wild to play, loaded with synthesized beats, and looks great on display. I would select a 1993 Michael Jackson at Fukuoka Dome in Japan to complement the multinational notes of early Sega artwork. Rock n Roll Comics #36 is the one you want to complete your Jackson 3.
If you haven’t noticed yet, this list is strictly one-sided thus far. We have only successfully located connections between the three mediums if the act started out as a musical performance. And we’re having trouble finding authorized products. Turns out, if we start the other way and look for concert posters associated with original comic books and video games that we love, it gets a little more abstract, but it gets a lot more fun.
Does Whatever A Spider Can
There is a very short list of original comic and video game creations that have entered the music scene. Most have gone on to become musicals and Broadway performances. There are handbills and posters for each of them out there. I mention this first because that’s not exactly what we’re looking for here, even though the largest of those names also have their own video games. We can accurately report that Superman has been sung, read and played with a controller. So too has the martial dance of the Ninja Turtle. Super Mario. Sailor Moon. The Addams Family. Peanuts. Mortal Kombat! And Spider-Man.
One area in which we can find major support is the realm of Original Soundtracks. For instance, there is a way we can twist the Ramones into your Spider-Man collection instead. Additionally, U2 did crank out a chart-topper for Val Kilmer’s Batman, but these are campy flashes in the pan. Or were they? They hold more weight than the time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toured as a rock band in 1990. Remember that? Neither do I.
It’s All About the Mood
Pop-culture supernerd Chuck Klosterman once wrote that “In a roundabout way, Boba Fett created Pearl Jam” while he was dissecting The Empire Strikes Back’s role in defining Generation X. He was onto something large when that was penned. That statement has never lost its validity in the mechanics of multimedia and mood. I’ve always felt that Chuck was unintentionally philosophizing the role of the soundtrack when he coined that phrase, merging the two in the same way a film employs certain music to relate a certain mood.
In any of my moods, I would readily display copies of James O’Barr’s: The Crow on the same wall as any Nine Inch Nails concert poster on the planet, and it has everything to do with a soundtrack. Just as I would display a concert poster of the artist (formerly?) known as Prince beside certain issues of Batman. The same goes for Will Smith and the Men in Black. Kendrick Lamar could share a wall with the Black Panther. There is no memorable opening scene in Wesley Snipe’s Blade without techno wizards Darude. Some of these songs are as elemental as the words in the films. And they all have video games. In the case of Prince, however, the music for the 1989 Batman film wasn’t a soundtrack. That was an original studio album.
Homage Is Where The Heart Is
Was it Prince’s seamless relationship with a comic book hero transcending his pages that has made Purple Rain one of the most duplicated homage comic covers on the planet? Are we paying Prince back for what he did for us? Or is it just iconic artwork? Why do we have an endless supply of movie poster homage covers and hip-hop album covers to hang on our walls now? Some of those albums and some of those movies have absolutely nothing to do with comic books. We have video game homage covers and 8-bit Variants that make more sense in the comic world. That’s because the crossover has long become the norm between these forms of media.
What do you think about all of this? Are there any names I have left off this list that you might have an eye on? Will you be hunting down any crossover collectibles from the new price guides?
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