As I contemplate the roots of comic speculation, I wonder: Is there anything more to this than just movies?
Our premise is that each time a new character is introduced into a new show or film, the value of that character’s key issues increase.
But how does this actually work?
Let’s imagine a young woman, Elsa, age 17, sees Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen and decides that the Guardians are her new favorite comic book team. She had never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy before and was only vaguely familiar with the main Marvel characters ie. Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, etc.
Today, she’s a 23-year-old woman with enough college debt to fill a void in the space-time continuum and has absolutely no interest in collecting anything besides pennies off the ground in order to pay off her debt.
Next year, when the third Guardians film arrives, she will be 24 and barring a dramatic influx of money via a winning lottery ticket, very rich long-lost uncle, or stumbling upon gold bricks buried in the backyard, she’s going to be in about the same place as she is today.
Elsa has almost no effect on the market price of comic books related to Guardians of the Galaxy and is representative of a huge percentage of the current film fanbase.
Let’s imagine someone else
Geoff was 30 when the first Guardians film came out and will be 37 when the third movie makes it to theaters. The films are far and away his favorite, and he used to read comics as a kid. He enjoys visiting comic book stores and likes the idea of investing in something a little more exciting than stocks and bonds.
Geoff has a marked, albeit slight, impact on the collecting market and represents a much smaller percentage of the fanbase than Elsa.
A Little bit of Reagan
Geoff read comics as a kid. I think this is a huge part of the equation. In the 90s, there were tons and tons of comics made. There were also a fair amount of television shows based on comic books as an indirect result of Regan’s deregulation of advertising cartoons. (I’ll leave the moral question of whether or not that’s a good thing to you). These shows may not have been picked up if they didn’t have the backing of other merchandise like comic books and action figures.
Geoff watched some of these television shows, he worked around the house for his allowance to buy a couple action figures and comic books, and he played a few of the Marvel-inspired video games too.
Back to Elsa
Elsa’s story could be the same. As a 17-year-old, she went and purchased a couple of the new Guardians of the Galaxy comics, but the originals were simply out of her budget. She still enjoyed watching the films and catching the occasional Marvel flick in the theater, but there was a marked difference.
20 Years from Now
Comic book heroes might be well and gone. There may not be a resurgence of anything at all, nothing to remind Elsa of her favorite movie as a young woman, and no reason to go back and collect the characters of her favorite comic book series. This would lead to a drop-off of comic book speculating and prices because of the lack of fresh blood.
Predicting the future is often a fool’s errand, and if someone back in 1994 said that Iron Man would be the face of a multi-billion dollar film franchise, they would have been laughed out of the room. But the future is always different from the present. Maybe in 20 years, Marvel films will be the laughingstock of the past, and Image-based films will be taking home academy awards.
Until then, we’ll just have to watch Elsa and see.