Why do we collect what we collect? What are our assumptions and motivations as comic collectors and speculators? What’s our Endgame?
I became a comic book speculator when I heard about 21st Century Fox’s comic book properties being acquired by Disney. This didn’t mean that I ran to my computer and bought the hottest titles of Fantastic Four and all mutant related classics. My pockets aren’t that deep. But I did see that these (unfortunately failed) film franchises would be given some new lifeblood in the coming future. It might not happen in five years, but Kevin Feige’s mind is simply too ripe for huge crossover events for it not to happen.
I was a collector in my younger years. Before living abroad for a few years in Asia, I had sold a lot of my collection (sad), but kept the best of it (happy). The best includes the entire run of the 70s Ghost Rider, his Marvel Spotlight appearances, Claremont and Miller’s Wolverine series, a few random books that filled the long box, along with my much-coveted set of X-Men: The Hidden Years (Have any of you actually heard of that series?) In a brief visit home in between one Central Asian country for another, I grabbed a Spiderman #300, #700, and Avengers #57. That’s it. That was the extent of my comic dealings for the last seven years…until four months ago.
Then, circumstances arranged themselves. My brother had an eBay gift card he needed to use, I was thinking about getting into old X-Men comics, and voila, the spark for collecting reignited. I became very interested (on the verge of obsession) in the happenings of the comic world. I found myself at a convention and all of a sudden I had a graded 9.8 X-Men #266 (First Gambit!). And it’s been a lot of fun ever since.
But comic collecting has got me thinking about collecting more broadly. What is it exactly we are collecting? Are we collecting the hopes of a film studio to make our comic book more well-known thus more sought after once the character is introduced to hundreds of thousands of previously unaware viewers? Or are we collecting because we really dig what we have? I’ve speculated in lots of other things over the years and they’ve gotten smaller in time. Vintage cars: very big, to books and comic books: very small. There’s, of course, the possibility of damage, but that’s pretty much true for everything. We live in a world of constant decay and regeneration and we do our best to hold off Time with our mylar sleeves, vacuum-sealed cases, and silverfish traps. (These are the ones to get.)
I guess I’m asking what the point is. Are we collecting our childhood memories? Are we collecting to preserve a valuable art form for generations to come? Are we collecting to enjoy these odd colorful things and make some extra cash in the end? Is it a combo of the above? It is for me. As I continue to collect, I want to be cognizant of what exactly I’m collecting and why. Am I going to buy 20 copies of The Human Fly #1 in case they come out with a movie? I almost did. But then I remembered that I don’t really care about Human Fly (although I hope someone does) and that I should be collecting the books that get me excited about holding them, the ones with colors and art and writing that pops throughout.
This is an introduction. I’ll throw in a good spec every now and then, but truthfully, you all probably have a better idea than I about what to spec in the short term. I’m thinking in the long term, like really long term, like in forty, fifty, sixty years. Is anyone going to care about Squirrel Girl #1? Probably not (although I really love my Scottie Young Variant), but she could be the face of the MCU. Who knows? I’m not sure, but my guesses will be based on my previous experience in print dealing and knowledge of art history more than anything else. I want to investigate what really gives comic books their value, that inherent, intrinsic, unnamable thing, and I hope to Galactus it’s not just the next movie premiere.