Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's How We Play The Game - Comic Book Rehab - issue #1 (2nd printing)

I haven't reviewed any issues of the DC relaunch because I was away from the shops last month. I thought, "No Problem!, I can stop by anytime and they'll have SOMETHING." Boy, I was wrong.

I was right, too - there were plenty of comics to buy - just none of the DC #1's. Why is that?

No, it's not because everybody bought them - when you hear that a comic book sold out, they're refering to comic shops buying all the copies that were printed. All the sales figures buzzed about online are just that. So what's really happening? The shops are hoarding.

The way to increase demand on a large supply is to ration it and make it seem scarce, then create a demand for reprint editions to be printed quickly and sold quickly. The 1st editions can be resold as back issues for 2 or 3 times the cover price, depending on popularity. The little guys (us, the shoppers, the fans, the man in the suit, or the kid or parent thinking of this stuff as investments) won't mind because it only helps lift the value of what they have bundled and sealed or slabbed in their closet or drawer or trunk or wherever.

The flaw in this reasoning is that the market for comics has dwindled into a subculture. You can be a fan of these characters and still never have read a comic book. If the demand declines for various reasons, then the issues you've been hoarding in the back of the shop deteiorate into sales slime, and that's how you end up with brand new, pristine 1st issues in quarter/half-dollar/dollar bins at shops and conventions, or online sellers posting lots of copies in one bundle for auction.

Another problem - the values are for trade - you can still go to a shop and the owner will still offer to buy your collection for a dime per book. The numbers you hear about are the comics value bartered for stacks of  comics, plus some cash (if any) that adds up to that much. So, yes, it is possible that that copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 from 1998 that you bought for $20.00 cash is actually what it trades for. Well, if you see something you really like...

So...if you're hungry for those new #1's that came out - as a reader, wait for the reprint edition. If you're a collector, you could save up to buy the original 1st edition #1's instead. This gimmick ... every new #1 issue offered never seems as old and rare as the first from long before our time...

See, this is why we need Lara Croft. The next Tomb Raider film should be about finding some cache of old comics...never mind dusty old temples of made-up gold. Actually that could be the plot of National Treasure 3 - Harry Truman's secret stash.


  1. I said it in the ‘80s, when I got my first price guide. I said it in the ‘90s during the Marvel / Image / Valiant / “Death of Superman” speculator frenzy. And I will say it today:

    The ONLY value a comic book truly has is what you are willing to pay for the privilege of reading it!

    Nice post!

  2. Hi Joe! Thanks for visiting!

    Well said! Wish a lot of the people buying those comics were reading them...if they can get a copy without emptying their wallets! ;)