I remember back in the early 80s when the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide had those big 10 issue groupings for most of the major Golden, Silver and Bronze age comic book titles. Amazing Spider-Man issues #131-140 were all worth the same and there were countless other examples in different titles as well. Eventually, as the hobby grew, people started analyzing what was happening in these issues. Over the next 2 decades each new guide had more and more issues singled out. First it was 1st appearances of seemingly minor characters, then second and third appearances of more major characters, then 1st appearances of someone who years later turns into a major (or minor) character, then the 1st shadow of someone who’s name was not revealed who later was introduced as a friend of a hero who then even later became some villain. Artists’ contributions were looked at more closely, 1st Marvel work by this guy or 1st DC comic book adaptation of an off Broadway play starring a midget. And so on.
This was a gradual process and it may surprise some when I say that this process is far from done.
Most of us are young enough to feel that we’ve walked into an established hobby with an established history. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Just look at the history of Sgt. Rock. 1st it was thought this book represented the first Rock appearance, then it changed to that book and later a third book was thought to be a good candidate. Take your pick. More great discoveries are out there waiting to be pieced together.
So many collectors don’t read their old comics. They like collecting the issues but don’t seem to have an interest in actually opening the comic up and reading it. We need this army of old comic owners to start reading their collections. Fresh eyes will spot yet undiscovered relationships and undiscovered connections that will be received as revelations by the collecting community at large.
Imagine reading an old Rip Hunter and realizing that one of the characters was actually a prototype for a more important character introduced shortly after. Which of those old Kirby romance couples from the late 50s were later used as the template for Reed Richards and Sue Storm?
Discovering such comics could be a profitable endeavor.
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada