It’s the Journey
Comic collecting is such a goal oriented activity. It’s all about finishing those runs, picking up all those keys etc. Often we don’t even realize that a very big and important part of our lives went into amassing the collection that stands before us.
Often when I’m going through collections I’ll engage in small talk with the seller. We’ll talk about how they started collecting, what characters and titles they liked most etc. The banter is usually very casual and it really helps ease the drudgery of looking at comic after comic trying to assess values. Basically two people that love comics talking about comics. It’s funny how many times I’ll get comments about a comic book I happen to be examining. “I got that one off a guy I ran into in the aisles at the Motor City Comic Con back in…” or “I picked that up while on a business trip to Dallas…” or “my dad bought me that one on a camping trip up north when I was…” an on and on. Most people could write a fascinating book about how and where and under what circumstances they picked up all the comics in their collection. Often these memories actually hinder my ability to buy collections. Many of these people have not given their collections any thought for years. They bring the books to sell and are surprised at the pleasant memories that seeing the comics trigger. Once I had to give a guy visitation rights to his comics. I told him he could come see them anytime over the next two weeks and change his mind if he wished. Usually economic reality and a cooling off period help ease the pain of separation. There have been occasions though where comics have been pulled off the table because they triggered such strong memories and sentiment. The seller just could not part with certain issues. Often value is not the reason for wanting to keep comics, nostalgia and sentiment are.
I personally have a bad habit of driving into almost any little town in Southern Ontario and announcing to anyone in the car that “I bought a collection here once, they guy’s name was…” or “this town has a great comic shop called…” Often when I’m with my friends and peers in the comic business we’ll tell old stories about the big collections that got away or about odd events that happened while picking up certain books. Back in the late 80s I sold a Batman #1 to Harley Yee (in my mind the best convention dealer there is) in the parking lot of a hotel in Burlington, Ontario. It was rainy and Harley had the back hatch of his mini van open so that we could use it as an Umbrella. Harley gave me some cash and let me rummage through his boxes in the back of his van because he threw in a bit of trade. I actually wrote a song about this experience sung to the Sly Stone tune ‘Family Affair’; I call it ‘It’s a Harley Affair’. This was the first truly important comic I sold so the memory is an important one for me. Hundreds of stories like that are coming to me now so I’ll leave it at that.
The tip for this week is to enjoy each moment your comic collecting exploits create for you. Travelling to the cons with a car full of buddies, the hotel shenanigans, the discovery of a great new comic shop, the friends and acquaintances and great people you meet as you pursue your hobby. All these things combined may actually be more valuable than any comic you will ever own.
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Price Guide Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.