I was talking to a pal about real estate the other day, we were both lamenting on how hard it is for young people to aspire to homeownership. Housing prices are so high and high-income jobs seem harder and harder to get. I don’t envy the kids today.
Like always I somehow turned this line of thought to comic books and comic book collecting. I don’t envy the kids starting their collections today.
We’re spoiled, us collectors that can remember picking up stuff in the 1980s and even earlier. We could amass runs at will, availability was there, prices were such that most of us could afford to collect runs from multiple titles at the same time and we’d splurge on the key issues as we went along, deals were there to be had if we looked hard enough. Imagine you are in your early 20s and you’ve decided to start collecting comics today, August 2020. Where would you start? You’d obviously start with what you like but soon you’d be pulled towards key issues, special books, grails.
Come on Walt, you sound like an old man. Did you have any care for Golden Age while you were building your Amazing Spider-Man run? Did you pine for early Famous Funnies when you were finishing up Daredevil #1-181? Were you hunting down pre-code horror E.C.s when you were buying your Hulk #181s and Marvel Spotlight #5s? Well, the answer is no, I wasn’t looking at that stuff at all, that stuff came later. I must have looked like a snot-nosed fool to that old dealer as I pushed aside his Big Logo Detectives to get to the Marvel Team-Up box.
So what will collections started today look like in 25 years? I haven’t a clue but I do know that the young guns starting out today will have to be much more selective than we were. Remember when it was nothing to amass the relaunch May 1968 Marvels? Iron Man #1, Hulk #102, Subby #1, Cap #100, Nick Fury #1 and Doc Strange #169 were such easy targets, they weren’t the keys but it was a nice set to have. Try getting the set today? Odds are you will pick the one or two you like best or feel have the best long term prospects.
I talked a few posts ago, and this post is in a way an extension of that one, about modern key issues, books like Ultimate Fallout #4, Edge of Spider-Verse #2, NYX #3, these are the new keys and some will turn into grails over time.
Why should a young collector care about snagging an Amazing Spider-Man #9? Who’s Electro to these young collectors? You show one of these new collectors a More Fun Comics from 1937 and it might be like showing me a Bringing Up Father Platinum Age book from the 1920s. Yawn.
So is my nice tight copy of Amazing Spider-Man #9 safe? Should I get rid of it now for fear of the next wave of collectors not caring? I don’t know the answer to that, I think this might be true on some books and not true on others. Try selling your copy of Double Life of Private Strong #2 or Fighting American #4 today, tough slogging, though they were once hot books.
I’m not making any firm statement or taking any firm stance with this post because while I want to broach the subject of the future of comic collecting I just can’t read the future to any degree of certainty that would allow me to make statements, so I chicken out and ask a bunch of questions.
Now I’ve written myself into a corner so I’ll try and make a few bold predictions. I think 10 years from now a collector showing off his or her nice complete run of Spawn will impress the heck out of their contemporary collectors. I think owning the one in twenty-five variant of Ultimate Fall Out #4 will be just as impressive as showing off an Amazing Spider-Man #129.
Grails will still be grails but much like our generation never being able to aspire to ever owning an Action #1 these young collectors may feel the same way about an Amazing Fantasy #15, something nice to dream about but not having one in no way diminishes the drive to build and improve the collection.
I wish you new collectors all the success in the world, collectively your influence on future values will grow and grow until one day your tastes will dictate the comic values from Golden Age to the future present. Of course, at that time there will be a new crop of collectors starting the process all over again.