I get the same feeling every time I open that door. My eyes quickly absorb the images that grace the store. Superman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and countless other heroes and heroines. I’m in a place some people would never want to be caught in. Yep, you guessed it, a comic book store. What feeling am I getting you ask? A feeling I’ve been getting since I was 8 years old, the feeling of adventure, as if time itself hung in the air at the turn of every action packed page. I’ve been hooked and collecting comics ever since.
“Comic goes for record 1 million.” Read a recent headline on Yahoo. This record setting comic is essentially the holy grail of comics. A CGC (we’ll get on that one later) 8.0 1938 Action Comics #1. With essentially a handful of copies to be in such good shape, it must not come at too much of a surprise. However, the idea of a comic book fetching easily over the price of even the famous Mc Laren F1 sports car has to cause some people to hit the brakes and take notice.
There was a time when any comic book with a number one was essentially gold. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, comic book investing was all the craze. Comics would fly off the shelves of retailers at such an exhaustive rate that many individuals would buy multiple copies of the same comic in the hopes that those extra copies would one day be they’re ticket to paradise. X-Men #1 (the spinoff of the original Uncanny X-men which debuted in 1964) sold 8 Million copies alone and several different variants, Including a Magneto cover which resides within my brothers collection.
Unfortunately, much like any speculator driven bubble, it popped in the faces of individuals everywhere who now had essentially worthless copies of comics taking up space in they’re homes. These tickets to paradise are now found in many a dollar or markdown bin at your local comic shop, in some cases collecting dust, having not seen much of the light of day since they were discarded.
After that, the comic book collecting community drifted into a scene right out of the Mad Max trilogy. Collecting fell to those remnants who were diehard loyalists. Marvel Comics declared bankruptcy. And the public at large relegated the words comic book synonymous with geek as they stood idly by as comic shops closed around the country.
It wasn’t truly until recently that the fields are looked right for the planting. It started again with the light sprinkles of the successful debut of the X-Men movies. Then started to pour once Sam Raimi got his hands on Spider-Man. Since then, Superman, Daredevil, Iron Man and others have made remarkable on screen appearances in homes around the world. Now it’s not uncommon to see kids wearing comic hero themed Halloween costumes and other apparel. Not too long ago I even saw a Wolverine birthday set at Wal-Mart.
A rising tide lifts all ships. Comic book collecting has once again dusted itself off and jumped onto the scene. With the debut of CGC (Comics Guarantee LLC), which independently grades comics and seals them in protective cases and websites like EBay, Comic collecting has never been so precise or lucrative.
There are however, some purists who believe that sealing a comic book ignores the true heart and story waiting between the covers. They are right. The eight year old I used to be could never have fallen in love with a fancy cover in a hard piece of plastic. However, whether we’re purist or investor, all comic collectors and fans must be able to at least breathe a little easier knowing that the future looks brighter than it has in a long time for the industry.
I browse and pick up a couple of new released comics and grab a third more important one. I walk proudly to the counter with my prize with a strut Magneto would be proud of. The first two comics I open as soon as I get home, they hang me in the air and take me back to eight years old again. The third one, X-men #16 (1966) doesn’t get opened instead I seal it away bound to spend the rest of its life in a hard plastic shell. My ticket to paradise.