Friday, March 21, 2014

The back issue problem

Earlier today, Brian Hibbs, owner of two stores out west, posted an interesting overview of the challenge he is facing with his newly acquired back issues on Comic Book Resources. 300 long boxes/75,000 comics. I'd bet there are basements and storage lockers throughout North America that are full of collections like that. Maybe not that size, probably more like mine (4500-5000 comics).

When owners of collections like these retire/die or just decide to liquidate, the market will be flooded (moreso) with literally tons of unwanted unreadable and worthless comics. There appears to be no interest in the younger generations to "collect", and I'm not just talking about comics. Have you met many kids with baseball cards lately? What about stamps or coins? My son is nine and he has hundreds of Hot Wheels (including some of mine - love those Redlines), but is he a collector? No, he just acquired them, thanks to Santa, birthdays and trips to Target with Mom.

My basement

So if the younger folk don't wanna hoard, whatever will we do? I can't imagine we're going to return to the days of hockey cards in bike spokes and spinner racks in the five'n'dime. There are millions of comics floating around the existing (and shrinking) back issue dealer market that aren't ever going to find their way into the hands of new and younger readers.

No I can't imagine THAT either

I sold my Marvels a couple of years ago and bought a new car with the proceeds (just a Kia Soul, take it easy). There were a LOT of them in complete runs and most of them were pre-1990 ('72-'87 primarily). What I have left is the other stuff - Image, Dark Horse, DC, Eclipse, etc - and I don't see it finding a home anytime soon. I could probably dump them off on a wholesaler for a dime a piece.

I could, but I don't want to. They're worth more to me than that, and I'm not talking about their value on the back issue market (such as it is).

What are you doing with yours?

Not the solution I'm looking for


  1. I've got five shortboxes of floppies left that I have almost zero interest in holding on to at this point, but that "almost" is more interest than any retailer has in taking them. There's probably fewer than 50 individual issues that have any valu remaining in today's back-issue market. Face it, Mike, we are old and no one wants our junk.

    1. Kids today, uh? I've gone trade only for the past year. It's strange - my desire to collect anything didn't gradually fade over time. I woke one day and said "why do I have all this stuff?". It just ended, and for some very strange indescribable reason, I feel oddly guilty about it, like I'm not doing my duty to preserve artifacts from a more splendid time or something.

      My kids read comics but don't care about them like I did. That's fine I guess (you kinda want your kids to share your passions) but I feel a sense of (loss/regret/chagrin?) when I think about it too much.

  2. Hey Mike -- I'm loving your blog. In answer to your question, I'm taking advantage of my local comic book retailer's good will and foisting what I don't want on him. Whatever he doesn't want (which is very little) is going to the local charity resale store down the street. He only gives me 5 cents per book, but that's better than nothing, especially if it comes in the form of store credit.

    I'm still buying single issues of series that I really like, and I'm whittling away at the collection I've got now (8 long boxes, maybe?) until I have the tightest, most amazing comic collection ever. :) I'm going to hold out on buying trades as long as possible -- I just don't like them as much as I do single issues. I have that collector's mentality that you've been talking about, and nothing else quite satisfies it the way comics do.

    Thanks for asking!

    p.s. I have no idea how to log into your comments system. My name's Thom H.

  3. Hi Thom,

    Eventually, the collectors mentality faded in me. Don't know why; maybe it started when I had kids, or when my album collection was destroyed by a flood (story for another time).

    The important thing is that you enjoy them and you're not into it as an "investment" (Har).

    Thanks for commenting!