As kids, my brother and I heard plenty of stories about how people dug 30-year-old comics worth thousands of bucks out of their garages, and entertained fantasies that one day our own comics would be worth a mint. Throughout the 70s and early 80s, we dutifully bagged our X-Men, Fantastic Four, Richie Rich, Epic, Mad Magazines and Howard the Ducks, then stashed them in cardboard boxes to “mellow” for a few decades.
A year ago, I finally excavated the collection from mom’s basement and moved them into our own garage, planning to finally see what they were worth. Today, actually got around to hauling them down to an actual comics shop. Though we had a few gems worth upwards of $20, the bulk was of the collection was barely countable, and represented nothing but a PiTa to the store owner, who would have to put a ton of effort into re-bagging, organizing, cataloging, and pricing, only to sit on most of it for god knows how long. And that Howard the Duck #1 I prized so much fetches only $3.75 today. Likewise for all those Mad Magazines — even though some go back to the mid-60s, the market remains glutted.
Was it worth hanging onto them at all? Hardly seems like it. But there’s another factor at work here – there just aren’t as many collectors around as there once were. Fewer comics are being printed, for shrinking audiences. Young kids don’t hop off their bikes on their way home from paper routes to pick up the latest X-Men anymore – they might download them from the internet and read them on-screen. But for most kids, the internet itself has taken the place that comics once filled in our lives.
Being in the store was like living through an episode of the Simpsons. The employees tossed impenetrable inside jokes back and forth: “Avengers #117! We should totally give this to Zach for Christmas! [chuckle chuckle]. And I loved that they referred to comic books with no term other than “books.” In the end, Mr. Comicon offered me $100 for five boxes of “books.” I couldn’t do it. I understand the market forces at work here, but come on… Decided to craigslist the collection and let individuals come and pick it over. Crossing fingers.