News: Some people still buy back issues (at least Walking Dead, but probably not Deadpool)

6 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Deadpool by Liefeld

Who wants some freshly baked bread? Mmmm.

A few weeks ago, a grade-9.9 copy of The Walking Dead #1 sold for over $10,000. That is INSANE for any comic under 50 years old, much less one from a decade ago – I mean, even a 9.8 copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 is offered at only $4,000 at Lone Star Comics! The Walking Dead is one of the few series that still has demand outpacing supply, despite the zillions of reprints in various formats (including Walking Dead Weekly, which even included the original letters pages!). I have a feeling that there’s a small group of very rich comics collector/investors out there buying this, probably the same folks who have been pushing up the prices of key 1930s-1960s comics like Action Comics #1 or X-Men #1 or whatever.

On the other end of the scale, folks are finally waking up to the fact that the first appearance of Deadpool in New Mutants #98 is WAY overpriced. I’ve been talking about this for years now – while most Marvel comics sell 10,000-50,000 copies these days, in the early ’90s they generally sold hundreds of thousands of copies. NM #98 is one of the most common back issues in comics history, but retailers have hoarded copies and jacked up prices because of a brief resurgence of interest in Deadpool stories after the Wolverine movie came out. Now there’s a website devoted to this absurdity! I love it.

The fact is, these days most new comics are pretty scarce. But the demand for most of them is so low that most back issues actually go down in value over time. I understand the economics of why a $3.99 cover price is necessary (it’s still way cheaper than most magazines), but I feel bad for creators who barely make any money doing what they love. It’s a weird market for comics right now.

At this point, pretty much every good comics story has been reprinted in book form or has a pirated scan online. Heck, we’re living in a world in which almost every piece of media is available to anyone, forever. I don’t get the appeal of needing to own an original copy of something old in 2012, when there are other options (usually of better quality) available for much less money. Maybe comics collecting will end up being classified as hoarding in the next DSM. (I don’t think of myself as a hoarder, since I read and enjoy every comic I own – I just happen to own tens of thousands of comics. I don’t need help, not at all…)

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