Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rare comics

An issue of Action Comics #1 is coming up for sale. It could possibly top $1,000,000. So, what is your collection likely to be worth?

Probably not much.

This comic book is special because it was the first appearance of Superman, the first costumed superhero. It is also very, very rare for several reasons.

One is that it was aimed at kids. Kids are hard on their possessions. They wear them out and throw them away. 

It was meant to be a disposable medium. Comic books are printed on cheap paper which doesn't last long. The publishers didn't want you to save your comic books. They wanted you to read it, throw it away, then buy the next issue.

There was no collectible market when this was printed. Comic books were saved almost by accident. The collector's market didn't really take off until the 1960s. In between there were several paper drives during World War II. Most comic books and pulp magazines were donated to those to help the war effort.

Nowadays comic books are printed on better paper and they are sold to adults who know about the collectible market and hope to cash in on it some day.

In one of his books (I'm too lazy to look it up right now), Stan Lee admits that they pumped the collectibles market in order to sell more comic books. They would print issues with two different covers and the hard-core collectors would buy both because they didn't know which would be more valuable in the future. They would use any excuse to start a comic over with a new #1 issue because collectors guaranteed that these would be sellouts.

The result is that none of these have any collectible value because there is no shortage.

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