Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don't buy this comic

I actually have two or three comic book related things I want to write about in the coming days. Just to give you a heads-up.

But this story caught my eye. In a clever bit of timing, Marvel Comics has produced a story featuring Spider-Man teaming up with President-elect Obama to stop a super villain trying to disrupt the inauguration. There's a regular cover for the comic and a "limited" variant cover featuring Obama.

Newsarama, a comic book website, has this round-up of comic book stores across the United States selling out almost as soon as they opened their doors yesterday. In most parts of North America, Wednesday is New Comic Book Day. Which is their busy day, but not many times have there been line ups hours ahead of the store opening, or bouncers to make sure people behave themselves when trying to get a copy.

Naturally enough, copies ended up on eBay shortly after stores opened. Some by people who were hoping to turn a quick profit and others, no doubt, by retailers feeling there was more money to be made selling the comics online at a huge mark-up rather than selling them at cover in their stores. For the record, if you pay $100 for this comic, you're an idiot. And the guy selling it for that much and charging $20 in shipping is scum.

So, just on the off-chance that you're thinking to yourself "Hey, I want one of those comics!" allow me to offer you some advice. And who am I to offer advice? I've been collecting comics for more than 30 years. I've also seen literally dozens of these mad rushes by the general public to own a comic book because they think it's "hot". Whether it was Captain America #25 last year, where Cap died (a new Captain America rose from the ashes nine months later, although the "original" is still dead), Superman #75 where he died (he got better), X-Men #1, which sold around seven million copies or whatever, also had the general public losing their mind.

Oddly enough, Batman also "died" this week in the sixth issue of a comic called "Final Crisis". No one really seems to care and the story is being widely panned.

The point is, whenever the general public sees a "hot" comic and thinks there's a buck to be made from it, you're going to get hosed. Trust me, I used to be a comic book "merc" (mercenary) for years. My job was to buy comics cheap and resell them to the unwary at marked up prices. Oh God, the gouging I did on those copies of "The Archies visit Newfoundland" at the Avalon Mall Flea Market. The good deeds I will have to do for the rest of my life to earn back the karma I burned there....

There are only two reasons why you should buy this comic. One, you really like Spider-Man and collect the comic on a regular basis. Secondly, you love Obama and want to own this comic as a souvenir of his inauguration. In which case I would wait until next week when Marvel is coming out with a second printing.

And that's it. If you're trying to make money off of it, if you're looking at it as an investment, don't. It so rarely works, unless you're really knowledgeable about comics. If you think buying it now, at a marked up price, so you can resell it in a few months or years time and make a fortune, it doesn't work that way.

Marvel is likely printing hundreds of thousands of copies of this comic. To put it in perspective, the 10 best selling comics published monthly barely crack 100,000 copies.

So buy a copy if you think it's a cool, neat little souvenir. Don't worry about what printing you have. And for the love of God, don't try and make money off of it. And if it's any help, the comic is being panned.

Last Five
1. You're my thrill - Holly Cole
2. Twist my arm (live) - The Tragically Hip
3. Shout me out - TV on the Radio
4. Bigger hole to fill - The Hives
5. The hardest button to button - The White Stripes*


nadinebc said...

Not sure if you were watching this story or not but Fox and Warner Bros. settled Watchmen dispute.

Karin said...

Street "vendors" in DC were selling this on just about every corner surrounding the Mall. I almost bought you one.