Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"Everyone Wants to Be a Comic (BOOK COLLECTOR, that is.)"

Recently, "Elmo's Junction" was linked to over at Fred Hembeck's site, "Fred Sez". It's not that I don't want to return the favor and link his site over here(but if you just click on that red lettering you'll be right there), but you may notice that the only site I have linked is actually my OTHER blog site, "Beatles & Bizarros". On that "B&B" blog you will indeed find Fred's pages, as well as many other fine folk and great links. Anyway, I figure if you've been interested enough to look at what I have to say in this space you've probably already checked out "B&B" and seen said links. With this being my conception of what you've already done, then I know that YOU know, I like old comic books. After all, the whole theme of my other blog IS dealing with comic books. And it's not that I don't want to talk about comics here. It's just that I have other things I'd like to dwell upon as well. That doesn't mean I won't post anything ever here on the subject; I will, occasionally, like I'm going to do today.

I want to explain why I don't purchase modern comics; that is, comics published mainly after 1989 or so. Here are some of those reasons as follows:

1) Comic books are no longer available , at least in my area, on the old "spin" racks in drug stores, gas marts, etc., so my main source of buying new stuff would be to travel some 35 miles or better to the closest comic book specialty shop or get them through the mail via a subscription service.

2) Cost. Comic books today run around $3. a pop. Honestly, I don't know how young kids not working a steady job can afford to collect many at that price. It's hard enough for an adult with a steady paycheck to keep up with many titles.

3) Comics to me contain a great amount of nostalgic value. I prefer to remember my childhood heroes rather than their images and history constantly being revamped by every new writer that wants to make them over in their own image. Most writers these days seem to feel that they are the next John Byrne, Frank Miller or Alan Moore, always re-creating my favorite characters into a vision of what "they think they OUGHT to be".

Now it's not like I haven't read any modern comics at all, because I have. I've read hundreds, even thousands of comic books from the 1990 to Current era. I just don't pay full price for them when I do buy them, because I obtain them in lots, usually from dealers at flea markets, or fellow collectors cleaning out stuff they're no longer interested in or just don't want , or I get them from hitting the various local yard sales. I also buy several books from the discounted boxes at my comic book store. I've paid as little as a nickle or six cents to $1. each for what I want. When I have to take a large amount in a lot group, many of these I never read. They end up in my own yard sale quarter box, along with any duplication, or I RE-lot them out to another collector or comic book dealer.

Usually out of any said lot, 35% to 50% I'll pull to read, but maybe only 10% to 25% of these will ever actually make it into my collection. Most of the time I spend more on backing boards and bags for them than I've actually spent on the books themselves.

Many times I've had newer titles recommended to me by those who purchase such and whose judgement and good taste I trust, and some times I've gone out and obtained said comics to read and keep. More than often I find them in collected trade paperback volumes, which I prefer, since they're easier to find and usually cheaper to purchase in a collected format. In this format they are also easier to store.

The last current title I can recall purchasing on any sort of regular basis was the current series of Marvel's THOR. My local grocery store was actually carrying some comic books on their magazine rack for a few months and I bought issues #'s 45 thru 49. When they stopped carrying the book, I made no great effort to go out and continue purchasing it. That was...what? Two or three years ago now? (I really haven't the slightest idea what the current number is of that title!) So you can see, it's been a while now since I bought something new from the racks!

And I'm sure that even if I did have easy access to purchasing new comics, I'd still buy very few. Even when the spin racks were still around locally in the 1980's I didn't buy over 3 or 4 new books a week. Some of the newer books I HAVE picked up, at least in trade paperback collections, have been things like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "Jack Staff: Everything used to Be Black and White", and I still pick up an occasional collected volume of some DC-Vertigo title. Current situations involving "Long John" heroes interest me the least these days. There's still too much of a flood of them on the market and their names and powers can be easily interchanged. Most of what I find interesting comes from the NON-mainstream titles and Independent Publishers which I've found to , in general, not be totally corrupted by big business profits and still retain a few ideas of originality, as well as the pure love of what they produce.

If I want to know what's happening with the older mainstream characters these days, well...there's plenty of fellow comic book collectors that'll keep me up-dated.


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