Why your Bronze Age comics collection ain’t worth squat

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Frank Santoro is at it again, in the aptly titled American Pickers in which he advises a friend’s father that a comics collection with stickers of $20 and $15 is actually worth crappity doo doo, despite what all those “reality” (and I use the term loosely) “collectible” shows may say:

It’s a typical collection that you see floating around now. Classic Bronze Age. A run of Marvel Two-In-One. A run of Micronauts. A run of Alpha Flight. A run of Camelot 3000. Badger. Nexus. Web of Spider-Man. A good selection of valuable X-Men. A good selection of worthless Cloak and Dagger. But nothing interesting like Elektra: Assassin or Slash Maraud. You know the drill.

“How old is Tommy?” I asked.

“42,” sayeth Uncle Louie.

“Yeah, that makes sense. See, what’s happening is all the guys your son’s age are dumping their collections now. They all had the same books. So the market is flooded.”

This being Santoro, he then engages in a dreamy, selfie-inspired gallery of comics covers.

Comments

  1. Kevin Usher says:

    Copper age, not Bronze. “Classic Bronze” would be pre-1975, but I agree. Not much from the 80s of any value. Even xmen is over-valued. There are just too many high grade copies available.

  2. So there were actually people other than myself buying Bager comics back then?

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    Yup.
    Here are the variables for any collectible:
    Supply. How many exist?
    Demand. How many people want the item?
    Condition. How close to perfection is the item?

    Best method: sell entire runs on eBay. Even Heritage Auction bundles titles together on certain series.

    I think the most I paid for a comic back in the day was $8 for AS-M #252, in 1985. Now, usually less than $10.

  4. I’ve been buying up different Marvel/DC runs from the 70s and early 80s (mostly in G/VG condition) for about 5 years now because of how inexpensive they are online. It’s a better bang for my buck than most modern comics, thb. And since I didn’t start reading comics until the 90s, it’s all new to me.

  5. majorjoe23 says:

    A few years ago my neighbor’s brother died and they asked if I would come over and check out his comic collection to see if there was anything worthwhile. It was mostly early 90s stuff and I had to let them know nothing really stood out. The only thing I was questionable on was some G.I. Joe comics, since I know some pretty dedicated Joe fans.

    I felt bad telling them the issues of Youngblood Strikeforce and Clone Saga books weren’t going to result in much money. Especially when they sent me home with a bunch of food because people had given them too much.

  6. Johnny Memeonic says:

    As I said in a previous story comment section, I’ve seen firsthand that the aftermarket for print singles is dead. A lot of times an online auction will end with the winner paying more for shipping than for the books. I also recall hearing a retailer being interviewed on a podcast a year or two ago where he said he hadn’t sold a wall book (typically key issues) in like a year.

    Market flooding of old collections as mentioned in the linked article is part of it, but also cheap reprints and digital (both legal and piracy) have taken a significant chunk out of resale as well.

    And with the way people are becoming more comfortable with digital my suggestion to anyone looking to get rid of old books is either to try to sell or donate them soon before stores, libraries, etc won’t even take them from you for free.

  7. MBunge says:

    Now is probably a good time to dump your collection, unless you’re sitting on something of proven value like Golden Age Batman and Superman books, because the number of comic book readers plunged after the mid to late 90s market implosion. We went from the even the least popular Marvel Comic selling 100,000 issues in the 90s to books being considered solid hits if they sell a third of that. There’s just not going to be enough comic readers in the future to sustain a back issue market.

    And if you want to get anything for them, try using a local auctioneer. He might take a big chunk of the money but you’ll likely attract the biggest audience of people looking for old comics.

    Mike

  8. MBunge says:

    Whoops! That should be “least popular Marvel Comics in the 1980s”, not the 90s.

    Mike

  9. I’m 43 and have been considering paring down my collection. But if these backissues are worth “crappity doo doo,” I guess they’ll stay in my longboxes…

  10. This reminds me of that great docuflick TMSIDK did… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P46fxBUQjEI

  11. Why is Slash Maraud so valuable? I never heard that about that series (which is a great Moench/Gulacy title).

  12. Another thing you can do: donate your comics to a not-for-profit. I’ve donated books to Operation Comix Relief, got a tax write-off for it. RIF might also be a good place to go. You know your books’ll be going into appreciative hands.

    Lance Roger Axt
    The AudioComics Company

  13. i remember being in a very well known comic shop a year or so ago where a guy brought in 3 long boxes full of late 60s through 90s stuff. Heavy on the 70s. He had amazing stuff from marvel and dc. They picked like 10 books total and told the guy they already had at least 5 copies of everything good from his boxes.

    Every comic shop i’ve called in the past year has said their not actively buying single issues unless they’re pre 1970 or super hot collectible (read Walking Dead #1 etc)

  14. There still is a market for key issues in high grade. (Just check the auctions on ComicLink.) If you have a random Spider-Man where nothing happens, not worth much. If you have a CGC 9.8 of a key issue, it’s usually worth quite a bit.

  15. Rich Harvey says:

    Frankenstein Comics (Woodbury, NJ) purchases practically EVERYTHING that comes through the door. And somehow, they actually manage to move it. Bill Bead has sales a few times a year … he moves product …

    That one store only picked out ten books probably because they are pricing comic back issues the way they were priced in the 1980s. Look in the price guide, slap an inflated sticker on it, and hang onto the book forever. Unless the book goes through a revival, in which case you mark it up and hang onto it forever.

    Most comic shop owners with back-issues never seem to have learned that eBay has helped change the landscape. And most comics just aint worth more than a buck.

  16. David says:

    Was it Rory Root who used to tell people selling collections to bring them around back to the loading dock scale? Everything after 1974 was bought at $3 per pound or somesuch.

  17. I donated a ton of comics to my local high school in Brooklyn a few years back and they use them as rewards in classes for students. They said they went through the few thousand I sent them in about 4 months and that the kids loved them. I couldnt think of a better way to share them.

  18. v wiley says:

    Books for Troops is another good place to donate them where they will be appreciated.

    Now while there’s not many “bronze” age books worth much, there’s a lot of comics from much earlier that aren’t worth much either. Not compared to how much was published.

    But monetary value isn’t where the true value of most comics are anyway.

  19. having comics be worth some kind of money is nice, but it’s not the reason i started collecting or continue to collect to this day. i collect for the love of the hobby, which i’m sure many of you do. if you consider the value of the comics a side issue when it comes to collecting, the hobby as a whole becomes much more enjoyable. that said, i have to agree with what many of the folks here are saying, that anything past 1980 is not gonna cover the cost of your kid going to yale. over the years, i given comics away to friend’s kids and nieces and nephews that i had in doubles, had no interest in, or no longer had room for, which always seems more satisfying than selling them. right now i’m considering a way to get rid of the first twenty-one issues of spawn that i collected way back in the day, some have suggested that i use them as toilet paper, but i kinda see that as an insult to toilet paper everywhere. :)

  20. That makes me kind of sad. I have comics from the 80′s I don’t want them to be crappity do. Maybe some can be worth some money some day. I do have early X-factor including #1 issue when it came out. What about Secret Wars maybe that can be worth something some day. Well Ill keep looking at prices and we’ll just see. You are right in the comments the 90′s did not seem to be a good time to collect. I wasn’t very interested but I have started getting interested again lately. I wonder what comics today will be worth in the future. Maybe my Spider-man #700 will be worth something someday. I guess only time will tell.

  21. Well, I thinl first of all you should avoid selling to retailers. They are a middle man and need to take their cut. They are not a charity. I laugh at the idiots on those goofy reality shows, like Pawn Stars and its nerd clone Comic Book Men, who ask for retail price. As staged as they are, am am certain that is real. You are not getting the price the thing is being sold for. They need their profit. Even worse is when they ask for not what the tiings sold for online, but what unsold copies are at their asking price.

    Even ebay takes less of a cut. Sell it there. If you can meet at a safe location and are smart about it, try Craigslist. Even set up your own little dealer’s table at a comic con if you got enough stuff to sell. Though depending on the con, those can be pricy and you have to take time at a con. Even a flea market might turn a better profit than selling it to a comic shop middle man. Of course selling to a shop is just easier if you want to just move them. Plus is you want to help a local retailer you like. Also, as some have said, donating to a charity like that one for troops overseas or a local libary or school..

    @ Jonny R
    I should do more of that. Marvel and DC are dead to me today. Instead of cmlaining abput what I dislike in the crap shoveled out in current books from the big two, aI should go find the old ones I missed. Find good ones from before my time or ones I missed when I was getting nto comics.

  22. Doug Abramson says:

    My favorite exchange when someone is trying to sell a collection:

    Shop owner/manager: “You don’t really have anything worth much money here.”

    Customer: ” But I have Spawn number one!”

    I’ve heard variations of this exchange at multiple shops over the last ten years. Its always amusing and a little sad.

  23. I donate comics from my collection (from the 1980s-1990s mostly) to the library, and I give some out to trick or treaters. This year, however, I started bringing a short box of books to cons, and I sell them alongside the books I wrote. I bet I’ve made a few hundred bucks, which works for me.

  24. Dave Miller-lad says:

    The only problem with donating books past 1992 is that I don’t want to “donate” anyone crap. If some kid picked up one part of an impenetrable multi-part “epic”, even for free, that would crush their love of reading comics. Or even possibly of reading.

  25. Hey…I have Elecktra: Assassin AND Slash Maraud…

  26. Al™ says:

    Wait, so my old comics are worthless because everyone already has them. My new comics are… oh, wait again, they are digital, so I don’t actually even own them. But could I sell my password?

  27. CLiNT Poon says:

    CGC and the condition pigs have essentially killed the idea of selling your comics past 1973 or so. Anything below 9.8 is no longer considered mint. You can find copies of Marvel Two-In-One #1 in roughly 9.2 or 9.4 for $5 or $10 on eBay. Even if they were near-perfect 9.8s, $5 or $10 is all you would get, if they are not CGC’d. And if they are not keys, there is no point in getting many comics slabbed, because the final sale price will not cover the cost of slabbing. But yet most collectors consider un-slabbed books to be worthless. And they consider Near Mints to be worthless. Overstreet should even list prices for conditions below 9.0 unless the book is pre-1968, and they need to move the top grade to 9.8, because nobody will pay more than a dollar for many 70s & 80s in 9.2.

  28. DublDownDrew says:

    “having comics be worth some kind of money is nice, but it’s not the reason i started collecting or continue to collect to this day. i collect for the love of the hobby, which i’m sure many of you do. if you consider the value of the comics a side issue when it comes to collecting, the hobby as a whole becomes much more enjoyable. ”

    This x 1,000. Well said!

  29. cowgir says:

    http://comicsbeat.com/why-your-bronze-age-comics-colelction-aint-worth-squat/#comments

    I’d like to know why my Crossed collection is worth squat. Ms McDonald, Comics Should Be Good beat you to the punch, all pun intended publishing a column on you’re shock and horror reaction to a series that has existed for months if not years. Well, done. You got you’re hits and web traffic. You shit stirrers call yourselves media and press. MTV Geek has more creed than you. Now back to regularly scheduled boring retreaded topic taken from Overstreet.

  30. At least they’re worth more than our record collections.

  31. Dan Ahn says:

    The Bronze Age Nova series is going for $100 an issue.

    Daredevil #168 shows no signs of falling in price, ever.

    Those early Claremont X-Men issues trade all day long, and you’re lucky to find decent looking copies for under $30.

    But, oh yeah, sure, “Comics aren’t worth anything anymore.”

    Yeah, yeah, “Everything’s going digital now — er, like, real soon, like . . . any year now. Yeah, single issues aren’t valuable and they don’t sell.”

    Okay, if that’s the case, I’ll take all your Scott Snyder Batman issues off your hands right now, you hipster doofuses. Because they sell 150,000 copies a month and STILL appreciate in value immediately and forever.

  32. CLiNT Poon says:

    If you exclude books by Gaiman, Moore, and Miller, people don’t read comics anymore. A book that has 35,000 readers is considered a massive hit. In the 1970s, more people read books like Man-Thing and House of Mystery than currently read Snyder’s Batman. It is a niche medium, like marching bands & tap dancing recitals. Actually, marching bands can get a bigger audience than an Avengers comic. Comic shops are largely to blame with their collector mentality. Soon DC & Marvel will have to give up on the floppies, and publish straight to trade. Their companies have been superhero-only for decades, which has turned comic readers into something more akin to weird adults who collect My Little Pony memorabilia, not fans of an art-form. Even opening the book renders it worthless. Even more amazing is the fact that a book autographed by the the creator is rendered worthless, unless signed in the presence of a CGC rep that has been paid $100 to “certify”… So even it is signed by a deceased creator like Curt Swan or John Romita, their signature makes the book as worthless as a copy signed “Billy Smith, 3rd grade” or “White Power Forever!”

    If one enjoys reading comics, bit torrent sites are a less troublesome option. No one is going to pay $4 for a book that has no resale value whatsoever. Books are at least a more durable good, and retain some degree of value, because more than 50,000 people read books. An autographed 1st edition of “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” is actually worth more than an un-autographed copy. You might consider your copy of Dark Knight Returns #1 to have a resale value, but if the book has even been opened, you’d be lucky to get half of cover price for it, because it’s condition has been ruined. People aren’t going to pay $4 for books that are rendered worthless when the buyer actually reads it.

    Just go buy a tablet and find a website like PirateBay. The companies and the comic shops are reaping what the sowed, and they are the one to blame. Downloaders are only being logical, and are no more immoral or criminal than someone who taped Star Trek 2 off of HBO in the 1980s.

  33. George says:

    I have Elektra: Assassin. What’s it worth? Just kidding. I don’t plan to part with it.

    My advice: Keep the comics that mean something to you on an emotional level. Those are the ones you’re likely to reread. As for the rest: dump ‘em. If you’re not going to read them again, they’re just clutter. Pass them one to someone who will read them.

    And don’t expect to get rich from selling them, unless you have a nice stash of Golden or Silver Age comics.

  34. George says:

    “So even it is signed by a deceased creator like Curt Swan or John Romita, their signature makes the book as worthless as a copy signed “Billy Smith, 3rd grade” or “White Power Forever!” ”

    John Romita Sr. and Jr. are both still alive.

    ” A book that has 35,000 readers is considered a massive hit. In the 1970s, more people read books like Man-Thing and House of Mystery than currently read Snyder’s Batman.”

    Can’t argue with that. There were months in the ’70s when House of Mystery and House of Secrets outsold all of DC’s superhero books. Comics then were a mass medium, not the niche medium it is today.

  35. When you guys talk about things like “Comics are not worth anything any more..” or “…people just don’t read comics any more…” or “I a consumer that walks around calling my self an ‘American’, even though I have no big picture thinking, take no part in being aware or or acting in my local community, have no idea who my congressman is -what gerrymandering is or what it has to do with data mining and social networking sites -or who makes up my local legislature…”, you need to be aware of what it is you are really referring to:

    1. Conservative-extremists (Red Scare / Christian-conservative-extremist tactics that lead to the Comics Code Authority…).

    2. – Manga is really the top seller. Manga incorporates ALL GENRES.
    ***So since Marvel and DC run the comic business in the USA, why would they want to lose market share by allowing other genres to be popular??? Marvel and DC could break into other genres, but that would mean creating new markets -which means VOLATILITY, and people who are Executives know how to manage creating their “golden parachutes”, manage their severance packages, show MYOPIC profits each quarter to keep their jobs, and they know how to keep people under them busy so the their subordinates will not do anything more than what they are told to do –which in a corporate world means having your dignity chipped away at in between sitting in grueling traffic every day, so why would someone in charge of Publishing, Finance, Human Resources, Accounting, Sales and Distribution want to have anything to do with something they know nothing about? Please keep in consideration this 21st Century fact:
    Most ‘Americans’ spend their time as a consumer, sitting in traffic, sitting in a cubicle, sitting in front of advertisements disguised as entertainment constantly interrupted with commercials (TV and cable and the Internet).

    3. –As consumers, we have pavlovian impulses that automatically think if Marvel and DC are not publishing something, a new artist, a new style, a new size for the actual physical form of the ‘book’ / ‘,magazine’, then we “instinctually” decide it must not be worth reading:
    *** I ask you: How can you expect Marvel and DC to cause any type of ‘change’ for something new, something to advance the sequential story telling medium that would especially have people stop calling it “comics”, when their history is simply a culmination of decisions made to comply with the following?:
    A. conservative-extremists (Red Scare tactics that lead to the Comics Code Authority -talk about anti-change…),
    B. homo-erotic power fantasy fulfillment (hey if you are a boy growing up and you are not into watching men wear tight spandex patting each other on the butt when they are not chasing each other while throwing a ball around, then read comic books),
    C. comics created to *enable* and *perpetuate* the speculators bubble from 85 – ~91: all of a sudden Cloak and Dagger are mutants… everyone’s got some kind of mutant schtick if not Wolverine on the cover whenever sales are falling, or hey check it out “First Issue! Collectors Item!!” is printed on the cover, Spider-Man is married, and check out Max Landis’ “the death and return of superman” on YouTube…
    D. comics created under a bankrupt management, like Marvel from 94 – 2000 was pathetic. -Here we are calling Marvel a “leader” and they run their company into the f*(^!n8 ground. Oh my gosh, so then what?!?!
    E. …Let me tell ya ‘then what’: After the blessing that was NuMarvel, 2000 – 2004, we then have Quesada following the directive of executives and created stories that would help with the Disney buyout, like things that always worked were thrown out the window -Spider-man’s identity revealed (overall I loved Civil War though -but everything afterwards post 2004 is not for me), turning the Avengers into more like the Justice League (because yeah, like JL was working soooo ‘great’ back then… -its soo obvious the out of touch execs were like, ‘why cant spider-man and wolverine be in some big famous group like the Justice League? Ah-waaaah, i’m an exec and thats what i want so lets do it -lets have no distinction between what makes the X-men worth reading over the Avengers… yeah, that makes sense if you want to make sure that people know the brand “Wolverine” is associated with the brand “Spider-man” so that new consumers -because we are no longer people/human beings- will not mistake them for being part of DC).

    The term “comic book” alone enables a narrow minded view that brings up images of mainly mail homo-erotic power fantasy fulfillment stories containing cheap dialog, predictable rants, and not until recently given much consideration as art. “Comic books” distract us from appreciating the “sequential story telling” medium as a whole. American Super Hero sequential is the worst form of sequential story telling -Bam! Pow! I said it. American Super Hero sequential is in need of an enema,… It is obvious our sense of “critical thinking” has been reduced to mush in the past few decades since the birth of the television -which happened to be in accordance with the birth of *the mass production of oil and plastic* (collectible statues, mylar acid free bags, getting your comic graded, movie/TV merchandise). ‘Create a mindset that thinks it needs to base its sense of Self Value on purchasing a sh!+ load of plastic (Pop Culture is born) just as much as it bases it’s Self Value on the factories themselves (the classic expression w/no regard to environmental consequences or appreciating the quality of a town/city’s “livability”: “hey a new factory is being built, so the economy must be getting better, so that is fortunate for us, and let’s put in more hours at work so we can buy that company’s stock…”), and you will get people posting silly comments here :-)

  36. The generation that is growing up with the American Super Hero is like no other brain washed consumer generation before it. No one knew who the Avengers were in the 70′s or 80′s -that was something that would make me a target for abuse if kids at school found out I read “comics”. Not so today :-D You have people basing their producing, directing, writing, and acting careers on these character-based assets that are so strong they survived the speculator’s bubble from the late eighties / early nineties… -that says loads about the versatility of American Super Hero sequential, but it also says just how sh@+ upon the Super Hero genre is in comics, as “profit and cost savings” are valued more than developing the quality of the sequential medium. Instead of sequential being used as a vehicle for education, journalism (Joe Sacco), training, creating awareness about solutions and issues, and in proving things like insightful dialog or cutting edge art, sequential has been used as “comics” to mainly instigate the mass consumption of plastic merchandise and in data mining (must create a *login account* or download *cookies* to view comics online, and both of which track all of your Internet use). Although today people are like -Why should I buy something published (in print or online) in these pamphlet sized little booklets that are interrupted with advertisements?-, but now this new generation of sequential readers are exposed to the option of advertisement-free graphic novels and trade paperbacks. Just the new 21st Century consumer marketing term “graphic novel” is more acceptable than “comic book” (but I prefer just calling all of it “sequential” -which can be published in either a ‘magazine’, ‘comic book’, or ‘newspaper’ sized formats). The American Super Hero will now be read via a login account by not only a growing number of people in North America, but by anyone on *every continent on this planet*. If India and China are going to replace the USA as the “number one consumer” then it is inevitable that Marvel and DC are going to cater to these cultures. They are N O T going to create much as far as sequential goes for the Super Hero genre, as these multi-national corporations are going to create a new speculators bubble in Inda, because those consumers are not privy to how terrible the one we had here in the USA (’85-’95), as it’s gruesomeness lasted until 2000/2001. Its soo weird how we all say “The economy is getting better so life must be getting better…” (instead of saying “the DEMOCRACY is getting better…”), and we all act like how acceptable it is to be all about profit, and they totally neglect how things like Super Heroes in American sequential, have nothing to do with telling great sequential stories, and everything to do with enabling, and influencing the mass consumption of plastic merchandise. So when you say “… no one is reading comics” or “the comic book is dying” -Good! I cant wait for Super Hero “comics” to die, and then the Super Hero sequential can have room to live -so we can start actually getting our money’s worth at $4.50 an issue, while we spend most of our time in traffic and having our dignity chipped away at in a cubicle using things that are made to break down and take our money (instead of made to work and last).

    The generation of kids growing up today are going to experience a new Great Depression in the 2020′s that will bring them to reading comic books and sequential books that will create a larger market than we do now… for those that survive the Next Great Depression… ooeeewww!!! waahhhh!!! aren’t you scaaaaareeed of the Next Great Depression????!!? -its oookaaaaayyyy, just read your sequential! You’ll be fine, and everything you do will be traced, logged, data mined and cross referenced in predictive analytic software then applied in social engineering while web sites and other mediums are designed and marketed… ;-)

  37. johnrobiethecat says:

    Good topic (though sourced from another site) but I don’t see these things often enough. Naturally, I like what’s happened to society & niche comics ranting that come these kind of articles,

    Geez, what’s happened to the Beat? It used to have interesting topics. Its getting so dull now. MOF sounds like he was doing a McDonalds commercial for DC the last time, Thought it was just that month long over-coverage of Comic Con that nullified senses , Perhaps Publishers Weekly type stuff is popular with libraries and bookstores but nobody is fascinated with the behind the scenes world of My Little Pony, really. Not even libraries or bookstores so why focus on it so much.

    Anyhow, I agrre Bronze Age to Image Age comics will never be valuable like the DVDs, CDs and Rubiks Cubes from that time. Collectors retail stores and publishers started the Greed Age and thats its all just clutter. Image started better paper for comics and that was a significant thing. Before these companies fade out into Trade paperback and digital entities. It’s something to consider what the mentality of collecting and overrating the Image artists back in the 90s did to the field, Is their anything they did thats even readable? Jim Lee or Todd McFarlanes stuff is still unreadable even ad they couples with top creator names. Its not that they aren’t talented but are such huckster aesthetic that they don’t make good comics. I see some beautifully organized retail stores in places like NY but on the rack are a fiesta of terrible or pretentious comics on very nice paper. But nobody not inundated in the comics culture of today knows where to start. (Ultimates? Young Avengers? Avengers Arena? who can sort that out?). .Trades from the Big Two today usually fall apart because of cheap glue and poor materials but they charge top dollar. There’s an irony in that comic books themselves now are more long lasting and durable than the trades but are the end products of a disposable consumer comics aesthetic. None of these byzantine stories make sense and made by these industry gatekeepers which populate both the independent and corporate community at the same time. Here I do Thor or Spiderman then here I get to write my NOIR /SPACE stuff. Same glum, cynical voices everywhere.

    (btw,The fun Hawkeye issues , a few I like alot, seem cool to me because of that Manga story quality which may be one the only entertaining avenues left in comics these days. Marvel seemed fun again for a while)

  38. Bring back NuMarvel!

  39. George says:

    For older readers (like me), it was heartening to see a few war, western and horror titles among DC’s “New 52″ offerings. It was a reminder of a time when DC — and Marvel and everyone else — published comics in a wide variety of genres, for a mass audience that wasn’t obsessed with superhero continuity.

    But did anyone seriously expect I, Vampire or G.I. Combat to last very long? For the last 30 years, only one genre has succeeded in mainstream, all-ages comic books: superheroes. Fans who want something else have to go to indie comics or Vertigo (although endless doses of Vertigo’s “dark fantasy” can get tiresome, too).

    Comics lost their vast audience of casual readers — the audience that bought Sgt. Rock, Man-Thing, and House of Mystery — when they retreated into the comic shops. The shops’ regular customers tended to be superhero fans and collectors. The other genres died out in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

    Reaching a larger aucience would require a different business model (less reliance on shops), a different presentation (no more pamphlets), and different kinds of stories (less catering to longtime fans who want “big continuity events” that are unreadable to newcomers, and fewer company-wide crossovers that require depleting one’s bank account).

    But I don’t think DC or Marvel have any real interest in expanding their readership. And I don’t think they know how to produce or market anything different.

  40. Al™ says:

    George, well said. The casual reader is more like the ‘casualty reader’. Gone.

  41. johnrobiethecat says:

    I agree, George nailed it.

    Adding to that most comic shops are awful, particularly the ones with longboxes everywhere and dudes vegetating in the corner. And I’ve been fortunate enough to see some brilliant retailers nearby making lemons out of lemonade with whats on the stands with their tasteful design & presentation sense but they are clearly the minority. The comics press should be bit more honest in it coverage (the print business is turning around anyday now type-stuff) Do retailers really think they are going to benefit against the option of digital & buying trades on Amazon (if anything is worth reading) , comic shops aren’t on the rise. The content isn’t that interesting to start. These guys are being played by Marvel, Image, DC etc,,,The public is really not going to go into them because of an Iron Man or Superman movie or Image launches a new space noir? Be serious. …The big companies are playing them till their booster rocket role falls back to Earth and they’ve rided that horse as long as they could. $3,99 books, $4.99 single issue books of and the public will be flocking in to try them out? Don’t know about that.

  42. Alan Smith says:

    If there is no market how comes the likes of mile high comics get away with such high prices? In mile high case they keep spamming me with emails of how many hundreds and thousands copies of nineties stuff they’ve bought. They haven’t as far as know gone bust yet and it costs money to store all those back issues.
    It may be that there are a lot of suckers out there but even so that means there is a market(even if it consists of suckers!).
    I was looking closing some holes in my collections(of not very rare stuff 90s stuff) and the prices on some of the issues were like $20 – $30 .
    I’m hoping with comic print runs so low now hopefully in thirty years when I retire some of them may be worth something :)

  43. CLiNT Poon says:

    Neil Gaiman’s recent reveal that U.S. comic shops tried to prevent Sandman from being collected into trade because it would kill their “business model” really sums up what killed the comic book. Comic shops have never cared about readers, and have never respected comic books as an art form. To say they do is akin to saying that pimps have respect for the women they whore out. Collectors have always been viewed as easier marks, and now there are very few collectors. I honestly feel foolish for the money I have spent over the years buying comics. I may has well have thrown it down a toilet.

  44. George says:

    When I lived in a small town and had few options, I frequented a comic shop that carried NO trades or graphic novels. The shop owner explained that trades were “killing comics,” so he refused to stock them. That was a very narrow-minded idea of comics — that comics have to be a stapled-together pamphlet.

    If not for the teenage dudes who gathered there for gaming, that small shop would have gone out of business.

    In fact, most shops have had to diversify into games, DVDs, CDs and paperbacks to stay afloat. You’re not gonna last long just selling pamphlets to the dwindling, aging pool of collectors. Even some of the better-equipped shops only sell trades grudgingly. It’s not their “business model.”

  45. R.B. Lloyd says:

    I had two comic shops in my area. One closed because of low sales and not diversifying product. There were no trade paperbacks or other comic related products. The surviving one ripped me off. When the Spider-Man CD Rom collection was released the box was open. I can only speculate that the item was burned on the comic shop’s computer. However the owner told me I have pay full price or forget it. I forgot it and left and haven’t been back there since.

    By the way, many years later, the owner of this shop was fined by law enforcement for copying DVD’s and other software for the rental market.

    It’s because of this experience I now buy all my comic paperbacks online at Amazon.com.

  46. R.B. Lloyd says:

    As far as new comics are concerned, I don’t buy them. I only buy material from the 1970′s. In trade paperback, DVD Comics or Marvel Essentials, or the Black and White DC Showcase titles in paperback form. To me the characters are completely unrecognizable from the ones I grew up with.

    However with the bad economy, I’ll only buy the animated Marvel and DC movies on DVD. Sure I like the movies too, but that is the extent of my collecting now. Comics are just something I bought when I had the money in my college days. The last sagas I bought were back in 1986. The Watchmen, Dark Knight, Crisis on Infinite Earths and Man of Steel. After that it was all over. I had a care to pay for and adult responsibilities and no time for nothing else.

  47. Damon says:

    Hurry u and Donate My Comics Before People wont even take them for free ?? Yeah Right !! Not all Of us were Thinking Dollar Signs when we Collected These Comics as Kids.. I could care Less What They are Worth They mean so Much to Me That This is the last thing on my mind .. I own my on Piece Of History and Art and My childhood Memories are worth More Than any amount of Money..

  48. Robert says:

    I just found this website where you can find out the value of your comics:
    http://www.comicsvalue.com

  49. Bronze age comics as well as copper can actually be quite lucrative. Atleast as long as you deal with key books. They don’t even have to be the highest grade as everyone keeps explaining, but as long as you get in for the right price and sell smart, which means exhibit some patience you can do well. Some obvious key books being, Green Lanter 76, Hulk 181, Amazing Spiderman 129, New Mutants 98, X-Factor 6, Batman 232. I guess I’ll agree though as far as the newer modern stuff goes in the 90′s and even some copper 80′s comics like x-men you do need to get in for high grades to make a decent buck back.

  50. Bobby says:

    As one of the dying breed who only reads print still, I do believe the paper medium will disappear sooner rather than later. Would that not create an increase in demand for the existing print issues regardless of which age they are from? This new digital only age creates a finite number of actual comics which can be held and collected and my guess is that people like me will divert most of their resources towards back issues acquisition instead of new material in “the cloud”. We will become like the vinyl record purists who refuse to let the printed comic completely die. As for comic shops , the ones I have frequented definitely took collectors for granted and the are now reaping what they have sowed. Sure the internet helped kill these stores ,but brother they would just keep back issue prices artificially high and sit on them for years ,or worse yet, withhold new issues that they knew would be in high demand, then sell them one month later at a premium price without even giving us a chance at buying for cover price the month of release. Maybe that was smart business for the short term ,but that just shows contempt for your clientele. “Sorry pal. It wasn’t on your pull list.” Teenagers don’t have much money fellas , but they will remember that you chiseled them years later when they do have it. That’s my comic store rant for now sorry.

  51. I believe Heidi is speaking more about the “Copper Age” than she is about the “Bronze Age”. Perhaps she should adjust the name of this article? With early Bronze Age titles like Batman, Detective Comics, Swamp Thing, Tomb of dracula, House of Secrets, House of Mystery, Amazing Spiderman, Daredevil and a boat load of others being scouped up by eager collectors, Bronze Age comics are certainly not worth squat. According to GPA Analysis the percentage of comics being sold in the Bronze Age rivals that of the much sought after Silver Age. Obviously nothing will touch the demand for key books in the Silver Age, but key Bronze Age books will continue to slowly rise in value given the supply still outweighs demand. Even with more high grade Bronze Age books turning up, theres no slowing down rising value with certain key issues. Dont believe me, just look at what books like Giant Size X-Men (first new X-Men), Batman 227, Tomb of Dracula 10 (first Blade) or The Incredible Hulk 181 (first Wolverine) were selling for just 10yrs ago.

  52. Doctor Comix says:

    People in retailing and reselling have been dealing with this for nearly a decade now. The only way you can sell Copper and up books is in lots and to say it’s a buyer’s market is not the half of it. A lot of Bronze books aren’t exactly flying off the shelves either.

    People with kids know that any future for comics is digital. Kids spend all their time on their devices, the rare exception being the latest teen fiction novel craze. But those are short-lived as any boyband.

  53. “As far as new comics are concerned, I don’t buy them. I only buy material from the 1970′s. In trade paperback, DVD Comics or Marvel Essentials, or the Black and White DC Showcase titles in paperback form. To me the characters are completely unrecognizable from the ones I grew up with.”

    So true! Marvel is no longer Marvel.

  54. jstsauveur says:

    When it comes to pre 90′s comics i believe they will increase in value over the long haul. For a number of reasons…

    The first is looking at the big picture, cultural and societal trends… not just whats going on within the comic world/industry. Life in general is a journey of liberation. In your teenage years you seek liberation from your parents/authority. Your 20′s you are becoming sexually and socially liberated. In your 30′s and 40′s it is all about financial liberation and hopefully by your 50′s you can finally enjoy all your freedom. With that said, children growin up today in a heavily dominated digital/technology driven world will eventually rebel against it and search for simpler, more nostalgic times. Comic books offer a good outlet for that as in the past they have done a very good job of capturing the essence/time in which they where created.

    Secondly, along with the first reason, comic books have proven to be more than just a fad like rubic cubes, pet rocks, and bennie babies. The comic book’s longevity and continuous connection to pop culture has made them more than just a passing craze (yes im talking about superhero comics). This puts them in the realm of worth collecting and preserving over generations.

    Today’s market is a perfect storm as the original collectors are reaching retirement age and parting with their beloved collections all at the same time… this has actually caused the opposite of a bubble… the prices are currently deflated. Those of you in your late 20′s and early 30′s who are snatching up all the great nostalgic books from 60′s and 70′s at basement bargain prices may be able to cash in big time when the children of today’s overly technology dominated generation reach the age where they have decided enuff is enuff and ache to dis-connect from their digital realities.

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  1. Ace Parking says:

    Ace Parking

    Why your Bronze Age comics collection ain’t worth squat — The Beat

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