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Speculative Returns

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Now that 2 comics have sold for over a million dollars each, what’s next?

No matter how you look at it, it was pretty exciting to hear the news this past week that two comic books sold for over a million dollars each: the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1 and the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27.  I mean, these are comic books, the things we all read and love, and two of them were deemed to be that valuable. That’s got to do some good in raising the esteem of an industry still clamoring for a sense of respectability.

But part of me is concerned that we might see the return of the “these things are gonna put my kids through college” mentality.  I’m not against higher education, I just don’t want to see the value of our art form reduced to a get-rich-quick scheme for the sake of popularity.

     

I’ve never had a problem with comics being unpopular or a niche market. I enjoyed that my particular interest was not consumed by the masses. It didn’t bother me when the other kids laughed at me for reading comics. I even faced the reproachful eye of my 6th grade teacher by asking if I could do a book report on the Elf Quest series.

I’m still mad about being turned down on that. Come on, it was 6th grade! Other kids were reading Judy Blume; it’s not like we were doing the Classics.

And collectability had its place as well. I remember my mother have a conniption fit when I spent $8 on an Amazing Spider-Man #42 that I found in a back-issue shop so I could read for the very first time MJ telling Peter Parker that he had hit the jackpot (I didn’t get the double entendre).

The thing is I didn’t mind being an outsider over comics because it was something that meant a lot to me. But that all changed in high school when the speculation market hit. Soon I was the go-to guy if someone wanted to get copies of the Death of Superman or to ask about how much their copy of Bloodshot #1 was worth. The answer is still: “Nothing!”

The worst part about it wasn’t the hopeless speculators, but those in the comic industry who were falling all over themselves to feed this speculation and squeeze as much out of it as they could, while they could.

     

This was the only time in my life when I was ashamed to be a comic book fan.

So, if people start to ask because they heard about those two comics selling for more than a million dollars, you go ahead and tell them that they sold for that much because they were two very important historical artifacts from 70 years ago that somehow survived to this day in great condition. And that the reason that they’re so important is that they were largely responsible for making the comic book what it is today.

That way, all we need to concern ourselves with is making great comics to entertain the audience of today.

And as an endnote, I wanted to say that one of the most interesting facts about this story was that the man who sold that Detective Comics #27 for $1,075,500 bought it for $100 back in 1970. Back then, he was told that he was out of his mind for paying that much for a comic book.

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