Tag Archives: Collecting

Writing on a Classic Comic

I wrote on a Golden-Age Flash comic book the other day.

Not much. Just two numbers, three letters, and a couple of short strikethrough lines.

But you know, it took effort to bring myself to do it!

I’ve been collecting comics since I was around seven years old. I’m 34 now. And while I’ve never been the type to freak out when opening an action figure package, or even opening the covers of a comic book, I’ve always* tried to take care of my comics. Not as an investment — I have no illusions there. Just because I want to make them last.

So what happened? How did someone from the bag-and-board set come to actually put pen to paper and write on a collector’s item nearly twice his own age?

It had already been written on…and it was wrong.

Last week I won an auction on eBay for a coverless copy of what had been identified as Flash Comics #72 (June 1946). Based on the stories, it was actually Flash Comics #74 (August 1946). No big deal — I didn’t have either of them to start with, so it was something new either way. The problem is that a previous owner had actually written the wrong issue number and date in the corner of the splash page. (Interestingly, they had written the right cover date first, then crossed it out when they concluded it was actually #72 instead.)

Sure, I hate writing on collectibles. But I also hate leaving errors uncorrected. (Just look at this poll on correcting typos that I ran a few weeks ago.) Finally, I decided that if I ever forgot that it wasn’t really #72, or if it ended up in someone else’s collection, it would be better not to have the wrong information there. And as far as selling it goes, as long as I kept the writing small, it couldn’t be worse than what was already there.

Even so, it was a tougher decision than it really should have been. Margin annotations on newsprint should not be a big deal!

*OK, always since I realized that 7-year-old me was making a mistake trying to create his own collected editions of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew by binding them together with the only tool I had that was suitable: scotch tape. Apparently I wanted to be a trade reader before there were any trades around to read.

Speed Reading: Things to Think About

More linkblogging! Here are some (mostly) non-Flash-related posts on general comics, fandom, and online community issues.

Orbital Vector analyzes an aspect of super-speed that’s usually glossed over: Just How Old is the Flash, subjectively? (via dhusk’s comment on the Flashes’ experience post)

Techland has eight questions for comics creators to consider before putting a book on the market. (via @SpeedsterSite)

Multiversity Comics looks at some of the pros and cons of waiting for the trade.

Comic Vine has 5 Things to be Aware of When Buying Back Issues.

What do websites with open comments do when they realize that people are jerks? Reining in Nasty Comments. (via @ThisIsTrue) I’m reminded of Penny Arcade’s expression of the Greater Internet ****wad Theory (NSFW language): Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total ****wad.

Technologizer tracks down the origin of the term Fanboy (via The Beat)

High Five Comics considers The Problem with Madame Lady Girl-Woman.

In the 1940s, Crash Comics introduced a super-hero named Blue Streak. He was a “skilled fighter.” With that name, how did they not make him a speedster?

There have been a lot of articles on the battle for the future of Comic-Con International, but one question jumped out at me in this one at Deadline Hollywood: Jeff Katz asks, “Are you a fan show with trade elements, or are you a trade show that lets in fans…or is there a happy medium?”

Weekly Comics Rule

Tilting at Windmills’ column on periodicals at CBR got me thinking about my comic book buying habits. I’ve been making the weekly trip to the comic store for well over a decade, but that’s been changing lately. Since I’ve cut back to about 10 monthly books, it’s not uncommon for a week to go by with nothing on my list, or with only one or two items. It hardly feels worth it to go to the store for a single comic book unless it’s something I really want to read immediately, so I’ve found myself skipping those weeks and picking up several weeks’ worth of comics at once.

So how about you? Do you have to get your new comics “fix” every week, or do you save it up for one big monthly trip? Or something in between?

Update: The poll results are in. With 122 people responding, nearly half (43%) said they went to the comic store every week. The surprise was that the second-most popular response wasn’t every other week (7%) or even every month (12%), but those who only bought comics occasionally — a full quarter of those who replied!

In short, buying habits cluster around the Wednesday crowd and the bookstore crowd — and the bookstore crowd is a lot bigger than I expected. I don’t necessarily mean literally buying comics at book stores rather than comic stores, but people who buy their comics the way most people buy books: when they have the opportunity, or when something specific comes out.

Flash Comics #1 Sells for $450,000

It’s not a million, but a near-mint copy of Flash Comics #1 recently sold for $450,000 on Heritage Auctions. This 1940 comic book features the first appearances of both the Flash and Hawkman, and lesser-known characters Johnny Thunder and the Whip. This “finest known copy” of the issue previously changed hands for $273,125 in January 2006 and was ranked the fifth most expensive comic book in 2008. The new buyer placed an anonymous offer through the Heritage Auctions website.

This comic book is part of the remarkably well-preserved Mile High Collection. In August 2008, HA pulled in $553,583 for issues #2-24 and #60 from the same set.

They’ve also got a copy in Fine/Very Fine condition that’s asking a mere $12,500

If you’re like me, half a million — or even $12,500! — is a bit out of your price range. 🙂 I mean, I spent four years looking for a copy of Flash Comics #33 that I could get for around fifty bucks!

Not to worry: the budget reader can pick up the first Flash and Hawkman stories for a lot less in the Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 1 and Golden Age Hawkman Archives, Vol. 1. The issue has also been reprinted in full at least twice, in 1975’s “Famous First Edition” series and again in a 2000 “Millennium Edition.”

Golden Age: Completing the Set & Tracing the Origins of the Shade

It’s going to be a long time (if ever) before I track down the entire Golden Age run of the Flash, but I’ve finally tracked down the last item on a list I’ve been trying to complete for four years.

Getting Started

For the longest time I just assumed Golden Age comics would cost too much to collect. Then in late 2005 I picked a maximum, bid on several auctions on eBay (not expecting to win), and actually won two of them. They weren’t in good condition, but one of them was complete, and all I wanted to do was be able to read the stories.

So I took the appearance lists for those Golden Age villains who had survived into the Silver Age and beyond — villains who had returned like the Fiddler and the Thinker, or who had been re-imagined like Star Sapphire, the Turtle or the Thorn — removed anything that I had as a reprint, and made a list of books to track down.


The first year I had pretty good success, and bought a bunch of other Golden Age books. I read them, indexed character appearances, and discovered forgotten recurring characters like the Worry Wart, Deuces Wilde, the Eel and the Keystone City Liars Club. After a while, though, the supply of (relatively) cheap, reader’s-grade copies on eBay dried up. Cons didn’t help because, as near as I can tell, most Golden Age collectors do it for the history. They’re looking for the books that are in the best condition possible, so that’s what dealers bring with them.

Pursuing the Shade

The one book I most wanted from the beginning proved to be the hardest to find: Flash Comics #33, the first appearance of the Shade. After four years, I finally found it. Last month a falling-apart copy showed up on eBay starting at $50, in a lot with two other books in much better condition. I figured it would quickly move beyond my price range, and didn’t even bother bidding — but I did put a watch on it. The day it closed, eBay sent me a reminder. Amazingly, it was only up to $55, so I put in a bid. Even more amazingly, it only went up to $56. To my astonishment, when I checked my email the next morning, there hadn’t been any more bids. I’d won!

It’s a strange feeling — a mix of astonishment and exhilaration — to finally track down something I’d sought for so long. I wrote up most of this post that day, but held off publishing it, just in case something went wrong.

It took a while, but the book arrived today. Continue reading

Drifting Out of the Mainstream

I can relate to 4thLetter!’s David Brothers when he talks about losing interest in super-heroes, or at least in Marvel and DC. I’ve been primarily a DC fan since the early 1980s, but I’ve found myself buying fewer and fewer DC books over the last few years.

Why? Well…

  • My tastes have changed. Lately, I find myself drawn more to the genres I tend to read in prose — science fiction and fantasy — and less to super-heroes.
  • DC’s general tone has shifted to one that just doesn’t interest me.
  • After reading comics for 25 years, I’ve gotten jaded.
  • I’d rather just read stories than keep up with an entire universe. (I’m not sure if that’s a matter of taste or being jaded.)

I’m down to one DC title, The Flash, and it’s in the middle of a year-long revamp. I still don’t know whether I’m going to like the new series once it actually starts. Marvel? The only book I’m following right now, The Twelve, has been stalled for over a year. I just dropped Dynamo 5, which leaves Astro City. Everything else, including my top three, is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery.

For the most part, I don’t think this is a problem. There are plenty of comics out there that are more to my tastes. It only bothers me when it affects characters that matter to me, like the Flash. It’s an odd feeling, not knowing whether I’ll be reading a Flash comic this time next year. Though with the amount of time it’s taken to release Flash: Rebirth, I’ve gotten used to it. 😉