A Hobby Ruined

Many years ago, I was an avid comics collector.  Over the course of several years, I built up a collection of over 7000 comic books.   I was a serious collector.  I had Number 1 issues, complete series, one-shots, you name it, I probably had it or was working on getting it.  I did it because it was fun.  I liked reading them, and collecting them was just a part of that.  Then came the day when I stopped.   Not because of financial reasons, although the finances of keeping up were a consideration, but because of other things that were happening.  The industry was changing.  You see, when I got into collecting, the majority of people doing it were like me – fans who enjoyed the comics, and liked having a collection of their favorites.  Then came the people who realized that there was money to be made from collecting.   Comics weren’t the only area where this was  happening.  All sorts of collectibles were experiencing the same phenomenon.   But that wasn’t what made me stop.  After all, my collection was now valuable.

What made me stop was what happened in the industry because of that.  The comic book publishers also realized that comics were now “collectibles”  and took advantage of it.  Suddenly,  new titles were being spun out.  Large numbers of limited series, special cross-overs,  one-shots,  and other gimmicks were the order of the day.  That’s  where the financial aspect started to kick in.  In order to keep a collection “complete,” instead of buying 5 or 10 comics a week, it was now 20 or 30!    It wasn’t that  there was a drastic improvement in quality, it was just quantity.  After a while,  I realized I was on a treadmill that wasn’t going to stop itself – so I stopped myself.  I stopped collecting, and even reading comics.   A few years later, I sold off the collection for a pretty good sum of money.

Jump forward a few years.  There were a lot of movies based on comic characters coming out.  Spiderman,  X-Men, and Batman,  among others.  All comics I used to collect, and remembered fondly.  I’d heard that there was a big contraction in the comic market back in the mid-90’s, so maybe things had settled down.    I started to get curious about comics again.   Maybe, just maybe I could get back into them.   A few months of looking at what was going on in the industry cured me of that.

You see, what I remembered was that each series was mostly a stand-alone.  There might be an occasional guest appearance by another character, or once every now and then a cross-over between series, but those were rare – the “special events.”  That apparently was  no longer true.  Series throughout a publisher’s lineup were intertwined.  You wanted to keep up on the X-Men?  You’d better be prepared to buy every single issue that has an “X” in the title.  There were several, and the story lines wound through them all.  It was the same across the board – name a major character or group, and almost every story crosses series.     I understand why the publishers were doing this.  They’re in the business to sell comic books.   If they can get you to buy more than one title because you want to follow the story, that’s a sale.  It’s good for their bottom line.  You know what?  I didn’t have to do it.  So, after a brief flirtation with the idea of getting back into a hobby I used to enjoy, I decided that it wasn’t worth it.  I got out because greed ruined it – and it still does.

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Categories: Comics | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “A Hobby Ruined

  1. Market greed. Insidious
    Nice post Norbrook. Money always has been an end in itself to many but the concept is beyond levels I don’t think I have ever seen before.

    • Thanks. This is a post which has been “in draft” for about 5 years now, and I’m glad to finally get it off the “drafts” list. 😆 Since I wrote the original, and I still follow the comic industry news, it hasn’t gotten better. DC & Marvel apparently have each been through 2 or 3 major “reboots” in the last 5 years, and for some reason 🙄 their sales are shrinking.

      • I used to be a big comic book fan too and collected them but not with the intent of creating a collection or waiting for their value to increase. As and 8 &9 years old they were my source of escape and I kept them because they were like little treasures, much they way you keep a good book today.

        But as I grew older, I put childish things behind me as the saying goes, not realizing at the time that this was at least one instance where that advice should have gone unheeded.

      • My mother threw out my “collection” when I was 10. I was mildly upset at the time, but not too much. 20 years later, I realized that that particular collection would have had a current value of approximately $2000 dollars. I remember the same thing about the baseball cards we used to stick in our bicycle spokes. 😉

  2. Oh yeah! Like the new blog too.

  3. sjterrid

    I like the new blog. I remember reading Archie comics when I was little, I didn’t even think about keeping them. My husband told me he had this great big collection of comic books in the basement, but when he came home from college he found that they were thrown out. He still talks about how much money it would now be worth today.

    • Thanks! 😀 You can reassure your husband that his collection may not have been worth quite as much as he thinks, since “quality counts” along with rarity when it comes to the value of a given comic. The majority of my collection was worth about face value, and those were in “mint” or “near mint” condition. One of the most valuable ones I had was one I’d bought new on a whim. Marvel was getting ready to cancel it, so it had a minimum print run, and they decided to let a promising young artist have a shot at writing it as well. Two years later it was one of their popular series, and he’s now considered a “comic legend.” 😆 It’s currently worth $160.00 (I checked).

  4. Vic78

    The 90s ruined comics for me. It was the time of special covers. I was a Spider-Man fan. I gave up when they brought Norman Osbourne back to life. It didn’t make sense for me to follow after that stunt. I still take a peek every now and then. I like what I’m seeing from Marvel’s Ultimate line. Regular Marvel U would be better if they cut some of the fat. Every now and then I’d be surprised with the art form. DC had Kingdom Come and Emperor Joker. Jim Lee controls the creative direction of DC now. I expect good things from that. It’s still been years since I bought a comic book.

    Nice blog.

    • I got tired of it around ’88, when they were doing just about everything they could to come out with some “new” #1, super-special cross-overs, etc. These days, I just read The Gutters a webcomic that has a …twisted … take on what’s going on in the comic world, as well as the Washington Post’s comic blog. Somehow, I don’t feel any urge to get back into collecting again. 😉

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