ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's worth a fortune.

I had a talented artist friend who works in landscapes come up to me at the MONKEY BOY Exhibit at WAM (Monkey Boy is the name of a great children's book by Jarret Krosoczka) which also features pages from his acclaimed LUNCH LADY series of children's graphic novels.  This friend was walking through the exhibit and then looked at me and said;

"This is your world, eh?"

I know he meant no offense by it-- and in truth I didn't take any-- but my reaction was 'huh?' -- I was even going to say that this wasn't my work, then I realized that because the art was cartoony and I'm a cartoonist that 1 and 1 equals 2 so this must be my world.

Even though in my work, tailored for ages 15 and up, almost every character tends to die or commit a horrendous murder, even though I've been dubbed the Dark Prince of Graphic Novels by, even though my work would cause the average LUNCH LADY reader to have nightmares for a year, it's cartoons so it's my world.

I like and respect Jarrett's work.  As a matter of fact I think doing books for kids that adults can also enjoy is not just brilliant it's needed.  As someone who suffered through endless readings of GOODNIGHT MOON I delight in the fact that there just might be a book series for the little ones that would entertain me as I read it.

But it's not the same.  It's nearly impossible to explain because to an entire generation of people, comics are comics.  If they grew up reading ARCHIE they would probably have a stroke if they read Craig Thompson's HABIBI now, and I would encourage them to.

Would you ask a novelist standing in the children's section of Barnes and Noble which shelf his book is on?  Would you be shocked to see Robert Ludlum's latest thriller mixed in with Curious George?  Probably-- yet if it's comics its comics.

For a guy not offended I certainly went on didn't I?

But to the point of this post-- because I work in comics people assume (rightfully) that I know a bit about old comics.  Sometimes they assume I'm like a jeweler however, and can ascertain the value of your collection in a matter of seconds with one of those eye-peeper lenses.

If those old comics you found in Grandma's attic are from the 30s to the 50s and they are in good condition.  Good meaning they don't smell like someone died on them, they are not chewed up or water stained and the pages aren't so brittle they fall apart when you turn them, then you may have something of value.

You don't have something of value in the neighborhood of a Million dollars unless you have a stunning Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27 (First appearances of Superman and Batman respectively) but you may have some books worth several hundred up to thousand dollars.

The titles will mean a lot, the condition will mean more.

Now if those comics you found are from the 60s-70s, they are much less likely to be very valuable, but you may still have enough for a nice dinner somewhere.  Again, everything I said above is critical.

But if you have comics from the 80s-90s they are most likely worthless, and that is the VAST majority of what I see when someone says "I have a pile of old comics, do you think I could bring them by and you look 'em over?".

Yes, the 80s may have been 25-30 years ago, but there just wasn't a lot of value in the period.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part there are a lot of copies of those books which brings the value way down.

And the 90s?  Forget it.

In the 90s we had the collector boom-- TV shopping channels started selling comics, and that's always a bad sign.  It meant that people bought DOZENS of copies of SUPERMAN #75 (death of Superman) and socked 'em away in plastic bags to keep them mint with the hopes of opening them up twenty years later and having a gold mine only to find out they are worth MAYBE 50cents an issue and I doubt you'll be able to get that for them.

If you want to invest in old comics, find an expert.  I recommend Ted and Lisa over at SUPERWORLDCOMICS.COM

You want to buy the HIGHEST grade copies you can for investment sake.  About twenty years ago you could have bought a Near Mint Copy of ACTION COMICS #1 for $40,000.00 and sold it today for $1 Million.  That's a pretty incredible return on your investment.

Likewise, ten years ago you could have bought a MINT Avengers #1 for about $8000.00 and last week a copy sold for $250,0000.00.

So there is money to be made, you just have to know what to buy.
I will also happily chart an investment portfolio for you, provided you cut me in on the proceeds.