[Groop]State of the Comics Union (was Question for ME)

RABuswell@dstsystems.com RABuswell@dstsystems.com
Tue, 18 Dec 2001 11:54:07 -0600

Here's my take on comics.  It's just my opinions.

1.  The Comics Code Authority took a big chunk away from comics by
enforcing standards that required that most comics be reduced to "kiddie
fare."  As a child I was interested in good stories, not schlock.  Most of
what I collected were comic magazines, because their stories were better.
I stayed away from most of the mainstream stuff.

2.  Collectors made another inroad into demolishing the comic industry.
People who collected comics as an investment, rather than as a fan.
Somebody found out that there is a gold mine in comic collecting.  When
comics dropped in value each month, poor fans like me could buy the
out-of-date comics at a discount.  Buying new or subscribing was a way to
guarantee that I got each and every issue.  With the advent of collecting
for the sake of investment, people started buying two issues - a reader's
copy and an investment copy.  This created an illusion of demand for comics
which made the economy appear to be a seller's market.  It wasn't.  The
prices started skyrocketing.  The real comic fans couldn't afford to keep
up.  Fan buyers became more and more selective, giving up on comics they
could no longer afford.

The attitude created by the CCA, that comics are "kid stuff" has still not
left us.  Now collectors, who buy as investment, purchase comics that have
pretty covers and collectible merchandise.  They don't read the comics.
They buy them, and hold onto them hoping for a return on their investment.
The market is flooded with collectors who buy at outrageous prices, but
don't read.  Serious readers have grown up, but the substance of most
"collectible" comics are non-existent.  Flashy, with a foil cover, great
ink and paper, and no real story line.

Investment collectors are losing their shirts on their investments.
Readers can't afford to buy a wide array of comics.  The attitude that
comics are for kids is an urban legend that won't go away.  Gems like Groo
stand out, because they are worth reading.  Groo was the last comic I
actively collected, because it was the only comic worth the price.  I know
this, because I read it.  I've read a few of those foil cover comics.  They
don't hold up.  There is nothing of lasting value printed on their pages.

Adults who buy today bought comics when they were kids.  Kids today are
attracted to the pretty covers, but are not intrigued enough by the stories
to shell out the dough.  How do you find the diamonds when blinded by the
glare of so much fool's gold?  Who's going to be the new buyers of comics
as the old buyers die off and the next generation sticks to PlayStation?

I miss the old newsprint, with dot-matrix color and sea-monkeys for sale on
the inside cover.  It was a cheaper, simpler, time.  It was a time when I
could get 4 comics for a dollar new, or 8 last-months for a dollar, or the
local thrift store would give me a pile of 30 used for a dollar.  Given the
rate of inflation, a comic today should cost, at most, a dollar or $1.25.
Last I checked the price tag was close to three dollars apiece, collectible
card included.  Twice that if it's last month's issue.

The comic book crash is going to look a lot like the stock market crash of
1929.   Too damn many foolish investors, ruining the whole thing for

Richard Buswell

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