When I was in my pre-teens, I was strung out on comic books. Maybe some of you older folks or even new collectors remember the EC Comics such as The Vault of Horror or The Keeper of The Crypt, just to name a few.
Then some wackos decided that comics were the root cause of juvenile delinquency and they came out with The Comic’s Code of Authority, which has to be brazenly displayed on the upper right hand corner of every comic; other¬wise the comic was not supposed to be printed.
Naturally The Vault of Horror, EC’s pride, was discontinued along with the rest of the EC line. However, because the people at EC were very intelligent and not easily beaten, they started a magazine called Mad Magazine. Most of you have heard of that magazine. It still comes out and the early issues sell for really big money. As a matter of fact, the original EC com¬ics sell for a lot.
For close to three decades The Comic’s Code of Authority wielded a tight fist on what could be printed. Then along came comic writer Alan Moore, whom DC comics gave the honor of bringing a comic called Swamp Thing back to life.
In Swamp Thing #34, if my research is cor¬rect, the plant creature who bore the name of the comic declared his love for a human woman named Abigail, and through the use of a hallu¬cinogenic, they made love so they could have a child.
Well, the Comic’s Code flipped out and said they would not let that issue run with their stamp of approval. The big cats who ran DC had a huddled meeting and decided to let the issue out without the stamp of the Comic’s Code.
The comic became a best seller. It’s sales were already up because of Alan Moore’s fan¬tastic writing. Soon after that Alan Moore was asked by Eclipse Comics to revamp Marvelman. Marvel comics had a minor legal freak-out and said they would have to call the comic by another name. Miracleman was born. It was, and still is, a best seller, even though it can’t be reprinted because of ownership disputes between Alan Moore & Neil Gaiman and Todd Mcfarlane of Image comics, best known for his creation of Spawn. Moore & Gaiman split the writing of the series—Alan Moore wrote #1—16 and Neil Gaiman wrote #17—24—where the series ended.
Todd McFarlane bought the rights to Eclipse Comics after a flood damaged much of it’s stock and it was going bankrupt. What Todd didn’t realize, and still disputes, was that Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman had a deal with Eclipse whereby all ownership rights of Miracleman reverted to them after Eclipse published it.
Marvel has now bought the rights to Marvelman and is starting to publish the comic under that name, but the original #1—24 Miracleman series is still in dispute—and no one is allowed to reprint the series at this time.
Because the series was so cutting edge, even by today’s standards, it sells for big money. Issues #14 and 15, where a bloody fight between Miracleman and Kid Miracleman takes place, sell for up to $125 a piece, sometimes more. Also, in issue #14, four boys in an orphanage rape the weak self of Kid Miracleman. When the Kid says the magic words… all hell really breaks loose.
Back when Eclipse still existed, it was reprinted into hard covers and soft cover trade books. The hard covers of Miracleman sell for over $1000, especially the set with the epic battle of the two Miraclemen which sometimes sells for over $2500.
So, behind the scenes, people who appear normal in everyday life, are out there collecting comics, spending hours of their time like dope addicts. They are working to complete hard to come-by runs of particular issues.
For example, #37 of Swamp Thing by Alan Moore is the first appearance of John Constantine who has his own run called Hellblazer now. That comic, in fine condition, can command prices of up to $90, sometimes more, despite the fact that it can be reprinted. Ahhh, but for the comic book junkie, to own the original is the goal.
There is a hard to find comic called Junk Comix, which came out in 1971. It’s a one-issue stand written by a heroin addict that sells for $40 and up. The one advantage of comic book collecting, as opposed to heroin shooting, is that with heroin all you have left are memories and scars on your arms. With comic book collecting, if you keep them in good shape, you can always resell them when money gets tight. No one buys scars or memories.
If you buy new comics, which come out every Wednesday, with the excep¬tion of holiday weeks that bump release day to Thursday, you may be buying a comic that will grow in value, depend¬ing on how popular it gets. Of course, you are spending money each week and, in the end, only the true dealers are the ones who make money.
For example, if you were lucky enough to buy the first issue of The Walking Dead and saved it in good con¬dition, you can now sell it for well over $50. On Amazon and E-Bay there are special sites that the comic book junkie can go to and look for bargains.
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but it beats Scratch Ticket odds because you at least have the comics to reread and sell—if you can detach from them. And that’s the key.
Like I said in the beginning, I’ve been collecting comics since I was 6 or 7 years old. I should have a collection that would be worth a small fortune. But I started shooting heroin and then I sold many an issue that would fetch a hefty price today.
I had the first appearance of Spider-Man, the first appearance of the Hulk, & the first appearance of the X-Men. Those issues sell for big money now. I sold the first appearance of Wolverine, in one of the Hulk comics, for $90 and now it is worth well over $1000.
I had a flea market stall in South Carolina, in one of my many geographi¬cal cures for my addiction, where I bought and sold collections of comics and ran all the profits into my veins.
The good news: I don’t use her¬oin anymore; I am in what is called “Recovery.” However, my comic book addiction has reasserted itself and I have boxes, numbered and labeled like I was obsessive-compulsive, in my fin¬ished attic. My wife worries about the money I spend on comics. I tell her it will be all right; I’ve labeled everything so if something happens to me, she’ll know what to get for them.
Is this my legacy? What happens next? When do I get the nerve to start letting my comics go?
I have the full set of Miracleman, soft cover comics #1—24, and I can tell you that the hunt was fun, just like the thrill of copping dope but without the threat of arrest.
I’m cured. It doesn’t get any bet¬ter than this. And the writing in today’s comic world, more commonly called Graphic Novels now, is better than ever. Even my wife reads them. There’s The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, The Watchmen by Alan Moore, The Authority by Warren Ellis and Mark Millar, and Planetary by Warren Ellis. I’ll bet some of you have seen some of the movies that have come out; I don’t have to name them.
It’s Wednesday, comic book day. I’m waiting, as I write this, for the stores to open at 11:00 AM. I’m clutching my money in my sweaty hand. After all, it’s better to have a day with comics and no money than to have money and no comics.
There used to be a comic, by the Furry Freak Brothers, that said, “It’s better to have a day with dope and no money, than it is to have money and no dope.” Hmmm. Am I really cured?
Marc D. Goldfinger is a formerly home¬less vendor who is now housed. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Marc also has books on www.smashwords.ne that can be downloaded for $2.99.