Batman, Superman, the Avengers, and the X-Men have all dealt with world-wide catastrophes and cosmic upheavals. From Darkseid to Onslaught to the New 52, we, as readers, have seen multiple multiverses created, ruined, destroyed, resurrected, ruined again… over and over through the history of comics. Sometimes for the love of the story and sometimes for the love of money, which is truly the root of all evil.
This past year, despite, or maybe because of, the COVID-19 pandemic, the comic book secondary market has been insane. Last year’s dollar bin books are now worth $50-$100, books with first appearances of characters who may or may not be in the next rumored optioned content are selling for $100s of dollars, and it seems like the slightest hint of a whiff of something from some sites and apps will send the frantic fear of FOMO into collectors who, one year ago, would have laughed at the thought of being told what to buy.
What is FOMO you ask? Does it mean Finding One Moron to Own? Sadly, no. We are talking about the Fear of Missing Out. This year, in the comic book secondary market, this seems to be the driving force behind auctions of reprint books going for literally thousands of dollars. FOMO is pushing people to chase down every little lead and argue about the “true first appearance” of a character. Is it the cameo or the full appearance? Is it when they are in costume or before? Does a flash forward image count? Does a hand in one panel count?
Can I answer these questions? No, I just thought it would be cool to write a lot of this article in the form of questions. Get y’all’s brains firing on more than one cylinder. Bubble up the brain juice and make you thing about what you do before you do it. Will it work? Probably not, but, you can’t fault me for trying to be little more high brow than usual.
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?
When we look at the Comic Book Secondary Market, or the CBSM as it shall henceforth be called, we can see a lot of different impacts that can shift the wants and needs of consumers. I will take a look at three of the big ones here,
MOVIES, TV, and OTHER MEDIA
Some of the biggest shifts in the market continue to come from the optioning of comic properties for live action or animated entertainment vehicles. Whether it is a movie, TV mini-series, or ongoing TV show, the announcement of this sort of thing sends many fans and speculators off the deep end searching for the first appearances or major events in a comic book characters series.
This also adds another level to the market, a darker level. Something I like to call Fan Fleecing. This happens when speculators/people in the know seed information, whether through articles, podcasts, or apps, that lead buyers to search for certain books that are hyped by words like “rare”, “short-print”, “hot”, “hard to find”, or “soon to be worth a lot of money”. That FOMO kicks in and people flock to Ebay, other sites, and local comic book shops to find this hidden gem before it can skyrocket in price. The idea is that the buyer can get their hands on something “cheap” and, just like the shows they watch on HGTV, they can flip it for big money.
You want another acronym? I know you do. Here goes.
What do we call these people that manufacture hype and feed the mindless sheep manufactured intel to lead them down the path that benefits mostly the seller and not the buyer? There are many names, but the one that works the best here is to call them Dealers in Created Secrets, DiCS, as they provide this information, based on either pure misinformation because they do little or no research or, and this is the more nefarious sort, based on a small grain of truth surrounded by lies and misdirection. Frustrating to the true comic book fan who just wants to enjoy the story and their favorite characters, but nothing more than P.T. Barnum level showmanship that gets people to pay that extra money just to see the famed Egress, only to end up outside.
How do we combat this sort of thing?
Well, it really only comes down to two things. Do your own research. This could mean that you read a few articles, search the internet, Reddit, or Discord. It could mean that you join a comic book group on Mewe or Facebook and talk to other fans.
The other thing to remember in all of this is a classic acronym from Robert Heinlein. TNSTAAFL: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you consider, in this part of the game of life, that everyone is out to get something, then you will take every announcement and promotion of a book with a grain of salt. Sure, check your collection. Post those books on Ebay when they start surging. Get yours! But, don’t beat yourself up about missing that next big thing. the NBT. See how I got one more acronym in there.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Stay tuned for the next part of this series as I talk about the next thing that motivates prices on the CBSM.