Joey Boyack of Comic Kings in Virginia Beach, Virginia writes in to share his thoughts on why comic book sales are down and that the declining collectible nature of the hobby might be a major factor.
Why are comic sales down so much compared to decades past? One reason is that the collector crowd is being driven out. It really seems that the comic publishers (mainly DC and Marvel) are trying to kill the "collectible" aspect of comic books. I have been into comics regularly since 1975. I started selling comic books professionally in 1991 by setting up at shows and then opened my store in 1993. For most of those years the saying had been, "I collect comics." Or the question was, "do you collect comics?" "What comics do you collect?" I never hear this anymore. Now it's what comics do you read?
For me, part of the draw to comics had always been that I can enjoy them and maybe sell them one day--and maybe even make a profit! It wasn't the only reason. I liked drawing and comics were cool to draw. I did read them and knew everything about the characters, but it was mainly the art that entertained me. Around 1977/1978 a couple friends of mine set up at a comic convention and let me hang out with them. I saw all of these guys with their collections set up at tables selling their comics for more than what they paid for them. That was the best thing ever! Being 13-14 years old there wasn't a whole lot I could do to make money. I had a paper route but I was getting tired of having to go up and collect money from people all the time. And collecting bottles and aluminum cans wasn't making me that much money either. So I started selling comics to friends in school. Some of these books were hard to find and I found people that would pay me extra money for certain issues they were looking for. Maybe some of these guys were readers forced into collecting because they could never find what they needed. But even still, they all kept their books because they knew they were worth something.
Within the last 10 years finding a book has not been as hard as it used to be. The internet has grown to be a comic dealers main competition. But not only that, there isn't a demand for back issues anymore. Most books that come out and sell out are quickly reprinted so that the demand for that sold out issue is never there. Or there is a trade paperback in softcover or hardcover for almost any storyline that has come out in the last 50 years. While this makes it easier for the readers, it makes it harder on the collectors and dealers that have the original issues to these series that had hoped to maybe sell these issues one day.
And now we have the upcoming rebooting of classic DC comic series that have been running for 80 years. Marvel did it 15 years ago with most of their main titles. Then they got back to renumbering those series with the original series a few years later. Collectors like collecting things in order. Having to start over or start another series is a slap in the face to collectors who have been around for a long time. And a lot of them have gotten fed up with it and stopped collecting.
This is not a cheap hobby to get into. It's okay if you read 1, 2 or 3 books a month. But there are plenty people that get 10+ titles a month and even a good number of people getting 20+ titles a month. At $2.99-$3.99 each for these books, these days spending $15-$20 a week on comics makes it hard for people. And now, knowing that you probably will not be able to get 25% of your initial investment back out of what you just bought makes that person think twice about where they spend that extra income. This is especially true if they have a family and have to save some of that extra money to spend on them and their entertainment, be it DVD's, CD's, video games, sporting events, etc.
People outside of this hobby have the false impression that old comic books are a goldmine. And "old" to them means anything that is "still in plastic" and from the 1990's. It's what they see on TV or read in the papers about the guy that found a copy of Action Comics #1 in his basement. They have no clue as to what supply and demand is. The publishers are keeping everything new and old in print these days so the supply is there or will be there in one form or another.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
'Trying to Kill the "Collectible" Aspect'
Posted by ICv2 on June 19, 2011 @ 9:33 pm CT
MORE TALK BACK
'It goes far beyond product categories'
February 19, 2015
Greg Leeds saw Scott Thorne’s recent ICv2 column reflecting on trends in the hobby gaming industry for the last 25 years, and offered an additional perspective.
'I wouldn't do anything else.'
February 11, 2015
Ralph DiBernardo of Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire shares the trials and tribulations of a New England area comic shop during a very snowy winter.