Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Collecting Comics - The Tale of Two Brothers


I have always read comics. It seems that ways anyways. Dr. Suess were huge graphic novels, and we had the entire set, or it seems that ways anyways. I was addicted to Herge and Goscinny and Uderzo, they had the sets at my public library. They also had sets of Lee and Romita Spider-Man and Buscema Hulk (not too sure about the Buscema, but that is what my mind says so I'm going with it). I remember buying a large print graphic comic that had Spider-Man by Ditko and Lee inside of it. John Byrne's FF was another comic I remember (Sue lost a baby). Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew. Frank Miller Daredevil. John Romita Daredevil. I had a stack of comics that were torn, ratty, and most importantly read. These comics were pored over by my brother Damian and I constantly, and I know that I loved them. Even my sister had a stash of Wolverine by Claremont and Miller, the entire miniseries, I used to sneak up into her room and read those amazing issues over and over. That run still makes me tingle.

Now when we hit out teens, or tweens for me, the nineties had rolled around and the collectors market went crazy. I still loved comics so I remember just loving the excitement of it all. I bought every single issue of X-Men with Jim Lee and Claremont, every single fucking cover, just because I had never seen anything like that before (well maybe, but I don't remember things really, really well and I blame the drugs for that). The gatefold on one of those issues was pure fantasy to any comic person, and I stared at it for a long time, I also stared at the separate issues as well, and when I got to reading them, soon found out that they contained the exact same story. Kind of a rip off if you get the feeling.

At around the same time my brother was collecting Spider-Man. McFarlane and Larsen (and later Bagley) were largely responsible for this, and McFarlane blew my mind. His Spider-Man had a bajillion lines, was lithe and lean, had sex, met monsters, and had a fucking silver cover. I loved that silver cover and thought it was cool. What I didn't like was the fact that my brother let me read the fucking thing once, and never again. Seriously, I didn't get why he didn't want to take that shit out of the mylar bags that they now sold them in and read the fucking comic inside.

We collected X-Men and Spider-Man respectively and I'm sure my pages were more dog-eared than his, but who's counting. And then the worst shit in the world started to happen. First, my parents divorced (which was actually amazing for all involved), and than the speculator market hit. Now, my dad got majorly guilty for not being around much and just bought us bags of comics, and my brother and I would go through them and split the ones that we got. I got to read mine, and I barely got to read his.

Image had landed. I started on Spawn, and Damian on Savage Dragon. Damian's interests in comics was wavering a little by now though, he had found the magical land of porn and was a basketball and video game junkie. I, on the other hand, went deeper into my obsession with comics. Soon I had Youngblood, Wildcats, and had started reading some indie books. Sin City was one of them, Bone another, Stray Bullets, and any type of vertigo that I could get my hands on.

Thing was, now that Damian wasn't interested in his comics I would open the fucking bags and sit and read all of his comics. It was fucking fabulous. I was always worried about that goddamn tape though. It never quite stuck the same after two or more reads. So, I doubled my reading overnight.

As we grew older I started buying graphic novels. Preacher was big with me, and Transmetropolitan was even bigger. Preacher was a huge love story and the big fuck you to God that it wrote about made me happy inside, and Transmet was full of big ideas and was a big middle finger to the man. I credit that book for giving me an interest in politics (the letters page on the book was amazing and suggested I read Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail).

My bro eventually found out that I had read all his comics and got pissed, but at that point I didn't care. I had seen too many foil covers, holograms, cards in polybags, polybags with arm bands. I had seen the rise and fall of Valiant, the bankruptcy of Marvel, and all that fucking bullshit that the industry went through. I had suffered through some amazingly shitty stories with a resilience that was due to the gems that I had found throughout the time. The GOOD stories kept me going. The ones that didn't suck, the ones that had character, were different in ways that I had not seen before. These were the stories that stick with me. They weren't the Spider-Clone stories, or any of those crossover wars, but mostly the low selling interesting titles that Wizard magazine was pimping and I was lucky enough to find at our new comic store.

My brother got back into collecting six or seven years ago when slabbing came in. He got some things CGI'ed (I think that's the term) and bought a whole bunch of copies of Battle of the Planets #1, but I don't think he made any money from trying to be a comics broker. And, honestly, who does? Maybe some bloke that had some startup capital in the first place and had the smarts to buy some golden and silver age comics, but wouldn't you rather just spend that money on real estate and watch your capital grow? Or invest in something stable?

I think we have both found ourselves in the place where we can sit and enjoy our books. When I buy mine I stuff them in my bag and smash them into an ass pocket of mine. I am enjoying them and I think that is what people should do with them. Enjoy them, share them, tell people about them, buy copies and just give them to people. Don't treat them like jewels, treat them like a five year old and read them into the ground. That is getting your money's worth.

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