This past weekend I went to the Baltimore Comic-Con. I’ve been going to the Baltimore show since it started at a local hotel in a space smaller than most wedding receptions. These days it’s the one big show I go to every year and it’s a great chance to see friends and immerse myself in comics for an entire day.
One of the things I really enjoy about this show is the fact it’s primarily comic books. There are movie and video game elements but they are very minor. As a side note, I do believe that San Diego has lost its way and is about everything but comics these days.
Unfortunately, I was unprepared for the con this year. Normally it takes me a day or so to prep for the show. I research who’s coming, dig out books I want signed, determine what art I’m looking for and so on. But this year, with the kids in soccer, house stuff, and general work craziness I didn’t have time for all that. I spent 15 minutes throwing hardcovers into a box to take with me figuring I would determine what I wanted signed later.
When the show started, I realized lost I was lost and directionless. It quickly became evident that I have all the single issues I could ever want. Since I’ve switched to trades and HC’s, I find long boxes depressing. My collecting habits have changed so much that single issues aren’t really important to me. I have so many of my own I can’t bring myself to buy more.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of good deals but it’s gotten to the point that I don’t read the books in my twenty plus long boxes now. When I saw a Nova #1 from 1976 in excellent condition for $3, I wanted the book but I realized that I wasn’t going to do anything with it but tuck it away. What’s the point of buying the issue if I am going to do nothing but store it? It was depressing because all the years of going to cons has always been about single issues. Suddenly single issues aren’t fun anymore.
Luckily, there were lots of toys at the show besides single issues. In fact, I couldn’t believe how many action figures there were. Apparently I don’t buy enough toys because I was shocked by the prices they were asking for them. I’m sorry but I’m not $50 for any action figure that I am just going to rip out of the packaging and play with. Let me clarify, I might not play with it but I will take it out of the packaging and set it on my display shelf. By this point, I had been at the show for less than an hour and decided that I wasn’t getting toys or single issues.
So I switched my focus to trades and HC’s. Unfortunately, I have most of what I want. I am looking for things that are somewhat rare at this point and there weren’t any rare book dealers there this year. For example, two years ago I picked up a hc collection of old Mickey Mouse dailies and a Bourne Hogarth Tarzan collection. There wasn’t anything even remotely like that this year. It was all standard store overstock.
Finally, I realized what the problem was. When I started collecting, the best part about collecting finding that rare book that no one else on the street had. It took lots of effort to find obscure books like Marvel Spotlight #12, which was the first appearance of Son of Satan. And when you found it, then you could lord it over all the other geek collectors that you had it and they didn’t. With the advent of ebay, no issue is rare anymore. These days, I can get an Amazing Spiderman #1 any day of the week as long as I am willing to pay for it. I’m not so I don’t own one. But what fun is that.
Which, when it comes down to it, is why I switched to collecting comic art. There is only one page of comic art. If I have it, then you don’t. It’s a wonderful feeling. This is a long post already so I’ll cut to the chase, I got these two pages from John K Snyder, the first appearance of the Eppi Thatcher Grendel!
Next week… or later this week. Some of the artists/collectors that I spoke with which really made the show or even a rant about the state of the hobby. Either or.