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My Love of Comics

Greetings Everyone.  I am a follower of all things Marvel as many of you are.

I think I must have started when I was barely out of diapers with the Sunday newspaper and seeing Spider-Man in it.  The artwork was energetic, colorful, and I wanted more.  One day as a child I went into a convenience store and saw my first comic book.  It was GI Joe Issue 39.  The cover looked amazing and as I left the store I kept thinking about that book.  I remember deliberating many times going to the store before I convinced my mom to let me get it.  It’s in rough shape, but I still have the comic and thought about sending to CGC to preserve it.  It’s not valuable from a monetary perspective, but it is the one that got me started, like Scrooge McDuck and his first dime.

Comics led to cartoons which led back to comics similarly to how movies led me to get comic book adaptations.  Much of my collection from when I started was based on that circular logic, but there are some key moments for me as well.  One early Saturday morning Fox played the X-Men pilot, Pryde of the X-Men.  I had no idea who the X-Men were, but they looked so cool.  That led me to explore Mutants which led me deeper into the modern mythology of Marvel.

Growing up my jam was probably X-Factor because it had the original X-Men in it and once I hit the storyline on Apocalypse and Archangel, I knew Walter and Louise Simonson had me as forever fans.  My other jam was probably New Mutants.  They were younger and more relatable to me, but the artwork of Bill Sienkiewicz is still some of the most magical artwork I have ever seen to this day.  His gifts are obviously legendary, but in the late 80s, he was so far ahead of what everyone else was doing that when I saw the covers, I had to get them all.

My comics were and are one of the most treasured items I have as I took them with me wherever I went.  From military school to between divorced parents homes to my own divorce or marriage I always had those comics.  If I was a Peanuts character, I would probably have been Linus van Pelt.

In the mid-90s when the comic book market started to crash it was around the same time I was heading off to college.  The last pulls I had were in May 1996 for Spawn #48 and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1.

Fast forward 23 years and while at work I noticed one of my colleagues had a cool X-Men shirt on.  I commented on it and it turned out he was a collector and did a lot of business with CGC.  He told me he was sending off some comics to CGC for the Todd McFarlane signing and if I wanted to tag along to just let him know.  I thought on his words and started to do some analysis.

I took a look at my own collection and estimated that my most valuable comic from a financial perspective was probably my Amazing Spider-Man 300.  I remember purchasing 298, 299, and 300 at my first ever comic convention in 1991.  I had just turned thirteen and was afraid to ask what they cost, but I loved Spider-Man.  I remember being shy and timid especially to ask an adult dealer his price for those 3 comics.  He wanted $60 which for a thirteen year old is a lot of money, but I only had $40.  He thought on it and then when I showed him it was all I had he agreed and this tiny kid will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.  After several decades, in 2019 issue 300 would be the first comic I would send to CGC for the Todd McFarlane signing.  I guess with Spawn 48 being one of my last comics that I collected it was poetic to get back into comics via Todd McFarlane once again.

Around this same time, Disney announced they were making a Moon Knight series.  That news was a catalyst for me and changed my perspective from preservation to expansion.  Before I left the hobby, I had gotten all of the Marc Spector: Moon Knight issues when Stephen Platt did the series, but I had never gotten the original solo debut of Moon Knight so I decided to pick up Moon Knight #1 that day as a NM for $40.  For a comic that was nearly 40 years old it seemed incredibly cheap at the time at a rate of about dollar a year and it was a good save for the future when the show released.

That peaked my curiosity and led me to look at what other titles were priced at and what my own collection was worth.  As I looked around I started noticing that comics from my youth and even before that were unattainable were suddenly attainable now.

By the fall of 2019 I had decided it was time to try some data analysis and for over a year, I turned Sundays into a hobby of comic auctioning.  I tried to estimate comic grades and would spend the week watching the auctions I was interested.  I created spreadsheets that had the significance of an issue and the maximum I was willing to bid which would be no more than 70% of the actual estimated value.  This way, I would not make a purely emotional decision, but one rooted in logic as well.  In the worst case scenario if I estimated incorrectly on the estimated value, I would be able to make back what I had spent.  It turned out to be a pretty good strategy as I was not a very astute grader at first.

The second auction I ever did was with an auctioneer with many Tales to Astonish issues.  That Sunday I was able to get 4 key issues including a 2nd appearance of Wasp for under $40 and the 4th appearance of Ant-Man for under $80.  It seemed like a steal at the time.  Little did I know that a pandemic was about to be unleashed on the Earth.

As the pandemic got worse and life changed to a one of remote, it did something unexpected by bringing new people in comic collecting.  It was unfortunate what so many of us had to endure and what some of us still are enduring, but in that bleakness it showed us that many of us have common interests and that unifying factor allowed us to come together to do something constructive and thanks to the MCU it renewed interest in moments from history.

For me, that renewed interest meant that I looked back at some ideas from my youth and started to see how I could use my love of Marvel comics to fuel my desire to learn computer programming.  I combined the two and started a blog where I charted my progress of learning to code in Python and built 3 different programs – Combat Simulator from the New Mutants 2019 Issue 7, the Marvel Super Heroes Character Generator from the 1986 RPG, and the Marvel Super Heroes Character Generator combined with the Ultimate Powers Book.

As I look back and reflect on my collection from my youth it is by no means nearly as impressive as many others here, but my treasures are now my children’s interests and maybe it will be their own treasures too.  After all, if the Promise Collection showed us anything it is that the love of one’s family can help to preserve familial interests and bonds and by extension a part of that person.  For me, that is a romantic ideal.

Here is to you everyone.  Excelsior!