It’s hard to overstate how important Stan Lee was To do comics are part of american culture. Yes, he led the Enclosure of the relievers Marvel Comics, and his pitchman antics always focused on their characters. However, more than a simple defender of his company, Stan Lee believed in the medium more than maybe anyone else. Here is a proof. In the mid-1970s, Stan Lee predicted that collecting comics would be a good investment. It was during a time when parents and even comic book readers thought that these fun children’s books were as disposable as diapers. Fortunately, it was this attitude that proved Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief to be right in the long run. Yet is the comic book collection still lucrative?
About a decade after Marvel Comics burst onto the scene, Stan Lee stepped down from his editorial role. The business was making money and hiring writers, artists, and publishers, so it had less to do. Yet, due to his willingness to be the voice and face of Marvel, Stan Lee went on to be the greatest comic book advocate ever. If you watch clips of his interviews on YouTube, you see that most of what he talks about is how seriously he takes these stories. Sure, he admits these are fancy flights, but he sees it as a “feature” and not “a bug.” I don’t know if Stan Lee really predicted the comic book collection market because of his intelligence or just because he believed so much in work.
At the time of this interview, the Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing fantasy # 15 was selling for hundreds of dollars. Today a copy of this comic is selling millions.
How Stan Lee Predicted the Comic Book Collection and Its Value to “Investors”
Image via Marvel Comics
When faced with questions about the imaginative content of the stories, Stan Lee never denied the stories. Rather he said that teenage and adult readers have proven their intelligence seeing the themes of these stories they find in classical myth and literature. He admitted that Marvel Comics artists had to rush into their work in order to meet deadlines, again he turned it around as proof of the skill of these mighty pencils. Even before the comic book collection was all the rage, first editions of books and art and paintings were already valuable collectibles.
Yet I have another theory as to why Stan Lee predicted the comic book collection would become a thing. He couldn’t stand parents and children throwing these books in the trash.
Here’s what he said in the interview:
“It’s absolutely amazing. I would say if anyone was knowledgeable in this area, it’s probably a much more lucrative hobby to collect comics than stamps and in some cases buy stocks. For example, we have a book called Howard the duck, kind of crazy new comic strip that we started… last year…. Children love it, they find a lot of satire in it…. When the book first came out, you couldn’t buy a copy because collectors were running around newsstands and buying whatever the merchants had available to them. Within months, this book that originally sold for 25 cents is now selling for $ 5, $ 7, $ 10, regardless of the traffic.
So, it’s less that Stan Lee predicted the comic book collection, and more that he just noticed that collectors were turning to the medium.
Today’s collectible comic book market is very different
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Stan Lee goes on to say that Howard the duck # 1 was a special case, but still proof of the potential and the unpredictability of what these collectors will want. Yet, as usual, Lee shifts the conversation from their value as objects to their value as literature. It’s ironic, but Stan Lee the pitchman was less business savvy and more unbridled in love with this form of storytelling. For him, the fact that people were paying a lot of money to collect these books validated his views on the importance of these stories to readers. (And that these readers were not all just children.)
Fast forward 20 years, and most of the United States agreed with him on both points. At the moment, Watchmen came out of and people looked at comics and graphic novels with new eyes. The boom in comic book collecting has happened and (again, ironically) that’s why comic book collecting is no longer an easy hobby to practice if your goal is to make a profit. In the new documentary Fight on Roku, an episode deals with Superman’s death comic. Millions and millions of copies of Superman # 75 were sold to people who thought they had just made the best investment of their life. Yet unlike stocks, the more people who buy a comic, the less it will be worth. Today you can get a copy of this comic for just a few dollars.
Also CGC is a new factor in the hobby. This group rates the comics, but they don’t do it for free. Collectors must pay between $ 20 and $ 100 (or a percentage of the book’s value up to $ 5,000) to get a grade. I don’t think Stan Lee predicted that for-profit comic collection would become so, well, expensive.
Watch the interview where Stan Lee predicted the craze for the comic book collection below:
What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions and reasons why you collect comics in the comments below. (Plus, Stan’s comic book comments start at around 24 minutes and 30 seconds.)
Featured Image: Digital Painting By Abijith Ka via Wikimedia Commons
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he’s loved the medium ever since. He is the galaxy’s greatest star pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book “What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More” is available in print on Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.