Collecting & Investing (with Comics)

The original title of this post was “Collecting vs. Investing.” I thought better of it while getting ready to publish. Like most things in this world, while we humans prefer black and white, collecting and investing have more overlap than they don’t.

Why is this important? Because we also have a tendency to grossly misunderstand what we’re doing and mistake one for the other, which can be a real problem. This really hit home recently when I decided to get involved in the world of comic book collectors.

I’d been wanting to start a collection for a while now. For some reason over the last 35 years, I hung on to what I think might be Ed Brubaker’s first book. Ed and I met when we were very young adults. He worked in a comic book store I liked, I knew his roommate and the three of us would hang out occasionally. At the time I knew Ed, he had just made a little zine called “Purgatory” and gave me a copy. I liked comics, especially graphic novels and alternative comics, and I thought it was a sweet gesture.

Fast forward to now. I came across the zine in some spring cleaning and thought to look Ed up online. Turns out, he’s one of the most famous living comic writers, with films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier being based on his work, as well as working on television shows like Westworld. His first published comic series as a writer, Purgatory, was illustrated by my favorite comic artists the Hernandez Brothers, creators of Love and Rockets.

When I realized this, my first impulse was “wow, this zine might be really valuable, I should start investing in these!” which I promptly did. The next night after a couple glasses of wine, I bought Brubaker’s Detour #1, without knowing a single thing about this particular piece of work.

That’s not investing. It’s the collecting equivalent of drunk dialing. While participating in a market is critical for learning how to invest, randomly buying something because it seems cool is the farthest thing from investing there is.

Is buying something because it’s cool wrong? Not at all. Doing things because they’re fun is great. But it’s not investing. And just because we get lucky once or twice when we’re messing around and end up with something that’s valuable doesn’t make us investors.

A longer post today, but it’s kicking off what I hope to be a solid learning experience worth sharing. Detour #1 is on its way and since buying it, I’ve learned that the seller (who seems like a great guy), considers it to be “VF” (very fine), the details of what that means, and also that the book has never been read (I’ve yet to understand exactly what that means in terms of value). I’m excited to take the book to our local comic book shop and learn more about what I do have on my hands, and how to add – in a more thoughtful way – to this new little collection.

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