Saturday, June 20, 2015

The World Is Shrinking

As a comic collector for over 35 years, one of the most fascinating aspects of collecting has been how easy it is today to purchase domestic back issue comics.  Prior to the Internet, you had your local comic shops and mail order companies and if they did not have a particular comic you wanted, you most likely went without the comic unless you put in the extra effort.  Regardless of how deep your pockets were, there were comics that simply were not available for purchase and a collector would have to scour yard sales and antique shops, peruse back issue catalogs, and network to build a collection.  Because of the limited choices for purchasing comics, there was an aspect to collecting comics that is largely missing today, the thrill of the hunt.  Some of today's collectors emulate that thrill by seeking out ultra high grade books for many of the populous books from the Silver, Bronze, and Copper Ages.  Unfortunately, that thrill is also accompanied by higher prices.

There are still areas of comic collecting that are reminiscent of the old days that provide the thrill of hunting for comics.  There are comics published in the Golden Age and earlier that are certainly hard to find.  And even in the Silver, Bronze, and Copper Ages there are certain genres that are not as populous as the superhero genre, such as western and romance books.  Additionally, many independent publishers had smaller print runs that can prove to be elusive for collectors seeking out those esoteric titles.

Another area of comic collecting that provides the thrill of hunting is foreign comic books.  My interest in this area is based in large part on that thrill of seeking out comics that are hard to find.  I know that if I want any domestic Star Wars comics, even the expensive Star Wars $0.35 editions, it is simply a matter of having the money.  This is different for foreign Star Wars comics, but I have to admit this area is slowly changing.  A few years ago, it was uncommon for foreign Star Wars comics to show up on eBay.  But as more countries are being introduced to this powerful online selling tool, more and more foreign comics are being listed.  As an example, it use to be impossible to find vintage Yugoslavian Star Wars comics, but in the past 6 months, many Yugoslavian Star Wars comics have been listed on eBay.  It is too early to tell if these Yugoslavian Star Wars comics are going to become a staple on the eBay site or if we are just incredibly lucky so many issues have found there way to the site recently.  (If you collected Star Wars comics for a while now and used eBay as a tool for seeking out Star Wars comics for your collection, you might remember a few years ago when Israeli Star Wars comics were consistently listed.  That no longer seems to be the case.)  This has also been true of vintage German, British, and French Star Wars comics which now do seem to be consistently listed.  As more countries are introduced to global online sales sites like eBay, I have no doubts it will become easier to find books from some of the harder locations in the world, namely Asia and South America.

But, that is not to say all foreign comics are going to be as readily available as domestic superhero comics are.  Certainly, comics from Western countries with high populations are going to be the easiest to find, just as they are today.  It is not an accident that Rebelscum's International Star Wars comic galleries shows comics from many of these countries, but doesn't contain galleries from many of the South American or Asian countries.  There are still going to be countries like Greece, Indonesia, and even Mexico where the population of comics is going to remain elusively low.

Navigating this shrinking world is going to be interesting.  As more foreign comics are made available, unless you have deep pockets, choices are going to need to be made on where to spend your dollars for your collection.  In my case, do I spend the money on the more available European Star Wars comics I want or do I purchase the elusive Asian Star Wars comics?  Luckily, I have the means to pursue both at this point, but I know there will come a day where I will have to make a choice just as I made the choice to limit my collection to predominantly Star Wars comics.

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