Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oldie But Goodie

I was reading in the news this morning that a rare copy of Action Comics issue number 1 is going to be going up for auction in the near future. This comic is famous in collector lore for being the first issue to feature Superman. At the time comics were still not replete with very many costumed heroes and in the time since there have been numerous new heroes and villains that have been spawned but somehow, there is a bit of nostalgia when it comes to this particular issue. Sure there are other collectable issues of other comics such as the Detective Comics featuring Batman or the Amazing Tales issue which featured the Amazing Spider-Man but this issue of Action Comics has always been highly appreciated and sought after.

Growing up, I had a lot of friends who were into reading comic books and so I was in fine company. On occasion people would poke fun at us for reading what is still considered children's material but I would challenge people who make such statements to go to the graphic novels section at their local book store and check out how extensive the section has become from the time when they last saw it. Whether they are adaptations of existing works or not, these forms of literature (and I do believe that they count as literature in at least some form) have been gaining popularity not only with young adults but older folks as well. And that may be all well and good considering that comic books have matured in recent years but that still doesn't explain why there is so much money being dropped on old comics like this issue of Action Comics.

Well I would say that it's simply because it is representative of the first of its kind. Why do people covet old paintings or buildings? Why are such historical items revered? Now it may seem silly to compare a comic book to something like the Mona Lisa but in its own particular way, it is no less significant. The historical significance of the first Action Comics issue is that it was the first launch of Superman. No one could have known that a character invented by two kids back in 1938 would have such a lasting legacy. In the 71 years since the character first came onto the scene he continues to have an impact in some form or another and for that very reason people have had a desire to have a piece of history with regard to the character.

The last time an Action Comics No. 1 was put on auction it was listed as being in "fine" condition. What this means is that there is very little wear-and-tear on the comic and it is more or less in the shape that it was in when it was first released. At that time, the comic fetched approximately $126,000 at auction. The one scheduled to go on sale in the near future is supposedly in even better condition and could potentially sell for much more; some say several times more. In light of the current economic downturn, I would think that anyone wanting to make an investment in an asset that would hold value rather than lose it would probably be wiser investing that amount of money in gold or other precious stones and metals rather than in a comic but still, there's that little something in all of us that makes us want to have something that no one else can. It's a piece of art and history at the same time.



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