Being a comic book collector I’ve been contemplating rarity lately. A lot of comics are considered valuable because they are rare. But that’s really only one consideration out of two. The second consideration is that a bunch of people want to own it. That is an even more important consideration.

I have a lot of comic books in my collection. I even have a lot of rare comics in my collection. But I don’t have many, if any, comics that anyone would consider valuable. I do have the first issue of the new X-Men plus the first appearance of Wolverine and these books would be considered valuable except for their condition. They are my copies from when I was a kid and they’re pretty well beat up.

Condition is everything when it comes to the value of comic books. Well, since I mentioned rarity and demand it’s maybe not everything but a blemish or two could be the difference between a $100 copy of the first appearance of Wolverine and a $1000 copy. My copy has so many blemishes it’s probably worth around $10. Nobody wants to pay a whole lot of money for a beaten up old comic unless it’s really really rare.

I do have a lot of comics that, by numbers alone, should be considered rare. At a guess I’d say that the Hulk issue from the 1970’s that had Wolverine’s first appearance sold around 250,000 copies. Of those how many could still be around? 100,000? 50,000? I really have no idea but I’m betting there are still a lot of them in existence. It’s not that rare. But when Wolverine stars in a couple of Hollywood blockbuster movies that gets a lot of people interested in him then demand drives up the price of his first appearance. And that’s exactly what happened.

Due to my peculiar taste in comics I buy a lot of what is referred to as “Small Press” comics. That means the print runs are no where near 250,000 copies. A lot of the print runs are under 10,000 copies. Many closer to 2,000. That would make them pretty rare but not in the least bit valuable because hardly anyone wants them. The demand for these small press comics, if you could even find them, would be almost zero. I imagine part of that is not only the general public’s disinterest but because the people who, like me, actually bought them probably still own them. I don’t think small press fans get rid of their comics as readily as mainstream comics fans because we know that they are hard to find even if they are worthless.

I was once at my regular comic shop buying one of my regular small press books, they ran about $3 a piece then, when the owner of the shop noticed there was some defect in the printing of the cover. As I said before, condition is everything when it comes to comics so he asked if I wanted him to reorder the comic to replace the flawed one with a pristine one. I do like to keep my comics in nice shape but I declined. I told him not to bother because in ten years my flawed copy will be worth exactly the same amount as a mint condition one. “They’ll both be in the 25ยข bin?”, he replied getting my joke. It was one of those jokes that was funny because it was true.

One of the things that has been making comics less rare these days has been reprint collections. I don’t even think they’re referred to as reprints anymore. Just hard cover and trade paperback collections. Some people buy those exclusively and have no interest in the individual monthly issues. But I’ve noticed that now some of these collections are going up in value as long as a) they are out of print and b) it doesn’t look like they’ll be coming back into print anytime soon.

The one book the jumps out at me that fits into this category is “Avengers Assemble” Volume 2. Volumes 1 and 3-5 can be found in print at and the likes for cover price, about $35, or less but volume 2 is out of print and can only be found used at Amazon for $150. The book is only four years old and the original comics it reprints could probably be found pretty easily and cheaply but since this volume is not likely to be reprinted anytime soon the price has risen on it.

I just completed my collection of hardcover reprints of the Dark Horse “Conan” series this week. I used to buy the monthly comics but sometime around the third hardcover volume I decided to sell my monthlies and get the collections from then on in. Except I didn’t realize that the first volume was already out of print. It’s been on my back burner of things to get and I finally pulled the trigger on a used copy. It was no where near as expensive as “Avengers Assemble Volume 2” but at $35 it was $10 above the original retail price.

“The Eternals Omnibus” by Jack Kirby is another out of print book that went up in price. I was going to get it but never did. It’s original $75 price tag (it’s a big book) is now at around $150. I ended up getting the original 1970’s issues on Ebay for around $20. How’s that for a strange twist of comic book fate? As long as the package is nice and it’s out of print the collection of reprints can be worth more than the original comics. As long as someone wants them that is.