I’ve said before that I’m not a comic speculator – but there are a few instances where I have chanced it. The first time I remember was at Uni. I was poor as fuck, because I decided that rather than getting a shitty job, I would make my student loan last the whole term and spend the rest of the time writing, reading and watching cartoons. And that’s what I did, more or less, although there was a lot of sleeping involved too. Sometimes I even went to lectures.
Around that time, Joe Quesada had taken over at Marvel and was turning the company around in a big way – at least creatively. The big story at the time was that they had decided to tell Wolverine’s origin, in a series appropriately named “Origin”.
I didn’t go to the comic shop in Oxford much that year – it was on the other side of town, and I was keeping a pull list with the one closest to my parent’s home – but when Origin came out, I trekked down on release day to get it, which was stupid because the shop in Oxford was so rubbish, they didn’t put new comics out until Friday at the earliest. I wanted to read it though, so I went back on Friday, and they had it on the shelf. I bought it. I read it. I was entertained.
Then people started talking about how hard it was to find a copy, how badly under-ordered it had been. I think Marvel might were in their “no overprint, no reprints” phase at the time, and pre-orders were still locked down weeks in advance, so as a result, when issue #2 came out, that had the same problem. It even made people even more obsessed with finding a copy of the first issue.
Me, I just went and bought issue #2 off the shelf again, expecting it to blow over. The frenzy didn’t die down, though. At some point between the second and third issues, I realised that while I was enjoying Origin, I wasn’t so desperate to read it that I couldn’t wait. So I stuck it on eBay to see how it’d do. From the sale of issue #1 alone, I made £35. Issue 2 went for £17. This, as I had hoped, was more than enough to cover the purchase of the collected edition when the series was over, and gave me some spending money too. Which I probably bought Buffy DVDs with, knowing me.
Although I’ve flogged a few here and there since (usually when replacing issues with their respective trades) I don’t think I’ve ever made so much money from selling a comic. It was unusual for me to be in that situation – caring enough to buy a comic, but not caring enough to hang onto it when everyone else wanted a copy. I’ve had comics that have become briefly valuable since, but I’ve always wanted to keep them for one reason or another – in many cases, the comic is important to me as an artifact as it is a story. But not then.
In the years after, I’ve never felt tempted to try and recapture that magic by buying “hot” copies off the shelves. Aside from the fact I think scalping is a dick move (and I don’t think I was scalping Origin because I bought it in good faith) it’s not reliable enough to be worth the effort, frankly – comics almost never go up in value in the short term, or even long term – only in the super-long term, and even then not with much reliability. Perhaps, if I’m still alive in 60 years time, I’ll find a reason to regret letting Origin #1 go for the meagre some of £35 – but quite honestly, I don’t think it’ll ever happen.