Friday, May 22, 2009

Of First Appearances and Madness

This post might only resonate with a small portion of our readership, but for those of you who know what I'm talking about, I think it'll really strike a chord. Yes, folks, today I'd like to talk about an insidious disease that plagues our little hobby plague.

The name of the disease is Collector's Mentality, and I am ashamed to say, I was recently stricken with a particularly nasty bout of CM and it was a long, hard road to recovery. (And, just to return to reality for a moment, if there's actually some affliction out there that's referred to as CM, I apologize for making light of it here. Seriously, I apologize.)

Collector's Mentality, as some of you may know, has several (horrible) symptoms. They include: sleepless nights, strange urges to buy pieces of paper that are stapled together for no logical reason that's apparent to denizens of the "real" world, and the worst symptom, very light wallets.

Now, I do not consider myself a crazy collector. (And, yes, I am fully aware that denial is Stage One in properly diagnosing CM.) I have tons of comics, yes, and some fairly pricey (not by market standards, but by my own) original art.

But, in my defense, I'll state the following. I did just leave a box of unwanted comics at my LCS (gratis) and I've donated many books to libraries. I don't use bags and boards unless a book is over a certain amount of money (and a certain age), and I haven't bought back issues in nearly a year and a half.

Not counting my lapse into a rather nutty bought of CM earlier this week, of course.

But for the most part, I'm more concerned with trades and hardcover collections of story lines that I enjoy than I am in having all of the issues. With the original art, it's a bit different, but I've only bought three minor pieces of art since the end of last year.

All of that being said, this week I found out about a little-known, but (apparently) much-speculated upon first appearance "controversy" of a character that I love. I won't say who the character is (though steady readers will know who I'm talking about), and I won't say what the name of the "controversial" book is (mostly because there are still fans of this series that are now scrambling for this near-impossible to acquire book and I don't want to make things even harder on them).

Now, I had known that the traditionally understood "First Appearance" of this character (the first time he appeared in comics, duh!) itself was a difficult book to find. Heck, it took me nearly two years to track one down! But, I have to say, the chase for that book was all kinds of fun, as I ended up completing a full run of the other issues as I searched!

And I had also known that there were some collectors out there who had suspicions that this book was not actually the first appearance of this character. How did I know this? Well, way back during the first NYCC (I think it was four years ago), I met a (comics) dealer who had some issues that I was missing of this particular character.

And I bought a couple of books from him, and asked if he might have the first appearance book (the one that everyone knew about) back at his store. The dealer said, and I swear this is true, "I don't have that book. But I DO have the actual first appearance book."

To which I replied, "Um...what?"

"Yep," said the dealer with a nice, arrogant air about him,"But I won't tell you what the book is."

To which I replied, "But I'll buy it from you. money."

"You see," Mr. Dealer of Comics said on that day, "This book that no one but me knows about is so rare and hard to find that, once this series really takes off, this book will be worth a fortune."

"Well, what do you think it'll be worth in a couple of years? I'll happily pay fair--" I started, but was interrupted.

"No, no," said he, "There's just no telling how high the value of this book will soar, and I don't want the market knowing about it just yet."

And that was that.

Well, until about a week ago. As I mentioned, since I started on my quest for all the issues with this character, I did pretty well, managing to complete a full run--the only full run in my collection, and the only full run I'll EVER have in my collection.

Then, a week ago, the cat was let out of the bag and the name of this ultra-rare book was released. And, while it's still up for dispute as to whether this book includes the character's first appearance or not, I found myself compelled to own it.

So, I went out and made that happen.

And now I feel better. Well, other than the guilt factor, that is.

I don't want to have a Collector's Mentality--I literally can't afford to. But I guess I'll just have to face the fact that I'll always have CM when it comes to this character. It's just strange, is all. I mean, I am by no means a completest, and my "collection" of comics is so out of order and messy and...

Oh, well. At least I have the book. And I didn't spend an untold fortune to get it. Truthfully, there wasn't much fun in it this time around. No real "search" to speak of. No hopping from LCS to LCS, digging through bins. I Just hopped online, dished out a couple bucks, and the book is on its way.

And that's how it is. And now I am cured of my affliction. That is, of course, until the next hard-to-find book comes out with this character in it.


Anyway, enjoy the holiday weekend, everyone, and as always--thanks for reading!

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