Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Updating Wizard

Wizard Magazine logoOkay, so, I'm gonna go ahead and assume that this was done on account of me, and my brilliant post on the subject last month. Yep, according to this article over at Bleeding Cool News, the often controversial Wizard Magazine has decided to bring back its price guide.

Starting with issue number 222, the magazine will reinstate the one feature it possesses that sets it apart from the online news sites like Newsarama and Comic Book Resources. According to Bleeding Cool, the magazine listened to an angry fan base, and to the sound of subscriptions and orders being slashed to pieces.

Of course, we all know it was actually because of my post. But we here at Exfanding are, if nothing else, both humble and modest, and we won't press the issue any further.

Personally, I'm glad to see the return of the price guide--even though I don't ever use it. Sure, I'll thumb through it and make sure that copy of Action #1 is still hovering around the $300,000 mark, you know, for insurance purposes.

But mostly I just like knowing that it's there, and that, if I ever need to check the price of a new comic, I can. I won't, of course. But I can. Also, as Bleeding Cool points out, the magazine has been kinda light lately, as the price guide wasn't really replaced by any new content.

Which doesn't make much sense. The price of the magazine--a whopping $5.99--stayed the same, despite a smaller page count, and a less, shall we say, useful nature.

Wizard will also decrease the amount of sidebar text on the price guide pages, and increase the number of books they list. In the last couple of years, the magazine would list only a very small handful of titles and issues, while just four or five years ago, you could spend some time actually poring over the guide.

I'm very conflicted when it comes to price guides. Speculators did their best to buy every copy of the issue where Superman (spoiler!) died, and in doing so, they almost (spoiler!) killed an entire industry. Even so, I own the latest edition of the Overstreet Guide, in case I'm ever in the market for older comics.

Overstreet GuideI think the existence of price guides is a necessary evil, especially when purchasing older books. Knowing how much you should be paying for an issue, as per current market trends, is crucial in not being ripped off.

I'll use the (kinda) current example of my search for Batman, issue 227, with that great and creepy, Gothic cover by Neal Adams. That's a book I own in a hardcover collection, because it's a great story. But it's also a book I felt I should own as a back issue, because of the classic cover.

Batman #227The hunt for that issue was tough, but I came across it at a convention a couple of summers ago. And I paid exactly what I planned on paying going in--just under Guide pricing, based on its middle grade condition. And now I have a pretty cool comic on display.

Recently, that book has exploded on the back issue market, and high grade copies go for stupid money. Still, being informed is always better than the alternative, and as a way to inform, price guides are necessary in a hobby that relies so heavily on buying, trading, and selling product with constantly fluctuating price points.

The problem I have with Wizard is, instead of focusing its attention on the older books--you know, the ones that are actual collectibles, because so many mothers threw away so many copies decades ago--the magazine focuses on books that came out two weeks ago.

How can something that new be "collectible"? I say, it can't.

Hopefully Wizard will focus more on trends of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Age comics, and less on the (very) Modern Age stuff. Besides, isn't it more fun to look at photos of Detective Comics, number 27, than of, say, a book you saw in your local comics shop the same morning you bought that issue of Wizard?

So, to wrap this up, here's to the return of Wizard's price guide, and hopefully not to the return of the speculator market.

1 comment:

Scott said...

I just remembered -- I used to spend hours poring over Wizard when I was a kid, meticulously checking the prices. I'd look up a price, write it on a sticker (red if it had gone down, green if it had gone up), and then put the comic away. You see, I always read comics once, then rebagged them. I never really had much of an urge to reread comics... or books.

I was especially proud of my mint condition holographic Wolverine 75 and 100, though as I recall, 100 made 75's value go down a fair bit. Oh, well.

I also had the variant cover for the revelation of who Onslaught was...

I guess all of my comics are still sitting in a box somewhere.