I'm back in my office in Denver, after spending this past weekend attending
the WizardWorld Convention in Philadelphia. That convention was my eighth
show in the last twelve weekends. Suffice it to say, I'm more than a little
weary. Attending convention after convention, while simultaneously trying to
keep our operations at Mile High Comics on an even keel, is more than a
little trying. I've made it through, however, and I have just one more
show to attend (Motor City Con in Detroit), and then I'm finally off the
road for a whole month (!).
I mention all these shows I've been attending because I've been engaged in
an exercise in trying to gauge the current health of the market for back
issue comics in the United States. What I've found is that the market is
heating up very rapidly. Last Fall, after 9/11, the market temporarily
showed some signs of weakness. The New York shows, in particular, were
off by more than 50%. Ever since Mid-Ohio Con (Thanksgiving weekend),
however, I've seen a steady increase in the number of people attending
comics conventions, and a commensurate increase in the number of positive
reports from dealers at those shows. Atlanta was the only real clunker,
and that very well-run show was cursed with three solid days of rain and
drizzle. All the other shows I attended were successful, to a greater or
WizardWorld was particularly interesting to me as I saw a higher percentage
of young women, and teen-age boys, than I've seen at many shows in the
recent past. I remember buying some comics from one dealer's bargain boxes,
and I was amazed to see a woman approximately 30 years of age standing next
to me, loading up on a big stack of 1970's GHOSTS from DC. The idea of a
woman attending a comics show to buy a big stack of old comics to read is
still a little hard for me to get my head around. That just wouldn't have
happened ten years ago...
Another part of WizardWorld that I greatly enjoyed was the active
participation of the elite of the comics world in the convention. On Friday
and Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing some of the most powerful people
in the world of comics at the show. Gareb Shamus (publisher of Wizard) was
running around making sure that everything ran right with the operations of
the convention, Marvel President and COO Bill Jemas was everywhere at the
show looking for ideas on how to make Marvel run better, Joe Quesada
(Marvel Editor-In-Chief) was signing autographs, and looking at portfolios
from prospective creators. I didn't actually see DC President Paul Levitz
working at the DC booth (though I'm sure he did), but I did happen to catch
him quietly going through a dealer's stock, looking to fill in his personal
collection of Silver Age WONDER WOMAN comics. Isn't that wonderful? In what
other industry do even the most powerful executives mingle with the fans on
a regular basis. Seeing those guys out on the floor was just so cool!
Not surprisingly, the WizardWorld show was a better show for those selling
media-related product, than the Silver/Golden Age dealers. Those dealers
were doubly cursed, as the Silver/Golden Age buyers in Pennsylvania had
split their buying between Pittsburgh (which was only two weeks earlier)
and Philadelphia. In spite of this handicap, I still heard some very
positive reports from both shows. Not surprisingly, all SPIDER-MAN issues
are selling quite well, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems
that all back issues, even the most obscure, are showing surprising
That same experience has been mirrored via our online sales at
milehighcomics.com. This past week was the busiest week in our history,
with Friday being the single highest day for online traffic (700,000 hits).
While SPIDER-MAN issues have also sold well online, the diversity of
products requested is staggering. We sold over 11,000 different line items
during the past seven days. The back issue comics market is on fire right
One area where I've heard a great deal of skepticism is on the subject of
recent Marvel back issues. ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1, ULTIMATE X-MEN #1, and
WOLVERINE: THE ORIGIN #1 have all eached very high prices within remarkably
short periods of time. I have searched every convention I've attended for
the mythical "speculators" who own all the copies of those books, and
frankly, I've found practically none. We've been unable to fill so many
orders on those books that I'm reverting to the strategy we last actively
employed during the mid-1980's, of actually running buying ads in CBG
seeking copies of those books at prices that would have been our selling
prices just a few months ago. We'll see how many copies we can shake loose
by offering aggressive buying prices.
My final comment on WizardWorld is to encourage everyone in the world of
comics to take a moment to reflect upon how lucky we are to live when
comics fandom is such a vibrant social environment. I spent some time on
Saturday at the convention just watching the crowd, observing fans as they
happily bounced from booth to booth. The genuine excitement and enthusiasm
that everyone was feeling was very contagious. It made me quite proud to
know that I'm participating in an endeavor that makes so many people happy.
It's fun to be a comics dealer, again!
Next week, after some more discussions with dealers at the Motor City
convention, I'll be back with an analysis of the changes to the 2002
Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.
Please send your e-mails to
your letters to:
Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221