Bagging Your Comics For Profit, Not Reading or Fun
I think it's pretty safe for me to assume many of you who read my near-daily musings in this space have seen Judd Apatow's nerdtastic The 40-Year-Old Virgin either on cable (it's been playing as of late on Cinemax) or DVD.
If so, you remember the almost-breakup of the virgin (Steve Carell) and his all-too patient and hot grandma/girlfriend (Catherine Keener) after a passionate kiss that knocked a set of hermetically sealed-forever action figures off Trish's bed near the end of the film, leading, no doubt, to an amazing rant from Andy that's been repeated in homes and bedrooms by fans all over the world about damaging the value of their prized possessions. Like a pristine action figure of The Six Million Dollar Man's boss, Oscar Goldman...
Evidently, there's some substance behind that aforementioned movie title, if you pay attention to the details in Wikipedia pages like I do. Douglas Wolk, filling the hole in funnybook journalism/activism left behind by former Time scribe Andrew Arnold, reminds us about the "long standing" FYOV anagram used to describe who buy comics based solely on their monetary value.
This alone probably explains the existence of Florida-based Certified Guaranty Co., profiled last week by the LA Times Geoff Boucher, and the low art, in my opinion, of appraising and slabbing comic collectibles "that make them both unreadable and instanly more valuable."
Boucher walks a fair and fine line in describing the argument for archiving comics to such an extreme degree, while giving luminaries like Robert Beerbohm and Frank Miller who dislike slabbing all the good lines.
All of this brings up an interesting question: Is mummifying comics in sealed plastic bags for profit strictly an old fanboy's game, or are younger folks, who have easy access (in some cases) to affordable reprints of many comics collectibles, buying into it?
For that matter, is comics fandom a group of readers who care more passionately about the books and culture they represent or collectors who look at these "products" as a financial analyst would stocks and bonds?