Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2019 Issue

Comics: No Laughing Matter

Whether for want of subjects, or the increased presence of mood lighteners in the first waning days of summer, I have sometimes written about the comic book business as a parallel universe to rare and used bookselling. This month I’m at it again.  Why? To answer the age old question:  are comic books really more appealing than rare books?  And the answer: a qualified yes.

 

Comics are deeply woven into the American fabric, although the thread employed was once quite fine.  One could buy a comic for 5 or 10 cents and read and reread latest installments of the super heroes of the day. Or, if one had literary pretensions, it was an extra nickel for a Classic Comic Book of some famous literary work.  The stores that sold comics tended toward the seedy, and the comics themselves might be a bit obscured to protect the sensibilities of the elderly and upright.

 

At home, comics fell into the category of things that, if left on a living room table, were thought to convey vice, if not depravity.  “Keep those things in your room.”  Compare this to books, that were thought to convey education and intelligence and, if neatly arranged on shelves, to testify to high family standards.

 

Well, times have changed.

 

These days, comics are embalmed at birth to ensure greasy fingers and unscrupulous copy-and-pasters do not ever touch pristine examples.  The last people to have any physical contact with the new comic are the companies that grade them, and the fee is about $25.00 to place them in their plastic mausoleums.  Thereafter the comic becomes part of the commoditized, world and your comic not much more or much different than a share of pink sheet stock on the Vancouver stock exchange.

 

Not so long ago most daily newspapers printed stock quotes but today not so much.  Now we turn on the television or use a smartphone to connect for up-to-the-minute quotes and breaking news.  For comics, there are various marketplaces, but the best way still is simply to visit a comics shop because you can hear first-hand what is hot and what is not, and often be offered rarities from the collector-owner’s hidden reserve.

 

Certainly some collectors also need to attend the comics shows to feel fulfilled, and it is entirely normal to dress as your favorite character.  There are some who view this as over-the-top, but these are the same people who stopped trick-or-treating when high school rolled around.

 

Whether wearing street clothes or whatever, who's at these shows has also changed.  Not so long ago movie stars went to Europe or Montana in the summer.  These days they show up at comics shows to promote their increasingly comic-book based movies that once were on Hollywood’s Olympus, but now are on the front lines of the movie theatre versus home theatre and straight-to-streaming wars that undermine the price and value of star power.

 

From all this I gather that when the next Gutenberg Bible comes up at auction, it will be slabbed, the plaster edges melted into a seamless clear box filled with inert gas that lets you see the front and back covers and spine but not experience first-hand the two volumes.  For that you’ll have to buy the two volumes and break the seals.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.
  • Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [THE NOTABLE TRAILS LIBRARY]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: THE TRIAL OF DR. X; ROE V. WADE; THE GALILEO AFFAIR; THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ… CA$300 – 500
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions