What Has Happened to this Hobby?
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91 posts in this topic

I don't post much here.  And I don't come here to read much either, so pardon me if this has been discussed at length before (did not see any recent threads about it).  I've been collecting OA for close to 20 years now.  Prices have always climbed, and there have always been folks along the way who have said "this is it" - "prices are too high" - "this can't continue".  I've always disagreed with that thinking.  One of the factors in the past that had pushed prices up was "trading up" - you could make a nice profit on something you bought long ago, and then use that money to buy something "bigger and better."  I've done that countless times myself as I'm sure many others here have done.  But recently, the market has me scratching my head. In all my years (and I know some have been at it even longer), I've never seen anything like today's market.  Prices aren't just high - they're insane (just saw the first round of Heritage close today!).  I did see this comment in my search here earlier, and it mirrored what I was thinking after looking at the HA results today:

"There is no doubt we are now competing with wealthy individuals who are not traditional OA fans, but have been professionally advised to buy OA; this is skewing higher end prices accordingly while also causing a trickle-down boost to lower tier art prices. You're not just competing with other Carillo fans now -- you're competing with folks who would normally spend $5K on a John Buscema Avengers or DC Kirby page, but are finding prices moving too high so they are snapping up decent art "bargains" (like that $2,800 page)."  (comment by Race)

Is this the general consensus?  Do we have deep pocket investors and speculators who have now moved in and are just bidding until they win (regardless of past sales)?  It seem like that's the strategy, and they are relying on the underbidder to "steer" them to a reasonable price.  In other words, "I don't need to know the market - I'll trust the other bidders".  And what is the implication of all this?  Are these prices here to stay?  Does it make the market more susceptible to a "crash" down the road when these guys decide to find another investment vehicle? (assuming this is really what's going on).

Would love to hear any and all thoughts on this.

Tony

 

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On 4/7/2022 at 9:51 PM, comicinkking.com said:

I've been collecting OA for close to 20 years now.

Congratulations -you're rich! (measured in art or money)

On 4/7/2022 at 9:51 PM, comicinkking.com said:

One of the factors in the past that had pushed prices up was "trading up" - you could make a nice profit on something you bought long ago, and then use that money to buy something "bigger and better."  I've done that countless times myself as I'm sure many others here have done.

Or maybe not, after all?

For about twenty years now I've considered "trading up" a terrible way to collect and haven't done it. Why? Because you are strip-mining your bench* to add a single star. I had done a bit of that very early on but found the practice leaving me feeling a bit empty. One new star in, bench cut in half. Bah! So then around that time, when my cumulative collection value was approximately what it would take, I tested myself with a thought experiment: would you trade it all for one top Frazetta oil? Answer: no. And that was that, I haven't looked back since. 

A much better idea, which I've practiced ever since, is to just pour as much new money as possible in -and be happy with what that level of spending buys. It's true that the first ten years of the new century, when prices were not moving up more than 10% or so a year, some years not particularly at all, some discipline and faith were required to stick to that plan but those were also the years when I was accumulating a ton of art, as my income was (still, then) climbing faster than prices! That's the essence of buy low and like any dollar cost averaging (DCA) plan, you will buy less and less quantity (for the same periodic outlay) as you climb the price ladder (which is a sign that your early faith was well-founded after all) but you'll also see the value of your existing accumulation (your bench!) to date rising along with. And...

On 4/8/2022 at 1:15 AM, Xatari said:

...there is still great OA to be had at affordable prices.

Which means you can still buy "today" like yesterday and for around the same money, meaning just as many pieces coming in and approximately just as much thrills (a much anticipated package arriving several times a week if not every day) as before...if you're flexible on content. Are you collecting art or certain specific nostalgic characters/titles/companies/era? Your answer there is going to drive it all. To those that most/all of the above doesn't work for...I wish you the best and it's well past time to buckle down and get another degree or suite of professional designations along with a second job as you're going to need to double your income every year to keep up with the limited pool of art you're stuck on that's also doubling every year. No snark, just how it is.

*Imagine if the New England Patriots hadn't had a sudden QB health problem requiring promotion of Tom (from The Bench) and instead Drew stayed healthy and NE traded Tom away for a "star" replacement a few seasons later? Lots of (future) stars start off riding the bench, just like the mountains of 1980s Marvel panel pages I was buying for less than $50/page 25 years ago -glad I kept 'em!

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I think it is a little different in the OA space as Jim personally collects art himself so he is actively buying pieces for his personal collection. 
 

I have read and watched all the pieces to which you referred above previously, but I do think there is a difference in this particular example. 

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On 4/8/2022 at 11:36 AM, vodou said:

Congratulations -you're rich! (measured in art or money)

Or maybe not, after all?

For about twenty years now I've considered "trading up" a terrible way to collect and haven't done it. Why? Because you are strip-mining your bench* to add a single star. I had done a bit of that very early on but found the practice leaving me feeling a bit empty. One new star in, bench cut in half. Bah! So then around that time, when my cumulative collection value was approximately what it would take, I tested myself with a thought experiment: would you trade it all for one top Frazetta oil? Answer: no. And that was that, I haven't looked back since. 

A much better idea, which I've practiced ever since, is to just pour as much new money as possible in -and be happy with what that level of spending buys. It's true that the first ten years of the new century, when prices were not moving up more than 10% or so a year, some years not particularly at all, some discipline and faith were required to stick to that plan but those were also the years when I was accumulating a ton of art, as my income was (still, then) climbing faster than prices! That's the essence of buy low and like any dollar cost averaging (DCA) plan, you will buy less and less quantity (for the same periodic outlay) as you climb the price ladder (which is a sign that your early faith was well-founded after all) but you'll also see the value of your existing accumulation (your bench!) to date rising along with. And...

Which means you can still buy "today" like yesterday and for around the same money, meaning just as many pieces coming in and approximately just as much thrills (a much anticipated package arriving several times a week if not every day) as before...if you're flexible on content. Are you collecting art or certain specific nostalgic characters/titles/companies/era? Your answer there is going to drive it all. To those that most/all of the above doesn't work for...I wish you the best and it's well past time to buckle down and get another degree or suite of professional designations along with a second job as you're going to need to double your income every year to keep up with the limited pool of art you're stuck on that's also doubling every year. No snark, just how it is.

*Imagine if the New England Patriots hadn't had a sudden QB health problem requiring promotion of Tom (from The Bench) and instead Drew stayed healthy and NE traded Tom away for a "star" replacement a few seasons later? Lots of (future) stars start off riding the bench, just like the mountains of 1980s Marvel panel pages I was buying for less than $50/page 25 years ago -glad I kept 'em!

Do you want 1 Michael Jordan or 20 Joe Blows? Quality over quantity! All day, every day!

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On 4/8/2022 at 11:36 AM, vodou said:

Congratulations -you're rich! (measured in art or money)

Or maybe not, after all?

For about twenty years now I've considered "trading up" a terrible way to collect and haven't done it. Why? Because you are strip-mining your bench* to add a single star. I had done a bit of that very early on but found the practice leaving me feeling a bit empty. One new star in, bench cut in half. Bah! So then around that time, when my cumulative collection value was approximately what it would take, I tested myself with a thought experiment: would you trade it all for one top Frazetta oil? Answer: no. And that was that, I haven't looked back since. 

This is my newbie philosophy as well. It's not as if comic art takes up massive space and the opportunity cost associated with that. And, as Xatari said, there's plenty of really nice looking new art to choose from, at a fraction of the cost.

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On 4/8/2022 at 2:30 PM, Xatari said:

I think it is a little different in the OA space as Jim personally collects art himself so he is actively buying pieces for his personal collection. 
 

I have read and watched all the pieces to which you referred above previously, but I do think there is a difference in this particular example. 

Jim's OA collection, with a highlight on his EC published art alone, is incredible.

I understand there is a difference in this particular example. But ultimately art is different only in what it is, not how it's sold or collected. While one of a kind, art still has a relative FMV against other like-examples. Having to pay more for the things you collect is a small price to pay (literally) against how much other money is being made, in various ways, by the market consistently rising.

 

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On 4/8/2022 at 1:30 PM, Xatari said:

I think it is a little different in the OA space as Jim personally collects art himself so he is actively buying pieces for his personal collection. 
 

I have read and watched all the pieces to which you referred above previously, but I do think there is a difference in this particular example. 

What is the difference? Jim buys coins and comics too.

What is the difference in this particular example?

I think it is a huge conflict of interest and I've heard he buys a lot of lots. He can do the exact same things that were seen in coins...

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The articles are insinuating Heritage is setting the market by buying inventory from video games.  My point is Jim the collector, not Heritage shareholder, is buying art for himself.  Those are different things.

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I think you may have people that were speculating in other fields (comics & sports cards) moving in to this field, but I really think that its just more fans with more money for the most part.  For example, on FB, someone speculated that the Bolland cover that went for $130K + was a speculator ... no way.  Even though it was my favorite piece that sold yesterday, if someone if new to the hobby, that is not the piece I would expect them to gravitate too.  Cap, Black Spider, Moonknight sure ... not Judge Dredd.  I know I am lucky enough to be able to afford more now than when I started collecting in the 90's, and after a break (marriage, kids, life) the pandemic allowed me to get excited about it again.  I don't think I'm alone.  The more of us there are, the more competition for the pieces.

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