I never read comic books as a child. To be completely honest, I recall looking down my literary snob nose at a grade-school classmate who used to read a comic book every day during the free reading period. I was seven and mistakenly thought I had done far more living than he since he chose to find entertainment in comic books. How wrong I was.
That former classmate and his fellow fans of comic books knew something egomaniacs like myself did not: comic books contain some of the most fascinating, inspiring, and intriguing artwork and illustration, story and character development, and all-round entertainment value. Generations of collectors have seen and understood this fact, as has Hollywood, as well as moviegoers around the globe.
In fact, one of the iconic superhero teams of the Silver Age of comic books will take to the big screen April 27 when Avengers: Infinity War opens in theaters. Check out the trailer...
The Avengers also appear in Chapter 3 of a fabulous new book that celebrates the characters, creators, storylines, art, and influence that is the Silver Age of comic books (1956-1970). The book: "Rise of the Superheroes," is the work of David W. Tosh, an avid fan of comic books, comic strips, and animated cartoons since childhood. In addition to authoring this book and the Picker's Pocket Guide -- Comic Books, both published by our sister publishing group, Krause Books, he is a cataloger for Heritage Auctions. He specializes in, surprise, comic books, original comic and animation art, and vintage rock posters.
Tosh's Take on Silver Age Comic Books
Recently, I connected with David to get his take on the comic book collecting market at present, the process of creating a book that pays homage to a world that's given him decades of enjoyment, and his perspective on essential life questions such as: which superheroes have the most impressive costumes?
Antique Trader: What were some of the highlights for you in creating this book? What do you think your 10-year-old self would say about you authoring this book?
David Tosh: As a longtime DC fan, writing about Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern was for me the most fun. I’ve often thought about what my ten-year-old self would say about all this. It never dawned on me back when I was a kid who loved comics that I would someday be writing a book about them – or for that matter, working around such treasures on a daily basis at a large auction house.
AT: How would you describe the secondary market for comic books and original art today? What do you think we can learn about collecting from the evolution of comic books and related art in the course of the past couple decades?
DT: The market for high-end vintage comic books and original comic art is hotter now than I’ve ever seen it. The demand for quality comic-related collectibles seems to grow larger every year. As to what can be learned from all this is anyone’s guess. The things we think will go up in value in a few years could wind up worthless, while what seems worthless now could wind up commanding fortunes.
All About Perspective
Remember, back in my day; any comic book was considered worthless, at least to most teachers
and parents! Keep in mind that the reason old comic books, especially those in ultra-high grades like the ones pictured in my book, were saved by only a few. Whenever a collecting boom hits, the first instinct is to start stashing new items back. That’s what happened in the late 1970s-early ‘80s when comic book stores began popping up everywhere. People started buying multiple copies of everything, hoping for a quick return on their money. Unfortunately, that usually means the supply has overwhelmed the demand.
Eventually, it may well all be worth collecting, but right now, the old rule of thumb, “collect what you like” still holds true.
AT: Why do you think these 1960s superheroes are so popular with modern audiences and can sustain all of the multi-million, even billion, movie franchises that grace the big screen. Specifically, we're wondering about the character of Black Panther. Why do you think that movie and character has struck such a chord with people to achieve over $1 billion at the box office worldwide?
So Many Options, So Little Time
DT: Most of the 1960s characters were brilliantly done, both in art and story, and that keeps the appeal high to this day. Black Panther is a unique case, in that the movie helped thousands of young people discover a hero with African roots that they can identify. Again, quality is what sets this movie apart; it has to be more than fast-paced action and colorful explosions. A good story is a must, and Black Panther delivered the goods.
AT: Which superheroes have the most impressive costume, in your opinion?
DT: Well, for me, it’s the version of Batman I grew up with. Loved that Utility Belt, loaded with just the right items to get Batman and Robin out of a jam. I love the cowl and cape, too! Later versions of Batman’s costume aren’t quite the same to me, but that’s OK. There are plenty of different versions to go around!
AT: What three pieces of advice would you offer someone interested in getting started
collecting comic books?
DT: Rule number one, as I previously mentioned, is to collect what you like – what personally appeals to you. Don’t be overly concerned about what something might be worth later on. Second, it helps to focus on one specific title or character, or at least a limited number of different characters. You could go broke trying to buy everything being published these days, not to mention the older secondary market comics. And that brings me to advice #3: know how much you want to spend – create a budget and stick to it. Otherwise, you can get in over your head very quickly! One thing to consider on older back-issue comics is to pick a title, character, or genre that isn’t the most popular with fans. They will be much more affordable, and often just as much fun to collect.
Inspired by Superheroes
AT: Which superhero powers do you find most fascinating, and most perplexing and why?
DT: For me, it’s simple – the power to entertain! The appeal for me is in the artistry and the skill of telling a good story. However, if I had to pick one hero based on powers, it would have to be Superman, the “strange visitor from another planet,” as they used to say on the old TV series! His ability to see through walls with his X-Ray vision is one power most young boys have dreamed about, as well as his ability to fly. Who wouldn’t want to leap in the air and take off flying, soaring along through the air? As for “perplexing,” the X-Men are some of the most complicated heroes ever. Keeping up with them is quite a chore!
If you like what you've read here, we invite you to order your copy of "Rise of the Superheroes" at KrauseBooks.com.
When you use Discount Code ATPROMO18 during checkout, you'll receive free standard shipping to U.S. addresses.
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