It’s not everyday you come across a Marvel Star Wars No. 1
So there I was at the flea market with a stack of STAR WARS comics in front of me. They were from Marvel Comics. They were issues Nos.1, 2, 83, 86 and 85. They were in pretty good condition.
These are originals, I told myself as I flipped through the books. The first two, they’re the ones by Howard Chaykin that adapted the first movie. They gotta be worth a fortune, I said to myself. The other three, they were numbered right near where I stopped reading the series back in 1984. Those were near one of my favorite runs of comics ever, a story arc that featured Luke and Leia on a water world, battling the Empire as it tried to take over the planet.
But most of all, I was thinking about the money I could get for Nos. 1 and 2. A sale on eBay could net me a ton of money, I figured, especially if I sold them as a package.
My copy of ‘Star Wars’ No. 1
Now, as a collector, I knew there were two versions of STAR WARS No. 1. There was the normal newsstand copy, and there was a special copy, one that sold for four or five times more. I didn’t know how to tell the difference, but I was confident that either version was worth at least $70.
That meant that I could get one heck of a price for it on an Internet auction. Guessing low, I would have said I could get $80 for the two. On the high end, dreams of $200 or more were dancing in my head.
And this flea-market vendor? He was selling each for $2.
“That’s about right, isn’t it?” the old guy asked.
Swallowing the frog in my throat for my dishonesty, I said “Yeah, that’s about right.”
So, I scooped all five issues up and happily paid my $10.
On the way back to my car, I was bursting with joy.
This is the BIGGEST deal I’ve ever found at a flea market, I told my wife, Laura.
This is the kind of thing you read about in Kovell’s, I said to my mom, who I was visiting at the time.
This is gonna make me a fortune, I told my dad.
A wretched hive of scum and villainy: Investing in comics
I felt like this was kind of like a payback for the speculation craze of the 1990s. The time when I’d buy two copies of so-called “significant” issues. Foil covers. Die cuts. Number Ones. Intros to new characters. Trading cards.
I even bought two copies of IRON MAN No.288. Iron Man No. 288! Do you know what happened in IRON MAN No.288? Absolutely nothing. It was a horrible, horrible comic book with an ugly silver foil on the cover. After I bought two copies of IRON MAN No.288 and read my “reading copy” I suddenly realized that I wasted my money, and it was things like that I had been wasting a lot of money for a long time.
Yep, I fell for it all, but now, I was gonna be the one who won out. I was gonna finally make that money back. My life-long hobby was going to pay off.
I told Laura this might be the only time something like this would happen to me, but at least it did.
Despite my excitement, I couldn’t really price my “find of a lifetime” because I was about four hours away from my home and therefore, four hours away from my price guide.
So, I did my best to protect my prizes. I wrapped them up in a plastic grocery bag and tucked them into the seatback pocket of my van where they could be protected from accidental Pepsi spills, hamburger goo and would-be hijackers.
The drive home was a long one. Luckily, I was able to day dream a bit. I imagined myself on “Antiques Roadshow,” waiting in line behind the guy who used to hack open watermelons with his genuine Confederate calvary sword.
I would brag about finding my treasure at a backwater flea market for $2 and then I’d act stunned to find out it was worth $500.
Then, on eBay, I’d recoup all my losses of comic-book collecting. My life would be a better. Abandoned children would find their long-lost families. Every man, woman and child in America would hit the lottery. There would be peace in the world.
It was a nice dream.
That’s no moon. That’s a space station
When I finally got home, I dashed into the house and ran to my bookshelf, where my Overstreet is nestled.
I flipped to the “Star Wars” entry. Let’s see … STAR WARS No.1 30-cent regular edition is worth $35.00 in near mint condition. No.1 with a 35-cent cover price was worth $530! I looked at my No.1 to see which one it was.
Its cover price was $1.25.
My ‘impressive’ bonus buy, Star Wars No. 2.
$1.25? That’s not even listed here.
Then I really looked at the cover. It didn’t say “reprint” anywhere, but it it did say “Marvel Movie Showcase.”
So, I looked inside at the indicia. It started out “Marvel Movie Showcase featuring Star Wars Vol.1, No. November 1982.”It was published 6 years after the silver-screen debut of “Star Wars” and the comic series inspired by it. I had a reprint. So much for investing in comics and making a fortune.
I was understandably disappointed. I wasn’t shocked though. All too often in collecting comics, I thought I had something worth something, but I didn’t.
When I was younger, I remember walking into my semi-local comics shop in Elmira, N.Y., and plopping a stack of comics on the counter and asking the clerk, “You wanna buy ’em?”The answer was always “For a nickel apiece.”That time, way back when, I practically cried. But not today. Not for STAR WARS reprints.I had long given up hope of making a fortune off my collection. They’re not about money.
Instead, they’re about adventure. They’re about escaping reality. They’re about fun … and nothing more.
Someday, I’ll remember that when I come across some deal like getting an AVENGERS No.1 for 50 cents. Instead of snatching it up, I’ll say to myself “I’ve already read that story. I’ll just leave this baby for somebody else.”
On that day, I won’t be a speculator anymore. I’ll just be a guy who likes comic books.