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What Exactly Do Comics Have in Common with Games? Why Not Cards / Toys / Etc... Which is the Best Analogy?


jonebone
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So this is something that I just can't relate to.  I collect games not comics and have never owned a single one.  I recognize that lots of collectors wind up collecting multiple things (I also do some baseball cards / autographed sports memorabilia), but what is the specific draw between comics and games these days?  Other than certified games sharing a similar scale, what else ties them together?

I know super heroes appear in games, and that is fine.  But cartoons appear in games, Star Wars is in games, Disney is in games, Sports Icons are in games, movie stars are in games, etc.  Many of those have viable collector markets too.  Yet those crossover collectors haven't really appeared, at least not in droves like the comic buyers.

No analogy is going to fit perfectly but the relation to toys seems to make the most sense.  Similar time period in popularity starting in the 80s, mean to be used instead of collected, significant crossover to TV / Movies / other marketing.  

Cards and comics span many more eras and were regarded as a collectible by the 80s I'm sure.  Board games seem relatable but they too go back a much longer generation.  Toys have also been around forever, but the toys I inherited from my dad were generic cowboys / indians things.  They didn't seem to be as multibranded as toys with TV appeal and heavy marketing towards children.  

Anyways, curious for thoughts?  

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Well, it's not apples to apples, but if "comics and games" are the two hot collecting markets, this would be my guess.  Collecting games is burgeoning.  Yes, some of you were doing that since the 90s, or earlier, but games were never considered "collectible", except for maybe us RPGers, until probably about 10-15 years ago.  Even then, the trend had to pick up and it's just now becoming mainstream.  People have consistently played video games, and are playing video games, for over 40 years.  It's an activity we connect with.

Sports, IMHO, is a bit niche.  By observation, the typical sports fan isn't much of a collector type.  I'm not saying there aren't any, but as a whole they tend to not be collectors but people that value experience.  Again, that is a generalization but as a percent, collectors within the sports fan genre seems more limited.  Sports cards and such are kind of an item from an bygone era, and as such, I don't think as many people, especially a younger generation, take much interest in these.

Comics, however, were dying off.  But when the Marvel movies came out, there was a resurgent interest in these stories, and I think it also caused a surge in comics in general  This meant that collecting comics moved to the top of collectible markets.

You could ask, what about Star Wars.  Well, Star Wars collecting has always been a thing, but it's also a saturated market.  Mr. Lucas, and now Disney, were more than glad to slap a STAR WARS logo on anything for licensing purposes.  I'm sure there are plenty of Star Wars collectors out there, but no one's really chomping at the bits to get into it. There's just to much to collect.  I think, IMHO, it's just to overwhelming, beyond early toys and maybe comics.

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2 hours ago, RH said:

You could ask, what about Star Wars.  Well, Star Wars collecting has always been a thing, but it's also a saturated market.  Mr. Lucas, and now Disney, were more than glad to slap a STAR WARS logo on anything for licensing purposes.  I'm sure there are plenty of Star Wars collectors out there, but no one's really chomping at the bits to get into it. There's just to much to collect.  I think, IMHO, it's just to overwhelming, beyond early toys and maybe comics.

This is exactly why I got out of Star Wars collecting. It was overwhelming, the amount of merchandise coming out. You just couldn't keep up.

And Star Wars collecting is really popular, it's just not as popular. Also, MTG has seen some INSANE price ramps. I sold off my P9 in 2005, because I was sure the game couldn't last much longer. Probably could have sold everything now for $50k instead of the $5k I got.

 

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In general, I think the collector mindset, across all interests, is that they like the thing, so they want to own a piece of it. For example, you like a sports team or player, so you want to have a jersey of that team, or maybe some cards, and maybe next level is the autograph of a player. You like games, so you want to collect your favorite games or systems, step up from that being you want to collect CIB games or graded games or a complete set from your favorite system. You like superheroes and/or reading comics, so you want to collect your favorite/most significant issues, etc.

There is some crossover between the groups, which is probably a generational thing (I know when I was growing up, if you were into anything like gaming, cards, comics, etc you probably at least dabbled in the others) which leads to some similar cross pollination (the new trend of grading games).

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There's not one answer. But looking at what makes things collectible, I think comics tick more boxes in common with games than other things do.

You play a game, and you read a comic. Both give a time-based experience that the author designed.

Games and comics both have scenes that are continuing to thrive. If you asked me on the street, I would guess action figures and cards don't. Marvel makes a movie and people run for the related books, new and old. Does this happen with, say, Transformers and GI Joe? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Toys don't really line up neatly for compact display on a shelf like games and comics.

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It's too late to change to the narrative I think, especially considering lots of new people specifically crossing over from comics. At least one reason, maybe not the main reason, is that comics have a longer history of collectible value and collectors who didn't grow up with them.

I'm not going to pretend to know toy markets, but when I think of tin robots and cowboy toys, I think of nostalgic old men. I haven't met many 22 year olds who collect 1950s tin toys, or GI Joes, or Lionel trains. I definitely see lots of millennials and gen X collecting old comics on social media. The people who collect things like TMNT and Transformers usually grew up with them. Golden/silver age comics are desired by people who certainly weren't alive when they were printed though, whether it's because the franchise is still around, interest in the history of the medium, or just cool art. And I realize there are parallels with toys too, not everyone collecting Kenner Star Wars figures was alive for them. Does that speak to the longevity of toy collecting, or the longevity of Star Wars though?

I don't think this is the best reason to use comics as the analog, but if you want to push games as this evergreen collectible for investors, comics is a better narrative to push, especially if you're pushing that narrative to comic speculators. It also doesn't hurt that I can think of multiple comics that sold for $1,000,000+ and I don't collect comics. I don't know any toys that sell for that, maybe something really antique or boutique and obscure? Remember, I want to feel like I'm gonna be rich!!

Edited by DefaultGen
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6 hours ago, RH said:

Again, that is a generalization but as a percent, collectors within the sports fan genre seems more limited.  Sports cards and such are kind of an item from an bygone era, and as such, I don't think as many people, especially a younger generation, take much interest in these.

I only started understanding the sports market when I realized that most of the big, big money cards are players who left a serious impact on the game or still hold records (possibly ridiculous records that virtually can't be broken now since the game has changed). I didn't realize that Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle weren't just "some great players from the olden days", but if you look at modern day record books they've both been holding multiple records for decades, and are on top lists of many stats. So if you're a 10 year old baseball stats nerd you're still coming across their names.

So I totally understand their legendary status, even if you've never seen a single game from them. Whether a small piece of cardboard with their picture printed on it is the end all be all way to own a piece of that legendary history of the game I'm not sure I agree with, but different strokes  😀

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I've been asking this question since this started, so I don't have a good answer.  However @DefaultGen bringing up Ty Cobb reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes ever.

Louis Prima : With all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today's pitchers?

Ty Cobb : Well, I figure against today's pitchers I'd only probably hit about .290

Louis Prima : .290? Well that's amazing, because you batted over .400 a... a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we'd all like to know, why do you think you'd only hit .290?

Ty Cobb : Well, I'm 72 fucking years old you ignorant son of a bitch.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/20/2019 at 9:33 AM, jonebone said:

So this is something that I just can't relate to.  I collect games not comics and have never owned a single one.  I recognize that lots of collectors wind up collecting multiple things (I also do some baseball cards / autographed sports memorabilia), but what is the specific draw between comics and games these days?  Other than certified games sharing a similar scale, what else ties them together?

I know super heroes appear in games, and that is fine.  But cartoons appear in games, Star Wars is in games, Disney is in games, Sports Icons are in games, movie stars are in games, etc.  Many of those have viable collector markets too.  Yet those crossover collectors haven't really appeared, at least not in droves like the comic buyers.

No analogy is going to fit perfectly but the relation to toys seems to make the most sense.  Similar time period in popularity starting in the 80s, mean to be used instead of collected, significant crossover to TV / Movies / other marketing.  

Cards and comics span many more eras and were regarded as a collectible by the 80s I'm sure.  Board games seem relatable but they too go back a much longer generation.  Toys have also been around forever, but the toys I inherited from my dad were generic cowboys / indians things.  They didn't seem to be as multibranded as toys with TV appeal and heavy marketing towards children.  

Anyways, curious for thoughts?  

You’re thinking about or perhaps just reacting to this too deeply since, as you said, you can’t relate.   Simply put from what I’ve seen Deniz had some contacts inside comics and marketed to comics people as a result.    That led to comics people getting involved in the hobby, who naturally use the field they are most familiar with as a point of reference.    That’s it.   Or at least, most of it.

Edited by Bronty
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On 11/20/2019 at 3:30 PM, Link said:

There's not one answer. But looking at what makes things collectible, I think comics tick more boxes in common with games than other things do.

You play a game, and you read a comic. Both give a time-based experience that the author designed.

Games and comics both have scenes that are continuing to thrive. If you asked me on the street, I would guess action figures and cards don't. Marvel makes a movie and people run for the related books, new and old. Does this happen with, say, Transformers and GI Joe? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Toys don't really line up neatly for compact display on a shelf like games and comics.

A lot of people in comics know that sales of new books plummeted around 93 and have really never recovered meaningfully despite old books doing well and despite marvel properties doing incredibly well in movies etc.    Very few people are running out and starting to collect brand new avengers comics because they watched the avengers movie.    The people who currently collect old comics obviously fret as a result about whether the generations coming up can possibly have the numbers, the interest and resources as a group to sustain current prices because collectors have always come from past readers historically.   So comics people worry about demographics - there’s some natural analysis around the next big thing is.    Games and mtg basically replaced new comics (old comics are a separate discussion) when new comics went in the crapper around 1993.   So the other thing linking games and comics is their relationship in that demographic narrative.    Kids don’t read.    They’re on screens.

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2 hours ago, Bronty said:

You’re thinking about this too deeply.   Simply put from what I’ve seen Deniz had some contacts inside comics and marketed to comics people as a result.    That led to comics people getting involved in the hobby, who naturally use the field they are most familiar with as a point of reference.    That’s it.   Or at least, most of it.

I obviously can't comment on any of that since I'm a newbie in the community, but I think there is another relatively simple reason: From an outside perspective, the type of people who like comics also like videogames.

This may or may not be true, and it's certainly lazy, but it makes analysis easy. Research the comics market, copy and paste, update the dates, and boom, your BuzzFeed article is done.

In the end, I think there are a lot of corollaries between the two hobbies, but as we all know, there are a lot of nuanced differences. For example, a much higher percentage of videogame collectors do it to play the games, whereas those interested in reading comics, probably just get the digital versions.

Anyways, that's just my two cents.

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The way I would put it perhaps is that my generation in particular that straddled the transition in popularity from one to the other is into both.   I’ve collected both for many years myself.    I think this POV works for kids growing up in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.   (Note all the video game ads in comic books in the 80s and 90s).  Not so sure it works great past or before those points.   Comic guys even five or ten years older than me have zero interest in games from what I’ve seen, for example.

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I’ve had ongoing thoughts on this matter and I think it’s all money and hype-driven. WATA being the new player in the grading market is using all the basic marketing strategies to get the buzz going about their services. 

And what better way to market themselves than to talk it up with rich collectors who are already into the grading of items (non-game related)? The question is, why specifically targeting comic collectors? I personally think it’s the age group of these collectors are the key. If you look at those in the news articles, they are your typical 25-40 who are in the market of nostalgia mixed with speculation/investing. I don’t think all comic collectors are jumping ship, but more the modern younger collectors with decent cash and just interested in speculating on the next hot ticket item.

I’ve never mentioned this before on a forum, but I did dabble in comic collecting for a year or so, and I have the basic understanding of comics and collectibles in general. I’m also sure there are comic collectors who have been into game collecting for many years prior to WATA. I do believe the “comic collectors” pre-WATA are a different subgroup to the ones post-WATA.

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5 minutes ago, Bronty said:

The way I would put it perhaps is that my generation in particular that straddled the transition in popularity from one to the other is into both.   I’ve collected both for many years myself.    I think this POV works for kids growing up in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.   (Note all the video game ads in comic books in the 80s and 90s).  Not so sure it works great past or before those points.   Comic guys even five or ten years older than me have zero interest in games from what I’ve seen, for example.

Effectively, from what I can see are old comic collectors (who also collect games) are selling to new comic collectors (who also collect games). Too simple of a formula? 🙂

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2 hours ago, Bronty said:

The way I would put it perhaps is that my generation in particular that straddled the transition in popularity from one to the other is into both.   I’ve collected both for many years myself.    I think this POV works for kids growing up in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.   (Note all the video game ads in comic books in the 80s and 90s).  Not so sure it works great past or before those points.   Comic guys even five or ten years older than me have zero interest in games from what I’ve seen, for example.

I'm 35 (born 84) and didnt know anyone who really collected comics as a kid. It was mostly sports cards in the early 90s from my anecdotal experience.

You mentioned kids and screentime in another post, but screentime is more than games. Its youtube and watching other kids play with their toys and games. I believe this was also the first year that more than 50% of video game sales were digital vs. physical so kids born 10 years from now likely won't even comprehend how games were sold as physical products.

Last point, I see cards as a much more logical parallel than comics. My daughter, age 5, brings home a different Pokemon card from school everyday. Those kids all have em it seems. Even though I was big into N64 I missed the whole Pokemon craze. I bet that line begins with those born in 87/88 or laterms (roughly), but that is a much more clear and logical parallel.

Kids might not read but they sure do play collectible trading games with their peers.

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38 minutes ago, jonebone said:

I'm 35 (born 84) and didnt know anyone who really collected comics as a kid. It was mostly sports cards in the early 90s from my anecdotal experience.

You mentioned kids and screentime in another post, but screentime is more than games. Its youtube and watching other kids play with their toys and games. I believe this was also the first year that more than 50% of video game sales were digital vs. physical so kids born 10 years from now likely won't even comprehend how games were sold as physical products.

Last point, I see cards as a much more logical parallel than comics. My daughter, age 5, brings home a different Pokemon card from school everyday. Those kids all have em it seems. Even though I was big into N64 I missed the whole Pokemon craze. I bet that line begins with those born in 87/88 or laterms (roughly), but that is a much more clear and logical parallel.

Kids might not read but they sure do play collectible trading games with their peers.

You see it as a better parallel because you understand it better.  

Neither parallel truly works.

And for the record what five year old girls are into has zero impact on later collector markets.    Look around - how many collectors on this site are girls?     What girl focussed significant collectibles of the 80s/90s have happened?   None that sell for any kind of real money.    It seems to be 98-99% male driven past a certain dollar amount.

its about what 12 year old boys are into, not five year old girls, that later becomes collected (by 40 year old men).

I'm not surprised that being born in 84 you and your friends weren't into comics.   Sales of new comics were completely in the tank (all time lows) when you were 10-12 years old.   Your age range and up being lost readers was exactly the point of what I was getting at earlier..

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24 minutes ago, Bronty said:

You see it as a better parallel because you understand it better.  

Neither parallel truly works.

And for the record what five year old girls are into has zero impact on later collector markets.    Look around - how many collectors on this site are girls?     What girl focussed significant collectibles of the 80s/90s have happened?   None that sell for any kind of real money.    It seems to be 98-99% male driven past a certain dollar amount.

its about what 12 year old boys are into, not five year old girls, that later becomes collected (by 40 year old men).

I'm not surprised that being born in 84 you and your friends weren't into comics.    New comics were completely in the tank when you were 10-12 years old.   Your age range and up being lost readers was exactly the point of what I was getting at earlier..

I was a kid growing up in the 80s and early 90s with no interest in comics. That was the point I made there.

Also my post was just speaking to what I've noticed as a parent in general. I wasnt philosophizing about what my girl likes as the next big collectible. I think we're talking past each other at this point, not the direction I intended to take the conversation. No worries.

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1 minute ago, jonebone said:

I was a kid growing up in the 80s and early 90s with no interest in comics. That was the point I made there.

Also my post was just speaking to what I've noticed as a parent in general. I wasnt philosophizing about what my girl likes as the next big collectible. I think we're talking past each other at this point, not the direction I intended to take the conversation. No worries.

Fine, you were more interested in saying what you believed to be true (that cards were a better analogy) than really talking about it anyways.  All good.

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I also collect toys and LEGO (I have expensive hobbies haha) and I personally find video game collecting similar to LEGO.

- Strong nostalgic audience towards 80's and 90's range (space, pirates and castle in LEGO)

- A range of collector types (some LEGO collectors just make up the set, some prefer the set, box and manuals and some go sealed)

- Similar collector community mindset (most LEGO collectors prefer to either play/display sets or have it CIB but don't see the point in sealed because they were meant to played with)

- Strong known brand names like Zelda and Mario (Space, City, Ninjango, Pirates)

 

I enjoy comics and have some sets that I like (mainly Alan Moore's stuff) but I also don't see the big parallels between video game collecting and comics. It feels a bit forced to me and more like a selling technique to get comic collectors onboard. 

At the end of the day I hope video game collecting makes its own path in the collecting world and doesn't turn into comic collecting. 

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58 minutes ago, Shmup said:

I also collect toys and LEGO (I have expensive hobbies haha) and I personally find video game collecting similar to LEGO.

- Strong nostalgic audience towards 80's and 90's range (space, pirates and castle in LEGO)

- A range of collector types (some LEGO collectors just make up the set, some prefer the set, box and manuals and some go sealed)

- Similar collector community mindset (most LEGO collectors prefer to either play/display sets or have it CIB but don't see the point in sealed because they were meant to played with)

- Strong known brand names like Zelda and Mario (Space, City, Ninjango, Pirates)

 

I enjoy comics and have some sets that I like (mainly Alan Moore's stuff) but I also don't see the big parallels between video game collecting and comics. It feels a bit forced to me and more like a selling technique to get comic collectors onboard. 

At the end of the day I hope video game collecting makes its own path in the collecting world and doesn't turn into comic collecting. 

Awesome insight. Thanks for sharing.

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