When I go to those itty-bitty comic conventions at hotel conference rooms, there are no parading costumed freaks like at Comic-Con. There are no panels or symposiums or secrets about upcoming projects revealed. There are no exclusive action figures or exclusive variant covers to hoard. No, there are only comic books and only a bit of comic related merchandise. Simple coolness.
I always head for the cheapo bins. The Quarter Bins. Lately, those bins are getting hit by rising prices too, just like everything else. I now have to pay 3 for $1 (insert sarcastic shock here) or my favorite area: 50 comics for 20 bucks.
I love this bin because they literally throw everything in it. Remember, unless a comic book is in near mint condition (especially now with those CGC indicators like 9.4 or something), they are not worth anything. Really. A comic that you think today is worth $100 ain't worth nothing ten years from now. Don't believe me? When I was younger, one of the hottest issues to get but you probably missed was NEW MUTANTS #87, the first appearance of a really bad new hero called CABLE. In a few months, you could not buy it for less than $85. I just searched online and found it for $35. Comics are only worth what somebody wants to pay for it. Only truly historic issues are worth anything, and now you have to pay to get them CGC graded to insure and add value. But then you can never open it again.
So the Quarter Bin is where we stalwarts go who actually read comics. I picked up that NEW MUTANTS #87 second printing, just to see what all the fuss was about. Only a mediocre comic, if you ask me. Only worth a quarter, except if you are a Cable fan. You can get anything in the Quarter Bin.
But there are certain rules I have come to follow when browsing the Quarter Bin, otherwise it can be more of a headache than buying the quarter comics.
- Do not buy parts of a limited series. Unless you can pick up the entire series, don't bother. You will only find yourself hunting down other issues, taking more time and money than you saved on the quarter comic. Especially follow this rule if the comic comes from an independent publisher--the print run is too small and you will never find a back issue without paying an arm and a leg. I once found some issues of a CSI mini-series, a series I never would have bought full-price, but without the issue in between, I was lost. The issue I wanted was now $5 at Mile High. Now it isn't worth it.
- Don't buy any comic that says "TO BE CONTINUED" on the last page. Trust me, you'll regret it because you will be searching again. That 1970s Superman, with that great cover, was really cool, but now you are trying to find the part two, and you don't want to spend $4 or more. I did this once on, for some reason, Korak, Son of Tarzan, which unbeknowst to me at the time was part one of a two-parter. I had to hunt down the resolution of the story, which wasn't all that good in the first place.
- Buy any and all ANNUAL comics (unless part of a limited series, you know how some annuals do that too). Annuals are bigger than average comics and have reading value tons more than a quarter. This is also a great way for checking out new titles.
- Concentrate on buying any single contained stories. Great titles are like those great DC horror comics from the 1970s. Also, any Marvel Team-Up and DC Comics Presents or Brave and the Bold are single stories (I believe).
- Buy any thick trade paperback or reprint collection if you can find one. I just got a reprint collection of The Many Deaths of the Batman which reprints Batman #433-435. That's now three comics for a quarter. Also got Wolverine: Inner Fury which originally sold for $5.95. Crappy condition with a price sticker on the front cover that won't come off but any Wolverine trade paperback, with Sienkiewicz no less, that was originally $5.95 is worth a quarter.
- Buy what you are currently collecting. Like right now, I am collecting Marvel NEW UNIVERSE titles. I usually go in order, five or ten issues at a time, through Mile High Comics. However, if I see one that I don't have, even if it is out of order, I will jump on it. Also, Conan. Or Kull.
- Buy any comic book that boasts 64 pages (or more like some of those 100 page comics like Batman Family). Even if there is a "To Be Continued" it is worth it.
- Try not to buy a title you don't collect just to "try it." For instance, if you buy one of those Grant Morrison Animal Man because you heard so much about it, it will leave you more bewildered than before you picked it up. Trust me, it isn't worth it. You'll never get the rest of the issues and there will be these oddballs in your collection that you don't know what to do with. Go buy the trade instead--collected in one neat volume.
- Pick up any first issue that strikes your fancy. I found Grimjack #1 from First Comics. Always wanted it. Now if I like it and want to start collecting, I have the best point from which to start.
- Buy anything that strikes your fancy. You can buy a cool cover for the cover alone. If it is something you don't ever think you'll see again, like those Comico Robotech comics from the 80s, you can snatch those up.
Remember, comics are only worth reading. That's why I collect. And that's why I linger in the Quarter Bins.