There Is No Superman In Sports…
Welcome back to the City Supreme. I start this soliloquy by thanking my father for always waking me up at 5:30AM and dragging me to flea markets whether I wanted to or not. When hanging out with him, I would unwillingly gain knowledge in anything from comic books, to sports cards, to action figures, coins, and even butterflies. Yes, Dad is a real huckleberry in the collecting world. I of course became extremely passionate about comic books, and he gave me the bulk of his collection. He now focuses primarily on sports cards, but is slowly getting back into his passion of comic books. Mainly due to my brother and I always hunting and buying. Now that we’ve both moved on to buying houses and having families of our own, it’s really special when the three of us can get together and hunt a flea market or comic show.
I say all of that because now, I too have a bevy of knowledge in collectibles of all kinds, and I stand by the fact of treating comic books like stocks, and I attempt to give you my Diesel City Journal. At the end of the day, something will only be worth what someone is willing to pay, and when s%&# hits the fan, money is just paper that is only worth what society deems it to be, and has no actual face value. So if you’re a collector collect, and if you’re in the game to make money, just learn the market, and know when to sell, so that you don’t turn into the man I’ll be discussing later in this article.
One day though, I began thinking. Why did I fall so in love with comic books, and not cards? Sure, I played baseball and football as a kid. And yes, I’m a HUGE fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, and whatever team LeBron James decides to play for next, but wrestling was always my primary sport. And for that, there is no real “pro”. I wrestled throughout high school and college, and I never had sports heroes. My heroes were the characters on the comics that my Dad tact to my bedroom wall, or the hundreds of Heroclix that I decorated my room with. Whenever I was miserable cutting weight, or tired after a practice, I would get lost in comic book. It was my catharsis, my escape from my real world woes. When I really became interested in reading weekly comic books for their story and not just a cool colorful cover, I was reading New Avengers, House of M, and Civil War. Before that I was watching the X-Men animated series, Spider-Man, and the Tick. I was skipping school to watch the midnight showing of the newest CBM. Comic book characters are my heroes. They’ve been by my side at my worst times and greatest triumphs. I was 17 when Iron Man hit theaters and teased an Avengers film. Now I’m 27, been through high school and college, some jobs, a lot of drunken benders, buying a home, and am engaged to the most amazing person in my life. All the while superheroes have been by my side.
A few weeks ago I was hunting a dirt mall and it was a total bust. The best box of comic books there was an incomplete run of Fish Police. Before I got to my car, I passed a gentlemen selling sports cards. I stopped and began looking, mainly for some fun banter to wash an overall disappointing trip. He asked me what I was looking for and I said comic books, but since there were none, I’d settle for some Julian Edelman cards. He gave a half hearted laugh and threw two cards in my direction. “You want Superman? Those are your Superman.” The players that he was referring to were Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. Certainly Judge matches Superman in stature, and perhaps Trout in ability, but they’re not Superman.
I understand its metaphoric, I do. And I think its very cool when an athlete can be so stellar, he/she can be compared to someone super human. Yet this sports card dealer had it out for comics. He said that he had tried getting into them in the 90’s, but got burned. He told me that he felt sports cards were the better long term investment. He then went as far as to tell me that kids don’t even read comic books anymore, and that it’s a grown up hobby. And to that, I don’t disagree.
A majority of kids don’t read anymore, they just don’t. To be honest, what exactly would they really be reading nowadays if they were? The story telling in comics is pathetic as of late. Open up a top 20 Amazing Spider-Man and there is so much dialogue. Stan Lee’s writing was a bit rudimentary but it was so thorough. Spider-Mans thought were on the page so that you could know exactly what you he was thinking. I opened a book yesterday, and there was a three page fight sequence with one word “KABOOOOM”. That took up three pages. Matched with books ranging anywhere from $2.99-$4.99, its way to expensive of a hobby. So this man made a fair point. But like Nikola Tesla, I explained that I’m not buying for the present, I’m buying for the future.
The MCU has been around for 10 years now. That’s an incredible accomplishment. If you were 8 years old in 2008, you’d be 18 now. Imagine all the things you’ve went through and all the changes you’ve experienced, but the one constant is summer superheroes at the movies. Sure, kids may not be reading now, but they’re sure as hell watching, and that’s what matters now. When these kids get older, and become successful contributors in society, they’ll want to recapture there youth. They’ll seek that nostalgia. That means buying the comic books they couldn’t afford when they were young, and thats why comic books are the better investment. Because the top tier heroes…they don’t retire. They don’t have career ending injuries. They transcend fiction.
I explained to this man that it is a “what have you done for me lately” world that we live in. Certainly Babe Ruth, Mantle, and Aaron will always be desired cards for the baseball purists, but not for the everyday collector. Ask a kid who is better MJ or LeBron, and a majority will say LeBron. Ask a kid who is better, Trout or Mantle and they’ll say Trout. And why shouldn’t they? That’s their hero. Thats who they get to enjoy, but thats also where comic books dominate the collecting industry.
Babe Ruth rookie season was in 1914. His career lasted until 1935, where he ended batting .342 with 714 dingers. No doubt that man was great. But lets do a comparison. Superman rookie season was 1938. 80 years later he’s still batting 1,000. And sure, comic books have their fair share of flavor of the week characters, but it always goes back to the big guns Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and now Wolverine. These characters never lose value, because they’re not going away, and probably never will. But in sports its generational. Think about in year 2000 the GOATS in the four majors (arguably) Jordan, Ruth, Gretzky, and Montana. If you asked kids today, you’d here something much different. James, Crosby, Trout/Pujols, and Brady. If you did that for comic book fans, not much would change. Sure Deadpool and Harley Quinn have dominated a few years, but they don’t outsell the A listers first appearances, and they never will. Sadly, but beautifully, in sports, time passes and people are forgotten. They’ll always be remembered in their respective sport, but not in the mainstream. But thanks to technological advances in film and television, the comic book fan never has to worry about our heroes going away. They can’t…even if Marvel and DC try (death of Superman and Captain America).
I left that man with a new a outlook on comic books, and he left me $20 poorer after pawning some Brady cards off on me. All in all it was a fun conversation, and one that collectors need to realize. Nothing is valuable unless people think it is and desire it. These new comic book film adaptations are a huge help to our business of buying and selling. As long as Hollywood continues making movies, cartoons, and TV series, we’ll be safe for years and years to come. So sure, Mike Trout may be the best in baseball, and one of the all time greats. But 10 years from now, someone will be better, and more revered. Superman however, 80 years strong, and will see another 80 more.
Thank you for allowing me to lament to you my thoughts. As always, those lights, you can’t leave them…even when you think you have. They’ll burn brighter then 10,000 suns.