Beyond Spec: What Do You Collect & Why?


Over the last couple of days I’ve had some fun and interesting conversations with friends, family, and my LCS owner, coupled with the recent spat between Star Wars Theory and Pablo Hidalgo, I decided to reflect on my love of comics (and general fandom of all things “nerdy”). Why do I enjoy them so much? Why do I continue to read them? What is it about these characters that keep me engaged? I’ve found some of those answers, I felt like sharing them with the community. There will be a bit “touchy feelies” in here, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum so that it’s not so much that it is over the top.

As if my CHU moniker and avatar wasn’t blatantly obvious enough, I am a Batman NERD. I can’t say that I collect all things Batman, but that character and the characters / universe he shares is my primary focus in comics. But WHY is the question? Well, beyond the universal answer of “because Batman.” I think I have found a few answers.

When I was a kid I immediately gravitated towards Batman. Mostly the animated series, which debuted when I was about 7 years old. I also probably wore out my VHS copies of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film and later, Batman Forever. In fact my first comic book EVER was a copy of Batman. I don’t recall which issue, but I know it was early-med 90s as it had Batman on the cover, in armor with big metal claws. It was purchased at Safeway grocery store (big deal because my dad NEVER bought me comics EVER. I mean NEVER) and I now know that book to have been a newsstand copy of likely a Knightquest issue of Batman. I can’t say that at the time I was consciously aware of any deeper reason other than Batman was just plain ol’ cool! All the gadgets, the crazy and unique villains, the vehicles, and the Bat Family just captured my attention.

Today I shared a photo of own of my Chistmas presents with my Uncle. He went on to say that he and my dad (who lived in the L.A. area as kids) went down to Torrance Beach during the filming of “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under” episode of the Adam West Batman TV series. The actors weren’t on the set at the time, but they did get to see the original Lincoln Futara Batmobile. They got to watch as the life guard building was turning into a set piece for the episode, and then they went surfing. This kind of, in a very, very distant way, gives some provenance to my Batman fandom, haha!

As a kid my childhood through young adulthood was fairly chaotic. Without going into too much detail, there were multiple step parents for each parent, theft, deception, lies, moving from one house to another, etc. As an adult I feel like I need to be on top of everything. Always have a plan, and a back up plan for if Plan A fails. I feel like I always have to be organized, have emergency funds and supplies available for ANY sort of natural disaster, etc. Does that sound like a certain Caped Crusader to you? I think I really appreciate Batman’s ability to adapt and be ready for any situation. It’s something I try to emulate in real life as much as it is possible, shy of wearing a utility belt.

My other main collection in comics that I don’t talk about too much is Captain America. I have most of Brubaker’s Vol. 5 run which is what got me into Captain America in first place. I still need those early issues, especially number 6 to round it out… but back into why I connect with Cap:

When I was about 21-22 years old I had been with my girlfriend (now wife) for a year, maybe two. Jobs in Northern California were scarce and low paying. The struggle was very, very real. I decided to join the military as a source of stability for both her and I. I was not in great physical shape and I knew it so I went on a diet and exercised like a madman. I got down to an acceptable weight and went to MEPS. Once at MEPS I was disqualified by the CMO for lack of physical ability to perform certain movements. Needless to say I was disheartened. I’ve always considered myself a patriotic guy and this was a serious blow my self esteem. A friend of mine who was very into comics referred me to read Captain America and gave me his backstory as a scrawny guy who got disqualified from joining the military and went on to save the world. I picked up with issue 34 of Brubaker’s Volume 5 and read every single issue of that volume. I loved it, and it inspired me to never quit and not give up. It helped me understand that I can serve my country and community in ways other than the military. I’ve been reading Captain America ever since. Not religiously, I’ve missed issues, runs, and miniseries here and there, but he is my second favorite character to read in all of comics and this is coming from a Batman & DC guy.

So there you have it, in a nutshell. I hope this wasn’t too long winded or sappy for you folks. Comics can be powerful things, and affect people in different ways for many different reasons. They often get dismissed as children’s toys but I say they are every much as inspirational and emotional as a book, film, or painting.

Thank you,

Captain Bat-Rob.


I was always a big Wolverine and Venom fan as a kid, which later turned into a X-men and Amazing Spider-Man fan. It’s very noticeable in my collecting as those are things I got covered. But today I really don’t buy or read either. But my number one love in comics was the price guides as a kid. I loved looking up prices these comics could go for and dream about owning a copy one day. I probably spend more time reading over street and wizard than I did comics.


I started getting back into comics about 5 years ago as something to do with my nephew. Turns out he could have cared less but I got hooked. I always loved punisher as a kid so it started there.

I got to the point where I was buying so much that space was becoming an issue and I started to realize a lot of the issues I had were worth some money which got me into selling and speculating.

I decided I wanted to try and make the hobby pay for itself so I decided the only things I really wanted to collect were Punisher, Batman, and Wolverine. Everything else was fair game to sell if it was worth something.


I am 46 and have been collecting for the past 36 years. Had small breaks. Here and there but have amassed a large collection. My mom used to be very annoyed by how man comics I had but it was her that got me into comics. I would read them at the 7-11 she worked at for a couple of extra dollars. My family was not rich, in fact I grew up fairly poor. Comics at the store we’re an escape and a free baby sitter for my mom. She bought me a comic book collectors kit from Sears and it has all been down hill from there. The first time I sold a comic was the 1st silver age appearance of Two Face. Actually sold to a comic shop that also sold skate boards and used the money to get a Poweel Peralta skate board, which I could not otherwise afford. My parents ended up doing very well for themselves, no where near where we started, and I always liked going to the 7-11 or grocery store and getting comics with my mom. Flash forward a bunch of years and I have close to 40,000 comics. I have read most and can tell you where I got most of them.


I don’t now recall the circumstances, but the earliest comics I have (prior to April 2019 and those released before that date that I’ve acquired since April 2019) are the miniseries Robin II: Joker’s Wild and The Death of Superman.

I actually got into comic reading/collecting/for sport to pay for my collecting thanks to the MCU. I enjoyed the movies a ton and wanted to engage with the characters more, so I wandered into the MtG shop where I occasionally played cards and grabbed Guardians of the Galaxy #4 (Cates, 2019) off the shelf. I must have looked pretty lost with the whole comic thing because the clerk was like, “you know you can subscribe to that.” Oh! Really? That sounds cool, sure.

I did the thing where I started with a couple of series I really liked and then bought minis for characters I saw in movies (I have since learned not to do this), which is how I ended up with a bunch of minis that were not good purchases (because I feel no attachment to either the stories or the characters or both: Symbiote Spider-Man, Thanos (Howard), Last Knight on Earth, etc.). I eventually realized I wanted to stick to ongoings, but I’m a compulsive completionist and so I don’t want to start mid-way through a run. So I got onto HoX/PoX at #1s, a few books with interesting stories in DoX (New Mutants and Marauders) and have largely stuck carefully to Space/X-Men/light Horror themes since then, although I’m getting back into enjoying Star Wars again and so letting that bleed into comic purchases.


Thank you for sharing your story, @BatmanFan.

I think, in a round about way, each of our respective childhoods had something to do with what we love today as adults. Me, I’m a Spider-Man guy, I’m a big fan of Aliens and Predators, stemming from those two franchises earliest films. And it all has roots back to my youth, negative or positive.
On one of these sites/forums, I once read someone’s comment, and I think it succinctly wraps up my love of collecting. He said - ‘If you could buy back 5 minutes of your childhood, how much would you be willing to pay?’…in my humble opinion, that’s what this all boils down too. The wonder that comes along with an uncorrupted, youthful mind is priceless. It is something we all cherish, yet it’s demise is inevitable with the passage of time. Not to get too philosophical, lol. :beers:


You’re very welcome @jcLu. That quote is incredibly powerful. Wow.

@ein yes, I too have had a bad habit of trying to read every comic book that even moderately appeals to me. I’m working on just picking up Batman and Captain America for the collection as well as just one cover per issue unless a character’s first app is on a B or C cover ( Batman 96, for example) but I tend to stumble here and there. Everything else is fair fame to sell… the trouble is making the sale, haha!

Right now most of my collection is Batman / Detective Comics and Cap. Some Spider-Man & Star Wars, and a LOT of Death Metal. Maybe too much Death Metal… SO MANY ONE SHOTS! One author I follow is Donny Cates. I’ll read whatever Marvel (maybe DC one day?!) That he puts out. Oh, and its funny you mention Tini Howard run on Thanos… God that was terrible. I was new to collecting after not actively collecting since Brubaker’s Vol 5 run on Cap back in 2008-ish (due to lack of an LCS and not even thinking about using an online comic shop… just never occurred to me) and I had just watched Infinity War and Endgame was coming soon. The LCS that I had just found after moving to Vegas pointed me to Cates’ run on Thanos and I LOVED it. They also said “this title just came out” and showed me issue 1 of Thanos: Zero Sanctuary. After 3 issues I wanted to quit but I was too far in andchad to finish the run >.<


I love old Top Cow stuff, Tomb Raider, Witchblade, Darkness. I almost have a complete run of the old Tomb Raider series, they’re fun reads but not any tremendous spec but I love them


Think of it this way: you just own a part of somebody else’s complete run and there’s also isn’t complete. It’s like you share custody of a complete run of something.


I got into comics through friends in school who introduced me to the LCS. It was there that I picked up my first comic, which I still hold to this day, for sentimental reasons. Comics always give me a sense of wonder and remind me to always have a keen imagination… because anything is possible in comics.

And yes, I loved reading the Wizard magazines and Overstreet Fan magazines too, just to get up to speed on news and stuff.

Also recall ordering a bunch of stuff from American Entertainment/Another Universe back then. It was fun to anticipate a package and then open it up to unveil the treasures inside. They did have some killer exclusive covers too.


I was born in England and from ages 0-8 I was into normal English Boy stuff: footie, punching my brother, throwing rocks at the ocean, getting muddy. Then my dad left for America for 6 months to check out a job site and prep the way to move there for a new job. He worked in aviation engineering, primarily in commercial airliners, but this was the first big joint venture government contract he worked on with Rolls Royce. Turns out it was for the F-22 Raptor, but it was all hush hush back then. Anyway, these types of projects usually need anonymous square miles of warehouses in which to design. That type of real estate is usually located in the middle of nowhere. This particular middle of nowhere was Claremore, Oklahoma. There was probably stuff to do, but to my mind the only things I can remember were roller blading in the cul-de-sac, shooting cans with bee bee guns, and grabbing a comic from the rack at the Wal Mart super center and reading it at home.

It was around this time that the Star Wars special editions came out. I had lost interest in sports because of the move and I thought my dad liked Star Wars, so I begged him to go. He fell asleep 20 minutes into Empire Strikes Back and I’ve never really talked Star Wars with him since. The fandom wriggled into me deep, though. I started buying Star Wars comics at the Wal Mart, but I was only allowed one every other week. If I didn’t go with my mum one week, there was the risk I’d miss an issue off the newsstand.

For years I had a ratty copies of Dark Empire reprints of issues 1, 2, 4, and 6 and Crimson Empire 1, 2, 3, 4, 6. Damn!

Then there were two decades of my mom spending more money than my dad’s astronomical salary could afford. Seriously, rich white people problems was what we had. Dude was pulling in no less than $250,000 a year every year since 1995. So, I could no longer get a comic when we went to Wal Mart. Fast-forward to 2012 when I’m getting dropped off at law school in Oregon: I have the same 9 comics in my three moving boxes and my mum just guilted me out of half my savings at the Tillamook cheese factory ATM on our way up because they “didn’t have the cash to get home.”

At some point, I subconsciously decided that one day I would spend my own money that I earn on the things I enjoyed. Around 2013 while employed as a criminal defense clerk, I wasn’t sleeping and I’d just given up drinking alcohol. I needed some sort of release. So, I started ordering Star Wars comics from Ebay that I never had over the past two decades. I finally had Dark Empire issues 3 and 5! Not only that, I had a the full run in classic 90s “Platinum Edition.” Then I stumbled on CHU. I started sending Anthony store variant picks for the Marvel 2015 Star Wars #1 and we’ve been pals ever since.

So, financial trauma and boredom got me into comics for spite.


There used to be another universe store not far from me. I loved it. I used to go and buy their exclusives from their discount bins. Like tons of stuff for $1. Picked up an Incredible Hulk -1 signed by Stan Lee gave it to a kid. I would sell the variants at a comic shop up where I went to school. They ate them up as I was selling them for half catalog price. I made a great profit and they were able to resell the exclusives to their regulars easily. It was awesome. I miss that store.


I have similar touchpoints as several of you.

I loved cartoons as a kid, and have early memories of watching Super Friends and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Batman has been my favorite as long as I can remember. My parents potty-trained me by buying a toy Batmobile, placing it on top of our TV, and telling me I could have it once I stopped using diapers. Yes, really.

When the '89 Batman movie hit, I fell for Batmania hard and found out there was a comic shop within walking distance. I was hooked until college, when money and time sank and I became disillusioned with most titles I’d followed. I gave up sometime in the early '00s.

In 2016, Stan Lee came to a nearby con, and DC launched Rebirth. Those events had me dip my toe back into comics. What I didn’t realize in my years away was the rise of the variant, and I could not believe what people were willing to pay for certain variants. I read digitally and choose physical books with a mix of “buy what you like” and “buy what you think will increase in value over time.” I am a long-term collector/investor.


I read comics off and on from a young age. I wasn’t too dedicated to anything until around High School thanks to cool issues I found on the newsstand at our local cigarettes, booze, newspapers, and magazine store. The guy who owned it loved comics so he ordered cool stuff beyond what you’d expect in the mid-2000s as the Direct Market mostly overtook newsstands that just normally stocked, “Archie,” digests or such. That’s how I read Bendis’ stellar Daredevil run and Morrison’s work on, “New X-Men,” plus other stuff. Also how I started reading, “Moon Knight,” during Huston’s run who became my favorite character ever. I have a blog post from 2018 that explains a lot of Moon Knight’s appeal to me:

Once I was in college I read a bit more too. When I didn’t have classes I’d hang out at the comic-stores in nearby towns sometimes as my town lacked a comic shop. If you left where I was–Cortland–for Ithaca or Syracuse there were comic stores though, just 30-45 minutes away. Cortland has a little comic shop now since I left and when I visit I always like to stop by and buy some stuff to support them. When I moved to Saint Louis I started reading more and slowly started doing some speculating too until I began doing it more and more.

Now I basically am willing to sell anything in my collection for the right price, I tell people. With the exception of my Moon Knight stuff I don’t have a duplicate of and certain other comics with some kind of personal significance to me. Otherwise, I often have done @drunkwooky style purges of my collection to try and not have too much space taken-up by shortboxes or trades/hardcovers.


I seriously thought you were just in your late 30s. You have aged well.

What are your top Moon Knight essential runs personally?

I’ve never gotten into the character but fans of his are die hard. I read recent Marvel Now stuff, but I’d be interested in going classic.

When it comes to ranking Moon Knight runs:

  1. Charlie Huston’s run that then segued into George Benson’s run.
  2. The original stuff by Moench, even though some stuff hasn’t aged well.
  3. Warren Ellis’ short run (even though Ellis is now known for his awful behavior).
  4. The, “Vengeance of the Moon Knight,” short run.
  5. The last issues of, “Marc Spector: Moon Knight,” with Stephen Platt’s insane artwork.
  6. Brian Bendis’ run–passable at best but Alex Maleev’s artwork is cool.
  7. Basically everything else with the character.
  8. Max Bemis’ God-awful run. The only saving grace are the issues Jacen Burrows illustrated.

Nice! I’ll start reading through this. Thanks.

1 Like

Oh, Lemire’s run was solid. It ties for #5

1 Like

Warren ellis short moon knight run is the best.