First and foremost, this node is NOT about the current price you can get for your tattered copy of Metal Men. A node full of prices would become outdated within a week.

Educational Values

There are a lot of pro and con commentaries on the worth of having kids read comic books. Personally, I think just having a kid read is an accomplishment in and of itself. There are too many distractions, too many PlayStations, Gameboys, computers, and the opposite sex to contend with. Schools make reading a chore, when it should be a pleasure. I always make sure my kids see me reading for pleasure. It sets a good example, and I just enjoy reading. It seems to have worked, as my youngest has asked if he could read Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes when I'm done with it.

As far as comics go, the vocabulary does not push a reader to expand their knowledge, with a few exceptions. There can be a bit of violence, and some comics are very adult in nature. Why, then, would a person recommend that kids read comic books?

I'm glad you asked. I have an example of the power that comics can wield.

A good friend of mine, John, had a problem reading anything because of a severe case of dyslexia. He hated reading with a passion, but loved making up tales. His mother, who happened to work at the school district, heard about giving comic books to kids to help them learn. She tried it, and at first John just looked at all the pictures. The storylines looked interesting enough that he asked his mother to read to him. She obliged, and soon he began to follow along. He built up quite a large collection, particularly Spider-Man and some oddball short runs. He went on to college and got a degree in, of all things, English. Today, he writes comics, some screenplays, and does some acting. True story.

Some folks think marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder drugs. I think comic books are gateway literature that can teach someone to read for the sheer enjoyment of a good story. Eventually, they'll move up to graphic novels, then good old-fashioned books. I've seen it happen often.

Investment Value

Back when I used to collect, I built up an impressive collection of comics. I had over 30,000 books, all bagged in mylar with backing boards. Unlike folks who bought to sell, I bought to read, and possible sell later. I had a full run of X-Men up to issue 231, Spider-Man from issue 4 to 60, a full collection of Daredevil and Hulk, and a bunch of oddball ones, including the before-mentioned Metal Men. I read each and every one, and I kept good care of them. I spent a ton of money on them, and I certainly enjoyed owning them.

Fast-forward five years. I've been married for a year, have a baby about to be born, and we need money. I sold my Pontiac GTO to look for a practical vehicle. Now it was time to get the baby's room ready.

I sold my comic books. Geez, did it hurt seeing them go. I sold to a collector, someone who probably never read them once. I did get enough money from them that I bought a brand-new 1990 Ford Bronco II for cash and furnished the baby's room. I got far more than I paid for them, plus I had the reading enjoyment. If I had that collection today, I could probably retire or pay off the mortgage.

Collecting comics for investment, however, is not a good idea at this point in time. After the big comic bust, when there were too many crappy titles pushed out just to make a buck, the collectible comics became few and far between. Early Spideys, X-Men and Superman comics still enjoy a great price. A lot of comics weren't worth the pulp they were printed on. It's like collecting fine wines, you need to know what you should collect and what you should give away to the office party next Christmas.

The Overall Value

There are some comics that are an art form unto themselves. For a good reference, I'd highly recommend reading things like The Watchmen or Maus. The quality of art combined with amazing storytelling artistry make them a worthy acquisition for your library.

With the coming of age of manga and graphic novels, there is a worthy range of quality reading fodder for your mind. Some comics are trash, some are great escapism or nostalgic to re-read, and some are Pulitzer-class waiting to be discovered. I would recommend you look up some of the nodes here on E2 to get a good sampling of titles to try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Like comics? Send a /msg to Timeshredder to join the e2comix group.

Junkill says: I so totally agree! I read X-men, Spidey and Avengers (among others) in the 70s. I learned a lot about loving to read, but there were subtle lessons in them too. I learned about the Middle East (in a simplistic way), environmentalism and the fight over "prisoners rights/victims rights" from a comic book perspective. I still enjoy the occasional comic and I thank them for teaching me some good stuff! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Jet-Poop says: There are also cultural values in comics -- the more famous characters have become part of society's ingrained cultural awareness. Not sure how you'd talk about that in a writeup, though... Like This :)

Timeshredder says: Realworlds Batman really reminded me that, properly contextualized, the concept of the hero can prove inspirational. Other works, such as Ghost World or The Sandman are good literature/art.

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