Rare Marketing Bit

By | Thursday, November 03, 2022 Leave a Comment
I've been actively buying back issue comics since, probably, around 1983/84. At the time, most comics were stored in simple plastic bags. The market had matured enough you could buy comic-specific bags by then, but they were fairly cheap plastic. Mylars were available, but almost prohibitively expensive (meaning that the bags themselves often cost more than the comics that were put in them). The notion of having an acid-free bag wasn't really even considered.

People eventually did start seeing their bags yellow with age, and realized it might affect the comic inside. Again, not a problem for mylars, but those weren't cheap. So the solution some people opted for -- assuming they just didn't keep the old bags around indefinitely -- was to simply replace the bags every few years. I think I recall hearing it was recommended to switch your bags every 4-5 years.

Over the past few decades, I've replaced most all of my bags. But I do have one old issue that's still in the regular plastic bag I bought it in. It was one of the first Fantastic Four back issues I bought, and I picked it up at a kind of mini-convention that was in a local shopping mall. I think there were maybe half a dozen vendors and that's it. But the reason it stands out so firmly in my mind was the, as far as I know, unique marketing gimmick the shop had taken. They'd printed up their own custom bags...
(For the record, Len Wein's signature came years later when I met him at another convention.)

In the past 30-some years, I have never seen another shop do this. Every comic you bought from Dragon's Lair came in a Dragon's Lair bag. This, I think, works better than a standard business card or flyer because not only do I have the shop's name and address, but I also know precisely which issue I bought from them. Even three decades later!

I don't know how pricey these bags were, or how many got thrown out as collectors moved to better quality materials, but it strikes me as a great piece of marketing for the time. Probably not as successful today, as the back issue market has largely fallen by the wayside in favor of trade collections, but it's a genius idea for 1984! Did any other shops ever try this?
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