Comic book collecting isn’t new. It’s been around for as long as super-heroes have been running around the world in capes and tights, trying to save it.
The why of collecting can be different though.
For some, it’s about the thrill of the hunt or the money.
For me, it connects me to a time when anything was possible, and my imagination ran wild. For my friend and Las Vegas comic shop owner and expert, Dan Lasalle, it’s also about the memories.
“To me, a collection is not what it’s worth monetarily,” he said. “It’s more about what memories it brings back to me.”
Lasalle grew up in San Diego, CA and started collecting comics in 1974.
“I bought my first comic at a 7 Eleven when I was seven-years-old,” he said. “Back in the day if you had a dollar, you could buy quite a bit. I was walking by a comic book rack. I saw a comic and just had to have it. It got to the point where whenever I had money, I went to the 7 Eleven and bought them.”
“I think the 70s is the golden era for people to grow up in,” he added. “You could do a lot with a few bucks.”
And do a lot he did. In addition to comics, Lasalle also collected sports cards.
“If it came out in cards, I bought them,” he said.
All this collecting also brought him (and still does) an escape and comfort in the midst of life.
“My mom was sick a lot,” he said of his childhood. “I had to stay home and take care of her … Comics, TV, and baseball cards brought me great memories.”
“Comics and their culture are like a warm blanket that I can wrap myself in,” he added. “They bring in the positive and help get rid of the negative.”
Lasalle stills feels this way about collecting today and has a few words of advice for those who collect or want to start.
The first is collect what you like.
“If you’re collecting it for money, you’re going to get a raw deal,” he said. “Buy what you like. Collect what you like. It doesn’t matter what other people think.”
“Know what you want and look for it,” he added. “Be willing to do the hunt.”
His other piece of advice is to take care of what you collect.
“From the very beginning, it was take care of your stuff,” he said. “I didn’t get a lot of stuff, so when I did I wanted to keep it in good shape.”
Lasalle is still collecting today and has taken both pieces of his own advice with starting his own comic shop – Arkham Comics and Collectibles – in May of 2015.
“It’s high-grade on a budget,” he said of the store, which he spent three years researching before starting.
During his research, he found that Las Vegas did not have a lot of high grade books. The high-grade ones stores did have were only key issues and really expensive, so Lasalle started the shop small and focused on getting any and all the high grade vintage comics he could.
“If I’ll make $15 or $20 per book, I’ll buy it,” he said of his inventory.
“I would rather spend money on a box of silver and bronze age comics than two key issues because I’ll make more money,” he added.
In terms of the high-grade condition of his inventory, Lasalle is a tough comic grader and has built a reputation in the greater Las Vegas area as one of the best, as well as having the best prices around.
“It’s high-grade on a budget … No one’s ever come here and complained,” he said. “My quality outshines my quantity … If you like the book, buy the book. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it because the person behind you will.”
Arkham Comics and Collectables is not his full-time job (he has one of those and another part-time one), but he still has plans to expand the store. In 2017, he’s moving into a new location with space for four times as many comics. He’ll also expand his hours.
Going into Arkham Comics and Collectables is one of my favorite things to do. Even if I’m not buying anything, I have a great time chatting with Lasalle and the other people who come into the shop. He’s also been a big help for me in building my comic collection. Mainly, because he knows what comics I’m looking for and either has it or helps me find it.
But I think it’s really I enjoy going to the store so much because he understands that collecting comics is all about connecting with people. You connect with what you like or don’t like or anything else. It’s just a safe place to talk about things that take your mind to a good place and prepare you for dealing with tough stuff that comes your way.
So if you’re thinking about starting a comic collection or on the fence about it, do it! My life’s constantly enriched by them, as well as Lasalle’s, and I know your life will be, too 🙂
Arkham Comics and Collectibles can also be followed at @arkham.comicslasvegas. Daniel also has a Youtube channel (Arkham-Comics Las Vegas).