To me this is a very different thing. comic readers actually read comics!!! comic collectors just have them for investment or art. collecting started in the late sixties but didn't catch on until the 80's which led to the crash of the comic industry.
i myself am a comic reader AND collector.
i read all my comics especially my grails. i love the stories in the GA/ early SA comics. you can see the characters evolve over the years. like batman, wouldn't hesitate to shoot a gun to kill in the early detective comics but then robin came along..... or superman in early actions couldn't fly, he leaped.
i collect not for the value but for the art. i love the art. that's also why i hate 90's comics, the art sucks. Liefeld is the worst of all of the sucky artists out there. schomurg is to all artists in the comic industry.the great covers evolved over the years but are still evident. the era i least like for cover art besides the 90's is the 70's. it didn't do much for me. it's still alright though.
my choice in buying a comic is: is the story good? is the art good? if answer to one is yes i will purchase, if the answer to both is yes than it will be easier for me to purchase, if the answer is no to both i won't. some comics don't apply, like the top 20 golden (even though i've read the top 20 golden and say both story and art is great, especially my Tec' #33!)
there is no concept of actually reading or enjoying your comics anymore. maybe this is only for the collectors of older comics like myself. people should enjoy what they are collecting. an example: there is an english guy, ian levine (for anyone who knows him), he has the most complete dc collection there is. EVERY single DC comic available. he knows everything about DC but has Never read any of the comics. then there is this other guy, forget his name, he has literally the best collection ever!! ultra HG examples of every comic from 1933 to 1969! he was collecting since he was little in the 50's (the way people do now). he would advertise that he would buy or dispose of anyone's used or unwanted comics in a newspaper ad! Action 1. Tec' 27, marvel 1 in 7.0 or higher! he doesn't care about value and keeping them in the ultra HG. he reads all of them! he enjoys them. and even though he uses them they stay in excellent condition!
i also am happy when i see a person in my class reading comics. it shows at least the industry isn't dying because the lack of readers. i see even the older more mature sophmores, juniors, and seniors in my high school reading the latest issue of cap america or iron man. sometimes i wonder if it's because of the movie hype but will soon dismiss it because at least they are keeping the business alive.
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i can say that i have read everything in my collection.
i may not remember everything but i have read it.
Now I won't read older books...to afraid to. However, I am considering buy an annual Marvel Digital subscription so that I can read the old ones without damage to my collection. (Plus actually read the old ones that I cannot and likely will not ever be able to afford).
I have also just starting last week stopped buying reprints and variants. I won't do it any more. I will wait until they are in the dollar bin and instead use my money to get my back issues.
i was going way over my comic budget (usually 12-15 books a month).
even now i have a hard time deciding what needs to get cut from monthly list.
it's even harder to decide what goes and what stays whenever i thin out the collection.
i refer to this as "purging the collection".
not fun, not fun at all.