This interview series is with Justin Alley of Crime Alley Comics and Collectables. I met Justin last year at the Cleveland Comic & Toy Show. He was running a table in the same building as I was. We did a trade for a few books and exchanged info and kept in contact. He's big into comics and also collectables, so for all the readers that are into Pops and figures you'll enjoy some of his photos of his collection.
What got you into comics?
- I have always been fascinated by superheroes. I started at a young age with the animated Batman and Superman shows. I have always looked up to them and aspired to do great things and save others. I have always wanted them to be a part of my life. I have just always been a nerd and different. I had a small collection when I was a kid. I have no idea where those books went. In college, I decided that I wanted to have these monumental issues in my life and started collecting as a serious hobby.
Favorite childhood memory about comics?
- I don’t know if I have a favorite one. This is tough. I can tell you a fond memory I have. There was a local comic book/newspaper place in my neighborhood. I grew up in the inner city of Cleveland, there were not many places like this around, or none that I knew of. There was a place called Bank News. It was, you guessed it, an old bank converted into a makeshift book stand kind of place. My dad took me there as a way to bond and so I could pick out a comic. I got an Ultimate Spider-Man 4 I think? I remember loving the cover and being so happy that I had a new book to read!!
What got you into selling comics?
- I have just recently gotten into selling comics. I have only been serious collecting for about 7/8 years. Within the last year or so, I have wanted to buy and sell. I have a few things I am very passionate about and comics and nerd culture is one of those things. I wanted to take a risk and buy and sell and be a part of a seller community. With a long term goal of maybe making it my full time job.
Biggest mistake you've made?
I, like many others, got caught up in the modern speculation craze that is still going on. I was trying to be dedicated to Key Collector, websites, and whatever else. I have since unsubscribed to Key Collector. I would advise people against it. I was wanting to buy every book, trying to get all the covers…all of that nonsense.
What is your favorite character to collect?
- This is a tough question. I always have a top 3 of heroes I go after. Those are Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. I am always on the lookout for anything from these 3 heroes. This goes for action figures, Funko pops, comics, statues, and everything in between.
Next big thing for you collection? Holy grail?
- My holy grail would probably be an AF15. That is an all time stretch goal. I am not sure if I will ever get one. The next big thing for my collection is…I do not know yet. I do know that I am going to focus my energy next year on collecting the obscure and forgotten about characters.
Most Unique or favorite thing in your collection?
- I think my favorite comic in my collection is my Frank Miller signed Batman #404 and my ASM #121 and ASM #78 that are signed by Stan Lee. I was lucky enough to get some books signed by Stan before he passed. I have also been lucky enough to meet some awesome celebrities and get pops, pictures, and some other comics signed.
Raw or graded…Why?
- I would have to say both at the moment. I started off collecting raw before jumping into the graded world. I love slabbed books. I think eventually I would like to maybe only have graded books. I love to have my books displayed and shown off. They are not only awesome stories but amazing art. So I get books graded to preserve them and if they get signed.
Best find or score.
- I don’t know. I always see these posts of people finding Hulk 181s in boxes, or an AF15 at a garage sale or something else like that. I don’t know if I have gotten one of those yet. I am always on the lookout. The closest thing I would say yet, I got a TDKR 2 for a steal from CityLimitsComics thanks to instagram. That would be my best deal so far!!!
Advice to new collectors.
- I did a blog post on this myself. I will try to summarize what I wrote. Find and maintain your budget, avoid the spec market, collect what you love, and invest into your hobby. By that, I just mean, take time to learn about the hobby and gain knowledge. Learning about grading and market values and signings and whatever else.
A big thanks to Justin and also letting us in on a look at his personal favorites in his collection. As a fellow Amazing Spider-Man fan, I'm super envious of the higher graded slabs and signatures by Stan "The Man" Lee!