Collecting 101 – Investing in Comics

Buying comic books as an investment is not new to the comic book world.  In fact, before the industry collapse during the chrome age (1991-2000) collectors were investing heavily into comics hoping to one day retire on their collection.

However, in the late 90’s just before year 2000 the bubble burst as collectors attempted to cash in on their investment and were told that their collection was basically worthless…This is the sad reality of investing in comic books.  Some comics that are near and dear to our heart are essentially worthless.

But does that mean investing in comics is not a good idea?  Absolutely not.  However, I would caution newbies as investing in comics is like putting your money in the stock market – comic book values can go up and down.  And like stock brokers, you need to have the wisdom and experience to purchase the right comics that would yield a gain.

Why is that?

To answer that question, I need you to understand that a lot of comics aren’t even worth their cover price.  Especially if you are purchasing a modern comic book (which retails for $3.99).  I would say almost all (about 98%) of today’s modern comic books are going to be in tomorrow’s dollar bins.  That is because it is very rare for a modern comic to retain its cover price value, much less for it to go up in price.

This is what happened during the crash of the ‘90s.  The market was flooded with comics packaged as collectors items.  Those collector item comics of the ‘90s are now sitting in the dollar bin of most comic book stores because there are no one who wants to buy them.

In order for a comic book to be worth something, it has to have certain special characteristics.  Seasoned veterans like myself have trained ourselves to watch for these traits.  This is why one of the biggest mistakes rookies make is assuming that if a comic is old it must be valuable.  I have been to countless appraisals and this misconception of “old being valuable” has been present 80% of the time.

In truth, in all my years of collecting, I discovered that there are three things that make a comic book (or any item) valuable: Rarity, demand and pop culture significance.  There are other factors besides these three – but all three factors I mentioned MUST be present in the item for it to be valuable.

Let’s take for example Action Comics #1.  That comic book made history when it was sold for $3.2 million dollars.  In fact, it was even stated that it was possibly the most valuable comic in the world.  (For those of you that are newbies – Action Comics #1 is the first appearance of Superman)

Note: All three characteristics are present.  Let me break it down for you:

*Rarity – Printed in 1938 there are only a few known copies left to exist. 

*Demand – Action Comics #1 is one of the most sought after comic books by collectors. 

*Pop culture significance – Superman is one of the most famous heroes in history.  (During that time, comics were stories of cowboys and indians, cops and robbers, romance novels, etc.)

As you can see, all three characteristics are present.  If a comic (or item) contains these three elements you can definitely be sure that it is going to be valuable.