Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Truth About Rarity in Copper and Modern Age Comic Investing!

Did you know that diamonds aren't really rare? It's true, there are plenty of diamonds out there in the world, but the main reason why you're paying a huge amount for those absolutely useless flesh decorations is because the diamond market was once controlled.

That means only a certain amount of diamonds were allowed to enter the market per year, giving off the illusion of rarity and basically suckering the general public. I roll my eyes every time a girlfriend goes goo goo over diamond jewelry and has to stop and take a look in some jewelry store. 

You sucker, I always think to myself, while the girl tries her best to subtly drop hints at what she wants me to someday surprise her with. Though she thinks she's doing a great job at not being overly obvious about it, she's really failing miserably.

If there's one thing I do know is that the comic market is not controlled like the diamond market was. Can you imagine if there was a rule that stated you could only sell a certain amount of Amazing Spider-Man #300s per year? Of course that issue would be a lot more rare.

Or, if only 1 copy of Avengers #1 CGC 9.6 was allowed to be sold every 10 years? Since there are only 3 that exist so far, the comic is already rare but would even be more rare if the market was controlled like that. Crazy and lame!

But the comic market isn't controlled like that. Wanna know why? Because most of the comic market is controlled by the collectors. Now, I'm not saying we have control over how many comics are printed and whatnot, but we have control of how many comics a certain issue at a certain grade is in the market place.

Let me explain. The more a comic floods the market and is available, the easier it is to obtain. The easier it is to obtain, the less rare it is and the less valuable it is. Of course, this all depends on the demand and how big or small that demand is compared to the amount of copies of the comic in is in the market.

Which brings me to some Copper Age comics and most Modern Age comics and why I'm still wary about them in terms of comic investments. Now, there's no doubt that Copper Age comics right now are steaming up greatly. That's a fact even I cannot deny. There's no doubt that some Modern Age comics are becoming in-demand as well.

However, whenever I think of Copper Age and Modern Age comics as investments I think of two words: Valiant Comics! 

Do you remember Valiant Comics? I'm not talking about the new Valiant Comics, the company that reemerged recently in its place. I'm talking about Valiant Comics from the 90s.

Well, if you grew up collecting comics during the same time I did, you know about Valiant Comics. They were pretty popular during the early 90s. Actually, some of the comics were valuable during the company's prime.

I remember a time when Valiant Comics sold out like hot cakes the minute they hit the stands. Comic dealers were always actively searching for #1 issues and paid decent money for them. Then something strange happened.

My old boss has a story about how he took in his entire Valiant collection into a comic shop, sold them, and crashed the values for Valiant Comics single-handedly during the 90s. Of course, his story is a joke, but there is a ring of truth to it.

Although he did not single-handedly do this, the market sure did. For some reason, collectors in a large enough number decided that they didn't want their Valiant Comics anymore and sold them back into the market place. 

Of course, this was not done in a single night, but it seemed like it. Actually, it was done in a relatively short time, and the next you thing you know, comic dealers and collectors were struggling to get rid of 90s Valiant Comics. There were so many in the market that people could buy them in lots for 10 or 15 cents a piece.

If you know about Copper Age and Modern Age comics, you'll know that there is no shortage of high grade copies out there. Yes, this even includes the keys like NYX #3, New Mutants #98, and Amazing Spider-Man #300. 

For an ASM #300 there are actually 10 CGC 9.9 registered in the census and 460 9.8s. As for 9.6s, there's 1,483. Now, this doesn't even include all the unslabbed copies that some collectors refuse to get graded for some odd reason. Holy crap! Three CGC 9.8 copies ended up being restored? That sucks big time!

For New Mutants #98, it looks amazingly close as well. There's 8 CGC 9.9s and 1,244 9.8s. Are you serious? 8 CGC 9.9s? Only one 9.8 that's a restored copy That sucks also.

As for 9.6s, there's 1,397. Of course, this doesn't include all the unslabbed copies within those grades that have yet to be graded either. 

Let's look at NYX #3. I know for a fact there won't be that many graded copies for this Modern Age key issue because it's recently blown up in demand. So I expect the graded numbers for 9.8s to definitely reach higher numbers in the next few years.

Wow...4 CGC 9.9s and quite a bit of 9.8s. No restored though, that's a good thing. But, I'll bet my nuts that when the numbers reach in thousands for 9.8s and 9.6s, we'll start seeing some restored copies getting unfortunately registered. 

Anyways, you can see that there's quite a bit of high grade comics for Copper and Modern Age books, key issues or not. Tons if you count all the ones yet to be graded.

To be honest, I'm not really worried about those Copper Age keys. They've been in demand for quite a while now and proved themselves. Well, minus NYX #3, but the character X-23 has become hugely popular for a recent character and her first appearance in NYX #3 is taking off without the help of any movie hype.

What I am wary about are the recent Copper Age and Modern Age comics that were basically junk comics and only recently blew up because of a certain character hitting the big screen. Uncanny X-Men #282, first Bishop, and New Mutants #87, first full Cable, come to mind.

They are hot indeed...for now...but only in 9.8 grades and above. That's another part that irks me and seems quite flimsy. You can see from the census that it does make sense, but really, who made up the rule? Is there like a Paul Revere of the comic market that rides around and lets everyone know about these rules as well?

And what if...just what if...collectors in a collective and large enough movement just all the sudden decided they didn't want those comics in their vaults any longer and dumped them back in the market place somewhere down the line? Yes, it does sound crazy, but it did happen with those Valiant Comics in the 90s.

I know that the entire market isn't going to stop desiring those comics as a whole, but even if 75% of the demand suddenly went poof for those comics, would the 25% of the demand be able to sustain those values? Would even half of the demand be able to do that with all the high grade options for Copper Age and Modern Age key issues out there?

I seriously don't know, but I think about it. I think about it a lot, and it reminds me of the 90s speculator market just enough to make me cautious. 

But let's be fair and look at a super bronze age key issue and compare the high grade goodness...well, I shouldn't call it goodness if there's a lot of high grade copies.

Well, no where near the thousands for 9.8 copies and nowhere near the thousands for 9.6 copies or even 9.2 copies. 5,302 copies have been graded under CGC alone for Amazing Spider-Man #129.

Only 1679 copies have been graded CGC for NYX #3 so far. When that sucker reaches 5,302 submissions, you can bet there will be an extreme amount of high grade 9.8s and 9.6s. Amazing Spider-Man #300 has a whopping total of 8,547 CGC submissions. New Mutants #98 has 4,935 so far, but imagine what the numbers would be for the first appearance of Deadpool if the comic had the same CGC total census that ASM #300 has now.

Every time I'm about to drop money on a Copper Age or Modern Age comic that recently blows up I think those two words: Valiant Comics. 

I know I should get rid of my bias, and it's keeping me from making some purchases that might just end up really good investment comics. It's even gotten to the point where I've thought about seeking therapy and having the words - Valiant Comics - erased from my memory through hypnosis or something.

I'm not sure that will even help or cure it or if it's even possible. I've spent so long dealing with Copper and Modern Age comics and having them produce absolutely little before that right now the line from the movie The Godfather 3, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in," rings in my head whenever I think of going back down that route again.

It is tempting, though. Very tempting! On one hand, I'd like to think I learned from my mistakes. I tried working the Copper Age and Modern Age comic mines before, and they didn't pan out. No biggie. You either learn or you move on. I chose the latter.

On the other hand, I know that comic collectors who once collected in the Copper Age era are now starting to feel nostalgic and buying up the comics they grew up on. I could very well regret not getting in on this movement before prices reach the stratosphere. 

Sigh. I really should just get with the program and get over my bias. The market is shifting that way and it is a different time now after all.

The past is the past, and, after all, I did say that I try to eliminate as much bias as possible when investing in comics. It's time to live by those words and start investing in those Copper and Modern Age comic investments!

Valiant Comics.

On a more serious note, do not invest in most Copper and Modern Age comics below a 9.8. You're wasting your time with a 9.6 for most comics within those eras, unless it is a super key.

Super keys are some of the examples I gave you in this post for those eras - ASM #300 and New Mutants #98 are just two. Some others in the Modern Age era are Batman Adventures #12 and Walking Dead #1, etc. Walking Dead #1 is a low print run just to clarify.

If a CGC 9.8 is still dropping on eBay for less or at a hundred bucks, it is not a Copper or Modern Age super key just yet. It's not even close, and it makes no sense to get a CGC 9.6 copy for those issues. Even some minor bronze age and silver age key issues fall into this category as well.

Oh, and just because it has a low CGC census at 9.8s doesn't mean it's rare. Some of these unslabbed issues may not be deemed worthy to CGC just yet and are still hibernating in people's collections. You have to look at the total amount of that issue submitted to CGC in order to gauge it correctly. Remember, there is also PGX out there as well.

If an issue has a low total of copies submitted to CGC but a high 9.8 count, you can bet there are quite a lot of high grade unslabbed copies still out there, unless it's a limited print run.

Diamonds aren't rare, and most Copper Age and Modern Age key issues aren't either. With those eras, the cheap buy and lower grade isn't always the best investment comic choice.

Damn, where are my CGC submissions?!