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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Comic Investing Factors For Investing In Comics

Comic Investing factors? You bet. It's not as simple as if you were just collecting comics during the right era and happened to pick up all these nice key issues that are now in demand.

Chances are the key issues you picked up by luck while collecting might not even cut the mustard in terms of grade and selling potential in the market. At least, that's how it was for me while collecting in the 80s. I read the crap out of those comics. They are definitely not near the 9.8 range now.

But this isn't collecting and this isn't speculating. This is comic investing. If you collected way back when and were lucky enough to pick up all these in-demand valuable key issues and keep them in high grade, good for you. Now, it's a completely different game, because way too many are trying to do that with the new comics coming out today.

So many are focused on what are the best comics to invest in, they often forget that the best investment comics are situational. They have to be, because if that question was answered literally, a few answers would be an Avengers #1 CGC 9.6, or Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0. They are two of the best comics to invest in, after all, but we all can't afford an Avengers #1 CGC 9.6, right?

That doesn't mean we are out of the game if we don't have money for those comics. It just means a different game plan is needed.

With any kind of investing, there's factors you should be aware of. Here's a few to keep in mind concerning investing in comics:

  1. Your budget.
  2. Your timeline.
  3. Type of key issue comic.
  4. Grade you buy.
  5. How you're going to sell them.

Yes, the market is king, and every comic investor should be watching the market, but that's just common sense. Regardless, the comic market isn't everything. It's not as simple as just that, because you have to factor in yourself and how your situation pertains to the factors I listed above. After all, there are different grades of comics, unslabbed comics, CGC comics, major and minor key issues, etc.

So what's the deal about your timeline?

Pretty simple. As with all investments, your timeline in comic investing is how long you plan on holding onto these comics, as well as your goal of return within that time frame. Believe it or not, a lot of people forget about the second part to that sentence. 

Your goal of return is extremely important. It's the building block to your strategy in comic investing and getting the best comics to invest in according to your situation and goal of return.

For instance, holding onto these investments for only 10 years will have a different game plan than those planning to hold onto comic investments for 30 years or more. Only investing in comics for 10 years will greatly effect your budget, grades you buy, and how you're going to sell them later dramatically. You will be in a more extreme state of comic investing since your timeline is shorter.

Shorter timeline means you want larger return on investment quicker. That means high grade silver age, bronze age or copper age key issues for most investment comics. Logically, you should be gunning for CGC copies. That means a larger budget to be able to afford those.

Generally, with a shorter timeline, your budget shouldn't be small. If it is, you really didn't put much thought into it. You'll need to adjust your timeline to invest in comics longer. Many good to very good silver age comics, even key comics, rise in value painfully slow. Don't believe me, just check out the values section and look at a few examples.

But, if you are on a small budget and are only going for lower to mid-grade key comics, you'll need to buy a whole crap load in order to get an over-all decent return on your entire collection. So, if the majority of key issues you got were in good grades, and the majority of them only went up $50 dollars in the next 30 years, you'll need a large collection of those lower grade books to have an over-all decent investment return.

Then again, my scenario above is an ideal situation. Not every comic you have will rise in value $50 at lower grades. Some might even be lower than that. Some may be higher than that, depending on how you invest in comics.

If you're a ten year investor and for some strange reason are only buying good to mid-grade key silver and bronze age key comics, you'll need to buy an even more extreme crap load of those comics. Generally, I don't believe in short-term comic investing, and 10 years is short-term for me. But it may not be for you, and that's what this post is all about: Factors to consider so you can craft the best comic investing strategy for your situation.

It shouldn't be a surprise that ten year comic investing does not work with most modern comics. Unfortunately, most comic speculators are doing just that, playing the modern age comic slot machines.

Okay, most know there are different types of key comics. Not all first appearances are equal, and there are those first appearances in mere good grades that are excellent investment comic choices. Action Comics #1 in good as a great one, Detective Comics #27 in good is another great one. Amazing Fantasy #15 in good is a decent investment comic.

A comic investor takes into account the grade he or she decides to invest in based on type of key issue comic as well. A first appearance of the Punisher is in high demand, but it's not on the same par with the first appearance of Wolverine in Hulk #181. A VF CGC grade runs about $700 more than the same grade for an Amazing Spider-Man #129. I should've gotten a higher grade ASM #129.

But let's be honest here. It's a bronze age key and isn't exactly rare. Now, I would've been quite happy with a Detective Comics #27 in good condition. Even though good copies are more plentiful than high grade copies for that golden age key issue, good copies are still hard to come by.

An Amazing Spider-Man #129 in good condition, no thanks. I'm almost 40 now, a good condition ASM #129 would not produce a great enough return for me in 20 to 25 years.

If I were still in my teens, I would consider a good copy for that book, but I'm not (timeline factor). However, if I came across a great deal of 50% off guide for that comic in good condition, I wouldn't pass that up either (budget factor), but that most likely won't happen.  

Here's an example: an Incredible Hulk #181 in good condition was worth $70 in the 2002-2003 33rd Overstreet Guide. In the most recent guide it only went up to $100. That's only $30 in a little bit over ten years. That's not a very good return. To make matters worse, it only went up $72 since the 1990-91 Overstreet Guide. $72 in two decades? According to my timeline, that grade for that key issue would not be an acceptable investment purchase if I bought it now.

Type of key comic also brings in the factor of what era the comic hails from as well. I discussed this before in an earlier article. Most copper age key issues should be bought in the higher NM grades, but there are exceptions like ASM #300 or New Mutants #98. I wouldn't doubt if my unslabbed copies are at the most 9.4s for those comics, and that would be fine if they were (type of key issue). They are copper age comics with a lot of high grade copies out there, but the demand for those comics well exceed the supply (market factor).

However, a copper age issue like Crisis On Infinite Earths #1 should be snagged at a 9.8, because it's not even in the hundred dollar range yet. I got my copy for $45 bucks and already CGC graded as well. The demand isn't quite so high yet for that book, and if you are investing in comics, there's no reason to get a copy of that issue in a grade lower.

With most modern age comics, a 9.8 is investment worthy. Anything below, in terms of comic investing, isn't much to toot your horn about unless it's an extremely high demand comic with a low print run like The Walking Dead #1.

The next important factor deals with selling your comics. Selling your comics is a crucial factor that should be considered before you even purchase a comic as an investment. I'm not going to actually go into detail about selling your comics, but I will bring up how it can affect you in terms of comic investing.

For example, I bought my New Mutants #98 unslabbed at one of my locals a while back. It was the only copy available and had just come in. The price was $40 bucks, and when I looked it over, it looked like it was higher than the VF grade it was advertised as. I paid over guide for that book at the time, but did I?

When I bought it, I already had it in my mind to get it CGC graded before I'd even think of selling it. Why? Because there's a good chance it might come back from CGC a higher grade. Also, CGC copies sell higher than unslabbed copies (selling factor).

Now, if the copy was a VG lower grade, I wouldn't have bought it, but what if it was that grade and the price was right? Well, then how I would sell it would change. I wouldn't bother getting it CGC graded and would just sell it unslabbed when the time came.

However, a copper age, lower grade, unslabbed comic will be more limiting when trying to sell, even if it is the first appearance of Deadpool. Most places that allow consignment comics like ComicLink and mycomicshop probably won't accept it. Concerning copper age and modern age books, many places that offer consignments require them to be CGC graded and high grade. Some refuse to consign any modern comic lower than a CGC 9.6. That means the only place I could sell that lower grade New Mutants #98 is on eBay.

Most likely, I would wait for the Deadpool movie to finally come out before trying to sell that low grade copy (market factor). That's if a Deadpool solo movie ever does come out. If not, my timeline in holding onto that lower grade first appearance of Deadpool would be longer than 10 years for sure. 

The overall point is: With comic investing there is a lot more thought put into it. You have to consider your timeline and budget, which affects the acceptable investment grade to get for your investment goal. This also factors in the decision of whether or not to buy CGC or unslabbed, or to CGC it later for selling purposes. 

Most comic speculators don't put much thought into it, because the strategy doesn't have much thought to it, just like playing slots. If the factors I explained a bit about in this post are things you consider, you're comic investing. If not, they are some things to consider so you can craft the best comic investing strategy for your budget, situation and goals.

Thanks for reading and hope this helps.


  1. Great Post! So here's a question for you....
    Just bought a copy of Golden Age Action Comics #29 (1st Lois Lane Cover...awesome cover!)
    Anyways, it it's probably a 5.0, with the exception of a 2" tear down the spine.(staples still attached)
    I have been told that with the tear, it's a 3.0 at best, but if it was taped, it would grade a 4.0 or better.
    I am also concerned with handling, it could get worse. What do you think?

    1. Interesting question. A grade of solid GD 2.0 allows a spine tear up to 2 inch. A 3.0 only allows an inch and a half spine tear. As for the tape thing, I'm not sure about that at all. If we are talking about CGC, they absolutely despise tape on comics and believe there is no good reason to use tape on a comic book.

      They won't slap you with a restored label, but they will dock you big on the use of tape. As for grading 4.0 or better, minor tape is allowed on VG copies, but I have no idea how CGC will grade it with the tape on there, meaning whether they'll grade it up or further down. It's up to you whether you want to gamble and try.

      Your copy with the 2 inch spine tear is a solid GD. A 5.0 only allows a half inch spine tear at most.

    2. I should also note that CGC does consider tape an extra defect no matter what.

  2. Dear Total Comic Mathem I desprately need your help! I am an ammeture investor with not much money so have only bought half descent comics when I can afford them... Now that I have quite a few I desparately want to sell them for Either an Asm #4 or Hulk #2 (green hulk '62) I will provide a list of what I have below is Hulk a better investment being the rarer comic as a long term investment or Asm #4 popularity? Wise? Please please help?

    This is my following list

    Asm #300 not slabbed est grade 9.4/9.6
    Xmen 266 not slabbed (x2) 9.6'smaybe higher
    Xmen 266 cgc stan lee signed
    FF48 not est grade 5.0 maybe a 5.5
    asm 361 (X3) 9.0-9.2's

    Are all those worth selling?

    And ps is luke cage iron fist #34 a good speculative comic they seem pretty cheap and black goliath seems like a cool character

    I'd really appreciate your help! I love your website and updates you are the best!!

    1. I would pick Hulk #2 over ASM #4, but they are both solid investment comics for sure. Any early Amazing Spider-Man key issue is a great comic to invest in no doubt, but this time I would say Hulk #2 (first green Hulk), but it also depends on the grade you plan on getting.

      As for the comics you mentioned, I'm not sure what you mean by is it "worth" selling now. If you mean worth selling in the current market, then all of those but one are extremely hot in the market now.

      ASM #300 - Hot!
      ASM #361 - Hot, but only for 9.8s or 9.6s.
      X-Men #266 - Hot due to Gambit being in a solo movie

      The only one that isn't hot is FF #48, but it is an in-demand key.

    2. Thank you so much for the reply your a Gent! What I meant by are they worth selling all of them i.e cashing in to buy one good comic. is in 30 years will they be worth more as a collective than Hulk #2 my gut instinct before you replied was hoping you would say the Hulk over Asm lol, your website is rely helping me btw I'm in the UK and got the 266's litterally the day before! Movie announcment so will wait a while to sell them but all in am keeping whatever money I make aside for one good comic is my ultimate aim, the other comic I mentioned was luke cage not iron fist sorry 1st black Goliath to me seems under estimated.

      Anyway thank you so much for clearing that one up you! and your website! Are the best!! I'm learning a lot and fast! I'll spread the word! God bless

      Kindest Regards


    3. Heya Russ, oops forgot to comment about the first Black Goliath. If it's over-looked and pretty cheap right can't hurt. The way things are going, I'm pretty sure Powerman #24 key will probably pick up as well since the market seems to be hunting most any key at the moment.

      Would be cool to either see Goliath or Black Goliath in a movie though. Be visually pretty awesome!

    4. My thoughts excactly small margings big gain! I love a bit of bronze age He is an awesome character and great art! work appreciate the advice bro!

  3. Ps xmen 266 cgc stan lee is 9.6 sorry

  4. Punisher is now on the way to being on the same caliber as Hulk 181, Don't know if it will be as high, but who knows…… Just been (re-reading) these old posts to freshen up.! Thanx Mayhem!