Search This Site

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?!



  1. This has put me off copper age/modern age comics now. I ave only got hand full. Do you think asm 252 is a hot key?

    Too be honest i think the value will go up. In these copper age books just because they are the most affordable for new collectors. so people that are are just starting off with go for the likes x-men 283, x-men 4, and Asm 361. Then people get the bug and then buy more valuable books.

    You are right about the cgc census. it makes me really weary even buying silver age comics especially superman and batman.

    1. Well, the point of this article was more of a joke with a point. I am still greatly conflicted about many Copper Age and Modern Age comics...not all but many.

      What I'm trying to get at is the demand has to be greater than the actual copies out there. It's always best to get the highest grade possible, but if there's tons of high grade copies, that demand better grow or sustain a high enough level in order for values to rise or stay at their values.

      Once again, collectors determine this by what they're willing to pay for. Right now, a lot of the people who once collected during the Copper Age (as I did) are feeling nostalgic and buying the comics they once had and let go. It was the same effect for those who collected during the silver age and bronze age as well. I, however, do not really feel any nostalgia concerning the comics I grew up on in terms of comic investing.

      The difference is the level of high grade comics during the silver age and bronze age are a lot less than compared to Copper Age and Modern Age. Remember, the speculator market boomed in the 90s and bags and boards and comic boxes became popular during that time for a reason. More people during the time I collected comics were more aware of the potential of comic values than in the past. So, as a whole, they kept their comics in better condition.

      As for silver age Superman and Batman, I'd much rather spend dough on a high grade silver age Batman or Superman comic than any of the comics I collected as a kid or got for pennies on the dollar in a comic lot just a few years ago.

      But that is my personal preference. Some don't see it that way, and are mining these comics because they are more affordable investments possibilities.

      I can see why and if they do want key issues lists within certain price ranges, I'll produce them. I've even picked up some Copper Age investment comics such as Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 by using my Double Dip method. I'm not entirely closed off to the idea, but I do know the risk and I won't invest in those eras on any large scale.

      Amazing Spider-Man #252 is a solid investment comic that's been in demand for quite some time. First black costume Spidey in regular series, and yes it is a Copper Age book. However, X-Men #282 is no ASM #252 nor New Mutants #98.

      New Mutants #98 came out the same year as the first appearance of Bishop, and NM #98 has been a hot book since. X-Men #282 just recently blew up.

    2. I know it's like playing the lottery with copper age books. even with key comics,but i bet in the copper age people were doing the same with bronze age books.Thats good i just thought asm 252 was a minor key got it for $73 in 9.6 cgc. Last one landed for $150.;)

      I personaly asked for that list just for ideas.I didn't wanna miss the next new mutants 98.But your right you can't beat silver age books .

      I think it's easier to invest in a silver age book. You've got more data to look at (growth pattern). The cgc census is usually easier to read. I think silver age books are the better long term investment to be honest.

      You are right the collectors really to control the market. It's down to supply and demand look you said. With all these comic book movies coming out. It's bringing new money into the market with cold hard investers and new collectors pushing the demand up.

    3. You're right, people during the copper age were buying up silver and bronze age comics for the same reasons...feeling nostalgic on the comics they grew up on. It is a cycle, and as long as the comic market keeps growing Copper Age comics or some Modern Age comics may be fine investments.

      With any kind of investment, you're taking a risk, even golden and silver age books.

      Just because I have or others may have a bias with Copper and Modern Age key issues, doesn't mean you should either. We may very well miss out and end up kicking ourselves 10 years down the road while you laugh all the way to the bank. Things always change and you have to change with them. I understand that, but it will take me awhile to fully warm up to it.

      I will continue to produce those lists, because there are others out there who do want that information and can better afford these copper and modern age investments. Still, I have to inform that there are a large percentage of high grade copies out there, so unlike some bronze and silver age comics, a CGC VF just may not cut it for Copper or Modern Age investments.

      Please remember, my word is not gold nor law. Is there a chance that Copper or Modern Age key investments could end up like the Valiant Comics of the 90s. Sure, there's always a chance. Is it likely that will happen, not really. The likelihood of that happening is pretty small.

    4. yeah your right. The only things i ave got against 90's copper age comics. Is high print runs and high number off 9.8's.

      But to be honest if you look at the sold listings of x-men 4 and x-men 283 they are usually sold by the same person. so there is some measure of control in place.

    5. A measure of control is true, but nothing like having a cap on how many X-Men #4s or X-Men 282s are allowed to sell in the market place. The seller who is selling mostly CGC 9.8s of those comics probably hoarded them and have a few to go around. It was the same for Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 and 8, mostly the same seller selling those books.

      But nobody is stopping anyone from taking those books out their vaults and selling those 9.8 copies. Once the books start going over well over a hundred bucks I think you'll see more copies from different sellers, some from actual collections, being thrown out into the market place.

      If there is a high enough demand, they'll be snagged and vaulted again. If not, you'll see prices start dropping.

  2. Hey there. Great article! I've been trying to catch up on all your posts.

    This might be a little off the topic, but do you think it's time the Modern Age is redefined? It's listed as starting from 1992 and continuing on to now. That's 22 years. The Copper Age is defined as 1984-1991, only about a seven-year span. And the Golden Age 1939-1955. I'm thinking a new age should be listed as the Iron Age or something, spanning 1992-2010, and the Modern Age being redefined as 2011-present. 2011 seems about good, with the beginning of the New 52 and the break of the Comics Code Authority with most major publishers. What do you think? Just a thought I've been having.

    Again, keep up with the great posts!


    1. I ave heard people use the term "dark age"

    2. Heya Jeff, how goes it? I do think it's time to add another category after Copper Age. Just not sure what they'll call it. Iron Age sounds pretty decent. I often wonder who makes up those categories. Is there some secret Illuminati that determines this?

      Maybe they're not even sure what to call it just yet.

    3. The Dark Age actually refers to Copper Age comics also and spans from the mid 80s to now. Considering the time and the grittiness of the era, The Dark Age might be a good title to section off after the Copper Age. With all the reboots and lolligagging with modern age comics, which I think makes it incredibly annoying to really follow anything this day and age, Dark Age does sound quite appropriate.

      After the Dark Age, it can then be called the Aluminum Age or the Plastic Age. Totally kidding.

  3. Yeah, Dark Age sounds good. And you never know, Aluminum Age just might be used at some point.


    1. I surely hope there isn't an Aluminum Age in comics. Iron Age probably has a much better chance of being named the next category in comics.

  4. I'm new to this site I just found it yesterday It's awesome that's for sure!! I get what your saying about copper age books and why you should only invest in CGC 9.8 copies but I still think some books even at a 9.6 are good to have one book that comes to mind is The Crow #1-4!

    Tough black covers low print run collectors that have them don't like to give them up that's for sure. I'm sure there are other books out there The Crow is one that just comes to mind.

    I like to get as many 9.8 as I can but I also I'm not crazy enough to drop $1,000 on a Amazing Spiderman #300 CGC 9.8, but that's just me.

    1. What you say is true. If you're talking about indie titles during the Copper Age then yes, those can be rare much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. However, most of these Marvel and DC Comics, with the exception of the Vertigo line, aren't very rare but the demand is crazy for them.

      The Crow is a limited print indie from the Copper Age, and I've mentioned it here and there. I agree about the ASM #300. I wouldn't pay a grand for a 9.8 either.