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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Comic Investing Market Blow Up!

I've noticed it. Gerry's noticed it, and you've all probably noticed it as well. The comic investing market is basically blowing up and at record speed.

I've never seen it move like this before, and in all my years of collecting comics, I've never seen prices inflated at such a rate. For instance, I wrote about news of Cyborg being cast in the Superman vs. Batman flick not even one month ago. When I located two CGC 9.8 copies and wrote up a High Grade Alert mere hours after the news, they were gone within the hour after publishing it. I went to eat lunch, came back, and poof! Gone!

Now, CGC 9.8 copies of DC Comics Presents #26 are selling within the $600 range on eBay. Not dropping, although I do believe one just did. Usually, it takes a bit of time for a comic to heat up once news breaks out, but not in this particular case.

Also, I've noticed that comics I could get three years ago for relatively cheap are now nearing the $1000 mark. I remember walking into a comic shop and seeing an Amazing Spider-Man #300 CGC 9.6 for $150 and thinking, "Wow, that comic's held up nicely." Now, it's double the price. Key word, three years ago.

When I first started collecting, comic investing was in it's infancy. It's called the speculator era for a reason, but do not confuse speculating and comic investing. I hate that. They're not the same. Comic speculators still do what was done in the late 80s to mid 90s. They buy new, fresh off the rack comics and hope they'll be valuable. They also buy multiple copies of these new comics. They haven't changed their approach.

We are in the boom of comic book movies and comic investing. It's hitting it's peak. Right now, every Dick and Jane actor would love to covet a comic book movie role. The movies are the kings at the box office, raking in millions and now billions. 

Make no mistake that comic book movies have pushed comics and superheroes into the collective conscious world wide. The global economy may be recovering, but it still stinks like a dirty diaper. Make no mistake that the rich are getting richer and using their buying power to ensure that laws are enacted so that it stays that way. Don't believe me? Just look at Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino mogul who is lobbying to ban online casinos. Instead of trying to compete in a fair market, he's just content with wiping out the competing market entirely. The dude's a multi-billionaire, so don't tell me he ain't got the cash to compete in the online gambling market. Who is introducing these bills to congress? The same party that totes they are better for big and small businesses, a.k.a the Republican Party.

That brings me to the simple word: Competition!

The back issue market for comics is now more global than ever! Let me repeat this: The back issue comic market is more global than ever now!

More new buyers from countries new to the market, as well as more new buyers from the regular U.K, USA and Canadian market.  What does that equal - more competition! I do not attribute this because the global economy is getting better. It's because the reach and influence comic characters have now, and who is providing this reach? Movie studios with mega blockbuster comic movies.

To further my point, when the big recession of 2007 - 2008 hit, comic book sales were even stronger. I'm not talking about new comics. I'm talking about silver age key and some bronze age issue comic investments. 

Now, bronze age has come into it's own, often commanding prices at high grades that make facebook shares look like chump change. Anything worth anything is being hit up like a porn star that just became famous. High grade Copper Age key issues did not gradually become in-demand like other eras. That demand seemed to hit like a hurricane, and values are starting to rocket into outer space for quite a few of them.

For example, most bronze age comics took nearly 40 something years to become valuable. Iron Man #55 is one. Now, quite a few Copper Age comics are rivaling bronze age prices. 

This has everything to do with the onslaught and larger reach of comic movies, television shows based on comics, and the knowledge that comic books are no longer just kids' stuff. Not just in the usual comic markets like the U.K., Canada, and USA. However, quite a few people in the U.K., Canada, and U.S. are returning back to comic collecting after leaving the hobby due to puberty, hormones, or whatever reasons.

The market is expanding in a big bad way, and now it's even more worldwide than before!

I'm a product of a comic book television show myself - The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. To say that show did not leave an impact on me as a child and would later propel me down the path of comic collecting madness would be cause for someone to throw me a paddle on the Denial River. Knowing me, the paddle would just end up hitting me on the head and knocking me out, causing me to remain there even longer.

Now, like I mentioned with DC Comics Presents #26, confirmation of a character hitting the big or small screen leaks out, and you see almost instant inflation on that first appearance. We are more connected than ever. Ask yourself this question: How did you find this site to begin with? If you can find it, I'm sure somebody in Russia or India could find it also.

Information about comics being valuable is now ten fold. Back in my day as a kid collecting comics, not investing in comics, there was an inkling that comics were valuable. Those in the circle of truly knowing that comics could become extremely valuable were a few, and they were very much like a secret society. I was never part of it, nor knew it even existed until years later (they are the elite comic dealers). And they never went around releasing their secrets. The only way to find them out was to work for one of them. Now, anyone with internet can get access to this information, even when you're mobile.

What does this cause? It's going to cause quite a lot of things.

1. As I already mentioned, many are going to start digging at the bottom of the barrel for certain and more affordable key issues, widely known as sleepers. These are comics that aren't widely that yet known and usually break out when a character is confirmed to hit the big or small screen. There are quite a few key issue sleepers I've noted in the various key issues lists in the On The Hunt section on here.

2. Many collectors are going to focus their dollars on another era. Right now high grade Copper Age keys are being mined like crazy. When that milkshake is done, the next will be quite a few high grade Modern Age keys. Sad to say, but it's true. It's already trending that way already.

3. Lower to mid grade key issues from the silver age and bronze age are going to be mined more frequently. The majority of comic collectors don't have Nicolas Cage or Enimem money. The already hefty values for silver and bronze age comics and the quickly rising Copper Age values for high grade books will start forcing the majority to seek out lower grade or mid-grade or even VF options away from the higher near mint 9.4 - 9.8 options in the silver and bronze era. 

Some Copper Age books are still not performing well at grades lower than 9.6. Most Copper Age keys, not all, still require 9.8 copies for comics that are not that in-demand just yet. Amazing Spider-Man #300 is an in-demand Copper Age book and CGC 9.8s are already dropping past the $1,000 mark. For example sake, many seeking out that key are setting their sights on lower grades like 9.0s and 9.2s. 

As for a recent question about Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 and #8. They are not that sought out yet. CGC 9.8s are no where near the $200 mark, and a little past the $100 mark. There's no point in getting a lower graded copy just yet for those books. I don't mean to be an ass, but if you're budget is really that hard pressed, you're options for comic investing will be extremely limited. You may want to consider taking bigger risks in unslabbed, raw copies, which at the current speed the comic investing market is running at, I'm starting to think about mining the raw mines again as well.

Now, does Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 and 8 at CGC 9.6 and 9.4 have room for potential growth? Sure they do, but that depends on how long do you want to invest in those. CGC 9.8s also have great potential growth, and they will grow a lot faster than any 9.6 or 9.4.

4. Higher grade copies of certain key issues will stay in collector's vaults for longer periods. Looking for a Marvel Premiere #1 in high grade CGC? Very hard to find now. It's because comic collectors or investors have already snagged them, and they are happily sitting in their vaults marinating. 

This is the rarity factor, and it's part of the game. Great keys will be harder to find at super investment worthy grades, while those that do pop up in the market again will command high prices. 

With everything in life, those who are first to the finish line receive the glory. Those who hesitate, as I did with Hero For Hire: Luke Cage #1, end up kicking themselves...sometimes repeatedly.  

Gerry and I were talking about this a few days ago, about it being harder and harder to find good comics to invest in that aren't already extremely over-bloated, as well as how quickly their values are going bonkers. It wasn't a bitch fest. It was just talking about an observation. This post isn't a bitch fest's talking about what's currently going on, and it took me about a week to figure that mess out. 

I'm already sensing and hearing the tension in the comic investing market about this concern. I'm feeling it as well. You may be also. 

A lot of people are moaning and groaning about it, but they're forgetting that comic book movies are now making tons of money in other foreign markets like India, China, and Russia just to name a few. That means the influence and demand for these superheroes and comics have also permeated countries that were not that in tune with these characters on a big scale a decade ago.

The market is currently expanding and moving fast and it will shift. Right now, most sellers of comics are still within the U.S. Most of the majority of high grade super keys still reside in U.S. collections. But, quite a few are now starting to be bought up by collectors with money from countries new to the market. Why do you think eBay instituted their new global shipping program? To reach more buyers in other countries!

It's changing rapidly for sure. More people know about comic investing and are actively searching for which best comics to invest in at super speeds. The market is expanding, and that also means the best comics to invest in will change as well.

Competition is fierce now, and investing in comics will need different and more flexible approaches in the future for sure. Or, a bigger bank roll! The real question is do you want to compete?


  1. Hi, again an outstanding post from you, I´m thinking this for weeks now, if you´re watching the sales recently done on ebay and on other related websites. The market is heating up in a tempo that is scarying- at least for me...
    What do you think does that mean for long term investments like 20 or 30 years from now on? Are there specific signs that on one point the values are crushing down and there will be a big loss for your long terms? I mean at this time you have to invest quite a big cash to buy some keys and there are hardly no more good deals to snag so it really is important to make sure that your return in investments in the future still is acceptable.
    So what is your plan in this particular situation to invest wisely for long terms?
    Thanks for all this outstanding informations you´re providing here, keep up this really good work!!!
    Regards from Berlin/Germany, Sven

    1. As for long term investment wise, you want the market to expand. That's a good thing for comics in your vault. You should be concerned when the market shrinks like in the 90s.

      Finding comic investments will be the concern, and depending on your methods or strategies of buying comics as investments, this may have to change. As the comment below, finding sleepers is a good idea, paying great attention to comic book movies and t.v. shows, etc will need to be done on a more intense level.

      Also, another commenter on a different post said that anticipating what the next generation will be gunning for in a few years is a great idea. I mentioned in this post that grade standards will probably be lower...many will start seeking 8.0 to 9.2 or 9.4s for some hot books, and even lower grade to mid-grade for silver age super keys, as long as there is good room for potential growth.

      As much as there's risk with unslabbed, raw copies, I'm starting to pay more attention to those to get cheaper, slab them, and hope to get them a higher grade than what I paid (instant return). Of course, I'm still not that inclined in getting major valuable keys unslabbed that tote higher grades, especially for really older comics.

      eBay will need a new approach since CGC high grade copies are becoming harder to find cheap (depending on your definition of cheap/budget). If you're unfortunately without a nearby comic shop or comic con and buy on eBay majority wise, you'll have to be extremely on the ball about comic investments in order to snag those before prices become out of reach.

      No room for laziness in this market climate for sure in buying comics as investments.

  2. Great post thanks for doing it. I think it's safe to say the comics in our vaults are going to be marinating rather well for the next 30 years +.

    But for the future, i wouldn't personally going for super hot key's now.. i.e hulk 181,asm 300,new muntants 98. I would rather go for sleeper keys with big potential. i would rather go for asm 46 (1st shocker) than asm 41 (1st Rhino). there is $450.00 difference in value at nm value.

    I thinks it gonna take alot of hours of research but hopefully i can personally keep ahead of the masses. do you think this will apply to other non key comics if people get priced out of key comics.

    I think it may if the chinese get into the market they will buy high grade comics. regardless of key or not. I have to deal with the chinese at my work ( jaguar land rover). and if they pay £200,00 for £85,000 car. what will they do for nm comics in any age/ key.

    The other thing about the chinese market is. there is around 2 million millionaires in china. so god help the average joe.

    1. I agree with you mostly except on major hot keys. Grades lower than the high NM spectrum 9.4-9.8 still have growth potential. Not extremely big growth potential like the sleepers you mention, but still decent. Even mid grades for major keys in the silver age are still moving.

      As for the Chinese market, that's not much of a problem. Not that many sellers are inclined to send valuables to China in fear of them being stolen within their postal system. I'm sure those with mad money there can get them, but that's still a pretty small percentage.

      I don't see an upswing for non keys. I could be wrong, but the market are still gunning for keys....unless a non-key a few years ago ends up being a key like Hulk 271 with Rocket Raccoon. Keys will remain the primary objective. The only problem is the price being inflated at literally the drop of a hat.

  3. I was just wondering if you could explain this to me.. I ave been looking thru old price guides for my comics..

    What i can't understand is why non key comics go up in price when they never hit guide on auction. who actually comes up with the prices.

    I ave got a few examples that i own FF 69. has gone up $60. in four years in 9.2.
    Batman 180 in 9.2 has gone up $ 70 in 6 years.

    I got fantastic four 69 in 9.4 cgc for $100 on a "buy it now ".That's $100 under guide at 9.2. I got batman 180 for $95 under guide.It really stumps me.

    Are Overstreet over valuing books on a whole??.Our do people actually pay this??. if they don't, why do the guide prices go up for?

    1. Okay, great question. Why are Overstreet Guide Prices different than what you're paying for CGC on eBay or elsewhere. It's because OGP doesn't take into account eBay all that much. They have a network of comic shops and comic dealers, called contributors, that report on prices and sales they make on a variety of comics. These are the "Elite" dealers from around the world.

      These sales are then averaged out to come up with a value for various comics. What you're doing is just basing it off the comics you get. There are other people who have bought those comics at the same grade from elsewhere besides eBay, and they may have not gotten the same deal you got.

      The market is a bigger place than just eBay, and OGP doesn't pay much attention to eBay on that front.

      You're also forgetting region. Not sure what region you're from, but I bet it's different than what it is out here in California, unless you're from here as well. Customers in different regions buy more of or less of different characters, titles, etc. No difference than the head buyer of a regional district for Walmart or a big chain discount chain. They all buy different things and more of for different regions. TastyKakes is big on the East Coast, but out here in the Wild West, most have no clue what the hell a TastyKake is nor care.

      Same for comics. One comic shop owner will stock up more on Wolverine while another may not because his customers don't care for the dude. Yes, people actually do pay those prices. Remember, the values are averaged out from the data, so some people are paying more or paying less.

      OPG is yearly and the recent guide you get reflects more of the values from the previous year.

  4. I am from england. 80% of my comics come from the states.Most of the comics that go on e-bay uk usually go for guide . If it's a key i.e asm 129 it's go's for stupid money. even more than the same comic going on e-bay usa.

    It might have something to with demographics some titles do better in certain places spiderman,batman.superman are the dop dogs in the uk.

    Would you say if you get a high grade comic for 50% of it's guide. Would that be considered a sound investment because in theory you've made profit on a paper. (Instant return).

    I ave being doing this for while i ave bought jsa 34,41,60 and 66 for around 50% of guide from e bay uk. on "buy it now".I ave have noticed the sold prices for jsa comics have been raising this year in the states that is. not so much in the uk..

    Or in your opinion would you keep with just getting keys??. I ave been thinking about this for a while if the osp prices are showing growth. surely it's a good business mode if it's a high grade silver age comic.

  5. Sounds fine to the current speed of the market now, things definitely have be changed up for what works according to people's situations (budget and amount of time devoted to comic investing). Although, I'm not a big fan of common issues, there's a good chance now a common issue can turn into a minor or major key.

    You are doing no different than what comic dealers are finding comics on the cheap. Just keep in mind how you plan to sell in the future. What looks good on paper may not translate well when trying to sell. If you're only selling option is to sell on eBay when you decide to cash out, remember that common unslabbed copies don't sell all that great on lots or individually. However, if you plan on selling at a comic con, you should be able to make nice profits off each.

    Right now, I've loosened my standards some, but I still mainly gun for keys investment wise. Though, I am not against getting comics for 50% off at all for silver age or bronze age books...keys or common. As long as you can eventually profit off a book, profit is profit.

  6. I don't think i ave been buying common issues. I ave got a lot of asm cgc comics from the one buyer. she listed them under the wrong listing on e bay, so i bought them all. I got 252 and 175 in 9.6 and 174,179 and 187 all in 9.4.

    I know for fact. I made an instant profit on all these books. But back to my original point it's really hard to gauge on rarer books i.e jsa comics in nm. Not many come up at all. So You can't really compare to see if you've over paid or what not.

    It's a lot easier for key comics. They are traded on a weekly basis.

    What would you say is the best option to sell rarer books putting them on "buy it now option" or a auction.compared to selling key comics.Hopefully i wont have to sell for another 35 years. I am only 25 now.:)

    So by loosening your standards. Have you changed your "investing strategy". By taking more risk ie buying unslabbed books getting them slabbed and flipping them for instant return.

    Or buying sleeper titles and hope they explode like. Like you said profit is profit it don't really matter how you get there. it's how fast you get there.

    1. Sometimes comics aren't traded as often. It's weird with older DC stuff too. I've noticed in comic shops that there are tons of silver age Marvel, but a lot less DC silver age, especially keys. Not sure if it's because collectors are more willing to keep their DC in their vaults or what.

      As for gauging values for comics more rare in the current market, you've got a good point. Sometimes looking at completed listings on eBay can help also. They usually show all the listings that didn't sell for a 3 month period as well. Also, you can try to check ComicLink to see if and what an issue sold for on there.

      The answer to your question really depends on the comic. It's all situational. When it comes to selling rarer books, I would use "Buy It Now".

      Whoa, only 25! You're doing a lot better at this when I was 25 for sure.

      I'm pretty much going to employ everything in my noggin, concentrate more on comic shop buys. I will be taking more cheaper risks as well, but will still get high grade keys as well.

  7. Yeah my local shop it's pretty much the same. To be honest i think dc comics are usually undervalued compared to marvel comics on a whole.

    okay i will do thanks for your help.. Yeah i ave only been collecting since late 2013.. Your site has been a big help.;)))

    1. I agree as well about DC Comics being under-valued. Lots more Marvel in the market place, but demand for Marvel is also higher. I wonder if that's gonna change after the Superman vs. Batman movie.

      Keep it up. You an Gabriel are off to great starts here.

  8. I hope it does. is there any chance you could do a brave and bold key list and justice league key list thanks a lot.

    1. Those key issue lists are already in the pipeline and coming real soon!

  9. Great article! I'm really nervous about the way the market is blowing up. I wanted to get your opinion since I'm a long term investor as well, I'm thinking about selling off part of my collection and putting the money from the smaller books into a couple of high grade big books like Incredible Hulk #1 or Showcase Comics #4. I'm thinking that like everything else the movies will eventually cool off and when that happens the safest investments will be in the rarest Silver age books since they have survived the 90's I would think that they will always be in demand. How do you feel about that? Then again it makes me nervous selling off any high grade first app of characters like Beta Ray Bill and Gamora.

    1. I think you kinda answered your own question. If the movies will cool off, which I do think will happen also, then most likely the comic market will cool off as well, including those comics you mentioned since this market is so tied into movie or tv hype.

      Might be a better time to buy those comics when the market has cooled off then when the comic boom market is still in effect. Then again, the comic market for quite a few issues have seen a cooling off effect.