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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Short Term and Long Term Comic Investing

Okay, we're gonna tackle short-term comic investing opposed to long term comic investing since I keep getting questions about it. Some of you already know the deal, so I apologize if I've already talked about this subject and am just repeating myself.

Long Term Comic Investing

This is the comic investing that I prefer, because it's more solid and has a better foundation than the other. To me, short-term comic investing or flipping has you chasing too many trend books. At least, from what I've found so far.

Usually, long term comic investments are already solid options and have been in demand for quite a long time. First appearance of Doctor Doom, first appearance of Green Goblin, first appearance of Wolverine just to spout out a few of the definite comics to invest in. .

These are comics that have a solid track record of being in demand, and usually because the characters have reached the pantheon of pop culture icons. Most everyone in the comic collecting world and outside of it knows who Spider-Man is, knows who Wolverine is, knows who Batman is, etc.

Venom and Deadpool are extremely popular in the comic collecting world and their first appearances in Amazing Spider-Man #300 and New Mutants #98 have been solid comic investments for the last two decades. But although long term comic investing is a lot more simple than short-term, it still can be tricky also.

No doubt that movies and television shows have become greatly linked to the investing in comics world for sure. We've all seen well-known and solid keys get major boosts in demand and value due to a TV series or a movie confirmation.

So when does a past dollar bin comic that's now reaching $200 and up for high grades become a good long term comic investment? It all boils down to whether that character has a good chance of becoming a significant pop culture icon.

Let's take Harley Quinn. Immensely popular. Go to any of the big comic cons, and you'll see a bunch of different ladies cosplaying as Harley Quinn.

Let's take Scott Lang as Ant-Man. Not an overly popular character before. Actually, not too many gave a shit about Scott Lang as Ant-Man until the movie confirmed that the Ant-Man movie would focus on Scott Lang as the titular hero.

However, do you think the Ant-Man movie will be big? Scott Lang is now connected to the Avengers franchise as well and part of Marvel's cinematic universe. Do you think Scott Lang's version of Ant-Man will permeate the conscious of a whole new generation of comic fans just waiting to sprout up?

There's an extremely good chance he might just do so. I remember watching the Avengers movie on dvd with my ex and her two kids. I had already seen it, but she hadn't. Apparently her kids already saw the movie before she did.

When the scene where Hawkeye stands on the roof and starts picking off the Chitauri that were flying around, he goes, "This guy Hawkeye's cool also," while pointing to the screen. A whole new generation knows who the hell Hawkeye is, and this little dude doesn't even collect comics...yet!

So, yes, some recent dollar bin comics featuring the first appearance of a once not so popular character that just exploded because they'll hit the big or small screen can turn into great long term comic book investments. Scott Lang as Ant-Man could very well be one of them, as well as Iron Fist.

Short-Term Comic Investing

When you get into the arena of short-term comic investing, it becomes more difficult and convoluted. This can be called flipping also, and very few are actually good at it.

Well, the truth is that very few are actually good at it because most are speculating with all these new Image or Vertigo or indie titles and basing their speculations on low print runs or sold out stats and completely dismissing the popularity (demand) factor. However, that subject deserves an entire post all to itself.

With any general rule in comic investing, you need to get in on a comic book investment as early as possible. This is especially true if you're short-term comic investing.

For example, X-Factor #24, first appearance of Archangel, is gaining some steam in the market because the rumor is that he'll be in the movie X-Men Apocalypse. It would be best if you already had a CGC 9.8 copy of that book before all the rumors hit, but, hey, we can't be all that lucky.

Once confirmed he will be in it, demand for that issue will increase and once the movie comes out and we get to see how badass he is or not, there will be the late birds buying copies of X-Factor #24. I will admit right now that I have pretty little faith in this comic as a long term investment.

So what would I do with the copies I have? I will wait until the movie comes out and generates more excitement, and then sell during that peak. If you're investing in comics short-term, you do not want to buy this comic during the peak after the movie is released. I called it late bird for a reason. That should be common sense and only done if you believe that Archangel's first appearance will remain an in-demand long term investment.

Many key issue comics residing in the Copper or Modern Age of comics that were not steady investments before may just be short-term investments to flip. It's hard to pinpoint exactly which are though.

For example, A-Next #7, first appearance of Hope Pym, is getting a lot of attention right now in the market. Why? Purely because the Ant-Man movie has the character in it. But will this be a short-term comic to invest in or a long term?

I think the Ant-Man movie franchise will do pretty good, and that just may be the boost that Hope Pym needs to become a popular and more well-known character for good in the comic collecting sphere and outside of it. On the other hand, it may not be a book that sustains

Another great example is Amazing Spider-Man #361, first appearance of Carnage. Although Carnage is a well-known and pretty popular Spidey villain, his first appearance wasn't really doing much before all the hoopla of him being the main baddie in a Venom movie started.

Even worse, I know for a fact that #361 is far from a rare comic. I know there are hordes of people hoarding crazy amounts of copies for the first appearance of Carnage.

I know it'll be a good short-term comic investment if you get in early on it, but as for long-term, that's not an easy call to make. If you have multiple copies, the call could be easier if you tuck at least one or two away just in case the book continues to sustain or grow in demand after the movie.

That's why I keep saying to watch the market. Stop being lazy and start looking up the sold listings on eBay to see what's dropping at what. As for why short-term comic investing is a tad more difficult than long-term? That will be explained in Part 2 to this article coming soon.


  1. Mayhem -


    I have read and re-read this post. I think there is quite a bit of information and things to consider, which sorting it out is not obvious since there is no "formula." What I am trying to determine is how to really gauge these things better, knowing there is no 100% / crystal ball answer. How do you determine if something is transitioning from short-term to long term?

    I tend to look at the character and their history. Who they have worked with. What other storyline they could tie into. Do they die? How important are they within all of the above. Have people been looking for the character historically, fan-favorite, cult following, etc. Then I try to guess if it should be short or long.

    An example is Moondragon. She has a very real shot at being important moving forward based on her comic lineage and the push into strong female characters. She is also bi-sexual, which crosses into another hot area of sexual orientation. She could easily drop into the GotG or Avengers. There is also Iron Man and Daredevil floating about. Those are just current properties that would fit. Throw in there that she is earth and space based, plus ties in to Drax as a father and Thano's connections. Seems primed to go, so I am buying into her issues now while they are still at reasonable costs, typically book or slightly above.

    Up until now, despite her frequent appearance and cross-overs, she is pretty under the radar. But not completely. If she were to make the list in an upcoming movie / tv / whatever appearance, would you think that she should be sold because there is not a historical demand for her or held onto because of what she could be in the MCU?

    I totally get this is hypothetical, but there are countless characters which fall into this category. Some of which are heating up now. Moon Knight (a top 4 character for me) is like this. Hype is driving prices high, but will the bottom fall out if he never makes a big debut? Or is this just a new floor for the character?

    How would you decide?

    I know you have other things to do than answer this question which is potentially a lengthy response. However, I am very curious in how you approach things as much of what you are doing is akin to my approach, but you have been doing this longer. I am trying to learn from your knowledge, but I think it is important to understand and internalize as opposed to simply following.

    As always, keep the wonderful information coming. I know I definitely appreciate it all :) Thank you kindly and enjoy the week!

    - Craig Coffman

    1. Hi Craig, gonna give as simple of an answer as possible. I view all bargain bins, over-looked comics, or characters that were not very popular before movie hype as suspect and short-term. All of them.

      Even Captain Marvel or Carol Danvers. I know there is a growing female fandom with comics, but Captain Marvel or Carol Danvers key issues were bargain bin buys not long ago and I mean three years ago.

      Even her keys I view suspect until her appearance on screen or her initial movie. I know female fans are itching for a super powered female ass kicking hero on the big screen, but that doesn't mean the character could flop.

      I honestly hope she doesn't though. Watch the market in terms of GoCollect or eBay sold, completed and current auction listings and you'll get the signs of which comics are plummeting due to over speculation demand as opposed to real fan base natural demand.

      Always keep in mind real fan base demand and rarity or how much of a key issue is in the market. Also whether demand has fizzled and which copies are selling or not selling at certain prices.

  2. Mayhem -

    Thank you for your response. Using your example, Carol Danvers gets a movie and it does well. Clearly you would not know how well it is going to do prior to the film. You need to wait until after it comes out to find out, but by then it might be too late. Does it just come down to whether or not you want to take potential profits sooner as opposed to rolling the dice? Seems like that would be the case.

    For me, I have been wondering about Ultron. It is weird that the movie went gang-busters, the character has been a longtime villain and his A 54 / 55 are key issues. Still, the price really dropped quickly on the books. I think I will keep them since I already have them but I am not quite sure why that happened. The only big thought is that they _seemingly_ killed him. Being a program, he could be living somewhere :)

    To finish, does this mean that it is better to invest in multiple copies of key books with longevity like IH 181, AF 15, etc as opposed to Carol Danver's 1st? I am trying to figure the balance here between things to flip (<10 years) and things to keep (30+ years). I am sensing that only major keys are really worth getting for investment. As you have said, if you have a book that has gone from 100 -> 200 in 30 years, that is not really all that impressive [paraphrased].

    As usual, I greatly appreciate your time and thoughts. They definitely help me with figuring out how to navigate this market. I am familiar with stocks / commodities, but this market seems to behave similarly and still differently. Thank for helping me figure out some differences :)

    - Craig Coffman

    1. Ultron was not that well received by critics and comic fans. He was not used satisfactorily and was widely panned as a weak movie villain. So far he is a one-off villain, which the market has assumed he is to a large enough degree.

      It also depends on when or what peak you buy these keys at and where. I've discussed peaks in another post and the dangers of buying them at one or going around them. Finding deals is the goal and yes it's becoming harder and harder to find one good ones but it's still plausible.

      There is no way to predict 100% if a once over-looked key or character will break out and grow or sustain fanbase in this market or any investment market. If it were so, they'd be a lot more rich people out there making money in stocks or whatever.

      The only one is beat peaks, figure a way to go around them, and watch the market and be ready to dump if reaction goes the other way.

      This market is fickle, which I've also detailed before. Speculators will be the death of this market just like the 90s because they produce an unstable market in the long run.

      There are those few I gamble on short-term but most long-term...concerning major and significant keys or older more rarer comics with historical backing. I have moved far from the speculation world of comics and collect or invest more out of fandom.

      I've made no bones about warning those who read this site about what I see what's going on even if it pisses most off.

  3. Mayhem -

    Firstly, I truly appreciate your time and energy in responding. That is kind of you.

    Boy do I wish there were some 100% formula out there :) I do mix a bit in what I purchase. Most of it is out of interest / fandom / 'coolness' and another part is out of speculation. The speculation comes from either existing market hype (Hope Pym) or dots I think I can connect (Moondragon). The good thing is most characters I start to research move from spec to actual interest.

    Moondragon, again, as an example. The more I looked into her, the more I think she could make an appearance. However, the more I also dig her back story and place in the MCU. Sure she could go off and become awesome in the public eye, but even if she stays where she is I know I have some solid issues at or below book in my collection.

    I do not think you should cater towards pleasing people. Your blog. Your voice. People can always go read something else. Though, I am excited that people are reading at all :)

    To round out my topic, and then I think you have answered all the angles I have at this point, how _do_ you sell? I have messed about with Ebay, but that seems like a very big hassle for moving numerous books. As noted, LCS will only take advantage of you as a business model, not personal. I suppose Craig's List or something, but that does not feel right to me. What other options do you use? I am thinking of renting a table at the local comic con here in Omaha. It is inexpensive and I could probably move some of my 'flip' stock there. Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for not only your time answering me, but in pulling lists and all the other valuable resources you host on TCM. It is a very frequent stop for me. Enjoy your night!

    - Craig Coffman

    1. I don't move books in a large amount. I only flip here and there and mostly use eBay, but yes if you want to move a lot books then try comic cons.

      You can also try a garage sale and advertise it on Craigslist, but sometimes it's not worth the effort if you live in a place not big on comics.

      There are other places to list besides eBay like ComicLink and CommicConnect and even mycomicshop will consign comics.

    2. Thank you very much!

      - Craig Coffman