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Monday, November 10, 2014

My Conclusion On The Future of Comic Invesing...Again!

So in the last post, I talked about why I think the real cause of the 90s comic crash happened and a bit about the future of investing in comics. I did a post on how the comic market is changing, so I won't go down that road. Here's my conclusion to this series.

If we're talking about things that have changed the comic collector's market forever, there's no doubt that Overstreet Price Guide is one. That book didn't start the notion that comics were valuable. People were already collecting and paying a bit more for certain keys or comics already. What that book did do was cement the fact that comics were valuable, especially when it was distributed nationally.

Comics are valuable. It's been too engrained in the comic culture on a national scale since the 80s. It's part of the culture of comics now, here and abroad. Anyone new getting into collecting comics are gonna find out real early that comics are valuable or can be.

Almost everyone knows about it now. There's no going back from that. That's like trying to go back to a time when Overstreet didn't exist, and even if they didn't exist anymore today, you've got all these other online comic guide websites.

Another force that changed the comic collecting market, especially the back issues market, was the internet. Without the internet, you wouldn't have places like eBay, ComicLink, ComicConnect, etc. Like I said, you'd only have comic shops or small conventions to buy or sell.

Do you remember when eBay first started gaining a big share of the comic market? I do, because I kept hearing comic shop owners damning the living daylights out of eBay. There only weapon against them at the time was over-graded comics.

Now, they did have a point, and they still do. There are a lot of over-graded comics on eBay for sure. No disputing that, but it's not like I never bought an over-graded comic from a comic store before.

Actually, I shared three of them on here, which was Secret Wars #8, advertised by them as a NM 9.4 and ended up being a CGC 9.0. The other was Thor #165, advertised as 9.0, but ended up being an 8.0 VF. The other was Iron Man & Submariner #1 advertised as a 9.0 and ended up being a restored 7.0! 

Bam! There's that monstrosity! Oh, yes and the other was an Amazing Spider-Man #300 that came back a 6.5 and was advertised as a 9.0 VF/NM as well. All from the same comic shop yo!

While they did have a point, I knew they were just pissed off because eBay took away dominance over the back issues market from them and gave it to the average, everyday, normal collector. Over-price a comic, to hell with you! I'll go on eBay to get it cheaper. Only offer me 15% of guide value and say my comic is only a VG when it's at least a FN, to hell with you! I'll slab it then sell it on eBay.

You see, I know the main reason they were just spouting off crap about over-graded comics this and that is because none of the comic shop owners mentioned anything about the ability to get CGC comics on eBay during this time. Ding! Ding! Of course they didn't. They wanted you to buy from them.

Actually, when CGC first started taking off, comic shop owners complained about them too, and tried to persuade you into not slabbing your comics or buying slabbed comics. Why? I think you know the real reason why by now so I won't rehash it. Now, I find it extremely funny how they've given into it as the norm. Why is that? It's because they figured out they can make money off it too.

The other big force that changed the comic market forever is CGC. There's no denying that. Slabbed copies are part of the comic culture now, and there's no going back from that. Sorry, it's cemented into the comic collecting market just like Overstreet Price Guide and just like the internet and eBay.

Now, I could've started this out with comic book movies, but there were other medias that capitalized on comic book heroes way before. Comic book superheroes invaded homes all the way back with The Adventures of Superman radio show from 1942 to 1949. Then you had the Adventures of Superman television show starring George Reeves from 1952 to 1958. The famous Batman TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward from 1966 to 1968.

Of course, most remember the Wonder Woman TV series with Lynda Carter from 1975 to 1979. Even my dad watched that show, though I'm pretty certain it wasn't because he had a love for the character or comics. I admit I had a kid crush on Lynda Carter too. Actually, hell, I still do. She's still the only actress to play the role who actually looks like the character in the comics.

For me it was the Incredible Hulk television show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno from 1978 to 1982. Not to mention all the cartoons like Super Friends and the Amazing Spider-Man. You know, the one where he's swinging above New York City and you later figured out his webs weren't attaching to anything. Then for those after me it was Teen Titans Go, and Batman Adventures, and you get the point.

People grew up on all these radio shows and TV shows. I was a huge fan of the Incredible Hulk TV series as a kid, and this was long before I knew he was a comic character or had even picked up a comic.

I'd go into elementary school with my Hulk lunchbox everyday, had an Incredible Hulk beach towel, rocked out the old Batman Underoos with no clue about comics. Even when the 1978 Superman movie came out, I had no inkling the dude was from comics nor did my brother. He just tied a Superman towel around his neck like a cape and took off like most kids did back in the day.

Here they are: The actual relics from when I was a little lad. Kinda strange that my pops had kept these for so long. If you know him, he's all about throwing junk away, or at least what he perceives as junk. As you can see, I didn't quite keep that great of care of the mug though. Paints quite a bit chipped on poor ole Hulk there, but the actual lunchbox surprisingly still looks pretty okay.

The towels look pretty good for something from the late 70s that was actually used quite often while growing up too. I thought they'd be a hell of a lot more faded than they are. 

Of course, the Hulk towel was mine and the Spider-Man and Superman towels were my brothers. Funny, I only had one of the towels, because I'm the one who ended up the comic geek out of us both.

Pretty accurate to say that none of us ended up being a Superman fan though. Actually, even stranger, the Hulk wasn't my guy when I actually started collecting comics. It was actually Wolverine, Punisher, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, and the first comic book I ever read, before I even collected comics, was ROM The Space Knight.

I can't for the life of me explain why I so fascinated with the Hulk as a kid. I doubt I ever will so I don't bother.
Those shows and movies most likely pushed me towards that day I first walked into a comic shop when I was in 5th grade and was changed forever. I became a life long comic fanatic as a result, but my brother didn't even though he also grew up on those shows.

However, the point is that a large portion of the kids back then did. Look at David S. Goyer and Kevin Smith and Bryan Singer, all grew up comic geeks. It's guys like those who have filtered into Hollywood and are spearheading our big boom in comic book movies.

There's no doubt about it that the comic book movies and television shows being pumped out today will influence the next generation of comic book fans. The shows I grew up on influenced me back in the day, and I'm pretty sure they influenced a lot of you out there as well.

But it's doing so on an even larger scale now than when I was growing up, because box office ticket sales aren't just depending on the U.S. market anymore. Most of the money the studios are making from comic book movies are from foreign box offices.

There's no going back from that. Superheroes have already permeated popular culture for the last 76 years. The comic market and back issues market have drastically changed for sure, and it will keep doing so.

There may be a tiring of superheroes or comic book movies and they may not be as popular for a period, but there's always resurgences. History of the industry has proved that over and over. Once again, comic book superheroes are already too engraved in the popular conscious.

There may be a crash in the comic book market or a bubble burst or whatever you wanna call it, but I doubt it will be anything like the 90s. The comic market has changed too much from then. The climate and way of thinking about comic books has been cemented too much into the over-all culture as opposed to then.

Back in the day, my pops would have considered comic books just junk. Now, even he knows they are valuable. Chances are your pops does to now. Not to mention the ladies getting into comics as well. I've never seen anything like it while I was growing up. If there were gals reading comics then, they were definitely closet comic fans. Not anymore though.

Even during the 90s crash, there were still comic collectors buying up key issue comic investments. The previous owner of one of my locals was one of them before he was the previous owner of my local. He got an Avengers #1, an X-Men #1, and Fantastic Four #1 during this time, and when he had them CGC'd during the early 2000s, they came back 9.6s and 9.4s. Ka-Ching!

Not to mention the three complete runs of Amazing Spider-Man #1-100, X-Men #1-100, and Fantastic Four #1-100 he accumulated during his entire time while collecting. To be clear, they are three complete runs of each. Not just one complete run for each title, but three separate complete runs for each of those three titles. Wowza!

Those guys who were buying up high grade copies of key issue comics back while the 90s crash was happening are the ones whom are benefiting greatly in this comic boom happening now. Guys like me who took a hiatus then are the ones who missed the boat for sure.

So if there were a new crash, I'd say it'd be more like a recession or cooling off period actually. Who are the ones who might pull out from the market? Just like the 90s, all the new speculators hoarding up new comics of this Image and that Vertigo or this Indie or that variant may probably take off, because they're basically emulating the 90s Speculators to a tee.

My buddy Ed also brought up a good point. The people who are paying now for what a comic's value should be later due a movie confirmation will most likely end up pulling out of the market.

For example, Fantastic Four #52, the first appearance of Black Panther. I got a CGC 6.5 just moments before the movie slate was confirmed with a release date. Not long after, a CGC 6.5 popped up on the market for $900 something bucks.

What? How do you go from $400 to $900 in less than a month? That's definitely not a price anyone should be shelling out today for a comic at that grade with a movie that's coming out in 2017. It should be common sense, but I'll say watch out for that happening in the market.

The speculators who don't know any better will buy a comic like that and be disappointed when the value of that comic at that grade doesn't reach or just reaches the average value for that grade when Black Panther does hit the big screen. These speculators could also be behind the sudden surge of Amazing Spider-Man #300 drastically increasing past the $1000 mark just mere days after the Venom Carnage movie title announcement.

For a Copper Age comic, even for one of the best key issue comics of that era, it's not so rare at all, even in CGC 9.8, I don't suspect it will sustain at that price for very long. Not to mention the craze for New Mutants #98 after the movie confirmation.

But it's all debatable, because the comic market has changed drastically in the past few decades, and like I've said, will continue to do so. The truth is nobody really knows what the future has in store. We can logically assume all sorts of scenarios and there are a lot of great valid points out there. A lot!

Will the new crop of superhero fans that the movies today are spawning all over the globe end up comic collectors who will pay for these $5000 and up key issues in the future? That's the question, or will they be content with free or digital comics? History says yes they will shell out the dough and invest, but current habits suggests maybe not.

Enter digital comics, another force that is changing the industry, but not at the rate everyone freaked out about when they first hit the scene. It hasn't had such an impact on the market like mp3s did for music. Speaking of mp3s, it's one of the lousiest music qualities out there compared to vinyl and CDs, but this generation seems to care not. I still prefer to listen to CDs. Just ask Gerry, I keep playing the same ones over and over in my car and usually one of them is a Motley Crue CD.

Will the next generation be more partial to digital comics, and will the back issues market be hurt because of it? Definitely something to think about. Actually, this whole comic boom is definitely something to think about as well. I say just buy smarter, don't be the ones falling for the instantaneous and extremely over-bloated prices from some of the sellers out there. 

Nevertheless though, comic crash or no comic crash, comic recession or no, I could really care less about it. I learned from my mistakes during the 90s crash in more ways than one, and it won't really phase me too much. I'll still keep on collecting and hunting down key issue comics. That's the only thing I can predict with the utmost certainty. 


  1. Fantastic as always. Keep up the good work.. Cheers, Sid

    1. Thanks again, Sid. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I just went to Motleys farewell in Charlotte NC, INSANE!!!!! Im 28 and I've seen them 4 times. Very sad to see Mick in the shape he is in, but glad to see them one last time. (Shout at the devil is my fav. album) I agree with you on all the points you have highlighted in this series.(and about vinyl) Wasn't really old enough in the 90s to remember the comic crash or even know about it, but thank you for pointing it out. Always been a comic geeker, but since I stumbled upon this web sight about a year ago I've been gunning down these silver keys. All thanks to YOU!! Keep on trucking!!! It's a breath of fresh air when I read a new post. (FYI I also have all Motleys records on vinyl, and the leathur too fast for love) Your the man!!

    1. Mick is the superman out of the group. God knows I could not tour and play guitar for 2 hours straight on stage with the disease he has. Out of the Crue, I probably respect him the most. Shout at the Devil is my favorite album from them as well. Wow, you got the original Leathur vinyl before Elektra re-released it. That's a definite keeper.

      Rock On, and thanks for reading. Glad this site can help ya.

  3. Great article as usual! I totally agree with your points but I wonder about Amazing Spider-man #300 (or more specifically, #298, 299, 300). Venom has not been in a movie yet, and Punisher has never translated into a huge movie (like X-Men). And yet #129 and #300 are two of the most crucial modern-day keys out there. So I wonder if at some point a comic transcends all rational thought and just becomes universally accepted as a staple. The best example I can think of is Incredible Hulk #181. I am not a hulk fan (never collected it) but I would love to own a copy of it just because it is a super-popular key issue—the fact that it is so highly-sought after is what makes it desirable. Interesting stuff and really well-written articles. I guess that is the difference between someone buying it to "own" it and enjoy it (not necessarily read it, but take pride in owning it) and just buy it because of speculation (which is totally fine too). Different motivations behind owning it. Good stuff, thanks! - Wiebes

    1. Heya Wiebes, been a while and good to hear from ya. Who really knows if Amazing Spider-Man #300 will stick. They are staple key Copper Age issues for sure and have been for a while now. I just don't know about 9.8s being worth a grand though. However, it's not up to me to decide, but the collector's market calls it.

      So saying something is not "worth" the dough is pretty subjective and not all that warranted since there are people who are actually willing to pay that much for it, right?

      Venom was actually in the Spider-Man 3 movie, but it's well regarded as one of the worst Spidey flicks out there, or at least a huge disappointment to Spidey fans. I'm just trying to help the people who read this site, other than the key issues lists, to not pull the trigger on extremely over-bloated comics out there and to shop a little smarter and at least get a comic fair market price.

      Ultimately in the end it boils down to each individual. This article is just definitely something to ponder as there are two sides to the debate and both have very good arguments concerning the subject.

  4. This has been a great series! I will probably print it out and save it in a collector's binder I have. Thank you!

    I think you hit on an important point. A good collector needs to realize when he's missed an opportunity and move on to a better opportunity. I wished I had invested in a Fantastic Four #52 in 9.6 two years ago when I bought my 5.0 copy. But, I missed it. Time to move on.

    When the Market bloats like this it's a good time to switch to other keys that people look past because the character hasn't been in a film yet. For Example Avenger #8 First Appearance of Kang, Thor #337 First Beta Ray Bill or Sub-Mariner #1, first solo series. These are all books that are not overbloated because there hasn't been any solid talk of these characters being in a film. However, these are pretty important characters. They will most likely show up in a film at some point, but even if they don't you won't pay a fortune for high grade copies of pretty important key characters.

    At some point prices for Fantastic Four #52 will fall to some degree, that's when you strike! And if prices do not fall at least you know that it is a solid book and not a trend price you paid for. I have also noticed over the years that on ebay June and July are great months to buy large investment comics. I watch auctions and prices seem to dip a lot lower during those months. At least I have noticed that.

    It's a fun game, but you are 100% correct TCM when you say you need to be smart about it and not impatient.

    1. Did not know that about the summer months. I suppose it would make sense since a lot more people are on vacation and away from eBay.

      Yep, time to move on and find the next big thing. I've always said, you can't get 'em all and there's nothing wrong with that. You don't want to go broke or in dept investing in comics for sure.

      It's either best to get in on the action before the hype drives prices up or to get in on it when prices are lower, if they ever do lower. Thanks for chiming in J Kandefer and you bring up some good points on the subject.

  5. Normally, I’m just a lurker on this and many other comic book websites. I haven’t posted my opinions on a message board for over ten years.

    However, for some strange reason, this talk of a “bubble” in the comic market has me itching to add my two cents to this discussion.

    Okay, though some of you might disagree, I’ve lived long enough to learn (the hard way) that the (4) most detrimental words to your wealth that those in power (Your Banker, Your Broker, Your Politician, Your Realtor, Your Mortgage Company, Your Government) want you to believe are these…

    “This Time it’s Different”

    Gang…It’s NEVER different. The bigger the boom…The bigger the bust!!!

    I have no doubt that if we continue on our current trajectory of price escalation, the comic market will eventually tank / bust.

    However, let’s not let fear of the possible market bust prevent us from enjoying this ride while our beloved comic market is kicking ass.

    So, if we don’t allow fear to control our decision, but instead utilize logic, then there are (2) important questions you should be asking yourself.

    1) Why has the comic market gone ballistic???
    2) How far / where are we in this bull market comic cycle???

    The answer to the first question (why has the comic market gone ballistic) is very simple. It’s called a paradigm shift. Whenever and wherever a paradigm shift occurs (doesn’t matter what industry or market), a great amount of money can be made and / or lost (depending on your point of entrance and exit).

    Now, if you look up the word paradigm shift in the dictionary, you’ll more or less see the following definition…

    – A radical change in the underlying beliefs or theory.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir, but this is exactly what has happened to the comic industry. Gang, the comic industry is “cool”. We are “it” with the X, Y, and Z generation. Not only in the US and Canada, but the comic industry and it’s characters are “da bomb” across the entire globe.

    Collecting comics is no longer only for the introverts and the nerds, but it’s growing exponentially with each and every Marvel comic movie that’s being produced.

    Please…please…please…point out to me another collectible market (coins, stamps, cards, painting, cars, etc.) that is “cool”, “It”, “Da Bomb” which has experienced the fantastic ballistic growth our comic industry has seen the past few years.

    There are none. There has never been anything like this in any of the collectible markets. Period!!!

    Here in the Central Valley of California, we have many small Mickey Mouse towns that are embracing this paradigm shift by holding Comic Cons that draws 5,000 to 10,000 or more people per day. Ten years ago, you’d be lucky to have more attendees than dealers at these shows.

    Now, for the more difficult question, where are we in this comic bull market cycle? When is the bust going to occur?

    Yes, I also definitely have a strong opinion to this question. However, because I’ve babbled long enough, I’ll go back to being a lurker and wish everyone the best of luck!!!

    See ya.

  6. I was a collector in the 90s. What stopped my collecting was that Marvel & DC were gorcing collectors to buy so many titles to keep up with a story arc and it became unaffordable and the quality of many titles was poor. The up side was i started reading indies and Batman Adventures whic meant I noubght BA #12 very cheap and I still have it. The focus in the 90s was hype, art over stories and treating consumers like chumps. I see some similarities right now. Variant covers, Deadpool/Harley overkill etc

    1. Although there are differences between the 90s and now, the mentality and gimmickery is pretty much still the same. I've taken a lot of heat for even pointing this out and some have even accused me of messin' with their livelihoods.

      This comic market is still fraught with gimmicks much like the 90s if we're talking about the newer stuff. 10 variant covers for a comic? You mean the story and artwork alone isn't good enough to hold it's own?

      Rehashes of story arcs that I grew up reading. Who wants to read another Secret Wars or Civil War? C'mon, is the creativity that lacking in this era of comics? Let's gender and race swap characters instead of creating exciting new characters that don't piggy back off already established popular characters like Amadeus Cho as the new Hulk or Miles Morales Spider-Man or X-23 as new Wolverine or Lady Thor and Deadpool.

      This stuff is old story to me. i read all that while growing up. Maybe the youngin's think it's new and fresh, but it's just garbage to me. The comic industry and it's creativity is stagnant right now...nobody is revolutionizing it with something fresh and really anything new. Just the same ole same ole.