Action Comics 1 Comic book investing is about the second-most controversial topic among die-hard collectors, just after comic book restoration. It’s pretty obvious that restoring a comic book to make it more appealing to a buyer is not only misleading, but also pretty stupid. Looking through the CGC census at some Golden Age books, and you'll find more restored examples of certain keys than original, untampered-with copies. Investing in comic books, on the other hand, seems logical and obvious, so why people get so upset about it is a real mystery to me. What now follows are my views on comic book investing. It’s a topic I will delve further into in the future.

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Investing is Something Most People Don’t Often Do

The first point I would like to make has to do with how comic book collectors are not very likely to be investment-minded. Now I'm not trying to imply anything negative about comic book buyers in general: rather, it’s a symptom of the general population.

Sell Comics
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 25 percent of Americans have negative net worth, meaning their debts exceed their assets. So obviously, saving and investing are not high enough priorities for many of us. Yet, that said, how many comic book collectors, if they were honest about their finances, would admit to spending too much money on their hobbies? Usually with no strategy to recoup any sensible percentage of it in the future.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the idea of comic book investing, or planning for a return on what one spends on comics, leaves a segment of the comic book fan community seething. On the whole the general attitude seems to be: “If I cannot make money from comic books, I don’t want anybody else to do it either.”  Oops! That's a bad way of looking at things. 

Speculation vs. Investing in Comic Books

It’s important to know what the differences are between speculating and investing. To me, purchasing a comic book to hold, with the goal of reselling it at a higher price in the future, is an investment. Where as buying books based on a rumor (which the Internet is great at fomenting), in the hopes of that book suddenly being in demand, is, of course, a speculation

Comic Books
The first appearance of an obscure character can suddenly sky-rocket in value if they were cast in a TV show or movie. If the rumor turns out to be false, though, you are unlikely to be able to sell those books at a profit. Speculation is normally short-term and typically involves stockpiling cheaper books, while investment is a medium or long-term view. You buy to hold. 

There are parallels in other markets, like Day Traders for example, who play the stock market in a speculative fashion, while investors buy stocks to hold on to. 

Blue-Chip Comic Book Investments 

Just like the stock market, there are so-called blue-chip comic book investments, which covers books like:
  • Action Comics #1, 7, 10, 13, 23 
  • Detective Comics #27, 29, 31, 33, 38, 168
  • All-Star Comics #8
  • Sensation Comics #1
  • Wonder Woman #1 
  • Batman #1 
  • Superman #1 

Silver Age Comics
Most of the above are out of reach for the average collector, although some of the books which were published during the Silver Age (mid 50s to the early 70s) are key issues which turn out to be good investments, and are more affordable, at least in lower grades. Such as...
  • Showcase #4 
  • Brave and the Bold #28 
  • Incredible Hulk #1 
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 
  • Avengers #1 
  • Journey into Mystery #83
  • Fantastic Four #1 
  • Amazing Spider-Man #1 to 4, 14 

These comic book investments have shown consistent gains year-on-year, and this takes a good deal of the risk (though not all of it) out of investing in them.

Comics as an Investment Have a Long Way to Go

It should also be noted that comic book collecting is still a developing hobby. Overall it’s extremely rare to see a comic sell for seven figures, while in the world of stamps and coins, this happens more frequently. As a matter of fact, the world record for a stamp is $9.5m, while the world record for a coin is $10m. At least three stamps, and 12 coins, have sold for more than $3.2m, which was the same price paid for Action Comics #1 in CGC 9.0 on eBay a couple of years ago. 

1st Justice League
As for other antiquities, fine art dwarfs comic books, with at least four sales breaking the $200m mark. The record sale for a diamond is $71m. A Ferrari GTO sold in 2014 for $38m. And even the Batmobile used in the Adam West TV show sold for more than the highest-selling comic book: it changed hands for $4.6m in 2013. 

Fighting the Must-Have Syndrome 

Investing in anything requires a plan, a plan in which point-and-shoot is not a smart way to improve your ROI (Return on investment). I am far from perfect, unfortunately, and recently I paid $430 for a piece of original artwork after being outbid on a $5,000 piece I wanted to nab. Honestly, I was really gutted that I missed out on this item, and I really wanted to buy SOMETHING, ANYTHING, God Damn it!

More or less you don’t lose or gain money on any investment until you sell it. That said, the purchase price is a crucial element of profit or loss. Over-paying for a comic book on day one means your exit from that book will be that much farther in the future. When you know what you’re looking for, set a goal price and stick to it. Trust me, this advice will help your pocket as well as your mind.

This article was brought to you by Ashley Cotter-Cairns, owner of sellmycomicbooks.com, and an adviser to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. He writes a free newsletter every ten days or so, and produces YouTube videos with tips on books to buy for return on investment. When you have the time please check out his website or drop him a line via his facebook page. 


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