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Investing in comics
Can You Make Money From Comic Books?
The short answer is yes.
The long is that it's quite possible to make lots of money from comic books but if you are a regular reader (2-3 books) a week you probably still won't break even. About 99% of all comics will depreciate in value. What you buy this week for $2.99 this week will likely be worth $1.99 this time next year. A few years down the line and you'll be able to find it for less than $1. That's not a bad thing though. Comic books are made to be enjoyed and collected. Most aren't suitable investments.
That being said some comic books can truly make you lots of money. Imagine buying a book for $2.99 and 6 months later it being worth $60. These pop up all the time. You just need to know what to look for.
How to pick comics that will become valuable.
There's no guarantee that any comic will be worth anything in the future. What you can do though is follow a few rules to help narrow it down. Even with them though the most important thing you can do is act fast.
Rule #1-Issue #1
Rule number 1 for investing in comics is invest in number 1.
Issue number one for almost every title will hold value better than the rest. This doesn't always mean it will gain value though. If the series isn't popular and the book doesn't do anything innovative it will probably still decrease in value just not as hard as issues 2 and 3.
With that in mind Issue number one is usually a safe bet. Especially if it's an iconic hero.
Rule #2-Variant Covers
When a series becomes popular or the company behind it wants it to be variant covers happen. They are special covers usually drawn by a different artist than the one doing the book. Variants are released in small batches which automatically makes them more rare. Usually the ratios for variants are 1:25,1:50,1:100 or even more. A ratio of 1:50 would mean that for every 50 issues of the comic book 1 variant will be made.
If comics were Pokemon cards these would be your shinies. Your best bet is to buy these in stores. You'll find a much better deal on them. Also they are often used to reward customer loyalty so be there ever Wednesday and you might just get lucky.
Rule #3-Pay Attention, What's hot?
To make money off of collecting comics books you need to actually follow comic books. Crazy right? Like investing in anything else you need to be informed on the product. Find a comic book site,board or group and get involved. Listen to what people have to say and what excites them. The popular stuff will rise to the top. This is going to save you a lot of time. No one person can juggle real life and take a look at each of the hundreds of books that come out monthly. Sometimes you'll find something outside of your scope of reference that ends up being a perfect buy.
Rule #4-First Appearance
The first appearance of a character is only worth something if they character is or becomes popular. A good example is Deadpool who debuted in New Mutants #98 (1991). Deadpool has become so popular on his own that his first appearance is now worth hundreds of dollars.
It's not always easy to figure who is going to stand the test of time. My advice on this is to follow rule #3 and when in doubt if you really like a character then most likely someone else will as well.
Getting a signed version of a comic will easily double the value of most books. In most industries fake autographs are pretty commonplace. While this does still happen with comic books it's less often. Most writers and artists sign hundreds if not thousands of autographs a year. The big names like Stan Lee will sign tens of thousands over a weekend at a trade show or convention.
Still it's important to be careful. If a price feels like it's outside of your comfort range ask for a certificate of authentication (COA). Keep in mind the price of authentication is about $25. Any comic book worth less than a few hundred won't be worth authenticating.
Valuable on Day 1
Almost a Missed Opportunity
This is what is called a Variant Cover. It's for Issue #1 of Amazing Spider-man. This particular cover had a lot of hype around it. I knew right away it was going to be worth something but I almost missed out. My local comic book store was unable to get a copy so I looked online and found it for about $25 on Amazon. At the time my Paypal account was nearly empty and I didn't want to run up a charge. Big mistake...
I end up paying $40 for it at a recent convention because I didn't act fast enough. Currently the value rests between $50-$65. It's still a win but it could have been bigger.
Below here is more ideas, strategies and even some prime examples that will help you when it comes to investing in comics.
More to Learn
Those are just some basic rules. In reality they are closer to guidelines. Even use of all 5 of them still might not guarantee success. There is always the exceptions to the rules.
My Hot Pick
This is the book that started the Spider-Gwen craze. It seems to keep going up in value. It's been reprinted 3 or 4 times now so if you do plan to pick it up make sure to get the first printing. You can tell the difference looking at the cover. It should say somewhere on it but you'll also notice different colours.
With a possible movie in the works I think this is just going to continue to be worth more and more.
Edge of Spider-Verse Prinitings
Comic Book Grading
The grade of a comic (escpecially the high value ones) can drastically change the value of the book. This means taking care of your comics should be a primary concern. The higher the value the higher grade you want to keep it in. Grading on it's own can be very complicated. Below is short explanation.
Comic books are graded using two different grading systems.
- Basic Grading Scale- Grades comics using terms like Near Mint, Fair or Poor. There are 7 rankings in total for the Basic Grading Scale.
- Ten Point Grading Scale-Grades comics on a scale of 0.5-10.0. It uses decimal points in between which can more accurately assess the condition of the comic.
Commisions and Signatures
With big releases sometimes companies will sell "Blank" covers. They have the stylized name of the book but the rest of the cover is white and has a mat finish. These are sold so that a collector can get either a commission or signature from the books staff. Blanks are often the same price if not a few dollars more than the regular issue. This means that if you have the time to visit your favorite comic writer or artist at a a convention or trade show you can massively increase the value of the book. There are some costs to consider though.
- Convention Tickets-The price of tickets is all over the place. There's always better deal for buying multi-day or week long passes.
- Commission prices- Artists will have their own pricing but in most cases the cost of the work is much smaller than the value of the book afterwords. Price will include a signature most of the time.
- Signatures- This really depends on who it is. Some people charge some don't. Stan Lee wanted $60 at some shoes this past year, Dan Slott did it for free. This part may require more research on your part.
Amazing Spider-man blank Variant
Follow the Trends
Sometimes the value of an issue can be temporarily altered by outside factors. Movies are a prime example. Mystique comics went up in value after the character was portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. Wolverine's popularity continues to go as he shows up in more and more films. Always be thinking about what is coming in the future.
The Good Bets
Below are a few comics that have been shown to hold value and steadily increase in value. Think of these as your long term safe investments. Most of these have been around a long time and while they will have plateaus and spikes the trend is upwards. If you want to start investing in comics these are strong choices that will up the value of your collection.
New Mutants #98
The first appearance of Deadpool is over 20 years old. Originally $1, you can now find it at various grades for between $200-$700.
This book is at a High right now. I'd suggest you wait til the film leaves theatres.
Incredible Hulk #181
The first appearance of Wolverine. This comic is either at the end or right in the middle of spike. Wolverine has been a mega name for Marvel these last few years. Currently though he's on his last issue. How long he stays gone will dictate the value of this comic book.
Every comic book store will likely have a bargain bin. That's where you'll find lots of issues for extremely reasonable prices. Most of the books won't be worth the paper they are printed on but every once in a while you'll find a gem. Take the time and put the effort in. You might have to look through a thousand comics. That's fine, it's all part of the hunt.
My Local Comic Shop The Gauntlet
The Gauntlet Comics and Games