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The Difference Between Comic Investing & Comic Book Collecting

Updated on December 28, 2021

I know some may be reading the title of this hub and thinking, The difference between comic investing and comic book collecting? Aren't they the same thing?

The myth is that they are the same thing, because most people investing in comic books are also comic book collectors. The line between the two can often be convoluted.

However, there are differences, and I'm going to reveal the major difference between investing in comics and collecting comic books. Want to take a guess?

The real difference between those purely investing in comic books and those collecting in comics is that comic collectors collect what they like. Pure comic investing seek out comics to invest in for pure investment profit and return.

When I was kid, I was a comic book collector. I bought comics that I liked, because I liked reading the stories and the characters. I got a particular title to read and I followed the stories and story arcs.

Sure, I did the whole nine - keeping my comics in plastic sleeves with backing boards, while placing them in comic book boxes for safe keeping. I did wonder if they would be valuable someday, but it was not my main concern.

I bought and collected what I liked. I didn't really seek out comics to invest in. I sought out comic books to read and enjoy.

When I learned more about the world of comic investing, I learned a principle that many successful comic dealers use. It would be my guiding principle when it comes to investing in comics and for seeking out comics to invest in.

Don't Get What You Like. Get What's In Demand!

Now, don't get all excited. There's a lot more to comic investing than that. New books that come out are in demand also, but they are not good investments. I won't discuss why modern comic book isn't good investment comics in this hub. if you want to know why they aren't, just visit the link. It will bring you to an article explaining why modern comic investing is a bad idea.

What I am going to discuss is most comic investors can buy purely on the investment factor or not. Sure, I like Spider-Man, and I like the X-Men also. I will get investment comics from those two titles, but I can do it purely on investment criteria.

For example, I got a copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 a few years back purely as a calculated investment pick. I didn't read it. In fact, I stored it in a comic box, marinating it just a bit before I send it off to get it CGC graded. Had I read the story before? Yes, in a reprint comic. Do not get me wrong. I am a big fan of the X-Men and I do collect them also. I am just saying that I sometimes invest in comics that I love and collect. It's not always a one-size-fits-all type of deal when it comes to comic investing or comic collecting.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't know that Giant-Size X-Men #1 wasn't in-demand. I knew it was a very well-known key for having the 1st appearances of Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird. Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler are three very popular X-Men. I grew up with those characters in the late 80s and many others did as well. When I got that comic, I knew that if superhero movies were to pop off that there would be an X-Men film franchise that would most likely incorporate these characters somewhere. Even if that franchise were to somehow change or the rights be bought by another movie company, Storm or Colosuss or Nightcrawler would most likely be put in another film at some point. (Update: When I first wrote this, FOX owned the rights to the X-Men. Now Disney/Marvel bought out Fox and owns the rights to the X-Men characters. The MCU version of the X-Men are slated to appear soon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Now, I'm not a big fan of Iron Fist, but I bought his 1st appearance in Marvel Premiere #15. I knew that key issues from both the silver and bronze age comics were being sought out, so I figured I better get this one before it becomes ridiculously expensive a few decades from now.

I'm also not a big Justice League of America fan also, but I invested in the silver age Justice League of America #9 (origin of the Justice League). It was a great investment comic book choice.

Most comic investors seek high-grade comics. It means they seek out the highest-graded copy of a certain key issue comic that has investment potential, or that they can afford. That's at the high end of comic investing. Let's not get that confused with "pedigree comics" from what is deemed pedigree collections. These pedigrees are from collections that are acquired from an original owner. In most cases, this means they were directly bought on the newsstand or a comic shop by a single collector. Pedigree collections also consist of vintage comics and must be a considerable amount of comics.

You don't have to seek out the highest graded comic investments. I don't. I don't have the budget to do that. Actually, many in comic collectors and investors are starting to hit those mid grades and lower grade books from the silver age of comics, but make no mistake that they do appreciate in value a lot slower. Check out the prices of some of those high-grade books compared to mid-grade books.

Still, mid-grade and even lower-grade books of really in-demand vintage key comics are more affordable. Back in 2018 or 2019 I bought a copy of Marvel Spotlight #5, 1st Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, raw for $300 bucks. It graded a 6.5 or FN+, and is now worth quite a bit more than that. I'll show some data prices below, so you can see what I mean. The demand already trickled towards lower grade silver age keys. One main key is to get a comic before a huge surge in demand happens.

Marvel Premiere #15 CGC 9.4

2012
2017
2021
$335.00
$1,200.00
$1,800.00

Snapshot of the highest sales for the years 2012, 2017, and 2021 on venues like eBay, Heritage Auctions, ComicLink or ComicConnect. Does not reflect current prices or any price drops in-between years and even the current sales prices in the month of

M Copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 CGC 9.4
M Copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 CGC 9.4

Giant-Size X-Men #1 CGC 9.4

2012
2017
2021
1,600.00
2,400.00
16,200.00

Snapshot of the highest sales for the years 2012, 2017, and 2021 on venues like eBay, Heritage Auctions, ComicLink or ComicConnect. Does not reflect current prices or any price drops in-between years and even the current sales prices in the month of

My copy of Marvel Spotlight #5 CGC 6.5
My copy of Marvel Spotlight #5 CGC 6.5
2013
2017
2021
$191.20
$382.00
$3,000.00

Snapshot of the highest sales for the years 2013, 2017, and 2021 on venues like eBay, Heritage Auctions, ComicLink or ComicConnect. Does not reflect current prices or any price drops in-between years and even the current sales prices in the month of

The Simplicity of Comic Collecting

I'm going to be real here. The simplicity of just comic collecting has become a lot more complex as more and more people invest in comics. Prices have shot up astronomically in recent years and good deals for many in-demand keys requires a good hunt for. Also, spec moves incredibly fast. Once a spec book hits the net-o-sphere it can take a mere few hours for prices to all the sudden bump up online. Even those dollar or back issues bins in a local area can be wiped clean of a fresh spec book in a few days.

What do I mean by "spec book?" It is a speculation book, a comic that was under the radar or not known to have any significance (key) until something or someone gave it significance. Usually, specs are dialed into whether a film or animation will somehow incorporate that particular comic into it. For example, if a certain character debuted in a particular comic, the sudden news of that character being turned into a TV or movie property or showing up in a TV or movie property may cause that comic debut to quickly become sought-out.

With all that mind, there is a simplicity of comic collecting and it's still collect what you like. Yep, collect what you're a fan of. If you like the X-Men, collect the X-Men. For instance, when I simply just want an X-Men comic for my personal collection, I don't necessarily care about the grade all that much. Not like I do when I invest in a particular comic or spec in a comic. I basically just have it to have it. Believe it or not, I still have quite a few comics from my childhood collection. They're not in the best shape as I did read them quite often. I still have them, however.

You can also collect newer comics that come out if the secondary market costs are too much for your budget. Not to say that the new comics that hit comic shops are cheap, because they're not anymore. $3 bucks a pop is nothing to shrug off, but some back issue bins are pretty intimidating also.

2021 Retrospective!

Wow, I just recently updated this article and it was originally written back in 2012! The date of this update is December 28th, 2021. Some of the concepts are pretty out-dated in this article but some still old true and fast. Here's one: I still don't always invest in comics or spec in characters I'm a fan of. Example? One good example is the character of White Fox that debuted in Contest of Champions #1. With the Kumiho already shown in the Ta-Lo scene from the Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings flick, some heat has hit that very comic recently. I have two copies of Contest of Champions #1, one is the Ron Lim variant, but I'm still not a fan of the character. I do like New Agents of Atlas too.

In correlation to the article I wrote back in 2012, I no longer have that Marvel Premiere #15 that graded a CGC 9.4, but I do still have that Giant-Size X-Men #1 CGC 9.4. Do I regret selling that Marvel Premiere #15, first and origin of Iron Fist? To be honest, kind-a-sorta. I mean, I regret that I didn't let it marinate more and sell it for more money, as that comic at the grade I had it is selling for quite more than what I sold it at. Then again, the proceeds from that comic helped to get me another comic investment as well. Anyway, I put in some sales data of some of the comics I talked about in the original article. For the record, I didn't sell that Marvel Premiere #15 CGC 9.4 in 2012.

Do I still get comic investments of comics and characters I like or collect? For sure. Recently, I got an X-Men #99 30 Cent Variant at this very small comic show recently, and I'll post the YouTube video of that after this block of text. Did I want an X-Men #99? Not really. It wasn't high on my list of comics to get to be honest. However, it was a 30 Cent variant for a pretty fair price and at a decent grade. The 30 Cent Price Variants are more rare than the regular 25 Centers, and if I just wanted the comic to have, the regular 25 Cent editions are quite a bit cheaper too.

On the flip side, I still collect what I just like. A good recent example is when I got a copy of Longshot #1 at Eastbay Comic Con recently. Art Adams was there, and I purely got the book to get signed by the fan-favorite artist who co-created Longshot. I'm not a big fan of signed books, and I really didn't care about the condition of the Longshot #1 I got either. Price was right and it was just purely for my personal collection.

Where I got That X-Men #99 30 Cent Price Variant. What Else Did I get?

In Conclusion

I wrote a hub about one secret tip to help you to do this. You can visit the link to discover how to foresee a huge demand for certain comic books to help your choices concerning comic book investing.

So there are some main difference between comic book collectors and those purely investing in comics. Many still mix the two, but there are still pure comic investors and pure comic collectors out there as well. As I've displayed and admitted, I am not either and venture into both territories. However, I still love this hobby. I think it's the best hobby on the planet. Whether you're either/or or in the middle, comics are meant to be fun, so have fun hunting out there.

If you're interested in comic investing be sure to look at my other posts on the subject as well as take a look at more of my hubs on comic book fun.

© 2012 Vic

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