Investing in comics, how and what to buy when the market is right
Nine years ago, in April of 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with the release of Iron Man. Since then there have been fifteen films in total with nine more scheduled to be released by 2019. Due to their popularity, these films have created an ever-growing demand for the Silver (1956-1969) and Bronze (1970-1985) age comic books they are based on. Following the ways of Marvel, D.C Comics has been building their own Extended Universe since 2013 comprised of four films soon to include theatrical adaptions of Justice League and Aquaman. While the Marvel market is strong and flourishing, Silver and Bronze Age D.C comics have not reached their full market potential. So, whether you are simply a super hero fan or economic opportunist, buying comics can be more rewarding than the stock market, and these are the tips and tricks on what to look for.
A “key”, and not what you use to open a door, is a comic book in which something important happens during the story that effects the greater picture of comic book history. The most important key issues of any line are typically debut issues and character introductions. For example, Tales of Suspense issue thirty-nine was the first appearance of Iron Man, a critically important book in comic book history which in recent times has sold for as high as a quarter million dollars. Now, if you are reading this and have a Tales of Suspense thirty-nine at home don’t think just yet you have a six-figure comic.
When it comes to determining the value of a comic the most crucial factor is condition. Condition is everything, and what most might find insignificant can make a difference of thousands. Creases, scratches, pen marks, corner tears, and other minute defects are what separate most books from the superb examples. So, when it comes to starting a collection be selective and think quality over quantity. It is much better to have a collection of key books in nice condition versus a hoard of beat up readers.
So what book(s) do you buy? Not every first issue or first appearance is a sure money maker, so when it comes time to make an investment you need to be able to look at the grander picture to make an educated conjecture. Aquaman issue thirty-five was the first appearance of Black Manta, and it is already known that he will be a character in the upcoming 2018 Aquaman film. Depending on how the film is received the book may either sky rocket or be stuck like a stick in the mud, but the odds of it depreciating are slim to none.
Now on the flip side, you don’t want to collect comics, but you have a box or two or ten at home. What do you do? You call a professional, because there is the right way of doing things and the wrong. There are many books beyond first appearances and issues that are worth money, and until you’ve sorted over one hundred thousand comics, even finding just one key can feel like a needle in a haystack for people. For example, at Bruneau & Co. we recently finished sorting a collection of over ten thousands books for a client of which three hundred were deemed important.
Those books since have undergone cleaning, pressing, grading, and for some even restoration. Yes, just like a car they restore comic books. Those books will now be sold at our next Comic and Comic Art Auction with Rhode Island Comic Con. So, before you sell your comics at a yard sale or on craigslist, you might want to stop and think and call a professional.