I have been buying from my local comic store for almost two years now, I opened a box and selected a few of my favorite titals to follow. But I want to take my collecting a little more seriously. How does one determine which comic books to collect? I am thinking primarily in terms of new comic books. Like how do you know which story arcs or specific issues are going to gain most in value over time? Or is it more of a luck thing?
Collect what you enjoy.
It is highly unlikely that any comic you buy will increase in value.
Even if it did you will not get full price unless dealing directly with another collector.
You would have to keep your comics in mint condition. Reading ruins mint condition. A second copy to read just increases your cost with no benefit.
All new comics are available digitally. Even rare comics cost less than two dollars digitally. Older comics sell for a lower price than newer ones.
There’s a Master Topic for comic recommendations you should check out! I’ve just bumped it for you in the Comics Books section https://yourdcu.com/cmrecs
It’s pretty much luck*
*but…if you are on the pulse enough, you can see some books get value. Now, first of all, buy to read. Even if you’re trying to guess what’s going to be popular and get value, you need to read the books in order to make an educated guess.
Also, what gives a book value? It’s a combination of demand, or how many people want it (how many are willing to put the money up for it) and the supply, or the rarity. For example, X-Men #1 by Jim Lee, the best-selling book of all time is also the least rare book of all time. That will forever cap it’s value. There’s enough copies to meet the demand, despite the demand being much larger than other books that weren’t printed as heavily. So the books that really gain value are the smaller ones that gain an audience over time. I believe the first run print of Walking Dead #1 was only a thousand copies. That’s rarity and demand. You had to be there and take a chance, maybe your LCS had it on the shelf or you had to pre-order it.
I would recommend just buying what you like. The books in my collection that have become the most valuable were ones I bought because I liked the writer or artist. For example, Saga #1 I bought off the shelf when it released because I liked Brian K Vaughn. It became a smash hit and I wound up selling the first 30 issues for over $400. I collected the hardcovers to read forever. Years ago I bought the first three issues of The Eternals because I was exploring Kirby. They were $5 each. Now, they’re blowing up off the movie. Lesson being, trust your own taste. What you think is good is likely what other people think is good as well. Buy good stuff. Buy your favorite character, or writer, ot artist. And every now and then you’ll find the movie and tv trends touch on something you have.
Good luck to you! Hopefully in five years you’ll turn around and find a book you bought yesterday is worth $100.
Predicting is nigh impossible, but buying stuff for cheap when you see a valuable comic is very doable. My best finds for this were the first fifteen issues of Preacher in near mint condition right after the TV show was announced. I should have sold them at the time because comic book speculation went crazy. This was in the height of Walking Dead’s popularity, so another comic book adaptation on the same network was huge. Probably could have had between five hundred and a grand on them. They are still worth a few hundred dollars. I also bought tons of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil for $2 apiece including Miller’s first issue, Elektra’s first issue, Bullseye’s first issue, the death of Elektra and Silver Samuri’s first issue all of which are worth a hundred or more apiece. I’ve done this to much smaller degrees many other times. Just look up comics and try to remember which ones are valuable. I have a crappy memory, and I can do it. If something strikes you as possibly valuable in the wild, look it up.
I’ve also found lots of fun stuff by buying out collections. Many times I’ve thrown down a hundred or two hundred dollars in exchange for three hundred to nine hundred comics and sorted through them to see what’s valuable. That’s how I found the first appearance of Harley Quinn and the first appearance of Constantine amongst many other cool things. I got the second appearance of Black Adam that way too.
I should make a list of my valuable comics some time. Takes forever to go through them though because I have a ridiculous amount because I buy out collections and then hoard them. (sigh) Guess I’ll have to sell many of them sooner or later. If only I were rich, I’d just buy a room for them.
Oh, but yeah, figure out what you want in comics. Do you want to speculate as a gamble? You can do that but there is no guarantee. Do you want to enjoy the comics? Then just enjoy the comics and don’t worry about that. Do you enjoy the thrill of the completing a particular run? Then you can go to some of the larger comic cons and find some crazy good deals for cheap prices. Do you want to hunt for the rare and valuable diamond in the rough by recognizing something others don’t know they have? Look everywhere. Even dealers don’t always know what they have. Do you want to see how valuable you can go and own the most rare and pristine? Get ready to throw down some money, but good comic book shops and dealers at comic-cons are always on the lookout. Tell them what you want and if they don’t have it, they’ll find a way to get it to you if it’s in their power. It’s a networking thing.
I like completing my collection and finding diamonds in the rough myself.
If your collecting comics as “an investment” you’ll probably do better in class A bonds or stuffing money in a mattress. How long are you planning to hold onto these comics? 20, 30, 40 years?
The reason golden age and some silver age comics are worth serious coin is because they were disposable. Most didn’t survive. They were on lousy paper.
In most cases a comic is valuable because of two reasons, it’s the first appearance of a character, artist, writer kinda thing combined with how rare it is. So you have more consumers than suppliers, and hence the price goes up.
In the end collect what you like to read, because if the comic doesn’t appreciate or does depreciate in value, you still have something you enjoy.
From a purely investment standpoint, my own personal experience is that erotic/smut comics can have some good investment potential. The more “fetish/specialized” the better. Because they’re aren’t usually many copies printed, they aren’t widely distributed, often not digitized and serious collectors will pay serious coin to complete a collection. Also, sex sells and it always will. But, to maximize value you still need to be willing to hold them for probably 20+ years. Also, when you’re looking to sell, it’s a narrow band market. So you have to be patient and it will be work finding a buyer. (One of the reasons they weren’t widely distributed on the first place.)
In the end, buy & collect comics for your own enjoyment. There a a HELL of a lot more things that are better investments these days than comics, especially comics coming out now. The days of finding cheap comics worth money at a swap meet or “granny’s attic” are long past gone. Are there a few comics that buck this trend, of course. But you’d likely do better throwing a dart at stocks listed in the Wall Sr Journal.
Are there a few comics that, if you can afford them, will likely continue to appreciate. Sure. Showcase #4 (first silver age Flash), Amazing Fantasy #15 (first Spider-Man), Detective #27 and comics of that ilk will likely still continue to appreciate. Do you have the time, money, resources, security, insurance, conservatorship skills to keep them in the same condition as they are now for the next 20 years?
But what you want. Sell what you don’t need anymore. If something you have becomes valuable, congratulations. If it doesn’t, SOMEONE on eBay will take it off your hands. The important thing is just that you don’t buy a lot in the vain hope some of it will be valuable one day. Personally I’ve switched to digital, but that’s my advice for physical collectors. Personally the books I own are all deluxe/omnibus/Absolute editions of my favorite books. I don’t worry about things “gaining value”.
I appreciate the insight everyone!!
I don’t intend on selling any comics, I just think owning something valuable is neat. I thought it would be cool if there was a way to determine that ahead of time. Regardless, I aim to keep adding to the collection as I find things I like, and through my subscription box at my local comic shop. I am definitely not a stock trader haha.