This article summarizes my thoughts on how to invest in comic books beyond just depending on movie speculation. Due to the G+ group that I am moderating, I get a lot of real time insights into how folks are investing, especially new ones. The main reasons cited is usually a bet on a movie appearance, even if that character has very little chance of spearheading a solo movie. I blame this on GOTG, which has caused a thinking that any obscure characters now has a chance of a price hike. I am afraid it is not that simple.
Marvel studios has a very systematic way of picking movies. If you looked at my past 2 articles: one on why Eternals will replace Inhumans and the other on my Marvel movie phase 4 picks, you can get some sensing on how I feel Marvel studios work. Anyway, today’s article is to go beyond movie speculation and look at other important factors when deciding on how to invest your money in comics.
Note: this is not an exhaustive list but are the main ones I used personally
Books that have been historically important tend to hold its value better, even when movie specs turn out to be false and non impactful. What do I mean by historical significance? It means books that
- were well received when it first came out and continue to be seen in positive light by folks who have read it
- had an impact on the character ie new powers, new costume that last, new names etc
- were well recognized by comic collectors
Historically significant books need not always be about first appearances. It can be a run, an important event, the death of someone, an iconic cover etc. By expanding your horizon on what books are historically important and well collected, you can uncover gems that many first time speculators or movie speculators will miss.
Overstreet list or other impactful list
Related to point one is being on a list that many collectors regard as important. There are many collectors whose sole collecting purpose is to own every single book on such a list. This create a certain threshold of collectors that can hold the value of your comic. Is it any wonder that these book also tend to be the most explosive when paired with movie news? Just look at the prices of these Bronze age books in recent years: Hulk #181, WWBN #32, HOS #92, ASM #129 etc
The trick to using such lists is to look at books outside the top 10 and spot winners that can eventually over take the top 10 spot. Marvel Spotlight #5 is one such example. There are others in the list you should also consider. Need help? Look at this earlier article on the top 50 Bronze age books according to Overstreet 2018.
The best kind of comics to invest in are the ones that have established fan base. I think X-23 is a great recent example. She was popular right out of the gate, as seen by her own series, spread out across multiple volumes. Not many characters can boost such high publishing frequency, especially the new ones.
The trick here is not to zoom in on well known character that we all know have high publishing frequency like Spiderman, Thor etc. We should look for little gems that are well published but somehow have escape notice.
Using this trick was the reason I was able to pick on the Ms Marvel spec way before anybody else and why I was able to stock up Captain Marvel #17 2nd print when they were at cover price. I believe there are still such gems out there. *cough* kate bishop *cough*
Niches with limited supply
We all know that collectors in general like to collect stuff that is harder to find. This is one reason why the modern variants took off. Combined the rarity factor with the list factor in #2 and you get a current list of top variants like Spiderman #678 venom variant going for 4 digit sums.
In comics, there is a lot of areas with niche appeal. The one I am into at the moment are the newsstands especially for the late copper and modern era. These are harder to find and might find an audience in the next 5 years who might appreciate them. The 30 vs 35 cents variant is an example of such a phenomenon.
This strategy involves a higher risk relative to the other 3 factors. The danger comes from the niche not taking off and you are left with books that only a few will appreciate. Hence, remember to keep your investments into these area low. In that way, you are protected in case things don’t turn out well.
The intention of this article is to increase the scope of investable comics beyond just an appearance in the movies. No doubt this will still be an important factor in the coming years but you should always look for books with stronger fundamentals in case the hype don’t pan out.