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Unknown to many, I am actually a big fan of comic collecting. I was at it since the age of 12. Throughout the years, this hobby of mine has come and go but it never truly left. The biggest problem with collecting comics is the storage and money issue. Other than that, there are no other physical objects that can bring me more pleasure than having a comic book in hand.
Comics can be good investments if you invest in comic books that have significance. This includes comics that contain first appearances of popular characters, or their origin or have iconic covers. Such comics can give you more than 100% returns over a period of 3 years or less.
Comics outside of these categories do not see much price appreciation to be considered good investments. These comics are usually just run of mill regular issues with no significance. On average, they are usually worth less than $5 each. Some are even less than $1.
As any collector will tell you, the possibility of making money off comics will eventually find its way into your head. I am no stranger to this as I also naively thought that if I keep my collection long enough, they will be worth something. Fast forward almost 20 years and most of my comics are still worthless.
How to have a comic collection that are good investments
I realise later on that collecting and investment are 2 entirely different matters. If you want to treat them as one, you probably will not be happy with either of the outcomes. As a collector, I want to buy things that might not worth anything to anyone for any period in time. It might a character. It might the cover art. It might be the story. Whatever the reason, the only commonality is that I enjoyed the comic and wants to own it. The issue of monetary value doesn’t come into play here.
As a investor, you need to look at things beyond your own interest. Market liquidity for example is an important factor in determining whether that particular title is worth buying. Most comic titles are not liquid. Only a handful of titles can be sold at any point in time as the interest in them is always there.
Similarity with market value. Most comics don’t hold their value well. Only a few key issues can see their value appreciating throughout the years. Typically, these are gold or silver age titles that contain the first appearance of important characters such as the incredible hulk, spider man, iron man, batman, justice league of America etc.
The problem with being an investor and a collector at the same time is that you might not even liked those characters that are selling well in the market. So the possession of those books don’t bring you much joy. Hence, it is best to separate one from the other if you hope to achieve the best outcomes for both scenarios.
Personally, I have 2 collections, one for interest and one for investments. Since this is an early retirement blog and not a comic blog, I am going to talk more about the latter collection.
How much returns can comics give you?
First of all, let me show you show interesting charts.
This first chart shows you the returns of a portfolio of 6 silver age key issues from 2011 to 2012 that include:
- Amazing Spider man #1
- Avengers #1
- Daredevil #1
- Fantastic Four #1
- Incredible Hulk #1
- X-Men #1
If you have purchased this portfolio in early 2011 at a price of around USD298,000, it will be worth around USD315,000 today. That is a gain of 5.7% per annum. Not bad at all.
Now, let’s look at another chart. The following shows another portfolio. This time it is a set of bronze age key issue that includes the likes of Hulk 181 (first appearance of Wolverine), Uncanny X-Men 129 (first appearance of White Queen) etc. In this case, the portfolio has took a drastic beating. If you have purchased this portfolio, you will have lost nearly 50% of your investment dollars. Ouch!
What I want these charts to show is that comic investments are real. You can make or lose money, depending on how good or bad you are. I have made many errors in the past and will share with you what these investment mistakes in the future posts.
Comic investments might not be the best way to grow your wealth but to me, nothing gives me more pleasure than owning a piece of comic history and selling that in later years to make a handsome profit.