The easiest way to understand a new comic segment is to create your own top 10 most valuable books in that segment. This simple exercise will let you better understand a few important things that will help you in your comic book investment.
Benefits of your top 10 research
Before going into the details on putting your own top 10, here are the things you can learn from such an exercise:
1. Know the price ceiling of your segment
When you know the prices of the top 10 books in your segment, you will develop a feel of how high a book can go. This offers 2 benefits in your investment strategies.
First, you will know whether a book’s entry price has room to grow. This is important as every segment has different price ceilings. If you have never dabbled in a segment before, you cannot assume that what you know in other segments will apply here.
As an example, my recent look back on the modern cover segment reveals that the average ceiling is around USD200-300. So, if you are paying close to these numbers, it means your probability of making any significant returns is reduced.
Second, knowing the ceiling price can give you confidence to market buy. I know many collectors like to buy under market but for some books, this can be difficult. However, if you are confident of the price ceiling, you can go in hard on a book and accumulate multiple copies within a short time frame.
A just personal example is Amazing Fantasy Vol 2, #15. It has went from dollar bin to a $70-80 book. So, does this book have room to grow?
According to the modern top 10, it still has another $100-200 room to growth. As such, you can still market buy the book. Trying to buy this book for under market is very very hard because of its low print run. Any new listings will likely to attract many watchers who will out bid you.
If you think this book has the potential to reach $200 per book, does it matter if you buy it at $70, $80, or even $100? It only matters when you are not confident of the book’s growth and try to minimize your risk. Doing the top 10 will give you this confidence.
2. Understand the commonalities of top books
When you have done the research for the top 10 books, you will often see a pattern that makes them the top 10.
This pattern becomes useful when you used it to spot other books that have the same characteristics.
For example, in my recent top 10 post on 2nd printing, one interesting pattern is how many Amazing Spider-Man 2nd prints are in the list. If you spotted this pattern, how would be your next move?
Such patterns differ between comic segments so a top 10 list can give you different insights that a generic list cannot.
3. Select investment candidates from bottom of the list
The most useful thing about building your own top 10 is that you have already selected potential investment candidates. More specifically, you can analyse whether any of the books in the bottom 5 can potentially rise to replace one of the top 5.
This was what I did when I put together my very own Overstreet top 50 bronze age books. Overstreet already had a list but it has 2 things that I improved on:
- I took out all the price variants
- I extend the list from 10 to 50
I then focused on those books that are in the top 11-20, carefully analyzing them for their potential to jump into the top 10. Eventually, I did pick books like Marvel Spotlight #5 and Tomb of Dracula #10, which turn out to be solid winners.
You can do this for any comic segment. My recommendation is to go beyond the top 10 to try for at least top 15. This is to allow you list out more potential investment candidates.
Currently, I think the copper age 9.8 newsstand is ripe for deep analysis. There are some books there which are tough to get but still has no newsstand premium. Buying them now is almost a guarantee bet.
4. Understand the trends
If you have done the top on an excel sheet, and update it regularly over time, you now have the start of another powerful tool: trend analysis.
The top 10 in your segment can be seen as a mini portfolio index. Think of it like the S&P 500. By tracking this index over time, you will see if this segment is growing, stagnant or declining. If it is growing, what is the growth rate and is the growth rate accelerating or decelerating.
The best kind of market to be in is when you found a growing segment that is accelerating. In such cases, almost any key book in that segment will rise rapidly. Conversely, if the segment is declining, you might want to wait and see if putting down big bucks for the books.
How to put together your top 10
This is a simple thing to do. All you need are the following:
- A google spreadsheet
- Ebay listings
- CGC census data
The first thing is to go to Ebay and looked at the sold items. The keywords you used them is very important as it will determine what kind of results you see. It is best to run a few different variations to avoid choosing the wrong keywords.
Once that is done, rearrange the results via the prices from highest to lowest.
Input the data into your spreadsheet. I recommend that you include the following items in the spreadsheet
- Title of comics
- Vol number
- Issue number
- Date of Price
- CGC grade
- CGC census data
The last item on the list needs to be extracted via the CGC website here: https://www.cgccomics.com/census/. Simply key in the issue number to look for how many copies of a grade on the census.
For ease of computing, I suggest you look at the highest grade. That will let you know the maximum price ceiling for this book.
Comic book investment is not just about movie rumors, first appearances, print runs and such. You need to develop your own research methods, tools like this in your investment strategies so as to spot better opportunities.
Currently, most of the community is still very instinct based. Use this to your advantage.