Copper age comic investing – challenges and pitfalls

There is a belief in the comic book market that the Bronze age is now over heated and we should start looking at the copper age for investment ideas. I don’t disagree with that but I have a hard time finding the right books. In this article, I am to share with you what are my concerns and whether there are comic key issues out there that can mitigate my concerns.

copper age investing

Oversupply by Marvel and DC

One of the biggest concern I have about copper age books is how much supply there is in the market. We are talking about hundreds of thousands to even millions for titles like Spawn #1 or X-Force #1.

You can see this in the CGC census clearly. Any key books are likely to be in the hundreds or even thousands for 9.8 condition.

Compared to early bronze age keys, which typically has less than 10 copies in 9.8 condition, this glut of copper 9.8s have two major implications:

  • Prices are harder to sustain post hype because too much supply drowns out any real demand. NM #98 and BA #12 can give you some ideas. Even the currently super hot ASM #300 will see a big pull back once the Venom hype is done.
  • Difficult to sell your books when you are competing against tens or even hundreds of sellers. It is easy to stand out when your listing is the only 9.6 or 9.8 of a Bronze age key. Copper 9.8s? Get ready for some serious competition.

How about Indie Titles

If you want rarity, then the indie titles in 9.8 is where you should look. The Turtles are one good example of a valuable copper age Indie key. Unfortunately, I am not totally convinced that most of them have appeal to collectors.

The most dangerous risk about collecting Indies is not knowing if they will fade into obscurity. Unlike the big two, with their ever expanding movie properties, you don’t know how these indie characters will fare in the next 5 to 10 years.

Even more popular non big 2 publisher like Valiant is struggling in the secondary market. Most of their copper age stuff have not been able to maintain any sort of constant growth, despite all the movie news and such. Maybe it might still happen down the road but if Valiant is struggling in the back issue, I cannot imagine the non Valiant indies.

The middle ground

So, my personal preference for copper age investing is still to hunt for Big 2 books that are not as readily available in the 9.8 grade. Impossible you say? Here are some angles to think about it.

  • Black cover or defects: There might be some key issues that have some defects or just a black cover which makes them difficult to be graded in 9.8 conditions. Off hand, I can think of issues like Sandman 8. Sandman 1 has more than 500 graded copies in 9.8 while  issue #8  only has 100+. This tells me it might not be as easy to get a 9.8 Sandman 8 so it will be something I will consider in my radar.  Another example is X Force 1 9.8. For a book that has millions of copies, you will think a 9.8 is easy to come by but no sir! Maybe it is the plastic or the card but something is making a 9.8 X Force 1 difficult to come by, especially when you compare against the 2nd print gold version.
  • Newsstands: When things are common, collectors tend to find variants that are harder to find. In Bronze age, we have the 30 and 35 cents variants. In Copper, especially late copper, newsstand editions are starting to see some interest. If you are look at Spawn #1 for example, the prices between a newsstand 9.8 vs a normal edition is quite big. So, I make it a point to buy newsstand editions whenever I can for Copper books in the early 90s. In the 80s, newsstand editions are still common.

In summary, copper age investing requires more thought compared to silver and bronze. You can’t just pick up any key book and expect a good price performance as supply plays a more powerful role in this era. As I spend more time in this era, I will publish more thoughts on how to navigate through it successfully.

4 thoughts on “Copper age comic investing – challenges and pitfalls

  1. Aaron, you are killing it with these new posts and have nailed it with this one about Copper Age comics. They surely are tricky as these seem to be more in danger of over flooding or becoming to available in the market for even many sought-out keys. For many demand has to be crazy in order to just sustain value.

    Agree about black covers (harder to keep in high grade at the time) and newsstands, though high grade newsstands (9.6 to 9.8) in the later 80s are scarcer finds depending on issue. Am wondering why Crow #3 and #4, possibly even #2 are still overlooked or “under-valued” as they seem to be considered “low prints” and all have mostly black covers.

    Keep up the great work and welcome back!

  2. awesome posts Aaron !

    Love CA keys even despite their massive print runs – major first appearances and tons of nostalgia for collectors growing up in the 80s and 90s now adding comics as investments.

    1. Have you read the latest article on rare copper comics? I think that is the middle ground I have been looking for.

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