How to invest in modern comics – Introducing the PSM tool

This book introduces a new tool for modern book investing called the Popularity – Scarcity – Matrix (PSM).

The tricky part of investing in modern book is the lack of historical significance such as Overstreet List or the Wizard top 10 that investors can refer to. Without the past to guide us, modern books require a new lens for investors to separate potential long term books vs the flash in the pants kind of books.

The PSM attempts to provide a new lens for modern book investors.


Popularity – Scarcity – Matrix definition

The PSM uses two important pieces of data in its application:

  • Number of copies sold in USA (as a proxy for print run)
  • Number of appearances in comic books since 2000 (as a proxy for popularity and potential demand)

Using these 2 pieces of data, it then form 4 quadrants :

  • Gems: Low print run books with characters that have high comic book appearances
  • Slow Burners: High print run books with characters that have high comic book appearances
  • Lottery: Low print run books with characters that have low comic book appearances
  • Dogs: High print run books with character that have low comic book appearances.

The criteria used to classify the books as high vs low print run and popular vs obscure characters are:

  • Number of copies sold is USA: 20k+
  • Number of appearances in comic books since 2000: 100

These criteria are derived using the observations made in the market place currently and can be change to suit your personal investment style i.e. conservative vs aggressive



The Gems group of books contains popular characters and have low supply.

Examples of these books are

  • Blue Marvel #1 (103 comic appearances): 17k sales
  • Amazing Fantasy vol 2 #15 (261 comic appearances): 13k sales
  • Vengeance #1 (138 comic appearances): 16k sales

See the pattern? All of them:

  • contain first appearances of characters with more than 100 comic book appearances and
  • sales number below 30k.

A bottom line Gems book is the Hood #1. It has 30k sales and the Hood has appeared in 148 comic book appearances. Any media news and this book will fly.

the hood vol 1 1Click here to see copies on Ebay


Slow Burners

This group contains popular characters but have plenty of copies to go around.

Young Avengers #1 is a great example. Although Kate Bishop is pretty popular (220 comic book appearances), it took a pretty long time and plenty of news before this book start to rise to the current $50+. If this book has the same print run as Amazing Fantasy Vol 2 #15, it will have been a $100 book by now.

Similarly for Ultimate Fallout #4. Even though Mile Morales is popular, spearheads his own animated movie and has 380 comic book appearances, this book struggles to rise until recent years. Even now, it has difficulty reaching the $100 price point.



Lottery books are limited in supply but contain characters that have low comic book appearances.

I called them lottery books because they have the potential to become Gem books if the publisher pushes them hard enough. However not all pushes are successful, hence the term lottery.

Currently, some of the lottery books to keep an eye out for includes

  • Captain Marvel Vol 5, #16 and #17. These 2 books have around 24k sales and represent the cameo and full appearance of Phyla-Vell. She currently has 58 comic book appearances.There is some rumor speculating that Phyla might be the Quasar used in GOTG 3. Hence, the return-risk ratio is pretty good, especially now that its price has soften.
  • Bloodstone #1: Elas Bloodstone has around 78 comic books appearances and this book has a print run of 35k. Might turn into a Gem if Marvel pushes her more in the comic books.



This group contains obscure characters and books that have large print run.

A lot of newbies lost money because they invested too much into these type of books. Unfortunately, this is also the favorite group for pump and dump activities as the books are easy to source. However, their low popularity means values cannot be sustained for a long period.

Moon Girl is actually an interesting example. Her first appearance book, despite the media news, is still struggling at $10-15 range. This is because she has less than 100 comic book appearances but has a supply of 38k. If Marvel continues to push her appearances in comic books, she might eventually become a slow burner book.


Bringing it together

This diagram puts together all the info I have discussed above into a single easy to see view.

Popularity Scarcity Matrix v2


Comparing the 4 quadrants

The best group of comics to invest in are those from the Gems group. All they need is one media announcement and their prices will hike up pretty easily. The problem is these are not easy to find and hence are recognized as gems.

The worst books to invest in are the dogs. Avoid them if you can or keep their portfolio allocation low.

The interesting choice is between Slow Burners and Lottery books. Personally, I prefer the former. It is easier for a popular character to overcome high supply than an obscure character to suddenly become popular.

We have seen plenty of examples of the success of Slow Burners books like Young Avengers #1, Ultimate Fallout #4 and even NYX #3. It is more difficult to see someone like Vampire by Night becoming as popular as Kate Bishop.



I hope the PSM can be a tool that can more systematically help you to decide whether a modern book is a good investment.

When a book gets close to the criterion line, it might not be as clear cut. For example, is NYX #3 a Slow Burner or a Gem. The character clearly has many comic book appearances but NYX #3’s print run of 40k is close to the criterion line of 30k. Some might consider this a low print run book while others might think it is high.

However when the book is not close to the criterion lines choices will be easy to classify.

9 thoughts on “How to invest in modern comics – Introducing the PSM tool

  1. Fantastic post! I love any attempt to bring a more rigorous methodology to comic investing. Please post in the future which ones you think are gems, etc.

  2. Hei Aaron, thanks for sharing this tool. It helps indeed, and it brings back memories of SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) from my university years šŸ™‚

    Such a tool may work best together with qualitative tools. You have written much about the potential of modern age female and minority characters. Here I think of X-23 (NYX 3), Blue Marvel 1, Amazing Fantasy 15 (Amadeus Cho), BA 12 (Harley Quinn) and so on.

    And then there is the prime driver called movies and shows.

    I will chew on this all, it will help me figure out an invest approach. Thanks!


  3. I see you only analyze Marvel comics. Do you see DC comics as fundamentally more limited because of the relative failure of the DC Cinematic Universe?

  4. Great job, Iā€™d definitely add All-New Marve Now Point One 1. First full ms. Marvel to the gems section. Cheers.

    1. Thanks TIm for the comment. According to the criteria I proposed, the ANMPO #1 belongs to slow burner due to the supply larger than 30k.

      1. I hear you on the ANMPO 1, but based on the criteria you proposed the 2nd Print belongs in the Gem, no question about it Bud, No Question

        1. Hi Jay, all the books discussed here are of the regular editions. Not variants, not newsstand and not 2nd prints. By default all these other editions are Gem books because of their low circulation numbers.

  5. Have you heard of a non character called Miranda. She appeared in Worst X Man Ever 3. She is supposed to be very powerful and very underused. Maybe a bit of research into the character?

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