I have said that buying low grade silver age comics can be a good long term investment. The drawback however is the cost of doing so. What if you have very little cash in hand. Can you still make money in comics? Yes you can and the answer lies in buying modern comics to speculate.
Investing in modern comics requires an entirely different way of buying and selling. In fact, I will not even use the word invest as speculation seems to be a more appropriate term. After spending some time researching and doing some buying and selling on my own, here is what you need to do to make money off modern comics.
Step 1: Research on new titles that will be released in 2 months
There are tonnes of new titles being launched in any month. Keep your eye on mostly the independent publishers such as image comics, darkhorse, boom studios and even IDW. Titles from these publishers tend to have lower print runs, which means a more limited supply to meet any sudden increase in demand.
Also, try to buy titles that are ongoing. Mini or limited series have a shorter shelf live, meaning that you don’t have that much of a run way for the price to increase. Do note however that some mini series can become ongoing if the response is good. When that happens, it is a good time to buy that title since most speculators will not have stock up on mini series in general.
Finally, the reason for the 2 months lag is that you can order these comics online typically with a healthy 35% discount off the cover price. This means that even if the comic did not rise above the cover price, you can still make money since you bought them at a discount.
Step 2: Buy the comics
Once you have some titles that you think is good, order them online at places such as DCBSservice.com or midtowncomics.com. These online comic stores gave very good discount if you preorder the comics 2 months in advance.
In terms of number of copies, I like to order 10 minimum and sell them as a set. The reason is to reduce the shipping cost, which is very important for a guy like me who is not based in the US. Let me give you a break down of the costs involved in shipping a single comic to show you what I mean.
Let’s say you bought a single issue of a modern comic at USD1.95 (35% discount). The shipping cost from US to Singapore will have cost me around USD7. Total cost will be USD9.95. If I sell the comics at USD15, I will have earned USD5, which is not enough to cover the shipping cost from Singapore back to US, which is around USD15.
However, if I buy 10 copies at once, my total cost will be USD19.5 (USD1.95*10) + USD10 (shipping), which is around USD29.5. Not too much of a difference relative to single issue purchase
If I sell all 10 copies in one sale, my proceeds will be USD150, giving me a profit of USD150 -USD29.5, which is around USD120. Taking out the shipping cost from Singapore to US (around USD20), I still make a profit of USD100.
This is why the economics is more favorable towards buying and selling bulk copies, rather than one issue at a time, especially if you don’t live in the US.
Step 3: Set up an ebay account
If you do not have an ebay account, set up one for free. Prepare your listing in advance, using high resolution photos and good product description. Make sure your listing title contains words that people will use to search for your comic titles. If you don’t know how to write a good description, take a look at what the power sellers have done and modify their work.
Step 4: Analyse the price movement once the comic is launched
After 2 months’ of waiting time, the titles you have selected to buy should be launched. During this time, monitor the ebay “completed sales” listings to see how much they are selling. If you have done your homework and have invested in a solid title that has limited print run, the price should start to increase. This is because the good reviews online will drive people to buy them but since most physical stores will already be sold out (due to the small print runs), the only way for them to buy is through Ebay.
For the folks who have a longer perspective, you can choose to hold on to the comics if you expect them to increase in price over time. However, I still advice you to sell enough copies to at least cover your cost , and then hold on to the remaining copies for price appreciation. It is hard to predict what title will be hot so covering your potential losses is a safe way to protect your money.
Which modern comics to invest in 2013?
I can’t predict the future but I can tell you what I have invested in.
Modern Comic #1: East of West
This comes from a ‘hot’ writer, Jonathan Hickman who is producing some very good work recently. His previous creator own title is called Manhattan Projects, which is selling around USD20+ for issue 1 on Ebay. If you bought those at USD1.95, you will have made some good money.
The only thing that is uncertain about East of West is its high print run of 50K. The demand has to be really strong for price to increase on such a large print run.
Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth
The print run of this title is super low, around 7k. The good thing is that there seems to be very little speculation on this title, meaning that the demand comes from real readers, who are likely to stick around for a longer period. The thing I like about this title is the creator, Ken Kristensen who seems to be a one man marketing machine. I believe with such as a passionate creator and a very good quality title that isn’t over printed, the future of Todd looks bright.
Suicide Risk is not out in the market yet but I have a strong feeling towards it. The creator is the award winning writer, Mike Carey who has done a fantastic job on another series called The Unwritten. His new title returns him to his super hero roots, but without all the baggage that comes with writing for characters that isn’t his to control.
I expect the print run to be minimal for this series but the good reviews should increase the demand to the point where supply can’t meet it. That is when the prices will increase. If you want to invest in this modern comic, go for the variant cover which is very hard to buy online now.
I hope you will learn something from this 1000 word article on how to invest in modern comics!