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Comic Book Cash, Issue #009 -- Why Collectors Make Lousy Investors!
November 03, 2014

Comic Book Cash #9

Why Collectors Make Lousy Comic Book Investors

Welcome to the latest Comic Book Cash instalment, and thanks for subscribing.

This time, we're going to ruffle a few feathers! This is a topic that ought to be dear to the hearts of investors, but has the potential to upset collectors.

Why Collectors Always Do Things Front-to-Back (and Why Investors Should Therefore Work Back-to-Front)

If you're in comic book investing to make money – and why else, when you stop to think about it? – then you need to shake off your instinct to fill long boxes with comic books, and your basement/ attic/ office/ spare bedroom with long boxes!

We're going to examine how collectors do everything wrong, and why it's so hard for them to switch to the investor mindset.

Time to Break Your Collecting Habit

Here is what a typical collector does:

  • Buy a bit of everything, usually 'front-to-back' (more affordable, recent issues first and older ones later)
  • Fix on a topic or a series they like (say, Fantastic Four) rather than looking for opportunities to invest their money for the best return
  • Start randomly adding issues to their collection, either on eBay, at a local comic book store, or at a convention
  • Push the boat out for a 'special' issue, such as FF #100, #112, or #50 – this becomes the 'jewel of their collection'
  • Spend the rest of their money on middle of the road books from the series, in whatever condition they can find/afford
  • Lust forever after the 'unaffordable' keys like FF #1, #5, #12, #48

Will that Fantastic Four #1 ever be affordable if you keep filling long boxes with cheaper books?
Will that Fantastic Four #1 ever be affordable if you keep filling long boxes with cheaper books?

Compare that with what a comic book investor should be doing:

  • Start with the keys! This usually means working 'back-to-front', by investing in the earliest, most expensive issues first
  • Focus on the issues which have a track record of good percentage returns
  • Invest in the best examples you can afford to maximize your return when you sell
  • The 'jewels of your portfolio' are the ones which give you the best return on investment, regardless of their age, topic or condition

Stating the Bleeding Obvious?

As we English are fond of saying, this may sound like the "bleeding obvious", but collectors who become investors are always leery of breaking their habit to own lots and lots of books.

I had a conversation with an older gentleman the other day. He wants to leave an inheritance for his children, so he's been buying stuff like ASM 10-30, Avengers 20-40 etc.

I pointed out that his best move would be to sell it all and just buy one key issue. We're going to buy his comic books from him, and help him to wisely invest the proceeds, with an eye on long-term return.

Doing the Math on 'Unaffordable' Keys

Just quickly... If you hadn't spent $10 on that FF#78 in mid-grade, and the $25 on that FF#38 in low grade, and on and on and on through the collection you're so proud of -- not to mention the money spent on long boxes and bags and boards to house it all -- you might have, what? $1,000, or $1,500, to spend on some of our picks below.

You now have a pretty fair run of Fantastic Four, but are no closer to owning an 'unaffordable' #1, or a #5, or a #12, or a #48. In fact, you could have sat on your hands and now be the proud owner of one of those key issues!

Buying key issues like AF #15 or ASM #1 is a great investment. Those books may very well have increased by ten or 20 percent by the time you have filled in the rest of the run from #1 to #10. I kid you not.

Amazing Fantasy #15 might just be the best investment you ever make
Amazing Fantasy #15 might just be the best investment you ever make

We know of at least one collector who bought AF #15 and ASM #1 before working forwards to complete the run. He has (on paper) more than doubled his money on the two key issues in the 18 months since.

The Big Question

Could YOU sell every book you own and invest the cash in a single book?

NO
If not, then you're still a collector at heart.

YES
If so, then you're ready for the next step. (And we may be interested in buying your books – drop us a line with your list.)

Making the Move from Collector to Investor

For those of you still reading, here comes the next big question.

What should you be buying if you wish to make money from your comic books when it's time to sell?

We're going to break this down by budget. In all cases, presume a 50 percent rate of return in the medium term (five years or less).

Be prepared to liquidate your investments early if there is big news (for example, the recent big DC and Marvel movie announcements) if the books you have invested in are directly affected.

A good recent example is Fantastic Four #45, first Inhumans. I bought a CGC 8.0 for $675 a few months ago speculating on the strong Inhumans movie rumors, which have now been confirmed by Marvel. The last sale of an 8.0 was $1,250.

Perhaps greedy people would hang onto theirs for longer, but I'm ready to sell mine for that price now.

TOP FIVE INVESTMENT PICKS FOR FIVE-YEAR RETURN, ACCORDING TO BUDGET

We present the average price from two years ago and compare to the 2014 average. We also supply you with a target price. If the average sale reaches that level, you should strongly consider selling.

Up to $500 to Invest:

Amazing Spider-Man #361: first Carnage. This book has jumped hugely in recent years, as movie rumors refuse to go away. Such a cool character will surely make it to the big screen sooner or later.

See also: Amazing Spider-Man later key issues

Amazing Spider-Man #361: first Carnage
Amazing Spider-Man #361: first Carnage

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $130
2014 Average: $202
Target price: $325

Shazam! #1: After long and persistent rumors drove the prices up, the movie was recently confirmed by DC. There are plenty around, so be picky.

Shazam! #1: Billy Batson Movie Finally Confirmed
Shazam! #1: Billy Batson Movie Finally Confirmed

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $319
2014 Average: $488
Target price: $800

Shazam! #28: first Black Adam. The movie's coming, and an actor has been confirmed for the role of Black Adam. This is his first appearance since the Golden Age, and it's already taking off. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

Shazam! #28: first Black Adam since the Golden Age
Shazam! #28: first Black Adam since the Golden Age

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.6
2012 Average: $68
2014 Average: $277
Target price: $650

Ms. Marvel #20: new look. A new look for the female superheroine amounts to little more than sexy thigh-high leather boots and dramatic make-up, but the book is on fire as rumors swirl around her.

See also: Ms. Marvel comic book price guide

Ms. Marvel #20: new look (nice boots)
Ms. Marvel #20: new look (nice boots)

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $63
2014 Average: $284
Target price: $450

Micronauts #8: first Captain Universe. You knew that, right?! Anyway, it's rocketing due to rumor, and that should be enough for you.

See also: Top 20 Bronze Age comic books by value

Micronauts #8: first Captain Universe. Who?!
Micronauts #8: first Captain Universe. Who?!

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $64
2014 Average: $205
Target price: $325

Up to $1000 to invest:

Preacher #1: hot hot HOT. The whole series could be the next Walking Dead, which is basically worth certifying in 9.8 from #1-100. Check out #2 as well (first Arseface. I just added that because I've been dying to write "Arseface" in a newsletter).

See also: Hot Comic Books

Preacher #1: How Long Before a TV Series is Announced?
Preacher #1: How Long Before a TV Series is Announced?

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $158
2014 Average: $534
Target price: $800

Batman Adventures #12: first Harley Quinn in comics. While optimistic speculators call Livewire the next Harley Quinn, Harley Quinn is the actual Harley Quinn. DC's equivalent of New Mutants 98.

Batman Adventures #12: first Harley Quinn in comics
Batman Adventures #12: first Harley Quinn in comics

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $220
2014 Average: $719
Target price: $1,250

DC Comics Presents #26: first New Teen Titans (kind of! There are some Showcase issues which could qualify). This is one you still might pick up by stealth in old collections: it doesn't stand out like a #1 issue.

DC Comics Presents #26: first New Teen Titans (kind of!)
DC Comics Presents #26: first New Teen Titans (kind of!)

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $171
2014 Average: $392
Target price: $600

Fantastic Four 46: 2nd Inhumans, first Black Bolt cover. Spectacular increases on this book will surely continue for the time being, as the movie has finally been confirmed.

See also: Fantastic Four comic book price guide

Fantastic Four 46: 2nd Inhumans, first Black Bolt cover
Fantastic Four 46: 2nd Inhumans, first Black Bolt cover

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.0
2012 Average: $165
2014 Average: $855
Target price: $1,300

Marvel Spotlight #32: first Spider-Woman. There are more than 40 of these graded in 9.8, so be picky. This has not yet found its ceiling, and there are no confirmed rumors about this character. It's a logical step for the Marvel cinematic universe in the future though.

See also: Marvel Spotlight price guide

Marvel Spotlight #32: first Spider-Woman. I'd Watch a Movie... Just saying.
Marvel Spotlight #32: first Spider-Woman. I'd Watch a Movie... Just saying.

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $407
2014 Average: $954
Target price: $1,400

Up to $2,000 to invest:

X-Men #101: first Phoenix. A Bronze Age key issue that has plentiful supply in the market, but the price continues to be supported by demand. Missing from a surprising number of the collections we're offered.

See also: X-Men comic prices

X-Men #101: first Phoenix
X-Men #101: first Phoenix

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.8
2012 Average: $1,082
2014 Average: $1,205
Target price: $1,600

Amazing Spider-Man #2: first Vulture. This book is never going to go out of style, and given the triple powers of it being Silver Age, part of the world's most popular series, and hinted at as a potential villain in the next Amazing Spider-Man movie in some trailers, it has the potential to fly (sorry).

See also: Amazing Spider-Man issues #1 to #20

Amazing Spider-Man #2: first Vulture. Give Your Portfolio Wings...
Amazing Spider-Man #2: first Vulture. Give Your Portfolio Wings...

Grade to buy in: CGC 6.0
2012 Average: $1,173
2014 Average: $1,441
Target price: $2,000

Avengers #57: first Silver Age Vision. Confirmed (sort of!) as a movie appearance in the Avengers series, this book has risen fast, but still has far to go in high grade.

See also: Avengers comic price guide

Avengers

#57: first Silver Age Vision. Visualize Your Profits...
Avengers #57: first Silver Age Vision. Visualize Your Profits...

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.4
2012 Average: $894
2014 Average: $1,800
Target price: $3,000

Fantastic Four #52: first Black Panther. The movie has been confirmed, but there's still time to ride this one for a while. Don't hang onto it forever.

See also: Upcoming Marvel movies

Fantastic Four #52: first Black Panther
Fantastic Four #52: first Black Panther. Movie's on the Way!

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.2
2012 Average: $1,000
2014 Average: $1,759
Target price: $2,600

Marvel Super-Heroes #13: first Carol Danvers (aka Miss Marvel). Confirmed as the star of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, these are hard to find in high grade, being the Marvel squarebound annual type which often have spine problems.

Marvel Super-Heroes

#13: first Carol Danvers (aka Miss Marvel)
Marvel Super-Heroes #13: first Carol Danvers (aka Miss Marvel)

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.4 (higher if you can find one!!)
2012 Average: $485
2014 Average: $1,065
Target price: $1,700

Over $2,000 to invest:

Incredible Hulk #1: first Hulk (gray skin). This is the new Amazing Fantasy #15, with prices rising across all grades. Entry level for a 0.5 is now approaching $2,000 – $2K for a total dog.

I recommend going as high as you can afford (contact me for specific prices if you find one in a grade and you don't know what to pay).

I'm going to suggest a Fine copy as a great investment. At this level, the book starts to actually look like something with value, rather than a rag slabbed in a CGC holder...

See also: Incredible Hulk comic books

Incredible Hulk #1: Incredible Returns in the Past Few Years
Incredible Hulk #1: Incredible Returns in the Past Few Years

Grade to buy in: CGC 6.0
2012 Average: $8,600
2014 Average: $10,733
Target price: $17,000

Tales to Astonish #27: first Ant-Man. Another gilt-edged Silver Age key issue, and the on-again off-again Ant-Man movie has kept prices below insane levels. Hard to find in great shape. Get the best you can afford and hold.

See also: Ant-Man comic books | Ant-Man Movie and prices of TTA #27

Tales to Astonish #27: first Ant-Man. Gains have not been pint-sized
Tales to Astonish #27: first Ant-Man. Gains have not been pint-sized

Grade to buy in: CGC 7.5
2012 Average: $8,482
2014 Average: $11,950
Target price: $17,000

Sensation Comics #1: first Wonder Woman cover. Now the movie is confirmed, you might struggle to find these on offer at all – get the best you can afford. They seldom change hands. Wonder Woman #1 is also a possible target. Contact us if you find one and need help with pricing these.

See also: Wonder Woman comic prices

Sensation Comics #1: first Wonder Woman cover. Rare!
Sensation Comics #1: first Wonder Woman cover. Rare!

Grade to buy in: CGC any
2012 Average: $n/a
2014 Average: $n/a
Target price: $n/a

(Uncanny) X-Men #4: first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This is a red-hot book. Look for it in high grade with white pages, and spend as much as you can afford to get a really crisp copy.

(Uncanny) X-Men #4: first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. A hot book at the moment
(Uncanny) X-Men #4: first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. A hot book at the moment

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.0 (or higher)
2012 Average: $1,465
2014 Average: $3,400
Target price: $5,000

Batman #181: first Poison Ivy. A tough book in high grade due to the red cover, two have changed hands at 9.8 this year for $11,000 each.

Ivy is a cool character; her popularity among the cosplay crowd means there is a whole new generation of fans who will be competing for this book. Prices have doubled in the mid-grade in the past two years; high grade should be a sound investment.

See also: Batman comic book price guide

Batman #181: first Poison Ivy. You can look, but you'd better not touch...
Batman #181: first Poison Ivy. You can look, but you'd better not touch...

Grade to buy in: CGC 9.4 (or higher)
2012 Average: $no data
2014 Average: $2,467
Target price: $4,000

Want to Save Money on eBay Purchases?

As usual, buy what you can afford and enjoy, and you can't lose.

If you'd like to explore ways to save money every month on your eBay purchases, then please Contact Us to discuss. We've done this for several collector/investors, and more are joining us every month. NO COST TO YOU. Get in touch to find out more.


Cheers

Ashley Cotter-Cairns Editor, Sell My Comic Books

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