…In part 1, we looked at comic book pricing trends as they react to movie announcements. We also talked to the men behind two of today’s most innovative comic collecting apps: Key Collector Comics App and the Comic Collateral Guide. Now let’s look at some specific strategies and projections moving forward into this more modern category of speculative comic collecting.
- The Relationship Between Film and Ink
Movies and comic books have had a tumultuous relationship in the past couple decades. We’ve seen both modern and classic issues skyrocket and stay in high value positions, and others come crashing back down again. I asked Scott and Nick about some of the memorable and most affected comics after movie announcements and rumors.
“Comic book spec is volatile, meaning that one day a book is hot and the next day it is not.”
Scott elaborated on some detailed specifics:
“My earliest recollection of a comic book value that was affected by comic news was Blade’s first appearance (Tomb of Dracula 10). It was a rather cheap book and when the Blade movie was released the book became hot for a few years. Of course, the value spikes were nothing compared to the value spikes of today.
Comic book spec is volatile, meaning that one day a book is hot and the next day it is not. There are lots of factors that play into the volatility of a book’s value and movie news has a large effect on the value swings. Generally speaking, major movie news will cause an upward value spike and when these spikes are plotted on the line chart the line begins to look like a ripple of water… If you are looking to buy a book, you purchase on the downswing and if you are selling a book you sell on the upswing.
As Movie news and marketing intensifies, the swings get larger and as major movie studios place millions into marketing their movies, the books values see an increase as a trickle down affect. [for example] the Eternals 1 was selling around $300 and when marvel announced that they were working on an Eternals movie the book instantly jumped to $800.
Scott cites Marvel’s newest upcoming feature film with a big buzz.
“Ms. Marvel 1 has been selling for an inflated price for the last 4 years, ever since Marvel first announced that Captain Marvel would be in the MCU. In 2013, an investor could obtain a 9.8 CGC Ms. Marvel 1 for an average around $650. As soon as the movie was announced, sales for the book jumped to $2,200.
As marketing for the movie had not started at this time these sales were driven simply by the announcement that there would be a Captain Marvel movie. Over time and without marketing, the book settled down to an average of around $1,000, of course as actors were announced several value spikes occurred with high sales as $1,500. The value of the book from 2016 to 2018 has had a steady rise and for this year has an average value of around $1,900.
On September 17, Marvel released the first trailer and like clockwork sales spiked to an all-time high of $3,275. Prior to the movie trailer, Ms. Marvel was selling for an average of $2,000 and as low as $1,495, but as Marvel spent money marketing the new movie trailer, the buzz caused a value spike almost instantly. The book’s value has continued to rise above pre-trailer values and now that Marvel is marketing the movie, the value of the book is close to $3,000. This trend will continue until the movie hits theaters and then the book value will drop as soon as the marketing for the movie stops”.
So, there is a strategy and a new type of collecting happening in the comic world as Scott outlines. Movie rumors, casting announcements, leaked trailers and optioned film talks all have an effect on which dusty, forgotten comics may get a new lease on life. Perhaps stockpiling all those dollar comics does have its benefits?
“There is a direct relationship with movie advertising and the secondary comic market. This relationship has changed the way comic book investors flip books. Once upon the time, the strategy was to buy a book and sit on it until you retire and then cash out. While this is still a safe strategy for investing in comics, as long as you bought it cheap, the sit and wait strategy leaves money on the table. The new strategy is to buy and sell on the ripple. This means that you watch a book and wait for marketing to go stale and purchase the book while there is little to no news or marketing related to the movie. You then wait for an announcement, news, or marketing and then sell the book at an inflated price, then repeat the process.”
Key Collector’s owner Nick Coglianese sees things in a very similar light.
“[A comic based movie announcement] Sends values into the stratosphere. I mean, who would ever think Pepper Potts putting on Iron Man armor as Rescue could make a $1 book a $50 book. These are volatile prices though that have a tendency to shoot up then come back down and settle at a point that’s realistic to the event that occurred. I’d say this book will probably find its buoyancy at $10-$15.
InvisiBoard® Crystal Clear BACKING Boards for Regular Comics. CRYSTAL-CLEAR PETG material. 6-15/16 x 10-3/8″ x .030″ thick.
As I said, volatility is the #1 factor that can discourage a collector. I try to make it clear that you don’t want to react to one of my Key Issue Alerts by buying a comic as it’s in its frenzy-state. Most of these announcements, not just from the app but from everyone that starts to pick up on the news, cause a massive flood of buyers to eBay. They’ll purchase the book for $25 and then one week later the book is selling for $5. Usually that comic will go back up in value once the announcement is actually something you can see on-screen so it’s not the worst thing to happen but you never know if the optioned comic will make it through all the stages of production that end with a movie or show being made.”
- Netflix and Chill?
So how do the streaming services, and especially Netflix with their massive catalog of exclusive shows and movies, play into this equation? Scott and Nick have some specific recommendations.
“The streaming services do not market their shows as much as the theater movies do and as a result the books that they have based their shows on rarely see the volatility that the large cinema books do. I am not saying that those shows do not influence the market place, however, as I stated before in the short term, there is a direct relationship between the money spent on marketing a specific movie and the demand for books said movie is about”.
“In the long term, these services keep these characters in your head so the streaming services will help keep the demand high and as a result the value will be stable as long as the show is not canceled and is well received.
As for the future, DC and Disney (Marvel) are both starting their own streaming services with exclusive content geared toward the comic market. I believe that both of these will result in minor short term spec opportunity as they will not market the individual shows like they do their movies but rather they will market the streaming service itself by showing the different shows on the service, more of a shotgun marketing approach; they will spread their advertising dollar by showing all the shows available on their service as they are not selling one show but all their shows.”
As we know, some of these shows make it, and some don’t. Nick has seen loads of background information come through about comic movies on streaming services, and he’s sharing them on a daily basis through the Key Collector app.
“I think we’ll continue to see a lot of comic properties, especially independent books, get picked up and many of them actually get made. There are so many streaming services coming out that, in order to be competitive, will need to have content, and there’s no better media to mine than comics. Think about it – the dialogue is mostly established and the story board for filming is pretty much created for producers to get a jump start on next steps. With a book that gets optioned, there’s so much that needs to be extrapolated before a script can be written. Comics are a different story. Other mediums would be the comic books themselves. We’re at a point where some of these writers and artist are so good we expect a lot out of them. So if we know Donny Cates is going to pull a random character up from the obscurity of Marvel’s massive category, then that character’s first appearance will likely get some movement on the secondary market.”
- Words For Those Who Dare
If you decide taking some risks on comic based movies is something you’re interested in, there are obviously plenty of great resources out there that you can utilize to make yourself a more educated and effective investor. But are great resources all you need? Is it as easy as it sounds to play the game and end up on the winning side of these transactions? Both Scott and Nick have some wise words before you make the leap into the unknown.
“Collect what you want to collect for the joy and pride of ownership” Nick says.
“Profiting off of comics is not an easy thing to do but if you want to do it, be patient and if you’re not going to use Key Collector Comics subscription services as a guide then spend A LOT of time educate yourself on the trends in comics. There are many indicators that point to what could affect the value of a book…
If you use Key Collector Comics, buy whatever you find in the app that you find in a dollar bin. We don’t know what characters are going to be introduced or which properties are going to find their way to the screen but investing $1 in something fun to own is not a bad way to spend money that can turn a significant profit. Also, be patient with what you purchase. When something gets optioned, it takes YEARS to go from that point to production. I see people online complaining that these announcements never result in a movie or TV show but they’re not thinking of the time it takes to get financiers, scout locations to shoot, get a director, write the script, hire actors, film the thing, edit it, etc. Financially, this is not an “immediate-gratification” hobby but to many who actually love comics, being involved in this landscape is always gratifying.”
Scott also has some strategy for potential “investors”:
“The best advice that I can give a new investor is to pay attention to actual sales trends of graded books as that is the best indicator of the comic market. This does not just mean to simply watch the last 30 days of sales; you need to watch at minimum the last 12 months of sales to spot the value patterns.
Pay attention to the news and the characters in the news. Pay attention to the books that relate to the news and marketing that the big studios do. The more news and marketing about a movie means a higher demand will be created for the books that relate to said news. Use the tools that are out there and make informed decisions when buying a book. Investors need to learn what a trend chart is and how to use them. A trend chart takes all the sales and plots them on a chart and then based on the sales creates a horizontal line. This line will either be slanted up or down depending on the current trend.
If the line is going up, then it’s a good time hold or to sell the book as that means there is a demand for the book and sales are trending up. If the line is going down, then it most likely it’s time to cut your losses and sell the book or if it’s a book that you believe will rebound then it’s a good time to purchase the book and double down on your investment.
If you purchased a book at $900 and thought it was a good buy then buy it again at 500 during the down swing and then your average buy in for the book is lower and when you sell when the next news comes out you have more profitability”.
POLYESTER (Mylar) Sleeve. 4 mil with 2″ BEADED Flap. 10-7/8 x 14-1/8″. Use for Treasury Edition Comics. These polyester sleeves come with a closed beaded flap.
- Final Thoughts
As a relatively new “speculator” myself, I can tell you I’ve always bought key issues and buzz books hoping there was at least enough profit somewhere to help me afford my own collecting habits. However, even utilizing the resources mentioned here – making money from the movie comic game takes practice and patience. I know I’m not “good enough” at this to quit my day job, but I’ve had a couple small victories that have kept my interest in speculating stoked. I’m personally still playing with fire a little- looking out for the next hot books, and trying not to get burned.
Some Great Resources for Comic Speculation and Investing:
Comic Book Speculation and Investing (CBSI):
Comic Collateral Comic Guide
Key Collector Comics App
Couch, Aaron “’The Walking Dead’ No. 1 Sells for $10,000 on eBay” Hollywood Reporter, Prometheus Global Media LLC, 14 Nov. 2012
AMC’s The Walking Dead is known for smashing basic cable records, and the comic book that inspired the series continues to earn its own bragging rights, too. A copy of The Walking Dead No. 1 sold on eBay on Wednesday for $10,100, an unusually large sum for a comic book published in the 21st century.