A brief history lesson
As many of you may know by now, I’m the owner of InvestComics LLC. As always, do not take this column too personally, it’s merely an opinion blog, it’s not meant to stir a pot or to lay anyone down, just speaking the truth (opinions), if you disagree, that’s all good, you’re allowed to!
Maybe this is the first blog you’re reading here, in which case you didn’t know this, but now you do! The InvestComics brand was incepted back in 2003 and didn’t go online ‘live’ until 2005. There is a reason why the short history lesson here, really there is, bear with me a second.
So before 2003, I was your average Joe collecting comics (never a fanboy) and making some of the speculative picks pay off. Some worked, some didn’t. No big deal, it’s the name of the game. That’s how real speculative gains are done. You should lose in order to gain. The trick is, the one gain you do achieve outweighs the 7 other fails you had before, so this way you start playing with house money. The moderns are the trickiest animal of them all. As fast as they rise, they fall. You must be on top of your game with the moderns.
“You know, I have some comics. Think they’re worth anything?”
In the beginning
So back in 2003 when the birth of InvestComics LLC came to fruition, it became a different ballgame for the general public, friends, and family. Once any of these groups found out that InvestComics LLC was a business model and a tangible thing (me!), well things changed a bit. They changed in this regard. Here is a typical conversation with a family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector;
Jay: “Yes, I’m the owner of InvestComics LLC…”
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “Wow really? That’s neat.”
Jay: “Yes it is.”
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “Do you have comics that are worth a lot of money?”
Jay: “Yes and no. Nothing too extravagant like the first appearance of Spidey.”
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “Is that worth a lot of money?”
Jay: “Sure is.”
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “Like how much?”
Jay: “A lot of money. Depends on condition and things like that.”
This is the money shot coming up.
EVERY SINGLE person says this to me. It NEVER EVER fails.
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “You know, I have some comics. Think they’re worth anything?”
A family member, friend, stranger or a comic collector: “I used to have comics. They were probably worth a lot of money, right?”
Every single conversation ends up going here. All roads lead to the same familiar place. Everyone thinks they’re either rich or could have been. Everyone assumes I know what they have sitting in their waterlogged basement. When I ask what they may have, the answer is almost always ‘ G.I. Joe’s, Transformers, etc. Which leads to the reason for this week’s blog.
Comic books are not worth what a price guide says they’re worth.
Most of the time it’s not even worth what the comic store owner is selling it for on their wall display. Comic books like other collector markets are worth what they last sold for, that’s it. It’s quite simple really. No complex charts or some Mickey Mouse copy site of InvestComics trying to ram a modern comic down your throat saying it’s going to be worth ‘SO MUCH MONEY!’. Those sites are trying to manipulate the market into skewed thinking about a 1,284th Harley Quinn appearance in a ‘rare’ Scooby Doo comic (no really, this really does happen, no joke). We never recommended this comic because it truly is worthless in our opinion. Great read though, but business speaking, worthless.
…What can I buy to make money?…
Yes, InvestComics did the same thing in our infantile stage, recommending comics that were the next big thing, we have since grown up. We never were fanboys about this hobby though. The copy-cat sites are mostly (all) being headed out by immature fanboys that think with their hearts and not their business savvy. This is one of the many reasons that separates InvestComics from the boys! We’ve been called the Wall Street of comics several times for a reason.
So what’s it worth?
Back to the issue at hand though, comic book pricing. So many people ask me “what is this comic worth? What is worth money? What can I buy to make money?” These are questions, if I had a dollar for each time were asked, I wouldn’t have to keep the site going. While I understand the curiosity behind most of the questions, I try to educate. Give a dose of common sense along with it too. I always try to find that comparison within their lives that can equate to comic collecting. Be it their car, house, coins they’re saving, whatever it may be. I then hit on those things to educate the business side of something being ‘worth something’.
For example, the car. I ask if putting on the expensive spoiler or rims brings up the value of their vehicle. Ten out of ten times the answer will be yes, yes it does. The same with the pool in the backyard or the addition to the home. Things like this increased value.
The same works for a comic book. First appearance, creators, etc on the comic. The more incentives within the comic collectible, the more valuable. It’s the additional screened in patio you built in the backyard. As long as the thinking process is here, you cannot go wrong with your speculative thinking. It doesn’t mean it will be a definite winner either, just means you’re on the right path of thinking. The screened in patio you built can fall down too if you didn’t build it with good material. See how that works?
…Never ever sell your comics to a comic shop…
This is one example I set forth to educate regarding one’s comics sitting with no protection underneath the toolbox in the garage. Condition counts. This is the common sense portion of our conversation. Does your car have a big dent? Your house needs a new roof? Yea, guess what, you know what’s up. The value isn’t a top draw for obvious reasons. Your comic is ripped, stained, folded, etc….common sense here folks. No need to go further here, but unless there is an Action Comics #1 or a key Golden/Silver Age comic sitting under that 58-pound toolbox, stuck to the bottom, it may be worth quite a few bucks.
Where do I sell my Comic?
Going full circle here, a comic is worth what it last sold for, not a price guide or what that Mickey Mouse speculative site tells you what it’s worth. A price guide is just that, a ‘guide’. The guide directs the person in interest where to possibly start. A starting point. Many non-collectors and even some collectors ask “Should I just go to my local comic shop and sell the comics I have to them?” The answer is a resounding heck no. Never ever sell your comics to a comic shop. Ever. They are looking to make money like any other businesses are and they will completely undersell you to make their money. If you have a short box with ten New Mutants #98’s, the offering will be a dollar each for every comic in the box. It’s insanity. Never sell your comics to a dealer or a private seller. Ever. Cannot stress this enough.
So where do you sell your comics to make top dollar? Two go-to places I always recommend, in order to get the ‘true essence’ of your comic book worth, eBay and Facebook live auctions. The Facebook live auctions must have at least 30 watchers (bidders) in the room in order to grab the true value of what it is your auctioning off. You can have fewer watchers (bidders) at your auction if ‘true’ comic collectors are there. Gauge the room, see what’s what before putting up that first appearance of Warlock. Ebay is Ebay. It reaches the vast audience looking for the particular comic you are selling. Both of these selling points are the best way to gauge the comic book ‘worth’.
This does not include some of the big auction houses; Heritage, ComicsLink, etc. Once a bid or a buyer has paid for their item on eBay or an auction, this is the market value. End of story. Does a thing exist as ‘overpaying’ (or even underpaying) the market value? Of course, it does, but at that moment in time, the last bid, the one that makes the final bid, the market is set. Can or will the market correct itself if the item sold too high (or even too low)? Sure it will, but the worth of YOUR item (in this case a comic) is ‘worth’ what it was paid for. End of story. Comics are worth what the last bid was, not what someone ‘thinks’ it should be worth. Think with the head, not the heart or greed.
Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983, is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine before the website launched in 2005.
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