If you’ve ever thought that investing in comics is for the birds, you could be missing out. It’s well-known that diversifying your portfolio with hard, tangible assets is a sound choice. But how much money can comic book investing actually garner?
There are conflicting notions about actual, realized value, of course. Most likely, the lovingly sorted collection of your youth won’t see the returns you fantasized about as a kid, but there are definite standouts on par with other coveted rarities in the tangible asset world (e.g. the Honus Wagner 1909-1911 T206 baseball card, sold at $3.12 million, or a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux 1787, priced at $160,000).
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The oft-mentioned “Action Comics #1,” which is the first book to feature Superman, is valued at $5.55 million in 2017. And there are a handful of other comics valued in the millions. Just last year, some books, including one featuring the now popular “Guardians of the Galaxy” superheroes, even outperformed gold. For those who love them, investing in comics means getting the added benefit of mixing business with pleasure.
However, USA Today notes, unlike precious metals, comics don’t have any intrinsic value. Pricing and demand these days is in part due to what happens on the big screen.
Its not so far-fetched to say that, these days, in order to be successful in your investments, you’ll need to pay attention to what major film studios have coming down the pipeline. A forward-thinking investor could have bought the first book starring talking tree monster Groot — before he joined the aforementioned Guardians — for the bargain price of $4,000, USA Today notes. Now, that same issue sells for more than three times that amount.
As Marvel and DC bring more characters… into the mix, the comics in which they made their first appearances and the books that featured key storylines from their films tend to appreciate in value
“As Marvel and DC bring more characters including Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Black Panther into the mix, the comics in which they made their first appearances and the books that featured key storylines from their films tend to appreciate in value,” writes The Street.
The fact that streaming media mogul Netflix recently bought a comics publisher as its first acquisition might be telling of how the comic book industry is becoming vastly more mainstream than it has in past decades.
That may be a turnoff for those longtime collectors who love investing in comics for their ink-and-paper glory, for those who have seen the comics industry evolve through the decades.
Just like the baseball card bubble of the mid-1990s, comic books also saw its own crash in 1993. Two distribution companies, bent on nationalizing business, started on a massive expansion in the ‘80s. In turn, comic book publishers put out more titles and drove up prices. Comic book shops popped up across the U.S. like never before, snapping up increasingly larger orders, which eventually became overstock that retailers couldn’t sell.
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By the time all was said and done, Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1996 (to be bought later by Disney), and 90% of comic shops shuttered their doors. This author remembers shops throughout her hometown of Los Angeles closing down, with only a few — generally those that catered more to comics distributed by alternative, small press operations — staying open.
“As a financial concern, comic book publishers are no longer in the publishing business: They’re curators of, and incubators for, extremely valuable intellectual property,” the Weekly Standard reported. “To comic-book collectors, that’s very good news.”
Investing in comics as part of your portfolio should ultimately be based on your passion for the product, not for the returns.
Gocompare.com’s Anders Nilsson emphasized that either way, making the leap into investing in comics as part of your portfolio should ultimately be based on your passion for the product, not for the returns.
“Just consider the fact that it’s not a guarantee that it’s going to go up in value. So buy them because you enjoy them,” Nilsson told Yahoo! Finance. “But if you have bought any, and they are in really good condition, seal them away tight and get some insurance for them.”
Sylvia Masuda is an associate editor and information architect for Financial Poise. A graduate of California State University, Fullerton, Sylvia has worked as an editor and designer for various print publications for almost 10 years.
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