Old comic book collections can sell for millions, and are more valuable now thanks to popular super-hero movies.
The Avengers, the 2012 summer blockbuster movie based on the long-running Marvel Comics book series, has grossed $1.5 billion worldwide as of mid-September 2013.
Comic book collectors who own a significant collection of The Avengers issues can rejoice, because their comics have become more valuable as a result of the movie’s success.
As long as there have been comic books, there have been comic book collectors, and there has always been a market for special issues or memorable series. Now, with the onslaught of very successful super hero movies featuring Iron Man or Batman, the comic books from where those stories begin are jumping in value.
“There was a major increase in sales because of the first boom,’’ said Bob Adams of Bob’s Collectibles in Hamburg, New Jersey. “They have gone back and refined it and it is popular again.”
“Making comic book movies has brought in the audience in such a way that the entire comic book culture has seen a major resurgence,’’ said Glyness Pruett, owner of the Comic Book Hideout in Fullerton, Calif.
But can comic book collectors make money off their investment?
Jamie Graham is owner of nine comic book stores in Illinois, Graham Cracker Comics, and he has made a living investing in comic books. In an interview with DailyFinance.com, Graham said he recently invested $2 million in Golden Age comics dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, and another $500,000 into Silver Age comics dating from 1955 to 1970. He said he should get a 10% return on those investments.
"It's a good place to park your dough, 'cause it doesn't have the ups and downs of stocks," Graham said.
Comic book collecting as an investment property is similar to collecting other items such as baseball cards and coins. Condition, scarcity and age drive the market. Old, well-maintained comics can be worth six figures.
In 2011, a near-mint issue of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman from 1938, was auctioned and the winning bid was $2.1 million. A collection of 345 comic books inherited by a California family sold at auction for $2 million, translating to almost $6,000 a book.
Comic book collecting is unique to the others, however, in that they tell stories, and sometimes it is the story that sells the book. As with the recent series of Iron Man movies, books about that character have become more valuable, especially when the comic book story matches the movie, or a villain from the movie is in the book.
The first appearance of any character who becomes a major superhero player - like Superman and Batman were initially and Spider-Man and the X-Men became later – makes a comic book issue valuable.
Age does beat up comics because they are made from paper, but even imperfect copies of old comics can be valuable if they are rare issues.
Finally, comic books rarely decrease in value. What is a good investment with a high rate of increase in value 50 years ago is still a good investment today and will continue to increase in value.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve deal with who are ecstatic about their comic-book investments,’’ said Vincent Zurzolo, who owns Metropolis Collectibles in New York and who bought the Action Comics issue for $2.1 million.
He had the money to buy the book because of his comic book collection.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.