Not All Comics Are Investments

I began accumulating comic books at the age of eight, and over the next few years, I was prone to losing a few issues now and again. Still my stacks of comics grew and I kept the issues piled up in shelves and drawers, a couple of hundred issues or so - no backing boards or bags. Going into my teens, and still very much into the hobby I began to be aware of the notion of comics as investment. That comic books were 'graded' according to their 'condition'; and that the better the condition the higher the 'resale' value. At this point, I started buying specialty boxes to store my comic books, then bagging them, with the acid-free backing boards coming in later. I even bought a few Mylar sleeves but the price was too prohibitive. I also changed the way I read my books, holding them just so, protecting the spine and the pages from the slightest crease or fold.

What a mistake.

I wasted a lot of money on these paraphernalia. The meticulous care with which I would open and read a comic book took a bit off of the fun of reading it. But my worst regret was scolding my brothers when I would see them 'mishandling' my precious comics - all this collecting lunacy made me into a bit of a jerk is what happened.

Today I still have my comics - going into the thousands now. But they are unbagged, un-boarded and stored for easy access when I want to read. Why? Because that's what they are for: To read. To enjoy. To share.

How about investing? Not all comics are investment grade. Most comic books are NOT investment grade. I don't own any Golden Age comic books. I don't have any key Silver or Bronze Age books like Hulk No. 181 or Iron Fist No. 14. If I did, then yes, I would protect them, I would store them properly and, for the really expensive ones, get them graded. But most of my comics are treasured by me for the beauty of the art, the power of the writing - because they are fantastic reads.

Investment grade comics cost substantial amounts of money. I would like to invest in comics, but this is something I will only undertake if I ever jump into another tax bracket. There's no use speculating and second guessing the market by considering the typical Modern Age book in the racks these days as a potential investment - it's simply too early to tell. The investment grade comics have been identified, are rather pricey, and most likely will continue to go up in price. We're talking Amazing Fantasy No. 15 here, not Civil War no. 4.

So unless you can afford it, forget about thinking about comics as investment and just enjoy the stories.

View my list of recommended comics.

Posted by  Pete Albano - January 15, 2011

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