Purchasing a comic book as an investment that was published in the last fifteen years is a bad idea. Whilst there are some comics released in the last fifteen years that have significantly increased in value, such as the first Walking Dead comic, a few others may have made it to double digits but compared to the amount being published on a monthly basis, very few of them. Those that did appreciate in value are often ones you wouldn’t expect; why would something like Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe hit the secondary market for the high prices it is currently commanding when it’s production run is likely far higher than other, more limited print runs can be hard to fathom (although the current hysteria for anything Deadpool is probably driving the prices up as well).
“I think any organization or store that pushes comics as investment items is at best short-sighted and foolish, and, at worst, immoral and dumb. You can sell lots of the same comic to the same person – especially if you tell them they’re investing money for high guaranteed returns. But you’re selling bubbles and tulips. One day the bubbles will burst and the tulips will rot in the warehouse.”
—Neil Gaiman, Gods & Tulips
When the comics market crashed in the nineties it was primarily down to a couple of things; people had begun to realize that the comics they had as a kid may be worth some money now (or, then), and publishers realizing that people were thinking this way and capitalizing on it with different types of variant, foil or embossed cover with the promise of high resale value – put your kid through college in ten years when you sell the comics! Although this is a gross over-simplification of the whole comic crash, and there are numerous details that have been glossed over, the fact till remains that most comics brought in the 90’s haven’t increased in price.
The majority of comics should never be purchased solely as an investment. Aside from a handful of issues that are could be expected to keep a high value, most comics won’t hit the five figure range. A few will, and fewer still will reach the six figure range, but only if the condition of the book is extremely good. What you should always remember, is that the comics that retain such high values are typically more than forty years old and contain the first appearances of some of the most iconic characters in comics. Being able to find one of these comics in good condition is not easy, and that brings us back to the comics crash in the 90’s; with the publishers printing as many comics as comic shops wanted to order, there was an over abundance of comics printed. The likely hood of comics printed during this time ever reaching the highs of Detective Comics #27 is pretty slim.
Comics should be purchased because the buyer wants to read them. Comics can be worth money in time, but they should also be read. Marvel’s recent Moon Knight comics are some of the greatest stories I have ever read in a comic – the art is starkly brilliant, each issue containing a stand alone tale – had I simply purchased them and then stored them away then I would have missed out on such wonderful story telling. If, in thirty years, they’re also worth more than I paid for them, then that will be a nice bonus, but it isn’t the reason I picked them up in the first place; I picked them up because I’m a Moon Knight fan.
Can you invest successfully in comics? Sure; but unlike the stock market, the comic investment market can take decades to pay dividends. It’s far more rewarding to enjoy the comics you buy.
After all, that’s why they’re written.