When I initially started this post, it was to wonder about the need to collect every variant possible – but as I was writing I came to a realization regarding that need, and the post began to morph into something else – that something else is currently a three part (and counting) series of articles. The first part is entitled I Must Have Everything! and can be found under the Comic Book Mentality category over to the side. This part is called Everything Is Worth Money! Which will be followed by part three, already written, in the not too distant future.
I was talking to a friend recently who, not being as immersed in comics culture as I am, wondered if I could appraise some comics for him prior to him trying to sell them. I am not in anyway a professional grader, nor do I pretend to be, but I took a look at the comics in question via photographs – which is never the most accurate representation of a book – and gave him what I thought would be a reasonable asking price for each comic based on New Kadia’s prices for Good graded comics. I’d suggested between $2 and $3 an issue at the high end assuming good condition, bar a couple of issues that seemed to be a little more sought after – though they would only have been $10 at most. My pricing came in at about 40-50% of the values he was expecting (at best), and not liking that estimate he stuck with his original $5 an issue. I can only assume because he felt the comics were worth more than what he paid for them because they were from the mid to late nineties with a couple New 52 Superman issues added in. I’m assuming that he thought the comics from the nineties were old, and that the New 52 comics had some key moments in them therefore the value had appreciated. Unfortunately… the comics were from the New 52 era of DC comics and from just before the speculator bubble burst, thus making the comics worth less than he hoped.
Needless to say, they didn’t sell.
Of course they may not have sold even at my estimated prices – which may also have been on the high side – and that leads me to what I wanted to talk about today.
Just because a comic is worth something to you, or you perceive the comic’s value to be higher than it actually is, doesn’t mean I’m going to pay out the nose for it. So when a private seller lists an over priced comic unless they happen to attract the one person who desperately needs that battered copy of X-Men #1 from the 1990’s, then the comic likely will never sell (the same can also be applied to just about everything in the collector world, but this is primarily a comics blog).
A comic’s value comes almost entirely from what a person is willing to pay for it. This should be an obvious statement, but it bears repeating. Just because a comic is old, or is thought to be old, doesn’t mean it’s worth anything; if the comic isn’t in even half decent condition, even if it is an older issue, then it’s destined for the cheaper bins in your LCS.
The majority of those who hunt for older comics aren’t going to pay top dollar for a well read comic from the 90’s or early 2000’s unless it’s a comic they absolutely must have for their collection, or they have a emotional attachment to the comic. There are a few comics that I’d have been willing to pay more for than I should have; one of those that springs to mind is Wolverine #43. I paid $3 for that issue but because it was one of the first Wolverine stories I remember reading I’d have happily paid more than double that – but I’m only going to buy one issue at an inflated price, and I’m one of the few willing to do so.
Unfortunately aside from a relatively small number of cases (primarily to do with first appearances of popular characters, or series that spin out into movies and TV shows whilst maintaining a relatively small print run), most comics from the early 90’s onward aren’t worth as much as those that came out before because so many were printed. I won’t go into the bursting of the comic book bubble in the 90’s, but there’s an explanation hereand here that will give you all the information you’ll need, and will help explain in more detail than I have why some comics just aren’t worth as much as you’d hope – because there’s so damn many of them, and not enough people want to own those issues.
If for some reason you’re unaware of the supply and demand mechanics, essentially if you have fifty issues of Wolverine Vol. 1 #1 priced at $40 each but sixty people want a copy, then supply doesn’t equal demand and the price per issue will increase until the demand matches the supply – say the comics end up selling for an average of $70 an issue. But what if you have fifty issues of Spider-Man #674 and decide to price them at the same $40. If only two people buy them (the idiots), you end up lowering the price… if it gets to a point where people just don’t care about the comic then it could end up selling for $1 and issue because demand far outstrips supply. Obviously this is a gross oversimplification of the concept, and you’ll find far better explanations online, but my point remains.
Just because a comic is old doesn’t make it particularly desirable – or collectable. You’ll always find one or two people looking for a certain issue, but if the comic is common as muck and easy to find? You won’t make too much money on it.
You can find more of my thoughts on Investing In Comics here, but that’ll about do it for me for today.