Among all the worldwide categories of collecting, comic books are relatively new. At one time, only children were interested in reading them for fun. In June 1938, Superman, the first superhero appeared in Action Comics #1, most children were drawn to a man dressed in blue and red holding and crashing a car above his head. Suddenly, with a variety of other types of superheroes, most kids would pay a pittance to buy one. If they had a dollar, they could buy ten books tax-free. However, children read them up to a certain age, and mothers mostly threw them away, a shame because they would have been valuable.
So can comics still be a profitable investment? Absolutely. This is why many serious collectors want to have time machines, so they can go back in time and buy those good old things. They could imagine getting their hands on Action Comics #1, or Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first appearance) and selling them for millions of dollars today. However, collectors must put the fantasy aside and turn to newer and perhaps cheaper prospects.
What type (genre) is the comic? For this article I am talking about the most popular superheroes. Although they usually cost more than other genres which include: Cowboy; Romance; Famous cartoon characters such as Disney, Warner Brothers; War; Comedy and others.
Period: Comics belong to different “eras”: “Platinum Age” (printed 1938 or earlier); “Golden Age” (1938-1955); “Silver Age (1956-1969); “Bronze Age” (1970-1981); “Copper Age” (1981-1991).
Is the book “DC” or “Marvel”? Some more famous DC superheroes are Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. Marvel Comics began in 1939 with Captain America, the Human Torch and the Submariner. Before 1961, Marvel Comics was originally called “Timely Comics”. Some titles became popular, such as: “Tales to Astonish”; “Incredible Fantasy”; “Tales of Suspense”. These titles introduced some of the famous characters that often appear in movies today: Tales to Astonish 27 introduced Antman; Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced the world to Spiderman; Tales of Suspense #39 features the first appearance of Ironman. Other well-known comic books introduced superhero teams: Fantastic Four #1 (1961); Avengers #1 (1963), Xmen #1 (1963).
Edition numbers: The lower the edition number, the more the book will be worth. As you know from the last paragraph, many heroes did not make their first appearance in issues #1. Superman originated in Action Comics #1, but got his own comic a year later – Superman #1 (1939). Also, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27, but soon got his own comic with the first appearance of Robin – Batman’s sidekick in Batman #1 (1940). Wonder Woman’s first appearance was in Sensational Comics #1, which later became “Wonder Woman”.
Original price: Comics gradually increased the prices of newspapers. The lower the original retail price, the older they are and in most cases they are worth more: $0.10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 75 (from 1938 to 1988). Today, the cheapest comics cost around $3.99-$4.99.
Condition: If your book has tears, a partially detached spine, or missing pages – it will be worth significantly less. They can be rebuilt, but they cost more money to repair and will sell for less. The more pristine the condition, the more it will be worth, of course. All books should be placed in mylar sleeves with a cardboard backing. The ultimate protection for comics would be to seal them hermetically in a sturdy plastic case, provided by a “CGC” or “Certified Guarantee Company”. CGC is one of the few organizations that can truly give a collector peace of mind that a book is properly graded and almost never damaged.
Recommended: Buy the annual “Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide”.