9.8 or Nothing; Are Lower-Grade Comics Worth Investing In?

by Jestin Davis

052021C-1-300x157 9.8 or Nothing; Are Lower-Grade Comics Worth Investing In?That coveted 9.8 graded comic book looks great on display, but what about a 9.6 or lower? While the differences are minimal,  are lower-grade comics worth investing in?

When it comes to collecting comic books, different strategies work for different collectors. If you are new to collecting, focus on what you enjoy and avoid paying inflated amounts for books that are currently hyped up. You can use tools like goCollect and others to see past sales history and gain a pretty good understanding on where that particular book is in it’s cycle. (Is it trending up, down, or has it hit an all time high?) Try to avoid all time highs for common books as well as modern books.

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Investing vs. Collecting

Investing in comic books is a little bit different than simply collecting.  Investors are looking to make a short-term (1-5 years) or long-term (5+ years) profit on their investment. Are you a collector and want to invest in a few books that you think have long-term investment potential? Then you have to factor in the grade of the book that you are purchasing. When it comes to comic books, and any collectible for that matter, condition and rarity are key. In fact, the term investment grade actually has a definition; the top 15% tier of a given collectible. So, what does this mean for comic books?

Investment Grade Comic Books

This term can mean different grades for different books, especially depending upon the era in which it was produced. Golden age comic books, for example, are extremely rare to find in a grade of 9.8 The most widely recognized and most valuable comic book in the world, Action Comics #1, has a high grade of 9.0. So, for this particular book a 6.5 or better (based on the CGC census data) would be considered investment grade. Having said that, a key like Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27 is worth having in nearly any grade because of the historical significance as well as the limited total number that actually exists. Investment-grade key books have proven to hold their value and appreciate over time. The same can not be said for more common books in grades that fall below that top 15% grade-wise.

Worth the grade?

z9yWd_7g_480x480-146x300 9.8 or Nothing; Are Lower-Grade Comics Worth Investing In?When it comes to the silver age, the grades tend to be roughly the same if not a little higher to get into that investment-grade criteria. As an example, there are many more copies listed on the CGC census of Avengers #1, but to fit the investment grade criteria you would still be in the 6.5 or better grade range. Obviously, the golden age keys are worth much more, but that is due more to rarity coupled with the grade. Investment-grade doesn’t guarantee the book will rise in price. But if that particular key does rise in value, collectors will want to purchase it in an investment grade (top 15%) if possible. This makes them more sought-after and easier for you to sell if you choose to do so.

Modern age books almost always need to be a 9.8 in order to fit the investment grade criteria. New Mutants #98 is a good example in that a 9.8-grade accounts for 19% of all grades of that book. So, technically a 9.8 is an investment grade for New Mutants #98, but that census data also shows that there are quite a few of them out there.

Conclusion

To answer the initial question, YES! Lower grades are worth collecting and investing in, but it depends on the book itself. What is the rarity, what is the collectability, and what is the grade? If you are looking to put some money behind a key book, be sure you answer all of those questions before doing so.

What do you think? Are lower-grade comics worth investing in? Let us know in the comments!

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9 comments

Stanley B Stark May 24, 2021 - 8:46 am

Great topic and something I have asked myself.
Staring at a small room full of comic boxes, I have convinced myself that I am either trying to preserve comics for future generations (which I know isn’t true) or that eventually somebody else will want to buy my comics because they are special for some reason (mostly because of the amazing Disney/Marvel hype train will continue to spur demand to ‘own a piece’ of the action). These are not Beanie Babies..right?

Modern age comics that are below a 9.6 are pretty much just for advertising, reading and recycling in my opinion. I donate anything less to goodwill in hopes of spurring new comic readers. I just can’t keep that many comics. If you are reading this, you probably are deep into the comic game also and have been hit with that feeling of, “what the hell am I going to do with all of these comics?”

Is anybody really actively seeking to buy a 9.2 graded modern Avengers or X-men comic?

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Jestin Davis May 25, 2021 - 9:31 pm

Exactly, if there is no demand for a book in the future, anything lower than the top tier grades will fall in value typically. Thanks for sharing!

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Chad Bellamy May 24, 2021 - 12:34 pm

Very nice article. My daughter and I are working on collecting Batman Vol1. We struggle with what grade to buy when we start getting into the Silver & Golden Age. The top 15% is nice but obviously we can do that for every comic, especially key issues. We just have to let our wallets be our guide.

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Jestin Davis May 25, 2021 - 9:29 pm

Absolutely, be patient and pick up what you can, especially when collecting a run. I love that you are collecting it with your daughter, awesome! (I have had luck in the past finding lots/runs on eBay with a minor key in there that can end up paying for the whole lot)

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dave stevens May 24, 2021 - 2:06 pm

The best known Action 1 has not been graded. Many, many books have not been graded. It is dangerous to pay a premium for “highest graded” and the differences between 9.2’s and 10’s are often not worth the price difference. As you get older, higher grades generally become more rare and copies of all grades are worth purchasing. Hulk 181 is an example of a common book with a steep price where even the lowest graded copies sell for large premiums. Buy the book not the grade and don’t get hung up on 9.8’s of very common modern books when 9.6’s may very well be every bit as good, if not better with a press.

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Jestin Davis May 25, 2021 - 9:27 pm

Agreed!

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Bobby Smith May 29, 2021 - 3:33 pm

“The best known Action 1 has not been graded.”

How do you know this? I’m curious so if you can send a link or something it’d be appreciated.

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Nick May 26, 2021 - 7:06 pm

If I had big money, I would worry. My personal approach is to get NM in new releases and store them well, to get VF or better in Modern, FN or better in Bronze, VG or better in Silver or older. But if I see a great book in person for a decent price, I’m probably buying regardless of grading and more on opportunity.

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Redskydigger May 29, 2021 - 2:03 am

I agree with Stanley! With my Gold and Silver age it’s about rarity not so much the CGC scale. On majority of Bronze and Modern it’s all about the scale. I’m a collector and investor. So the Silver and Bronze ages are my passions and focus.

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