This year, the mirth of a nation is turning 80! Since his debut in MLJ’s Pep Comics #22, Archie and his pals and gals have been entertaining readers of all ages for 80 years, with no signs of slowing down.
Archie has seen a lot in 80 years — a world war, Beatlesmania, Y2K, zombies, and of course, a successful live-action television series (after several attempts over the years)! But is now the time to invest in some highly sought-after keys? The short answer is yes. Many of the big Archie keys did see a dip in price after Riverdale’s premier, but prices have been going back up. For sake of ease, I’ll only be talking about the five big Archie keys, but MLJ (and subsequently Archie Comics) has a number of great investment books throughout their illustrious life.
Pep Comics #22
It comes as no surprise that Pep Comics #22 would be at the top of this list. This historic book introduces Archie, Jughead, Betty, Mr. Weatherbee, and Mr. Andrews, rounding out most of the key characters! I’ve been lucky enough to own one copy so far, as finding a copy of this book is harder than one would think.
In December of 2018, a universal blue label 5.0 sold for $91,000, while a month prior a universal blue 2.5 sold for $36,000. When this book becomes available for sale or in an auction, it is a big deal. This is considered one of the Golden Age keys that both collectors and investors should look into! You absolutely won’t lose money on this book due to its scarcity, and it will always be a non-superhero book that will be in demand.
Pep Comics #26 should always be a collectors and investors number 2, as it is the first time Veronica Lodge appears in a comic. This is another scarce book to find, but one that can be found at a reasonable price. The most recent sale per GPA was recorded in March of 2019 for $3002 for a universal blue 1.8. In February of 2018 a universal blue 2.5 sold for $6573. If you are lucky enough to find this key, hang on to it. You can make a profit off of this book, but only if you hang onto it for a few years.
Archie Comics #1
Archie Comics #1 seems like the next logical book on this list. This book is easy to find on all of the major auction sites and is considered a sought-after key. Comic Connect currently has a CGC Universal Blue 8.0 as well as a CGC Universal Blue .5 (with a missing centerfold) in their most current auction, and both of these books will command serious dollars.
To compare from sales in the past, another universal blue 8.0 sold for $122567 in August of 2014, while a .5 (also with a missing centerfold) sold for $8056 in December of 2020. The most recent sale for an Archie Comics #1 was for a universal blue 1.8 for $12,600 — so while it looks like prices on this book are dropping, this is still a strong Golden Age book to buy.
Archie’s Mad House #22
Sabrina is arguably the most popular character outside of the main Archie gang, and for good reason. Her good-natured hijinx and ability to entertain generation after generation has made her a darling in the comic book world. Her first appearance in Archie’s Mad House #22, while not rare, is still a big key in the Archie Comics universe. Prices for this book have ebbed and flowed this year alone, with mid-grade books hovering between the $300-$1000 price point. This is still one of the more affordable Archie keys to buy.
Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #320
Last, but certainly not least, is the first appearance of Cheryl Blossom. Making her fabulous debut in Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #320, this book saw a price spike after Riverdale aired. Much like Mad House #22, this book isn’t rare or hard to find. Still, it has remained a staple on collectors lists for years. Aside from her popularity thanks to Riverdale, this specific book also came with a little bit of controversy!
Due to Cheryl’s over-the-top sex appeal (thanks to Dan DeCarlo) and borderline racy personality, Cheryl was shelved as quickly as she was introduced due to the publics’ outrage. Prices on this book have remained steady, with many higher (9.0+) grades going for under $1K. A universal blue 9.2 sold for $492 in March of this year, while a universal blue 8.0 sold for $250 the same month. While this key may not pay off your house in the long run, you certainly can’t go wrong with this book either. This is a great first appearance to have if you can’t afford the ones mentioned before.
Of course, there are other Archie keys worth looking into, but that’s a list for another time! Good luck, and happy collecting!