Comic Book collecting can be daunting when you first enter into the marketplace and one of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself before spending money on books is; what era am I going to focus on? Can a new investor afford to buy Golden Age?
Many collectors that have been in the comic book collecting space for years have a pretty good handle on what age is best for them. Or they have preconceived notions about certain eras that limit them from branching out any further than what they are comfortable with. I want to help new collectors broaden their horizons and at least consider whether golden age comics could be a fit for them.
For sake of this article, we are going to focus on collecting books from the Golden era, which spans from 1938 to 1956, but if you want to dive further into the specific comic book ages check out this recent goCollect post on that very topic.
Back to the beginning, where it all began. Action Comics #1 kicks off the superhero genre that we all know and love today and has also become the most valuable comic book in the world. Obviously, most new collectors will not be going after an Action Comics #1, but I would not rule out golden age books entirely.
Sure, most people know the aforementioned Action Comics #1 (first appearance of Superman) and Detective Comics #27 (first appearance of Batman) are key books that are very valuable, but why are they so valuable? I would argue that there are multiple reasons.
Most Golden Age comic books were read once or twice. Then, they were thrown out due to them being considered just another pulp or newspaper strip variation. You also had paper drives in the 1950s to raise money. Those coupled with the comic book scare started by “Seduction of the Innocent”. We saw churches, towns, and other institutions gathering to burn comic books due to their bad publicity during that time.
If you look at many of the comic books from the golden age era, you will notice that the covers feature heroes in iconic poses. Even the title headers are iconic in their own right. Titles like Action Comics, Detective Comics, Adventure Comics, and others had iconic names and iconic covers which makes them sought-after collector’s items.
Many of these books have historic value as well as collectible value. Take Captain America Comics #1 as an example. The cover of this comic shows Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the face (talk about American Pride). This appeals to collectors of World War 2 memorabilia and historic collectors in general, not just comic book collectors.
Collecting Golden Age Comics
Back to the original question, are these books within reach for new collectors? The short answer is yes, there is always a book for every budget. You may find yourself collecting books in lower grade/quality compared to newer age books. However, you should also consider the scarcity as well as what constitutes investment grade for the golden age.
Batman #1 (1940, first appearance of Joker & Catwoman) for example lists 278 copies graded by CGC on their census, which makes any book in a 6.5 grade or higher considered investment grade! In comparison, in order to obtain an investment-grade Incredible Hulk #181 (first full appearance of Wolverine), you would need a 9.2 grade or better. When dealing with this era you need to look at the data and do your homework. Still, there is definitely an opportunity for new investors to get into golden age books!