Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is Coming

by Harry Stone III

Collecting-During-300x157 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingI wrote an article 6 months ago titled “Collecting During Covid” where I warned of an impending speculative bubble in the comic book market.  Since then, the market hasn’t imploded and, if anything, fair market values have skyrocketed. Many of you know I remain a naysayer when it comes to the recent explosive growth. The specter of a bubble is still looming in my mind, but it’s a fair question to ask if was I wrong in my predictions. I don’t think so, since I still haven’t heard a single argument that supports issues maintaining these prices. Read along and let me share my thoughts on where this recent craziness is all headed.

The Streets are Talking

IMG_4291-300x169 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingThe comic and collectibles market, on the whole, has been on a wild ride in the last year and thrives despite the hardship many are experiencing. Since I wrote my article last November, many, if not most, key comic book issues from all eras have seen 300% to as much as 1000% increases in fair market value. Cryptocurrencies are shattering records and retail investors have gotten rich from stocks like GameStop. Pokemon cards are crushing previous sales and even Marvel Cards are inexplicably hot right now.

Many are wondering how is this possible and why is this happening? I have asked friends, fellow GoCollect writers, GoCollect readers, employees at comic shops, buyers on selling platforms, investment bankers, and really anyone that will entertain me picking their brains. Let me share some of the arguments I have heard in favor of this upward momentum before I tell you why they all fall flat.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

The prevalent theory I hear argued as an explanation for the exponential growth in the last 6 months? The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many seem to think the MCU is some unstoppable force that will drive fair market value upward for every comic forever and ever. This argument simply doesn’t make sense. One, the MCU has been here for over a decade now. Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Deadpool 2 was the highest-rated R-rated film of all time until it was surpassed by The Joker.

IMG_4288-194x300 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingIf recent trends are because of the MCU, wouldn’t they have started in 2008 with Iron Man, or at the very least, years later with several of the highest-grossing movies of all time? Deadpool’s first appearance in New Mutants #98 was $850 dollars last year in a 9.8 and now it’s north of 3k, even though there are hundreds of thousands of copies in existence. The fair market value of Deadpool’s debut remained steady and relatively accessible, even with the release of two massively successful feature films. While these weren’t technically MCU films, screen time is screen time. He has been one of the most recognizable characters in the world for years now, but only recently did his first appearance quadruple in price.

This argument that the MCU is the engine for all of this momentum also fails because most keys on the upswing have absolutely nothing to do with it.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 was $250 dollars last September in a 9.8 until there was a speculative alert. It quickly shot up to $2500 dollars only to drop back to $800 dollars a few weeks ago. An omen of what’s to come if I’ve ever seen one. The Dark Knight Returns #1 has jumped from $750 to $2500. White Rabbit’s first appearance in Marvel Team-Up #131 shot up past $1000 dollars without any screen time in her future. Who is White Rabbit? Exactly. The list of comics that have shot up without good cause is too long to name. You get the point.

The Wealthy and Foreign Buyers

The other main argument that I’ve heard is that there is a sudden influx of wealthy buyers into the collectibles market. Some have claimed that a bunch of millennials are now crypto-rich and balling out on comics. Others have said Japanese and Chinese buyers are now scooping up comics as investments. Last time I checked, wealthy people and foreign buyers have been around for a long time, along with the MCU. Are there really that many 20-somethings rich from crypto, buying Copper and Modern Age comics? I’m pretty sure the wealthy buy property and stocks and have their money managed for them. If they are buying collectibles, it sure isn’t an overprinted comic book from the 1990s. Sorry, I’m not buying these arguments either.

IMG_4292-193x300 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingI have argued that stimulus checks, as well as money saved from lockdowns and lack of travel, are instead some of the main catalysts for these gains. Stimulus checks are meant to stimulate the economy, pure and simple. Many people experienced no loss in income, saved thousands by staying home, and got multiple checks for each child they have. For the first time in their lives, some people suddenly had an extra 10k to blow on whatever they wanted. Why not blow an extra $1000 on Wolverine #1? Who really cares about overpaying when you’re playing with the house’s money?

If you’re a seller as well as a buyer, you know this truth to be self-evident. Stimulus checks started landing and everyone’s eBay and Mercari accounts went nuts. For those who only collect, trust me when I tell you those stimulus checks were stimulating.

When talking about the comic market, let me be clear, I am talking about the average collector and the average book sold on the market. The vast majority of the market is not high-end, expensive, Golden and Silver Age keys. Those books, even if they experience a dip, which assuredly recover in the long run. They have recently broken records. Understandably and deservedly so. What I am discussing is the average comic book, which makes up the vast majority of volume trading hands. Think Spider-Man #1 versus Action Comics #1. These comics, overlooked for decades, have undergone unprecedented growth during the pandemic and will soon come crashing down.

Reality Bites: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there. I know that talking about your comics losing a chunk of their value isn’t any fun. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of exponential growth, but I thought our beloved hobby needed a reality check. I hate to be the party pooper and I hope that I’m wrong. Everyone reading can feel free to point the finger and rub this in my face in six months if that’s the case.

On the surface, it seems like I may have gotten it completely wrong in my Covid article six months ago when it’s quite the opposite. I think that a crash delayed by stimulus has only made the bubble that much bigger. Instead of a few dozen keys experiencing inflation, it’s now a majority of them. So why do I think most comics are going to precipitously drop?

Well, my first reason is simple- what goes up must come down. There simply has to be a ceiling to these unprecedented fair market values, especially since there isn’t a concrete reason for the growth in the first place. Markets dependent solely on speculation are destined to fail.

IMG_4294-192x300 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingThe driving force in the market is not the MCU or the wealthy. The general public did not suddenly decide comic books were amazing investments that could outpace the stock market because of movies. In reality, free money and rampant speculation have turned markets into casinos. Don’t believe me? In my first article, I pointed to crypto and the stock market as examples. A few months later, speculators bankrupted hedge funds armed with nothing but “stimmy checks”, memes and message boards. Eager retail investors were buying Gamestop at $300 a share saying it was going to hit $10k a share. It has since lost 66% of its value. This is the definition of a pump and dump scheme.

Members of the Reddit board WallstreetBets are now under federal investigation. This is the world we live in now, a world where Reddit, 4chan, memes, and YouTube can make people rich or poor depending on the day. I’m not psychic, I’m just paying attention.

Everyone has access to CGC census and GoCollect data now. These tools have undoubtedly changed the comic market. These days, it’s not very hard for collectors to find comics with a low FMV and low CGC population, then turn around and promote them. What we’re seeing right now literally appears like dominoes, speculators juice one book and then move on to the next. Web of Spiderman #1 has shot up from $150 to $450 dollars recently. Is that the MCU as well? I think not. Oh wait, it’s because of Venom. Give me a break.

The question everyone should be asking right now is who stands to benefit from constantly overly juicing the market? Do we really know what the larger voices in the comic community are holding in their stash? Speculation is a healthy and fun part of the hobby, there is no doubt about that. That being said, people are getting paid for promoting out-of-control speculation whether it is through advertising dollars or subscriptions.

There may not be an outright agreement between members of the social media echo chamber to pump a book, but when enough voices start chiming in, the dogpile can’t be ignored. There is definitely a silent agreement if you’re watching closely. The people calling anyone who says the market is going to correct amateur analysts are the same people plagiarizing the work of those amateur analysts. The irony is not lost on me.

The Straw That Will Break The Camel’s Back

IMG_3674-193x300 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingAny booming market based on speculation is at risk. What makes most of the comic market particularly vulnerable is supply and demand in addition to the speculation. There is one looming variable that many are choosing to ignore- raw comics getting graded and coming to market. Many of the key issues taking flight right now are not remotely rare. For many of the keys right now breaking into 4 digit territory, there is a massive supply of raw books just waiting to be graded and people seem to have forgotten about that.

The only reason CGC census numbers are as low as they are for many Bronze and Copper Age comics is because there was no motivation for collectors to get these issues slabbed unless they loved them. There was no financial incentive. That dynamic changes quite a bit when a book that was $300 in a 9.8 is suddenly worth $1500. Let’s see how many of the 400k copies make it to market.

Currently, CGC’s backlog of orders is so extensive that their turnaround time has quadrupled. They have also upped their fees, in spite of the high volume, because they want more of the pie they are creating with grading. Josh Avery from Avery Pressing is so inundated with submissions that he is turning them away. Coincidence? I think not.

Predictions

In 6 months, when the stimulus checks have dried up, and all the graded books have come back from CGC and professional pressers, where will we be? Winter is coming. Think of the social media echo chambers right now as the king of the white walkers. They are leading an army of graded comics to market that you can do absolutely nothing about. To quote my favorite Marvel villain “They are inevitable”.

IMG_4289-200x300 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is ComingDoes that mean the whole market is going to give out? The good news is I don’t think so. What I do expect is for the bottom to fall out and for all of this newfound money to trickle upwards. For many low-level dealers, this is a once and a lifetime opportunity. The name of the game is trading up, and I expect that many people will be taking their money from Bronze, Copper, and Modern sales to reinvest into Silver Age grails they have always wanted.

Unlike other comic ages, there is not an overwhelming supply of Silver Age books, especially in high grade. In 6 months, when winter is literally at our doorstep and the CGC census goes through the roof for many comics, people will be jumping ship and selling off those newer keys. If you have ever witnessed panic selling in the stock market, you have a good idea of what’s coming. If you haven’t, go watch the end of Trading Places. When the dust settles, I expect most of the Silver and Early Bronze Age books breaking records to maintain most of their fair market values, even if they have to rebound a bit.

Conclusion- Food for Thought

You don’t have to agree with my predictions. I might be completely wrong. My thoughts are if you buy a comic right now at historically high prices, there’s a solid chance you lose 50% of your investment. If you hold out, do you really think that grailIMG_4285-300x167 Collecting During Covid Update: Winter is Coming you’ve been waiting on will increase another 400% in value? I doubt it. Don’t let FOMO get the best of you. The question I leave you with is this- is speculation alone enough to keep this market afloat? Until this market straightens itself out, I’ll continue to play devil’s advocate.  Someone has to be the villain! I hope I have at least given you something to chew on.

Feel free to leave a comment and/or flame me below. Thanks for reading.’

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31 comments

Matt S. April 29, 2021 - 10:57 pm

Great, extensive article! I would like to present some counter-arguments.

1. You may be correct in that the MCU is not fueling this current surge, but there is meaning to the MCU when the weekly top ten hot comics is always flooded with Marvel keys.

2. I do think there are many more investors and flippers in the current comic market, but as you say, most are average comic collectors, and rightfully so. But let’s not negate the purchasing power of new collectors. It seems like every other facebook comic group post is about someone getting back into the hobby and asking about what to buy or how grading books work. Investors or returning hobbyists or even seasoned collectors…most everyone is playing catch up which pushes prices up.

3. What goes up must come down…or does it really? I think both sides of the coin believe there is a correction coming, but by how much is the question. Whatever the correction or plateau may be, the landing will still be higher than pre-pandemic levels which still stands to be a good investment, dependent of course on when any said book was purchased.

4. Your point about the CGC backlog that will lead to an over saturation of the market is an interesting point, but it is dependent upon collectors putting their freshly graded books into the market. Who’s the say that some collectors will hold onto the books they receive back from being graded? And I don’t think over saturation is too much of an issue because take a look at ASM 300 or Spawn 1 or Ultimate Fallout 4. There are thousands of copies of these slabbed books in high grades, and yet their relatively high prices are maintaining and still growing.

I see how you may take facts and use them to argue how you want the market to crash, but there is too much evidence for the contrary. Moreover, when people talk about comic market crashes, most remember the crash after the high point of the 90’s. But there are now three forces many are forgetting that makes this current surge extremely different: EBay, slabbed books, and up to date comic news. Simply put, eBay sold prices and graded comics make it so much easier to sell and buy comics, and social media and YouTube and other comic sites and apps give both the buyer and seller clear information about the market. There are rarely any deals nowadays…just FMV which creates a hard floor for comics to land on and also a fake ceiling for comic prices to burst through.

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 8:43 am

Appreciate the arguments. Let’s break it down.

1- The MCU definitely influences the market. A year ago, with an a movie announcement, you’d see a related book start to fly. Right now, we’re seeing every book start to fly. Unless I missed something, Sentry, the Hood, Cloak and Dagger, The Death of Gwen of Death Stacey didn’t get movie announcements. My point is, the only thing that changed in the last year is Covid and rampant speculation. What is causing the CURRENT surge in EVERYTHING? The MCU clearly can’t be discounted, hell its what brought me back to comics. Also, Marvel being the biggest of the big three is nothing new, so that’s why they always own the top 10. Still doesn’t explain the current situation.

2- There is definitely new blood in the comic market. But do we think the new blood is willing to pay quadruple historical prices? Maybe. I wonder how many people that took mortgages out on their houses to get rich from comics in the 1990s really stuck around after though. There are fans, and there are speculators, and when this is over I guess we’ll see who caused these spikes in prices and we’ll see who sticks around. People like me aren’t the problem, I’m holding on to my Copper Age keys regardless.

3- Yes, it really does, do you really think New Mutants 98 is going to hit 10k? There has to be an end to this, and when the right catalyst hits, such as MCU announcements where 90% of these books miss, speculators just visiting for the money will flood the market with their books. I think books like that will lose 50% of their value or more by the end of the year. If people have no attachment to their comics, and just have them for profit, why would they hold on to a book that is quickly dropping in value? Also, I have heard a lot of people say there is no correction coming and this is the new normal. The elephant in the room are the people who keep claiming this ride will never stop and I wonder about their intentions.

4- The books you are mentioning are outliers, not the rule. Yes ASM 300 and Hulk 181 have high populations and are expensive, they’re also the first appearances of the two most popular characters from their comic ages. Do you really think Amazing Spiderman 361, with 20k on the CGC census and a 400k print run is going to stay at 1500? It was a 450 dollar slab for years and with good reason. Your examples are exceptions. The norm for literal decades is most of these books were dollar bin books? I saw a Darkhawk 9.8 posted on ebay for 1k yesteryday. Cmon now.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I don’t want the market to crash. I love comic books, what good would that do me? I just haven’t heard any evidence to the contrary, still not one comment to justify these current prices staying where they are moving forward. And you’re making my point for me kind of, there are lots of Youtube channels and comic sites, but how often do they talk about the downside? How often do they point out when they miss? They never do. Sometime they just delete the book they were promoting after it flops. They’ve definitely got people interested, I’ll say that, but many of those outlets are promoting infinite growth and that just isn’t reality.

If your stock broker did nothing but tell you to buy, buy, buy and never gave you any reasoning or nuanced conversation, you’d fire them. But hey, what do I know.

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Nick Chatzigeorgiou April 30, 2021 - 7:12 am

I get what you are saying but you didnt mention one thing. What about the population of the comic book collecting world?
I have been collecting for over 27 years now and i still havent found concrete numbers, or estimations, about how many people are involved in this. Comic acqusitions. We all know that everything is subject to the law of supply and demand..right? So what if now..(with people that were locked into their houses) the comic book world is exposed to a much broader audience? Excuse me for saying, but i reckon that if the demand far exceeds the supply..in many occations. I dont think we will see correction in prices but only until we reach the next peak in collecting peoples numbers..when that will come? Who really knows..?

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 8:21 am

Its a fair question. But my main point this, are we really seeing a new flood of collectors or just speculators visiting? What happens when they leave? My thoughts are a lot of money is being made right now, but when the ride is over and people get caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they will leave and people who have been around for a while will still be here.

When crypto currencies are no longer volatile and are widely accepted, companies like coinbase are going to have a problem. These types of situations require speculations. What happens when MCU announcements all miss the mark?

I’m not claiming I know what’s going on. I do know that anything that goes from 300 to 3000 dollars in a few months will most likely come down.

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Joseph Overaitis April 30, 2021 - 8:55 am

Nick

I have to find the site again but when I was doing research for a blog it said that comic collectors were going down in numbers. Look to the number of stores selling books. Print runs were also down. What the article said though was the younger fans coming in have changed their buying habits to buy TPB.

Harry

I applaud your work. I also am scared and wonder this market is now on FOMO steroids. if you study the books and the numbers certain books have exploded and now might not be the time to buy them, but if you look at other books that just sit there that no one is looking at right now. I believe you need people to voice concerns and I think the nature of our daytime profession makes us look at things differently than most. How many clients have attorneys had that said real estate always goes up…and then? Keep going Harry. You be Batman and I will be your Robin in this crusade LOL

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 9:42 am

My Battle Dome Partner! That is an EXCELLENT point Joe and I wish I made it. If comic books are really that popular, why are print runs anywhere from 20k to 70k? Marvel learned its lesson in the 90s with rampant speculation, apparently the same speculators are back pumping the same books and didn’t learn a thing. This market is exactly that, FOMO on steroids.

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Steven Johnston April 30, 2021 - 8:49 am

I agree mostly with what you are saying but the reality is that Bronze Age comics in high grade are becoming harder to find. That reality started more than a few years ago. The books from that time frame are roughly 38 to 50 years old. I have been around long enough to remember when silver age books were cheap and I purchased a lot of them. And I also remember when they started taking off in price and everyone argued that the prices were getting too high and were expecting a correction. Guess what? During the Bronze Age, comics sold mostly in candy stores, newsstands etc…the books that didn’t sell had their covers torn in half to send back to the distributor for a credit. Every mom and pop newsstand always had returns usually from a few to half they ordered each week. So the really good sellers might have had a sell through of roughly 60 to 80%. While the lesser known titles had a sell through of 40 to 60%. Which means that a good selling book with a distribution of 300,000 could have sold 180k to 240k units. A new hero started okay and quickly fizzled out in the 70’s so those series are harder to find higher grades period. In those days people read the hell out of comics. Quite a few were recycled and not stored very well. Good luck going to a comic store and finding mid to high grade Bronze age comics. Marvel was king of the comics back then. DC is a totally different animal. Their sales were much worse than Marvel except for a few titles. Good luck finding a lot of high grade DC books. No I believe that Bronze Age prices are here to stay and personally some are still under valued. Copper age had a slew of independent comics with super low print runs. Some have amazing art and some are where new artists made their bones. Look out for those as well. These prices are not going anywhere anytime soon. Find them now or forget that market. Yes there were a lot of independents that no one cares about. But still small print runs. One day someone will realize that there are hidden treasures in these Black and white collectibles

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 9:04 am

Respectfully disagree, I see high grade copies of Bronze Age comics flying around all the time. Maybe not copies from the early 70s like Ghost Rider, but later stuff like X-Men is not that hard to find. After Claremont took over X-Men, people were already making money off of comics and treating them with the respect that they deserve. There are stories of cases of these comics being shipped back and forth for speculative profits even back then. A friend of mine who doesn’t collect comic books is sitting on three copies of Hulk 181. But the high vs low grade distinction is a fair point for some of the older stuff. That well for everything before 1980 will dry up eventually.

I am not pointing at Bronze Age comics as the main ones due for a drop although ASM 129 jumping from 700 to over 3k makes me nervous. Mega Bronze and Silver Age keys are great investments. High volume Copper Age and Modern Age comics, many minor keys or just cover art, were my main targets and they are going to fallout in my opinion. No pun intended.

The Independent books of the Copper Age is an interesting take on it. What series do you have in mind? Can’t say I’m well versed in those, but they are the first comic books I collected as a kid. The only thing I do know about them is that Ninja Turtles are awesome and they crashed themselves back in the late 80s when everyone tried to follow in the Turtles’ footsteps.

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Eddie April 30, 2021 - 9:00 am

Harry, there is validity to your point. Housing bubble in 2007/2008 that crashed. Sure, there are correlations and similarities however the main difference is there isn’t anyone betting against the comic industry or making predatory loans or deals. There aren’t any hedge funds betting against the comic bubble. In my opinion its as one dimensional as it comes to basic investing/collecting. The MCU giant has made and will continue to make blockbuster hits based on our favorite comic characters. As fans all we want is to own a piece of our childhood at the same time make some money or just hold onto it. Sure, there’s plenty of speculation. I’m even guilty of speculating. I speculate with the Venom franchise at some point the Scarlet Spider will show up. Combine the Scarlet Spider with Carnage you have Spider Carnage as seen in ASM 410. Could I connect the dots sure but does it mean that the MCU/SONY will also. Thats the beauty of speculating and if you’ve guessed right early on then you feel like you hit gold should you have purchased ASM 410 for $113 and the character and movie is a huge commercial success. If not, I’m still a fan, still a collector, and still own a piece of my childhood. To me its a win win situation. However, as a collector I realize that we set the value of comics, characters, & key issues. If people are willing to buy high and prices continue to increase at some point it will plateau. But to drop to the point of a crash I don’t see that. Lets take ASM 300. 2.5 yrs ago when I purchased a 9.2 I paid $360. Venom was already out in theaters. Fast forward 2.5 yrs later, during a pandemic, with one of the highest unemployment rates ever that same grade has seen sales over $1,000 within the past couple of months. I can’t explain the why, I can’t explain the who, all we can do is speculate. Is it because of the stimulus, is it because people are home, is it because of the MCU giant, or is it because life is too short and just maybe you want to make moves that you wouldn’t do otherwise? Who knows? Will there be a crash? Well that’s up to us. We set the demand and we set the prices. As long as people are willing to pay then so be it. Maybe one day ASM 9.8 will be over $10,000. Or it drops back down to the $2,000 price. All I know is no matter what collectible we are talking about once there’s a hint of becoming popular within mainstream media demand surely follows. How long will it last is the mystery.

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 9:22 am

Well here are my thoughts. There are articles everywhere about all of these markets and current environments right? They are everywhere. The NY Times the other day wrote about how we are all crypto people now. GQ wrote about “revenge buying” due to the pandemic. There are articles about Instagram sellers making fortunes from selling comics. Even Tesla earnings are hitting one billion because they speculated on Bitcoin. So, because of all the potential money to be made, or money that’s already being made, people are stopping by to make a quick buck. There are people that flip Supreme clothing and Jordans that never wear any of the stuff, same concept. What’s going on right now is very reminiscent of New York sneaker culture.

I was in JHU comics in Manhattan last weekend, at least three people came in talking about grading comics and flipping them. I see it all the time. These aren’t collectors. Collectors are here to stay.

I appreciate the sentimental value you place in your comics. Your’e obviously a collector as am I. I don’t care what happens to the market, I’m not selling my ASM 300. But what happens to the people that came in to make a buck, have no attachment, and see their comic started to drop from 3k to 750, which is where a 9.6 was right when the pandemic started? Do you think they’ll hold out like you and I might? Nope. Whatever the catalyst might be, when that one little crack shows itself, these speculators with no attachments are going to freak out.

Again, the only thing that has changed is Covid and extra money going around.I rarely find this discussed as its the main factor for what’s going on. Comics have been EXTREMELY popular in mainstream media for some time now. I’m not sure why everyone is acting like its just happening during Covid when all of the top grossing movies on the planet have been Marvel movies for years. My mom watches EndGame once a month at this point.

We can all hold hands and pretend like everything will keep going up, it doesn’t make it true. That’s kind of how crashes happen right? Ignoring reality? Everyone thought the same thing about comic shops in the 90s before 80% of them closed. Everyone thought the same before the tech bubble too. Too many examples to list. Infinite growth doesn’t exist.

Also, just for the sake of a broader conversation, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND AMERICANS just died. Yet we’re having this unprecedented growth? That is so many people out of the economy and so much suffering. If it weren’t for the government printing money to be spent, this place would be a disaster. I won’t even get into what might happen with crazy new variants that could come out of India at the rate this is going, but we’re not in the clear yet despite everyone’s exhaustion.

I also want to say, there is a grey area here right? There’s a ton of speculators, there are some new collectors. I’m just trying to warn people that some of these books will probably drop 50%. If some of the people driving these prices are new to collecting, the best way to get rid of them is to have them invest in a bunch of stuff that quickly loses value. If you’ve been in the game a while and want to gamble with a stimmy check, go for it. This article is for the newbies. I don’t know a single seasoned collector that is buying a comic that’s gone up 400% over night.

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Eddie April 30, 2021 - 9:56 am

Harry, exactly, to your last point. Not one collector is going to buy high. I’m not willing to buy ASM 9.8 at 4-5k but someone is. Then at some point the market will have exhausted those who were willing to buy high and leave the reasonable collectors left. But if your like me, an average collector/hobbiest enjoying witnessing your particular comic grow then you already own an ASM 300 and paid for it at a much reasonable FMV. I actually thought I bought a little high. I paid $360 and FMV was $375 for a 9.2 and Venom already was in theaters for 2 months etc… Now with Venom 2 coming out sure there’s even more growth. I’ve seen 9.2 sell on ebay for over $1k. I also purchased ASM 361 9.6 Newsstand for $141. Again FMV at that time was $160. It now sells for $400-$500. Should I sell, should I wait, or just enjoy the show. My intentions all along are to enjoy the show. I have no interest in selling. However, I do have an interest in other people buying high cause when prices reach a plateau and starts to come down the true FMV will be revealed and hopefully I’m still under that point. Those that are purchasing ASM now are probably going to wait until Venom 2 hits theaters then sell when its at its highest interest. But those aren’t collectors those are flippers. They will make money but how much. Also, they aren’t going to want to loose money either. Take Spawn 1 current 9.8 are selling for $200+. Speculation of Jamie Foxx playing Spawn has driven the price up. However, we already had a Spawn movie that did ok at best. When, I purchased Spawn 9.8 FMV was around $100. However, that book is going to continue to climb. Will it come down at some point sure but if it explodes it will continue to rise. The Walking Dead 1 has grown and it has grown pre covid. The other thing to keep in mind is that sure we are still in a pandemic but most of us are seeing a sense of normalcy. But if you were struggling before the pandemic you weren’t thinking about comics then or now. I feel like myself, in my late 30’s, having gone through growing pains of life and still learning I just wanted to own what was a dream before. Sure, I don’t have a 9.8 ASM 300 but I wasn’t willing to pay $2k when FMV was 2K. I paid for what I was willing to pay just like most people. And if we continue to buy and set new highs (Ultimate Fallout 4) then so be it. But as a buyer you have to know that at some point the FMV may/will start to come down. However, we set that bar and timeframe (gamestop stock). I’m ok with people wanting to slab books. More interest in the industry. But the responsibility still belongs to the buyer. Hopefully no one is mortgaging their home for comics. Its meant to be fun and enjoyable.

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 10:08 am

Agreed on all points. That’s the thing, comic books were always pretty steady investments that would occasionally spike a bit when a movie was announced. What we’re seeing right now is a roller coaster. I’m just enjoying the show as well.

I guess my thing is, I know that not everyone is a speculator right now although they are the people driving the market. I wrote this for people who are new to the hobby or coming back to it, I know there are a lot of them. I want them to know how abnormal this is. This isn’t the new norm despite what all the pump and dumpers with megaphones are saying. These prices will drop. And if they don’t drop, they sure can’t keep going up, so why not sit it out for a bit? Speculative outlets and free money have made the market nuts, but this too shall pass. Comics are fun, Casinos are fun, but the two should be kept separate.

Collecting is kind of like a sport right? It’s about the hunt and getting a good bargain. Personally, my decisions on what I buy are made for me a lot of the time. I rarely pay FMV, I’m patient, and if I see a book 30% below market value, that’s when I will grab it. I’m not going to pick up a book that’s increased 300% in a month. Even in the comments here, you see people saying these prices will not drop back down as if we’re not in a particularly unique situation. FOMO is a beast.

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Eddie April 30, 2021 - 10:25 am

👍🏼

Don Y April 30, 2021 - 9:06 am

No one can ever predict the market; that being said, I agree with you, Harry. Once people can go back on cruises, go to baseball games and concerts, spend thousands at Disney World, etc., the money for comics is going to dry up. Money was diverted from those leisure activities to collectibles in general due to the pandemic. Again, just my personal opinion!

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 9:44 am

I think people are literally just gambling with stimulus checks. Online gambling is breaking records in the last year too. You think the money will dry up and prices will stop increasing, or do you think the money will dry up and prices will drop? How much do you think?

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Don Y April 30, 2021 - 4:21 pm

Again, it’s impossible to predict these things, but I do think there’s going to be at least a correction (10%) and maybe a bear (20%). Some of the bored rich people who couldn’t go on cruises bought grails at crazy prices and they may just hang onto those. But I’m sure there were others who bought at the height of the market (likely right now as the pandemic begins to wind down) assuming these books would keep going up. They may not have the option of holding onto these books long-term, and may be disappointed to find that the very wealthy who could afford to buy at such prices have moved onto other things…

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Eddie April 30, 2021 - 10:07 am

Don, I agree with you. In addition to collecting comics I collect precious metals more specifically Silver. However, since covid silver rose from around $18 spot to $24-26 spot and has seen a plateau. It is steady at the mid $20’s but at some point it may start to drop. I haven’t purchased a single ounce since then as I feel at some point the price may drop back down to the teens. Will it rise, maybe, will it fall, maybe. Only the market determines the value. I have put more money into comics but thats because I’m not buying high in another area of my portfolio. In addition, I haven’t purchased much into comics cause again prices are high. But if you weren’t putting money into some form of collecting before or speculating before you just didn’t start to think “well maybe I should start investing in comics”. If you were collecting/investing before then you just put more money into it or other things. Also, if you were collecting before you were still collecting while going to the movies, concerts, ballgames etc… The difference is you were able to put more money into your investments.

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Brian April 30, 2021 - 10:34 am

Great article, I really don’t understand why people keep spending so much money on books, especially over $10,000. In the past we would have someone spend 5 figures once every 3 months or so, but it is every 3 days now, even if people wanted to spend that much, don’t they know how to negotiate a fair price (haha) and I thought what makes a comic valuable is print run, so why are people spending $3,000 on books that are readily available, and why would anyone pay $3,000 for something that everyone else has.

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Spencer April 30, 2021 - 3:29 pm

I’m in my late 50s and have seen the comic market tank and boom a few times. As you all have noted, some issues are going to stay speculation proof (I’m thinking 90s titles like Witchblade 1 which is almost the same as when I bought one back then). I’ve seen similar markets ebb and flow: Porsche’s 911 really bounced around until now they command stupid prices but I remember getting an offer from a friend for chump change for his 85 and passing on it. Dumb but had too many cars anyway. Some titles are going to be around and I have taken some profits (my Tiger Woods stuff that dealers were giving away for cheap before his comeback and some duplicate reading copies of early ASMs) and paid for some silly purchases like slabbed Adam Hughes covers of Catwoman 51 and his variant of The Dirty Pair: Run from the Future 1. Were they overpriced? Yes. Do I enjoy my purchase? Yes, they are on my office desk as I work from home and make me happy. All things go up and down. Best advice: buy low, sell high. Good comics will be around for true collectors to enjoy. And have fun and don’t mortgage your house now.

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 4:58 pm

Agreed Spencer. Buy low, sell high, buy what you love. Thanks for reading.

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Zane April 30, 2021 - 6:14 pm

Best article i’ve read on this site. I’m old enough (!)to remain
best article i’ve read on this site. I’m old enough to remember the b&w. chase for the next TMNT; the death of Superman scramble; and the Valiant explosion

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 6:46 pm

Zane, that means a lot considering the company I keep on this website. Thanks a lot for reading. I still have 5 sealed Superman 75s from when I was a kid myself lol.

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Aaron April 30, 2021 - 6:54 pm

Fact is that the market will correct itself as soon as the effects of the pandemic abate and people start spending their money on other this. In 2008 when financial market crashed comics and other collectibles rose in value and speculation increased again. Enjoy this market while you can because it will cool. The current market is unsustainable.

Now this doesn’t mean that values will come crashing down. Once prices hit a certain point ($300 -500 usually) they don’t come crashing down. They will plateau maybe bumping up and down $50-$100. Face it we are not willing to lose values so if the market is unfavourable to making a profit or at least breaking even then you won’t be seeing those books listed.

The only constant I have found in collecting comics is people whine and moan about “modern” (in this case anything from the past 20-30 years). When I started collecting in the late 70’s it was late 60’s and 70’s books (with exceptions of course). Now it’s most books from the 2000’s and maybe the last few years of the 90’s. Now all that “drek” from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are rapidly gaining steam. The truth of the matter is that more than 90% of what has been and will be released will slowly appreciate. The thing is it will appreciate in value so I don’t consider anything drek right now if I sold what I have I would make as much or more than all of the higher valued books in my collection. My purchasing strategy is to buy what interests me. I mostly buy new books and just going about my business and not trying to worry about what will make me money has. resulted in a pretty decent number of good investments. Even if I sell these in a plateau period I will profit massively. The rest I will just have to sit on to realize a profit. If I was forced to clear them out though I wouldn’t be losing out though because selling at cover or sticker price will mean that I break even at minimum.

I have no real emotions about the current market because its just another boom. It won’t last it never does so I don’t worry myself about it. I order 99% of my stuff two months in advance and rarely speculate or flip, but I don’t condemn people for doing it because we all like that we can make money from this and to make money we need to have some speculation out there to support and drive demand. I just think it’s sad that people judge so much of the books coming out now based on the big two when there are so many more options out there.

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 7:12 pm

Another factor I didn’t include because I was already pressing my luck with the word count on this article involves CGC populations as well. Let’s say your someone like me who was before willing to spend $350 dollars on an ASM 316 just to avoid the headache of picking a perfect book. Now not only speculators, but collectors in the know, are going to be sending books in to get that 9.8. Let’s say I strike out the first three times, they all come back 9.6s, then I send in another to finally get a 9.8. That’s an extra four on the census right there and three to market because I don’t want them which is how collectors often become sellers. Raw copies have been getting snapped up left and right just to send to CGC since graded books are absurdly priced right now. No matter how you cut it, populations are going to go up whether its to flip or for personal collections.

I only buy what I love as well and generally just hold on. Sometimes I’ll grab something simply because its a steal and end up selling it later to trade up. It’s hard to turn down money if you know what you’re looking at and what you’re doing, but I jumped off the hype train a lot time ago. The thing is, speculators usually went after the books coming out every week or modern books like Venom 3. They’ve since been armed with stimulus checks and are going for bigger keys.

Everyone on eBay is fishing right now. Have a 9.8? Throw it up for 2k and see what happens. Everyone is following suit. The first Defenders and Deathlok are taking off now too. MCU related? Meh.

For the books that have increased 400%, where do you think they will settle? I don’t think a lot of books will return to prepandemic prices but I think they’ll shave off more than a few hundred bucks. People hate to lose money, but once that panic selling starts, I wouldn’t want to be holding a Wolverine 1 with thousands on the census.

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Zane April 30, 2021 - 6:55 pm

Dont ask me how many X-men #1s i have

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 6:58 pm

My mom was cool and bought me 3 copies of #361, at least that paid off. Shout out to my mom.

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Zane April 30, 2021 - 7:03 pm

my only speculation mania involved buying 5 copies of Crisison Infinite earths

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Harry Stone III April 30, 2021 - 7:14 pm

I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t read the 80s series. Still holds up?

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Zane April 30, 2021 - 7:35 pm

of course, Perez’,s artwork is still great but the story fails about issue 6

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John Songer April 30, 2021 - 7:55 pm

Basic fact is a collectable is what it is….”It’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”…..that being said I’ve been collecting on an off since the late 70’s and by all means I’m waiting for somewhat of a cool down so yes some of those bronze keys drop in value…..lol “let see some Howard Chaykin American Flagg love”

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johnnydart2000 April 30, 2021 - 8:13 pm

I’ve been collecting on and off since the late 70’s and have alway found out collectible’s have never really changed….”it’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it”……that being said I’d like to see some cooling off so those bronze keys drop a little 🙂 “How about some Howard Chaykin American Flagg love”

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