Comic investment is just another type of investment. No different than stocks, real estate, and gold. How should a comic investor think about the trading of comics?
Investments are really about the value you place on your future. Some live in the now, some live in the past, but the investor lives in all three past, present, and future. Many refer to this subculture of investing in comics as “alternative investments.” This is a wrong-headed view in my humble opinion. Comic books are just another type of investment no different than stocks, bonds, real estate, gold, art, antiques, books, etc. We have our own criteria for value, realizing that early on is going to save you money and headache.
How should a comic book collector and investor think about buying, sell, and trading of comics? First off, we agree that most folks are collectors first and investors second. This aspect I wouldn’t change. Being a good collector makes you a savvy investor in the comic age or genre that you enjoy collecting. This gives an edge no pure investor can match unless they do the work and viscerally like the material they are investing in. As an investor are you “The Man Without Fear!” like Daredevil or simply terrified of missing out on profit? Can you discern when to sell a comic after it has increased in value substantially?
Circular Nature of Comics
The Comic Book Trade is one big circle that leads the owner right back to square one buying yet another book. First, a collector buys a comic book. Initially, the collector thinks he or she has some knowledge the seller is lacking. Often though the sellers are wily and know their product and more importantly the condition better than your average collector. Typically the retail buyer is slightly behind the eight-ball on price. But what he is counting on is the rise in prices over time. Fearless or foolhardy, you choose? The choices are many as a comic book collector and investor; when to buy, sell, take profit, restock, hoard, and most importantly walk away.
Part 1. The Buy
Most consider this the most important part of the process. What? Isn’t the price you get important, Nam, what are you delusional? No, merely pragmatic, with a good amount of experience in this business. The most important aspect of the buy is not the price. The most important thing is the “timing“ of that buy.
Example: I go to my local retailer about 6 or 7 years ago and buy Avengers #195 and Avengers #196. This is the first cameo of Taskmaster and his first full appearance. At the time I was buying what we will simply call overlooked supervillains that had potential. The point? It didn’t matter if I paid $9 per book or $29 per book, now both of those books in near mint are between $200 to $1000 depending on grade. My point…timing matters, to quote Miyamoto Mushashi, “timing is key in all things.”
Part 2. Ownership
Now you have got the book, do you own the book, or to quote Bob Dylan, “Does the (book) own you?” In order to treat this as an investment, you have got to respect the comics (inventory) by properly cataloging and storing. If you don’t respect your inventory; then you simply are wasting your time. The routine should be second nature, inspect, bag, board, inventory, sort, then file away from the light.
Part 3. The Sell
This is the hardest part, basically knowing when to sell? In order to walk away from the investment and eventually take profit, you have to understand your tolerance for risk. Most of the big keys have gone up substantially, that is no challenge. But, did you sell when it was no longer popular at a discount, or during the height of frenzy and hype? This takes a mature understanding of timeline popularity and your risk tolerance for this investment in comic books.
I purchased a truckload of Walking Dead from a good friend. He was done reading it and gave me a good price. Now, this was like the fifth or sixth year of the series. I knew everyone was sick of the zombie theme. Further, it was only a matter of time before the non-key Walking Dead actually became the undead investment that it is today. I went to work selling them as fast as possible on the cheap. You see, we were at the end of the Walking Dead popularity cycle. People were ready for something new. Now those books sit everywhere on retail LCS walls and don’t move. I made a slightly smaller profit but moved the merchandise while I could. Now might be a good time to pick up some of these on the cheap.
|Title||Grade||Last Sale||CGC Census||Return Short-Term YTD|
|Walking Dead #19||9.8||$423||808||+24%|
Part 4. Profits
Everyone is dazzled by profit. But profit is really in the eye of the beholder. Would Warren Buffet the Oracle of Omaha (World’s Top Investor) think you making $500 flipping Tomb of Dracula #10 out of some local pawn shop impressive? Probably not. Profits should always be part of the equation but not the whole enchilada. Sell when you think it is right or your risk tolerance is coming to an end. The profits are personal and always subjective. Yes, everyone needs to exceed expenses but don’t hang on till the bitter end.
The way of profits is like water, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water…water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend” -Bruce Lee. My point is that profits are malleable and you have to be realistic and judge each situation without passion. You can yell, I want $1000’s for my long-box of comics but if it is worth $200 that is roughly what you will get.
Comic Investment Conclusion
So what did we come up with? First, that timing is the most important element of the four parts of buying and selling comic books. Second, that inventory must be respected to profit as an investor; no respect equals no profit. When selling your comics for profit it is really about tolerance for risk and understanding timelines.
When selling your comic books try to have a mindset that is “like water.” Flow in and out of trades in this case comic book investments with a great deal of liquidity. Make solid decisions based on the facts on the ground and not your desires for profit. In the final analysis, don’t over emotionalize about future profits they are subjective anyway.
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