I like to think of comic books as the bumper cars of collectibles. My theory is that comic books as investments are very connected and often “bump” one another up in price. What has the average year-to-date return trend been for comic books affected by the bumper car analogy? How does an experienced comic-book investor look at this relationship between different comics and how they impact one another? Let’s apply this theory to the Star Wars franchise. Often while writing these blogs I review the hot books from the Bronze, Silver, or Modern Age. Occasionally, I even focus on some of the more popular recent books. For this one, a change of pace was necessary.
Many of the collectors I chat up about comics often tend to see them as long-term investments as well as collectibles. They do not see them as merely collectibles, and certainly not as momentary speculation, but primarily just as long-term to medium-term investment vehicles.
Bumper Car Analogy
When I used to go to the amusement park in the Bay Area in my childhood, the one ride I always loved was the bumper cars. Why? Because though I could control my car, I couldn’t control everyone else’s as they bumped and buffeted me around the track. As a kid, this was pure excitement, and I loved it!
Now as an adult, my comic collection often gets buffeted by the other comics and their popularity and frenzied price movement. This “bumper car” analogy basically means that comics are bumped up in price, simply by other comics going up in value.
The point is that bumper cars are very similar to what happens in the comic book collectible business. One person buys a book, this bumps the last recorded price up, everyone piles into that book based on the new price and probably some weak bit of catalyst news blurb, and wallah! Now you have a higher-priced book, being hit at multiple points in the market with newer and higher prices, which “bumps” against other minor keys causing them to move as well.
These bumper cars (comics) get pushed and prodded in the marketplace. Often, they end up $100’s of dollars higher in price from a small catalyst like the mention of a TV show. The first appearance usually moves first. This inspires increases in the origin story and second appearance, which inevitably leads to bumping up the first appearance in their own comic.
Let’s take the Star Wars franchise as an example. When the Mandalorian hit it out of the park with the first episode in late 2019, from that point on Star Wars was in play. The Star Wars #68 ( the Mandalorian people first appeared) increased in value and carried all the Star Wars comics along for the bumper car ride. See below for the three ‘Wars‘ comics during the first and second seasons of Mandoloarian.
|Title||Grade||Last Sale||CGC Census||Return|
|Star Wars #68||9.8||$1650||129||+236%|
|Star Wars #1||9.8||$4560||743||+138%|
|Star Wars #2||9.8||$875||133||+51%|
These prices are from one month after The Mandalorian hit the streaming service Disney+ until today. This is basically the last year of trend returns on the Star Wars books. Interesting to note that the highest return is the first Mandalorian appearance at +236%, then Star Wars #1 trend returns +138%, and Star Wars #2 with a positive +51%. Now, I am not wearing a tinfoil hat but occasionally the synchronicity of life can give you a tiny insight. This looks shockingly like #68 took a spike up and ricocheted off the #1 which then bumped into SW #2. The chain reaction here seems obvious to me, and probably the best advice this old comic book mercenary can muster is when you see the bumper car ride coming your way don’t get caught between the bumpers.