Anyone who has been collecting comics either for profit or just fun has experienced the joy of the hunt. Yes, much like a cheetah on the plains of Africa we stalk our prey. Then when the moment is right, we pounce! Our tenacity could give any large feline a run for his money. There is quite simply nothing as fun as the hunt for comics. Now many new to this endeavor might believe this is just a hunt for key books. While that is a primary concern, it is not the only score. People fill collections, some are looking at book quality, others like cheap quantity, the reasons for pursuing this hobby are as varied as the number of people in it. However, there are three different types of comic book treasure hunters: pure collectors, investors, and speculators. Is there some knowledge we can gain from each of these different aspects to the same hobby?
The pure collector is usually focused on one genre or book series. One friend of mine has been collecting the first volume of Amazing Spider-Man. Another is a fiend for Daredevil and specifically everything Elektra; he even named his daughter after his favorite character, Elektra! Completists, and aficionados all, most collect only for interest and occasionally sell books to make money for more books. In my own interactions with collectors, I notice the pure completist collectors tend to be the most dedicated, very thorough and incredibly knowledgable about comic books.
Investors are fans who own comics but are keenly aware of their intrinsic value. They cherish the form but acknowledge the rarity and cost of each comic. Often investors will see comics in very much the same way they might look at stock picking. They tend to look out three to five years, or even longer. The value in comics is an investment first and foremost, but with a strong appreciation for the art, writing, and comic books as a pop culture art form. Often these folks were devoted as kids, and like alternative investments that also happen to be quite nostalgic.
Speculators are a different breed, they mainly try to flip the comics. They have realized the sheer value of comics and have found a way to move them at a profit. Now, unlike the other two categories, most speculators run the gamut; by this, I mean they come from all walks of life. In my experience, most speculators started as collectors and then moved right into speculation after a few years or a few eye-popping results in reselling their own collections. In addition to the collector-speculator type, you have pure speculators just interested in the money. They are usually money focused in terms of comics and get into this subculture alternative investment by accident. What usually happens to them is collecting comics for flipping or resale becomes a fiendish habit. Also, slowly but surely they begin to appreciate the cover art and characters, both in and out of the comics. Many have mottos they live buy, like, “buy em all!”
The Wrap Up:
Each of these types of collectors has something to offer, a bit of wisdom for the newbies among us. From the pure collector, we learn the value of knowing your collection and the genre at a professional level ability. Know your area of expertise, Bronze Age, Golden Age, books on Spidey, just simply own it. From the investors, we need to realize that these books have substantial value. Does it really make sense to hold onto a valuable book that has risen +500% in the past year? After all, it could afford the owner the ability to buy more books and expand the collection. Then when the popularity wains, you rebuy your book at a discount. Finally, from speculators we learn there is a surging free market for comic books, always good to be aware of should you ever sell your collection. For those of you interested in the great hunter Kraven from Marvel, I did the analysis of one of his keys below, enjoy.
Speaking of the hunt, there are few more interesting icons than Kraven the Hunter. A longtime nemesis of Spider-Man his drive is to hunt and kill everything. He has found his most challenging opponent in Spidey. Probably one of the best stories about Kraven is “Kraven’s Last Hunt” in Amazing Spider-Man #294 it was written by J.M. DeMatteis with pencils by Mike Zeck in 1987. This makes Amazing Spider-Man #294 a book from the Copper Age. This book is a minor key at best but has admirable qualities, the art is good, but the story is even better. How does it hold up as an investment?
|Amazing Spider-Man #294||9.4||$39||+12%|
The top price paid for this book is $210 for grade 9.8 and this grade has returned -2.5% over the last four months. The middle to upper grades faired a little better some as high as +90% returns. Again, this is not a big book and is definitely a minor key. The returns from this hunt are pretty meager, Kraven can make enough money for a Domino’s delivery these days and that is about it. Of course, unless you own grade 9.8 which is a tad more expensive. The Bottom line, Kraven’s Last Hunt is worth a read and makes an average comic book return, for its minor key status.
Comics are just plain fun and for those that want to make a few Qautloo’s off it, more power to you. I want to be clear that there are three types of comic book aficionados: pure collectors, investors, and speculators are not mutually exclusive there are subcategories and nuances to each of the different types of collectors.
The thrill of finding comics is like the best treasure hunt imaginable, at least for us. It is an absolute joy to pull a hidden gem out of a box of comics or negotiate a truly great price for a significant key to your collection. The joy of the quest for comic books is something to be savored. Especially on a sale day at your local retailer when we line up with the other cheetahs at the front door; ready, savoring the hunt to come…