Rest in Peace, Stan Lee. It has been a few months since the world was saddened by the loss of the legendary Stan Lee and it feels like the comic book industry will never fully recover from his absence. Since then we have been watching the comic sales market rushing to get their hands on just about anything Stan Lee related. It was quite the roller coaster because it was the perfect cross of fandom and investment. Where did the market shake out and how are your Stan “The Man” Lee investments working out?
As the market started reacting to the death of Stan Lee, the first thing I noticed was the sheer number of Stan Lee collectibles that immediately flooded the market. Everyone was trying to cash in on the sudden market notoriety…I don’t blame them, because as everyone knows, demand drives prices and the demand was climbing. As prices began to rise, I noticed a quick market divergence with the Signature Series (SS) books (the ones that have a Stan Lee autograph) as they quickly and often jumped in price with each sale. The rarer the book with a Stan Lee signature, the higher the premium on said book. It was quite staggering to see that in real-time on the market. Your internal commentary goes from “He wants how much? No way.” to “Holy crap, it sold.”
While books that featured Stan Lee on the cover were popular and showing gains prior to his death, the market saw a real decline afterwards. Copies of Marvel Fumetti Book #1 and Marvel Age #41 which were seeing increases in prices took sudden unexpected dips. These books are quite rare on the census and desirable for collectors…so why the sudden drop? I assume it was simply the rush to collect the SS books featuring Stan Lee. Books that had no real direct influence by Lee that bear his signature even saw a price bump. I never fully understood this phenomenon…seems to me like a Lebron jersey signed by Jordan…who cares and it doesn’t make it a rare 1 of 1 collectible.
In describing comic book collecting, investing, and speculation to others, I like to use the analogy of a stock market…however, not a normal stock market. The comic market is like a stock market where a blue chip may only come up once every few years, and at that point if you want it, you have to pay the requested price. If you let it pass, you may never see it again and there is a ton of emotion in the comic market that typically does not exists in stocks. We don’t see a stock and say “I loved that product as a kid, and I have to have it.” because that is irrational investing. Comics are, on the whole, an irrational investment. It is difficult to take emotion out of the equation. A death the magnitude of an industry contributor like Stan Lee is poised to set off a market tsunami powered by an emotional earthquake. It seems like the Stan Lee SS was caught up in the market rush this time, but will the waters recede or will prices remain at a premium? We will have to wait and see.
Do you miss Stan Lee? Can you see paying a premium for a comic that holds his signature? How do you describe the comic market to friends? Drop your comments and join in the speculation!