There’s a simple rule I often mention, and also try to use when picking comics to invest in for long term profit. That rule is based on an application of the classic investment advice: buy low, sell high. In other words, look for books that have the greatest potential for appreciation, aka: high value books. This post will explore the modern comics with the highest relative appreciation in value over the last 15 years.
The logic behind the rule is very simple. A comic that’s already sky-high in value and goes up slightly is not as good an investment as currently undervalued books that have greater potential to generate more growth.
The latter are better investments precisely because they can see the biggest returns.
So, while Action Comics #1 (June 1938) is the most popular and most expensive comic out there, in terms of long-term returns, while I think it will hold its value, there’s probably only so much more that it can rise in the coming decades. In 2004 Action Comics #1 in 9.0 grade was worth around $400, 000.00; in 2019 the going price for that grade is somewhere in the $3, 000, 000.00 range, that’s a rise in value of 650%. This percentage of increased value is what is meant by ‘return on investment’.
With those numbers, Action Comics #1 is a wonderful investment. But it’s out of reach for most people, and it seems to have hit a high point for which a further doubling or tripling of its value may take decades, if it ever happens.
In what follows I want to look at comics from the Bronze Age and up that were worth far less than $400, 000.00 just a decade and a half ago. Many of these still have room to grow.
I’ll list what, to my knowledge, are the top ten modern comics that have appreciated the most in their relative return on investment. By modern I mean Bronze Age (comics published starting in 1970) and up. All comics will be compared in 9.4 (near mint) grade, so as to avoid the inflation that comes from the scarcity factor of finding older Bronze Age in 9.8.
Obviously there is a selective element here. The gains I’m looking at will be measured in terms of sheer highest overall percent increase in price over the last 15 years. Some readers might be upset their favorite comic, e.g. Incredible Hulk #181 (November 1974 ) – First appearance of Wolverine, didn’t crack the top ten. That’s because its overall gains weren’t high enough. Hulk #181 was already worth circa $1, 150.00 in 9.4 grade in 2004. Today it is worth $9, 500.00 in 9.4, that’s only a net gain of 726.09 %.
On this list, the top ten starts at 1, 000% and up. My aim here is the following: can we determine any kind of pattern behind the highest gainers?
In 2003, in 9.4 NM grade, TOD #10 was worth $120.00. Today the first appearance of Blade has seen a rise in 9.4 to $1, 650.00. That’s a percentage change of = 1, 275 % .
In 9.4 in 2004 this comic in NM was worth all of $12.00, today in that grade it can be worth $220.00, that’s an increase of = 1, 733.33%.
In 2004, this comic was worth $110.00 in NM condition, today in 9.4 grade this comic is worth $3,500, an increase of = 2, 809.09 % .
In 2004, you could pick up a 9.4 NM copy of this comic for all of $8.00. Today in 9.4 condition, this book costs $250.00. That’s an increase of = 3, 025 %.
The first Ghost Rider would have cost you $175.00 in 9.4 grade in 2004, it now has a FMV in 9.4 of $6, 500.00 and increase of = 3, 614.29 %.
Worth all of $75.00 in 9.4 grade in 2004, this comic today has a FMV of $3,200 in 9.4 condition. That gives it an appreciated roi of = 4, 166.67%.
A comic that sold for around $4.00 in near mint grade in 2004, today in 9.4 condition it fetches $210.00. That’s an increase in value of = 5, 150%.
Worth all of around $5.00 in 9.4 grade in 2004. Today, in 9.4, this comic can sell for a FMV of $300.00, that’s an increase or gain of = 5, 900% (a great return on investment).
Worth all of $3.00, in 2004. The 2003 Overstreet price guide (Vol. 33) actually (and hilariously) listed this book as important because of a ‘Batgirl & Catwoman-c/story’ [!]. Bought today in 9.4 near mint condition this comic has the value of $550.00, that’s an increase of = 18, 233.33%.
This comic wasn’t even published in 2004 and so there’s no comparison in terms of its price gains further back than 2013. Back then, it cost $3.99 on the shelf. Today, in 9.4 grade it has a potential resale value of $1, 400.00. That gives it a total gain in value of = 34, 900 %.
Surprised by some of the results?
Is there anything like a pattern here?
Well, for one thing, the top three is composed of books featuring only two characters: Deadpool and Harley Quinn. However, both are super-popular in the modern age.
Also, most of the books feature a first appearance, and there’s only one that’s on here because it’s a variant. Some have obviously been given a push by a movie and recent pop culture exposure. Others, not so much (Moon Knight hasn’t even appeared on TV).
In future posts, I’ll try to examine further lessons that can be drawn from recent books with a high return on value.