Golden Age comics are increasingly gaining the attention of collectors. Many have realized that there’s a huge untapped potential for these comics as investments; others simply like the Golden Age for the freewheeling stories and creative energy this epoch displayed. As the summer of 2019 begins, let’s explore which genres of Golden Age comics are being most actively traded and sold.
Summer time is a good time to relax and read back issues of your favorite comic. It’s also a good time to discover books and characters you’ve never heard of, or to read original stories of a classic character that you love. A quick glance at the most actively sold Golden Age comics at the moment makes it obvious that the hottest genre by far is the superhero comic.
Among the top 30 most actively sold books 20 of them are superhero titles. This is actually keeping in line with a long standing trend in the Golden Age comic book market.
Golden Age comics can generally be lumped into different tiers or kinds of titles: the first or top-tier books, for a long time now, have been the superhero titles. The reason for this is most likely twofold. (1) these comics had the highest supply numbers. (2) More of them have survived.
Since the kinds of books we see regularly selling are also confined to superhero’s with name recognition: we’re talking still active characters with movies, modern stories and other media and cultural exposure, it’s no surprise that the most actively sold Golden Age super-hero titles are Batman and Superman. They outsell all others by a long shot.
In the case of Batman, we see that the desirability of Joker covers is a trend that has not abated this summer. With its Robinson cover, Batman #23 is the 7th most actively sold Golden Age comic at the moment and it’s no wonder why. Jerry Robinson started out as an inker who worked directly with Bob Kane. Later, when Kane had less time to contribute to Batman, Robinson basically took over and is particularly known for his Joker covers. This one is no exception. The image of the Batman-Joker relationship as a chess-match is a brilliant analogy of how these two characters interact. With 239 total submissions on the CGC census, like most Golden Age titles, this is hard to find in high grade (also take into consideration that of the 239 submissions 34 are either restored [Purple Label = 31 copies] or qualified [Green Label = 3 copies]). The most actively sold grade has been 7.0 and the last three sales of that grade in 2019 have been on eBay. On 02/06/2019 for $2, 850.01, 05/12/2019 for #3, 161.00 and on 05/16/2019 for $3, 200.00. That gives 7.0 a positive roi of +11.6% this year.
There’s just something very appealing about pre-code Golden Age horror that drives collectors into a buying frenzy. If superhero books are Tier I, everything else is a lower tier. After the Superhero genre, the most actively sold Golden Age comics this summer [and so Tier II for now] seem to be coming from the pre-code horror genre. There are four of these in the top 30. That includes the number 17 most actively sold book right now, Tales from the Crypt #32 by EC. A total of 86 copies of this comic can be found on the CGC census. With a FMV of $5,250.00 in 9.8 certified condition, this comic is actually affordable in lower grades. Currently the returns are also down, with the two most actively sold grades (2 sales each over the last six months) of, 8.5, down minus – 19.9% and 4.5 down minus -8.9%. The last 8.5 sold for $630.00 and the last 4.5 for $319.00. That makes this a good choice for first-time buyers to get in on the GA horror action.
Finally, although there are only 3 crime comics represented in the top 30, they still stand as the third most popular genre of Golden Age comics selling right now. With its Johnny Craig Cover, this comic is a paradigm of what makes crime comics before the code days so appealing. The directness and brutality of the illustration work is what led to the ‘Comics code’ in the first place. It is also the feature which makes Crime SuspenStories #22 the number 4 most actively sold comic of the Golden Age this summer. This iconic book has seen mixed returns over the last six months. The highest positive returns, after 2 sales, is on 4.5 grades. These are up +1.7% with the last eBay sale on 05/27/2019 selling for $3, 255.00. This is balanced by the strong negative returns on 1.5 grade which is down – 35.4% (again after 2 sales). The last 1.5 sold on eBay on 05/16/2019 for $840.00. The previous sale (also on eBay: a month earlier on 04/11/2019) sold for $1, 300.00.
Other genres represented, but in lower numbers among the top 30 sales, include humor (especially early issues of Mad Magazine) and sci-fi.
What’s your favorite Golden Age genre? Let me know!