Inflation’s Impact on Comic Collecting and Investing

by Joseph Overaitis

072522F-1024x536 Inflation's Impact on Comic Collecting and InvestingInflation has impacted the world’s economy. The cause of inflation? Too many dollars chasing too few goods.  The result is prices rising because demand is up for those goods.  Once the price reaches a tipping point, people will stop buying the goods because of not only that price increase, but the lack of funds caused by other goods increasing in price.  Consumers are cutting some purchases and comics are one of the items being eliminated.  The effect is now being seen by both collectors and investors, thus changing the hobby.

The MCU/DCEU Bounce

Midas Touch

Kevin Feige made Disney mountains of money.  His stewardship of the MCU brought superheroes into the lives of many non-comic book fans.  The DCEU tried to also feed the starving masses of their need for superhero films and tv shows.  Existing fan interest was at an all-time high, while a new audience for the cultural icons was created.

New investors search the internet for the next hot property that would lead them to riches to feed the increased demand.  Collectors saw prized targets rise in value, thus forcing very difficult decisions.

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Snap of a Finger

The hobby was like the Titanic speeding along until now when the iceberg named inflation tore into the market.  Survival means navigating the damage. Here are some tools to help both our GoCollect collectors and investors.  Remember, both are in the water so collectors and investors should have a basic understanding of what each face to prepare them for this uncertain future.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!

Investors must be careful

Banking on the MCU, and to a lesser extent, DCEU, may have gone the way of the dodo.

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Captain Marvel #14 had the first cameo appearance of Kamala Khan, who would soon appear on Disney+. Prices were down across the board for all grades when comparing the one-year to 30-day averages.

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The first appearance of Kamala as the new Ms. Marvel in All-New Marvel Now: Point One #1 has seen even larger drops in price. These price drops can regularly be seen when a film or tv show is released, but it is not isolated to the MCU factor.

Rumors percolate on the internet about the next hot property.  The Hood could be a new villain in the MCU.  Green Lantern speculation is also bubbling because of rumored HBO Max show significance.  The problem is that before inflation hit, people had the money to spend on these books, but now disposable income is not as great.  People are playing it safe, but…

Iconic Keys are Not Safe

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Incredible Hulk #181 is generally down across the board during the same periods. Wolverine will eventually appear in the MCU.  It is not a question of “if” but “when”, yet even a major key with future potential in the MCU has seen price decreases.

Nothing is safe, so in the short term, investors have to be very cautious in speculation and flipping books. Long-term investors and collectors may think the bottom has been hit until new low sale prices occur again.

Advice for Investors

The exception appears to be books that are rare and in demand.  A 9.8 Hulk #181 saw an $11,000 increase in value from the 1-year to 30-day average price.  The reason is because of the relatively low population of this book.  That is not enough now.

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X-Men #1 (Campbell Negative Space Variant) also has a relatively low population drawn by an in-demand artist.  The 9.8 copies are off roughly $100 during that time period.  One must be cautious.

When times were good, then any book could produce because of FOMO. The economy has caused people to be more afraid that they will be stuck holding a book and not be able to sell it. Long and short-term investment strategies must be re-evaluated.  No book is immune to a market adjustment and past performances are no guarantee of future success.

Hey collectors… wake up!!!

Remember, inflation is when prices rise because there are too many dollars chasing goods.  That is what happened with comics. The influx of investors hoping to make a profit coupled with new collectors introduced increased the competition.  As a result, comic book prices skyrocketed.  Those days may be dying down. Collectors are watching prices drop and salivating.  Books that were priced out of reach are now falling.  Collectors now have the power.

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Prices are dropping, but have they hit rock bottom? Collectors buy from their hearts and are willing to pay for their books.  Their mantra is ‘the heart wants what the heart wants.’  Collectors could get great deals if they are patient, but sometimes telling a lovesick collector to be patient so they can get a better deal financially falls on deaf ears.  Collectors should be patient to get better deals on their targets, but there is even a better reason to be patient during these times.

Advice for Collectors

Times are tight.  Investors and fair-weather collectors are forced to make tough decisions.  Deals are there because prices are dropping, but there is something more happening out there.  Books that were once locked up are now coming to market.

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Our Army at War #83 is argued to have the first appearance of Sgt. Rock. As a result, this book is a target of first appearance and war comic collectors. This book seldom comes up for sale at auctions. Recently, this book has been up for sale on auction more frequently than ever.

Oompa Loompa warning

Collectors must feel like Augustus Gloop in a candy factor.  Temptation exists everywhere.  Patience may be the difference between adding books that may be a target versus adding a book that is an obsession. These opportunities may become even greater as times get worse.  Collectors may want to add what they can while those chances exist.

The time to do that may be now if collectors can still afford their targets. Collectors should still avoid impulse buying to avoid missing out on targeted books.

Ageism does exist

True treasures

People who buy real estate know it is all about location.  Property values may drop, but that one property on the lake may see an increase in value. The same applies to comics.  The rarer the comic, the less prone they will be to inflation.

Generally, the older the book the rarer it is in the census. Newer books from the Copper and Modern Age are not doing well.  The reason is that these books are not rare. Non-rare books are risky, even if they have a solid history.

But it always sells well

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Amazing Spider-Man #300 is a good book to own.  Venom makes his first full appearance in this Todd McFarlane comic. The iconic cover is recognized on sight by even the most casual hobbyist.  That is still not enough to protect this book, because even this book is dropping in value.

A 9.8 copy had lost roughly $700 from its 1-year to 30-day averages.  That is a key high-grade book once on everyone’s radar, yet now it is losing value. This issue should be a canary-in-the-mine type of warning to some hobbyists.

The Uncle Drew of Comics

Older books have a tendency to keep their values because of the scarcity of the books.

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Amazing Spider-Man #9 has the first appearance of Electro.  The data allows for seven total grades to be compared in the one-year to 30-day averages.  The 9.4 grade saw no change in the price.  Grades 6.0, 4.0, 3.5, 3,0, and 1.0 all saw an increase in price. The 5.5 and 5.0 grades have seen a decrease.

Older books are not guaranteed to increase in value, but they do have a better chance of rebounding if they do decrease. They are not as common and thus possibly safer, but not completely safe.

FOMO NO MO’

Buyer Beware

Comic book sites can not help but try to recommend books to buy.  Every site will have recommendations.  The key is to study the numbers behind the books.  Every good recommendation is based upon numbers, data, and/or someone’s experience.

The questions readers have to determine how much of a risk they want to take based upon those recommendations.  Use the data on GoCollect to see how much risk exposure is appropriate and then… do not go beyond it!  

Patience, young padawan

Collectors and investors sometimes cannot help themselves.  They want to take risks and buy books they desire to add to either collections or investment portfolios because they think they are making a deal.  Both should follow Yoda’s advice.  First, be patient and do not rush into anything.  A “great” deal one day may be a very bad one only a few weeks later if the FMV drops several hundred dollars. Price swings that were once major every 30 days are now being seen in just days.

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Next, do not lose your focus.  Many collectors and investors rushed to the pay window and bet on the first appearances of some Star Wars characters.  EVERY STAR WARS FIRST APPEARANCE WAS MENTIONED AS A “MUST-HAVE HOT KEY” FOR COLLECTORS AND INVESTORS ALIKE ON EBAY LISTINGS AND AT AUCTIONS.

Star Wars encyclopedias were necessary to keep up with this who’s who of  “hot” first appearances. Prices rose overnight for even the most minor of characters in the hopes they soon would appear on Disney+ or on the big screen.  There were still deals to have, but FOMO made many not want to hit a single when they thought they could hit it out of the park.  Many funds were spent needlessly.

Collectors may not care about the price they paid for an issue, but there has to be a limit to what one spends to maintain the enjoyment.  Investors who pay too much for an issue may never recoup their capital expenditures.  Bad deals lead to anger and then fear sets in that the same mistakes will be repeated. Listen to the advice of Yoda.  Be patient and think logically because of fear and anger carry you to the dark side!

Aim Small, Miss Small

Keep your eye on your targets

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Collectors and investors should not give up comic books because of inflation and the economy.  That would be not a logical choice.  Instead, collectors and investors should be more precise when it comes to their targets.  Spending limits are a great way to start.

Losing an auction is not a major defeat.  In addition, limit the number of books that are on your lists.  Limited targets will allow collectors and investors to conduct careful research to determine if one is getting a good deal.

Read and then evaluate

Do not stop reading this site’s recommendations.  Education is power and those recommendations may provide the reader some insight into the writer as well as their recommendations.  It is important to find quality recommendations that fit your needs.  Everyone is different so not all advice should be followed by everyone.

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It may be wise right now to look to add Amazing Spider-Man #14 because prices are down, but that does not mean spending beyond the limits you have set and using a credit card that charges a 25% interest rate to fund that purchase.

Speculation done right

Speculation can still be a good option for collectors and investors.  The key is to set a lower risk tolerance than previously set.  Now is not the time to spend trying to hit home runs when long-time key books can be purchased at discounted prices.  Remember though, that just because you think you recovered from FOMO before does not mean you are immune from getting it again.

Auctions have a way of making you forget yourself because you planned to speculate on some books.  Get a booster shot for FOMO by looking at your bad deals.  Collectors and investors can learn more from bad deals than good ones.

‘Nuff Said

Inflation cannot be ignored.  Many in the comic community believe that they can look at small segments where success is occurring and can extrapolate that to the entire comic book market. Others view their own sales environment and experiences as what is happening globally.  Do not fall for those claims. Inflation is impacting every segment of the economy and the comic book world is one of those segments.

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Avoid the doom and gloom others will suggest.  Be smart and keep reviewing the sales data.  In the past, a good time period to review was in 30-day windows.  A better recommendation for some issues may now may be 10 days because things are happening more quickly.  Collectors and investors should keep those review periods to the most current data possible because older data may be obsolete.

There are deals still to be had, but you have to be patient.  Put in the time and energy to find them  Finally, set limits and stay within them because no one should ever make the decision to purchase a comic book at the expense of buying medications, taking your kids to a ballgame, or doing something for your health.  Till next time.

Want more insight from Joe?

00080221C_Green-Footer Inflation's Impact on Comic Collecting and Investing*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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5 comments

kevinmonkey6 August 1, 2022 - 12:40 am

I have not purchased a single comic in nearly 2 years because of the huge jumps on price.
(ok, except for Amazing Spider-Man 68, and the Wonder Woman 179 that I always wanted, really that’s all)

But soon… So soon.

Reply
Patrick August 1, 2022 - 12:21 pm

Good article – I like that you do give a nod to people like me – long time Collectors that enjoy the hobby, lifelong passion and patience – buy what you love – if you chase speculation it’s not very enjoyable – u less you are a dealer. I have a collection of well over 5,000 books – mostly gold and silver age – some modern I buy is cause i like the story or author – older comics never lose their appeal – as evidenced by my Friday Terrificon experience where a few 25 year olds dropped $1,500 on some low grade precode horror – because it’s awesome to collect! Be well and keep writing

Reply
Joseph Overaitis August 2, 2022 - 9:02 am

Patrick

You have to understand both investors and collectors. Collectors have to navigate the waters to get books sometimes targeted by collectors. Investors want to buy books and sell them to collectors or else they are stuck with them. Without collectors there would be no need for investors LOL.

Reply
Based Pelé (@Pele_Comics) August 2, 2022 - 12:20 pm

Short term? Flipping under most circumstances is a bad idea, IMO we haven’t seen the bottom yet, at all. With the MCU losing its luster and fans becoming disillusioned with certain progressive narratives, fewer people are shopping for key comics. These aren’t the heroes they grew up with anymore, they’ve changed, and in general, collectors are becoming wary. In fact, right now, the people who created Marvel’s most iconic characters couldn’t even get a job at Marvel if they tried, because of politics.

Ex. Want to get big X-Men keys? Looks like there won’t even BE a team of Mutants nalled the X-Men in the MCU, because of the wailing of gender activists (who don’t even care about X-Men comics in the first place, they just hate the name).

Reply
Joseph Overaitis August 2, 2022 - 7:19 pm

Mr. Pele

Welcome to the boards. I always am wary of breaking the mold of what made you successful. Time will tell if the MCU did in fact break the mold but the fact that they are getting rid of most of the established characters may not be the right thing to do at the moment. Yes we will be having the mutants and ff but will it be enough? I mean do i have to remind people…batman nipples? LOL

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