The meaning of “comic speculation fails” is exactly how it sounds. A collector picks up the book with the intent to hold it and hopes the book rises in value in the near future. The rise in value can be attributed to factors such as a book being optioned to a television show or movie or a low print run. Please keep in mind, it is considered a failure when the individual obtains the comic at market or cover price. The result of a failure is the seller to actually not turn a positive profit on the comic.
The comic speculation world is a very rewarding but, at times, risky game to play. I am sure many of us have heard stories from people who have been “selling out” on their comic books. Especially now, during today’s times. Given how the market is, the general feeling is to sell high on known commodities. Known commodities such as comics in the original “Amazing Spider-Man” series or any old-age classic from the “Silver Age” of comics. We know exactly how many of these books exist, and that lowers the risk of frequent comic speculation fails. The risky part of comic speculation can be hunting and predicting the modern books of this age. At times, the phrase “flipping” would be a good definition of what people are doing with these books.
Flipping a Book
“Flipping a book” is notated as obtaining a book at a low price and re-selling at the market or above. The intent of “flipping” is to ensure the seller actually makes a positive profit. I would say this task is pretty common in all aspects of comic collecting, but it has developed as a niche for Modern Age books. The hard part is determining when to get rid of these books. Sometimes, a person will hold out too long and the opportunity is lost. Below are some comic books that many people would consider a “speculation fail”.
During the second half of 2016, the comic Briggs Land #1, which is published by Dark Horse Comics, was optioned by AMC television network. The comic had also confirmed its producer and writer for the upcoming series. This comic was supposed to be building off the momentum of The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead comic has been a huge smash hit for AMC and speculation was that Briggs Land would follow in its footsteps.
Since the option news in 2016, the book’s value has increased tremendously. With modern books, the only grade that is meant investing is a 9.8 grade. From 2016 to 2019, this grade was easily averaging around $70-$80 for a CGC 9.8. The book was so hot, that a rare CGC 9.9 graded copy sold for $310 in 2017! (My mistake there, since books can be graded higher than 9.8.)
In the end, to this day, the show has not been able to get on tv. There has been very little news since the book was optioned in 2016. Factors include no update on casting for the show, possible delays in production, and negative news about the writer resulted in people losing interest in the comic. As a result, the value of the book for a 9.8 graded copy is currently sitting at $30. There is a strong possibility that collectors started buying up as much as they could when they heard the news of the book being optioned. Now, these books, graded or not, appear to be wasting away in a local comic shop or someone’s comic book bin.
This is another modern book that had so much hype and then fell apart – just like that. Though, this time this “speculation fail” comes from Marvel. The failure I am referring to is the character of Virus.
The character made their first appearance in Venom #26. Cates and Marvel were pumping so much potential on this character in 2020 as prices for graded copies soared. In addition, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel had to switch the first appearance to the issue run, rather when it should have been applied as a “Free Comic Book” issue in 2020.
This issue was totally on fire in 2020. The regular cover for this issue was returning great returns for investors. In the fall of 2020, a CGC 9.8 graded copy was consistently hitting prices of $90 to over $100. For individuals who “flip” books, it was a great opportunity to sell while the price was high. While collectors felt this character had great potential and bought many copies of this issue and character.
Unfortunately, as 2020 came to a close, the fire was extinguished and the price of the book kept dipping. The dip in the value shows the current value of this book priced at $38. The dip in the value of the book is due to many factors. Based on the Venom storyline’s ending, it does not appear Marvel has long-term plans for the character. In addition, the identity of the character turned out to be a lesser-known individual in the Marvel universe. As a result, collectors were turned off and people lost interest in the character.
The speculation game in comics comes with its risks and rewards. The one thing to remember is when to sell your comic. With modern books, it is much tougher because the popularity of these issues tends to be a short window. If I was dealing with modern books, my course of action is to get rid of the books when it still has value.
Sometimes, holding onto a book will result in a big loss. Though, sometimes, books that marinate over time can reap the benefits. Please note the example of Something is Killing the Children #1. This book started off at a normal $3.99 shelf price. This month, a copy sold on eBay for $1,395. Just goes to show, there’s always potential out there!