When do you buy a comic book as a speculator? When do you sell? Should you flip them immediately once in the money or wait until the last second on premiere night to throw it online? These are all questions of timing. To paraphrase Miyamoto Musashi, a great swordsman of ancient Japan, “timing is crucial in all things.” Is there a certain metric we can use to buy or sell at the best time? Perhaps this is a case of gut instinct over statistical averages. How do we cleave through the dense undergrowth that is comic book speculation and reach Nirvana, a.k.a. profit?
Many of our readers leave interesting questions in the comments section of our GoCollect blog site. One inspired reader asked, “When is the best time (to sell)? Before the trailer? When the trailer comes out? When the movie comes out? Now, or is it still too early?” These are all great questions but really comes down to timing. Which can be distilled down to when and why do you buy or sell? Using my example of selling the first appearance of Sabretooth, Iron Fist #14 perhaps we can find the answer.
This comic Iron Fist #14 was quite popular for a while, with several moderately successful X-Men films, the character of Sabretooth became well-known. One of his more memorable appearances on film was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). He was played by Liev Schreiber who I think did a valiant job, despite an awful script and beyond pitiful action scenes. For instance, Wolverine bringing down a helicopter with a motorcycle, yep it happened.
I had purchased this Iron Fist #14 two years earlier for about $220 from Heritage Auctions. After watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the first thing I did was go home and sell the book at a profit. Why? I knew they would not attempt this type of movie anytime soon as it was panned by critics and received a 37% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Since Sabretooth was an old hand having been in the first X-Men movie among others, he had a zero on the fresh factor. It occurred to me that Iron Man 2 would come out the following year and there was plenty of buzz about Marvel’s newest hit Iron Man. I surmised two things: First, X-Men would not go to this villain again in a substantial way as he had been used too often in the past. Second, the media hype from the MCU and Disney would drown out Fox’s X-Men movies. Having read Avengers and X-Men as a kid, I knew Iron Man 2 and potential Avengers movies in the vein of the first Iron Man, would rock and dominate the landscape. Which turned out to be exactly what happened.
- Purchased 2008 $220 Heritage Auction (Heritage Fees included)
- Held till premiere 2009 May X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- Sold immediately 2009 May on eBay for $394
- Profit $174
- Current price 2019 FMV $425 (it should be noted it is almost a decade later with very little increase in the value of grade 9.2)
The point here is that timing is mutable, and depends entirely on the circumstances. The best way I have found is to buy and sell these books with an honest appraisal of the speculative lifespan. Example: Everyone loved Walking Dead comics back two years ago. I had purchased a collection with about 40 books. I moved em asap because Walking Dead was on like season 6 and going nowhere fast. It had played out and the public had lost interest. There were newer shows in their heyday like Game of Thrones that dominated the fantasy spotlight. Now those same WD books are hard to move for $6. I sold my WD two years ago for $12-19 with a solid profit margin. Moral of this story: take an honest look at what you own not as cherished inventory but as a sellable speculative product.