As I stated, my collecting strategy is somewhat different and or odd. I try to collect any and every new first issue that is released each week. This is an odd strategy, and I have to say that I have not made any money doing this, yet! That mainly has to do with the fact that I do not have any of my books for sale, except for a few. But my hope is that eventually I will collect enough issues that one day some if not many will be worth some money. What is interesting is that just like any market, the comic book market goes up and down. Right now the market is probably the biggest and best it has ever been. There is so much buzz and in terms of dollars and the comic market is huge, like billions of dollars. Now, much of this has to do with the recent success of the movies, but still there is a ton of money in comics, which is a giant turn from an industry that was near bankrupt in the 90’s.
From a straight economic standpoint this is strange and could create a bubble if you will. BUT, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a normal market either. There is no transparency that there is believed to be in the comedies or equities markets. The fascinating thing about the comics market is that it has basically been building for nearly 100 years. During this time fans of all ages and all economic backgrounds come to this market ready to spend. Again the interesting thing is that over the years this fan base has become massive, I mean extremely massive, and they are again buying and buying all the while it is still growing. In my personal opinion I think this industry has been one that is long overdue for an explosion. We are seeing that now. What I cannot figure out was why now, why did it take so long for so many of these characters to make it to the big screen. I would love to talk to an Hollywood executive and ask why there were no superhero movies made in the 90’s? That would be an interesting question.
What is also interesting, and again in my opinion, looking at the economics of the market I think that it is both over and underpriced at the same time. That obviously makes no sense what so ever. One of the issues is that you have so many additional buyers coming to the market, in terms of collectors that maybe are or are not your traditional collectors. The best example is that of New Mutants 98 which is the first appearance of Deadpool, which I discussed last post. This book has gone up in value quite a bit over the past year and a half or so. The main issue with this is that there seems to be no shortage of supply for this book. If you look on Ebay right now, I guarantee that there are no less than 30-50 copies of this book being sold probably more. That may not seem like a bunch but I would argue that in a week, that number will be the same, as it will be in two weeks, so on and so forth. Which if you look at that, then there is certainly a plethora of supply out there. It is highly collectable but I think it is still overpriced given the readily available supply. But as with all things something is only worth what people will pay for it.
With all that being said I will talk about my best comic find on Ebay. Not too long ago I read the book The Upturned Stone which is one of the scariest graphic novels out there, or so the critics say. I didn’t know much about this book but when I started doing a bit of research I ended up, through the magic of Wikipedia, on the Caliber Comics page. Again I had never heard of this publisher and it has since closed up, but now reopened in 2014. My curiosity got the best of me and I looked up Caliber Comics just to see what else they published. As I was scrolling through their bibliography I saw a title called The Crow. I stopped for a second and thought wondered if that was the same as the movie, and my initial reaction was that I had no idea that it was a comic first. I remember seeing the movie in the 90’s and was shocked that it was first a comic book character.
As a collector I wanted to see what this issue was about and perhaps purchase it. I looked it up on Ebay and found a few copies out there that were selling for a few hundred dollars. I was shocked as this book was released in 1989 so it was not that old, but it was going for quite a bit of cheddar. I kept searching for a bargain and tried to use my powers of sales persuasion to convince a seller that his copy was overpriced. The conversation went something like this – “Your copy is not CGC graded, you are asking $120 for you copy. It is probably worth $50, so I will offer you $60 for it. Plus I assume that you have had this book for a while, and the reason that it has not sold is that it is overpriced.” My pitch was basically trying to convince him that if he wanted to sell it he was going to have to come down on the price. His response was something I did not expect he said something like – “I bought this at a used book store for like $5, I can wait to sell it.” I knew my pitch was not going to work at this point. HAHA. You win some and you lose some, so I kept looking.
One night I was again looking on Ebay for The Crow #1 and I found an odd lot. It was a collection of The Crow memorabilia and it was quite impressive. This collection had unpublished photos from the set of Brandon Lee (Bruce Lee’s son), as well as the an original copy of the original script, a book that was only published in Japan for the movie, as well as a hand full of other memorabilia all from the movie. The lot also included comics, which was really all that I was interested in! He had a collection of just about every Crow comic book that had been published including the original first four issues that were published, of which he had two first issues. That is what I was after. He also had a few other issues from Caliber Comics that have advertisements that are the first appearance of the Crow in printed form.
Originally he was asking for $199 for the lot which I thought was fair. But I did not have any real use for the movie memorabilia, although looking back I probably should have just purchased it as I am sure it was valuable. But the last thing I needed was more stuff that I could not get rid of. I offered him $150 for all the comics, which looking back I should have offered less as I do not think he knew what he really had, but he accepted. So I got not one but two Crow number 1’s from Caliber comics for $150 along with a ton of other books that were worth well above the dollars I paid. I certainly got a good deal, and will be the first to say that I was lucky as hell. Now you might be thinking that I took advantage of this individual but I would like to say that I did not force him to accept my offer, and I will also say that it is not my fault that he did not know the value of what he had. Plus I will add that based on our conversations I think this fellow really needed the money, so finding a motivated seller is always nice.
So after that long an convoluted story I finally had something of value that was seemingly rare. This is the point that is interesting. This book is 27 years old and on the market, i.e. Ebay, there are about 4 number 1’s for sale and maybe 2 of those are first prints. This character is not overly popular but this book is going for about $120 – $350 depending on grade, which is no small fee. Conversely if you look at New Mutants 98 that book is going for about the same price range basically right in the middle, yet there is about 10 times as many issues available. So strictly from an investing point of view I would say that the Crow books are undervalued, by quite a bit. So if you happen to come across this book for a cheap price you should buy it, or if you are lucky enough to have a copy you could easily make a few bucks if you wanted to sell it.
If you are going to pay top dollar for a particular comic you need to really ask yourself what you are purchasing it for. If you are buying it for the standpoint of being a fan and just wanting to have the book then that is one thing, but if you are trying to buy it and resell to make some money it then NM 98 is going to be difficult to buy and resell. Again remember buy low and sell high, and do not buy into an already overpriced market. There will be no money to be made by doing this, unless you have some special info that the market is till underpriced at its current price point. I am not confident enough to make that prediction and in my opinion I think books like NM 98 are reaching their price maximum.
In closing, my investor tip is to keep an eye on Uncanny X-Men 266 which is the first appearance of Gambit. Why this might be a good investment is because there has been some chatter about a possible movie in the works, and if this book follows anything like NM 98 then you could make a little bit of money on this purchase.
Next time I will talk about my biggest blunder when it comes to collecting as well as some action figures I collect along with tpb that can also be worth some money.