Among all the world’s collecting categories, comics are relatively new. At one time, only children were interested in reading them for fun. In June 1938, Superman, the first superhero, appeared in Action Comics #1, most children were drawn to the man dressed in blue and red holding and pushing a car over his head. Suddenly, a series of other kinds of superheroes had most kids paying a penny to buy one. If they had one dollar, they could buy ten books with zero tax. However, children read them until a certain age and their mothers generally threw them away, which is a shame because they would have been valuable.
So can comics still be profitable investments? Absolutely. That’s why so many serious collectors want to have time machines so they can go back in time to buy those good old things. They could imagine getting their hands on Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first appearance) and selling them for millions of dollars today. However, collectors should put the fantasy aside and look to newer and possibly cheaper prospects.
What kind (genre) of comic is it? For this article, I am referring to the most popular superheroes. Although they usually cost more than other genres which include: Cowboy; romance; Famous cartoon characters such as Disney, Warner Brothers; war; Comedy, etc.
Period: Comics belong to different “eras”: “Platinum Era” (printed on or before 1938); “Golden Age” (1938-1955); “Silver Age (1956-1969); “Bronze Age” (1970-1981); “Copper Age” (1981-1991).
Is the book “DC” or “Marvel”? Some more famous DC superheroes include Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Green Lantern. Marvel Comics began in 1939 with Captain America, the Human Torch and the Submariner. Before 1961, Marvel Comics were originally called “Timely Comics”. Some titles became popular, such as: “Tales to Astonish”; “Incredible Fantasy”; “Tales of Suspense.” These titles introduced some of the famous characters that movies widely feature today: Tales to Astonish 27 introduced Antman; Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced the world to Spider-Man; Tales of Suspense #39 features the first appearance of Ironman. Other well-known comics brought groups of superheroes: Fantastic Four #1 (1961); Avengers #1 (1963), Xmen #1 (1963).
Edition numbers: The lower the edition number, the more the book will cost. As you know from the last paragraph, the first appearance of many characters does not originate from issues #1. Superman originated in Action Comics #1, but a year later he got his own comic – Superman #1 (1939). Also, Batman got his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, but soon got his own comic with the first appearance of Robin – Batman’s sidekick in Batman #1 (1940). Wonder Woman’s first appearance occurred in Sensational Comics #1, which later became “Wonder Woman”.
Original Price: Comics gradually increased their newspaper prices. The lower the original selling price, the older they are and in most cases they are worth more: $.10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 75 (from 1938-1988 d.). Today, the lowest priced comics cost around $3.99-$4.99.
Condition: If your book has tears, partially detached spine or missing pages – it will be worth significantly less. They can be rebuilt, but they cost more money to repair and will sell for less. The more pristine the condition, the more it will cost, of course. All books must be placed in Mylar cases with cardboard backings. The best protection for comics would be to have them sealed in a hard plastic case that is provided by a “CGC” or “Certified Guarantee Company”. CGC is one of the few organizations that can truly reassure the collector that the book has been graded correctly and is almost never damaged.
Recommended: Purchase the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which is published annually.