It can be tricky determining when the best time to sell an issue at its highest ROI. The common thought is the older the comic, the more it increases in value. But that’s not always the case. Yes, comics from the Golden and Silver Age are typically worth more than those from the modern era are, but that’s where the age = money belief ends.
Older comics are worth more for multiple reasons. The first is that they weren’t created to be collectors’ items or stored safely as an investment, so they were rarely cared for or kept after reading, which makes them rarer than they are now. Only two sets of people buy Golden or Silver Aged comics; older people with money looking to reclaim a piece of nostalgia and investors looking to sit on the comic for a couple of decades as they grow in value. The thing both of them have in common is more money that they are willing to pay than the common comic book fan who’s looking to casually read the original storylines.
The Speculator Boom from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s nearly collapsed the comic book industry. Comics became more mainstream with the success of the Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and cartoons, the X-Men animated series, trading cards, and collectibles. The creation of Image Comics also played a major part of the boom, as the new bad boys in town answered to speculator’s demands, pushing the traditional Marvel/DC’s to keep up.
Comic book speculators overwhelmed the market as the realization of the value of Golden and Silver Aged comics became valuable assets, making their money buying and selling to other speculators. Publishers quickly caved to speculators demands, finding any gimmick they could to sell an issue (many of which are still practiced today), replacing quality writing and storylines with foil-stamped covers, holographic covers, variant covers, including trading cards or mini posters with the comic, oversaturating the market with too many poor quality titles, killing off major characters (only to bring them back to life a couple of months later), #1 series issues, crossover series, and more. Price guides became a norm at magazine stands, which hyped the speculation market.
Publishers were printing comics at an all-time high to keep up with the speculator trend. However, the novelty of gimmicky covers soon wore off, which caused speculators to invest less in these issues. Once dead comic book characters began coming back to life, the original comic that killed the character off that had, at one point, been valued high, fell in in price, leaving the speculator holding worthless comics. Speculators soon gave up investing in new comics, leaving the industry altogether. It wasn’t long that the publisher was soon left with warehouses filled with stacks comics that they couldn’t sell.
By the mid-90’s, two-thirds of all comic book stores closed, many publishers were sold off or closed altogether, and even comic giant Marvel had to declare bankruptcy.
So what does all this have to do with the topic, When to Sell? Read Part 2